The many roles of the Holy Spirit have long caused confusion and disagreements in the church. It’s for this reason that He is often an avoided topic. We have no problem acknowledging that He guides us and helps us to discern the truth, but anything more than that becomes controversial. Unfortunately, this controversy has led to many believing that He is nothing more than a still small voice who gently speaks to us from time to time. But the truth is that He is so much more than that!
It’s easy to think that the Holy Spirit didn’t enter the scene until the New Testament when Jesus promised to send a “helper” to all believers. And while it’s true that His role changed a bit on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, He played an extremely active role throughout the Old Testament.
We first read about Him in the second verse of Genesis 1. From the very beginning of it all, He was there. The Bible tells us that God’s Spirit “mightily” came upon people like Moses, Gideon, Joshua, David, the prophets, and countless others.
Needless to say, the Holy Spirit was very active and well-known prior to the promise Jesus made to His disciples. (John 16:5-15) Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit; but unlike the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would now play an intimate role with all of mankind. He would live within God’s children and reveal to them all truth, and He would also play an active role in the world by convicting people of their sin and stirring their hearts toward God.
So where exactly did we get the idea that God speaks in a still small voice? The story is found 1 Kings 19:9-13. While hiding in a cave fearing for his life, the prophet Elijah vented his frustrations to God. And in that moment, God showed up. Elijah witnessed a windstorm, an earthquake, and a fire, but God was not found in these grand displays; rather God showed up as a “gentle whisper.”
Even though this is the only time in Scripture when God speaks to someone in this manner, many of us find ourselves believing that this is the only way God speaks to us today. Keep in mind that Elijah had just witnessed the miraculous power of God, and what he really needed most in that moment was a gentle answer to calm his frustrations.
God does speak gently to our hearts, but this isn’t the only way He speaks. If you’re anything like me, I sometimes need more than a gentle nudge… I find myself occasionally needing a billboard or a neon sign! (And I speak from experience in saying that God has knocked me upside the head a few times to get my attention!)
The Holy Spirit is faithful to meet us where we're at and speaks to us in many different ways.Click To Tweet
We can’t limit the Holy Spirit. To conclude that His only role in our lives is to gently nudge us along is to undermine everything the New Testament says about Him.
- The Holy Spirit is our comforter and friend.
Jesus describes us having an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. He literally makes His home in us. He comforts us, gives us peace beyond understanding, fills us with joy in the midst of difficult circumstances, and He’s a very good listener when we need to pour our hearts out.
- The Holy Spirit empowers us, gives us strength, and equips us with boldness to speak the truth.
It’s easy to forget sometimes that the Holy Spirit is fully God. He is in fact God’s Spirit living inside of us. He was there when life was created, and it was by His power that Jesus was raised from the dead. On numerous occasions throughout the New Testament, He gave boldness to the disciples. Not only that, but He gave them the words to speak in that boldness.
- The Holy Spirit teaches us God’s truth and leads us towards righteous living.
This was one of the first roles of the Holy Spirit that Jesus told His disciples about. He would indeed reveal to them all truth, and He still enables us to discern truth today. The Holy Spirit also teaches us how to live righteously. God’s law is now written on our hearts. We live by the Spirit and follow His lead in all that we do. And when we fail, He convicts us of our sin so that we can take that sin to God.
- The Holy Spirit has the power to transform our hearts and minds.
Transformation is one of the Holy Spirit’s specialties. I’ve heard countless stories of people instantly being set free from sin and addictions. He transforms our lives from the inside out as we daily renew our minds in Him.
- The Holy Spirit equips us with spiritual gifts to enable us to advance the Kingdom of God.
He equips us all with unique gifts and talents that enable us to encourage one another and share God’s truth with the world. Paul speaks of these gifts throughout the New Testament. (You can check out what Paul says about these gifts in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28; and 1 Corinthians 14:1-5)
The Holy Spirit gives good gifts. He equips us with all that we need to live full and productive lives as we do our part in advancing God’s Kingdom.
The Holy Spirit is more than a still small voice who gently speaks to our hearts and guides our lives. He empowers, equips, and gives us new life in Christ.
This is why the promise of Jesus was so profound. Prior to the cross, the Holy Spirit was active, but not in the same way that He is today. To pour out His Spirit on “all flesh” was never done before in all of human history. Our Messiah made this possible.
When speaking of John the Baptist, Jesus told His disciples that he was the greatest of all who had ever lived. But then He told them that the least in the Kingdom is greater than John the Baptist! (Matthew 11:11) You see, John died before the cross. He never received the intimacy with the Holy Spirit that we have today.
Later in His ministry, the disciples were hesitant about the idea of Jesus returning to the Father and leaving them here on earth. Jesus told them that it was better for them if He left. Why? Because His leaving meant the Holy Spirit’s coming.
Part of our Messiah’s mission was to make a way for us to become the temple of the Holy Spirit… for God’s Spirit to dwell within us in an intimate and powerful way.
I don’t know about you, but I never want to be guilty of quenching the Spirit. I never want to be afraid of His power or limit the way He speaks to me.
The Holy Spirit is powerful and active in our lives and on this earth.Click To Tweet
Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good. – 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 (NASB)
*Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations taken from the NASB.