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Catechism Class. Lord’s Day 20A Q53 The PERSON of the Holy Spirit


Catechism Class. Lord’s Day 20A Q53 

The PERSON of the Holy Spirit

Welcome again to our weekly catechism class, and we have reached Lord’s Day 20.  Our instructor is still teaching us the doctrine that lies beneath the words of the historic Apostle’s Creed.  This is important for us, for we are part of the historic church, we are at one with believers who have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb, throughout all ages.  Our teacher follows the creed with one single question about the Holy Spirit in LD20, Q53:-

Q.53, What do you believe concerning the Holy Spirit? A. First, he is, together with the Father and the Son, true and eternal God.  Second, he is also given to me, to make me by true faith share in Christ and all his benefits, to comfort me, and to remain with me forever. 

Listen to the PODCAST HERE

Now, that really makes the Catechist a lot different from many modern evangelical churches, where there is a huge emphasis on the Holy Spirit, and his gifts among the believers.  Some of our Pentecostal friends, brothers and sisters in the Lord, may even say that we are at fault in the Reformed churches, – for we underplay the work of God the Holy Spirit.  Do we? Is the Catechist guilty of making less than he should of the Holy Spirit and his work?  Actually, I think not!  READ: John 16:13-14  

And, let’s apply that:-

Firstly, our reformed understanding of the place of the Holy Spirit in worship is reflective of the primary work of the Holy Spirit, which is to glorify Christ. When we are singing our praises to the Lord Jesus, when we are praying to him, and worshipping him, and learning about him, that’s when the Holy Spirit is doing his work. 

Secondly, our understanding of the place of the Holy Spirit in worship is reflective of the Biblical revelation of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, which makes much more, and reveals to us much more about God the Father and God the Son, than it does about the Holy Spirit. That’s not at all surprising, considering that the Holy Spirit’s role is Christocentric, and considering that the Holy Spirit inspired the Biblical writers, – who merely reflected the Spirit’s own emphasis on God the Father and God the Son.  

So, the Catechist, and the Creed, and the historical worship practices of the Reformed Churches, simply reflect the work and the focus of the Holy Spirit himself.  

The catechist asks us what we believe about the Holy Spirit, and he divides his answer into two parts, the PERSON of the Holy Spirit, and the work of the Holy Spirit.  We shall follow that example, and we shall look who the Holy Spirit is, and then in our next lesson, we’ll see what the Holy Spirit does.  The first thing we need to discover is the most basic of all:-

1 The Holy Spirit is a PERSON. God is three distinct persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in One God.  We call this the Trinity. And that brings us to our first statement about the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a PERSON, not an inanimate force. If you read the AV THOUGH, in Romans 8, you may see this, Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  The Scrivener TR Greek Text reads, αυτο το πνευμα – the words translated ‘itself’ is auto – it simply indicates the ability to work independently, (think of our words ‘automatic’ or automobile’) to work without outside aid – so the Amp: “but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time]” The fact that the holy spirit himself examines our hearts, knows our needs, at exactly the right time, when those needs are troubling us, and knows how to express those needs in intercession before God, better than we can express them ourselves is not the only indication of his personhood.  He fulfils the criteria for personhood in many different ways, and we see these in Scripture:

  • He is a TEACHER. Warning his disciples about the dangers of persecution, Jesus comforted them in Luke12:11-12 
  • He SPEAKS. Acts 13:2  
  • He PRAYS. As we have already seen, in Romans 8:26  
  • He can be GRIEVED. Ephesians 4:30  

So, the Holy Spirit is a PERSON. Now, we need to add that the Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the Godhead. So-

2 The Holy Spirit is GOD.  There are ample biblical examples of the deity of the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus taught his disciples the baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19, they were to baptise in the NAME (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, all co-equal within the Godhead.  In Genesis 1:2, the Holy Spirit, together with the father and the Son are active in Creation.  Genesis 1:1-2 When Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit about their money, they equally were lying to God. Acts 5:3-4  And when Paul teaches us that God indwells the believer, he equates that with the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 3:16  

So, because the Holy Spirit is God he is …

  • Omnipresent.   There is nowhere that we can go, that the Holy Spirit is not there!  The Holy Spirit is a SPIRIT. We cannot see him – but he is with us, within us, around us. READ how the psalmist described this in Psalm 139:7-10,  Finally, for now, we need to note that…
  • The Holy Spirit is Eternal.  Hebrews refers to him as the ‘eternal spirit’ in Hebrews 9:14  

So, now that we have established some very simple and basic truths about who the Holy Spirit is, we can proceed in our next lesson, to see what the Holy Spirit does, and how we, as believers in Christ, benefit from his work.  

© Bob McEvoy

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