Category: (03) What is Pneumatology?

The word Pneumatology comes from two Greek words  which mean “wind, air, spirit” and “word” – combining to mean “the study of the  Holy Spirit.” Pneumatology is the study of God the Holy Spirit, the third Person  of the Trinity. It answers numerous important questions about the Holy  Spirit:

Who / what is the Holy Spirit? There are many misconceptions about the identity of the Holy Spirit. Some view  the Holy Spirit as a mystical force. Others understand the Holy Spirit as the  impersonal power God makes available to followers of Christ. What does the Bible  say about the identity of the Holy Spirit?

When  / How do we receive the Holy Spirit? This discussion is controversial  because the ministries of the Holy Spirit are often confused. The receiving /  indwelling of the Spirit occurs at the moment of salvation. The filling of the  Spirit is an ongoing process in the Christian life.

What  is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? The baptism of the Holy Spirit may be  defined as that work whereby the Spirit of God places the believer into union  with Christ and into union with other believers in the Body of Christ at the  moment of salvation.

How can I be filled  with the Spirit? It is important to distinguish between the indwelling and  filling of the Spirit. The permanent indwelling of the Spirit is not for a  select few believers, but rather for all believers. This is in contrast to the  commanded filling of the Spirit found in Ephesians  5:18.

Are the miraculous gifts of the  Spirit for today? This is not a question of can the Holy Spirit give someone  a miraculous gift. The question is does the Holy Spirit still dispense the  miraculous gifts today. Above all else, we entirely recognize that the Holy  Spirit is free to dispense gifts according to His will (1 Corinthians  12:7-11).

Many Christians have an unbiblical perception of the Holy  Spirit. Some understand the Holy Spirit as a power or force given to us from  God. This is not Biblical. Pneumatology teaches us that the Holy Spirit is a  Person, with a mind, emotions, and will. The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ “replacement”  on earth (John  14:16-26; 15:26; 16:7). The Holy Spirit is  received at salvation (Romans 8:9)  and is the permanent possession of every believer in Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14).  Pneumatology helps us to understand these issues and recognize the Biblical  roles of the Holy Spirit in our lives today.

The study of Pneumatology  is of immense benefit to the Christian. In the pages of Scripture, we come face  to face with the third Person of the trinity, God himself in spirit, and we see  His very personal and intimate ministry to us. Through Him, we come to know  God’s love for us “because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by  the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).  To understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to find joy in His role as our  Comforter (John 16:7; Acts 9:31) who not only helps  and comforts us, but who comes to our rescue when our hearts are so burdened we  cannot even pray for relief (Romans  8:26). When we pursue the knowledge of the Holy Spirit we find, to our great  delight, that He not only lives within us, but He does so forever, never to  leave or forsake us (John 14:16).  All these truths are burned into our hearts when we study Pneumatology.

A good summary verse for Pneumatology is John  16:8-11, “When He (the Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world of  guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because  men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the  Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the  prince of this world now stands condemned.”

The apostle Paul clearly taught that we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we  receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. First Corinthians 12:13 declares, “For we were all  baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and  we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” Romans 8:9 tells us that if a person does not possess the Holy Spirit, he or she does not  belong to Christ: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by  the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the  Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Ephesians  1:13-14 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation for all  those who believe: “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the  promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the  redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his  glory.”

These three passages make it clear that the Holy Spirit is  received at the moment of salvation. Paul could not say that we all were  baptized by one Spirit and all given one Spirit to drink if not all of the  Corinthian believers possessed the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 is  even stronger, stating that if a person does not have the Spirit, he does not  belong to Christ. Therefore, the possession of the Spirit is an identifying  factor of the possession of salvation. Further, the Holy Spirit could not be the  “seal of salvation” (Ephesians  1:13-14) if He is not received at the moment of salvation. Many scriptures  make it abundantly clear that our salvation is secured the moment we receive  Christ as Savior.

This discussion is controversial because the  ministries of the Holy Spirit are often confused. The receiving/indwelling of  the Spirit occurs at the moment of salvation. The filling of the Spirit is an  ongoing process in the Christian life. While we hold that the baptism of the  Spirit also occurs at the moment of salvation, some Christians do not. This  sometimes results in the baptism of the Spirit being confused with “receiving  the Spirit” as an act subsequent to salvation.

In conclusion, how do we  receive the Holy Spirit? We receive the Holy Spirit by simply receiving the Lord  Jesus Christ as our Savior (John  3:5-16). When do we receive the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit becomes our  permanent possession the moment we believe.