Lesson 5 – You and the Holy Spirit
Although the words “Holy Trinity” never appear in the Bible, most of us understand them to mean the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We know that the Father is God; the Son of God is Jesus Christ; but who or what is the Holy Spirit? Jesus never defines the Holy Spirit, but helps us understand that the Holy Spirit is known best by what the Spirit does in us, around us, and through us. He likens the Spirit to the wind—invisible, powerful, and can’t be directed or controlled by human beings.
Like the wind, the Holy Spirit lets us know—through our senses of sight, touch, and hearing—where the Spirit is and has been. We can’t see the Spirit, but we can see evidence of his presence. We know the Spirit exists because he envelops, cools, and warm us. Gentle or strong, comforting or frightening—Jesus describes the Holy Spirit this way:
The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit. —John 3:8, rsv
In the Old Testament (Joel 2:28–32), God explains what happens to people when he pours his Spirit onto and into them. We learn that the Spirit empowers them, enables them to have visions and dreams of the future, and allows them to see and understand the wonders in the heavens.
Later, in the New Testament (Acts 1:1–11 and Acts 2), Jesus describes this pouring out of the Spirit as “the gift my Father promised.” The gift is delivered to the disciples on Pentecost, and again, the image of the wind is used to describe the sound that came from heaven and filled the place where the disciples had gathered. When they received their gift—“all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”—they suddenly had abilities and talents they never had before. They realized that although Jesus was no longer with them in the flesh, he was with them through the presence of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. They knew now that Jesus had come back to them in the person of the Holy Spirit, and they were aware of his power to work within and through them. They were empowered to carry on the ministry of Jesus, just as he taught them.
Growing in the Spirit
Many new Christians recall with great detail the first time they felt the Holy Spirit stirring in them. For some people, the moment was dramatic and was characterized by a “washing over” sensation. For others, the feeling was more subtle, better described as a “welling up” sensation. The first seemed external; the second was internal.
As you continue to grow in your faith, you will feel the Holy Spirit become a stronger, more powerful force in your life. For example, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will work on your conscience and heart to help you recognize and resist sin. Your sense of right and wrong will become sharper. In some translations of the Bible, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “Counselor,” which suggests that the Spirit will offer you wisdom when you wrestle with difficult choices. As you read God’s word and pray for guidance, the Holy Spirit will give you the power to shrug off temptation and remain firm in your convictions.
Just as the Holy Spirit assumes the role of counselor, so does he serve as teacher. As you grow more knowledgeable of the scriptures, the Holy Spirit will give you insights and help you make connections between the Old and New Testaments. You will see how the lessons contained in the Bible apply to your life today. Jesus assures us that “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26, rsv).