Sunday Oct 15, 2023

Soteriology Lesson 20 - The Role of God the Holy Spirit in Our Salvation

     The Holy Spirit is God and He displays the characteristics of personhood. When referring to the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14), Jesus used the demonstrative masculine pronoun “He” (ekeinos ἐκεῖνος), which indicates personhood. In addition, Scripture reveals the Holy Spirit can be lied to. In the book of Acts, the apostle Peter accused Ananias of lying “to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3). In the very next verse Peter said, “You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:4). One cannot lie to a force (such as electricity), but only to a person. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit can be grieved (Eph 4:30), quenched (1 Th 5:19), resisted (Acts 7:51), and blasphemed (Matt 12:31). These activities can be done only to a person. The Bible reveals the Holy Spirit was involved in the creation (Gen 1:2), brought about the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:35), guided the writers of Scripture (2 Sam 23:2; 2 Pet 1:21), convicts unbelievers of the sin of unbelief (John 16:8-11), regenerates believers at the moment of faith in Jesus (John 3:6; 6:63), baptizes them into union with Christ (1 Cor 12:13), indwells (John 14:16-17; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19), seals (Eph 1:13; 4:30), gives spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:7-11), glorifies Jesus (John 16:13-15), empowers (Eph 5:18), sustains the spiritual walk (Gal 5:16-18, 25), loves Christians (Rom 15:30), prays for them (Rom 8:26-27), comforts them (John 14:26), teaches and guides (John 14:26; 16:13-15), and makes Scripture understandable (1 Cor 2:11-13). According to Norman Geisler:

  • "All the elements of personhood are attributed to the Holy Spirit in Scripture. He has a mind (John 14:26): “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you.” He has will (1 Cor 12:11): “All these are the work of one and the same spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines”; and He has feeling (Eph 4:30): “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”[1]

     Prior to the coming of God the Son into the world (John 1:1, 14), the Holy Spirit had been active in the lives of saints such as Artisans (Ex 31:1-5), Judges (Num 11:25-29; Judg 3:9-10), Prophets (Ezek 2:2), and Kings (1 Sam 10:6; 16:13). In the OT, the Spirit did not indwell every believer, and could be removed as an act of divine discipline (1 Sam 16:14-16; Psa 51:11). The loss of the Spirit in the life of an OT saint did not mean forfeiture of salvation; rather, it meant loss of empowerment to a task. This would be especially onerous to a king, like Saul (1 Sam 16:14-16), because it meant he would continue to serve as king, but would lack the divine enablement necessary to perform the work. Thus, the king would having nothing more to rely upon than his human resources, and this would prove woefully inadequate, considering the huge responsibility of leadership. Without the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit, the king would be vulnerable to great anxiety and eventual collapse. David feared this discipline when he’d sinned against the Lord (Psa 51:11).[2]

     In the dispensation of the church age (starting in Acts 2), God the Holy Spirit plays a key role in the salvation of the lost. Though we are not given all the particulars, and there is some mystery as to the details of how He works, it is still clear from the NT that He has a special ministry related to the salvation of the lost, and apart from His work, none can be saved. The zealous evangelist who seeks to win to the souls of the lost may, from a heart of compassion, employ every passage of Scripture related to salvation along with every compelling line of good reason and yet, in the end, fail to bring one person to Christ. Chafer speaks to this as follows:

  • "Every soul-winner becomes aware, sooner or later, of the fact that the vast company of unsaved people do not realize the seriousness of their lost estate; nor do they become alarmed even when the most direct warning and appeal is given to them. They may be normally intelligent and keen to comprehend any opportunity for personal advancement in material or intellectual things; yet there is over them a spell of indifference and neglect toward the things that would secure for them any right relation to God. All the provisions of grace with the present and future blessedness of the redeemed are listened to by these people without a reasonable response. They are, perhaps, sympathetic, warm-hearted and kind; they are full of tenderness toward all human suffering and need; but their sinfulness before God and their imperative need of a Savior are strangely neglected. They lie down to sleep without fear and awaken to a life that is free from thought or obligation toward God. The faithful minister soon learns, to his sorrow, that his most careful presentation of truth and earnest appeal produces no effect upon them, and the question naturally arises: “How, then, can these people be reached with the Gospel?”[3]


[1] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2003), 287–288.

[2] The OT is basically silent concerning the role the Holy Spirit played in the salvation of OT saints; however, it is assumed He was active, albeit quietly in the background.

[3] Lewis Sperry Chafer, True Evangelism (New York: Gospel Publishing House, 1911), 71–72.

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