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LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

A RESEARCH PAPER SUBMITTED TO DR. SAM HOYT


IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR
THE COURSE THEO 530

LIBERTY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

BY
CHRISTOPHER NEUMAN

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO


MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2014

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Table of Contents
Introduction...............................................................................................................................1
The Person of the Holy Spirit...................................................................................................1
The Spirit has a personality.............................................................................................................2
The Spirit performs the actions of a person...................................................................................3
The Spirit can be affected on a personal level................................................................................4
The Spirit paired with persons and personal agents......................................................................4
Implications of the Person of the Holy Spirit for Christians.........................................................6

The Work of the Holy Spirit....................................................................................................7


The work of the Holy Spirit at salvation.........................................................................................7
The work of the Holy Spirit post-conversion................................................................................10
Implications of the work of the Holy Spirit for Christians..........................................................12

Conclusion................................................................................................................................13
Bibliography............................................................................................................................14

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INTRODUCTION
If one were to approach a group of Christians and ask questions concerning the nature
and work of the Holy Spirit, one would likely receive a variety of responses ranging from
controversial to confusing. This has been the case throughout the history of the church. In
terms of the nature of the Holy Spirit, Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the Cappadocian
Fathers wrote that some experts of his day took the Holy Spirit as an active process, some
as a creature, some as God.1 In modern times, the Jehovahs Witnesses conclude, The holy
spirit is Gods active force that he uses to accomplish his will. 2 These variations in belief not
only occur concerning the nature of the Holy Spirit, but also with the work of the Holy Spirit.
Consider those from the Pentecostal church who contend that the Holy Spirit has gifted them
with speaking in tongues or faith healing, while other Christians find the Pentecostal
understanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be incorrect. It is critically important for the
Christian to understand what Scripture reveals about the Holy Spirit, both for the
improvement of ones relationship with the Triune God, and for ones practical function in the
body of Christ. A biblical analysis of the person and work of the Holy Spirit will reveal how
this doctrine is to be understood, and what the implications of this understanding are for the
modern Christian.
THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
When researching the nature of the Holy Spirit, one must consider the use of multiple
Bible translations.

For example, a person using only the King James Version may

misconstrue the nature of the Holy Spirit after reading the translation Holy Ghost.
1

Gregory, Frederick Williams, and Lionel R. Wickham, On God and Christ: The Five Theological Orations and
Two Letters to Cledonius (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2002), 5.
2
Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses (Eugene, Or: Harvest House
Publishers, 2009), 197.

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Additionally, one must consider all relevant information from Scripture concerning the Holy
Spirit to avoid making incorrect assumptions. For instance, if one were only to read the literal
Greek translation of Spirit, pneuma, a neuter noun, or to focus on Spirit images such as wind,
dove, or fire, one could incorrectly assume that the Spirit is not a person, but a thing. This
writer will show that the Holy Spirit is a person, a divine person no less, based on biblical
evidence demonstrating that the Spirit has a personality, that the Spirit performs the actions of
a person, that the Spirit can be affected on a personal level, and through the pairing of the
Spirit with persons and personal agents.
The Spirit has a personality
Strong thinks of the moral nature of man in terms of powers.

He writes, These

powers are intellect, sensibility, and will, together with that peculiar power of discrimination
and impulsion which we call conscience. 3 Biblical evidence shows that the Holy Spirit also
possesses intellect, sensibility, and will. In demonstrating the Spirits intellect, 1 Corinthians
2:11 reads, For who knows a persons thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in
him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.4 Additional
support for the Spirits intellect comes from John 14:26, 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 that I have said to you. One who has the capacity to teach must possess
intellect. Sensibility, defined as the ability to feel and understand emotions 5 of the Spirit is
demonstrated in Romans 15:30, I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by
the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, and in
3

Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology: A Compendium and Commonplace-Book Designed for the
Use of Theological Students (Philadelphia: Griffith & Rowland Press, 1907), 497.
4
English Standard Version.
5
Merriam-Webster Online, s.v. Sensibility, accessed February 25, 2013, http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/sensibility.

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Ephesians 4:30, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the
day of redemption. The will of the Spirit is demonstrated clearly in 1 Corinthians 12:11,
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one
individually as he wills. Lastly, Walvoord makes a relevant point concerning the personality
of the Spirit. Referencing Romans 8:2, the Spirit of life, Walvoord writes, On the human
level possession of life is taken as proof of possession of personality, one without the other
being impossible. As the Holy Spirit possesses life, personality is necessary.6
The Spirit performs the actions of a person
In addition to showing the Spirits personality, Scripture also reveals the Spirit
performing the actions of a person. The Spirit is the subject of numerous verbs in the Bible
that are performed by a person, many occurring in the New Testament. John 14:6, 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 that I have said to you, shows that the Spirit teaches. John
15:26 shows that the Spirit bears witness: But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to
you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness
about me. Acts 13:2 shows that the Spirit speaks, 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. Gal 4:6 shows that the Spirit cries out, And because you are sons, God has
sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father! Additionally, the Apostle
Paul reveals the Spirit taking the unique actions of a person in Romans 8:26, Likewise the
Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the
Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Teaching, interceding,
6

John F. Walvoord, "The person of the Holy Spirit," Bibliotheca Sacra 97, no. 386 (April 1, 1940): 168,
accessed February 25, 2014, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.

speaking, these are all actions performed by a person, not by energy or some other object or
symbol.
The Spirit can be affected on a personal level
Human persons can be affected in many ways; they can be lied to, tempted, made to
laugh or cry. The Holy Spirit

can be affected on a personal level as well.

Numerous

instances of this affectation occurring appear in the New Testament, especially in the book of
Acts. Acts 5:3 shows that the Spirit can be lied to: But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan
filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of
the land? Acts 5:9 shows that the Spirit can be tempted: But Peter said to her, How is it
that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Acts 7:51 shows that the Spirit
can be resisted: You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist
the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 10:9 shows that the Spirit can be angered: How much worse
punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of
God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has
outraged the Spirit of grace? Of these examples, one can resist energy or some other
impersonal thing, but one cannot lie to, tempt, or anger anything but a person.
The Spirit paired with persons and personal agents
Charles Spurgeon gave a sermon in 1855 about the personality of the Holy Spirit. In
his sermon he said of God, I can think of the Father as a person, because his acts are such as
I can understand.7 Speaking of Jesus he said, I can realize Jesus, the Son of Man, as a real

Curtis Hutson, Great Preaching on the Holy Spirit (Murfreesboro, Tenn: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1988),
200.

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person, because he is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.8 Of the Holy Spirit, Spurgeon
said,
But when I come to deal with the Holy Ghost, his operations are so mysterious, his
doings are so secret, his acts are so removed from everything that is of sense, and of
the body, that I cannot so easily get the idea of his being a person; but a person he is.
God the Holy Ghost is not an influence, an emanation, a stream of something flowing
from the Father; but he is as much an actual person as either God the Son, or God the
Father.9
Spurgeon reveals in these statements another aspect of the person of the Holy Spirit: his
pairing with persons and personal agents, in this case, God and Jesus Christ. Clearly, the two
most important personal agents that the Holy Spirit is paired with are the Father and the Son,
as evidenced in Matthew 28:19, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and in 2 Corinthians
13:14, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy
Spirit be with you all. Additionally, the Holy Spirit is referred to as parakltos (John 14:26,
15:26, and 16:7), a word that also refers to Jesus Christ in 1 John 2:1. As Spurgeon stated, the
Father and Son are thought of as persons, so it is logical to assume the Holy Spirit is a person
based on his pairing with them.
In addition to being paired with personal agents, the Holy Spirit is also paired with
persons. Acts 15:28 demonstrates this pairing: For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit
and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements. Ryrie explains, He is
related to the apostles as if He has personality (though divine) just as they did (though
human). At the same time he is distinguished from them as a separate person. 10 Similarly,
Acts 20:28 reads, Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy
8

Hutson, 200.
Hutson, 200.
10
Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1997), 18.
9

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Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own
blood. Schreiner rightly contends, Only a person can appoint someone to an office. 11
Additionally, one can also see in this verse another pairing of the Holy Spirit with the Father
and the Son. Another similar verse is Acts 16:6, And they went through the region of
Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia;
again, only a person can forbid other persons from doing something.
Implications of the Person of the Holy Spirit for Christians
A proper understanding of the Person of the Holy Spirit has serious implications for
the Christian. First and foremost, since the Holy Spirit is a person, the Christian can have a
personal relationship with Him. Pickett explains the benefits of such a relationship:
Fellowship with the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to live our daily lives in a way that
pleases God.12 Next, once the Christian understands that the Holy Spirit is not energy, but a
person, ones function in the body of Christ can improve. Torrey contends that energy would
be something obtained and used by a Christian, but the person of the Holy Spirit obtains the
Christian and uses him or her. He concludes,
But if we once grasp the thought that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person of infinite
majesty, glory and holiness and power, who in marvellous condescension has come
into our hearts to make His abode there and take possession of our lives and make use
of them, it will put us in the dust and keep us in the dust. I can think of no thought
more humbling or more overwhelming than the thought that a person of Divine
majesty and glory dwells in my heart and is ready to use even me.13

11

Thomas R. Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker
Academic, 2008), .
12
Fuchsia T. Pickett, Understanding the Personality of the Holy Spirit (Lake Mary, Fla: Charisma House, 2004),
20.
13
R. A. Torrey, The Best of R.A. Torrey (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1990), 24.

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Finally, understanding that the Holy Spirit is a person gives the Christian comfort in knowing
that he or she is indwelt with a person that cares about them, and wants Gods will for his or
her life.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Work of the Holy Spirit can be evaluated in many ways. One could discuss his
work in relation to the world, from his involvement in the creation (Gen 1:2) to his work in
the preservation of the world (Ps 104:30). One could discuss his work in the non-believing
world. Thiessen summarizes this work in three general areas: He actively works through
individuals to accomplish his purposes, he convicts the world of sin and the need of salvation,
and he restrains and controls the direction of evil.14 Further, one could discuss the Holy
Spirits work in relation to Scripture and to Jesus Christ. However, for the purposes of this
paper, the work of the Holy Spirit will be evaluated in relation to the believer, both at
conversion and post-conversion.
The work of the Holy Spirit at salvation
The work of the Holy Spirit is critical in the salvation of the believer, first in
conversion. Luke 19:10 reads, For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Those who do not have a relationship with God are lost, and in need of conversion. In Acts
20:21, the Apostle Paul reveals what elements are needed for conversion to take place:
testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord
Jesus Christ. In terms of repentance, Jesus explains the Holy Spirits work in Luke 16:8-11:
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and
judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me concerning righteousness,
14

Henry Clarence Thiessen, and Vernon D. Doerksen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 2003), 252.

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because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the
ruler of this world is judged. In terms of faith, the work of the Holy Spirit also plays a role.
1 Corinthians 12:9 speaks of faith by the same Spirit, while Galatians 5:22 reveals
faithfulness as one of the fruits of the Spirit. Clearly, without the work of the Holy Spirit,
conversion of the believer would not be possible.
In addition to conversion, the work of the Holy Spirit is also critical in another aspect
of salvation, regeneration. Jesus makes two important statements to Nicodemus concerning
regeneration. First, he explains in John 3:3, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born
again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Then, in John 3:5-6 he states, Truly, truly, I say
to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That
which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. This
transformation of the believer cannot be produced by the believer, but by the work of the Holy
Spirit, as evidenced by Titus 3:5, he saved us, not because of works done by us in
righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of
the Holy Spirit. The regenerated believer is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) and has put on
the new self (Col 3:9-10) as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Another work of the Holy Spirit at salvation is the indwelling of the believer. Jesus
said in John 14:17, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it
neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
This indwelling is necessary for the believers salvation, as Romans 8:9 reveals, Anyone
who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Additionally, the Spirits
work of indwelling assures resurrection of the believer as evidenced in Romans 8:11, If the
Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from

the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Regarding indwelling, Hamilton comments, In the old covenant God indwelt the temple. In
the new covenant the people of God are the temple, and God dwells in them.15
Another work the Holy Spirit performs at salvation is baptism. Thiessen explains this
work concisely: Christ baptizes believers in the Spirit into the body of Christ.16 This work
confirms Gods promises in Ezekiel 36:25-27:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and
from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will
put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of
flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be
careful to obey my rules.
John the Baptist relates the Holy Spirits work of baptism in relation to Jesus in John 1:33:
He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy
Spirit. Paul confirms the Holy Spirits work of baptism at salvation at various points in
Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 he writes, For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one
bodyJews or Greeks, slaves or freeand all were made to drink of one Spirit. In
Colossians 2:12 he writes, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also
raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the
dead.
One final work of the Holy Spirit at salvation is the sealing of the believer. Paul
writes in Ephesians 1:13-14, In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel
of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the
guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. This

15

James M. Hamilton, and E. Ray Clendenen, God's Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old & New
Testaments (Nashville, Tenn: B & H Pub. Group, 2006), 160.
16
Thiessen, 255.

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is a unique work in that the Holy Spirit works, and is the product of the work. Mayers
explains, The Holy Spirit seals the believer into the body of Christ by the baptism of the
Holy Spirit and becomes the seal of ownership by the very indwelling presence of the
believer.17 In summary, the Holy Spirits work through conversion, regeneration, indwelling,
baptism, and sealing result in the salvation of the believer.
The work of the Holy Spirit post-conversion
The work of the Holy Spirit does not cease following conversion, but continues to
actively work in the life of the believer. As there are many important works that the Holy
Spirit does in the life of the believer, this writer will focus on four: filling, teaching, guiding,
and empowering. The first work of discussion is the Holy Spirits filling of the believer. In
Ephesians 5:18, Paul gives a command to believers: And do not get drunk with wine, for
that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. As to what filling is, Woodcock explains,
To be filled with the Holy Spirit involves an expansion and intensification of the impact of
His indwelling presence. It is to have His presence saturate one's being with His qualities of
godliness in life and power in ministry. 18 Whether this filling is continuous in the life of the
believer or whether it occurs in special circumstances in the believers life has been a matter
of debate for biblical scholars. Consider Stephen in the book of Acts. In Acts 6:5, he is
described as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit pointing to a continuous filling, while
prior to his death in Acts 7:55, he is described as full of the Spirit indicating a special
circumstance. Woodcocks solution to the argument states, Being full of the Holy Spirit as a

17

Ronald B. Mayers, Evangelical Perspectives: Toward a Biblical Balance (Lanham, MD: University Press of
America, 1987), 145.
18
Eldon Woodcock, "The Filling of the Holy Spirit," Bibliotheca Sacra 157, no. 625 (January 1, 2000): 73,
accessed February 25, 2014, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.

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continuing spiritual condition does not preclude special fillings that empower the believer for
ministry or for handling especially difficult situations.19
Another important work of the Holy Spirit in the believer following salvation is
teaching. Jesus promised the disciples in John 14:26, 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 that I have said to you, and in John 16:13, When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide
you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will
speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. The Holy Spirit taught the
disciples, and he continues to teach Christians today, specifically in the area of understanding
truth from Scripture. Walvoord asserts, The Word of God is written by inspiration of the
Holy Spirit, and its divine author, the Spirit of truth, is its best teacher.20 The Holy Spirits
work of teaching not only helps the believer to grow in the body of Christ, but also helps the
body of Christ to grow as well.
In addition to teaching, the Holy Spirit works in the believer by guiding. This work is
seen in the early church as the Holy Spirit exercised numerous guiding activities; the Spirit
disciplined (Acts 5:9), gave instructions (Acts 8:29), appointed disciples for tasks (Acts 13:2),
made decisions (Acts 15:28), and forbade activities (Acts 16:6). Just as he worked by guiding
in the early church, he also guides the believer. Paul gives two separate commands to
believers in the fifth chapter of Galatians concerning the Holy Spirits guidance. Galatians
5:16 states, But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,
while Galatians 5:25 states, If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

19

Woodcock, 75.
John F Walvoord, "The work of the Holy Spirit in the believer," Bibliotheca Sacra 99, no. 395 (July 1, 1942):
326, accessed February 26, 2014, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.
20

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Clearly, the believer cannot walk by the Spirit or stay in step with the Spirit unless the Spirit
is guiding that believer. Paul reveals the benefit of following the Spirits guidance in Romans
8:13-14: For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to
death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of
God.
The final work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer discussed in this paper is
empowering. A Christian cannot hope to be spiritually effective separate from the Spirits
empowering work. The Apostle Paul frequently discussed the empowering work of the Holy
Spirit in his writings. He wrote of the Spirits empowering work in Pauls ministry in
Romans 19:19, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, and
in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of
wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in
the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Paul also discussed the Spirits empowering
work at his first defense in 2 Timothy 4:17, But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me,
so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.
So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. Paul did not speak only of the Spirits empowering
in his life, but also in the lives of those in the church. Paul commanded the Ephesians to be
strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might in Ephesians 6:10, and to Put on the
whole armor of God in Ephesians 6:11, which included the sword of the Spirit in
Ephesians 6:16.
Implications of the work of the Holy Spirit for Christians
There are several implications of the work of the Holy Spirit for Christians. First,
Christians who understand that the Spirit seals them can rest assured that upon their death

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they will see their Savior. Next, Christians who grasp that they are empowered by the Holy
Spirit can learn not to be distracted by their own shortcomings as they seek to do Gods work.
Next, Christians who understand the Holy Spirits work of teaching should focus on Scripture,
of which the Holy Spirit is author, as their source of truth, rather than primarily focusing on
the teachings of men. Next, Christians who understand the Holy Spirits work of guiding
should prayerfully and regularly evaluate their circumstances in seeking to determine Gods
will. Finally, Christians who understand the work of the Holy Spirit in filling should
recognize that they are fully equipped to accomplish the Great Commission as given by Jesus
in Matthew 28:19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I
have commanded you.
CONCLUSION
The Holy Spirit is a divine person, as evidenced by his personality, by his
ability to perform the actions of a person, by his being affected on a personal level, and by his
pairings with persons and personal agents. Additionally, the Holy Spirit works through the
believer, both at conversion and post-conversion through numerous actions including
conversion, regeneration, indwelling, baptizing, sealing, filling, teaching, guiding, and
empowering. As the Christian surrenders more of his or her life to the Holy Spirit, visible fruit
of the Holy Spirits work will be evident in his or her life. A biblical analysis of the person
and work of the Holy Spirit has revealed how this doctrine is to be understood, and what the
implications of this understanding are for the modern Christians.

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