In scripture we have a very clear picture of Jesus, the Son of God as we saw in part 1. Since he is the only means of salvation (Acts 4.12) that is to be expected. We also have a very clear picture of God the Father. The sacrificing love of God the Father is also clear in scripture, from the love that covered the sin of Adam and Eve and promised a savior (Gen 3.21, 3.15), to his gift of salvation offered to the world (John 3.16) as we saw in the previous article. And now we come to the third person of the holy Trinity: God the Holy Spirit. Though he is as active in all aspects of salvation and all that God does, as are the first and second person, for reasons that will soon become apparent, he is not seen in revelations as often as the first and second person of the Trinity. Why is that? We’ll answer that in the course of answering our main question:
Who is God the Holy Spirit?
In scripture, we often see the father revealed in a couple of common ways: as the “Ancient of Days” (Dan 7.9), and perhaps even more often only as the glory of God, the dwelling presence of God known in Jewish circles as the Shekinah glory of God. (Ex 29.43, 33.22; Rev 15.8, 21.23).
Jesus, the Son of God, is often revealed in his human form: “one like a son of Man” (Dan 7.13), who became flesh (John 1.14) and took on the appearance of humans (Php 2.8).
Given those two bits of information, when we see glimpses into heaven of God, what do we commonly see? We see the Glory of God (the Father), and Jesus, the Son of Man – both of whom appear at one point on the throne in heaven, (Rev 5.6-7) though Jesus is often described as being at the right hand of the father. (Acts 7.55-56, Heb 12.2, 1 Pe 3.22) Wherever the Son is in relation to the Father, whether approaching (Dan 7.13), at the right hand (Heb 12.2), or on the throne (Rev 5.6-7), what’s interesting is who we don’t see, namely the Holy Spirit. What’s going on? Before we get to why we don’t often see the third person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit, let’s start revealing him by looking at who he is and the work he does. We’ve already mentioned who he is: the divine third person of the triune God – so let’s take a look at what he does.
The Holy Spirit is the Power of God
When the mighty works of God are in view, it is often the Holy Spirit who is described as the one manifesting the power of God.
- The Holy Spirit is active in Creation
When the Bible opens, and the earth is still formless an empty, one of the first things we learn is that the Spirit of God is hovering above the waters of creation, (Gen 1.2) clearly active in the work that was done and is about to be done.
- The Holy Spirit is active in Regeneration
He makes us alive in Christ. (John 3.5-6, 8, Rom 8.9, 11)
He dwells in believers as a promise of the life to com.e (Ep 1.13-14 )
- The Holy Spirit Empowers :
– Miracles (Judg 14.6,19; Lk 1.35; Acts 10.38, Acts 1.8, Rom 15.19
– Spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12.4-11)
– Daily holy living (Rom 7.6, 8.4-8)
- The Spirit is powerful and mysterious but personal.
In Hebrew, the same word (ruach) is used for both “spirit” and “wind.” And so we naturally get a picture of the Spirit as an entity that is very powerful but also unseen and thus mysterious – like the winds of a storm or a hurricane (but under control) as Jesus notes:
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Yes, God manifests his power through the Spirit, but the Spirit is no mere “force.” He is decisive, he directs, and he expresses and reveals his decisions. That is something no mere force can do. For example, with regards to the distribution of spiritual gifts among God’s people, we’re told:
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Cor 12.11
And in the selection of apostles for a missionary trip we’re told:
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Here we see the Spirit speaking, expressing a divine decision (on who to send), calling men to a work, and revealing all this to God’s people. That is not something a mere force can do.
The Holy Spirit is the Presence of God
God has promised to always be with his children:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
How does God fulfill that promise of his abiding presence? He fulfills it through the Holy Spirit living in those trusting in the Son of God. This is seen both in the direct promises of the Spirit dwelling with the believer, and also in all the ways the Holy Spirit is active in the life of a believer.
The Holy Spirit shows God’s presence when he:
- Fills us and lives in us (John 14.17, Ep 2.22, 5.18, 1 Cor 3.16, 6.19)
- Counsels us (John 16.13)
- Prays for us (Rom 8.26-27)
- Sanctifies us (Rom 15.16)
- Convicts us (John 16.8)
- Reveals God’s Truth to us: (Ep 3.5, 1 Cor 2.10, John 16.15)
Speaking of revealing God’s truth to us, we come now to the reason why we don’t see the Holy Spirit when we see revelations of God in various places in scripture.
The Holy Spirit is the Revealer of God
So we’ve already noted that many times when we see revelations of God, we see the glory of God the Father, and Jesus, the Son of Man. But we don’t see the Holy Spirit. Why is that? The answer is amazingly simple. Think about it. Where does the Holy Spirit dwell? He dwells inside the believer. (John 14.17) And how are we able to see these revelations? Through the power of the Spirit. When you put it together, it appears we are getting a first person view of spiritual things – from the perspective of the Holy Spirit. And when you view things from a first person view you don’t see the person doing the viewing. You see everything around the person viewing – everything but the person doing the viewing.
Consider how they do first person views (known as subjective camera) in movies. TCM noir movie commentator Eddie Muller explains it as it’s done for the movie “Lady in the Lake”:
“The story is seen entirely from Philip Marlowe’s point of view. The most elaborate use of subjective camera ever attempted.” 
He further notes you never see Marlowe since it’s his view we see. The only time we see him is when he is caused to be seen by something like a reflection in the mirror. The same is true with the Spirit. The only time he is seen is when he is caused to be seen by some miraculous event – as when he descends on Jesus in the form of a dove (Matt 3.16); or when the Spirit falls upon believers on the day of Pentecost appearing as tongues of fire. (Acts 2.2-4) So just as you don’t see the character when a movie is shot from the character’s point of view, we don’t see the Holy Spirit when given spiritual revelations – because it’s the Holy Spirit’s view we see when he opens our eyes to spiritual truths. He allows us to see things as he sees them as he dwells in us – as if we’re seeing them through his eyes. Thus we wouldn’t expect to see him, just as we don’t expect to see our own face when looking out at the world. (Except of course in a mirror.)
You can see this from the pattern that’s apparent in scripture: A vision is given by the Holy Spirit, or the person is “in the spirit” and suddenly the person can see things he never could see before. Whose perspective is it? It’s the perspective of the person empowering the vision – the Holy Spirit. So of course he is not in view. Let me give you some examples:
Daniel’s Vision of the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man (Dan 7.2, 13-14)
We’re told Daniel is given a number of visions at night. (Dan 7.1) So immediately we know the Spirit is active. Among his visions: He sees the Ancient of Days (God the father) on the throne, and one “like a son of man” (Jesus -v13) approaching and “coming with the clouds of heaven.” How is Daniel able to see this vision? Through the power of the Holy Spirit, who, being with Daniel enables him to see the revelation from where Daniel is. For the same reason Daniel doesn’t see himself, he doesn’t see the Holy Spirit.
Stephen’s Vision of Heaven (Acts 7.55-56)
Stephen, the first Christian martyr is put to death by stoning because his testimony convicts the people. As the people are stoning him, he looks up to heaven and is given a vision. (So again, we know the spirit is active.) He exclaims: “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7.56) What happened immediately prior to that? “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7.55) So immediately prior to his vision, Stephen is filled by the Holy Spirit, and now he is seeing things as the Holy Spirit sees them. Again, for the same reason we wouldn’t expect to see Stephen in the picture, we don’t expect to see the Holy Spirit in the picture. This is probably one of the clearest pictures of both the Trinity and how the Spirit works from within the believer to reveal God the Father and God the Son.
John’s Vision of the Throne Room in Heaven (Rev 4.1 – 5.6)
Once again we see the same pattern. It starts with John merely hearing a voice, saying “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” (John 4.1) John is then enabled to see the heavenly throne room, but what happens immediately before he’s enabled to see it? “At once I was in the Spirit” (Rev 4.2) he tells us. So he can hear the word of God with his normal senses, but he’s not given the ability to see into the heavenly realm until he’s empowered by the Spirit to do so. And once he’s in the Spirit what does he see? A throne with someone sitting on it (Rev 4.2) and later, the Lion of Judah, who looks like a lamb who had been slain. (Rev 5.5-6) (Which may have come as a surprise to someone looking for a lion.) So again, he sees God the Father, and God the Son but he does not see the Holy Spirit. Why not? Because the Spirit is in him, empowering the vision, allowing John to see as the Holy Spirit sees it – from John’s vantage point. So for the same reason John does not see himself, he does not see the Holy Spirit.
Scripture is clear on this point. The Holy Spirit is not just the Power of God, manifested by mighty winds and mighty works; He is not just the presence of God, counseling us and praying for us and leading us. But he is also the revealer of God, giving us spiritual sight to see into the spiritual realm. As I meditate on this, I find it very comforting. Because for the believer – you know that if you’re seeing into the heavenly realm, it is because God is with you. Likewise, spiritual insights given to you are given by the Holy Spirit (John 16.13) thus confirming his presence dwelling with you.
It also serves to underscore the point of why God wants us to have nothing to do with other spirits or Spiritism or channeling or séances or the like. How do you suppose the Egyptian magicians of Pharaoh were able to imitate Moses’ miracle of turning a staff into a snake? (Ex 7.8-12) They did it by contacting evil spirits. This is why God has expressly forbidden seeking contact with such spirits (Deut 18.10-12). That prohibition is repeated under the new covenant. (Those who practice “magic arts” (Rev 21.8) speaking of those contacting spirits – not those doing mere illusions – are kept out of heaven and are cast into the lake of fire.) The only contact with spirits who want to indwell us or speak through us that we are to have is with God’s Holy Spirit. Such spiritual intimacy is reserved for God. Anything else is adultery.
While we’re in this present age, we’re only given spiritual sight into the heavenly realms when God deems it necessary. But the day is coming when we’ll have it all the time. As the apostle Paul says, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor 13.12) No doubt part of that “knowing fully” will be because we can see fully. And we will be able to see fully because we will enabled by, and see through the vantage point of God the Holy Spirit all the time – not just in brief glimpses of revelation.
1. Though the father is usually described as seated on the throne, and Jesus standing beside it, possession of the throne appears to be another thing Jesus shares in common with the father (John 16.15, 17.10) since it is “The throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22.3)
2. Eddie Muller, Introduction to the1947 film “Lady in the Lake”, TCM broadcast, 3/23/2019
3. Compare the call of the prophet Samuel, who is also able to hear the voice of God with his normal senses – but typically is not given visions. (1 Sam 3.1-11)
The Filling of the Indwelling Holy Spirit, composite by Duane Caldwell © 2020
Featuring Uplifted hands to the Sunrise © Jassada Wattanaungoon | Dreamstime.com, used by permission
Article Title: Ref Prov 9.10; 30.3