Next Sunday evening I plan to begin an in-depth study on what we can learn from the scriptures about the Holy Spirit. What a great topic, and what a needed study! There is a great deal of interest in the Holy Spirit today, yet there is much confusion and misunderstanding on the subject. The only way to eliminate the confusion is to search the scriptures to see what the Bible really says.
One basis for such confusion may be a faulty concept of the Holy Spirit. Many people use the name “Holy Ghost.” As fine a translation as is the King James Version of the Bible, this unfortunate designation apparently comes from a difficulty in understanding the term “spirit.” The Old English concept of a spirit was most closely associated with the idea of a ghostly kind of presence. Hence, the rendering “Holy Ghost.” Supposedly, a ghost is a mysterious, misty, vaporous presence kind of floating around through the air, just out of sight of the human eye. Again, it is unfortunate that anything like this concept has been attributed to the Holy Spirit.
God is Spirit, completely Spirit, invisible to the human eye (Jn. 4:24). The Holy Spirit is identified as “the Spirit of God” and was there and involved in the creation of the world (Gen. 1:2). In writing to the Romans Paul spoke of “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9). God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit all identified as Spirit. Three personalities, one God (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 12:32; Rom. 3:30).
It is somewhat difficult for us to fully grasp this reality. Yet we ourselves are created in the image of God in that we are created with a spirit. What we see as we look at each other is the physical body. But we understand that each of us has a soul within that is spiritual and eternal. While we cannot see the soul of a person, we can see the spiritual nature of a person in the way he lives his life. There is nothing ghostly about that.
God does not have a physical body. He is totally Spirit. He manifested Himself to us in human form as Jesus Christ, the Son (1 Tim. 3:16). He manifested His presence to the Israelites in the wilderness in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Ex. 13:21). The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the word of God whenever we read the Bible (2 Pet. 1:20-21), as He guided to the writers to write God’s very word (2 Tim. 3:16).
Through our limited human faculties we can thus relate to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God is not a ghost! God is Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is God. God’s word does not reveal all that we would wish on the Holy Spirit, but over the next few months we’ll dig deep into the scriptures and try to come to a reasonably thorough understanding.
Do your friends, family and other associates a great favor, and invite them to come and study with us on this important and fascinating topic, the Holy Spirit...
Gary L. Hutchens