Is it physically possible to experience the Holy Spirit? If so, how does this affect us in our daily lives?
Let us start this Q&A with John 3:5-7. Here, Christ is laying out in detail how people actually receive the Holy Spirit. He shows that the Holy Spirit will be given to us by becoming baptized and through the laying on of hands by the ministry and prayer (Please read our free booklet, “Baptism – A Requirement for Salvation.”). In verse 8, Christ shows that the Holy Spirit is not a Personage or a Person, but rather the power of God the Father and of the glorified Christ. He compares it with a mighty powerful wind which can be heard and felt. The conclusion is that the Holy Spirit is the very power of God and of Christ. We do not become Spirit beings at the moment of our baptism. We still bleed, we are still visible and we still make wrong choices and sin. We are still human at this point. But we now have the power of God in us helping us to make right decisions; helping us to become more like the Father and Christ. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:13-14 that we can understand godly truth, because the power of God’s Spirit helps us to open our minds to the truth.
We frequently read that we are to be growing in the knowledge of Christ and the Father (compare 2 Peter 3:17-18). In verse 17 we find the warning not to fall away because of lawlessness, but rather, to continue using and receiving the knowledge and power from God.
Christ is our perfect example. In all things He relied upon and leaned on the Father. He never said or did anything that wasn’t perfect and righteous. He was able to do this because God’s Holy Spirit flowed without limit from the Father into Him. Christ was constantly in contact with God. This constant contact is also necessary for us, in order to have a close relationship with God and to experience the power of His Spirit in our lives. So, can we feel the Holy Spirit in a physical way?
In Luke 6:19, we find that people were healed when they touched Christ. The power of the Father’s Holy Spirit was emanating from Him. In Matthew 9:20-24 and in Luke 8:42-48, we read that Christ very physically felt power leaving His body, so much so that He asked who had touched Him. Christ brought people back from the dead and He healed sick people, but it was not Christ who performed these types of miracles. It was God the Father, who, through the power of His Spirit, did those miracles through Christ. In Acts 5:15, God used Peter’s shadow to heal people from their illnesses. God would not have done this if Peter would not have had a very close relationship with Him. The amount of closeness to God needed to achieve these things is something that many people do not have. It must be our goal to stay closely in tune with God.
When Saul became king of Israel, he was given God’s Holy Spirit. In 1 Samuel 10:6-13 we find that Samuel told Saul that when the Spirit of God would come upon him, he would be turned into another man—a different type of man; one that would be able to be in close contact with God. This may have been how Saul started out, but once he rebelled against God, he lost his relationship with God. Saul started to be plagued by a demon, and his “old man” ruled his life again. If we contrast Saul’s life with the life of David, we see a complete difference. When Saul fell into a rage, the only thing that could soothe him was David’s playing on the harp. We know that David wrote many psalms in worship of God, and he loved playing music. This very physical habit was a strong cornerstone in David’s life, and he used it to help himself and others, and many of his psalms endure to this day as the hymns which we sing each Sabbath in worship services. David was given the Holy Spirit as well, and, for the most part, he used it to grow.
As David grew, we too should be growing. Jeremiah 2:13 states: “They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters.” These living waters should be flowing through us. They should flow into us and out of us. These living waters are not static at all. John 7:38 clearly points out that living waters are symbolic for the Holy Spirit, and that we receive this stream of the Holy Spirit, if we believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ. Those who have been called today to the truth and who are responding to the calling are those who understand that they need God. They are going out of their way to constantly seek Him, to try to be close to Him. They are thirsty; they are realizing that there is more to this life than physical things. They understand what God is telling them in Isaiah 55:1: “… Come to the waters.” They are continually seeking out this source of true water.
In many Scriptures God points out that if He calls us in this day and age and if we are willing to draw close to Him, He will pour out His Holy Spirit into us to provide us with the strength and courage that we need to overcome and make it as God beings into His Family.
In Joel 2:28-29, a promise is made that God’s Holy Spirit will be poured out, especially during the time of the end. As we continue on in verses 31-32, the beginning of the great and terrible Day of the LORD is described, but we also see that there are those who will be “called” and who will escape that time. In his first address to those gathered on the day of Pentecost, Peter was inspired to quote this very Scripture. Quoting from our free booklet, “The Meaning of God’s Spring Holy Days”: “… consider, also, what Peter was inspired to say by way of explanation. He quoted from the prophet Joel (compare Acts 2:17–21; Joel 2:28–32). Note, in particular, the broadly inclusive statement found in Acts 2:21: ‘And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’ As we continue to read this account in Acts 2, Peter preaches about repentance, baptism and the promise of God’s Holy Spirit. Verse 39 again opens up the scope of the opportunity that God is presenting: ‘For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’”
Titus 3:4-9 shows Christ’s utmost care and concern for us. Even though we had lived in sin, Christ’s righteous deeds, death and resurrection have given us the opportunity to obtain mercy—to be washed and transformed through the Holy Spirit. In verse 6 Paul says that God will pour out His Spirit on us ABUNDANTLY. We are explicitly told in verse 8 that those who believe these things will take care to devote themselves to good deeds. In Ephesians 1:2, Paul describes how God and Christ are active in giving us both grace and peace. Without grace (including forgiveness and other gifts from God), we could never have peace in our lives. Godly peace is a product of having God’s Holy Spirit living and working in and through us.
When God gave Jesus Christ extra powers at the time of His baptism through John, the Holy Spirit manifested itself “as a dove.” When God poured out the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, a very physical thing happened, as described in Acts 2:1-12, 33. Those in attendance witnessed God’s very real presence through the power of the Holy Spirit, first as a mighty rushing wind, then as divided tongues of fire upon each person, and then the ability to speak in different languages and to understand them as well. These were very physical manifestations. A unique balance to this was when God spoke to Elijah at Horeb. We read in 1 Kings 19:9-14 about the physical manifestations of God’s power to Elijah when he was feeling scared. These stories show how God can manifest His power and they show how He chooses to do so at times. God’s deeds are always calculated and have purpose. In every case, they gave the people who witnessed these miracles the strength and courage to continue on.
Let us also consider the many miracles Christ performed that are recorded in the Bible and the countless others which were not recorded. We should also reflect on the early apostles and how they were casting out demons, left unhurt by poisonous things and snakes, and Peter’s momentary ability to walk on water. In John 14:11-13, Christ makes the most powerful statement that greater works than these will be done by us because of our belief in and obedience to Christ. The works that Christ performed were never for self-glorification; but rather, to help others physically and spiritually; to believe and to help spread the Word of God; to proclaim the good news of the gospel and what it represents. John 5:20 echoes this.
In Romans 14:17, we are told the importance of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, we are introduced to the fruit of the Spirit. In all of these applications, the power is not physical, but it has a very physical outward manifestation of our attitudes—how we treat others and how close we are to God.
While we may not physically feel the Holy Spirit, we can see the physical and spiritual effects of it’s power working through us. As we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, we can continue to use this power in greater ways as God allows and directs. Remember, Christ said that everything He did was what the Father wanted. This must be our approach as well. God wants us to become God beings. We are learning now how to use His power in small ways so that we can one day, as immortal members of the God Family, use the full and unrestricted might of God’s power. Keeping God’s laws and commandments demonstrates the physical and outward manifestation of God’s power and His Holy Spirit flowing through us. God has called us and He indeed has a plan for us. We must be willing to trust in that plan, trust in Him, and continue in faith work towards that end.
Lead Writer: Kalon Mitchell