The Holy Spirit sits in the backseat of many people’s Christian theology. While you may hear a lot about God the Father and Jesus his Son, the role of the Holy Spirit is often neglected in Christian circles.
But as we look closer at who the Holy Spirit is and what he does, we will quickly realize that he is vital to any explanation of Christianity. To put it plainly, nothing of any consequence happens in the life of the Church or in an individual Christian without the Holy Spirit.
We are introduced to God’s Spirit in the second verse of the Bible, but there is never a full-blown explanation as to who the Spirit is in the Old Testament. However, at the revelation of Jesus Christ, we begin to understand that the Spirit is actually a Person equal in essence to God the Father and God the Son.
The Bible is clear: the Holy Spirit is not a commodity or force, though many churches today treat him that way. The Spirit is as much a Person as are the Father and the Son. We must remember to refer to the Holy Spirit as “he,” not as “it.”
This means that the Spirit is a relational being. For example, the Spirit teaches Jesus’ disciples (John 14:26); he speaks (Acts 13:2), guides (Galatians 5:16), and leads (Romans 8:4); he helps and prays and pleads (Romans 8:26-27). He can be lied to (Acts 5:3); he can be grieved (Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30). In John 16, where Jesus provides extensive comments about the promised Spirit, the Spirit is said to “come,” “convict,” “guide,” “speak,” “hear,” and “tell.” All of these activities are relational, personal activities.
In numerous other places, the Bible mentions the Holy Spirit alongside God the Father and Jesus the Son, implying an intimate and equal relationship between the three. For example, believers are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—all three persons of the Trinity are brought together under one name (Matthew 28:19). This triune relationship is seen in passages like 2 Corinthians 13:14 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is not just a relational person, he is also a Divine person. He’s God.
Another evidence that the Spirit is God is that believers are called God’s “temple,” because God’s Spirit indwells them (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). The connotation of a temple is a place where God dwells. Calling a Christian the temple of the Holy Spirit indicates that the Spirit is in fact God.
Everything in the Christian’s life has something to do with God’s Spirit. From the ability to confess Jesus as Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3), to being born again (John 3:5), to bearing spiritual fruit and growing in godly character (Galatians 5:22-23) and possessing spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11), nothing of any value or importance in the Christian life happens apart from the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit does not take backseat in the Christian life, though he may have taken that place in our thoughts. He actually drives our life of faith in Jesus. The question is, will we let him have the wheel?