The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit has always been part of the Triune God. Now, as the Spirit lives in human beings, the Spirit is the life of God among us. The Spirit was there at the beginning (Genesis 1:2-3, 2:7). In the Old Testament the Spirit led people for special tasks: in particular, various prophets, priests and kings of Israel were gifted by the Spirit. The Old Testament looked for the day when the Spirit would be widely available (Ezekiel 36:25-27; Jeremiah 31:31-34) — when the Messiah came (Isaiah 11:1-16; 61:1-11; Joel 2:28-32).
Jesus was uniquely filled with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-34; 7:37-39). He promised that the Spirit, his “other self,” would come and live in believers after his death (John 14:15-18; 16:7-15). That happened at Pentecost (Acts 2). In contrast to Old Testament days, the Spirit now lives in all believers; he does not withdraw from us, but remains with us; and he is no longer impersonal but marked with the imprint of Jesus.
The fruit of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit enters our lives at conversion (Galatians 4:6). He then sets to work getting good fruit to grow in the garden of our lives (Galatians 5:22-24). As the branches stay in the vine, the sap of God’s Spirit slowly but surely produces fruit (John 15:1-5). We cannot make these fruits of character, but we can prevent them if we grieve or quench the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
The gifts of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a great giver. He inspired the Scriptures to be written (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21), he participated in the incarnation of Jesus (Luke 1:35; 4:14, 18), and he gave new life to men and women under sentence of death (Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 37:1-14). He also equips the people of God to live the life of heaven here on earth (1 Corinthians 12:4-13; Romans 12:3-13). His supreme aim is to make us like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Questions about the Spirit
- Who has the “baptism” of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3, 13; cf. Romans 8:9)?
- Can we tell the Spirit what gifts he must give us (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)?
- What is the purpose of the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:5)?
- What is the supreme spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 13)?
- What would it be like to be “filled” with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-20)?
- How can we be filled with the Spirit (Acts 5:32; Luke 11:13)?
Verse to learn
Luke 11:13: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Bible study section
The Bible passage for study is 1 Corinthians 12:1-13.
- How does verse 3 link Jesus and the Holy Spirit?
- What do you learn from the variety of gifts and their unified source?
- What do verses 8-10 teach about the kind of ministries we should be exercising in our churches?
- What is meant by being “given the one Spirit to drink” (see John 7:37-39)?
- Does this passage give any support to the idea that there are two kinds of Christian — ordinary and “Spirit-filled”?
- Will you ask the Spirit to fill you and equip you for service with whatever gifts he sees are needed? “Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
Get each member of the group to write down two things he or she wants the Spirit to do in him or her. If they are willing, ask them to share these things with the other members of the group. The group should then pray for one another.
Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit.
Michael Green, I Believe in the Holy Spirit.
Philip Keller, A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit.