Q. Is the Holy Spirit a person, or just a force like gravity or magnetism?
A. Some have suggested it is God’s Spirit, but does not have intellect or personality. But Scripture never refers to the Holy Spirit as “it.” The Bible says the Holy Spirit has emotions, intellect and a will. These characteristics belong to a person, not some impersonal force. On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given in His fullness, the church moved under His directions. The New Testament speaks of His leadership in these terms: “He commanded”(Acts 16:6,7), “He appointed” (Acts 20:28), “He leads” (Acts 8:29). In communicating with the followers of Christ: “He speaks” (Revelation 2:7, Acts 13:2), “He intercedes” (Romans 8:26), and “testifies” about Jesus Christ (John 15:26). Does He have feelings? The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit can be “grieved,” insulted,” “lied to,” and blasphemed. All these acts and emotions have to do with a person.
The Scriptures say that the Holy Spirit is God. As Peter spoke to Ananias he said, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…? You have not lied to men but to God.” Acts 5:3–4 (NAS). The attributes the Bible ascribes to the Holy Spirit only belong to God. Consider how the angel Gabriel talked with Mary. He said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Luke 1:35. Only by the omnipotent power of God could this miracle take place.
Another characteristic of God is to be omniscient, which means to know all. The Bible says in 1Corinthians 2:10–11, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God…. Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”
The disciples were told that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things John 14:26. Revelation 5:6 speaks of the eyes of the Holy Spirit, “Seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth,” showing the Holy Spirit is aware of all that is taking place in the world.
When Jesus was preparing to go back to heaven, He gave this promise to his disciples, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7. The disciples were soon to be taking the gospel in different directions. The coming of the Holy Spirit insured He would be able to be with each of them, supplying the comfort and power they needed for witnessing.
David wrote of the Spirit being omnipresent in Psalm 139:7-10: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”
God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit possess these attributes, which makes them God, as well as eternal. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14. The great commission given by Jesus includes all three: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19.
This brings us to a word that is used to describe them. The word Trinity is applied to the Godhead. This word is not found in the Scripture, but was first used by an early church writer by the name of Tertullian, who coined the word by putting two words together—the word trini (threefold) and unitas (unity).
Some people say that it is a Catholic doctrine, but that is not the case, since Tertullian lived in the latter part of the second century, long before there was a Roman Catholic Church. But it does denote that the Godhead is the same in love, will, compassion, mercy and all the wonderful attributes of God.
Paul, writing to the believers in Rome, said, “Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me.” Romans 15:30 (NIV). It’s nice to know that the Holy Spirit loves us and that we can call upon Him at any time, for He neither sleeps nor slumbers.