There are numerous misconceptions about the Holy Spirit’s identity. Some see the Holy Spirit as a mystical force, while others see it as a power that God makes available to followers of Christ. What does the Bible say about the Holy Spirit’s identity? Simply put, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is God. It also says that the Holy Spirit is a divine person with a mind, emotions, and a will.

The fact that the Holy Spirit is God is seen in many scriptures, including Acts 5:3-4. In these verses, Peter confronts Ananias about why he lied to the Holy Spirit, telling him that he hadn’t lied to men but to God. It’s an explicit declaration that lying to the Holy Spirit is like lying to God. We also know that the Holy Spirit is God because He has God’s characteristics. For example, His omnipresence is seen in Psalms 139:7-8. In 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, we see the attribute of omnipresence in the Holy Spirit.

We know the Holy Spirit is divine because He possesses emotions, a mind, and a will. The Holy Spirit knows and thinks. The Holy Spirit can be grieved and intercedes for us, making decisions according to His will. The Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity. As God, the Holy Spirit functions as the Counselor and Comforter Jesus promised He would be.

When and how do we receive the Holy Spirit?

The apostle Paul taught us that we receive the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. First Corinthians 12:13 tells us that we’re all baptized by one Spirit into one body, and we’re given the same Spirit to drink. Romans 8:9 reminds us that if someone doesn’t possess the Holy Spirit, they don’t belong to Christ. Instead, they’re controlled by sinful nature. Ephesians 1:13-14 shows us that the Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation for anyone who believes.

These three passages clearly state that the Holy Spirit is received the moment we’re saved. Paul couldn’t say we’re all baptized by the same Spirit and given the same Spirit to drink if not all of the Corinthian believers had the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 is even more robust, saying that if one person doesn’t have the Spirit, they don’t belong to Christ. Therefore, possessing the Spirit is an identifying factor of the possession of salvation. The Holy Spirit couldn’t be the seal of salvation if He isn’t received at the moment of salvation. Most passages make it clear that our salvation is secured when we receive Jesus as our Savior.

The Holy Spirit’s ministries are typically confused. The indwelling/receiving of the Spirit happens at the moment of salvation. As a Christian, the filling of the Spirit is an ongoing process. We hold that the baptism of the Spirit also happens at the moment of salvation. Some other Christians don’t, believing that the baptism of the Spirit comes after salvation. How do we receive the Holy Spirit? Simply by receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior. The Holy Spirit becomes our possession the moment we believe.

Who was the first person to receive the Holy Spirit?

Exodus 31:1-3 tells us that Bezalel was the first person to be filled with the Spirit. During the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land from Egypt. God called Moses to Mount Sinai, where He gave His Law to the people. During His discussion with Moses, God told him to gather people and build the tabernacle. God gave specific instructions for the tabernacle’s construction, including plans for the courtyard, tent, the priests’ garments and even the furniture. The materials used in the construction were to be donated as an offering from the people. Ultimately, the people were generous and brought more than what was necessary.

Many artisans were needed for this work. In Exodus 31:2-6, God says to Moses that He’s given many men the necessary skills to bring His plans for the tabernacle to life. God mentions two of these men, Bezalel and Oholiab. Bezalel was particularly filled with God’s Spirit, as detailed in Exodus 31:2-3, a rare occasion in Old Testament times. God’s Spirit uplifted Bezalel and Oholiab with intelligence and talent, allowing them to work with multiple types of crafting, including stonework, woodwork, engraving, and weaving. The Spirit’s empowerment gave the duo skills to work with the raw materials and form artistic designs. Bezalel made the Ark of the Covenant, as detailed in Exodus 37:1.

Bezalel was highly skilled at crafts because God filled him with the Spirit for His purposes in construction and design. However, God didn’t leave him without help. He also appointed Oholiab to work with him. These men and others helped Moses successfully obey God. God seems to assure the artisans that He isn’t calling them without giving them the necessary skills. He told Moses they would make all that He commanded, further assuring Moses and the craftsmen.

The fact that God gave everything for Bezalel and his team to succeed gives us confidence that God doesn’t throw us out by ourselves to find our way. This passage also confirms that creativity and artistry are essential to God.

Art can be used to make biblical truths meaningful and authentic. In addition, God inspired Oholiab and Bezalel to teach the other artisans to whom God had given particular skills. Together, the artisans completed the tabernacle according to God’s directions.

Bezalel and Oholiab’s story reminds us that we shouldn’t second-guess God’s creative assignments. Initially, we may resist thinking something so familiar can’t be significant. For example, we may think quilting can’t be God-glorifying, but many churches have quilting ministries. They work in groups to create and design quilts and pray for specific people as they work. Their story also shows us that God cares about aesthetics. He’s a God of design and beauty. Fine skill in various artistic endeavors and craftsmanship is a gift from God. Bezalel and Oholiab should encourage Christian artists to create artwork for God’s glory.

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