The Holy Spirit Is Not Casper the Friendly Ghost

The Holy Spirit Is Not Casper the Friendly Ghost

When we hear people talking about the Holy Spirit, it’s not uncommon to hear people talking about the Holy Spirit in terms of an evangelical version of Casper the Friendly Ghost. At other points, evangelicals derail by putting all of their focus upon the Holy Spirit to the marginalization of Christ. When the Holy Spirit is cartoonized or overly emphasized and brought to the forefront of our worship—we grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit Is God

A proper understanding of the Holy Spirit is necessary in most evangelical circles today. John MacArthur has stated, “The Holy Spirit is the most forgotten, the most misrepresented, the most dishonored, the most grieved, the most abused, and the most blasphemed member of the Trinity.” That is a massive dose of reality concerning the present understanding of the Holy Spirit in our day.

Throughout the Bible we see various titles for the Holy Spirit:

  • Spirit of God
  • Spirit of Christ
  • Spirit of Grace
  • Spirit of the Lord
  • Spirit of Life
  • Spirit of Truth
  • Eternal Spirit
  • Comforter
  • Helper
  • The Holy Spirit
  • The Spirit

It should be noted that in the study of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is no less God than the Father or the Son. As a member of the Godhead, he is co-equal and co-eternal. In other words, there has never been a time when the Holy Spirit did not exist. Therefore, with the proper understanding and reverence for the Holy Spirit, we should strive to live in such a way that does not “outrage the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29). It is possible to live in such a way that “grieves the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30). A life of holiness is our calling as Christians which prevents such grieving of the Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit Leads us to Assurance

Have you listened to a pastor lead a person or a group of people through a sinner’s prayer? Often at the end of the prayer, the pastor will say something like this, “Congratulations, you are now a Christian!” Beyond the obvious fact that we never see anyone in the New Testament leading people in a prayer that “asks Jesus into their hearts”—we likewise never see anyone pronouncing someone as a Christian or providing them with that statement of assurance. Why not? Because that is the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit of God.

Rather than moving to the forefront—the Holy Spirit works and ministers in such a way as to point us to Jesus Christ. In modern days, the Holy Spirit has been twisted into a sort of drug that causes convulsions and strange speech patterns. In other circles, the Holy Spirit is the focus of the songs, the sermons, and the service of the people.

As the Holy Spirit ministers to point us to Christ, his work is to lead us to assurance of our salvation. In Romans 5:5, Paul writes, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” It is God’s love that has been delivered to us and revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

In Ephesians 1:5-10, the focus is on the redemption that we have received through the riches of God’s grace in the blood of Jesus. If you read to the end of the chapter, you will discover that it is the Holy Spirit who seals us and becomes the assurance of our promised inheritance. Perhaps one of the most clear and obvious statements regarding the ministry of assurance of the Holy Spirit is found in Romans 8:16 where Paul writes these words, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

The Holy Spirit Leads us to Truth

The Holy Spirit is God and the Holy Spirit loves the Bible. How does the Holy Spirit point people to Jesus? It’s through the pages of Scripture. How does the Holy Spirit provide assurance of salvation in the hearts of people? It’s not based upon the remembrance of the sinner’s prayer—but by directing believers to the glorious truths of Scripture (such as Romans 8:1). We must not forget that the author of the Bible is the Holy Spirit and he leads us and guides us to truth through the sufficient Word of God (2 Pet. 1:21).

In Acts 8:29, the Spirit of God led Philip to go and speak to the Ethiopian man in the chariot. As he evangelized him, he began at that very same text (Isaiah 53) and directed him to Jesus Christ. From evangelism to discipleship—the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to direct us to God’s Word and to keep us rooted and grounded in the Word. Remember when Jesus introduced the Spirit to his disciples, he said the following:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come (John 16:13).

If we are people of the truth, we must be led by the Spirit of truth who points us to what is good and acceptable and perfect. As we navigate the difficult roads of life and strive to make sense of the deep pain of death, the struggles of parenting, and the challenges of marriage—we have a Comforter who will lead us to the truth. This is why our prayers must not be generic and abstract, but rather rooted in the Word of God and pleading for clarity on God’s will from the basis of the Scriptures.

Worship God and have a proper reverence for the Holy Spirit who loves the children of God and is actively indwelling believers and ministering to us on a daily basis! The Holy Spirit is more than a cartoon and he leads us and guides us faithfully—deserving respect, honor, and worship.

 

 

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

As we gain knowledge of our triune God, we start to see the roles, relationships, and respected ministries of each person among the Trinity.  What exactly is the ministry of the Holy Spirit?  In some circles, the Holy Spirit is the focal point.  Some groups have become Holy Spirit centered as opposed to Christ centered.  This overemphasis upon the Holy Spirit misses the mark and turns their individual lives and ministries upside down.

First, we must recognize that the Holy Spirit is God.  Specifically, the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead.  Although cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the Trinity and refer to the Holy Spirit as the “force” or “energy” of God, we must recognize that the Holy Spirit is God – co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son.  However, an unbalanced focus upon the Holy Spirit can be troublesome and unhealthy.

The Holy Spirit In Salvation

From before the foundation of the world, the Father chose a people unto Himself (Ephesians 1).  In the plan of redemption, the Son took upon human flesh and came to rescue those people by dying on the cross in a substitutionary death (Matt. 1:21; 1 Peter 2:24).  In many pulpits, God’s work in salvation comes to an abrupt halt here only to turn things over to the will of man.  How does a sinner come to believe the gospel?

It’s by the work of the Holy Spirit.  According to John 6:63 and 2 Corinthians 3:6, the Spirit of God gives life.  Paul explains the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation in Titus 3:5 by saying, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”  We must remember that Jesus articulated this same truth in the conversation with Nicodemus in John 3.

The Holy Spirit as Comforter

As we live in this world filled with trials, God the Holy Spirit is here to minister to us as our Comforter or Helper.  As Jesus was preparing to leave His disciples, they were afraid.  In preparation, Jesus informed them that it was to their advantage for Him to leave and He would send the Holy Spirit to them (John 16:7).  The word translated Helper is the Greek word παράκλητος (parakletos). This form of the word is unquestionably passive and properly means “one called to the side of another.”    It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to comfort the children of God.

The Holy Spirit and Holiness

We, as the children of God, are a work in progress.  We are not home yet.  As we travel through this world of sin, it’s easy for us to get side tracked and tempted by the world.  However, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and set us apart for the glory of God.  If the child of God becomes comfortable in the city of Vanity Fair, the Holy Spirit will labor to make that individual uncomfortable.  In short, surgeons enjoy performing surgery, dentists enjoy working on teeth, and the Holy Spirit enjoys leading people to holiness.

There are three aspects to this work of holiness.  If a person is to become holy, it will certainly involve the truth of the Scriptures (John 17:17).  It will also take the work of the person in submitting to the truth and casting off the sinful practices of the flesh in the work of mortification of the flesh (Romans 8:13).  However, if you read one verse further in Romans 8, you will likewise see the importance of being led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14).  The child of God becomes holy as he is led by the Spirit of God to live in obedience to the Word of God.

It is not the work of the Holy Spirit to make us healthy, wealthy, and happy.  If you attend a church and hear an unbalanced focus upon the Holy Spirit in the worship of the people, you should beware of error.  It is the desire of the Holy Spirit to point sinners to Jesus Christ and then lead us to live in obedience to the risen Savior.  Jesus came to do the will of the Father.  When He departed, He sent the Holy Spirit to point people to Him and this work continues in our present day (John 16:7-11).