Tom Hayes

The Doctrine of The Holy Spirit

Romans 8

As I write this article, our youngest daughter, Akaisha, is two months from her twelfth birthday. Although she is much like other children, and must be told several times to perform certain functions around the house, she is part of a computer-oriented society and loves every minute of it. She types 75 words per minute, understands most computer language, can go to web sites like a wizard, and loves video games. While she has to lead her parents one step at a time into her digital world, she feels much at home in this era.

The society in which we live will unquestionably go down in history as a high-tech age. Yet, in the light of the Scriptures, there are other greater titles for it. For instance, we are taught in the New Testament that this is "The Age Of Grace," or "The Age Of The Gospel." Also, it has been rightly labeled, "The Age Of The Church." Beginning with Christ's resurrection, and concluding with the resurrection of the saints, it might even be referred to as "The Age Of The Resurrection."

In relationship to our present emphasis, however, we must not forget that this is "The Age Of The Holy Ghost," or what one has described as, "The public advent of the Spirit" (A. W. Pink). Throughout the Old Testament, the Person of the Godhead which is most clearly set forth is God, the Father. In the Gospels, the visible member of the Godhead is the Lord Jesus, God, the Son. But, in the Epistles, and in this on-going age, the active agent of the Godhead is God, the Holy Spirit. He is not only in the world, but He is working in and through His people.

Because He is mentioned so many times in the chapter before us, Romans 8 might well be called "The Holy Spirit Chapter Of The Bible." As early as verse 1, and as late as verse 27, we are repeatedly confronted with His Person, work, and ministry (see 8:1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 26, 27). It would be impossible, of course, to convey the riches of this chapter in one study. But, under the following three headings, let's look, at least, at some of the great doctrinal wealth related to the Holy Spirit.

First, we must come face to face with:


Although the Holy Spirit is also referred to in the Scriptures as "the Holy Ghost," He is more than a ghost. The Holy Spirit is not merely a spirit, an influence, or a presence. He is a Person, a real Person, a Divine Person! Like any other person, the Spirit of God possesses the qualities of a personality, that of intellect, emotion, and volition. Also, distinguishing Him as a real Being, not just an "it," the Holy Spirit is often referred to by the usage of personal pronouns (see John 16:7, 8).

Several special truths concerning His Person are set forth in this chapter, the first revealing that:

A. The Holy Spirit Is A Spiritual Being

The blessed Spirit of grace is a real Being. But, He is not a corporeal Being. Unlike us, He does not have His own body. In fact, the name, "Spirit" (8:2), pneuma in the Greek, is the same word translated "breath" and "wind" in our New Testament. As one's breath is not visible, and as the wind cannot be seen, similarly, the Holy Spirit cannot be perceived by the natural eye. In this light, we might call Him the unseen Breath, or the unseen Wind of God. He is a spiritual Being, or a spirit-Being.

In this chapter, we also see that:

B. The Holy Spirit Is A Special Being

The student of the Scriptures will discover that over sixty personal names and titles are ascribed to the Holy Spirit. And, as C. H. MacGregor pointed out, all of them set forth "a rich revelation of His character and work.” They reveal that He is a unique Person. One of those special titles, found in this present setting, is: "the Spirit of life" (8:2). It is true that this title, or any other name for the Holy Spirit, is not becoming to you and me. But, because He is a special Being, He comfortably bears them all.

Another very prominent emphasis in Romans 8 is that:

C. The Holy Spirit Is A Supernatural Being

Although there are several indicators in the context that reveal the Holy Spirit is a supernatural, or a Divine Being, in verse 9, we are confronted with two of the Holy Spirit's Divine titles. He is acknowledged both as "the Spirit of God" and "the Spirit of Christ." As the Father is a supernatural Being, and as the Son is a supernatural Being, so He Who is "the Spirit of God" and "the Spirit of Christ" is also a supernatural Being. He has come to supernaturally represent the Father and the Son, and, to use the words of Thomas Whitelaw, "Christ could not be represented by or commit the interests of His Church to a creature."

Not only are we brought face to face with the reality of the Holy Spirit as a Being, but, secondly, and more practically, we are reminded of:


Let me quickly admit that we are all on different levels. Take English grammar, for instance. Some of us are still in the early grades, with a limited vocabulary. Then, there are those who recognize the difference between nouns and verbs, and understand sentence structure. Others love to read Shakespeare or Milton, and even retain what they read. In the spiritual world, we are also on varied levels. While there are those who have advanced in spiritual realities, some of us have been rather slow in our progress. We will find, however, that there are relationships the Holy Spirit shares with all believers.

The first relationship every believer is privileged to know involves:

A. The Regenerating Power Of The Holy Spirit

Salvation is more than a decision! According to the Bible, we must be quickened, made alive, regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit. This emphasis is set forth in verse 2, where Paul wrote, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." The only way a poor sinner can be set free from the power of sin and death is through the work of a greater power, the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. And, by this same power, we are motivated to no longer pursue "the things of the flesh," but "the things of the Spirit" (8:5).

Another relationship that is ours to claim involves:

B. The Residing Presence Of The Holy Spirit

Twice, in the next few verses, the concept of the Spirit of God dwelling in believers is mentioned (see 8:9, 11). The word, "dwell," meno in the Greek, is translated four different ways in the New Testament: "dwell," "remain," "abide," and "continue." The truth is that the blessed Holy Spirit has come to take up His abode, His residence, in believers. He is now, what Alexander Maclaren called, "a permanent Companion." Using all four words, let it be reiterated that He dwells in us! He remains in us! He abides in us! He continues in us! He doesn't have a body of His own, but He has chosen to live in the bodies of His people.

A final relationship with which we are all associated is:

C. The Resurrection Principle Of The Holy Spirit

Not only are we spiritually alive now, because the Spirit of life has quickened us, but we have the hope of life beyond physical death. The grave is not the end for God's people! Rather, we are told, "But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (8:11). The Holy Spirit, the One Who quickened Christ's body and raised Him from the dead, lives in us, and will quicken our bodies in the day of the resurrection.

Having meditated on the reality of the Holy Spirit as a Being, and the relationships of the Holy Spirit with all believers, we come lastly to:


The Holy Spirit has not just come to set us free by His regenerating power! He has not come just to take up residence in our bodies! And, He has not just come to prepare us for the resurrection! He has come to bless us! He has come to help us! He has come to enable us! And, His blessing is plentiful! His help and grace are witnessed in multiple ways. Although many great truths are set forth in the remainder of this chapter, let's try to summarize them under three canopies, or beneath three umbrellas.

First, we notice that we have:

A. The Blessing Of Association With Christ

With the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are blessed with identification with, or association with, the Lord Jesus. Not only are we "led by the Spirit of God," a sign that we are "the sons of God" (8:14), but as God's children, with the Spirit's promptings, we identify with Him from within, crying "Abba, Father" (8:15). Again, while it is true that some of us are not as far along in the school of prayer as others, every believer has received "the Spirit of adoption," and enjoys the blessing of associating with Christ at the throne of grace.

Notice, as well, that we have:

B. The Blessing Of Assurance In Christ

We are told that "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (8:16). While we long to assist the doubting heart, only God can genuinely grant inner assurance. John tells us, "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater" (1 John 5:9). This is the blessing of assurance! The life of the Spirit within, reaches up toward the Father in heaven! “This Holy Witness begets spiritual emotions in the heart,” said Joseph Irons. The One Who identifies us with God also identifies God in us!

Lastly, we see that we have:

C. The Blessing Of Advocacy Through Christ

How wonderful that believers can pray for one another. But, what is more wonderful is that the Holy Spirit prays for all believers. Twice, we are told that the Holy Spirit makes "intercession" for His people (8:26, 27). Whereas we often do not know "what we should pray for as we ought" (8:26), and may pray amiss and selfishly, He always prays "according to the will of God" (8:27). His prayers, like Christ's prayers (see 8:34), are perfect prayers, originating and terminating in God's heart.

Years ago, in Senegal, four natives were sent to guard the French flag on a newly-acquired barren island in that region. They had a supply of food to last three months, but the governor forgot to send relief to the guardians of the standard on the lonely rock. Eventually, left without provisions, they died of starvation. As a real Person, a supernatural Being, the Holy Spirit not only saves us, but sends us forth on the heavenly mission. However, He does not send His servants to serve without His special companionship and constant aid. Rather, He is always with us, and is always abundantly blessing us. May we learn more about Him, and lean more upon Him! Amen.