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Lesson 1: The Personality and Divinity of the Holy Spirit *

Introduction: The nature of God is a major subject of the Bible. What separated the followers of the Living God from the rest of the world was their belief in a single living God, and not a large number of gods. Even today, observant Jews wonder how Christians could get "off the track" with their belief in three, not one God. Why do we believe that the Holy Spirit is one part of the Trinity that is God? Who is the Holy Spirit? What is His nature? Our study this quarter takes us into these questions about the Holy Spirit. Let's begin by plunging into our study right now!

  1. Holy, Holy, Holy

    1. Read Genesis 1:1-3. At what point in the Bible are we introduced to the Spirit of God? (The very beginning.)

    2. Read Psalms 104:30. Does this text, and Genesis 1, suggest that the Spirit of God created us? (Yes.)

    3. Read John 1:1-3. Who does this text say created us? (The Word.)

      1. Who is the Word? (Read John 1:14. This chapter in John makes clear that Jesus is the Word.)

    4. Do these texts contradict each other? Some texts say the Spirit of God created us, others say that Jesus created us. How do you explain this? (Read Genesis 1:26. God uses the plural when He says that He is going to make humans in His image. In the very beginning of the Bible we are introduced to this idea of the "plural" nature of our one Living God.)

    5. Read Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8. Do you wonder why when praising God the heavenly beings repeat "Holy" three times? (This also implies a Trinity of three.)

    6. Read Matthew 28:18-19. After Jesus' resurrection from the dead He gives this instruction to His disciples. When Jesus directs us to "baptize them in the name," what is He saying? (The new converts are to enter into a new relationship with their God. They acknowledge their allegiance to their new God.)

      1. Who is the God whom they now serve? (In Matthew 28:18 Jesus announces that now that He has defeated Satan, all authority has been returned to Him. He re-enters His rightful place as one of the three facets of God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.)

      2. For the purposes of this lesson, we are most interested in the Holy Spirit. What authority does the Holy Spirit possess? (It is fully part of the Trinity. When we are baptized we accept the Holy Spirit as God every bit as much as we accept the Father and Jesus as our God.)

  1. Blasphemy

    1. Read Matthew 12:22-23. When the people see Jesus perform this great miracle, what thought comes into their minds? (That He could be the promised Messiah, the "Son of David.")

    2. Read Matthew 12:24. What alternative answer do the Pharisees suggest to what the people are thinking? (That Jesus is using the power of Satan to do miracles. He is not simply a man, he is a man who uses evil power.)

    3. Read Matthew 12:25-27. How does Jesus answer the accusation of the Pharisees? What logic does He use? (What common sense is there in Satan driving out His own forces? Why would Satan do that? If it is true that Satan is willing to drive out his own forces, then when the Pharisees drive out demons they might be relying on Satan too!)

    4. Read Matthew 12:28. What does this verse teach us about the Holy Spirit? (1. That He is stronger than Satan. 2. That He is willing to work with humans to overcome Satan. 3. His work is proof of the presence of the Kingdom of God.)

    5. Read Matthew 12:29. Is Jesus telling us that He and the Holy Spirit are robbers?

      1. If so, what is being taken by the robbers? (Sinners! Those captive to sin. I was going to skip over this text until I realized the importance of what Jesus is saying: We cannot defeat Satan without the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot convert sinners without Satan being first bound by the Holy Spirit.)

    6. Read Matthew 12:30. What is it to "gather?" (Help convert others.)

      1. Why can't we be neutral? Why is the absence of "gathering" "scattering?"

      2. When I took a course in logic in (a Christian) college, my professor pointed to a similar statement by Jesus as being an example of the "Black/white" or "Division" fallacy. My view then, as now, was that the sayings of Jesus could not be a logical fallacy. So, how do you understand Jesus' statement? (In many situations of life we can be neutral. Thus, the logical fallacy is accurate. But here the context is very important. Jesus tells us that a "strong man" is at work who already has "possessions." We don't start out neutral. We start out as fallen humans, sinners, who are the possessions of Satan. When it comes to spiritual matters, there are no neutral parties.)

    7. Read Matthew 12:31-32. Can you blaspheme someone who is not God? (No. This is further proof of the divinity of the Holy Spirit.)

      1. Is this proof that Jesus is not divine, since speaking against Him can be forgiven? (No. The assumption in Jesus' statement is that speaking against Him is blasphemy too. It can, however, be forgiven.)

      1. What, exactly, is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit here? (Go back to the story of the healing of the demon possessed man. Attributing to Satan the power of the Holy Spirit is the blasphemy.)

      2. How can we avoid blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in the future? (I recall articles in religious (non-charismatic) publications which pretty directly called certain faith healing the product of the power of Satan. This kind of statement is very dangerous. You need to be 100% sure before you make any statement like that. Calling the work of another Christian the work of Satan is a dangerous thing.)

    1. Read Mark 3:28-29, another account of Jesus' statement. Why is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit the unpardonable sin? Standing alone, these two verses in Mark would contradict each other. Obviously, Jesus does not consider them to contradict each other. How do you reconcile these two texts? (A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments has an explanation, part of which I like. It looks at Mark 3:28 and concludes "There is no sin whatever, it seems, of which it may be said. 'That is not a pardonable sin.'" Thus, verse 29 explains verse 28, it does not contradict it. There is nothing in the nature of any sin in itself that would make it unpardonable.)

      1. Then what is it about this sin that makes it unpardonable? (Read John 16:8-11. This is a text about the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit which brings conviction of sin and salvation. If you reject the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, if you attribute the Spirit's work to Satan, then by necessity you will never confess sin or accept God's gift of salvation. It is not that any sin is unforgivable, it is simply that if your sin is rejecting the power that convicts you of sin, you will never be convicted of your sin!)

        1. Is rejecting the Holy Spirit a "one time" thing, or a slow process of the life? (It must be slow because John 16:8 says that the Spirit "will convict the world of guilt." I don't think you need to accept the Holy Spirit to be convicted of sin. It is by steadily rejecting the Spirit's efforts that you direct your path to eternal destruction.)

    2. Friend, accepting the Holy Spirit as fully God is essential to becoming a Christian. Accepting the work of the Holy Spirit in your life is essential to living the Christian life. Will you invite the Holy Spirit into your life today?

  1. Next week: Holy Spirit Symbolized in Scripture.
* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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