It is of utmost importance that we remember that Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit in personal terms – as an individual rather than as an influence or substance. Unfortunately, many people today see Him as an influence rather than a person with whom we are to develop a relationship. If we truly understood the Holy Spirit as He is portrayed in the scriptures, we would readily see Him as a person – not just an influence or doctrine. He is God with all the qualities and characteristics of the Father and Jesus. The Holy Spirit is not just an influence, an anointing, a power, a mystery, or an experience – He is a divine person to be loved, revered, and welcomed just as we would Jesus Himself. Until we come to know the person and personality of the Holy Spirit, we are going to miss the most important factor that we have available to us in fulfilling our commission in the world today.

One of the first truths that we need to realize about the person of the Holy Spirit is that He is equal and co-existing with the Father and Jesus. Jesus Himself told the original disciples to recognize Him as equal when baptizing new believers into the church. (Matthew 28:19) The Apostle Paul recognized the co-existing quality of the Holy Spirit when he addressed the Corinthian church. (II Corinthians 13:14) Even though we will come to know the Holy Spirit as a person and as a friend on an individual level, it is of ultimate importance that we never allow ourselves to see Him as any bit less than God Himself. He must always be reverenced, respected, and honored on an equal basis as God the Father or God the Son.

As a person, rather than a force or influence, the Holy Spirit is affected by the way we relate to Him and act toward Him. We can grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30) and resist Him (Acts 7:51). It is possible to quench His relationship with us. (I Thessalonians 5:19) Isaiah claims that our rebelliousness is vexing to the Holy Spirit. (verse 63:10) The history of the early church records that one couple attempted to lie to the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:3) Jesus warned that some people can even blaspheme the Holy Spirit. (Mark 3:29) King David realized that his sins could separate him from the presence and fellowship of the Holy Spirit. (Psalm 51:11) But above all the negative relationships that can develop, it is important to focus on the fact that we can develop a positive communion with Him. (II Corinthians 13:14)

The Bible gives us a number of descriptive terms to help us recognize how the Holy Spirit wants to relate to us and help us. He is called the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9) and the Spirit of God (Genesis 1:2). Isaiah listed the seven-fold nature of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Revelation 3:1 in his prophecy concerning how the Holy Spirit was to anoint Jesus. (Isaiah 11:2) Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as the spirit of truth. (John 14:17) Paul similarly referred to him as the spirit of wisdom and revelation. (Ephesians 1:17) This is an important characteristic because it determines that He will always relate to us truthfully and will demand the same from us. In a world with so much deception and lying, it is comforting to know that there is a spirit of truth desiring fellowship with us. Jesus continued that this spirit of truth would guide us into all truth. (John 16:13) This means that He will reveal to us the wonderful truths of God and that He will direct us as we enter into these revelations. This is a very encouraging assurance since truth without guidance can be dangerous. Just knowing truth is not enough; we must be expertly guided into how to relate to it and use it wisely. Perhaps that is why the Holy Spirit is also called a teacher (Luke 12:12) and a comforter (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit should be an ever-welcomed assistant in our lives in that He is our source of divine power (Acts 1:8) and guidance (Romans 8:14), plus the very one who establishes our relation to God (Romans 8:15). Jesus saw the Holy Spirit as a necessity for the believer to the point that He said that it was better for Him (Jesus) to go away so that the Holy Spirit could come into His full place (John 16:7), resulting in the believers’ being able to do even greater works than Jesus Himself did (John 14:12).

If we were to begin to enumerate the functions of the Holy Spirit, we would find an almost limitless agenda. But let’s list just a few:

He is a creator. (Genesis 1:2)
He is the one who convicts. (John 16:7-8)
He is the seal of our redemption. (Ephesians 1:13)
He is our enabler. (Zechariah 4:6)
He is our comforter. (John 14:26)
He is the revealer of truth. (John 16:13-15, I Corinthians 2:1-16)
He is a builder. (Ephesians 2:20-22)
He is our source of love. (Romans 5:5)
He is our source of joy. (Romans 14:17)
He is our judge or the one who reproves us. (John 16:8)
He is our earnest or the guarantee of our spiritual rights. (II Corinthians 1:22)
He is our prayer instructor. (Romans 8:26-28)
He is our link to divine knowledge. (I Corinthians 2:9-11)
He is the agent of our new birth. (John 3:5)
He is our source of quickening life. (Romans 8:9-11)
He is the inspirer of the scriptures. (II Peter 1:21)
He is the instructor of spiritual truths. (I Corinthians 2:13)
He is the one who indwells believers. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
He is our sanctifier. (Galatians 5:16, I Peter 1:2)
He is our avenue to hope. (Galatians 5:5)
He is our link to the free gifts of God. (I Corinthians 2:12)
He is the one who changes us from glory to glory. (II Corinthians 3:18)

He is the one who provides access to the Father. (Ephesians 2:13-18)
He is the one who calls men to Jesus. (Revelation 22:17)
He is the one who warns us of demonic deception. (I Timothy 4:1)
He is the one who helps us keep the things of God. (John 14:26, II Timothy 1:13-14)
He is the one who renews us. (Titus 3:5)
He is the one who confirms our witness. (Hebrews 2:4)
He is the one who gives us a foretaste of heaven. (Hebrews 6:4)
He is the one who empowers and enlightens our preaching. (I Peter 1:10-12)
He is our source of faith building. (Jude 20)
He is our source of protection. (Isaiah 59:19)
He is the one who communicates victory to the churches. (Revelation 2:7)
He is the one who eliminates doubt. (Acts 11:12)
He is the one who forewarns us. (Acts 20:23)
He is the one who forbids our wrong directions. (Acts 16:6)
He is the one who separates those chosen for divine service. (Acts 13:2)
The Holy Spirit bears all the qualities and characteristics of deity; He is God! (I John 5:7)
He is omnipotent. (Zechariah 4:6)
He is omniscient. (I Corinthians 2:10)
He is omnipresent. (Psalms 139:7-10)
He is eternal. (Hebrews 9:14)
He is the wo testifies of Jesus. (John 15:26)

This means that God Himself is living with and in us when we come to know the Holy Spirit. We are not feeling just an influence or having an experience; we are entering into a personal relationship with God Himself. Through knowing the Holy Spirit, we come to prove wrong the Babylonian astrologers who said that the spirit of God does not dwell with men. (Daniel 2:11) Throughout the Old Testament period, men knew the Holy Spirit in a limited way. They would experience His presence and anointing on special occasions and then the Holy Spirit’s presence would depart from them. (Numbers 11:25; Judges 3:9-10, 6:34, 11:29, 15:14; I Samuel 16:13)

Samson was a great example of this pattern of living. He would receive a visitation of the Spirit of God for a specific function in his struggle against the enemies of God and Israel; yet, as soon as the conflict was over, he would return to his natural, carnal lifestyle. The book of Judges describes the Holy Spirit almost as a yo-yo bouncing up and down upon the man Samson. (verses 13:25, 14:6, 19, 15:14) Between these visitations of the divine Spirit, Samson’s life showed no qualities of a spiritual nature at all; he was just as likely to be found in bed with a harlot as to be about anything else. (verse 16:1) This picture changes in the New Testament. First, we find that the Holy Spirit came to Jesus in a new dimension which none of the Old Testament saints experienced. John testifies that he saw the Holy Spirit rest and remain upon Jesus. (John 1:32-33) The key thought here is that the Holy Spirit remained upon Jesus. He did not just appear for a short visit and then depart, as had been the Old Testament pattern. John further testified that the impartation of the Holy Spirit to Jesus was without measure. (John 3:34) This means that the totality of the Holy Spirit was with our Lord. He did not just receive the power of the Holy Spirit or the wisdom of the Spirit or any other quality or a few gifts from the Holy Spirit; He received the totality of who the Holy Spirit is and what He possesses – Jesus received the Holy Spirit Himself!

There was never any indication that this powerful relationship with the Spirit of God was limited to just the New Testament era. In fact, the scriptures clearly state that this promise is to anyone who will receive it. (Acts 2:39) The scriptures give us some definite instructions as to how to enter into this deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit.

The most obvious way to enter into a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit is to simply ask. (Luke 11:13) Some people expect God to give them gifts without their anticipating them; occasionally this does happen, but the biblical pattern is that we should ask for what we want from God. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us to intensely desire the benefits of this deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:31, 14:1) In the asking, we should ask with simple trust and confidence just like we would ask our earthly parents for our daily needs. (Luke 11:11-13) We should receive without fear. (II Timothy 1:7) We should receive in faith. (Galatians 3:2) We should receive through prayer. (Jude 20) We should receive with love. (I Corinthians 13:1-3) We can receive through the laying on of hands. (Deuteronomy 34:8-9, Acts 9:17, I Timothy 4:14, II Timothy 1:6) We can receive a new relationship with the Holy Spirit by learning the truth about spiritual things. (I Corinthians 12:1)

We must also activate the gifts by beginning to function in them by faith. (I Timothy 4:14) The one thing to remember about the baptism in the Holy Spirit is that it is similar to the baptism in water, the recipient must willingly submit to the baptizer (Jesus) to be submerged in the Holy Spirit and to be filled with His presence. (Acts 1:5) Living in this deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit opens up many new spiritual dimensions to us. One of these is the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that Paul enumerated in I Corinthians chapter twelve. I personally prefer to call these our tools of ministry. Just as a carpenter needs his hammer and a plumber needs his wrench, we must have the gifts – or tools – of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the tasks that Christ left us to do: to evangelize and disciple the world (Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 28:18-20) and to be His representatives during His absence (Luke 19:13). These various gifts – which we will study in detail a little later on – are distributed to the variety of individuals in the Body of Christ so that they can make their best contribution to the total operation of the church. Just as we would not give a word processor to the carpenter or a hammer to the secretary, the Holy Spirit in His wisdom gives each person the gift that he needs most to fulfill the job he is to complete in the church. When each person finds his proper place and uses his proper tool, the church as a whole grows and prospers. (I Corinthians 12:7, 11) But more important than the gifts are the motives through which the gifts are operated. Both the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter addressed this issue. (Romans 12: 4-21, I Peter 4:10-11) In a word, Paul summarized the proper motivation as love. (I Corinthians 12:31-14:1) In another place Paul described love as walking or living in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18), and he continued to give a multifaceted description of the fruit of such a spiritual walk or life (Galatians 5:22-23).

This relationship with the Holy Spirit as a person and a helper, not just an influence or an anointing, gives the believer a fresh level of victory in his Christian life that can never be obtained otherwise. Even the great Apostle Paul described his Christian life as marked by one defeat after another until he moved into this new fellowship with the divine Comforter. (Romans 7:14-25) When he allowed the Holy Spirit to become an integral part of his life, he entered into victory in his Christian life. (Romans 8:1-17, 26-28)