A spirit personage in the form of a man, limited to one place, with power to have influence anywhere; such are the Characteristics of the Holy Spirit.
Which are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit? Let us start with the obvious. He is a Spirit! Some say that he is like a dove, and doves are not spirits, usually. Let us look where the idea came from that the Holy Ghost resembles a dove. Imagine that Jesus just has been baptized…
10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him (Mark 1:10)
With a bit of fantasy, we might see that the Spirit looked like a dove, but the more practical believers would most likely see that the Spirit lowered himself in the fashion of a dove; calmly, peacefully, without guile. In the account of Matthew it is quite clear that these were exactly the characteristics of the Holy Spirit that he intended to describe:
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him (Matthew 3:16)
If it is unclear in the account of Mark, in this account it is no discussion; it was the dissension that was like a dove, not the Spirit of God himself! It is interesting to note in all the accounts that the Spirit descended, and stayed with Jesus. This makes one thing totally clear! One of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit is that he is limited in his physical presence or circumference. If he was everywhere present, then he could not descend to a place where he already is! Further, it would not stay with Jesus only, but with every living creature in the universe, which would render the vision of John the Baptists’ no more than gibberish. No, it must be obvious that one of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit is that he has a spirit body, in lack of better words, and that John the Baptist actually saw this body.
Now, as we have written that the Holy Ghost has a spirit body that cannot be everywhere at once, it is quite clear from the scriptures that the influence and power of the Holy Ghost can, and is, active anywhere in the universe where it needs to be in order to fulfill his divine purposes. Let us see what St Luke writes in his account of the baptism of Jesus:
22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. (Luke 3:22)
People often make things into a mystery when there is no mystery to be found. We have all heard it; if something looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, walks like a duck… then it most likely is a duck. But in this case the reasoning has been strange:
Jesus called the Holy Ghost a ‘He’, therefore, it must be an ‘it’!? John the Baptist said the Spirit had a Bodily shape, so it must be without form!?! Just think if John the Baptist would have said that the Spirit descended like a dandelion seed. Would the Holy Ghost then have the actual shape of a dandelion seed?
32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. (John 1:32-37)
We can also see that the Spirit is not just another manifestation of the Father or the Son. For one thing, the Spirit had a calling to testify of the Son, and it is not credible to testify in ones own behalf! He was also to glorify the Son. We can all see the absurd in Jesus glorifying himself, even if he would appear in another shape to do it. And lastly, John the Baptist did see the Spirit descending in a bodily shape at the same time as he saw Jesus. Therefore they must be separate and distinct personalities. So also the Father. His voice came out of heaven at the same time as John saw Jesus and the Holy Ghost on the earth. They are obviously three. Nevertheless, the scriptures teach that they are one! Let us see how! Jesus taught us in the best way:
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)
It is obvious that Jesus did not pray that the disciples should be merged into one big unit, which in turn should be merged into one with the god-unit. Clearly, the way Jesus wants the disciples to be one is through unity in purpose, ‘as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee’. That is how the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are One, if we are to believe what Jesus said.
Why are there so many obvious fallacies in the world when it comes to the understanding of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit? Perhaps actually having the Gift of the Holy Ghost, being constantly lead, and taught by this wonderful teacher, testifier and comforter, would help people better understand its true nature.