The Holy Spirit
What goes through your mind when you watch a baptism?
What a wonderful day we just had. The weather turned out to be great and some of us got to spend this wonderful day reflecting on the wonders of Christian baptism. We met at McDowell Dam to practice this ordinance commanded by God. God specifically gave two ordinances to the church. These include baptism (Matt 28:19-20) and the Lord’s Supper (Matt 26:26-29). Baptism is an initiatory rite best seen as an ordinance rather than a sacrament. Baptism is an outward symbol of the inward change that has occurred as a result of trusting in Christ as Savior and Lord. Baptism is to be observed only by those who have trusted in Christ for their eternal salvation (Acts 2:37-41; 8:12; 18:8; 19:1-7; 1 Pet 3:21); infant baptism and baptismal regeneration must be rejected (Mark 16:16). Immersion is the appropriate mode of (Mark 1:10; John 3:23; Acts 8:36).
The Lord’s Supper is a “continuing rite” for commemoration of Christ’s death. It is an act of worship to remember and “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor 11:26); therefore, Christ is not physically or spiritually present in the elements. The Lord’s Supper should be administered by an appropriate church leader (1 Tim 3:1-7) and celebrated by those who are in right relationship with God (1 Cor 5:1-5; 1 Cor 11:20-34). The Lord’s Supper should be administered on a regular basis.
So, this afternoon we got to watch as three people publically followed Christ’s command to be baptized. This ceremony was particularly exciting because we did the baptism in the lake with the general public watching us. One man there was a single father with two his two daughters. He had come to Bismarck about three years ago. As he watched us enter the water (I went in to video the event), he knew exactly what was going on. He called his daughters over to him and had them watch the baptism.
After the service, this man came to speak to us about the service. He said he was baptized in a Baptist Church when young. He said he didn’t know people were still being immersed in baptism; he thought most had moved away from this Biblical approach to sprinkle. He seemed so excited to see this activity and to learn that we held firmly to the Word of God.
What an exciting day. This made me think of how the Holy Spirit is working even in our country that is moving further and further away from the orthodox doctrines of the Bible. Imagine that this man would happen to be at the lake on the day we planned the baptism. Also, because of personal schedules, we needed to make the service two hours earlier than we had planned. God through the Holy Spirit arranged this appointed with this man so that he could regain his excited about the church. In fact, he is planning to come to TFL soon.
What does the Gospel of John teach regarding the Holy Spirit?
A major theme in the Gospel of John is the work of the Holy Spirit. This makes sense because purpose of John’s Gospel is to expose the Light that came into the world. John makes at least five clear statements regarding the Holy Spirit.
1. The Holy Spirit is received
The Holy Spirit was received by Jesus. The Spirit came from heaven and descended like a dove on him; the Holy Spirit remained on Him (John 1:32-33). The Holy Spirit is also received by believers—those who trust in Christ and follow Him. When a person trusts in Christ, Jesus baptizes the believer with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33). At that moment, the believer receives the entire Holy Spirit without limit (John 3:34). Jesus gives the Spirit only to those who believe in Him (John 7:38-39; 20:22). We also learn the Spirit would come only after Jesus depart from us and returned to the Father (John 16:7)
2. The Holy Spirit is essential to enter the kingdom of God
There are components of spiritual rebirth (John 3:5-6, 8)—The Water and the Spirit. The Water represents the repentance ministry of John the Baptist (see John 1:33; 3:10-21). The Spirit represents the reception of the Holy Spirit. Man cannot control the coming of the Spirit. The Spirit is given to us only when we trust in Christ. Thus, to enter the kingdom requires one to be “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
3. The Holy Spirit is involved in worship
The Father is to be worshiped in spirit and truth (John 4:23). God is Spirit (John 4:24) and He is invisible (John 1:18). The Holy Spirit brings the believer into a new realm for worship (John 3:3, 5; 7:38-39). True worship of God is impossible without the Spirit.
4. The Holy Spirit gives life
Only believers receive eternal life (John 6:63; see John 3:16; 5:24); this is a gift of God to us. Without the Holy Spirit, the flesh cannot understand the gospel message (John 3:6). The Holy Spirit is the “living water” (John 7:37-39). He flows out of the believer’s heart (cf. John 4:14). He was given to us only after the glorification of Christ.
5. The Holy Spirit is the Helper (John 14:16)
He represents the truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13) and He guides believers into all truth (John 16:13). He dwells in the believer (John 14:17)—Jesus did not leave His disciples as orphans (John 14:18). Now, believers are in Christ and Christ in them (John 14:20). The Spirit teaches all things (John 14:26); He is sent by the Father in Christ’s name and He caused the Apostles to remember all that Christ taught them so they could teach us. In addition, the Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8), testifies regarding Jesus (John 16:13), speaks according to Gods authority (John 16:13), and glorifies Christ (John 16:14-15).
Summary of the Holy Spirit according to John
With this background of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John, we can summarize His work in the Church. John introduces the Holy Spirit early in his gospel. He does this by closing tying the Holy Spirit with the blossoming ministry of Jesus (John 1:32-33). John reports that the Spirit descended from heaven and remained on Jesus. Jesus will ultimately baptize future believers with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33) whom He will give without limit (John 3:34). This means that all future believers will receive all of the Holy Spirit, i.e. as much as they are ever going to get.
The gift of the Holy Spirit did not happen during Jesus’ ministry, but would occurred after Jesus was glorified (John 7:39; John 16:7). After His resurrection, when He was appearing before men, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on His disciples so that they would “receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). This action showed that once filled with the Holy Spirit, His disciples would have great power, even the power to forgive sins (John 20:23).
With the giving of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the new age, a new essential was required to enter into the Kingdom of God. As Jesus taught Nicodemus, one must be “born of the Spirit” to enter His kingdom (John 3:8). This new spiritual rebirth requires two elements. First, it required the water of the repentance ministry of John the Baptist (see John 1:33; 3:10-21). Second, it required the spirit which comes with the reception of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-6). Man cannot control the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8).
John subsequently provides three primary tasks of the Holy Spirit. First, the Holy Spirit is involved in worship. The Father is to be worshiped in spirit and truth (John 4:23). God is Spirit (John 4:24), which defines the position of the Holy Spirit in the tri-union Godhead. Since God is invisible (John 1:18), the Holy Spirit brings the believer into a new realm for worship (John 3:3, 5; 7:38-39). Thus, the Holy Spirit is the agent for worship by believers.
Second, the Holy Spirit gives life (John 6:63). Once a person puts his trust in Jesus and receives the love God bestowed upon him, he receives eternal life (John 3:16). The process involves hearing and believing in God and His gift (John 5:24). Without the Holy Spirit, the flesh cannot understand the gospel message (John 3:6). This is because the Holy Spirit is the “living water” that helps bring about the regeneration of those who believe (John 7:38-39). As a result, the Holy Spirit will flow out of the believer’s heart (cf. John 4:14).
Finally, John identified the Holy Spirit as the Helper (John 14:16). His primary task is to be a helper to believers as they trek through life. He does this through some eight unique efforts. First, He represents the truth to the world (John 14:17).
Second, the world is blinded to the truth, but to those who believe in Christ and have received the Holy Spirit, He guides them into all truth (John 16:13).
Third, He dwells within the believer (John 14:17) and therefore, He will not leave His disciples as orphans (John 14:18) and He assures that the believer is in Christ and Christ is in the believer (John 14:20).
Fourth, the Holy Spirit teaches all things relevant to the Kingdom of God (John 14:26). This is possible because He is sent by the Father in Christ’s name to teach all things and to bring to the remembrance of the Disciples all the things that Jesus said to them. Only through this action could we have the Bible complete with what Jesus did and what He said even though much more could have been reported (John 21:25).
Fifth, He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).
Sixth, He provides testimony for Christ (John 15:26).
Seventh, we can trust the truth given to us by the Holy Spirit because He speaks only according to the authority of God (John 16:13); whatever He hears from God He will speak. This even includes revealing future events. Finally and perhaps primarily, the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (John 16:14-15). The Spirit worked in the apostles’ minds so that they could perceive, understand, and teach about the Savior.
In review, John discusses aspects of the Holy Spirit throughout his gospel, but he doesn’t really develop the ministry of the Holy Spirit as the Helper until chapters 14-16. In this important section (the Upper Room Discourse), Jesus promises the Helper and He outlines the work of the Holy Spirit. To calm the hearts of His disciples, Jesus needed to reassure them that if He did not depart then the Helper could not come (John 16:7). The primary job of the Helper when He comes will be to “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). Yet above all, the Holy Spirit will testify about Christ (John 16:13) and glorify Him by presenting Him to the world. As a result, our primary function as Christians is to give all glory and honor to God through Jesus Christ.
Principles Regarding the Holy Spirit
As a result of our short study of the biblical theology of the Holy Spirit according to John, we can now identify seven principles regarding the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit is necessary in the hearts of believers for them to enter into the Kingdom of God.
- The Holy Spirit is received freely by the believer. Man cannot control the coming of the Holy Spirit into the life of the believer.
- The only reason we can worship God at all is because of the work of the Holy Spirit as He brings believers into a new realm of existence.
- The Holy Spirit helps bring about regeneration by convicting natural man of sin.
- The Holy Spirit will dwell in the heart of the believer and will subsequently flow out of the believer’s heart.
- The Holy Spirit was sent to help the Apostles start and believers sustain the church.
- The Holy Spirit is loyal to God and Christ. Thus, He will testify about Christ and glorify Him by presenting Him to the world.
A personal prayer
Lord God, I thank You that You have provided the Holy Spirit to me so that I am able to have Christ in me and that I can be in Christ. I thank you that through the work of the Holy Spirit I was convicted of my sin and regenerated by receiving Christ. I thank you that the Holy Spirit continues to teach me through the Word that came out of the memories of the Apostles. Lord, I thank you that Your Holy Spirit will dwell in me forever. Please help me to continue to rely upon the teaching of the Holy Spirit as He guides me in all truth. Help me to continue to give you all glory and honor. Amen.
Are you as amazed as I am that by simply obeying God in the act of Christian baptism can lead us into a state of worship that gives all glory to God? Do you see how faithful God is toward us when we obey His word?