The Holy Spirit - What the Bible says...


This short study is designed to answer common questions on the subject of the Holy Spirit and His role in the life of the believer.

The Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), and therefore is always the final authority on any subject. As you go through this short study it would be a good idea to look up the scriptures in your own bible and perhaps underline them.

Who is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is a person, not a thing

John 14:15-17“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.

As you can see the Holy Spirit is a person. As you read through the gospels you will see that He lead, compels, inspires, teaches and stands with us. He can also be grieved (Ephesians 4:30)

The Holy Spirit is God

Galatians 4:6 And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father.

When people talk about Jesus coming to live in their hearts, what they really mean is the Spirit of Jesus or Holy Spirit, who is that third member of the godhead. The Holy Spirit is God himself.

What about being filled?

It is a separate experience to salvation

Acts 8:14-17 When the apostles back in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there.  As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new Christians to receive the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.

It is clear from scripture that God by His spirit comes to live in the heart of the believer at the moment of salvation. There was then a separate and distinct filling that occurred which gave a new dimension of power and gift, and enabling the Christian to effectively minister Christ. (Acts 1:8, 2:4)

It is for all of God’s children

Luke 11:11-13 “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead?  Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not!  If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

God does not have some special children who He gifts with the Holy Spirit, while others He does not. God wants all His children to be filled with the Holy Spirit, both men and women, young and old (Joel 2:28). Jesus himself said that all we have to do is ask in faith and believe His word is for us (Mark 11:22-23, James 1:6-7).

It is the means of empowerment to live the Christian life.

Acts 1: 8 But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The Christian life was never meant to be ordinary, it was meant to be filled with supernatural power. The Holy Spirit empowers Christians with an ability not only to tell people the good news about Jesus, but to demonstrate the power of God in signs and wonders (Mark 16:15-18, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

It is more than a one off experience.

Ephesians 5:18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.

A more accurate translation of this verse would be “be being filled,” denoting a continual filling. Receiving the fullness of the Spirit is only the starting point. As you read on this passage in Ephesians it shows us how to remain full, by praise, worship and thanksgiving to God.

Speaking in tongues was and is the first outward indication of being filled with the Spirit.

Acts 2:4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

Acts 10:44-46 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. (NKJV)

The ability to speak in new tongues is the first visible sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit (see also Acts 19:6). As you speak in tongues you are praying with your spirit (1 Corinthians 14:14), as well as strengthening and building up your inner man (1 Corinthians 14:4, Jude 20). The Holy Spirit gives us the ability, but we have to co-operate with him and open our mouths to speak.

The Bible has much more to say about the Holy Spirit, but the purpose of this short study is to bring some clarity on the experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit. For further study I would recommend reading through the book of Acts as a first stage to see the impact of the Holy Spirit on the early church.

All scripture quotations are taken from the New Living Translation ©1996 unless otherwise stated.