What we believe about the Holy Spirit (July 2013)

We believe in the Holy Spirit, who is God.

The Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead – co-eternal, co-equal, co-powerful, and co-operative with the Father and the Son (Genesis 1:2; Acts 5:3-4).  Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

The Holy Spirit teaches, commissions, directs, intercedes,[i] and feels (John 14:26, Acts 13:2-4, Acts 16:6-7, Romans 8:26-27, Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30).

We believe the Holy Spirit has always been engaged in God’s work.

The Spirit of God was active at creation, moving upon the face of the waters and creating human beings (Genesis 1:2; Job 33:4).  The Spirit of God enabled Bezaleel to build the tabernacle, and equipped special people to be prophets, judges, or kings (Exodus 31:3; Ezekiel 37:1; Judges 3:10; 2 Samuel 23:2).  God promised the Israelites that “I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring” (Isaiah 44:3).

The Holy Spirit was also instrumental in the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:35).  The Spirit descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus at his baptism (Luke 3:22) and led him into the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan (Luke 4:1).  In the power of that same Spirit (Luke 4:14), the Savior commenced and completed his ministry of reconciliation,[ii] casting out demons[iii] by the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:28) and promising to send the Counselor, the Spirit of truth (John 15:26).

We believe the Holy Spirit revealed himself in a new way on the day of Pentecost.[iv]

On the day of Pentecost, the Church was born (Acts 2:1).  The Holy Spirit, appearing as “a rushing mighty wind” and “tongues like as of fire” (Acts 2:2-3), began a new ministry of sanctification[v] – setting people apart to be the Church. This event was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy and of the promise given by Jesus (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:33).

We believe the Holy Spirit can be known and experienced.

We receive the Holy Spirit from God when we choose to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Acts 2:38-39).  When we choose to live in Jesus, the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit to give spiritual rebirth, regeneration,[vi] indwelling of the Holy Spirit, entrance into the kingdom of God, and immersion into the body of Christ (John 3:3-6; Titus 3:5-6; Acts 2:38-39; John 3:3;  1 Corinthians 12:13).  This is what John the Baptist meant when he said that Jesus “… will baptize with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33; also John 1:29-34).  This baptism of the Spirit[vii] is experienced by every Christian (1 Corinthians 12:13).

To bring persons to accept this relationship with God through Christ, the Holy Spirit convicts persons of their sin, of Christ’s righteousness, and of judgment on evil (John 16:8-11).

We believe the Holy Spirit endows[viii] the followers of Christ with the unity of the Spirit.

The “unity of the Spirit” is a special communion[ix] that exists in the fellowship of persons who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Ephesians 4:3). In that relationship God’s love flows from believer to believer, uniting in purpose and mission as one body, one family, the Church (Ephesians 4:15-16; 1 John 4:13-21).

We believe the Holy Spirit enables believers to grow spiritually.

God gives abundant life to his people, by his Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). The Holy Spirit works in the lives of individual believers, giving guidance, instruction, and power for the fullness of life that Jesus promised (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4).  As the Holy Spirit does this he reveals and brings glory to Jesus Christ (John 16:13-15).

We believe the filling of the Holy Spirit is ongoing, present, and active in the lives of believers.

A believer is entrusted with the Holy Spirit at the time of accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, yet there is a need to let the Holy Spirit continually work and fill them.  This ongoing filling continues to equip with gifts, empower, bring about the evidence/fruit of the Spirit, and grow us to be filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19; John 14:17; Ephesians 5:18; Ezekiel 36:27; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Timothy 1:14; 1 John 2:27).

We believe the Holy Spirit dispenses spiritual gifts[x] for the building up of the Church.

The Holy Spirit works in the collective body of Christ, the Church. According to his wisdom and will, spiritual gifts are distributed among Christians for the building up of the Church (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 25-31; Ephesians 4:11 -13). The Spirit knows what gifts are needed and which persons should receive them. These gifts come as the Holy Spirit chooses for the good of the Church (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

For this reason, the Churches of God encourages its members to exercise faith and submission in discovering the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit bestows upon each one. We trust the Holy Spirit to know what the Church needs and which members should be used to supply those needs. One Christian’s gifts should not be considered higher or lower than another’s (1 Corinthians 12:6, 18, 25; 1 Corinthians 14:39). The body of Christ grows and holds together as Christians discover and exercise their spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:16).

We believe the fruit of the Spirit is the essential evidence of a believer’s filling with the Holy Spirit.

 At work in Jesus’ followers, the Holy Spirit’s power produces life-building fruit that makes them effective witnesses before the watching world.  This fruit is the essential evidence of the presence of the Spirit in the life of the believer over and above any gifting or ability (Matthew 7:16; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13; Galatians 5:22-23).

[i] Intercedes – makes a request or pleads a case on behalf of another.

[ii] Reconciliation – the act by which hostility is removed, and harmony is restored in relationship.

[iii] Demons – spirit beings who, like Satan, have been in rebellion against God.

[iv] Pentecost – the culmination of the Old Testament Feast of Weeks and the fiftieth day after Passover; it also corresponds to fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ and marks the beginning of the Church.

[v] Sanctification – the act of declaring and making holy; the act of purifying from sin. In the Christian’s life, sanctification can be described as being both instantaneous and gradual (an event and a process).

[vi] Regeneration – a spiritual rebirth; the act of being made new and completely transformed. See section on “Regeneration.”

[vii] Baptism of the Spirit – the empowering gift of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life.

[viii] Endows – provides a quality gift.

[ix] Communion – an intimate relationship with deep understanding.

[x] Spiritual gifts – special abilities or qualities given by the Holy Spirit to each member of the body of Christ, according to God’s grace and will, for the sake of ministry to others.