The Holy Spirit Is Not Casper the Friendly Ghost

When we hear people talking about the Holy Spirit, it’s not uncommon to hear people talking about the Holy Spirit in terms of an evangelical version of Casper the Friendly Ghost. At other points, evangelicals derail by putting all of their focus upon the Holy Spirit to the marginalization of Christ. When the Holy Spirit is cartoonized or overly emphasized and brought to the forefront of our worship—we grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit Is God

A proper understanding of the Holy Spirit is necessary in most evangelical circles today. John MacArthur has stated, “The Holy Spirit is the most forgotten, the most misrepresented, the most dishonored, the most grieved, the most abused, and the most blasphemed member of the Trinity.” That is a massive dose of reality concerning the present understanding of the Holy Spirit in our day.

Throughout the Bible we see various titles for the Holy Spirit:

  • Spirit of God
  • Spirit of Christ
  • Spirit of Grace
  • Spirit of the Lord
  • Spirit of Life
  • Spirit of Truth
  • Eternal Spirit
  • Comforter
  • Helper
  • The Holy Spirit
  • The Spirit

It should be noted that in the study of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is no less God than the Father or the Son. As a member of the Godhead, he is co-equal and co-eternal. In other words, there has never been a time when the Holy Spirit did not exist. Therefore, with the proper understanding and reverence for the Holy Spirit, we should strive to live in such a way that does not “outrage the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29). It is possible to live in such a way that “grieves the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30). A life of holiness is our calling as Christians which prevents such grieving of the Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit Leads us to Assurance

Have you listened to a pastor lead a person or a group of people through a sinner’s prayer? Often at the end of the prayer, the pastor will say something like this, “Congratulations, you are now a Christian!” Beyond the obvious fact that we never see anyone in the New Testament leading people in a prayer that “asks Jesus into their hearts”—we likewise never see anyone pronouncing someone as a Christian or providing them with that statement of assurance. Why not? Because that is the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit of God.

Rather than moving to the forefront—the Holy Spirit works and ministers in such a way as to point us to Jesus Christ. In modern days, the Holy Spirit has been twisted into a sort of drug that causes convulsions and strange speech patterns. In other circles, the Holy Spirit is the focus of the songs, the sermons, and the service of the people.

As the Holy Spirit ministers to point us to Christ, his work is to lead us to assurance of our salvation. In Romans 5:5, Paul writes, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” It is God’s love that has been delivered to us and revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

In Ephesians 1:5-10, the focus is on the redemption that we have received through the riches of God’s grace in the blood of Jesus. If you read to the end of the chapter, you will discover that it is the Holy Spirit who seals us and becomes the assurance of our promised inheritance. Perhaps one of the most clear and obvious statements regarding the ministry of assurance of the Holy Spirit is found in Romans 8:16 where Paul writes these words, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

The Holy Spirit Leads us to Truth

The Holy Spirit is God and the Holy Spirit loves the Bible. How does the Holy Spirit point people to Jesus? It’s through the pages of Scripture. How does the Holy Spirit provide assurance of salvation in the hearts of people? It’s not based upon the remembrance of the sinner’s prayer—but by directing believers to the glorious truths of Scripture (such as Romans 8:1). We must not forget that the author of the Bible is the Holy Spirit and he leads us and guides us to truth through the sufficient Word of God (2 Pet. 1:21).

In Acts 8:29, the Spirit of God led Philip to go and speak to the Ethiopian man in the chariot. As he evangelized him, he began at that very same text (Isaiah 53) and directed him to Jesus Christ. From evangelism to discipleship—the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to direct us to God’s Word and to keep us rooted and grounded in the Word. Remember when Jesus introduced the Spirit to his disciples, he said the following:

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 (John 16:13).

If we are people of the truth, we must be led by the Spirit of truth who points us to what is good and acceptable and perfect. As we navigate the difficult roads of life and strive to make sense of the deep pain of death, the struggles of parenting, and the challenges of marriage—we have a Comforter who will lead us to the truth. This is why our prayers must not be generic and abstract, but rather rooted in the Word of God and pleading for clarity on God’s will from the basis of the Scriptures.

Worship God and have a proper reverence for the Holy Spirit who loves the children of God and is actively indwelling believers and ministering to us on a daily basis! The Holy Spirit is more than a cartoon and he leads us and guides us faithfully—deserving respect, honor, and worship.

Josh Buice,