Ans: The Holy Spirit is the eternal Spirit of God, co–equal and co– eternal with the Father and the Son.
2 Cor. 3:17. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Matt. 28:19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Eph. 4:30. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
See also: Gen. 1:2; Mk. 3:28–30; Acts 5:3–4, 9; 13:2–4; 16:6; 20:28; 1 Tim. 4:1.
God the Holy Spirit is a distinct Person within the Godhead. As the issue with the Lord Jesus Christ has been his Deity, so the great issue concerning the Holy Spirit has been his distinct personality. He is not a mere influence, impersonal force or an emanation from God (Acts 13:2, 4). He possesses the peculiarities, power and prerogatives of a distinct personality: he speaks (Acts 13:2; 1 Tim. 4:1), creates (Gen. 1:2), commands (Acts 13:2–4), possesses intelligent judgment and prerogative (Acts 15:28; 20:28), prohibits (Acts 16:6), can be tempted and lied to (Acts 5:3–4, 9), grieved (Eph. 4:30) and sinned against (Mk. 3:28–30). [Our Lord at times used the masculine form rather than the neuter in the Greek to refer to the Holy Spirit, when the word “spirit” itself is neuter, thus emphasizing his personality (Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:8, 13–14) ]. He was involved with the other Persons of the triune Godhead in creation (Gen. 1:1–3) and in the eternal Covenant of Redemption and Grace [the eternal redemptive purpose]. See Questions 67, 77 and 84.
The early Church Fathers, seeking to safeguard the eternal distinctions within the Godhead from error and heresy, and using scriptural terminology, referred to the eternal distinction between the Holy Spirit and Father and the Son as the “eternal procession” of the Holy Spirit, as Scripture declares that he proceeds from the Father and the Son (Jn. 14:16–17, 26; 16:7; Acts 2:32– 33). This language was used to preserve the distinctions within the Godhead and was not meant to imply any inherent subordination, succession or emanation. To deny the eternal personality of the Holy Spirit is to implicitly deny both the Ontological Trinity and the immutability of the Godhead. See Questions 23 and 25.
It is the peculiar office of the Holy Spirit to apply the work of our Lord’s completed redemption or satisfaction [the finished work of Christ] to the life and experience of the Christian individually—in particular: regeneration, repentance, faith, adoption and sanctification—and to the church corporately (Gal. 5:22–23; Eph. 1:15–20; 13–14; 4:11–16, 30; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2).
See Question 84. He thus makes our Christian experience possible and practical.
The work of the Holy Spirit within the believer’s personality is one of enabling, transforming and sanctifying grace. Believers are commanded to walk in the Spirit and thus not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The Spirit of God restrains them from living as they once did (Gal. 5:16–18). The “fruit of the Spirit,” i.e., those graces which the Holy Spirit manifests in the life, are among the essential marks of grace (Gal. 5:22–23). See Question 112. Do we bear the marks of God’s grace and Spirit in our lives and experience?
By Dr. W.R. Downing