Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Holy Spirit - Session 4 - Symbols of the Holy Spirit

The Church of Divine Guidance (CDG) Sunday morning adult bible study group is doing a study of The Holy Spirit. The study will look at who the Holy Spirit is, His role in the Trinity, His interaction with man, His role in and after man's salvation. This is an intense study of the Holy Spirit in scripture. We are using the bible as our primary reference resource. These posts are my notes for each session. Please study with us. You can participate by asking your questions or making comments below. We welcome your thoughts, questions, comments, and prayers

Here are some of the things we’ve discussed and studied so far in our series on the Holy Spirit.

We’ve talked about Who the Holy Spirit is as a part of the Godhead the Trinity; we’ve looked at attributes that show that He’s a person, He has intelligence, feelings, a will, He prays, He does miracles,  He can be lied to, He can be insulted, He teaches and He directs.   We’ve discussed the attributes that prove that He’s God;  He’s omnipotent (all powerful). omnipresent (present everywhere), and He’s omniscient (all knowing)

Last week we looked at some of the names of the Holy Spirit.  The one’s we talked about last week last week were Author of Scripture, Comforter / Counselor / Advocate, Convictor of Sin, Deposit / Seal / Earnest/Guarantee, Guide, Indweller of Believers, Intercessor, Spirit of Truth, and Spirit of God / the Lord / Christ.  
We are going to start this week’s study with three more names for the Holy Spirit in scripture.

Spirit of Life:

The phrase “Spirit of life” means the Holy Spirit is the one who produces or gives life, not that He initiates salvation, but rather that He imparts newness of life. When we receive eternal life through Christ, the Spirit provides the spiritual food that is the sustenance of the spiritual life. Here again, we see the Trinity at work. We are saved by the Father through the work of the Son, and that salvation is sustained by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:2 (NKJV)2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.


Jesus promised that the Spirit would teach His disciples “all things” and bring to their remembrance the things He said while He was with them. The writers of the New Testament were moved by the Spirit to remember and understand the instructions Jesus gave for the building and organizing of the Church, the doctrines regarding Himself, the directives for holy living, and the revelation of things to come.

John 14:26 (NLT)  But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

1 Corinthians 2:13 (NKJV)13  These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.


The Spirit is called “witness” because He verifies and testifies to the fact that we are children of God, that Jesus and the disciples who performed miracles were sent by God, and that the books of the Bible are divinely inspired. Further, by giving the gifts of the Spirit to believers, He witnesses to us and the world that we belong to God.

Romans 8:16 (NKJV)  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

Hebrews 2:4 (NKJV  God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

Hebrews 10:15-16 (NLT)  And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,16  “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

Now let's look at the symbols of the Holy Spirit in scripture.  

Symbols of the Holy Spirit

  • Dove,
  • Fire,
  • Wind
  • Water.
  • Oil
  • Cloud

Each one communicates something different about the Holy Spirit.

One word of caution.  When looking at a symbol, we have to be careful to make sure of the context. Much like the warning that I often give you to read and consider the context of what you read.  It's dangerous to take things out of context.  That's what false teachers often do and it can result in heresy.    For example, even though the Holy Spirit is identified with a dove in

Matthew 3:16 (NLT)  After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.
It would be a mistake in interpretation  to see the Holy Spirit in every place a dove is referred to in the Bible.

For example

Genesis 8:8 (NLT)8  He also released a dove to see if the water had receded and it could find dry ground.  
We shouldn’t interpret that Noah was sending out the Holy Spirit.


The dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit communicates beauty, gentleness, and peace.

We already looked at Matt 3:16.  This same event is recorded in all of the the gospels;

Mark 1:10 (NLT)10  As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove.

Luke 3:22 (NLT)22  and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
John 1:32 (NLT)32  Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him.


Another symbol of the Holy Spirit is fire. In the Bible, fire can communicate the Lord’s

  • Presence Exodus 3:2 (NLT)2  There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up.
  • Shekinah glory (The word shekinah does not appear in the Bible, but the concept clearly does. The Jewish rabbis coined this extra-biblical expression, a form of a Hebrew word that literally means "he caused to dwell," signifying that it was a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of JEHOVAH God on this earth. More simply put it is  the visible manifestation of the presence of God.) Numbers 9:15 (NLT)15  On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. Ezekiel 1:4 (NLT)4  As I looked, I saw a great storm coming from the north, driving before it a huge cloud that flashed with lightning and shone with brilliant light. There was fire inside the cloud, and in the middle of the fire glowed something like gleaming amber.

  • Purification 1 Peter 1:7 (NLT)7  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.  
  • Judgment Leviticus 10:2 (NLT)2  So fire blazed forth from the LORD’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the LORD.  Hebrews 12:29 (NLT)29  For our God is a devouring fire.

But the symbol fire for the Holy Ghost that is most remembered or thought of by Christians is in Acts 2.  

Acts 2:1-4 (NLT)1  On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place.
2  Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting.3  Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.4  And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NKJV)19  Do not quench the Spirit.

We looked at this verse in talking about the attributes that show that the Holy Spirit is a person who has feelings that can be hurt.  We can also say that quenching the Spirit is like throwing water on a fire.  That may be the intent of those who say don’t stop people when they are praising God, or some long winded preachers say don’t quench the Spirit when they can’t figure out how to stop their sermon jk


The Greek word for Spirit, which is pneuma (pnyoo'-mah) can also be translated as breath or wind.

Go to Acts 2:2 again Acts 2:2 (NKJV)2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Remember when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about being born again and Nic asked how is that possible?

John 3:8 (NLT)8  The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

The image of wind communicates that the Holy Spirit is powerful, invisible, and blows where He intends to blow.

Jesus makes this connection at the Feast of Tabernacles, one of the annual feasts that was required under the Law of Moses.  Jesus said this on the last day of the feast.

John 7:37-39 (NLT)37  On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!38  Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”39  (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)  

As physical freshwater is needed for physical life, the living water of the Holy Spirit is needed for spiritual life.


Anointing with oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit uniting us with Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One.

Acts 10:38 (NLT)38  And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

The cloud speaks to us not only of the Holy Spirit's guidance and leading, but of His faithfulness as well.  As in the case of the manna (a type of Christ) no matter how much the Israelites sinned, no matter how much they grumbled and complained, the cloud was never removed from them. It was always there to lead them and to protect them from the harsh elements of wilderness life.

Exodus 13:21-22 (NLT)21  The LORD went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night.22  And the LORD did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.

Just as we were talking about in our first session when we said that the Holy Spirit’s feelings could be hurt but even if we did grieve the Holy Spirit He still wouldn’t leave us because He is as we learned in the names of the Holy Spirit He is our Deposit/Seal/Guarantee/Ernest.

Ephesians 1:13-14 (NLT)13  And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.14  The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

I want to read this from Charles Spurgeon about the symbols and names for the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:4
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.
Rich were the blessings of this day if all of us were filled with the Holy Ghost. The consequences of this sacred filling of the soul it would be impossible to overestimate. Life, comfort, light, purity, power, peace; and many other precious blessings are inseparable from the Spirit's benign presence. As sacred oil, He anoints the head of the believer, sets him apart to the priesthood of saints, and gives him grace to execute his office aright. As the only truly purifying water He cleanses us from the power of sin and sanctifies us unto holiness, working in us to will and to do of the Lord's good pleasure. As the light, He manifested to us at first our lost estate, and now He reveals the Lord Jesus to us and in us, and guides us in the way of righteousness. Enlightened by His pure celestial ray, we are no more darkness but light in the Lord. As fire, He both purges us from dross, and sets our consecrated nature on a blaze. He is the sacrificial flame by which we are enabled to offer our whole souls as a living sacrifice unto God. As heavenly dew, He removes our barrenness and fertilizes our lives. O that He would drop from above upon us at this early hour! Such morning dew would be a sweet commencement for the day. As the dove, with wings of peaceful love He broods over His Church and over the souls of believers, and as a Comforter He dispels the cares and doubts which mar the peace of His beloved. He descends upon the chosen as upon the Lord in Jordan, and bears witness to their sonship by working in them a filial (the love orfa parent for their child)  spirit by which they cry Abba, Father. As the wind, He brings the breath of life to men; blowing where He listeth He performs the quickening operations by which the spiritual creation is animated and sustained. Would to God, that we might feel His presence this day and every day.

Next week we are going to start looking at the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.  I want to read something that I came across when doing some research on the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.  

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