A Mighty Wind
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).- John 3:1–15
Many people affirm the existence of God insofar as they believe there is some kind of “higher power” present in the universe. Yet the idea of a higher power is nebulous. After all, a higher power could be a force of energy or other such thing. In fact, many Eastern religions teach that ultimate reality is an impersonal force with which we will all one day unite. Sometimes this reality is called the “world soul” or “world spirit,” even though it lacks personal consciousness.
Jesus teaches that “God is spirit” (John 4:24), but in no way does He suggest the Creator is impersonal. Ontologically (in His essence), the Lord is one being, yet He is also three distinct persons who relate personally to one other and to mankind (Matt. 28:19). The Father and the Son (in His divine nature) are spirit, and we easily conceive of them as persons, but many Christians have difficulty remembering the Holy Spirit is also personal as well. After all, He carries the name “Spirit,” and the idea of spirit as an impersonal force is prevalent in popular thought.
The name Holy Spirit comes from His role in the economic Trinity. In systematic theology, the term economic Trinity describes how the three persons of the triune God relate to one another and operate in salvation. Overall, we may summarize Scripture’s teaching on the economic Trinity thus: the Father plans salvation, the Son accomplishes salvation for His people, and the Spirit applies salvation to us individually (1 Peter 1:1–2). Since the third person’s work of application is mainly spiritual and inward, the Bible calls Him the “Holy Spirit.” Being dead in sin, the only hope we have for eternal life is for our hearts to be changed by the Spirit so that we will be enabled to trust Jesus (John 3:5). Apart from this sovereign act, no man could be saved. His power to soften the hard hearts of those chosen for salvation is so great that Jesus likens the Holy Spirit to the mighty blowing of the wind. We cannot see the wind, only the results of its blowing in the swaying of trees and ripples in water. Likewise, we cannot see the Spirit, but we can see His work in ourselves and in other Christians as we are conformed to the image of Christ (v. 8).
How often do you think about the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Have you forgotten His real and living presence in you (Luke 11:13)? All too often we do not rely on the third person of the Trinity to help us resist sin and grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus. But His work is indispensable, and if we do not lean on Him, our efforts bear no fruit. Think today about the Spirit and ask Him to illuminate the Scriptures and lead you in the truth.
Passages for Further Study