banner-sop-banner-2013
 

Question: “What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost?”

 

Answer: Of the modern English translations of the Bible, it is only the King James Version of the Bible which uses the term “Holy Ghost.” It occurs 90 times in the KJV. The term “Holy Spirit” occurs 7 times in the KJV. There is no clear reason as to why the KJV translators used Ghost in most places and then Spirit in a few. The exact same Greek and Hebrew words are translated “ghost” and “spirit” in the KJV in different occurrences of the words. By “ghost,” the KJV translators did not intend to communicate the idea of “the spirit of a deceased person.” In 1611, when the KJV was originally translated, the word “ghost” primarily referred to “an immaterial being.”

With recent Scripture translations, “Spirit” has replaced “Ghost” in most instances. Some of this came about because words don’t always hold their meanings. In the days of Shakespeare or King James, ghost meant the living essence of a person. Looking back, we see that “breath” or “soul” were often used as synonyms of “ghost.” During these times, spirit normally meant the essence of a departed person or a demonic or paranormal apparition. As language evolved, people started saying “ghost” when speaking of the vision of a dead person while “spirit” became the standard term for life or living essence, often also for “soul.” With slight exceptions, “ghost” and “spirit” changed places over some 300 years.

The real issue is that both “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” refer to the Third Person of the Trinity, coequal and consubstantial with the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19; Acts 5:3,4; 28:25,26; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6). He is the gift of the Father to His people on earth to initiate and complete the building of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). He is also the agency by which the world is convicted of sin, the Lord Jesus is glorified, and believers are transformed into His image (John 16:7-9; Acts 1:5, 2:4; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:22). Whichever term we use, we remember that this Holy Ghost is God’s active breath, blowing where He wishes, creating faith through water and Word.

Recommended Resource: The Holy Spirit by Charles Ryrie


Question: “Who is the Holy Spirit?”

 

Answer: There are many misconceptions about the identity of the Holy Spirit. Some view the Holy Spirit as a mystical force. Others understand the Holy Spirit as the impersonal power that God makes available to followers of Christ. What does the Bible say about the identity of the Holy Spirit? Simply put, the Bible declares that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also tells us that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, a being with a mind, emotions, and a will.
(Sharefaith App Image)
The fact that the Holy Spirit is God is clearly seen in many Scriptures, including Acts 5:3-4. In this verse Peter confronts Ananias as to why he lied to the Holy Spirit and tells him that he had “not lied to men but to God.” It is a clear declaration that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God. We can also know that the Holy Spirit is God because He possesses the characteristics of God. For example, His omnipresence is seen in Psalm 139:7-8, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Then in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, we see the characteristic of omniscience in the Holy Spirit. “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”

We can know that the Holy Spirit is indeed a divine person because He possesses a mind, emotions, and a will. The Holy Spirit thinks and knows (1 Corinthians 2:10). The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). The Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). He makes decisions according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). The Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity. As God, the Holy Spirit can truly function as the Comforter and Counselor that Jesus promised He would be (John 14:16, 26, 15:26

).
Recommended Resource: The Holy Spirit by Charles Ryrie
 

Question: “When / How do we receive the Holy Spirit?”

 

Answer: The apostle Paul clearly taught that we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. First Corinthians 12:13 declares, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” Romans 8:9 tells us that if a person does not possess the Holy Spirit, he or she does not belong to Christ: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation for all those who believe: “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

These three passages make it clear that the Holy Spirit is received at the moment of salvation. Paul could not say that we all were baptized by one Spirit and all given one Spirit to drink if not all of the Corinthian believers possessed the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 is even stronger, stating that if a person does not have the Spirit, he does not belong to Christ. Therefore, the possession of the Spirit is an identifying factor of the possession of salvation. Further, the Holy Spirit could not be the “seal of salvation” (Ephesians 1:13-14) if He is not received at the moment of salvation. Many scriptures make it abundantly clear that our salvation is secured the moment we receive Christ as Savior.

This discussion is controversial because the ministries of the Holy Spirit are often confused. The receiving/indwelling of the Spirit occurs at the moment of salvation. The filling of the Spirit is an ongoing process in the Christian life. While we hold that the baptism of the Spirit also occurs at the moment of salvation, some Christians do not. This sometimes results in the baptism of the Spirit being confused with “receiving the Spirit” as an act subsequent to salvation.

In conclusion, how do we receive the Holy Spirit? We receive the Holy Spirit by simply receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior (John 3:5-16). When do we receive the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit becomes our permanent possession the moment we believe.

Recommended Resource: The Holy Spirit by Charles Ryrie