Theology Trinitarianism

A Summary of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

Today’s post looks at a few elements of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. This area of theology is often called “pneumatology” considered under the topic of Trinitarianism. I’m basing my blog post off of the Evangelical Free Church of America’s statement of faith:

The Holy Spirit. Article #6. We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He convicts the world of its guilt. He regenerates sinners, and in Him they are baptized into union with Christ and adopted as heirs in the family of God. He also indwells, illuminates, guides, equips and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service. 

A Summary of the Doctrine of the Holy SpiritPhoto Credit: “Waiting for the Word” 


The Holy Spirit helps us to “know Christ” (Phil 3:8), and it is through the Holy Spirit that we are “in Christ” (Eph 1:3, 4, 7; Rom 6:5; 8:1; 2 Cor 5:17). In this way, the Spirit’s role is not to magnify himself, but to bring glory to Jesus Christ (John 15:26; 16:14). He brings glory to Christ through the regeneration and adoption of sinful unbelievers.

It is clear that the Holy Spirit takes an active role in the regeneration of believers (Jer 24:7; 31:31-34; Ezek 36:25-27). This is because we are predestined to be adopted as his people (Eph 1:5; Gal 4:6-7; Rom 8:15), we are to believe in Jesus in order to be of God (John 1:12-13), we become his sons through faith (Gal 3:26-27), in this manner we have full rights of sons (Gal 4:5), and therefore we are heirs of God (Rom 8:17; Gal 3:29-4:7; Eph 3:6; Titus 3:7).


A. Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The baptism of the Holy Spirit describes the broad event of our death, burial, and resurrection that we receive as Christians when we are baptized into the universal church (1 Cor 12:13). This is a single transformative work of God at conversion. When someone places his or her faith in Jesus Christ that person dies to the power of sin and is raised to new life with Christ (Rom 6:1-14). This event is broadly described as our baptism of the Holy Spirit with Christ which includes the death of the power of sin in our lives and the renewed life that we experience.

B. The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is something that all believers participate in (John 14:16-17; Rom 8:9-11; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 12:13; 2 Cor 1:22; Gal 4:6). While Spirit-baptism is a single, transformative work of God at conversion, the indwelling of the Spirit is the ongoing constant presence of the Spirit in the believer’s life.

C.The Filling of the Holy Spirit

The filling of the Holy Spirit is a willingness to be controlled by the Holy Spirit and is an ongoing activity in the life of believers (Eph 5:18). It is even described as the normal experience for Christians (Acts 6:3, 5; 11:24; 13:52; Luke 4:1), but might not always happen.  


Believers are baptized in the Holy Spirit, indwelt by him, and filled. This results in a Christian that is constantly becoming more and more Christ-like through the Holy Spirit’s illuminating, guiding, equipping, and empowering toward a life that reflects Christ-like character.

A. The Holy Spirit Illuminates

The Holy Spirit—through God’s Word and revelation—illuminates believers so that they can see their old sinful dark ways (2 Cor 3:15-16) in order to change toward a lifestyle in the light (1 Cor 2:12, 14). With this illumination believers gain a glorious hope for the future (2 Cor 4:6; Eph 1:18).

B. The Holy Spirit Guides

The Holy Spirit guides believers morally (Rom 8:12-14; Gal 5:16-18, 22-23) as well as practically (Matt 4:1; Luke 4:1; Acts 8:29; 13:2; 15:28; 20:22-23; Eph 1:17; 6:17).

C. The Holy Spirit Equips

The Holy Spirit equips believers through the distribution of spiritual gifts (Rom 12; 1 Cor 12; Eph 4; 1 Peter 4) which serve to edify the church (1 Cor 12:7; 14:26; Eph 4:12; 1 Peter 4:10), and equips believers to serve in the church (1 Cor 12:11; 1 Peter 4:10; Eph 4:7).

D. The Holy Spirit Empowers

The Holy Spirit empowers believers for Christ-like living and service as one of the results of a changed heart (Jer 31:31-33; Ezek 36:26-27; 2 Cor 3:18). It is through the Holy Spirit that we live a different way (John 16:14; Rom 8:4), and it is through the Holy Spirit that we are able to do Christian service and ministry (Matt 12:28; Acts 13:9-11; 1 Cor 12:10; Eph 6:17).


When a lost sinner believes in and follows Jesus he is given “gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 12:1-8; 1 Cor 12:1-11; Eph 4:1-13; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

A. The Nature of These Gifts

The nature of these gifts are sometimes different but often similar to the natural talents that a person had before becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. There are different gifts that are given to specific people for the purpose of doing ministry for God.

B. The Purpose of These Gifts

The purpose of these gifts is so that believers can be empowered to do evangelism, battle evil, and continue to live a Christ-like life (Eph 6:10-20).

C. The Duration of These Gifts

The duration of these gifts continue for the entire earthly life of a believer. They cannot be revoked or changed (because they are a gift).

D. The Fruit of the Spirit

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are different than the fruit of the Holy Spirit because the fruit of the Holy Spirit are the basic qualities that all Christians should exhibit as part of their daily walk and character (Gal 5:22-23). This “fruit” is produced through the initial indwelling and regular filling of the Holy Spirit.

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at