Who is the Holy Spirit and What Does He Do?

Who is the Holy Spirit and What Does He Do?

Dear Roger,

We hear a lot about God the father and Jesus the Son but we seldom hear anything about God the Holy Spirit. The subject of the Holy Spirit came up in one of our recent Bible studies and most of us had no idea what He did. Can you give us a short summary of his work, His responsibilities, what He does for us and how He interacts with us?

Sincerely, Kendall

Dear Kendall,

The Short Answer Is That God The Father Was The Architect Who Designed The Universe. Jesus The Son Was The Contractor Who Built the universe. The Holy Spirit Is The Person Who Keeps It All Running.


“Now I am going to him who sent me . . . Because I said these things you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I’m going away. Unless I go way the counselor will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you (John 14: 6-7).

Up to this time, Jesus had always been there.  Now He’s going away.  While the disciples were filled with consternation, He said that Another Person just as divine, just as helpful, just as compassionate as he was coming to take His place.

There was nothing encouraging about his leaving that sounded good to his disciples.

The Greek word “parakletos” is the word Jesus used to describe the one that he was sending. The word may be translated in several ways; “comforter; one called alongside another; encourager; counselor or exhorter.”

Up to this time, Jesus had been their “parakletos”, their divine friend always near and at hand. For example, on one occasion, they were perplexed on the subject of prayer, and they said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray,” and He taught them to pray.

In his earthly body Jesus could only be in one place at one time. When he was talking to Nicodemus in Jerusalem (John 3: 1-21) He couldn’t simultaneously be with the woman at the well in Sumaria (John 4:1-36).

When the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost and indwelt 120 Christ Followers, the Holy Spirit could be with all of them, everywhere, all the time (Acts 2:2-4).

By the way, the Holy Spirit is the one who actually regenerates and indwells our soul at the moment of our salvation.

When we are leading someone to Christ we often say, “Let Jesus come into your heart.” That’s not exactly correct. The Holy Spirit is the agent of regeneration. It is the Holy Spirit who now indwells our spirit at conversion as we receive Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.

Then, where is Jesus? Jesus is now at the Right Hand of the Father in heaven (Acts 7: 54-56).

Don’t over or under react to the idea of whether or not it is all right to tell someone that they can the invite Jesus into their heart. Since both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God, there is no contradiction (John 3:20).

It is the presence of the Spirit in one’s life which makes him a Christian.  He permanently indwells every believer.  His entrance is not to be repeated (Romans 8: 28-35).


Since the passing of the first few generations of Christianity, no doctrine of Christian faith has been so neglected as that of the Holy Spirit.  The Apostle’s Creed contains ten articles on the Person and Work of Christ, but only one on the Holy Spirit.

Practically, most of us Christians could well identify with the answer of the Ephesian disciples of John the Baptist to Paul when Paul asked them:  “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  The Ephesians replied:  “No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (Acts 19:2).



  1. Living the Christian life is a daily focus on walking in the spirit, listening to his voice and doing what he says. The Holy Spirit is the “enabler” who makes it possible for the Christian to live daily for Christ.

  1. The “filling of the spirit” means a full surrender to the life of Christ. Our experience upward in the life of Christ is in direct proportion to our experience downward in ceasing from self.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to democracy. Instead, be filled with the spirit” (Ephesians 5:17-18).


  1. The fullness (or filling) of the Spirit is a variable and must be repeated often (Ephesians 5:18).

  1. Sin dirties our souls and inhibits our ability for the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. Quenching the Spirit closes our ears so that we are unable to hear his directions.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

  1. The Holy Spirit prays for us (Romans 8:26). He is actively making intercession (praying) for us before God the Father.

“And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:27).


When we pray with our minds we pray about what we know. When we pray with our spirit we enter into the very throne room of God during which we speak to God human spirit to Holy Spirit.

“So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit; but I shall also sing with my mind” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

  1. The Holy Spirit teaches us. Can it get any better than for the author of the Bible to teach and interpret it for us!


“But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I’ve said to you” (John l4:26).


  1. The basic work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ (John 16:14).

“He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 16:14).

One of the best ways that we glorify God is to let people see how we handle victoriously our troubles and trials.


  1. From a practical standpoint, if the Holy Spirit is considered as merely an influence or power, our thought will constantly be, “How can I get hold of the Holy Spirit and use it.” On the other hand, recognizing Him as a person, our thought will be, “How can the Holy Spirit get hold of me and use me?”

  1. The Holy Spirit is intricately involved in the convicting dimension of evangelism.

He convicts people of the sin of not believing in Jesus. He convicts of righteousness to show people that they’re not good enough for heaven. He convicts of judgment to come because Satan now controls the world (John 16:8-11).



Read each symbolic description carefully and then picture yourself living out each characteristic in conjunction with the Holy Spirit.

Then, think of some practical ways that you can actually experience each symbol along with God the father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit – and yourself – in daily walking with the Spirit.

  1. A DOVE

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my son whom I love; with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:l6).

In Scripture the Dove has many traits:

(1) Love (Song of Solomon 5:2)

(2) Purity (Song of Solomon 5:2)

(3) Peace (Genesis 8:8-12)

(4) Modesty (Song of Solomon 2:14)

(5) Innocence; (Matthew10: 16)

(6) Beauty (Psalm 68:13)

(7) Gentleness (Isaiah 59:11)

  1. WATER

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit (John 7:37-39).”

The Spirit is like a spring overflowing.  As the Spirit is in the believer, he/she overflows like spring water to refresh and quench the thirst of him/her and others.

Jesus offered the woman at the well (John 4) a bucket of running water which would last forever. It took her a while, but finally she understood what he was offering. The bucket overflowed to reach an old town with salvation.

  1. WIND


“You should not be surprised at my saying, you must be born again. I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.. . . The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear it’s sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the spirit” (John 3:8).


Air is everywhere, touching and sustaining all things.  As wind can get into every nook and cranny, so the spirit is able to move throughout a believer’s life analyzing, judging and empowering whatever their need might want what was the matter be.

  1. FIRE


Fire in the Scripture mainly represents the presence of God. For example, this is seen in the burning bush (Exodus3: 1-3) and from Elijah’s calling down fire from heaven to defeat the 400 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 17 and is climaxed with the Holy Spirit coming as tongues of fire on Pentecost.

The fire is also a symbol of God’s purifying action.  So the Holy Spirit is seen as showing God’s presence as well as his work of cleaning and burning (purging, if you will) the sins out of the life of every believer (Acts 2:3).

  1. OIL

Oil in the Bible is usually used to signify power for service and as illumination.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18).

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you . . .” (Acts 1:8).

The mighty works of Jesus were done in the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18; and Acts 10:38).  We have no power in ministry before God without the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

We may equate the anointing of the Holy Spirit with the filling of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:18.

Just so, upon us the anointing of the Holy Spirit must come (Acts 1:8) in order for us to provide for powerful service and for shining the true light that has come into the world (John 1:4-9).

Oil is also used to give light.  In the Old Testament, holy oil alone continually lighted the temple.  In the same way, the Spirit lights and illumines Christ before our eyes.  The most beautiful illustration of the work of divine oil is found in Zechariah 4:2-6.


“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The word “guarantee” in Greek is “arrabon”, which refers to a down payment or first installment.

The Holy Spirit is God’s first installment of a greater life which is waiting for us in heaven.

Our inheritance, our salvation, our glory, our fellowship with God, our likeness unto Him, our freedom from sin and its evils, are all down payments represented and assured by the “first installment or guarantee of the Holy Spirit.

Well, Kendall, I hope this answers your question. If you have more, please let me know.

Love, Roger

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