Are you familiar with the “rule of three”? Maybe you’ve never heard it referred to by name, but you’re likely familiar with the idea. If you’ve ever watched a movie or TV show, you’ve seen it at work. Almost all screenplays and scripts have a three-act structure. Interior designers have found that arrangements of three—picture frames, artwork, and furniture groupings are more pleasing to the eye. Some of the best-loved musical groups of all time had three members.
Yet, there’s an interesting twist to this three-mania. Often when things are in triads, one assumes a complementary role. In other words, one recedes slightly to emphasize the other two. Sometimes that receding is a purposeful strategy, as in a musical arrangement. Other times, it may happen naturally or unfairly, as part of human psychology. Think vanilla in Neapolitan ice cream, yellow in a stoplight, and Larry in the Three Stooges. The receding member is equally as important as the other two members of the trio, just not as prominent.
In light of our three-centric introduction, the Holy Spirit is God, just as God the Father is God, and God the Son is God.
God the Father is God. God the Son is God. God the Holy Spirit is God. Add them together, and you get one. How is that possible? Therein lies the challenge of explaining the Trinity. God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). However, within His oneness, He makes Himself known in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each person in the Trinity has unique responsibilities, but no person acts independently of the others. All three are always in complete agreement and unity. They are also equal. No person is more important than the others. The Holy Spirit’s work is as essential as that of God the Father and the Son.
2. The Holy Spirit in Scripture
- In the Old Testament
You won’t find the Holy Spirit mentioned in the first verse of the Bible, but you can see Him in the second verse. Genesis 1:2 says, “The Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” As the universe was being spoken into existence, the Holy Spirit was right there, making it happen. His creative power brought order out of chaos. In Job 33:4, Elihu said, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” One breath from the Holy Spirit gave life to the entire human race.
- In the New Testament
The Spirit’s work in the New Testament began with Mary’s conception. Luke 1:35 tells us that the Holy Spirit caused the mother of Jesus to conceive her “Holy Child.” Going back to His role in biblical prophecy, that means the Holy Spirit announced through Isaiah that the Savior would be born of a virgin, and then, 700 years later, He made it possible for that prophecy to be fulfilled. During Jesus’s earthly life, the Holy Spirit provided Him with strength, comfort, encouragement, and companionship. The Holy Spirit is the One who even raised Jesus from the grave. Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
3. Appreciating the Holy Spirit’s Work
- The Holy Spirit Indwells Every Believer (1 Corinthians 12:13)
The disciples didn’t have to wait long for Jesus’s “parting gift” to come. After Jesus ascended to heaven, believers were indwelled by the Spirit of the living God! Remember, in Acts 1:5, Jesus told them to wait, and they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
- Definition of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Definition: The baptism with the Holy Spirit is the supernatural act of God by which Christ immerses believers with the Holy Spirit, joining them to Himself and to other Christians.
Note, the word “by” means “with.” The Holy Spirit does not baptize anyone; Jesus Christ is the baptizer. In Mark 1:8, John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water, but He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
- Recipients of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit
On the day of Pentecost, all of the followers of Christ were baptized with the Spirit. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “with one spirit you were ALL baptized into one body.” Remember, many Christians were disobedient, carnal believers, but they had still received the gift of the Spirit.
- Timing of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit
In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul uses the word “were” to describe the baptism with the Spirit. With one Spirit, we “were”—past tense—all baptized. No Christian in Corinth was waiting for the baptism with the Spirit because it had already occurred. That is still the pattern today. The baptism with the Spirit comes the moment we trust Christ for salvation.
- The Holy Spirit Makes us Aware of Sin (John 16:8; Ephesians 4:30)
- The Holy Spirit Amplifies our Prayers (Romans 8:26-27)
- The Holy Spirit Distributes Spiritual Gifts (1 Peter 4:10; Romans 12:6-8)
- The Holy Spirit Fosters Unity in the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12-31; John 17:20-22)
- The Holy Spirit Gives Us the Ability to Trust in Christ (Revelation 22:17; Ephesians 2:1-5)
- The Holy Spirit Secures Our Future (Ephesians 1:13-14)
4. Accessing the Holy Spirit’s Power
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). In this short verse, we find two essential truths about being filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Being Filled with the Holy Spirit is a Command, Not a Promise
Being controlled by the Holy Spirit is our responsibility, not God’s. Imagine someone says something that ticks you off. Your first reaction may be to unleash a few choice words. But an inner prompting says, “If you do that, you will regret it. Keep your cool. You have a choice.” Will you be controlled by anger or by the Spirit?
- Being Filled with the Holy Spirit is a Continual Experience, Not a One-Time Action
Picture a sailboat crossing the ocean. The wind doesn’t come once and fills the sails for the journey. Instead, it comes for a while, leaves, and returns. It may even change direction. The same goes for the filling of the Holy Spirit. The command in Ephesians 5:18 could be translated as “keep on being filled with the Spirit.”
That’s what every Christian should know about the Holy Spirit.
Full Passage: John 14:16-17