or what is the Holy Spirit?
Spirit is God Himself, for “God is Spirit” (Jn 4:24). In the Old Testament, God
spoke of a time when He would give His Spirit to man: “And it shall come to
pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh…” (Joel 2:28). These words were fulfilled on the day
of Pentecost, when 120 disciples received the promised Holy Spirit for the
first time (Acts 2). Today, this same promise is being fulfilled in the true
Q2 How does the Bible refer to the Holy Spirit?
to the Holy Spirit by various titles:
of God” (Gen 1:2; 1 Cor 3:16)
of the Lord” (Isa 11:2; Lk 4:18)
of the living God” (2 Cor 3:3)
of [the] Father” (Mt 10:20)
of Christ” (Rom 8:9)
of Jesus” (Acts 16:7)
of His Son” (Gal 4:6)
of truth” (Jn 16:13)
of glory and of God” (1 Pet 4:14)
of holiness” (Rom 1:4)
“[God’s] good Spirit” (Neh 9:20)
“Helper” or “Comforter” (Jn 14:16)
“eternal Spirit” (Heb 9:14)
of judgment” and “spirit of burning” (Isa 4:4)
Spirits” (Rev 1:4)
Spirit has many titles, but He is one Spirit (Eph 4:4).
Q3 When did the Holy Spirit’s work begin?
of Genesis records the Holy Spirit’s work from the time of creation (Gen 1:2).
Hence, a psalmist writes, “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth” (Ps 104:30). Also, Job
testifies, “By His Spirit He adorned the heavens…” (Job 26:13); “The Spirit of
God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).
the Old Testament, the work of the Holy Spirit was to inspire prophets and
righteous men to speak God’s words, perform miracles and predict future events
(e.g. Judg 15:14; 1 Sam 16:13). In the New Testament,
the Holy Spirit made possible the conception of Jesus (Lk 1:31, 34–35) and
empowered Him for God’s work (Lk 4:18; Jn 3:34). After Jesus ascended to
heaven, the Spirit came down upon the believers from the day of Pentecost and
began working mightily with the early church (Acts 2).
Q4 Has the Holy Spirit remained with Christians
ever since Pentecost?
has not. The Holy Spirit came down at two different times, for the Bible speaks
prophetically and symbolically about two distinct dispensations: the early
(autumn) rain and the latter (spring) rain (Deut 11:14). The early rain refers
to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the early church, beginning at
Pentecost (Acts 2), while the latter rain refers to the outpouring of the
Spirit on God’s church in this end time. In between the two dispensations was a
winter period when the skies withheld their rain—signifying the withdrawal of
the Holy Spirit from the post-apostolic church. This was due to the
infiltration of heresies, causing the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of truth—to
depart. It was not until the early 1900s that the Holy Spirit came down once
again, in tandem with the revelation of the truth of salvation.
Q5 Where in the Bible is it prophesied that the
skies would withhold their rain?
prophecies are in the following passages:
heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve
other gods and worship them, lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and
He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce,
and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you” (Deut
do not say in their heart, ‘Let us now fear the Lord our God, who gives rain,
both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed
weeks of the harvest.’ Your iniquities have turned these things away, and your
sins have withheld good from you” (Jer 5:24–25).
you have polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness. Therefore
the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain...” (Jer
words were originally directed at the ancient Israelites and describe the
conditions under which God would withhold the rain in a literal sense. They
came true, for example, during the time of King Ahab, after he led the nation
to commit idolatry. The consequence was the stoppage of rain for three and a
half years (1 Kgs 16:32–33; 17:1). However, these
words were also fulfilled much later in a spiritual sense, during the time of
the post-apostolic church. This time, God withdrew the rain—His Holy
Spirit—when the church departed from the truth.
Q6 How can we receive the Holy Spirit today?
teaches the following:
receive the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth (Jn 14:17), we need to
believe and obey God through the perfect gospel of salvation (Acts 5:32).
Prophet Hosea says, “Let us know, let us pursue the
knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will
come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth” (Hos
6:3). Here, the prophet assures us that God will come to us as surely as the
dawn and the rain. All that He requires is that we pursue to know Him through
His word and to obey it.
• We need
to ask God for His Spirit (Lk 11:9–13). Zechariah says, “Ask the Lord for rain
in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will
give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone” (Zech 10:1). The Bible also encourages us with the example
of Elijah who prayed for rain during a time of spiritual and physical drought
and was answered by God (1 Kgs 18:41–45; Jas
5:17–18). Elder James reinforces the importance of asking by saying, “...Yet
you do not have because you do not ask” (Jas 4:2).
receive the Holy Spirit, we need to remove any impurities from our hearts, such
as indifference, complacency and pride. This is because they will act as
obstacles in our communication with God (see Lk 18:9–14). The Book of Proverbs
exhorts, “Turn at my reproof; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will
make my words known to you” (Prov 1:23).
Q7 Why did the Holy Spirit not come down until
after Jesus ascended to heaven?
Spirit did not come down until then because Jesus had yet to be glorified (Jn
7:39; Acts 2:32–33). Jesus told the disciples, “Nevertheless I tell you the
truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the
Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (Jn
Q8 What work did the Holy Spirit accomplish for
Jesus’ ascension, the Holy Spirit continued His work in different ways. For
example, He testified for Jesus (Jn 15:26; Acts 5:32), glorified Him (Jn
16:14), taught the disciples and reminded them of His words (Jn 14:26; Jn
16:15). The Holy Spirit was Jesus Himself, now living in the hearts of the
believers (Jn 14:16–23).
Q9 What similarities exist between the work of the
Holy Spirit and the work of Jesus?
Bible, we see the following similarities:
His ministry, Jesus called the people to repent (Mk 1:15). Likewise, the Holy
Spirit now convicts people of sin and brings them to repentance (Jn 16:8; Acts
preached the truth (Jn 8:45–46). In the same way, the Holy Spirit now guides
believers into all truth (Jn 16:13).
came to give life to those willing to obey Him (Jn 10:10). The Holy Spirit now
gives life to whoever repents and believes in Jesus (see Acts 11:18) and
enables them to live and walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:25).
says, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be
saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (Jn 10:9). Today, we enter into
Jesus by the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:2–3), for Paul says, “...No one can say that
Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3).
• When we
believe in Jesus, He grants us the right to become the children of God (Jn
1:12). Likewise, the Holy Spirit lives within our hearts and enables us to call
God, “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15–16; Gal 4:6).
revealed His love to us through Jesus (Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8). Also, by sending His
Holy Spirit, God has poured out His love into our hearts (Rom 5:5).
is our Advocate who intercedes for us in heaven (1 Jn 2:1; Heb 7:25), while the
Holy Spirit is our Counsellor who intercedes for us
on earth (Jn 14:16 RSV; Rom 8:26–27).
Jesus was ministering on earth, He sent His disciples out
to preach (Mt 10:1–42). Today, the Holy Spirit sends out workers to do
His work (e.g. Acts 13:2–3). On the last day, Jesus will come again to take us
with Him (Jn 14:3). At that time, the Holy Spirit will lift us into the clouds
so that we “meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess 4:17).
Q10 How does believing in Jesus relate to our receiving the Holy
purpose of believing in Jesus is to belong to Him; and the mark of belonging is
baptism in the Spirit. Paul explains that the Spirit bears witness with our
spirit that we are the children of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom
8:16–17). He describes the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a “sealing” from God
(Eph 4:30)—a sign that “the Lord knows those who are His” (2 Tim 2:19). Those
without this seal can be likened to the foolish virgins who had lamps that were
devoid of oil. On the last day, Jesus will say to them, “Assuredly, I say to
you, I do not know you” (Mt 25:12).
does the baptism of the Holy Spirit benefit us?
baptism of the Holy Spirit benefits us in a number of ways:
• The Holy Spirit effects
our spiritual rebirth. Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless
one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That
which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is
spirit” (Jn 3:5–6; see also Ezek 37:14).
• The Holy Spirit seals us for salvation. Paul
says, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel
of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy
Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption
of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph 1:13–14).
• The Holy Spirit sets us free. Paul
says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from
the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2); “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the
Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor 3:17).
• The Holy Spirit teaches us the truth. Jesus
says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name,
He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I
said to you” (Jn 14:26). Elder John says, “But the anointing which you have
received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but
as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is
not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him” (1 Jn 2:27).
Also, Paul tells us, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but
the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely
given to us by God” (1 Cor 2:12).
• The Holy Spirit strengthens us. Paul’s
prayer for the church was that the members “be strengthened with might through
[God’s] Spirit in the inner man” (Eph 3:16). And, should we experience
persecution for the sake of our faith, we can take heart from Peter’s words:
“If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit
of glory and of God rests upon you…” (1 Pet 4:14).
• The Holy Spirit empowers us to witness for
Jesus. The Lord has promised, “But you shall receive power when the Holy
Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in
all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). According to
Paul, our testimony for Jesus is not “with persuasive words of human wisdom,
but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor 2:4).
• The Holy Spirit helps us to bear fruit.
The Book of Galatians says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...”
• The Holy Spirit helps us to pray. The
Bible encourages us to “[pray] in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20), and to “[pray]
always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18). The benefit
is that “the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings
which cannot be uttered” (Rom 8:26).
• The Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts. Paul
says, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:4); “But
one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one
individually as He wills” (1 Cor 12:11).
• The Holy Spirit comforts us. The early
Christians were comforted by the Holy Spirit during trials: “Then the churches
throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And
walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they
were multiplied” (Acts 9:31). Also, Paul’s earnest prayer for the church was
that she “abound in hope by the power of the Holy
Spirit” (Rom 15:13).
• The Holy Spirit sanctifies us. Paul
says, “...But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified
in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11; cf.
Rom 15:16; 1 Pet 1:2).
• The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual life.
Paul says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in
you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal
bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom 8:11).
Q12 What is the nature of the Holy Spirit?
people regard the Holy Spirit as merely the power of God, failing to grasp that
He is God Himself, with all His divine attributes and personality. The Bible
states that the Spirit searches all things (1 Cor 2:10); has His own will (Rom
8:27; 1 Cor 12:11); loves (Rom 15:30); is gracious (Heb 10:29); can be grieved
(Eph 4:30); instructs (Neh 9:20); speaks (Acts 8:29); forbids (Acts 16:6–7);
appoints and sends out workers (Isa 48:16; Acts 13:2, 4; 20:28); witnesses (1
Jn 5:7); gives revelations (Eph 3:5). The Bible therefore warns us against
offending or blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:31–32).
can we experience the Holy Spirit?
says that we cannot see the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:17), for He is without shape or
form. However, like the wind, we can perceive Him: “The wind blows where it
wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and
where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (Jn 3:8). Jesus’ words
aptly describe the experience of the disciples on the day of Pentecost: they
received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in a way that could be seen and heard
(Acts 2:33; 8:18). The primary sign was the speaking of spiritual tongues (Acts
2:4; 10:46; 19:6). In their particular case, they also saw tongues of fire and
heard the sound of rushing wind (Acts 2:1–4).
promise of the Holy Spirit continues to hold true for believers today (Acts
2:38–39). The only condition is that we accept the complete gospel of salvation
and obey it (Acts 5:32). When we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we,
too, will speak in tongues, like the early Christians (Acts 2:1–4; 10:44–46;
Q14 What symbols does the Bible use for the Holy Spirit, and
what do they signify?
uses a variety of symbols or descriptions to highlight the nature of the Holy
Spirit and His work:
• Wind—dynamism and renewal (Ezek
37:9–10; Jn 3:8; Acts 2:2)
• Fire—warmth and refining power (Isa
4:4; Acts 2:3)
• Water—abundance and life (Jn 4:14;
• Oil—light and joy (Mt 25:4; Heb 1:9)
• Rain—mercy and grace (Hos 6:3; 10:12; Zech 10:1; Mt 5:45)
• Dove—goodness and peace (Mt 3:16;
• Seal—promise (Eph 1:13; 4:30; 2 Tim 2:19)
• Guarantee—assurance (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5;
• Sword—discernment and severity (Gen
3:24; Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12)
anyone receive the Holy Spirit?
promises the Holy Spirit to every person He calls through the gospel (Acts 2:38–39;
15:7–8; Gal 3:5). However, Jesus says that some people will not be able to
receive Him: “...The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it
neither sees Him nor knows Him...” (Jn 14:17). Specifically, God will not give
His precious Spirit to those who refuse to believe or obey Him (Acts 5:32).
Q16 What attitude should we have towards the Holy Spirit?
Spirit is vital for salvation, and we should:
our hearts to let Him in (Gal 4:6; Rev 3:20).
• pray to
God for His Spirit (Lk 11:13; Acts 1:4).
filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18).
• not grieve Him (Eph 4:30).
• not quench Him (1 Thess 5:19).
• endeavour to walk and live by the
Spirit (Gal 5:16, 25).
• earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 14:1).
Q17 How might a person offend the Holy Spirit, and what are the
It is a
serious matter to offend the Holy Spirit, and we risk doing this if we:
• Resist Him. This means hardening our
heart and refusing to believe in Jesus Christ, or persecuting those who preach
His gospel (Acts 7:51–60).
• Deceive Him. The Book of Acts warns
against lying to the Holy Spirit by recording the incident of Ananias and
Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11).
• Sin wilfully.
The Bible warns against sinning deliberately after we have received God’s
salvation: “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought
worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the
covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of
grace?” (Heb 10:29).
• Blaspheme. Jesus warns us about the
gravest of sins, which is to attribute the work, manifestation, or gifts of the
Holy Spirit to the devil (e.g. Mk 3:20–22). This constitutes a mortal sin—one
that can never be forgiven (Mt 12:31–32; Mk 3:28–29).
True Jesus Church.