“And we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32 ESV).
Few Biblical subjects are as complex or controversial as is that of the Holy Spirit. One fact which is indisputable is that there is some kind of relationship between Christians and the Holy Spirit. That God has promised to “give” the Spirit to those who obey him is clearly and repetitively stated in the New Testament. Exactly what this means and the nature and extent of the relationship is much contested, but to deny that a relationship exists is to deny God’s inspired Word.
I have chosen to highlight the fact of the relationship by entitling this article, “Our Holy Spirit.” This does not challenge his identity as “the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:9, 14), nor do I mean to diminish the Spirit’s identity as a member of the divine Godhead (Trinity). But just as God is “our Father” and Jesus is “our Savior,” so the Spirit is given to us and made “ours” in some direct and personal way.
In my experience many Christians have not come to appreciate that fact. Perhaps we are influenced by the many abuses of the various doctrines of Spiritual indwelling that we learn from the denominational world. Perhaps some still are intimidated by the antiquated language of the King James Version which refers to “the Holy Ghost.” But though almost all believers seek some personal relationship with the Father and the Son, that does not seem to be as true when it comes to the Spirit.
Regardless of one’s views of the nature of Spiritual indwelling, whether direct or indirect (that is, only via the Word), there is clear language which indicates a personal relationship between God’s Spirit and the believer. Various roles and metaphors are used, including:
- The Spirit as intercessor or interpreter of our prayers (Romans 8:26-27)
- The Spirit as the seal of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14)
- The Spirit as a witness of our adoption as God’s children (Romans 8:16)
- The Spirit as one who can be grieved by the actions of believers (Ephesians 4:30)
- The Spirit as our teacher regarding the will of God (1 Corinthians 2:12)
- The Spirit as a buffer against insult and persecution (1 Peter 4:14)
- The Spirit is outraged by Christian unfaithfulness (Hebrews 10:29)
All of these actions or roles may be classified as personal in the sense that they affect and in some cases are incurred by specific individual believers. We may not understand exactly where the Spirit is when he does these things for us, or when he is affected by our actions. We can be assured that he does them and is so affected.
Christianity is about relationships. Our relationship with God, with Jesus, with one another, and yes, with the Holy Spirit. Let us seek that relationship just as fervently as we do the others. Let us welcome him, invite him, and treasure him as a vital part of our Christian experience. I am not arguing for any sort of miraculous or subjective experiences, but only for the same openness to the Spirit as we offer to the Father, the Son, and other Christians. If we fail to do that, we neglect one of God’s greatest promises.