Too many Christians today are ignorant of who the Holy Spirit is and what He does for the Church and God’s children that they fail to live the life as God intends them to live to their full potential. As part 1 of six sermon series, today Pastor Choi talks about the personality of the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Godhead whom we serve and worship. The Spirit of God has attributes of a person such as intellect, emotions, and will.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
The Personality of the Holy Spirit
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Day of Pentecost
2 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
According to our Church calendar, two Sundays from today, we celebrate the Day of Pentecost a.k.a. Pentecostal Sunday. Normally, I would do a sermon on the Holy Spirit on Pentecostal Sunday. However, since confirmation is scheduled that day, I am doing the Pentecost sermon today. I hope it is alright with you.
Let me begin my message with an explanation what the Day of Pentecost is about. The English word Pentecost owes its origin to its Greek counterpart Pentecoste (Acts 2:1). It literally means 50—pente (five) and coste (ten)—five tens. In other words, you count 10 days five times from Easter Sunday, then you arrive at the Day of Pentecost. Historically, after He resurrected from the dead, Jesus our Lord stayed with His disciples for forty days. Then, as He ascended into Heaven, He commanded them to wait for the Holy Spirit. For the next ten days, they stayed in one house devoted to prayer. On the tenth day, that is, on the 50th day after the first Easter, the Holy Spirit like a tongue of fire descended upon the disciples of Jesus. On that day, the Church of Jesus Christ was born. The Day of Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.
Like we owe our births to our mothers, the Church of God owes its birth to the Holy Spirit. Like our mothers nourish us with guidance and love, so does the Holy Spirit love, teach, guide, and strengthen the Church. We cannot think of the Church without the Holy Spirit.
As much as the Holy Spirit is for the Church the Body of Christ, He is also for individual believers. God gives the Holy Spirit to every single child of His as a seal of salvation. You cannot imagine a walk with God without the Holy Spirit. You cannot be a dynamic believer without the help from the Holy Spirit. One of the tragic things in contemporary Christianity is that people of God are so ignorant of the Holy Spirit that they even don’t know that they have the Holy Spirit in them, therefore, they fail to live the life that God intends them to live to their full potential (E.g. It is like walking to NYC vs. Driving to the City).
I am sure all of us have heard about the Holy Spirit, yet, I am afraid that many of us have a vague understanding of Him. For instance, in the Bible, the Holy Spirit is called, “Teacher, Helper, Counselor, Advocate, and Comforter.” Some kids, when they first heard the Holy Spirit the “Comforter,” thought of the comforter as a bed covering. Many of us have such a poor understanding of the Holy Spirit. Some of us are even afraid of the Holy Spirit, thinking that He is maybe one of the scary ghosts hovering around and above us. It’s about time that we all woke up from our spiritual ignorance and had a right understanding about Him: who the Holy Spirit is, what He does, what relationship He has with us, and what kind of ministry He does for the children of God.
That’s why I plan to preach six sermons on the Holy Spirit. By the end of the series, I pray that all of us will have a clear understanding of the Holy Spirit and start living a fuller life in Christ.
So, this morning, I begin with the identity of the Holy Spirit. Who is He? The simple answer would be that He is the Spirit of God. As we human beings have our own spirits (spirit, soul, and body), so does God (actually, we are created in His image and likeness, so I should say, as God has the Spirit, so do we). We call the Spirit of God “Holy Spirit” because He is the Spirit of the Holy God. God has three persons in one (trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—Doxology). The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead whom we serve and worship. As a divine person, He is worthy to receive our adoration and honor, faith and love, and our surrender.
I must emphasize that the Holy Spirit is a real divine being, infinitely holy, infinitely wise, infinitely mighty, and infinitely compassionate, not some mysterious and wonderful power from God. The key word here is a person, not a thing.
Some people, like Jehovah’s witnesses, are deceived by and follow a false teaching on the Holy Spirit. Such a teaching regards the Holy Spirit as a power from God citing the gender of pneuma in Greek (spirit) is neuter. It denies that the Holy Spirit is a divine person. Such a doctrine is absolutely wrong, unbiblical, and harmful to our faith, if we blindly accept it. Let me tell you why it is dangerous: the way we understand the Holy Spirit dictates the way we treat Him. If we believe the Holy Spirit is a thing, for example, then we will treat Him in the same way we do with the things in life. If we believe the Holy Spirit is a divine person who is equal to God, then we respect and receive Him as God.
Let me elaborate more on the Holy Spirit as a divine person, not power. If He is a mere power or energy like electricity, then He has no ability to think, reason, understand, feel, or will. Like a thing, He doesn’t have any attributes of personality. But, the Bible clearly shows that the Spirit of God has certain attributes that only a person can demonstrate. There are three characteristics of personality: intellect, emotions, and will. The Holy Spirit has all of these attributes.
First, He has intellect. Three places in the Scriptures attest to that. 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 (10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.), Romans 8:27 (27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.), and John 14:26 (26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.).
Next, He has emotions. For instance, Romans 15:30 (30 Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,), Ephesians 4:30 (30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.), and Isaiah 63:10 (But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit;).
Finally, the Spirit of God has will. According to His will, He does what He wishes to do. Look at 1 Corinthians 12:11 (11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills).
Let me recap what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit. He is the third person of Trinity who searches our hearts and minds, pleads with God on our behalf, and teaches us the truth. He loves us and gets grieved when we rebel against God. According to His own will, He also grants us the spiritual gifts (such as speaking in tongues, healing, knowledge, wisdom, interpretation of speaking in tongues, and so forth).
Finally, let me share with you one more crucial point in the understanding of the Holy Spirit. We must understand that He is not a genie in the bottle. We must remember who is in charge. Not we, but He. It is He who uses us for His purpose not we who use Him for our own selfish desires. Let me share with you an experience that made me realize that. I’ve been a Christian for forty years. I’ve heard numerous sermons and lectures on the Holy Spirit. I even studied this subject for years. However, it took me years before I realized who’s in charge and who’s serving whom.
For instance, I always longed for (and still do) the revival in the Church. With all my heart I prayed for a revival from God, believing that if God’s people prayed hard enough, and if we repented our sins and devoted ourselves more to the work of God, then God would grant us the revival in the Church. So, I would pray, “O, Holy Spirit, please descend upon us as you did two thousand years ago, and grant us the revival!” Sounds right?
I discovered later that my prayer wasn’t answered as I had asked, because it was based on a wrong expectation of the Holy Spirit as someone at my beck and call. Somehow, I was operating on the assumption that I could get hold of Him and ask for whatever I am eager to see happen in the church as long as it is a good cause such as healing, revival, and church growth in my time table. However, the opposite is true. I am the one who answers to His beck and call, not the other way around. He is the One who calls the shots, not I. He takes a hold of me and uses me according to His time schedule and in His own ways. He is in charge, not me, because after all, He is God and I am a mere creature. Since that discovery, I changed my prayers, asking that He would grant us a revival in His way and in His time.
For the next few weeks, may God grant us a fresh understanding and a new experience of the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray.