Your Divine Supporter
God’s All-Embracing Presence in Our Daily Life
By Aecio E. Cairus
Who Is the Holy Spirit?
Nobody needs to feel shy about asking this question. You are not a stranger to the Spirit of God. Chances are, you were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and yes, also the Holy Spirit—a deeply significant action. This trio of names often appears together throughout the New Testament, though not always in the same order or with the same synonyms. Their identity, nature, and mutual relationship have been understood in different ways by Christians throughout the millennia. Most Christians (including Adventists) favor the Trinitarian understanding, according to which none of these names can be equated with another, but all of them share the same divine nature.
Admittedly, this is a difficult subject. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit think, speak, and act always together in the world, since the oneness of God is real. Telling these divine Persons apart from each other, then, requires careful attention to the biblical evidence.
How Did the Spirit Act in the Past?
The Spirit is not merely a power, even though we created beings know and experience Him as power. Jesus Himself reminded us that the name “Spirit” (literally, “breath” or “wind” in the biblical languages) is given to Him because, like a powerful wind, He is invisible but effective (John 3:8). In the beginning, this power manifested itself as “the Wind of God,” as some translate Gen. 1:2.1 The dove hovering upon the face of the water at the baptism of Jesus (Matt. 3:16) reminds us that, at the beginning of Christian life, the same Power creates and enlightens again, for “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).2
Scripture presents the Spirit of God as a moral power within the human conscience (Gen. 6:3) in order to “convict the world of guilt in regards to sin” (John 16:8). Subsequently, He appears as an intelligent power enabling the wisdom of righteous people such as Joseph (Gen. 41:38).
Pharaoh noticed this power, just as the people of Israel did when Saul was transformed “into a different person” (1 Sam. 10:6-11).
A very important Old Testament passage dealing with the concept of the Trinity can be found in Isaiah 63. In order to save Israel (verses 7, 8), God, “our Father” (verse 16), sent the “Angel of His presence” (verse 9) who often speaks as God Himself in the Old Testament. Tragically, the people to be redeemed, rebelled against their Savior and “grieved His Holy Spirit” (verse 10). In consequence, the prophets envisioned a future day, in messianic times, when a new covenant would be completed, with a new spirit in new hearts (Eze. 11:19, 20; Jer. 31:31-33).
These times were inaugurated with the “overshadowing” of Mary by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35), which enabled her—being a virgin—to conceive a “holy being.” This special birth differed from the Spirit “filling” a merely human baby, such as His cousin John (Luke 1:15), for a particular life mission. John foretold a future immersion in the Spirit (Matt. 3:11), which Jesus explained as the new birth from the Spirit (John 1:13; 3:5-8), fostering an inner “new self” while the old decreases in power (Col. 3:10, 11). This presence is the “indwelling” of the Spirit (Rom. 8:9, NKJV). It is a permanent gift of God that makes us His daughters and sons and so heirs of eternal life (Rom. 8:11, 17; 1 John 3:1, 2). It is never denied to those who seek it sincerely (Luke 11:13).
This same Spirit also gives gifts that are diverse (1 Cor. 12:7-11) and are given to specific members (verses 27-31) “just as He determines” (verse 11). Their purpose is to enable specific actions within the concerted total mission of the church as an organic whole, namely, the body of Christ.
The mission of the church is greatly advanced by the “fullness” of the Spirit, which leads to renewed enthusiasm and boldness in Christian witnessing (Acts 4:29; Eph. 6:18-20). While the indwelling is permanent, the fullness of the Spirit must be sought repeatedly through prayer (Acts 4:31) and other inspirational forms of worship (Eph. 5:18, 19).
How Does the Spirit Support Christians Today?
As a believer, you are probably aware that the Spirit, in His moral-power capacity, awakens your conscience thr-ough God’s revealed will, the law (Ps. 40:8), which the Spirit revealed in the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:21), the Word that led you to Christ (John 5:39, 40). He is your Paraclete, or divine Supporter (John 14:16, 26).
Less well assimilated is the fact that the Spirit enables each believer to be an intelligent part of the ecclesia, the ancient term for “assembly,” which is somewhat obscured by translating it “church.” None should feel relegated to a class of mere “lay people,” let alone an “audience” that simply sits in the pews. The Spirit of Christ empowers all believers gathering in His name to act with authority (Matt. 18:19, 20). This should lead them to take their assembly duties very seriously, both in disciplining erring members (verses 15-20) and in the selection and support of leaders (Acts 6:2-5).
After Christ there is no longer any separation between priestly and “lay” tribes. God’s people today are composed entirely of priests and priestesses (1 Peter 2:4, 5), whose anointing took place during their baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and, yes, the Holy Spirit. As such, you and I can participate in the task that defines all priesthood: to represent before God our fellow human beings who are in search of forgiveness, sympathizing with them in the awareness of our own weakness, inviting them into God’s presence, and interceding for them accordingly (Heb. 5:1, 2). While continuing to pray for the fullness of the Spirit, we should never forget that we already possess the “anointing from the Holy One” (1 John 2:20).
1 See Gordon J. Wenham, ‑ Biblical Commentary 1 (Waco, Tex.: Word, 1987), pp. 16, 17.
2 Except otherwise noted all Scripture quotations have been taken from the © New International Version.
Aecio E. Cairus, Ph.D., a native of Uruguay, is professor of systematic theology in the Theological Seminary of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, Philippines.