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The Spirit of God is God in Action 9

The Spirit of God is God in Action

“The Spirit of God is God in Action”


The Spirit of God is God in action within us, upon us, or around us. God’s Spirit is God at work, making things happen in the world.

We cannot see the Spirit, but we can see the results of its power. The Spirit of God was present when the world was created. God sent his Spirit to do powerful things among his people, Israel. Later, God sent his Spirit when Jesus lived on earth, and the Spirit has been present with Christians ever since.


There are three different ways in which the word “spirit” is used in the Bible. It is a wind from God, the breath of life, and a spirit that fills a person with strong emotion or power.

In the book of Genesis, the wind from God was what caused the waters of the Flood to stop rising (Genesis 8:1).

This same wind from God blew locusts all over Egypt (Exodus 10:13) and sent quail for the Israelites to eat (Exodus 14:21).

God blew wind from his nostrils to part the waters of the Red Sea so that the Israelites could walk across on dry land. In Genesis 2:7, we read that God created man by breathing his Spirit into him. Human beings only have life because of the breath of life, or the spirit, that is within them.

God, through his Spirit, is the source of all life, whether animal or human. In the Old Testament the Spirit of God would sometimes fill people, causing them to say or do things that they normally could not do, in order to fulfill God’s purposes.

People who were filled with the Spirit were given a great responsibility to fulfill because of the Spirit that was within them. Leaders were recognized by the Spirit within them.

In Judges chapter 3, God’s spirit filled a man named Othniel.

He became a judge and was able to win a war and keep the peace in Israel for forty years. God’s spirit also filled other judges such as Gideon and Jephthah.

Because of the Spirit of God, they were able to conquer their enemies. Sometimes, as in the case of Saul, God would send an evil spirit to fill someone in order to carry out his plans (see 1 Samuel 16:14-16; Judges 9:23; 1 Kings 22:19-23).


The prophets in the Old Testament had the job of giving messages from the Spirit of God to the people. It was important for the people to know the difference between a false prophet and a true prophet of God.

The term “Holy Spirit” is used in the Psalms and in Isaiah to set apart the Spirit of God from any other spirit, whether human or from God (Psalm 51:11; Isaiah 63:10-11). A false prophet would not have the Holy Spirit.

A prophet that had a message from the Holy Spirit would have the character of a person who was obedient to God. The people could recognize a false prophet by evaluating the prophet’s character as well as the message he was delivering. The prophets wrote about the Spirit in two significant ways.

The Spirit inspired prophecy, and it would be known again in the age to come, when Jesus would be on earth. The later prophets, such as Ezekiel, Haggai, and Zechariah, claimed that the Spirit was the inspirer of prophecy. This means that the Spirit gave them the words that they proclaimed and wrote down.

The Spirit of God was responsible for everything that the writers of the Bible wrote down. The prophets also wrote that God would show his power through the Spirit in the age to come. Isaiah prophesied that the Spirit would come again to anoint a man who would bring salvation to all people (Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 61:1).

He was talking about Jesus, the Messiah. The Messiah was the king the Jews were waiting for. Through Jesus, the Spirit would be given freely to all of Israel (Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28-29; Zechariah 12:10) as part of a new covenant between God and man (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:26-27). The covenant was a promise from God that he would send his Spirit to deliver his people.

The Israelites had broken their old covenant with God because they continued to disobey him. Under the new covenant, God promised to forgive them. Between the time of the Old Testament and the New Testament, it was believed that the Spirit was no longer present in Israel.

During that time the Spirit’s voice was no longer heard through the voices of the prophets. But the Spirit was known again when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to the earth.


We cannot fully comprehend the New Testament’s teaching on the Spirit without reading and understanding the use of the Spirit in the Old Testament.

John speaks of the Spirit as a “wind” (John 3:8), and Paul writes of it as “breath” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). In Revelation 11:11 the Spirit is described as a “breath of life.” These same descriptions of the Spirit are found in the Old Testament. Also, the New Testament writers agreed with the prophets of the Old Testament in that the Spirit inspired Scripture (see Mark 12:36; Acts 28:25; Hebrews 3:7; 2 Peter 1:21).

The Spirit that the Old Testament writers looked forward to was realized in the New Testament. Just as Isaiah had prophesied, the Spirit came again during the time of Jesus. This “new age” was one in which the Spirit was once again present on earth. Jesus was the anointed, or specially chosen one, who came to give salvation. Jesus came and gave his Spirit to those who believed in him. This was the beginning of the Christian faith.


An important aspect of Jesus’ ministry (his work on earth) and the message of his followers was that the Spirit was already with them, that this “new age” was the present. No other Jews of that time, except for a group called the Essenes of Qumran, believed in the presence of the Spirit among them. The prophets and the rabbis of the New Testament were still looking to a future time when a messiah would come.

They did not realize that Jesus was the Messiah. Even John the Baptist spoke of one who would come and of the Spirit’s work in the future (Mark 1:8). For Jesus and his followers, the Spirit-filled life was a reality. The first Christians believed they were living in the “last days” because the prophecies of the Spirit’s return had come true in their time. Jesus knew that his teachings and healings were fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament (Matthew 12:41-42; Matthew 13:16-17).

He also knew he was the one that was specially chosen by the Spirit to bring salvation to mankind (Matthew 5:3-6; Luke 4:17-19). Jesus understood that the power to perform miracles came from God. God displayed his power through Jesus, just as he will in the end times (Matthew 12:27-28; Mark 3:22-26).

The Spirit of God was with Jesus as he lived among men. Because so many people were still looking to the coming of the Spirit in the “end times,” the writers of the Gospels (the first four books of the Bible) emphasized the role of the Spirit in the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:18; John 3:34), in his baptism (Mark 1:9-10), and in his ministry (Luke 4:1, 14; Luke 10:21).

They wanted to show people that the Spirit was with them, that they were already living in the “end times,” and that Jesus’ life was proof of that.


The Christian church began with Jesus’ resurrection. Christians believe that Jesus died to save them from their sin and that he rose again from the dead. Following the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and breathed the Holy Spirit on them (John 20:22). After Jesus was taken back up into heaven, the Spirit was given to the disciples on the day of Pentecost.

At Pentecost, the believers were overwhelmed with visions, and they spoke in tongues when the Spirit entered them (Acts 2:2-5, 17-18). They believed that they were entering into the “new age” that was prophesied by Joel. This new age was one in which the Spirit was present on earth, living and working in the lives of Christians.

The gift of the Spirit was seen as the power of this new age (Hebrews 6:4-5). The apostle Paul understood the presence of the Spirit in the believer’s life to be a certain sign that that person had been saved from his sins. The believer could be assured that God had granted him eternal life in heaven (2 Corinthians 1:22).

Paul taught that it was necessary for a believer to have the Spirit in order to enter God’s kingdom (Romans 8:15-17). The Spirit changes their believers’ lives to become more like Jesus.

Becoming more like Jesus is a lifelong process, because every believer is caught in the daily conflict between living in the Spirit or according to sinful desires. The process does not end until the person is brought completely under the Spirit’s power (Romans 8:11, 23).


John the Baptist had spoken of Jesus as one who would come and baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11). Jesus referred to this in Acts 1:5 and 11:16, and it was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (2:17, 33). When the Spirit was poured out on the disciples at Pentecost, they were given salvation from God because they believed in Jesus.

One of Luke’s most important messages in the book of Acts is that a person must have the Spirit in order to be a Christian (Acts 2:38-39). Even though Jesus had followers while he was on earth, they were not saved until they received the Spirit. Peter recognized that when the Spirit entered the person’s life, God had accepted that person.

An example of this is Apollos. He did not know all about who Jesus was, but because he was filled with the Spirit (18:24-26), he was effective in spreading the Gospel. Paul emphasizes in his letter that believing in Jesus and receiving the Spirit go hand in hand.

When a person receives the Spirit, he or she begins the Christian life (Galatians 3:2-3). When one is baptized in the Spirit, that person becomes a member of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). A person belongs to Christ and is a child of God upon receiving the Spirit (Romans 8:9-11, 14-17).

The Spirit is the life-giver. When a person believes in Christ, he or she becomes a new creation (John 20:22). The Spirit is the power of God that brings about this new birth in believers. Christians experience new life because of the Spirit living in them.


There are many ways that the Spirit works among his people. When the first Christians referred to the Spirit, they were thinking of experiences of divine power. They used the word “Spirit” to explain the experiences of new life, freedom from the law, and spiritual renewal.

They wrote of experiences of extreme joy and moral transformation brought about by the work of the Spirit.

Paul wrote about spiritual gifts such as inspired speech (1 Corinthians 12:8-10), miracles and healings (Galatians 3:5), acts of service, counseling, administrating, helping others, and showing mercy (Romans 12:7-8). These are all gifts from the Spirit.

While there are many experiences and gifts of the Spirit, individual believers cannot expect to encounter every one of them in their own lives. The Spirit gives different spiritual gifts to different people. Yet all believers receive gifts of the Spirit. It is important for individual believers to recognize the gifts and experiences of the Spirit in their own lives. These gifts and experiences serve as a sign of a believer’s salvation and new life.


Christians shared their experiences of the Spirit, and through this the early church began to grow. The Spirit brought people into the body of Christ through the ministry of Paul and the other apostles. Paul traveled to many different places such as Samaria and Caesarea, and it was the Spirit that enabled him to preach the truth about salvation and bring people to belief in Jesus. The apostles were given many gifts of the Spirit, including healing and miracles, in order to better proclaim the message of salvation.

Because of these gifts of the Spirit, the early church grew and unified. Even today we can see how the members of the body of Christ are unified through the different gifts of the Spirit. A person who preaches is just as important as the person who helps an elderly person do his laundry. Preaching and helping others are both very important gifts from the Spirit and work together to help build the church.

Other Pages on the Holy Spirit Can Be Found Below

Holy Spirit 1 Holy Spirit 2 Holy Spirit 3 Holy Spirit 4 Holy Spirit 5 Holy Spirit 6  Holy Spirit 7  Holy Spirit 8  Holy Spirit 9


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