The Personality of the Holy Spirit


The Personality of the Holy Spirit

June 27th, 1965 @ 8:15 AM

Acts 15:28

For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 15:28

6-27-65    8:15 a.m.



Now these services and this series of sermons concern The Holy Spirit of God.  On the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message today entitled The Personality, The Person of the Third Person of the Trinity.  Now as a background text, I read a sentence.  It is Acts 15:28, "For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things."  Then he lists some of these things that the council in Jerusalem asked of the Gentile Christians.  But the thought that lies back of the reading of the text is the idea, the presentation, of the Holy Spirit as somebody, as a person:  "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us."

That would be just the same kind of a statement as if you were to say, "And we concluded, my wife and I," or, "my boss and I," or, "the legislature and the governor decided," or, "the court and the attorney," same kind of a statement.  It involves persons.  "For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us."  There is no doubt but that the Holy Scriptures present God as a person, just as you are, and you are, and your neighbor is, and your wife is, and your husband is, and your pastor is; a somebody, a person.  There is no doubt but that the Bible presents God as a personal being.  For example, of the Father Himself, Exodus 33:11 says, "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend."  That is Jehovah God.  He was presented to begin with like that:  "And Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord God as He walked in the garden in the cool of the day."  And God said, "Adam, where art thou?" [Genesis 3:8-9]. It is a person; it is somebody, just as you.  "And the Lord God Jehovah spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" [Exodus 33:11].

Of course there would be no thought otherwise than that Jesus is a somebody, a person.  In the last chapter of the Book of Luke, "The Lord lifted up His hands, and blessed them.  And it came to pass, as He blessed them, He was carried up into heaven.   And they worshiped Him," the Lord God Jesus, "and they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God, amen" [Luke 24:50-53], a person, a somebody just as you.

When I turn to the third Person of the adorable and Holy Trinity, the same idea is presented in the Word of God.  "For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us," a somebody.  Isn’t that a remarkable thing?  "For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us" [Acts 15:28], how they are equated like friends, or like companions, or like people in a discussion group?  "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us."  What a remarkable thing!  Here is a man made out of the dust of the ground, and here is Almighty God, and both of them, the man and the God, are fraternizing.  They are fellowshipping.  They are discussing things together.  They are making choices.  They are making decisions; they are!  Not just the man is – made out of the dust of the ground – but the Lord God Holy Spirit is also.  What a remarkable thing!  There they are in a conference, making a decision; for there is no doubt, none at all, there is no doubt in the Scriptures but that the Holy Spirit is God; Deity.

Do you notice in the baptismal formula, "Baptizing them in the name of," singular, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"? [Matthew 28:19].  The name of God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  In the marvelous and beautiful and so oft time used benediction, in the last verses of the second Corinthian letter, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.  Amen" [2 Corinthians 13:14].  All three of them of the same essence, of the same consubstantiality, of the same being; the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit; the name of God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  All of the things that can be said about God the Father can also be said about God the Holy Spirit.  He is eternal.  He is called the Eternal Spirit.  He is omnipotent.  In the creation of the world, in so many other areas is that demonstrated.  He is omniscient; all the things that God knows, He knows.  He is omnipresent.  As the psalmist said, "Whither shall I flee from Thy Spirit?  And whither shall I go from Thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there:  if I make my bed in sheol," in the grave and fall – enter into the netherworld, "Thou art there.  If I rise on the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the earth; even there" [Psalm 139:7-10], even there; omnipresent.

All of the things that can be said about God are said about the Holy Spirit.  And we are to adore Him and to worship Him, and we are to lay our hearts open to Him as we would lay ourselves prostrate before God.  I am saying that in the Holy Scriptures there is no doubt but that the Holy Spirit is God.  He is not an influence.  He is not a mode, or an expression, or an energy, or an "it," but He is God.

Now, the message this morning is emphasizing the fact that the Holy Spirit God, is a person, somebody, as you are somebody.  "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us" [Acts 15:28].  I grant you that these things are difficult for us, and they are hard to enter into, but all of those things are difficult alike.  When I say you are a person, just exactly what do I mean?  What would you define as "person?"  You are a person, and you die, and you’re laid prostrate, and there the pastor says words over your fallen form.  Just exactly what is you?  "Well pastor, you see, I am this moulding clay; I am this corrupting corpse."  Oh!  Why I could not imagine one of you standing up and saying, "I am moulding clay.  I am a disintegrating, corrupting corpse."  No, that is just the dust returning to the ground as it was.  Well then, what is you, the personality, you?  What is you?  "Well, I am whatever it was that left that house of clay, whatever it was that departed from that moulding dust; that is what I am.  That is my personality.  That is I."  Well, what is that?  Well, you’d have a pretty hard time, wouldn’t you, just talking about you!  You’d have a very difficult time explaining to me just what that is that left; you, the you, the personality of you.  Well, if we have difficulty in defining ourselves and we live with ourselves all the time and we know ourselves; if we have a difficult time defining personality in ourselves, then think how much more difficult it is when you raise that definition and delineation into the very sphere of describing God Himself!  And that is where that word "person" came from.

In the controversies of the churches in the days of Sabellius, around 200 AD, Sabellius said that the Holy Spirit is nothing but an influence.  He is nothing but an outflow.  He is nothing but an "it."  He is nothing but an energy.  He is just a modal expression of God.  That is what Sabellius said.  And the churches in that controversy for the first time used the word "person, person."  God the Father is a person.  God the Son is a person.  And God the Holy Spirit is a person.  That is the first time they began to use that word "person," applying it to God.  That was also the first time that Tertullian used it; the first time they used the word "trinity."  There is a trinity in the Godhead.  Not only a person, there is a trinity in the Godhead.  And the Holy Spirit is in that trinity, the Deity, and the Holy Spirit is a person.

Now I’m going to try – – and this is the simplest way to look at it, and I do not know any other way to define it – – I’m going to try to point out what makes a person.  And all four of these things that make a person, we’re going to apply to the Holy Spirit.  A person is someone, somebody, who can think, he has mind; who can feel, he has emotion; who can will, he can choose; and who can act, he can do.  Now that would be a person.  Now when we apply that to the Holy Spirit, first: a person is somebody who can think, he can think, he has mind and understanding.  Like my text:  "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit," He was thinking too, "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us" [Acts 15:28].  Or as the second chapter of 1 Corinthians describes the Holy Spirit, "He understands, and He alone, the deep things of God" [1 Corinthians 2:10-11].   All of the infinite wisdom of God is in the Holy Spirit of God.  He can think, He has mind, He has understanding.

All right, the second thing:  He can feel, He has emotion, He can react.  In the fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit" [Ephesians 4:30].  He can be hurt, He can be grieved.

All right, a third thing:  He can choose, He can will.  In the twelfth chapter of the first Corinthian letter, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are sovereignly bestowed by the Spirit Himself  [1 Corinthians 12:7-8].  He chooses, He elects, He bestows!

  And then that fourth thing:  He can do: the Holy Spirit does.  He can not only think, He can not only feel, He can not only choose, but He can do!  What are things that the Holy Spirit does?  First: I hold in my hand a product of the Holy Spirit of God.  I hold in my hand the Bible, the Scriptures.  There are sixty-six books in that Bible.  It is written over a period of beyond one thousand five hundred years.  It is written by more than forty authors.  And yet, there is a unity in the Word of God that is undeniable.

Where did that unity come from, when one author lived one thousand five hundred years before the last author?  And when they numbered more than forty in between, and all of the things that are transpired in the history and background of the world, yet there is one great unifying theme, and subject, and presentation throughout the whole Word of God.  Where did that come from?  Why, it is very simple.  Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is theopneustos, all Scripture, from beginning to end, is God-breathed."  And Simon Peter wrote of it in his words like this:  2 Peter 1:20-21, "For no Scripture is of its own origination; but holy men of God spake as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit."  He has mind, and He thinks.  He is a person, and He does.  And this is one of the products of the moving Spirit of God.

How often do you find that in the Word of the Lord?  Listen to this in the twenty-third chapter of 2 Samuel:  "Now these be the last words of David.  David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue.  The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me" [2 Samuel 23:1-3].  Isn’t that a remarkable thing?  "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me."  Whenever you read a psalm like the twenty-second Psalm, and it describes the crucifixion of Jesus, just as though he had been crucified himself – had David ever experienced those things?  No, no!  Well, how did he speak of them then, over a thousand years before the day of the cross?  He did it by the Spirit of the Lord; "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me."

And that is why so many times in the New Testament, and so many times in those Greek fathers, you will find the Scriptures quoted with this beginning, "As the Holy Spirit saith,As the Spirit of God said."  All of these things that are written in the Word of God are written by the understanding and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  The author of the Book ultimately and finally is the Spirit of God.

All right, a second thing:  what He does, what He does; the Holy Spirit of God is our great illuminator, and our teacher, and our guide.  As the Lord has written here, as the Lord has said here in John 14, 15, and 16: "When He is come, this One walking alongside, this paraklete, when He is come, He will teach you all things, and bring all things into your remembrance that I have said unto you" [John 14:26].  Now, I want to show you what that is.

When the Lord was raised from the dead, there were two walking on the way to Emmaus, from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  And as they walked along they were indescribably in despair and sad, sad.  The Lord had been slain, and they had seen Him die, and He had been buried, and every hope they had in Him had been crushed to the ground.  And as they walked along they were indescribably sad, and as they spake to one another they spake words of despair.  And while they were walking along from Jerusalem to Emmaus, while they were walking along, suddenly somebody came and walked by their side, just suddenly, just there He was [Luke 24:13-16].  And as they walked along together, that somebody, that person, said to the two who were so sad, "Why are you so sad?" [Luke 24:17].  And they said, "Because the light of the world has gone out, and the hope of our hearts has died.  Jesus has been crucified and buried."  And the Lord said, "Oh, oh, but have you not read in the Holy Scriptures where He is to rise again?"  [Luke 24:26].

"Yes," said the disciples.  "You know, some of the women came and said He was raised from the dead, but that is just imagination, just like an old wives’ tale; there’s no substance in that."  And then it says:


And the Lord began with Moses and the Prophets, and the hagiographa, and the Writings, all through the Old Testament, the Holy Scriptures, and He showed to them the things out of the Scriptures concerning Himself, and how He should suffer for our sins, and be buried, and the third day be raised for our justification; and that the preaching of remission of sins should be declared in His name.

[Luke 24:27, 26]


And they almost were nigh to the house where they were going.  And when the stranger made as though He would go on, why, they said, "O tarry with us, abide with us; the sun is almost down" [Luke 24:28-29].  And He went in, and He sat down with them.  And He led the blessing.  And when He led the grace at the table, they said, "That is the Lord!"  They recognized Him in saying grace [Luke 24:30-31].

That is the identical thing that the Lord is talking about when He says, "And there shall come One, somebody, a person, who will paraklete, who will be walking alongside" [John 14:26].  It literally means that.  And when you go down the road of life and you don’t know what to do, and you don’t understand, and you search the Word of God and its meaning is so often obscure and hidden, there will be One who will walk alongside.  The paraklete, translated here "the Comforter," and He will teach you all things, and He will guide you in all your ways, just as Jesus did, and just as much as a person as the Lord Jesus.

All right, we’re naming the things that He does.  He wrote that Book.  And He walks along side us teaching us the meaning of the Word of God and the wisdom that we need, as we make our pilgrimage through this world.  All right, what does the Spirit do?  A third thing He does:  He regenerates us.  He makes us to be born again.  You’ll never find in the Word of the Lord, "Get yourself born again"; you can’t "born" yourself.  Why the idea is preposterous.  You just don’t talk like that, "You get yourself born," you just don’t do that!  That is the operation of somebody above and beyond us.  The Lord says, "You must be born again."  Well, who "borns" us?  "Except a man," John 3:5-6 says:

Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,

he cannot see the kingdom of God. 

That which is born of the flesh is flesh;

and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,


Born of the Spirit.  As Paul writes in the third chapter of Titus, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done," not by something that we could do, "but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost" in our hearts [Titus 3:5].  The Lord "borns us again" in the Spirit.  It is a spiritual thing.

That is why with these children – oh!  I just emphasize it, and emphasize it, and forever and ever.  It is mighty easy for a child to get the idea that I become a Christian by something that I do or something that somebody else does.  I become a Christian by coming down that aisle, and giving the pastor my hand, and being baptized into the church.  That is the way I become a Christian.  It is easy for a child to get that idea in his head; it something he does.  He comes down the aisle, and he gives the pastor his hand, and then after the church receives him, the pastor baptizes him, and that is the way he becomes a Christian.  It is easy for a child to get that idea.  So that is why I separate them.  Just as I have two hands and not one:  one hand is what it is to be born again, to become a child of God; and then the other hand is what it is to become a professing Christian and a member of the church.  Now this hand over here, to make a confession of your faith, is something you can do.  And to be received in the church is something the church can do.  And to baptize you is something that I can do as the pastor.

But young fellow, to become a Christian is something that only God can do!  And that is this hand, and altogether separate.  And that is something your mother can’t do for you, and it is something your daddy can’t do for you, and it is something your pastor can’t do for you, and it is something nobody can do for you.  That is something only God can do for you.  And that is between you and the Lord [Romans 10:9-10, 13], and it is in your heart, and it is in your soul.  That is the Holy Spirit of God! [John 16:8-15].

You become a Christian by trusting in the atoning blood of Jesus, by the faith and gift of repentance and speaking to your soul in the Holy Spirit of God; something inside.  Then after you’re saved, and regenerated, and born again, and become a Christian, all of these things in your soul, after that, why, then all of these things we can do and welcome you into the fellowship of the church; the work of the Holy Spirit of God.  What does the Holy Spirit of God do, this somebody?  He is our Comforter, and He is our precious encourager and helper [John 16:7].  "Likewise," says the apostle Paul, "the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities" [Romans 8:26].  Oh, there’s no one of us but that knows discouragement and despair, walking through the vale and the valley and the shadow!


He helpeth our infirmities, and He helps us to pray;

for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:

but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

[Romans 8:26]


The Holy Spirit of God; just as somebody marvelous, and incomparable, and celestial, and heavenly, and omnipotent, and omniscient; just as somebody, God; so the Lord Holy Spirit in our lives.  And I haven’t time to delineate even the beginning of the works of the Holy Spirit of God, in creation, in all of the manifest presence of God around us. Nor have I opportunity and time to follow the Holy Spirit in the life of our Lord Jesus.  He was conceived by the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit made a body for Him in the womb of the virgin Mary [Luke 1:30-35].  He was baptized and entered His ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit [Matthew 3:16].  He offered His life unto God in the eternal Spirit [Hebrews 10:5-14], by the eternal Spirit.  He was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit! [Romans 1:4].  And He gave commandment unto the disciples and to us today in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit [Acts 1:8].  That is the work of Him who thinks, and feels, and chooses.  Now I must close.

In all practical religion, the Holy Spirit in our hearts and Jesus in our hearts are one, is one and the same.  You cannot, in practical experience, differentiate.  You can’t do it; I have concluded that finally, irrevocably, and forever.  For example, Paul will say in the sixth chapter of the first Corinthian letter, "Your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit of God, who lives in you.  Your body is the house of the temple of God" [1 Corinthians 6:19].  "And the church," Paul says, "is the temple of the Holy Spirit of God" [1 Corinthians 3:16].  He dwells in our souls, the Holy Spirit of God lives in us [2 Corinthians 6:16].  All right, now let me take another passage, like Galatians 2:20:


I am crucified with Christ:  nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:  and the life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.

[Galatians 2:20]


It is Christ who lives in my soul.  It is Christ who lives in my heart.  It is Christ that indwells this temple, this house of my body, and yet it is the Holy Spirit that indwells.

In practical experience, you cannot differentiate between the Holy Spirit in you and Christ in you.  Well, why is that?  We need another sermon, but I must hasten to other things.  I conclude with this avowal, and you listen to it:  "The Holy Spirit shall not speak of Himself; but He shall speak of Me.  He shall not glorify Himself; He shall glorify Me.  He shall take of Mine and show it unto thee" [John 16:13-14].

There are more than two hundred names of the Lord Jesus in this Bible; but just the Spirit of God, just one name, the Holy Spirit.  He hides Himself, He does not present Himself, He does not glorify Himself.  He presents the Lord Jesus, and He glorifies the Lord Jesus.  And it is the Lord Jesus that He glorifies, and presents, and honors, and reveals in your heart and in your life.  What you have in your heart is the transcendent, and resplendent, and glorious Lord Jesus, for that is the work of the Holy Spirit of God.

And as I have said so many times, the only God there is, is the Lord God.  There is one God.  "Hear, O Israel.  The Lord our God is one God" [Deuteronomy 6:4].  And Paul emphasizes that in the eighth chapter of 1 Corinthians, "There is but one God; there is no other God but one!  And to us there is but God the Father" [1 Corinthians 8:6], monotheistic, monotheism, one God!  There is one God: Jehovah God.  And the only God there is, is that one God.  The only God you’ll ever see is the Lord Jesus, only one you’ll ever see.  When you get to heaven, you are not going to see three Gods, there is one God.  And the only God you will ever see in heaven is the Lord Jesus!  And the only God you will ever feel is the Holy Spirit who moves and lives in your heart, and who glorifies our blessed Savior; who presents Him to you before your soul, who convicts the world of sin, and draws the world in faith to Jesus, who moves us and keeps us as the paraklete; God-ward, and heavenward, and Christ-ward, and prayer-ward, and hope-ward, and comforting-ward.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit, the Person who lives in our souls [John 16:7-15].  "And it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us" [Acts 15:28]; thinking with us, living with us, guiding us, presenting the Lord Jesus to us, helping us, encouraging us, walking by our sides, lying down with you when you go to bed at night, getting up with you when you rise in the morning, and guiding us through the opening hours of every day – the adorable third Person, the adorable third Person of the Trinity, the Person of the Holy Spirit of God.

Now while we sing our song, somebody you give himself to Jesus, somebody you put your life in the fellowship of the church, as the Spirit of the Lord shall make appeal, as God shall say the word, on the first note of this first stanza, come and stand by me;  "Pastor, today I take the Lord as my Savior."  Or, "Today, I’m putting my life in the fellowship of the church."  As the Spirit shall lead, as God shall say the word, make it this morning, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 15:28



I.          God as
a person, conversing, fellowshipping, working with men(Acts 15:28)

A.  Pattern throughout Word of God

      1.  God the Father(Exodus
33:11, Genesis 3:8)

      2.  God the Son(Luke 24:50-53)

      3.  God the Holy Spirit(Acts
15:28, Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:4)

B.  Whatever can be said of God, can be said of the
Holy Spirit(Hebrews 9:14, Genesis 1:2, 1
Corinthians 2:10-11, Psalms 139:7-10)


II.         Holy
Spirit is a Person

A.  Difficult to define in us – the something beyond the dust and clay

      1.  Same delineation of the Holy Spirit – a somebody

B.  First used by the churches in their controversies with Sabellius

      1.  Tertullian coined the term "Trinity"

C.  Four component parts of the full-orbed personality present in Holy

      1.  He can think(1
Corinthians 2:10-11)

      2.  He can feel (Ephesians

      3.  He can will, choose, purpose (1 Corinthians 12:11)

      4.  He can act


III.        The
works of the Holy Spirit

A.  The Holy Scriptures(2 Timothy 3:17, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Samuel 23:1-3, Psalm 22)

B.  Our Guide, Teacher and Revealer (John

C.  He walks along side, our Paraclete(Luke 24, John 16:13)

D.  Regeneration(Titus 3:5)

E.  Our Comforter(Romans 8:26)


IV.        Monotheism
in the Scriptures

A.  There is one God, but in human experience we know
Him as Father, Savior and the Lord who lives in our hearts(1 Corinthians 8:4, 6)

B.  No difference between Jesus in your soul and the
Holy Spirit in your soul (Galatians 2:20,
1 Corinthians 6:19)

C.  Only one name for the Spirit of God – He points to
Jesus(John 16:13-14)