Don’t Forget the Holy Spirit
Do you understand the Person and work of the Holy Spirit?
I was speaking with a dear friend the other day. He expressed his concern that in the church he attends there is much talk about Jesus but the church remains silent regarding the Holy Spirit. I think I have seen the same thing. We tend to acknowledge the work of Jesus on the cross and the impact He has on our lives, as we should; but we seldom live as if the Holy Spirit even exists.
Perhaps this is because we do not understand the importance of the Holy Spirit. So, I would spend a little time examining the Holy Spirit. Let’s start by looking at some very basic truths regarding the Holy Spirit and how He interacts with us in our lives. Then we will examine how the Apostle John spoke about the Holy Spirit.
The deity of the Holy Spirit becomes a necessity because of the doctrine of the Triunity, i.e. a belief in the Trinity requires a belief in the deity of the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19). One author has said, “Once we understand God the Father and God the Son to be fully God, then the Trinitarian expressions… assume significance for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, because they show that the Holy Spirit is classified on an equal level with the Father and the Son.”
Personality exists in beings when they exhibit intellect, emotions, and will. Since the Holy Spirit demonstrates these characteristics, the Holy Spirit is a person. Thus, the Holy Spirit is not simply an influence emanating from God.
Regeneration is a secret act of God in which He imparts new spiritual life to the believing sinner. The Holy Spirit causes regeneration as a form of spiritual reproduction. The Holy Spirit produces the new birth, but He does it through the Word of God (1 Pet 1:23). Regeneration is different from the process of conversion. Conversion refers to the human response to God’s offer of salvation. Regeneration is an act of God whereby He imparts life to the one who believes.
A unique phenomena associated with the New Covenant is that the Spirit of God would come to dwell in the lives of men (Jer 31:33). As a result, believers have become the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in them (1 Cor 6:19). The Spirit indwelling the believer is a consequence of one’s spiritual regeneration (Rom 8:9).
The baptizing work of the Holy Spirit may be defined as that work whereby the Spirit places the believer into union with Christ and into union with other believers in the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13). Spirit baptism (i.e. the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit) should not be confused with water baptism (cf. Rom 6:4; Gal 3:27).
The Holy Spirit According to the Apostle John
John introduces the Holy Spirit early in his gospel. He does this by closely 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 only occur 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 requires the water of the repentance ministry of John the Baptist (see John 1:33; 3:10-21). Second, the spirit that comes with the reception of the Holy Spirit is necessary to enter the kingdom of God (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 will be to help 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 be reported (John 21:25).
Fifth, He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).
Sixth, He provides testimony for Christ (John 15:26).
Seventh, He speaks only according to the authority of God; therefore, we can trust the truth given to us by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13)—whatever He hears from God He will speak. This even includes revealing future events.
Eighth, and perhaps primarily, the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (John 16:14-15). This difficult passage was explained in one commentary in this way: “Because Jesus is the Logos, the revelation of the Father (or as Paul expressed it, “the image of the invisible God” [Col. 1:15]), all that belongs to the Father is also the Son’s. The Spirit of Truth brought glory to Jesus as He revealed to the apostles things pertaining to the person and work of the Logos (taking from what is Mine and making it known to you). 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.
Principles Regarding the Holy Spirit
With these thoughts in mind, we can state seven principles regarding the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. These principles should remind us to remember the important work of 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.
Are you ready to allow the work of the Holy Spirit to flow through you? Please make the following prayer your 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 me 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. Amen.