A Quick Look
We see the Spirit of God there right at the start of the Bible:
Gen. 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
It is also there right at the end:
Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Both of these refer to God using His power – the first in the original creation of the earth and the last in the final creation of His Kingdom on earth. Throughout the time between we see manifestations of God’s power, and often these are referred to by the Bible as the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God. ‘Spirit’, literally, means ‘breath’ – the Breath of God.
A Personal Analysis
If we are going to argue that the Spirit of God is His power, then we need to reflect on how that power might have been used over the ages, how it might be in use now, and what part it might play in the future of the world as described by God’s plan.
Throughout the time recorded in the Bible, God has performed miracles. Some of these were clearly supernatural, in that they were actions beyond that of man. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the creation of the heavens and the earth but there have been many other things since. The parting of the Red Sea so that Israel could cross and the saving of Daniel from the den of lions are just two of many examples we could cite, all of which would demonstrate God using power in a way which is beyond that of the ability of a human being.
Miracles were also performed by various people to whom God chose to give the ability to use His power. Jesus is the most obvious of these, but many of the prophets, notably Elijah and Elisha and Samson, also showed similar signs of God’s Spirit working through them.
Later in the New Testament writings, Paul, in particular, makes it very clear that the Holy Spirit is active in bringing believers to Jesus
Rom. 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
1John 3:24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
If that was the case then, then it must also be so now. None of us can come to God unless He uses His power to call us to Him. Our prayer should surely be that He might indeed grant us by His Spirit an understanding that will bring us to be part of His promises he has made to those who believe.
1Pe 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.
More Detailed Bible Teaching
God has chosen to use His power – His Spirit – to give us life (breath). But not only that, He has also promised to us everlasting life if we believe in Him and His son and His promises.
Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Acts 17:28 "for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
The power that will provide the fulfilment of those promises is the same power that created the world initially, and currently keeps us alive. The Spirit of God is, we would suggest, the only power in the earth at all, as it is the power by which the whole creation lives and breathes.
However, the Bible shows us that God is willing to use His power to go way beyond that, offering us not only life now but also eternal life in the future at a time of God’s choosing, when He sends Jesus back to this earth to begin the job of establishing His reign of peace.
In the past, the equilibrium between God and man was established using ongoing and constant animal sacrifices for God’s forgiveness of man’s sin, and all of this was to point forward, as indeed all the law did, to the work that one day Jesus would do, when he would become the final and perfect sacrifice, so that sin could be forgiven through him, instead of the need for ongoing sacrifices as before. The writer to the Hebrews attributes all of this to the Spirit:
Heb. 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.
12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,
14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
We cannot speak of the Holy Spirit without reference to two of the places where we read of it directly. The first of these is the baptism of Jesus, where we read this:
Matt. 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.
14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?"
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
We see that God used His power specifically on Jesus who pleased him well. We also see that, after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, God also gave his power to the Apostles who were to use it to establish the early Christian church.
Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
We see that God has times when He is willing to allow people to use His power directly. This situation continued for some time, the Apostles being able to pass on these Spirit gifts by the laying on of hands, but this situation was not to continue forever at this point. Paul tells us:
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
So the direct observable Spirit gifts would cease, Paul says, and be replaced with the fruit of the Spirit, which is love.
Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
God’s Spirit would ‘return to Him’, as it were, and we would return to the previous situation where God would use His power as and when He chooses at His discretion. This still includes working miracles at the request of faithful men, just as has always been the case, but the obvious and powerful gifts that God gave to the early apostles would no longer be. Instead the power-force behind our worship would be love.
It would be helpful here to consider what love is. The emotion we normally describe with the word love speaks of something that makes a bond between two people that stems from a strong liking for each other and often leads to physical activity which we even call ‘love-making’. Not wanting to detract from the beauty of this definition, I think we need to recognise that the word love, when used in the Bible, which is the fruit of the Spirit is something quite different. It speaks of a state of mind that considers all others (whether we actually like them as people or not) and puts their needs first. This is a concept that is alien to our natural human thinking, and something which God, by His Holy Spirit, is willing to offer to us. We cannot develop this type of love by our own efforts or actions. It is not a natural human concept at all, but a gift from God, so let’s ask Him for it, for the fruit of His Spirit, which is the key to our salvation.