To many, the mere mention of the Holy Spirit creates an aura of mystery or a feeling of apprehension. What are we to think when people bark like dogs, roar like lions, laugh uncontrollably, slither out of chairs to the floor, speak in tongues, or faint, claiming to have been slain in the Spirit? How can we tell whether these unusual emotional and physical outbursts are genuine or false? Is this normal Spirit-filled Christianity?
A danger in the interpretation of the Holy Spirit is that we are ever prone to interpret Scripture through experience, instead of experience through Scripture. Some doctrines have come through experience at the expense of God’s revelation. A second danger is the opposite extreme of limiting the doctrine of the Holy Spirit to facts accepted by all. Truth will always issue in correct testimony, but testimony alone can circumvent or contradict divine truth. Therefore, this study, which is primarily an exegesis of biblical revelation, attempts to bring doctrine and experience together.
Our doctrinal beliefs must align with the authority of the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. In this study, therefore, we will investigate the Scriptures to explore the biblical doctrine of the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit (pneumatology).
I have attempted to draw from diverse theological perspectives a comprehensive but not an exhaustive view of the Holy Spirit’s person and ministry. The bibliography contains the primary sources I have read in the preparation of this study; however, only a few commentaries are listed. From these sources and the Bible, I have formulated the statements made under the various topics.
For your additional study, I have constructed two outlines, The Holy Spirit and The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Believer, which appear at the end of the study.
Some ninety passages possibly refer to the Spirit or spirit in the OT. Translators, theologians and commentators do not have the same opinion as to whether the Holy Spirit is the subject of a significant portion of these passages. Therefore, I have addressed the differences of opinion in the essential passages to this study.
Over 250 NT passages directly speak about the Spirit, who is the vital component of the Christian’s life and the Church. If we are not rightly related to the Holy Spirit, then we are not experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10).
The Scriptures classify people in different categories: (1) saved or unredeemed; (2) lost or found; (3) in Adam or in Christ; (4) belonging to the Devil or belonging to God; and (5) spiritual believers or carnal believers. The Holy Spirit is the administrator of the believer’s salvation and sanctification. Christians can choose to be yielded to the Holy Spirit or to be yielded to the flesh, the sinful nature.
It should be the desire of every Christian to experience the indwelling and infilling ministry of the Spirit, to gain victory over the world, the flesh and the Devil, and to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How to experience the victorious and abundant life is the purpose of this study. It is no secret what God can do—if we let Him!
It is my hope and prayer that we will glorify God in our study of the Holy Spirit by unleashing His power in our life.
Robert P. Conway