God the Holy Spirit

General Conference

God the Holy Spirit

President of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, Ted N.C. Wilson, talks about Fundamental Belief #5: The Holy Spirit

Commentary | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Editor’s Note: Below is a transcript of a message, posted to YouTube on February 17, 2022, from President of the Adventist Church, Ted N.C. Wilson. You can see past messages here

Greetings, friends. Today, we will be talking about a very important Person who is invisible, and yet very real—God the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Godhead.

Our fifth Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief explains the Holy Spirit in this way:

"God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He is as much a person as are the Father and the Son. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ's life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth." 

One night nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus told Nicodemus, as recorded in John 3:5, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Jesus was referring to the necessity of baptism by water and the Holy Spirit. Explaining how the Holy Spirit works, He continued, "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)

An important part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sins, lead us to repentance, and transform our lives to be like Jesus. When speaking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, Jesus said in John 16:8, "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." He then went on to say, ". . . when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth." (vs. 13). An important work of the Holy Spirit is to help us understand the truth which God has revealed in the Bible. Notice this powerful explanation of the Holy Spirit's work given by Ellen White:

“His work is to define and maintain the truth. He first dwells in the heart as the Spirit of truth, and thus He becomes the Comforter. There is comfort and peace in the truth, but no real peace or comfort can be found in falsehood. . . Through the Scriptures the Holy Spirit speaks to the mind, and impresses truth upon the heart. Thus He exposes error, and expels it from the soul” (Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 13).

As an integral part of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit has existed from eternity, and the Bible reveals Him as a person, not an impersonal force. He strives, as we read in Genesis 6:3 where the Lord says, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever . . ." He teaches, as indicated in Luke 12:12, "For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." He convicts, as we noted in John 16:8. In Acts 13:2, we see Him directing in church affairs.

In Romans 8:26 we read this beautiful description: "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

He inspires, as indicated in 2 Peter 1:21—"for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." And He sanctifies, as 1 Peter 1:2 refers to "the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ."
The Holy Spirit was active at Creation, "hovering over the face of the waters" (Gen. 1:1,2). David knew Him when he cried out in Psalm 51:11, "Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me."

We see the role of the Holy Spirit in the incarnation of Jesus Christ when an angel told Mary, as recorded in Luke 1:35, "'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."

Jesus Himself acknowledged the anointing of the Holy Spirit when He read from Isaiah 61:1— "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound."

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus assured His disciples: "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:25, 26).

Just 50 days later, Christ's promise to His disciples was fulfilled, as recorded in Acts 2:1-4 "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit . . ."

Later, in Acts 10:38 we hear Peter preaching to the household of Cornelius, a Roman centurion, telling them “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. . ."

In Romans 5:5 we are assured, "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

All of Christ's followers are to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit by making a full surrender to Him, allowing Him to transform their lives. This transformation is explained clearly in Galatians 5, where we are urged in verse 16 to "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Paul then contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit, which is "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (vs. 22).

Friends, the Holy Spirit is indeed God with us. He was sent to teach, guide, comfort, encourage, and transform us. We have the wonderful privilege of accepting this amazing gift. However, the choice is ours. God will never force Himself upon anyone. Nevertheless, Jesus warned us about the consequences of resisting the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 12:31, 32 we read: "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."

A sin that cannot be forgiven—How can this be? It's because it is through the Holy Spirit that God reaches us, convicts us of sin, and transforms us. If we shut Him out, we have chosen to cut off communication with God. Heartbreaking indeed is such a situation. That's why it is so important for us to heed the call given in Psalm 95 and repeated in Hebrews 4:7: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts." Friends, I invite you to accept this wonderful gift today!

If you would like to learn more about God the Holy Spirit, I encourage you to visit adventist.org/holy-spirit

Let us praise the Lord for His amazing gift of the Holy Spirit as we pray together. Father in Heaven, thank you that You, the Son and the Holy Spirit work together in such a magnificent manner. Thank you for creating this world. Thank you for creating us. Thank you for thinking of the plan of salvation, even before the creation of this earth. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to convict us, to teach us, to help us in our work for you by empowering us. Now Lord, we ask that You will fill our lives with the Holy Spirit and we pray for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit, when the work of God will move so quickly and then Jesus can come. Thank you for hearing us, in Jesus name we ask it, amen.