Bible Study Series: Holy Spirit - Roles, Types and Imagery
An introduction to the Seven Spirits of God
by I Gordon
- Why this series is important now, in our day
- A sneak preview of the coming series
- A short quiz on the Holy Spirit to get your brain in gear!
- Explore the 'seven Spirits of God' in the New and Old Testament
- Application - some quick points to take away for our own life
"There are a few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian! Most folks have never discovered the difference between the one and the other, so that there are those who sincerely try to live a life they do not have, substituting religion for God, Christianity for Christ, and their own noble endeavors for the energy, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit. In the absence of reality, they can only grasp at ritual, stubbornly defending the latter in the absence of the former, lest they be found with neither! They are lamps without oil, cars without gas, and pens without ink, baffled at their own impotence in the absence of all that alone can make man functional; for man was so engineered by God that the presence of the Creator within the creature is indispensable to his humanity. Christ gave Himself for us to give Himself to us! His presence puts God back into the man! He came that we might have life – God’s life!
Major Ian Thomas
- The Seven-fold Spirit - we will look at this today giving an example from both the Old and New Testaments. What does this actually mean? It will be used as an introduction and overview to the Spirit's work and help in our life.
- The Helper - Comfort and counsel from the One with us, alongside us, and in us.
- The Hound of Heaven - The convicting and chasing work of the Holy Spirit in the life of unbelievers and believers.
- The Dove - The first way the Holy Spirit is pictured in the New Testament has some interesting personal and prophetic implications when contrasted with this imagery in the Old!
- The Water - Cleansing and living water from on high
- The Anointing Oil - Divine enabling and gifting from on high!
- The Lamp - The Spirit illuminating our path through God's word
- The End - The Holy Spirit in the last days
- What is the first mention of the Holy Spirit in both the Old and New Testaments?
- Is there any connection between these two 'first mentions' of the Holy Spirit in each Testament?
- What verses in the Bible could you point to to prove that the Spirit is a person and not just a force?
- What verses in the Bible could you point to show that the Spirit is divine and part of the God-head?
- Do all believers have the Holy Spirit and is there a difference between how the Holy Spirit is with believers in the Old and New Testaments?
- What types and pictures are used to illustrate the Holy Spirit in scripture? What can you think of?
- How many of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit can you remember?2
"The Lamb had seven horns (omnipotence) and seven eyes (omniscience). His possession of the seven Spirits of God reminds us that the Lord Jesus was endued with the full measure of the Holy Spirit (Joh 3:34). The seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth suggest omnipresence."
William MacDonald - The Believers Bible Commentary
So if the Lord Jesus has and had the seven Spirits of God upon Him, is this shown anywhere in the Bible? Maybe in a prophecy concerning the coming Messiah from the Old Testament? Ring any bells? Let's have a look.
- The Spirit of the LORD - LORD here is YHWH, commonly pronounced as Yahweh. It was the Spirit of Yahweh that rested upon Jesus. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18,20) and was empowered to live as the perfect human man through that same Spirit (Luke 3:22, Luke 4:1, 14, 18). This is the central part of the Jewish Menorah candlestick out of which all else proceeds.
- The Spirit of wisdom4 - Even from a child Jesus was filled with the Spirit's wisdom - Luk 2:40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. His wisdom was greater than that of Solomon (Matt 12:42) and often left people asking where He got such wisdom from (Matt 13:54) while others were simply left speechless at His answers! (Matt 22:22, 33, 46) Truly, as Paul expressed in Col 2:2-3, in Christ 'are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.'
- The Spirit of understanding - Jesus, through the Spirit upon Him, understood all things. He understood all men. He even knew and understood their thoughts before they were expressed (Mark 2:8, John 2:24) As Hebrews tells us 'Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.' (Heb 4:13)
- The Spirit of counsel - Having the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of understanding made Jesus the perfect counselor! Pro 19:21 Many plans are in a man's heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand. Thus, there was never a time when Jesus was left speechless or unable to answer. Even the attempts of men to confound Him fell laughably short! Isa 50:4 'The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.' The only time Jesus asked people questions was to test what they knew or get them to think. It was never because He needed to be instructed or counseled!
- The Spirit of power - The Spirit's power was upon Jesus mightily. Power to heal, power to raise the dead. It was the power to resist all Satanic temptations and the power to always do the will of God. Imagine the power that was upon Him, though dying on the cross at the hands of wicked men, that enabled Him to say 'Father forgive them for they know not what they do!' 'While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously' - That is power!
- The Spirit of knowledge - This is not just just general knowledge but the specific knowledge of God. Jesus often said to the Jews that He knew the Father and knew Him not. Joh 8:54-55 Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. (55) Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word.' And this is the essence Jesus said of eternal life - Joh 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.' This is what life is all about. Not just knowing things, but knowing Him! And the Spirit of the Lord has been given so that we may know Him! (1 Cor 2:10-16)
- The Spirit of the fear of the LORD - This is tied in with the previous Spirit of Knowledge. It is to know Him but also to place Him in His rightful first position in your life. That is what the fear of the Lord is. It was upon Jesus for He always desired to put the will of God first. He held no fear of man but always honored His Father.
1. He never sought advice." He never went about asking, "What do you think about this?" We must do that daily, but he did not.
2. He never changed his mind." He never said, "l agree that I said that, but I have been having second thoughts about it." Even our greatest leaders must admit to that, but Jesus never changed his mind.
3, He never was in a hurry." He must have frequently read that great verse in the book of Isaiah, "He that believes need not make haste."
4. He never showed personal fear." When you fear the Lord, you do not fear anything else. Remember the words in Hebrews "I will never leave you nor forsake you, therefore what can any man do unto me?" ( Hebrews13:5). Our Lord never showed personal fear.
5. He never made a mistake." He never had to say, "I did the wrong thing there."
6. He never showed surprise.5
7. He never was defeated in a controversy.
8. He never performed a selfish miracle.
9. He never distrusted God.
10. He never denied a good request.
11. He never confessed a sin.
12. He never apologized for anything."
- The Spirit of Truth - Joh 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
- The Spirit of Holiness - Rom 1:4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
- The Spirit of Life - Rom 8:2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
- The Spirit of Sonship - Rom 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
- The Spirit of Wisdom - Eph 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
- The Spirit of Grace - Heb 10:29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot... who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
- The Spirit of Glory - 1Pe 4:14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
Glory never comes without grace coming first, but grace never comes without glory coming last; the two are bound together, and “what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Our need: If the Lord Jesus needed the seven-fold Spirit how much more do we? Even though Jesus was born without a sinful nature, He still had to rely completely upon the Holy Spirit and His Father in His ministry and life. Again, how much more do we, those born with a fallen nature in a fallen world, need this Helper? Why is it that we fail? Is it related to the fact that we think that we can manage by ourselves?
“Without the Spirit of God, we can do nothing. We are as ships without the wind, branches without sap, and like coals without fire, we are useless.”
Our response: Have you learned to thank the Lord, in whatever situation arrives, for giving you His Spirit who is able in all things?
Have you learned to thank the Lord for the Spirit of truth who desires to bring you into all truth? Have you thanked Him for the Spirit of Life or wisdom... or grace... all the essentials that the Spirit is? Often we think and act like we are down here, God is in Heaven and we have to ask for a dose of strength or courage or whatever it is we need. We forget to thank the Lord for the gift of the Helper - the One who is with us till the end of the age and beyond. If we truly see what God has given us there would be less pleading and more thanking.
Our blockages: Take a bit of time to consider if there is anything currently hindering you from experiencing the work of the Spirit in your life more? As we move forward in this series we shall see that the Holy Spirit is gentle, likened to a dove, and can be grieved by our actions. The fire of the Holy Spirit can be quenched by our actions or lack thereof. So be mindful of potential blockages, taking time to listen to the small still voice of God.
Our hope: According to Eph 1:13-14 we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit who is a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance and the full redemption of God's possession. If you have experienced something of His grace, life & holiness already... remember that this is but a deposit. There is a full inheritance still to come! Have you considered how wonderful it will be on that day when you are with Him and there is no restriction to the fullness of the presence of the Holy Spirit?
We'll carry on next time looking at what it means that the Holy Spirit is the Helper, looking at some examples in both Jesus' teaching and Old Testament types.
Now the disciples did not understand this at all. 'It is to your advantage that I go away?' I don't think so! Jesus could just have easily said it is to your advantage that I go to the cross and die. And they would not have seen that either. It just would have made zero sense. And yet it was... for all of us. Often, we don't get what God is doing. He is so far above our pay and thought scale! How far do the eyes of God see? He sees things that are for our advantage for all eternity, even though they seem strange and bring initial pain or difficulty to us in the short term. And yet, they are for our advantage. Always remember this, especially in the confusing times.
Ok... time for some winning answers which should bring you great fame and fortune (or not!)
1. The first mention in the Old Testament comes in the second verse! Gen 1:2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. In the New Testament the first mention is Mat 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
2. Yes... just as the Holy Spirit brooded above the waters in the first creation and was the agent through whom the light and first creation came about, so the Spirit came upon Mary and led to Jesus, the true light of the world. The first creation points to what was to come with Jesus.
3. There are cults like Jehovah Witnesses that say that the Holy Spirit is only an active force and not a person. But this falls down on many fronts. For example, all of the following are only true of a person, not a force:
The Holy Spirit has knowledge: I Corinthians 2:10-11
The Holy Spirit has a will: I Corinthians 12:11
The Holy Spirit has a mind: Romans 8:27
The Holy Spirit can be grieved: Ephesians 4:30
The Holy Spirit can be insulted: Heb 10:29
The Holy Spirit can be lied to: Acts 5:3
4. Yes the Holy Spirit is God - For example in Acts 5:3 lying to the Holy Spirit was lying to God. As it is too long to go into it for a footnote, see the following link for more information: https://www.gotquestions.org/is-the-Holy-Spirit-God.html
5. All believers have the Holy Spirit according to Eph 1:13. In fact if you do not have the Spirit you do not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9). While all believers have the Holy Spirit not all are filled with Spirit and there is a command to continually be filled (Eph5:18). In the Old Testament the Spirit would come upon a person for a season and a task. But the Holy Spirit could also be removed from that person. In the New Testament the Spirit is within the believer forever (John 14:16) and goes from simply abiding with them to being in them (John 14:17).
6. There are many pictures and types and we'll go into some of these in this study series. In short, the work of the Spirit is seen through Abraham's servant in Gen 24 where it was the servant's task to go and find a bride for Abraham's son, Isaac. The Spirit is seen in the water that came forth when Moses struck the rock (Exod 17:6). The Holy Spirit is seen in the dove that Noah released three times. Also in the use of the anointing oil used especially in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit is also likened to fire and to the wind. There are many more...
7. The 9 fruits of the Spirit are: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control.
There are 9 gifts of the Spirit mentioned in 1 Cor 12: Word of knowledge, word of wisdom, gift of prophecy, gift of faith, gift of healing, working of miracles, discernment of spirits, gift of tongues, interpretation of tongues (see 1 Cor 12:7-11)
There are various other gifts mentioned in other passages. One notable passage is Rom 12 which also includes gifts of teaching, encouragement, serving, giving, leadership and mercy. (Rom 12:6-8) These are all gifts from the Holy Spirit.
Gotquestions have a great page on the number 7. To quote part of it:
'Series of seven things crop up often in the Bible. For example, we find seven pairs of each clean animal on the ark (Genesis 7:2); seven stems on the tabernacle’s lampstand (Exodus 25:37); seven qualities of the Messiah in Isaiah 11:2; seven signs in John’s Gospel; seven things the Lord hates in Proverbs 6:16; seven parables in Matthew 13; and seven woes in Matthew 23...
Sometimes, the symbolism of 7 is a great comfort to us: Jesus is the seven-fold “I AM” in the Gospel of John. Other times, it challenges us: Jesus told Peter to forgive a wrongdoer “seventy times seven” times (Matthew 18:22, NKJV). And then there are passages in which the number 7 is associated with God’s judgment: the seven bowls of the Great Tribulation, for example (Revelation 16:1), or God’s warning to Israel in Leviticus 26:18.
Speaking of the book of Revelation, the number 7 is used there more than fifty times in a variety of contexts: there are seven letters to seven churches in Asia and seven spirits before God’s throne (Revelation 1:4), seven golden lampstands (Revelation 1:12), seven stars in Christ’s right hand (Revelation 1:16), seven seals of God’s judgment (Revelation 5:1), seven angels with seven trumpets (Revelation 8:2), etc. In all likelihood, the number 7 again represents completeness or totality: the seven churches represent the completeness of the body of Christ, the seven seals on the scroll represent the fullness of God’s punishment of a sinful earth, and so on. And, of course, the book of Revelation itself, with all its 7’s, is the capstone of God’s Word to man. With the book of Revelation, the Word was complete (Revelation 22:18)."
The Complete Word Study Dictionary says about wisdom: "God is the master, creator, and giver of wisdom (see Job 28:27; Pro 8:22-23). He employed wisdom as His master craftsman to create all things (Psa 104:24; Jer 10:12). Rulers govern wisely by means of wisdom provided by God (1Ki 3:28; cf. Pro 8:15-16). Wisdom keeps company with all the other virtues: prudence, knowledge, and discretion (Pro 8:12). The portrayal of wisdom in Pro 8:22-24 lies behind Paul's magnificent picture of Christ in Col 1:15-16, for all the treasures of wisdom are lodged in Christ (cf. Col 2:3). ↩
Mmmm.... I would disagree on this one. Did Jesus ever show surprise? I believe He did. The reason people might think that He didn't is because as God He knows all things beforehand so there is nothing to surprise Him. Which is true... in His deity. But Jesus was born as a man and lived as the perfect man being reliant upon His Father at all times. There is a mystery here, no doubt, which is alluded to in Phil 2:6-7. But it seems from scripture that were times when He showed surprise. One notable example is when He got an unexpected incredible faith reaction from a certain Gentile centurion. To this He was 'astonished' or 'marveled' as another version says. According to the dictionary astonished is 'feeling or showing great surprise'. Here is the passage:
Mat 8:8-10 The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. (9) For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." (10) When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith."
There are several that describe who the Spirit belongs to like 'the Spirit of the Lord' or 'the Spirit of God', 'the Spirit of Jesus' etc. I'm not concentrating on those but ones that describe a particular attribute of the Spirit. ↩