Who is the Holy Spirit?

by Martha Nelson

In the last few articles about Prayer we've been talking about how God created us. We concluded that He made us differently from the animals, because He gave us a spirit. Our spirit is the most intimate part of our being--it is the "real me, and the real you." Our spirits are what allow us to appreciate art and music. They also allow us to have relationships with other human beings where we experience deep emotions and concern for others' welfare. Our spirits are also the "equipment" we need to communicate with God and be His friend.

We also saw that in the Bible we have been promised the Holy Spirit (God's own spirit) to help us to pray (Romans 8:26), because we often don't know how to pray. But who or what exactly IS the Holy Spirit?

An "It" or a Person?

There are many often conflicting ideas about who or what the Holy Spirit is or does. Traditional churches may refer to the Holy Spirit as part of the "Trinity" - a term describing God's tripart nature of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, as the Bible teaches-and that God is His Father-we may not have trouble thinking of them as having personalities like us. But the Holy Spirit is a person also. Jesus always referred to the Holy Spirit as "He" , such as in John 14:26: "He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." So the Holy Spirit is not an "it" or an impersonal power or influence. He is a person whom we are meant to come to know.

What is the Holy Spirit Like?

If the Holy Spirit is a person, what kind of person is He? Is he someone we would WANT to get to know?

You may have heard reports of what seem like wild experiences people have had with the Holy Spirit at so-called charismatic meetings. Such reports may have even put you off wanting to know the Holy Spirit. Some people claiming to be under the Holy Spirit's influence have barked like dogs or even done evil things like murder. Is that what God's Holy Spirit is really like?

No. If we want to know what the Holy Spirit is like, we should study Jesus' life as described in the Bible. Because the Holy Spirit is one with Jesus and His Father, He will consistently express the same pure nature. Jesus did not bark like a dog or condone murder. He did not force himself upon others; instead He drew them to Him by the attraction of His love. He was gentle, meek and lowly. He was pure, kind and obedient to God's laws. In short, Jesus was a gentleman-someone you could feel comfortable being yourself with-and the Holy Spirit is the same.

So how can we come to know the Holy Spirit as a person, so that He can help us to pray? Let's talk more about this next month.

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