As we embark on a study of the Holy Spirit, I am conscious of the fact that there is an abundance of material that has come forth on the Holy Spirit and His work. Much of this material is experience-oriented. It is true that the Holy Spirit and His ministry are related to the believer and his experience. However, the truth concerning the Holy Spirit and His work must be gained from the standard of truth, the Word of God, rather than the experience of Christians. Another fact is important. The teaching of this third Person of the Trinity must be gleaned from a consistent, overall consideration of the Scripture, rather than from isolated sections.
We believe that the Holy Spirit is a Person rather than merely an influence or invisible force or substance. Possessing the traits of personality make the Holy Spirit the personal, divine Companion of the child of God.
- - Intelligence - 1 Corinthians 2:10-11; Romans 8:27
- - Will - 1 Corinthians 12:11
- - Love - Romans 15:30
- - Goodness - Nehemiah 9:20
- - Grief - Ephesians 4:30
- - Speak - Revelation 2:7
- - Teaches - John 14:26
- - Leads and Guides - Romans 8:14
Relation to the Godhead
The characteristics of deity are also found in the Holy Spirit. He is associated with the other members of the Godhead. He is one with God, one in the Godhead, coequal, co-eternal with the Father and the Son.
- - Eternal - Hebrews 9:14
- - Omnipresent - Psalm 139:7-10
- - Omnipotent - Luke 1:35
- - Omniscient - 1 Corinthians 2:10-11
- - Imparts life - Romans 8:11
- - Author of divine prophecy - 2 Peter 1:21
In the Old Testament times the Holy Spirit was active, although in a different manner than He is seen in the New Testament light.
It also seems evident that He came upon men rather than indwelling them, and this at specific times for a special purpose or work, and could also depart or be taken from them. There also seems to be an historical sequence implied in John 14:17. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit being with the disciples during His ministry, and later - Pentecost - would indwell them.
Ministry to Unbelievers
The Spirit's ministry to the unsaved is principally that of conviction. The conscience can convict the person of wrong doing, but the Spirit convicts of wrong being. The Spirit of God also holds back, restrains, from a course of evil and godlessness.
- - of sin, because they believe not on Christ.
- - of righteousness, the personal relationship of Christ indicated by His resurrection and ascension. This backs His claims as the only Savior, and brings about a realization of self-condemnation.
- - of judgement, that satan has already been judged. This was accomplished at the cross. Because this is true all other judgements have been decided.
Ministry to Believers
The Holy Spirit's ministry to believers is intense and detailed. We must be careful, however, that we do not leave out the active ministry of all the Persons of the Trinity in the life of each believer. The Holy Spirit is the One who energizes and brings to completion that which has been done, making it personal and practical.
1. Regeneration - The act of regenerating, or new birth, is the imparting of the divine, new, nature of man. The Holy Spirit is the Divine Agent transmitting this new nature.
2. Baptism - Much confusion has resulted from a wrong concept of this aspect of the Spirit's ministry. Some would claim that it is an experience of the believer in addition, or subsequent, to salvation. They also claim that this is the time when the Spirit imparts His initial evidence, namely the gift of tongues. Some of these advocate that this is an experience that ought to be sought by every believer. We hold, however, that an honest evaluation of the Scripture shows that the baptism of the Spirit takes place at the time of conversion. It is the divine act whereby the believing individual is made a member of the body of Christ. This is true of every true believer.
3. Indwelling - At the time of regeneration, or salvation, the Spirit comes to take up His permanent abode in the believer. He abides there no matter how immature the person may be. It is this indwelling which makes growth possible.
Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:4-6
As a part of this indwelling ministry the Holy Spirit seals the believer, making him His own. This constitutes the down payment of the everlasting inheritance, the imprint of divine ownership.
2 Corinthians 1:22
The Holy Spirit also gives assurance and confidence that we belong to Christ providing peace and rest.
The Holy Spirit, because He indwells the believer, strengthens the believer so that His power becomes operative in his life.
4. Filling - The contrast between the baptism of the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit is quite evident. Basically considered there is but one baptism whereas there are many fillings. Baptism unites us with the body of Christ, filing properly fits us for service. Baptism is an act of Christ while filling results from an action on the part of the believer. The realization of the filling of the Spirit and appropriates His power by faith.
Acts 4:8,31; Acts 6:3
- - grieving the Spirit - Ephesians 4:30
- - quenching the Spirit - 1 Thessalonians 5:19
5. Liberating, Directing, Equipping - The believer can count on the ministry of the Spirit of God to so work in his life that the result can be a life that glorifies God. Having freed us, He now directs our lives into channel of effectiveness and equips us so that we can be effective.
6. Fruit of the Spirit - The Holy Spirit produces all the real bounty of character and all the real Christ-likeness in the believer. Fruit here is the proper result of the controlling power of the Holy Spirit, the normal outflow of the Christ-life.
Spirit control will bring about a Christ-likeness in the normal every day processes. The following expressions in Scripture speak of common, day-to-day exercises.
The fruit spoken of is basically a cluster with the main characteristic of love. Because the fruit expresses is a cluster, the believer who is controlled will be producing all the traits. Thus it is not one person producing love, another peace, etc. It is rather the degree, or consistency, with which the fruit is produced. The greater the Spirit's control the more evident the Christ-like characteristics. Galatians 5:22-23. A comparison of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and Galatians 5:22-23 can prove to be enlightening and profitable.
7 Gifts of the Spirit - The gifts of the Spirit have been emphasized strongly during the past number of years. One problem is evident - although claims are made that all the gifts are in operation today, some are grossly neglected while others are more eagerly promoted. The more spectacular gifts mentioned in the Word are not necessarily the most important. God is not bound to work the same way in each generation. God does not now act in judgement as He did in Acts 5 with Ananias and Sapphira. The gifts that were used in the founding days of the Church need not be as necessary now as they were in laying the foundation. By the same token, God can use or bestow what He desires and deems necessary for His own glory. One matter is much more important than gifts - that is spiritual maturity.
The gifts the Holy Spirit bestows are not a sign of greater maturity or deeper spirituality. They are divine enabling so as to edify the body of Christ. They are properly distributed so that all areas of need are met. It is evident that some gifts had greater purposes in the infancy of the Church and thus need not be as prominent today.
Hebrews 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 13:8-13
Several facts are imposed upon these gifts and the exercise of the same.
The following portions of the Word are the main sections dealing with the gifts of the Spirit.
Ephesians 4:1-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11