“And I pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth... I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” John 14 v 16 – 18
We have learned that there is one God. “Look unto me, and be ye saved ... for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isa 45 v 22) However, the image of a three-in-one Godhead is firmly fixed in the minds of people who learn about the Jesus Christ. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all familiar names used to refer to the Trinity. How do these three figures relate to each other and are they equal parts of the Godhead? Who or what is this Holy Spirit, also known as the Holy Ghost? How can God be One and yet separate?
From the beginning of His ministry on earth Jesus worked with the Holy Ghost. When He was baptized “the Holy Ghost descended in bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” (Luke 3 v22; see also Matt 3 v 16 – 17; Mark 1 v 10 – 11; John 1 v 32 - 34) In Acts 10 v 38 it is recorded that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power... for God was with him.” Jesus was baptized with the Spirit and, in John 1 v 33 it is noted that the John the Baptist was told that when he baptized Jesus the Holy Spirit would ‘descend’ and ‘remain’ with Him.
The Holy Spirit is also referred to as another Comforter that we are told will “abide with you for ever.”(John 14 v 16; 16 v 7). This is a permanent and eternal relationship. The first Comforter is shown as being Jesus Himself who says “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14 v 18) So Jesus reveals Himself as the same as the Holy Ghost. Here the equal status of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is confirmed. It is in this verse in John 14 v 18 that Christ assures us that we will not be left as orphans when He departed from the earth to ascend to heaven. Jesus promises that we were not destined to be permanently bereaved of our parent, our Father: the Holy Ghost is our Father and would be present when Jesus had ascended to heaven. We are told that God will always be with us and the presence of the Holy Ghost confirms this fact, “lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt 28 v20).
Clarifying a part of the role of this different manifestation of God, Jesus said “... the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost ... shall teach you all things.” (John 14 v 26) Jesus said that while He was on earth the Holy Spirit could not be us so it was important for Him to go away. Christ Jesus said that He would send the Comforter and that when He arrived He would “guide you into all truth.” (John 16 v 13) The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is a gift to the world from Jesus “I will send him to you.” (John 16 v 8) This beautiful offering of God Himself came to mankind with distinctive characteristics. Jesus said that when the Comforter arrived He “will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgement.” (John 16 v 8) Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit will “tesify of me.” (John 15 v 26) The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to help each one of us to obtain our place in the kingdom of God (Rom 14 v 17 – 19). We can be filled with “all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Rom 15 v13) With the resources of a member at of the Godhead at our individual disposal we are destined to succeed.
The book of Acts has approximately half of the entire references to the Holy Spirit that appear in the whole Bible. In Acts 1 v 1- 2 it states that the Holy Ghost is to complete the work that Jesus started to do and teach on earth until “... the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost ...” spoke to the chosen apostles (Acts 1 v 2). Therefore it becomes evident that the Holy Spirit is equal with God the Father and God the Son as He continues to act and teach on earth. The book of Acts could be viewed as the beginning of the Biblical record of the Acts of the Holy Spirit on earth.
There were baptisms (Acts 8 v 12 - 13), speaking in tongues at Pentecost (Acts 2 v 1-18) bold speaking of the Word of God (Acts 4 v 31; Acts 6 v 3, 5), as well as numerous miracles and signs (Acts 8 v 6 – 10,13). The people who had received the Holy Spirit were known as men with “the great power of God” (Acts 8 v 10). In Galilee Jesus instructed his disciples to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt 28 v 19). This may sound like an impossible unachievable task but the Holy Spirit never gives ‘unnecessary burdens’, (Acts 15 v 28) but He has made us responsible to God for the people of the world; in Acts 20 v 28 we are told that the “Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
In order to obtain the promise of the kingdom of God we are charged to focus on “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.” (Rom 14 v 17 – 18) We are never left to accomplish these works alone: the Holy Spirit is ever present and all powerful because He is God.