The Holy Spirit and Our Faith

In a world where some have heavily misused the concept of empowerment by the Holy Spirit, it is easy to ignore the essential role that the Holy Spirit plays in developing our faith. A wrong interpretation of Romans 10:17 could cause some to assert that ‘I have faith simply because I believe in God’s Word, leaving the Holy Spirit entirely out of the picture’. To be clear, this does not imply that God’s Word isn’t necessary. My aim is to emphasise the place of the Holy Spirit in the growth of our faith. 

In the grand scheme of salvation (Ephesians 1:3-14), the Holy Spirit is our seal in Christ; He is the pledge God has given us through Christ regarding our inheritance. In a world where the God-breathed Word is cast aside (2 Timothy 3:16-17), it takes intentionality for one to treat the Holy Spirit with the seriousness he deserves. Thus, in this article, we will examine the role of the Holy Spirit in developing our faith.

After all, He is God

From 1 Corinthians 2:5, we infer that the only way our faith rightly develops is when we surrender to God’s power instead of relying on man’s wisdom. Therefore, it is God who tends to our faith. Since the Holy Spirit is God, a part of the Trinity, he also develops our faith. But what proofs are there that the Holy Spirit is God? First, we have Acts 5:3-4 in which Peter states categorically that the Holy Spirit is God. When Ananias and Sapphira lied to Peter, he told Ananias that they weren’t lying to just him but the Holy Spirit as well. Then, in the following verse, he states that Ananias has lied to God. Therefore, if we are to make any direct correlation, Peter explicitly says that the Holy Spirit is part of the Triune God.

Paul also emphasises the Godhood of the Holy Spirit in various portions of Scripture. In Isaiah 55:8-9 (which states that God’s ways are higher than man’s and his thoughts are not man’s), for example, Paul assigns these abilities to the Holy Spirit, making him equal to God (1 Corinthians 2:10-13). Paul continues to interchange the Holy Spirit with God in other parts of 1 CorinthiansIn 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, he writes that ‘you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you’, but in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 he writes that ‘your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God’. He couldn’t confidently use them interchangeably unless he was certain about the deity of the Holy Spirit.

However, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that the Holy Spirit is a form of God, as he is a distinct person in the Trinity. Just like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit has a will (1 Corinthians 12:7), can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), searches the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10), and has fellowship with believers (2 Corinthians 13:14). We see how distinct he is in Jesus’ baptism as when the Father is speaking, He descends on Him like a dove (Mark 1:10-11). In short, because of his deity, we should now be more welcoming of the idea that he is the one by whom our faith grows. After all, as mentioned earlier, he is essential in God’s divine plan of salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Faith as a Gift 

It is only by the Spirit of God that we have faith. As we know from Hebrews 11:1, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. The faith we have in God is a gift of the Spirit (Ephesians 2:8, Philippians 1:29). We can only say ‘Jesus is Lord’ because the Holy Spirit made it possible (1 Corinthians 12:3). Without the Spirit, we cannot set our minds on the things of God (Romans 8:5-8) since we are dead in our sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-3). Only by the Spirit that brought Jesus back to life do we have life in our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11). God’s righteousness is embedded in us by His dwelling in our hearts (Romans 8:10).

It is only when we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, as Peter says in Acts 2:38, that we can live by faith in the future grace, as he is the one who regenerates us (Colossians 2:12, Titus 3:5). As a result we are able “to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). It is only by the Spirit of God that we can live obediently by faith as through him we produce the fruits that mark our walk as Christians (Galatians 5:22-23). We can cry “Abba Father” through him as only through his witness can we claim to be sons of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17).

God’s Word

How does faith come? As the Bible so plainly puts it, it comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). How did God’s Word come about? Peter answers, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 2:20-21). In short, the only way we develop our faith is by the Word of God, authored by men whom the Holy Spirit divinely inspired. The message they preached, they didn’t pluck from the sky but was revealed to them by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13, Galatians 1:11-12). For this reason, Paul could confidently say that anyone who preached anything contrary to what he preached was to be accursed (Galatians 1:8).

In short, the truths we know and believe in now came about by the Spirit of God. On their own, the Apostles couldn’t accurately represent all of Christ’s commands (Matthew 28:20). After all, they are human beings and even the best of humans in terms of memory will still have gaps. To circumvent this, the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles with the express purpose of bringing to remembrance all that Jesus said to them (John 14:26). He would also guide them “into all the truth” (John 16:13). It is for this reason that the author of the book of Hebrews assigns authorship to the Holy Spirit multiple times in the text (Hebrews 3:7; 10:15). 

Sanctification by the Truth 

Building off the verses mentioned above (John 14:26; 16:12-15), we see the through line that by no means can we make it to the end without the help of the Spirit. Why do we hold fast to the confidence of our hope (Hebrews 10:23)? We do because of the love of God poured into our hearts through the Spirit that has been given to us (Romans 5:5). On account of the Spirit, we have been made alive to God (Romans 8:9-11).

It is also by the Spirit that we work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13). Jesus, in His High Priestly prayer, prayed that his disciples be sanctified in the truth, that truth being the Word (John 17:17). This already gives us concrete proof of how the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, him being the divine author of Scripture which is profitable for all things (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Only through him, the Holy Spirit, can we put to death the deeds of the body (Romans 8:12-13). When we saturate ourselves with God’s Word, we strengthen our conscience, and through it, we can discipline ourselves to live our lives for God’s glory (Romans 2:14-16, Hebrews 12:12-17). What a joy it is to know that the Trinity ensures that we, God’s children, will always be so.  

My hope is that instead of disregarding the Holy Spirit due to how he is often ill-portrayed and his empowerment misused, we will seek to recapture the truth about who he is as revealed by God’s Word. May we seek to appreciate his monumental role in our salvation to the praise of God’s glory (Ephesians 1:11-14). Only through him can we do all things to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), for He has made us alive in Christ. 

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