Discussion Guide: Purple Book | The Holy Spirit


Take the first few minutes of your time together to listen to what God is doing in one another’s lives and pray for any specific needs people in your group may have.

Today’s Discussion

Who is the Holy Spirit? Are spiritual gifts still in existence today? What’s that whole tongues and prophecy thing about?

There are lots of questions when it comes to the Holy Spirit, and for every question there are 100 opinions. It just seems easier to dismiss the doctrine of the Holy Spirit all together and focus on less controversial things doesn’t it? However, that would be a terrible mistake. If Scripture teaches us about the Holy Spirit, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit and salvation is the result of being “born of the Spirit” then dismissing this foundational doctrine would be akin to not putting gas in your new car because you can’t seem to find the button that opens the gas tank. In the same way you study the users manual to find the button so your car can function properly, we need to study God’s Word in regards to the Holy Spirit so that our lives can function properly.

In this discussion we will take a look at who the Holy Spirit is, why we need Him in our lives, how to operate in our spiritual gifts and how we can receive His power to begin with. This conversation may be uncomfortable for some, and it may be controversial at times, but centered on the Gospel we will push through all of that in hopes that God would be glorified in our lives together.

Discussion Questions

The Person of the Holy Spirit

What experience(s) do you have with different views of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts? Is that a good experience or a bad one?

Why do you think the topic of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts is such a controversial one in the American church?

1 Corinthians 12:11 

All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills”.

What does it mean for the Holy Spirit to have a will?

Leader Notes

To have a will indicates thought, desire, understanding. Meaning, the Holy Spirit cannot be an impersonal force. Therefore, the Holy Spirit must be a person in the sense that He is personable and contains the capability of thought, desire, understanding and emotion.

What does it mean to be a person? 

Leader Notes

To be a person is to be unique, to have your own thoughts, desires, emotions and will. To be a person means you are relatable, able to interact with others and to communicate with others.

What person is the Holy Spirit?

Leader Notes

To be a person is to be unique, to have your own thoughts, desires, emotions and will. To be a person means you are relatable, able to interact with others and to communicate with others.

A.W. Tozer, The Idea Of The Spirit

“The idea of the Spirit held by the average church member is so vague as to be nearly nonexistent. When he thinks of the matter at all he is likely to try to imagine a nebulous substance like a wisp of invisible smoke that is said to be present in churches and to hover over good people when they are dying. Frankly he does not believe in any such thing, but he wants to believe something, and not feeling up to the task of examining the whole truth in the light of Scripture he compromises by holding belief in the Spirit as far out from the center of his life as possible, letting it make no difference in anything that touches him practically. This describes a surprisingly large number of earnest persons who are sincerely trying to be Christians.”

Why does our view of the Holy Spirit matter?

Leader Notes

Our view matters in the same way our view of God the Father or Jesus the Son matters. If we view the Holy Spirit as anything or anyone other than a personal, loving God who wants to know us and be known by us, then our interaction with Him and reliance on Him is going to be skewed. If the Holy Spirit is just an impersonal force, then I cannot look to Him for comfort or help in my time of need. If I see Him as just an impersonal force then “it” is something I can manipulate and control rather than a “He” that is worthy of my worship and praise and someone who I am dependent on. Our view of the Holy Spirit is no different than our view of each other. If I view you as an object or just an impersonal force then we are going to have a hard time relating and interacting with one another. How would you feel if I referred to you as an “It”?

How Does the Holy Spirit Help Us?

He convicts us of sin

John 16:8

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.

How has your perception of sin changed since becoming a Christian?

He Guides Us Into The Truth About Jesus

John 16:13

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. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

How has your perception of Jesus changed since becoming a Christian?

He Makes Us New From The Inside Out

Ezekiel 11:19-20

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

How have you seen your desires change since becoming a Christian?

He Empowers Us To Accomplish God’s Mission On The Earth

Dr. Timothy Keller

“The Spirit equips every believer to be a prophet who brings the truth, a priest who sympathetically serves, and a king who calls others into accountable love.”

According to Dr. Keller, is any believer exempt from the Holy Spirit’s ability to empower and equip?

Leader Notes

No. Every believer is capable of receiving the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

How have you seen the Holy Spirit empower/equip you or others to be a witness for Christ?

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

We see that the Holy Spirit has many roles in our lives, many more than we just discussed, but the real question is why? Why does the Holy Spirit play these roles? Why would Jesus send the Holy Spirit to be and do these things in our lives? Is it for the purpose of displaying our supernatural abilities? Is it to draw a crowd of spectators to watch us perform “magic tricks”? Does it have anything to do with us at all? Or, does God have a greater purpose in pouring out His Spirit on our lives?

A.W. Tozer, Day By Day

“On the day of Pentecost, when the scoffers, and the scorners said “These men are full of new wine,” Peter stood and exalted Jesus of Nazareth and reminded Israel “that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When Christ is truly honored, the Spirit comes!” 

If we are truly operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, who should receive the honor?

Leader Notes

Jesus should receive the honor. The whole point of the Holy Spirit coming was to empower us to be witnesses for Jesus.The Holy Spirit doesn’t make Himself the center of attention or the focus of our lives. He gives us gifts and power for the purpose of pointing others to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

So then, how might we tell if a person is operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, or in some other power?

Leader Notes

If a person is operating “in the Spirit” in such a way that draws people to himself, to his own “anointing”, for the purpose of his own reputation, as a means to make money or recruit members of his group, to draw attention to himself, then you can pretty much be assured that he is not operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. It may be some other kind of spirit, but certainly not the Holy Spirit.

Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

“But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.”

How might the church, truly operating in the power of the Holy Spirit and through the use of spiritual gifts, have an impact on the culture around us?

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Acts 1:4-5

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.

Scripture clearly distinguishes between water baptism and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. So, let’s look at the differences here.

What is the difference between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon salvation and the overflowing of the Holy Spirit?

Leader Notes

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a term associated with salvation. It describes the spiritual union between a believer and God. It indicates that in the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us (Rom 5:5; 1 Cor 2:12; 2 Cor 5:5), at others times it is called an “anointing” (Lk 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; 2 Cor 1:21; 1 John 2:20, 27), or even a “seal” (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30). Whatever it is called, it is essential for salvation (Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 6:19). If we are not indwelt by God’s Spirit, we are not saved. This indwelling is not something you have to earn or work for, it is the gift of God upon salvation. The overflowing of the Holy Spirit, or what Scripture calls being “baptized in the Holy Spirit” or “filled with the Holy Spirit”, is something altogether different. It is a separate occurrence from salvation. See Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 19:1-6. This is the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life. I would liken it to the difference between looking at a bottle of Coke and shaking that bottle up and popping the top. Looking at the bottle you can tell what it looks like, that it is most likely Coke inside the bottle, and you can imagine what it might taste like. But, shake it and pop the top and you are going to feel taste and experience that Coke in a completely different way. Upon salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells us and convicts us and leads us and comforts us, etc. The world can see what we look like as Christians, they can imagine what Jesus might be like (hopefully), but being baptized in the Holy Spirit and the power of the Holy Spirit manifesting in our lives gives the world a completely different experience. You might get an idea of who Jesus is when you see Christians loving those in need, but when a believer prophecies over you and tells you things he otherwise could not know then you have experienced God in a more tangible way.

Dr. John Piper

“I think that being baptized with the Holy Spirit (the way Luke means it in Acts 1) is not the same as being born again or being united to Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit… I think the essence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit is when a person, who is already a believer, receives extraordinary spiritual power for Christ-exalting ministry.”

What must you do in order to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Leader Notes

Ask God to fill you. There is nothing we have to do to earn this gift. If you are a believer, and you desire the baptism of the Holy Spirit, all you need to do is ask God for it and through the laying on of hands the Holy Spirit will come. Now, as a side note, Scripture does presuppose that we are not living in habitual sin or unrepentant or unforgiveness if we are asking for the Holy Spirit to fill us to overflowing. But, if we are truly seeking God’s glory and living in repentance and faith as His children then He, as our Father, will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask

Closing Thought

William Seymour

“I can say, through the power of the Spirit, that wherever God can get a people that will come together in one accord and one mind in the Word of God, the baptism of the Holy Ghost will fall upon them, like as at Cornelius’ house.” 

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