Brookfield Christian Reformed Church

God, the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is necessary for our salvation, for the life of the church, and for the work of God in the world. But who is he?

Scripture answers that the Holy Spirit is God and that the Holy Spirit is personal. He is not simply a power, like electricity. He has feelings. Our obedient faith makes him happy. Our disobedient unbelief makes him sad. We should think of the Holy Spirit not as an impersonal power, but as a powerful person who, “as well as the Father and the Son, is eternal God” (Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 53).

The Holy Spirit is the person of the divine trinity who puts God’s plan into operation. He was at work in creation, in the lives of the Old Testament people, in the birth and baptism of Jesus, in the writing of the Bible—the list could go on and on.

One of the Holy Spirit’s concerns is bringing people to salvation in Jesus Christ. As the internal persuader, he awakens unbelieving hearts to their desperate, sinful condition and to their need of the gospel.

To do that the Holy Spirit uses specific means: the Scripture he inspired, the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and the sacraments. The Christian Reformed Church stresses our use of these means.

Scripture identifies two other important aspects of the Holy Spirit’s work: the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit.

Some of our Christian brothers and sisters in other churches place a lot of emphasis on unusual gifts such as tongue-speaking, healing, and doing other miracles. But those are only three of a long list that the Bible mentions. The Spirit supplies each Christian with at least one gift, ability, or opportunity for service. These gifts are not simply for our personal enjoyment, but for the good of the church. Each member of a church may contribute only a seemingly insignificant part, but when each person uses the gift that the Holy Spirit provides, the church is truly built up in love.

The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). These are neither nine conditions for winning God’s approval nor nine skills needed in order to be saved. They are rather fruit that appear in a life open to the Holy Spirit’s work and lived under his power.

Such a Spirit-directed life comes by praying, believing, and obeying. We pray for the Holy Spirit. We believe in Jesus Christ. We do the will of our heavenly Father. And in the process we discover that we’re not alone. Someone else is guiding, directing, moving us ever deeper into the Christian faith.

It is the Holy Spirit. He is God, personally at work in our lives.