Daniel Holland considers the joy of knowing Holy Spirit – personally

 He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20 v22b)


Holy Spirit is the precious third Person of the Trinity, not a lesser name to be mumbled quickly after Father and Son. Each member of the Trinity, although remaining one in nature, reveals aspects of God’s nature, and a specific role in His salvation plan.

Taking an ornithological perspective, there are three birds representing the Trinity in Scripture. Father God is the strong eagle that carries Israel on His back through the desert (Ex 19v 4). He lives in a high and lofty place, surveying all and only occasionally swooping down. Jesus is the hen that longs to gather Jerusalem’s children like little chicks (Matt 23 v37). The hen is earthbound, probably not flying much at all. Holy Spirit is the dove (Luke 3v 22). In Biblical times doves were pets that were welcomed into homes; what a beautiful picture of Holy Spirit coming right inside us to live in our hearts, homes and humanity.

In celebrating the ministry of, and inculcating a friendship with, Holy Spirit we do not devalue Father or Son. On the contrary, Holy Spirit delights to lead us into deeper relationship with the God the father and Jesus the Son (1 Cor 2 v10). My point is that Holy Spirit may be known, deeply, as a Person and dare I say, as a friend!

It’s pure joy to cultivate an intimate and dynamic relationship with Holy Spirit. This has revolutionised my relationship with God, and deepened my appreciation of His living word (Eph 3 v20). Holy Spirit is not to be treated with extreme caution as though He were some eccentric, and so relegated to ‘the back room’, or bossed about like a servant – as I have heard some people try to do. Holy Spirit is a beautiful Person in His own right and to be loved , respected, listened to, enjoyed and given full reign in our lives.

In this article we peel back the layers of what we’ve been taught for or against Holy Spirit, or missed out on altogether. We explore some of the names of and metaphors for Holy Spirit in scripture. Names are extremely important; designating purpose, identity and role.


For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8 v14-16)

God made provision for our deep human need for security and significance through the role of fathers. Alas, so many men are so broken that functioning and effective fathers are, today, few and far between. Many adult men have themselves never been fathered, so they hardly know how to fulfil that crucial fatherly role. There are notable exceptions, but by and large this has been the sad pattern throughout world history. Consider the dysfunctional patriarchal families of the Old Testament. As Paul pointed out to the Corinthians,

Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. (1 Cor 4 v15)

In our emotionally orphan state we need supernatural help to establish us as sons not just in name, or legal status, but in our deepest being, for this is the place we crave fathering. Holy Spirit is empowerment to take hold of this reality, and to consolidate it in our hearts.


If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (1 Peter 4 v14)

Occasionally I have perceived (with my spiritual eyes) the Spirit of glory resting on someone, it is a marvellous thing to behold (Mark 9 v1-8), although often it accompanies suffering. God’s glory is His manifest goodness. We are not called to mediocrity but discipleship that is extraordinary and glorious, to visibly glow. Holy Spirit is the One Who will manifest that goodness in our lives. We need that glory, more than we know, and the world desperately needs to see it in the church,

 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.(2 Cor 3 v18


Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Heb 12 v14)

Holiness, true holiness, does not come naturally to us (Romans 7), we need help. We need a ‘Holy’ Spirit to transform us. Holy Spirit helps us wrestle down our habitual sins and iniquitous thought patterns, transforming us. He is the ‘Holy’ Spirit, and He will only take up residence in a ‘Holy temple’ (1 Cor 6 v19), i.e. our spirits. If we desire His habitation, rather than His occasional touch, we must ‘consecrate’ a holy place for Him to dwell. Righteousness is a gift imparted to us, holiness is a grace virtue we grow into. Holy Spirit will show a willing heart how to draw close to Jesus’ heart. There are many other spirits (1 John 4 v1) that masquerade as Holy Spirit, but one plumbline of His true activity is holiness in the life of the believer. Conversely be suspicious about great claims, prophetic words and  advice dispensed from someone who is not living in Holiness. Over familiarity with God is a failing of our age. He is our ‘Holy’ God who gives us a ‘Holy’ spirit, we approach with confidence and awe.


One of my favourite teachers is Andrew Murray from S. Africa. The teacher is one of the fivefold ministry gifts from Ephesians 4 for equipping and maturing the church. Anointed teaching often triggers ‘truth’ bombs in my spirit, affirming truth in what is being spoken. Any teacher worth his salt will always point back to the Scriptures, encouraging us to evaluate for ourselves. You might call this the Berean method.

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17 v11)

Holy Spirit will also warn of lies, false teaching and indeed, danger. This inner ‘early warning system’ is not infallible but it will get attuned as we ask Holy Spirit to sensitise it.

Some of the most precious truths I have discovered have been in private times of Bible study with Holy Spirit. I ask Him to read with me like a parent with a child. These ‘personal’ teachings are my bedrock. A teacher may be excellent but Holy Spirit is sublime, He can incarnate truth to us individually. Truth is truth, eternally so, but it’s those truths we ‘know’ that set us free (John 8 v32).We need both teachers, and THE Teacher.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16 v13)

Sometimes we need guiding into truth because what we have been taught, or what we have believed about God or ourselves is incorrect. This is a journey; every ‘denomination’ stewards precious truths, but often areas of blindness too. Sanctified ‘unlearning’ is part of discipleship, especially if we have a ‘churched’ foundation, we need Holy Spirit help with this.

but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. (1 Thess 5 v21)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12 v2a)

Holy Spirit is highly practical as well as theological, He doesn’t give us dry theories in a hermetically sealed laboratory, but life-giving truths proven in the arena of life. His lessons, once learned, will equip us for a lifetime. It is impossible to know God, as He really is, without the infilling, teaching and witness of His Spirit.


“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16 v33)

Jesus couldn’t possibly have been more emphatic, we know what to expect. We would not need a comforter if we were not going to experience trouble. A wise man said ‘God is comfortable when we are uncomfortable’. This is because our growing and transforming mostly happens in the ‘discomfort’ of transition and persecution. Assuming we overcome in those times, look back in your life and you will find these were times of spiritual ‘growth spurts’.

Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. (Job 5 v7)

God will not evacuate us from the warzone of this world, but the great news is He will comfort us in it by His Holy Spirit. Countless times I have received a Holy Spirit hug, a whisper of encouragement, or an uplifting picture in dark days. Holy Spirit knows us intimately, since before creation (Psalm 139), and knows exactly what we need. There have been times I felt so weary, and that I couldn’t go on; suddenly a surge of wellbeing from the Spirit enabled me to carry on confidently (Gal 6v 9).


The Greek word for counsellor is paracletus; one who takes our side, or one who takes hold with us against. Jesus has not left us as orphans, helpless and hopeless in this world, it was no platitude when He promised,

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.(John 16 v7)

In life we face forks in the road where we don’t know which way to go; maybe all routes seem good, bad, or a mixture. This applies to momentous decisions and seemingly insignificant ones. Small decisions can become defining ones.

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. (Pro 14 v12)

In these moments the Counsellor will generously give us the wisdom of heaven (James 1 v5), rescuing us from poor decisions based on fear, ambition or woundedness. How we need Holy Spirit’s guidance through the mine fields of deception, the valleys of decision and the mountaintops of success. We must, however, be patient, not rushing ahead if there isn’t an immediate answer (1 Sam 13 v10-12).


A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. (1 Cor 12 v7).

We possess spiritual gifts because the Spirit has graciously bestowed them upon us. They are not a merit badge or a mark of favouritism but a means by which we can bless and serve others. Holy Spirit knows best which spiritual gifts to give to whom, which may sometimes appear contrary to natural gifting. To grow in spiritual gifts, we must prioritise intimately knowing the ‘Giver’.

There is a wonderful promise in scripture, ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you’. (James 4v 8a). A friendship doesn’t develop by chance but with much engagement, time, reciprocity, and mutual respect. Start and finish every day with a prayer, ‘Holy Spirit, fill me, know me, lead me, and help me to know you really well’. Let us purpose to become a close friend of Holy Spirit, to give Him time, attention, and to listen closely to Him. As we cultivate relationship, it becomes second nature to walk in a moment-by-moment awareness of, and deference to, Holy Spirit.


Daniel Holland is a UK missionary with Through Faith Missions. He wrote “Through The Tunnel – Free at Last” published by PUSH Publishing, as his personal testimony. His second book “Prophetic Evangelism – Kingdom Exploits in the Risk Zone” was published last year via Christian Publications International: https://christian-publications-int.com/PropheticEvangelism.html

Daniel has also written two booklets on “Caring For New Christians” And “Growing as a New Christian”. Details via theChristian Publications International website.