Who is the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost)?

This entry is part 20 of 44 in the series What are Catechisms?

Who is the Holy Spirit?1

The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Holy Trinity, true God with the Father and the Son—therefore not merely the power or energy of God (Matthew 28:19).

How do you know that the Holy Spirit is God?2

Because the Scriptures clearly call Him God, teaching that:

  • The Holy Spirit has divine names (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16);
  • The Holy Spirit possesses divine attributes (properties or characteristics) (Psalm 139:7-10; 1 Corinthians 2:10; Hebrews 9:14);
  • The Holy Spirit does divine works (which only God can do) (Genesis 1:2; Titus 3:5);
  • The Holy Spirit receives divine honor and glory (1 Peter 4:14).

What is the special work of the Holy Spirit?3

The Holy Spirit sanctifies me (makes me holy) by bringing me to faith in Christ, so that I might have the blessings of redemption and lead a godly life (sanctification in the wide sense). The word sanctification is used in two ways:

  • The wide sense—the whole work of the Holy spirit by which He brings us to faith and also enables us to lead a godly life.
  • The narrow sense—that part of the Holy Spirit’s work by which He directs and empowers the believer to lead a godly life (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Why do you need the Holy Spirit to begin and sustain this faith in you?4

By nature I am spiritually blind, dead, and an enemy of God, as the Scriptures teach; therefore, “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1, Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 12:3).

What has the Holy Spirit done to bring you to faith?5

The Holy Spirit “has called me by the Gospel,” that is, He has invited and drawn me by the Gospel to partake of the spiritual blessings that are mine in Christ (Romans 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Revelation 22:17).

How do the Scriptures describe this gracious work of the Spirit in you?6

The Scriptures teach that by the Gospel the Holy Spirit “enlightened me with His gifts,” that is, He gave me the saving knowledge of Jesus, my Savior, so that I trust, rejoice, and find comfort in Him (1 Peter 2:9; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 1:8; Romans 15:13).

What is this work of the Holy Spirit called?7

It is called conversion (being turned) or regeneration (new birth) (Psalm 51:13; John 3:5-6).

Why do you say that the Holy Spirit has done this by the Gospel?8

The Gospel is the means by which the Holy Spirit offers us all the blessings of Christ and creates faith in us.

Note: The written and spoken Word of the Gospel and the sacraments are the means of grace (John 17:20; Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Peter 1:23; Titus 3:5; John 20:22-23; Matthew 26:27-28).

Besides faith, what else does the Holy Spirit create in you by the Gospel?9

The Holy Spirit sanctifies me in the true faith, that is, by faith He works a renewal of my whole life—in spirit, will, attitude, and desires—so that I now strive to overcome sin and do good works (sanctification in the narrow sense) (Psalm 51:10; Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 5:18-20).

What are good works in God’s sight?10

In God’s sight a good work is everything that a child of God does, speaks, or thinks in faith according to the Ten Commandments, for the glory of God, and for the benefit of his or her neighbor (Hebrews 11:6; John 15:5; Matthew 15:9; John 14:15; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Galatians 5:13).

Bible narratives: The widow’s offering (Mark 12:41-44). The expensive perfume poured on Jesus’ head (Mark 14:3-9). Mary and Martha (Luke 10:3842).

What do the Scriptures teach about the gifts of the Holy Spirit?11

The Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit gives gifts to His church. They teach that

  • The Holy Spirit through the Word and sacraments freely gives to all Christians the most precious gifts: faith in Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life;
  • In apostolic times the Holy Spirit also gave some Christians the gift to perform miraculous signs and wonders (for example, healings, speaking in tongues, raising the dead).

The Scriptures do not teach, however, that God will necessarily give all Christians in every time and place special miraculous gifts. The Holy Spirit bestows His blessings according to His good pleasure (2 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 2:20-22).

Note: In popular English, the word charismatic describes a dynamic person, highly emotional worship, or claims of special miraculous gifts. But the Greek word charisma means simply “gift” and refers, for example, to Christ’s whole work of salvation (Romans 5:15-16), to eternal life (Romans 6:23), and to being married or single (2 Corinthians 7:7).

Finally, what also does the Holy Spirit do for you?12

The Holy Spirit by the Gospel keeps me in the true faith (Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Whom else does the Holy Spirit regenerate and renew?13

The Holy Spirit “calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.” (Ephesians 3:6)

Does the Holy Spirit want to do this in the lives of all people?14

God the Holy Spirit earnestly wants to convert all people and bring them to salvation through the Gospel (Ezekiel 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9)

Then, why are not all people saved?15

Many reject the Word and resist the Holy Spirit; therefore they remain in unbelief and under God’s judgment by their own fault (Matthew 23:37; Acts 7:51).

Bible narratives: The invited guests refused to come (Matthew 22:1-10). The guests refused to accept the invitation (Luke 14:16-24).

How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the Old Covenant?16

The Holy Spirit is revealed in the Old Covenant as the giver of life, the One who spoke through the prophets.

How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the New Covenant?17

The Holy Spirit is revealed as the Lord who leads us into all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of Christ.

On what day did the Holy Ghost come down upon the Apostles?18

The Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles ten days after the Ascension of our Lord; and the day on which He came down upon the Apostles is called Whitsunday, or Pentecost.

How did the Holy Ghost come down upon the Apostles?19

The Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire.

Who sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles?20

Our Lord Jesus Christ sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.

Why did Christ send the Holy Ghost?21

Christ sent the Holy Ghost to sanctify His Church, to enlighten and strengthen the Apostles, and to enable them to preach the Gospel.

Will the Holy Ghost abide with the Church forever?22

The Holy Ghost will abide with the Church forever, and guide it in the way of holiness and truth.


Series Navigation<< Who is Jesus Christ?What is Creation? >>

What are Catechisms? (44 articles)


  1. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 154.
  2. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 155.
  3. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 156.
  4. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 157.
  5. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 158.
  6. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 159.
  7. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 160.
  8. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 161.
  9. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 162.
  10. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 163.
  11. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 164.
  12. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 165.
  13. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 166.
  14. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 167.
  15. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 168.
  16. Episcopal Catechism (1789), Question 51.
  17. Episcopal Catechism (1789), Question 52.
  18. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 97.
  19. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 98.
  20. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 99.
  21. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 100.
  22. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 101.

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