Pneumatology as a concept has to do with the branch of Christian theology that deals with God the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity and here I am setting forth the orthodox, doctrinal position under five headings i.e. the Deity of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit and Creation, the Holy Spirit in Revelation and Inspiration, the Holy Spirit and Redemption and the Holy Spirit and the World.
The concept of Pneumatology is not hard to grasp but it has been made immeasurably more difficult because older English versions of the Bible often refer to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost and there from have sprung many misconceptions. Some people regard the Holy Spirit as a divine force and some think it is merely a mystical power God gives to believers. However as we shall see these are false impressions.
THE DEITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) and being coequal with God the Father and God the Son, what applies to one applies to all as regards attributes, holiness, power and eternality.
The Holy Spirit's Deity is incontestable.
The Bible places the Holy Spirit on the same level as the Father and the Son, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." (2 Corinthians 13:14), "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 28:19), "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all." (1Corinthians 12:4-6), "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." (1 Peter 1:2).
The Holy Spirit is called God, "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." (Acts 5:3-4)
The Holy Spirit is eternal, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:14)
The Holy Spirit is omnipotent, "Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ." (Romans 15:19)
The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:7-10), omniscient, "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10), and holy as his name implies. In every way the Holy Spirit is equal in essence with the Father and the Son but he has some offices and functions which are different.
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND CREATION
Particular acts of creation are said to be the work of the Holy Spirit, for it was he who moved upon the face of the waters, "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:2) and garnished the heavens, "By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent." (Job 26:13)
The Holy Spirit gives life to men, "The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." (Job 33:4), "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." (Romans 8:11) and provides them with their talents, "See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship" (Exodus 31:2-3) and see also 1Co 12:1-11.
The Holy Spirit is particularly active in restoring, "Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth." (Psalm 104:29-30), "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit." (Joel 2:28-29)
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN REVELATION AND INSPIRATION
The inspiration of prophets and Apostles to write the Holy Scriptures, and to teach and preach, is the work of the Holy Spirit, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)
The Bible affirms that the Holy Spirit gave the Lord's words to the prophets, "Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts." (Zechariah 7:12), "And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me." (Ezekiel 2:2), "Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands." (Nehemiah 9:30)
The Holy Spirit also gives God's revelations in words, "Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." (Acts 8:29) and God's revelation to humanity, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:21). It was the Holy Spirit who Jesus promised to send to teach the disciples all things and to bring all things to their remembrance, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26)
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND REDEMPTION
It has been well said that the Holy Spirit brings about "the consummation of the works of God" and this is clearly seen in man's redemption. It was the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament who prepared the Israelites and gave them a longing for redemption and when they rebelled against God facilitated their reconciliation, "But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him? That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name? That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble? As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name." (Isaiah 63:10-14)
It was the Holy Spirit who motivated many, like David, to look forward to a land of uprightness, "Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness." (Psalm 143:10).
It was the Holy Spirit who was responsible for Jesus Christ's conception, "But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 1:18, 20)
It was the Holy Spirit who descended on Jesus at his baptism, "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him." (Matthew 3:16) and led him into the wilderness, "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness." (Luke 4:1).
Jesus' triumphant return to Galilee from Satan's temptations was "...in the power of the Spirit..." (Luke 4:14) and the Holy Spirit was on him in the temple, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." (Luke 4:18).
The new birth, when sinners repent and are converted, consists of being born of the Holy Spirit, "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5) and by the Holy Spirit Jesus cast out demons, "But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." (Matthew 12:28).
The Holy Spirit motivated and empowered the Apostles to do their duties, "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4), "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8),
It was the Holy Spirit who established the church at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-47), sustains believers by his presence and glory, and comforts them, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14:16).
The Holy Spirit indwells believers, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1Corinthians 3:16), and teaches them, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:12-13) and seals them for eternity, "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
Altogether the Holy Spirit exercises a powerful ministry on behalf of believers and will go on doing so faithfully and efficaciously until all believers are safely gathered home.
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE WORLD.
The Holy Spirit plays a vital role in the world today in that it is he who convicts the world of sin and righteousness and judgment, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." (John 16:7-8)
The Spirit's conviction is on the grounds; being that of sin, because the world could have but chose not to believe on Jesus, "Of sin, because they believe not on me." (John 16:9); of righteousness because Jesus was completely and truly righteous and the world was not, "Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more" (John 16:10) and of judgment, the one to come, because the devil is condemned by Christ's successful incarnation, ministry and resurrection, "Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." ((John 16:11).
The Holy Spirit can transform anyone in the world who turns to Jesus, "by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:5). Believers should remember and the world should take note that there is such a thing as committing the unpardonable sin, i.e. blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is to ascribe to Satan the miraculous work of Jesus, which in effect is to call Jesus Satan's agent, "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." (Matthew 12:31-32)
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013