Ch.6 The Work of the Holy Spirit

Making Sense of CHRIST AND THE SPIRIT by Wayne Grudem

EXPLANATION AND SCRIPTURAL BASIS
In the previous chapters we have discussed at some length the person and work of
God the Son, Jesus Christ. We have also examined the biblical evidence for the deity and
distinct personality of the Holy Spirit (in connection with the doctrine of the Trinity). It
is appropriate now in this chapter that we focus on the distinctive work of the Holy Spirit.
Among the different activities of the members of the Trinity, what activities are said to be
especially the work of God the Holy Spirit?
In this chapter we shall attempt to gain an overview of the teaching of all of Scripture
on the work of the Holy Spirit in order to understand more fully what kinds of activities
have been especially delegated to the Holy Spirit by God the Father and God the Son.
We may define the work of the Holy Spirit as follows: The work of the Holy Spirit is to
manifest the active presence of God in the world, and especially in the church. This definition
indicates that the Holy Spirit is the member of the Trinity whom the Scripture most
often represents as being present to do God’s work in the world. Although this is true to
some extent throughout the Bible, it is particularly true in the new covenant age. In the
Old Testament, the presence of God was many times manifested in the glory of God and
in theophanies, and in the gospels Jesus himself manifested the presence of God among
men. But after Jesus ascended into heaven, and continuing through the entire church age,
the Holy Spirit is now the primary manifestation of the presence of the Trinity among us.
He is the one who is most prominently present with us now.1
Chapter 6
The Work of the
Holy Spirit
What are the distinctive activities of the
Holy Spirit throughout the history of the Bible?
1In this discussion, when I use the word “present” I mean
“present to “bless.” Of course, since he is fully God, the being
of the Holy Spirit is always present everywhere (he is omnipresent),
but he does not always show his presence in activities that
bring blessing.
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 133 12/1/10 3:22 PM
134
Making Sense of Christ and the Spirit
From the very beginning of creation we have an indication that the Holy Spirit’s work
is to complete and sustain what God the Father has planned and what God the Son has
begun, for in Genesis 1:2, “the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.” And
at Pentecost, with the beginning of the new creation in Christ, it is the Holy Spirit who
comes to grant power to the church (Acts 10:38; 2:4, 17 – 18). Because the Holy Spirit is the
person of the Trinity through whom God particularly manifests his presence in the new
covenant age, it is appropriate that Paul should call the Holy Spirit the “first fruits” (Rom.
8:23) and the “guarantee” (or “down payment,” 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5) of the full manifestation
of God’s presence that we will know in the new heavens and new earth (cf. Rev. 21:3 – 4).
Even in the Old Testament, it was predicted that the presence of the Holy Spirit would
bring abundant blessings from God: Isaiah predicted a time when the Spirit would bring
great renewal.
For the palace will be forsaken, the populous city deserted . . . until the Spirit is
poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the
fruitful field is deemed a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and
righ teousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righ teousness will be
peace, and the result of righ teousness, quietness and trust for ever. My people
will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting
places. (Isa. 32:14 – 18)
Similarly, God prophesied through Isaiah to Jacob, “For I will pour water on the thirsty
land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your descendants, and my
blessing on your offspring” (Isa. 44:3).
By contrast, the departure of the Holy Spirit removed the blessing of God from a
people: “But they rebelled and grieved his holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their
enemy, and himself fought against them” (Isa. 63:10). Nonetheless, several prophecies in
the Old Testament predicted a time when the Holy Spirit would come in greater fullness,
a time when God would make a new covenant with his people (Ezek. 36:26 – 27; 37:14;
39:29; Joel 2:28 – 29).
In what specific ways does the Holy Spirit bring God’s blessing? We may distinguish
four aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit to bring evidence of God’s presence and to
bless: (1) the Holy Spirit empowers; (2) the Holy Spirit purifies; (3) the Holy Spirit reveals;
(4) the Holy Spirit unifies. We will examine each of these four activities below. Finally,
we must recognize that these activities of the Holy Spirit are not to be taken for granted,
and they do not just happen automatically among God’s people. Rather, the Holy Spirit
reflects the pleasure or displeasure of God with the faith and obedience — or unbelief
and disobedience — of God’s people. Because of this, we need to look at a fifth aspect
of the Holy Spirit’s activity: (5) the Holy Spirit gives stronger or weaker evidence of the
presence and blessing of God, according to our response to him.
A. The Holy Spirit Empowers
1. He Gives Life. In the realm of nature it is the role of the Holy Spirit to give life to all
animate creatures, whether on the ground or in the sky and sea, for “When you send
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 134 12/1/10 3:22 PM
135
Chapter 6 • The Work of the Holy Spirit
forth your Spirit, they are created” (Ps. 104:30). Conversely, if God “should take back his
spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, all flesh would perish together, and
man would return to dust” (Job 34:14 – 15). Here we see the role of the Spirit in the giving
and sustaining of human and animal life.
Parallel with this is the role of the Holy Spirit to give us new life in regeneration.2
Jesus told Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born
of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew’ ” (John
3:6 – 7; cf. vv. 5, 8; 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6). He also said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh
profits nothing” (John 6:63 NASB; cf. 2 Cor. 3:6; Acts 10:44 – 47; Titus 3:5).3 Consistent
with this life-giving function of the Holy Spirit is the fact that it was the Holy
Spirit who conceived Jesus in the womb of Mary his mother (Matt. 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35).
And on the day when Christ returns, it is the same Holy Spirit who will complete this
life-giving work by giving new resurrection life to our mortal bodies: “If the Spirit of
him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the
dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you”
(Rom. 8:11).
2. He Gives Power for Service.
a. Old Testament: In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit frequently empowered people
for special service. He empowered Joshua with leadership skills and wisdom (Num.
27:18; Deut. 34:9), and empowered the judges to deliver Israel from their oppressors
(note how “the Spirit of the Lord came upon” Othniel in Judg. 3:10, Gideon in 6:34,
Jephthah in 11:29, and Samson in 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14). The Holy Spirit came mightily
upon Saul to arouse him to battle against the enemies of Israel (1 Sam. 11:6), and
when David was anointed as king, “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David
from that day forward” (1 Sam. 16:13), equipping David to fulfill the task of kingship
to which God had called him.4 In a slightly different kind of empowering, the Holy
Spirit endowed Bezalel with artistic skills for the construction of the tabernacle and its
equipment (Ex. 31:3; 35:31), and with the ability to teach these skills to others (Ex. 35:34).5
The Holy Spirit also protected God’s people and enabled them to overcome their
enemies. For example, God put his Spirit in the midst of them at the time of the exodus
(Isa. 63:11 – 12) and later, after their return from exile, put his Spirit in the midst of
2The phrase “baptism in the Holy Spirit” is used by the New
Testament (for example, in 1 Cor. 12:13) to speak of the Holy
Spirit’s work at the time we become Chris tians (though many
evangelicals today, especially in charismatic and Pentecostal
groups, would understand “baptism in the Holy Spirit” to refer
to something the Holy Spirit does after conversion).
3Related to the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit is the fact
that he also seals his work to us so that he keeps true believers
from falling away from God and losing their salvation (Eph.
1:13).
4It is apparently in the sense of equipping for kingship that
David asks that the Holy Spirit not be withdrawn from him
when he prays, “Cast me not away from your presence, and
take not your holy Spirit from me” (Ps. 51:11). Just as the Holy
Spirit in his role of anointing Saul for kingship had departed
from Saul at the same time as he came upon David (cf. 1 Sam.
16:13 with v. 14), so David, after his sin with Bathsheba (see
Ps. 51, title), prayed that the Holy Spirit would not similarly
be taken from him.
5The Holy Spirit also empowered the Old Testament
prophets by giving them revelations to speak, but I have
included that function under Section C below (“The Holy
Spirit Reveals”).
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 135 12/1/10 3:22 PM
136
Making Sense of Christ and the Spirit
them to protect them and keep them from fear (Hag. 2:5). When Saul was attempting to
capture David by force, the Holy Spirit came upon Saul’s messengers (1 Sam. 19:20) and
eventually upon Saul himself (v. 23), causing them involuntarily to fall to the ground and
to prophesy for hours, thus defeating Saul’s purpose and humiliating him in response
to his malicious show of force against David and Samuel. In a similar way, while Ezekiel
was prophesying judgment by the power of the Holy Spirit against some of the leaders of
Israel (Ezek. 11:5), one of the leaders named Pelatiah actually died (Ezek. 11:13). In this
way the Holy Spirit brought immediate judgment on him.
Finally, the Old Testament predicted a time when the Holy Spirit would anoint a
Servant-Messiah in great fullness and power:
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of
the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. (Isa. 11:2 – 3)
Isaiah prophesied that God would say of this coming Servant, “I have put my Spirit upon
him” (Isa. 42:1), and he himself would say, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me” (Isa. 61:1; cf. Luke 4:18).
Before leaving this discussion of the empowering of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament,
we should note that it sometimes is said that there was no work of the Holy Spirit
within people in the Old Testament. This idea has mainly been inferred from Jesus’ words
to the disciples in John 14:17, “He dwells with you, and will be in you.” But we should not
conclude from this verse that there was no work of the Holy Spirit within people before
Pentecost. Although the Old Testament does not frequently speak of people who had the
Holy Spirit in them or who were filled with the Holy Spirit, there are a few examples:
Joshua is said to have the Holy Spirit within him (Num. 27:18; Deut. 34:9), as are Ezekiel
(Ezek. 2:2; 3:24), Daniel (Dan. 4:8 – 9, 18; 5:11), and Micah (Mic. 3:8).6 This means that
when Jesus says to his disciples that the Holy Spirit “dwells with you and will be in you”
(John 14:17), he cannot mean that there was an absolute “within/without” difference
between the old and new covenant work of the Holy Spirit. Nor can John 7:39 (“as yet the
Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified”) mean that there was no
activity of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives before Pentecost. Both of these passages must
be different ways of saying that the more powerful, fuller work of the Holy Spirit that is
characteristic of life after Pentecost had not yet begun in the lives of the disciples. The
Holy Spirit had not come within them in the way in which God had promised to put the
Holy Spirit within his people when the new covenant would come (see Ezek. 36:26, 27;
37:14), nor had the Holy Spirit been poured out in the great abundance and fullness that
would characterize the new covenant age (Joel 2:28 – 29). In this powerful new covenant
sense, the Holy Spirit was not yet at work within the disciples.
b. New Testament: The empowering work of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is
seen first and most fully in his anointing and empowering of Jesus as the Messiah. The
6Before Pentecost in the New Testament we also find that
John the Baptist (Luke 1:15), Elizabeth (Luke 1:41), and Zechariah
(Luke 1:67) were all said to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 136 12/1/10 3:22 PM
137
Chapter 6 • The Work of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22).
John the Baptist said, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained
on him” (John 1:32). Therefore Jesus entered into the temptation in the wilderness “full
of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1), and after his temptation, at the beginning of his ministry,
“Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (Luke 4:14). When Jesus came to
preach in the synagogue at Nazareth, he declared that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in
himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good
news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of
sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable
year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18 – 19). The power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life was then
seen in his subsequent miracles, as he cast out demons with a word and healed all who
came to him (Luke 4:36, 40 – 41). The Holy Spirit was pleased to dwell in Jesus and
empower him, for he fully delighted in the absolute moral purity of Jesus’ life. In the
context of talking about his own ministry, and the Father’s blessing on that ministry,
Jesus says, “It is not by measure that he gives the Spirit; the Father loves the Son, and has
given all things into his hand” (John 3:34 – 35). Jesus had an anointing of the Holy Spirit
without measure, and this anointing “remained on him” (John 1:32; cf. Acts 10:38).
The Holy Spirit also empowered Jesus’ disciples for various kinds of ministry. Jesus
had promised them, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the
end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).7 There are several specific examples of the Holy Spirit’s
empowering the early Chris tians to work miracles as they proclaimed the gospel (note
Stephen in Acts 6:5, 8; and Paul in Rom. 15:19; 1 Cor. 2:4). But the Holy Spirit also gave
great power to the preaching of the early church so that when the disciples were filled
with the Holy Spirit they proclaimed the Word boldly and with great power (Acts 4:8,
31; 6:10; 1 Thess. 1:5; 1 Peter 1:12). In general, we can say that the Holy Spirit speaks
through the gospel message as it is effectively proclaimed to people’s hearts. The New
Testament ends with an invitation from both the Holy Spirit and the church, who
together call people to salvation: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let him
who hears say, ‘Come’ ” (Rev. 22:17). In fact, not only in the preaching of the gospel
message, but also in the reading and teaching of Scripture, the Holy Spirit continues
to speak to people’s hearts each day (see Heb. 3:7 and 10:15, where the author quotes
an Old Testament passage and says that the Holy Spirit is now speaking that passage
to his readers).
7The word here translated “power” (dynamis) occurs nine
other times in Acts. In one case (4:33), it is unclear whether this
“power” refers to powerful preaching that convicted the hearers
or to miraculous signs that accompanied the preaching. But in
the other eight examples (2:22; 3:12; 4:7; 6:8; 8:10 [in this verse
referring to pagan miracle-working power], 13; 10:38; 19:11) it
refers to power to work miracles. This meaning of the term dynamis
is further confirmed by its frequent use in Luke’s gospel to
refer to miracle-working power. Therefore when Jesus promised
the disciples in Acts 1:8 that they would receive “power” when
the Holy Spirit came upon them, it seems likely that they would
have understood him to mean at least the power of the Holy
Spirit to work miracles that would attest to the truthfulness of
the gospel. Because the immediate context of the sentence talks
about being witnesses for Jesus, they may also have understood
him to mean that they would receive the power of the Holy
Spirit to work through their preaching and bring conviction of
sins and awaken faith in people’s hearts. This power in their
preaching was evident in subsequent events, as when Peter’s
hearers “were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37), or when “many of
those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men
came to about five thousand”(Acts 4:4).
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 137 12/1/10 3:22 PM
138
Making Sense of Christ and the Spirit
Another aspect of empowering Chris tians for service is the Holy Spirit’s activity of
giving spiritual gifts to equip Chris tians for ministry. After listing a variety of spiritual
gifts, Paul says, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each
one individually just as He wills” (1 Cor. 12:11 NASB). Since the Holy Spirit is the one
who shows or manifests God’s presence in the world, it is not surprising that Paul can
call spiritual gifts “manifestations” of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7).8 When spiritual gifts
are active, it is another indication of the presence of God the Holy Spirit in the church.9
In the prayer lives of individual believers, we find that the Holy Spirit empowers
prayer and makes it effective. “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit
himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). And Paul says that
we “have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18). One specific kind of prayer that
the New Testament says is empowered by the Holy Spirit is the gift of prayer in tongues
(1 Cor. 12:10 – 11; 14:2, 14 – 17).
Yet another aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work in empowering Chris tians for service is
empowering people to overcome spiritual opposition to the preaching of the gospel and
to God’s work in people’s lives. This power in spiritual warfare was first seen in the life
of Jesus, who said, “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom
of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28). When Paul came to Cyprus he encountered
opposition from Elymas the magician, but he, “ filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently
at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righ teousness, full of all deceit
and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now,
behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind and unable to see the
sun for a time.’ Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him and he went about seeking
people to lead him by the hand” (Acts 13:9 – 11). The gift of “distinguishing between
spirits” (1 Cor. 12:10), given by the Holy Spirit, is also to be a tool in this warfare against
the forces of darkness, as is the Word of God, which functions as the “sword of the Spirit”
(Eph. 6:17) in spiritual conflict.
B. The Holy Spirit Purifies
Since this member of the Trinity is called the Holy Spirit, it is not surprising to find
that one of his primary activities is to cleanse us from sin and to “sanctify us” or make
us more holy in actual conduct of life. Even in the lives of unbelievers there is some
restraining influence of the Holy Spirit as he convicts the world of sin (John 16:8 – 11;
Acts 7:51). But when people become Chris tians the Holy Spirit does an initial cleansing
work in them, making a decisive break with the patterns of sin that were in their lives
before.10 Paul says of the Corinthians, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11; see
8The Greek word translated “manifestation” is phanero-m
sis, which means something that discloses, something that
makes publicly evident or clear. The related adjective phaneros
means “visible, clear, plainly to be seen, open, plain, evident,
known” (BAGD, p. 852).
9The Holy Spirit also empowers obedience to God during
the Chris tian life (see discussion below on the Holy Spirit’s
work of purification).
10See discussion of this in John Murray, “Definitive Sanctification,”
in Collected Writings of John Murray (Edinburgh
and Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth, 1977), pp. 277 – 84.
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 138 12/1/10 3:22 PM
139
Chapter 6 • The Work of the Holy Spirit
also Titus 3:5). This cleansing and purifying work of the Holy Spirit is apparently what
is symbolized by the metaphor of fire when John the Baptist says that Jesus will baptize
people “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16).
After the initial break with sin that the Holy Spirit brings about in our lives at conversion,
he also produces in us growth in holiness of life. He brings forth the “ fruit of the
Spirit” within us (“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control,” Gal. 5:22 – 23), those qualities that reflect the character of God. As we
continually “are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another,”
we should be reminded that “this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Sanctification comes by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; cf. Rom.
8:4, 15 – 16), so that it is “by the Spirit” that we are able to “put to death the deeds of the
body” and grow in personal holiness (Rom. 8:13; see 7:6; Phil. 1:19).
Some people today say a purifying (or healing) work of the Holy Spirit occurs when
they are “slain in the Spirit,” an experience in which they suddenly fall to the ground
in a semi-conscious state and remain there for minutes or hours. Although the phrase
“slaying in the Spirit” is nowhere in Scripture, there are instances when people fell to the
ground, or fell into a trance, in the presence of God.11 Contemporary experiences should
be evaluated according to what lasting results (“fruit”) they bear in people’s lives (see
Matt. 7:15 – 20; 1 Cor. 14:12, 26c).
C. The Holy Spirit Reveals
1. Revelation to Prophets and Apostles. Let us now examine the work of the Holy Spirit
in revealing God’s words to the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles, in
many cases so that these words could be put into Scripture (see, for example, Num. 24:2;
Ezek. 11:5; Zech. 7:12, et al.). The whole of the Old Testament Scriptures came about
because “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter
1:21 NIV). Several other passages mention this work of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament
prophets (see Matt. 22:43; Acts 1:16; 4:25; 28:25; 1 Peter 1:11). The New Testament apostles
and others who wrote words of New Testament Scripture were also guided “into all
the truth” by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), who also spoke to the apostles what he heard
from the Father and the Son, and declared to them “the things that are to come” (John
16:3; cf. Eph. 3:5). Others who were filled with the Holy Spirit also spoke or sang words
that became part of Scripture, such as Elizabeth (Luke 1:41), Zechariah (Luke 1:67), and
Simeon (Luke 2:25).
2. He Gives Evidence of God’s Presence. Sometimes it has been said that the work of the
Holy Spirit is not to call attention to himself but rather to give glory to Jesus and to God
the Father. But this seems to be a false dichotomy, not supported by Scripture. Of course
the Holy Spirit does glorify Jesus (John 16:14) and bear witness to him (John 15:26; Acts
5:32; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 John 4:2). But this does not mean that he does not make his
11See Gen. 15:12; Exod. 40:35; 1 Sam. 19:24; 1 Kings 8:11;
Ezek. 1:28; 3:23; Dan. 8:27; John 18:6; Acts 9:4; 10:10; Rev. 1:17;
4:10 (compare angelic encounters in Dan. 8:17 – 18; 10:7 – 17).
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 139 12/1/10 3:22 PM
140
Making Sense of Christ and the Spirit
own actions and words known! The Bible has hundreds of verses talking about the work
of the Holy Spirit, making his work known, and the Bible is itself spoken or inspired by
the Holy Spirit!
Moreover, the Holy Spirit frequently made himself known by phenomena that indicated
his activity, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament periods. This was true
when the Holy Spirit came upon the seventy elders with Moses and they prophesied
(Num. 11:25 – 26), and when the Holy Spirit came upon the judges to enable them to do
great works of power (Judg. 14:6, 19; 15:14, et al.). In these instances people could see
the effect of the Holy Spirit coming on the Lord’s servants. This was also true when the
Holy Spirit came mightily upon Saul and he prophesied with a band of prophets (1 Sam.
10:6, 10), and it was frequently true when he empowered the Old Testament prophets to
give public prophecies.
The Holy Spirit also made his presence evident in a visible way when he descended as a
dove on Jesus (John 1:32), or came as a sound of a rushing wind and with visible tongues
of fire on the disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2:2 – 3). In addition, when people had the Holy
Spirit poured out on them and began to speak in tongues or praise God in a remarkable
and spontaneous way (see Acts 2:4; 10:44 – 46; 19:6), the Holy Spirit certainly made his
presence known as well. And Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit within us would be so
powerful he would be like a river of living water flowing out from our inmost beings (see
John 7:39) — a simile that suggests that people would be aware of a presence that would
somehow be perceptible.
In the lives of individual believers, the Holy Spirit does not entirely conceal his work,
but makes himself known in various ways. He bears witness with our spirit that we are
children of God (Rom. 8:16), and cries, “Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:6). He provides a guarantee
or a down payment of our future fellowship with him in heaven (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5),
and reveals his desires to us so that we can be led by those desires and follow them (Rom.
8:4 – 16; Gal. 5:16 – 25). He gives gifts that manifest his presence (1 Cor. 12:7 – 11). And
from time to time he works miraculous signs and wonders that strongly attest to the
presence of God in the preaching of the gospel (Heb. 2:4; cf. 1 Cor. 2:4; Rom. 15:19).
It seems more accurate, therefore, to say that although the Holy Spirit does glorify
Jesus, he also frequently calls attention to his work and gives recognizable evidences that
make his presence known. Indeed, it seems that one of his primary purposes in the new
covenant age is to manifest the presence of God, to give indications that make the presence
of God known. And when the Holy Spirit works in various ways that can be perceived by
believers and unbelievers, this encourages people’s faith that God is near and that he is
working to fulfill his purposes in the church and to bring blessing to his people.
3. He Guides and Directs God’s People. Scripture gives many examples of direct guidance
from the Holy Spirit to various people. In fact, in the Old Testament, God said that
it was sin for the people to enter into agreements with others when those agreements were
“not of my Spirit” (Isa. 30:1). Apparently the people had been deciding on the basis of
their own wisdom and common sense rather than seeking the guidance of God’s Holy
Spirit before they entered into such agreements. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit
led Jesus into the wilderness for his period of temptation (Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:1); in fact, so
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 140 12/1/10 3:22 PM
141
Chapter 6 • The Work of the Holy Spirit
strong was this leading of the Holy Spirit that Mark can say that “The Spirit immediately
drove him out into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12).12
In other contexts the Holy Spirit gave direct words of guidance to people, saying to
Philip, for example, “Go up and join this chariot” (Acts 8:29), or telling Peter to go
with three men who came to him from Cornelius’ household (Acts 10:19 – 20; 11:12), or
directing the Chris tians at Antioch, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to
which I have called them” (Acts 13:2).
Also in the category of “giving guidance,” but of a much more direct and compelling
kind, are several examples where the Holy Spirit actually transported a person from
one place to another. This was so when “the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip; and the
eunuch saw him no more. . . . But Philip was found at Azotus” (Acts 8:39 – 40) — the
guidance in this case could hardly have been more clear! But similar things happened
to some Old Testament prophets, for those who knew Elijah seemed to expect that the
Spirit of God would snatch him up and transport him somewhere (1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings
2:16: “It may be that the Spirit of the Lord has caught him up and cast him upon some
mountain or into some valley”). The Spirit of the Lord several times, Ezekiel says, “lifted
me up” and brought him to one place or another (Ezek. 11:1; 37:1; 43:5), an experience
that was also part of John’s later visions in Revelation (Rev. 17:3; 21:10).13
But in the vast majority of cases the leading and guiding by the Holy Spirit is not
nearly as dramatic as this. Scripture talks rather about a day-to-day guidance by the Holy
Spirit — being “led” by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18), and walking according to
the Spirit (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:16). Now it is possible to understand Paul here to be referring
only to obedience to the moral commands of Scripture, but this interpretation seems
quite unlikely, especially since the entire context is dealing with emotions and desires
which we perceive in a more subjective way, and because Paul here contrasts being led by
the Spirit with following the desires of the flesh or the sinful nature:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the
desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against
the flesh. . . . Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,
idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger. . . . But the fruit of
the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control. . . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let
us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.
(Gal. 5:16 – 26)
The contrast between “desires of the flesh” and “desires of the Spirit” implies that our
lives should be responding moment by moment to the desires of the Holy Spirit, not to
the desires of the flesh. Now it may be that a large part of responding to those desires is
the intellectual process of understanding what love, joy, peace (and so forth) are, and
12The verb here translated “drove out” is a strong term,
ekballo,m which means “drive out, expel,” and more literally can
mean “throw out.”
13It is possible that Ezekiel and John are speaking of transportation
in a vision (as in Ezek. 8:3 and 11:24) rather than
literal physical travel. Paul allows for both possibilities in 2
Cor. 12:2 – 3.
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 141 12/1/10 3:22 PM
142
Making Sense of Christ and the Spirit
then acting in a loving or a joyful or peaceful way. But this can hardly constitute the
whole of such guidance by the Spirit because these emotions are not simply things we
think about; they are things we also feel and sense at a deeper level. In fact, the word
translated “desires” (Gk. epithymia) is a word that refers to strong human desires, not
simply to intellectual decisions. Paul implies that we are to follow these desires as they
are produced by the Holy Spirit in us. Moreover, the idea of being “led” by the Holy
Spirit (Gal. 5:18) implies an active personal participation by the Holy Spirit in guiding
us. This is something more than our ref lecting on biblical moral standards, and
includes an involvement by the Holy Spirit in relating to us as persons and leading and
directing us.
There are specific examples of the Holy Spirit guiding people directly in the book
of Acts. After the decision of the Jerusalem council, the leaders wrote in their letter to
the churches, “It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater
burden than these necessary things” (Acts 15:28). This verse suggests that the council
must have had a sense of the good pleasure of the Holy Spirit in these areas: they knew
what “seemed good to the Holy Spirit.” On Paul’s second missionary journey, Luke
writes that they were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” and then
that “they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them”
(Acts 16:6 – 7). Of course, no written principle from the Old Testament Scriptures would
have led them to conclude that they could not preach in Asia or Bithynia. The Holy
Spirit must rather have communicated his direct guidance to them in some specific
way, whether through words heard audibly or in the mind, or through strong subjective
impressions of a lack of the Holy Spirit’s presence and blessing as they attempted to
travel to these different areas. Later, when Paul is on his way to Jerusalem, he says, “I am
going to Jerusalem, bound in the Spirit, not knowing what shall befall me there; except
that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await
me” (Acts 20:22 – 23). Paul did not think he had another choice — so clearly did the Holy
Spirit manifest his presence and desires to him, that Paul could speak of having been
“bound” in the Spirit.14
In other cases the Holy Spirit gave guidance to establish people in various ministries
or church offices. So the Holy Spirit said to some in the church at Antioch, “Set apart for
me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). And Paul
could say that the Holy Spirit had established the elders of the Ephesian church in their
office because he said, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy
Spirit has made you overseers” (Acts 20:28). Finally, the Holy Spirit did provide some
guidance through the means of spiritual gifts such as prophecy (1 Cor. 14:29 – 33).15
14The word translated “bound” is a perfect passive participle
of deo,m and signifies an earlier completed event (perhaps
a strong conviction from the Holy Spirit that settled Paul’s
mind on the trip to Jerusalem once for all), but an event
that also has continuing results in the present, so that Paul
remained “bound” when he spoke (the event still influenced
Paul so strongly that he had no other choice but to continue
forward toward Jerusalem).
15However, it is always dangerous to follow spontaneous
prophecies alone for guidance in this church age, since we are
never to think of any prophecies as inerrant or 100 percent
accurate today. Mistakes can especially come in the area of
personal guidance. But all that does not allow us to say that
there can be no guidance that comes through prophecy.
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 142 12/1/10 3:22 PM
143
Chapter 6 • The Work of the Holy Spirit
4. He Provides a Godlike Atmosphere When He Manifests His Presence. Because the
Holy Spirit is fully God, and shares all the attributes of God, his influence will be to
bring a Godlike character or atmosphere to the situations in which he is active. Because
he is the Holy Spirit he will at times bring about a conviction of sin, righ teousness, and
judgment (John 16:8 – 11). Because God is love, the Holy Spirit pours God’s love into
our hearts (Rom. 5:5; 15:30; Col. 1:8) and often the strongly manifested presence of the
Holy Spirit will create an atmosphere of love. Because God is “not a God of confusion
but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33), the Holy Spirit brings an atmosphere of peace into situations:
“The kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righ teousness and peace and joy
in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17; cf. Gal. 5:22). This last verse also teaches that the Holy
Spirit imparts an atmosphere of joy (see also Acts 13:52; 1 Thess. 1:6). Although the
list is not exhaustive, Paul summarized many of these Godlike qualities that the Holy
Spirit produces when he listed the various elements of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians
5:22 – 23.
Other elements of the atmosphere that the Holy Spirit can impart are truth (John
14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 1 John 5:7), wisdom (Deut. 34:9; Isa. 11:2), comfort (Acts 9:31),
freedom (2 Cor. 3:17), righ teousness (Rom. 14:17), hope (Rom. 15:13; cf. Gal. 5:5), an
awareness of sonship or adoption (Rom. 8:15 – 16; Gal. 4:5 – 6), and even glory (2 Cor.
3:8). The Holy Spirit also brings unity (Eph. 4:3), and power (Acts 10:38; 1 Cor. 2:4; 2
Tim. 1:7; cf. Acts 1:8). All of these elements of the Holy Spirit’s activity indicate the various
aspects of an atmosphere in which he makes his own presence — and thereby his own
character — known to the people.
5. He Gives Us Assurance. The Holy Spirit bears witness “with our spirits that we are
children of God” (Rom. 8:16), and gives evidence of the work of God within us: “And
by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us” (1 John 3:24).
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own
Spirit” (1 John 4:13). The Holy Spirit not only witnesses to us that we are God’s children,
but also witnesses that God abides in us and that we are abiding in him. Once again more
than our intellect is involved: the Spirit works to give us assurance at the subjective level
of spiritual and emotional perception as well.
6. He Teaches and Illumines. Another aspect of the Holy Spirit’s revealing work is teaching
certain things to God’s people and illumining them so that they can understand
things. Jesus promised this teaching function especially to his disciples when he said
that the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that
I have said to you” (John 14:26), and said, “he will guide you into all the truth” (John
16:13). Moreover, he promised that when his disciples were put on trial because of persecution,
the Holy Spirit would teach them at that time what to say (Luke 12:12; cf.
Matt. 10:20; Mark 13:11). At other times the Holy Spirit revealed specific information to
people — showing Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Messiah, for example
(Luke 2:26), or revealing to Agabus that a famine would occur (Acts 11:28) or that Paul
would be taken captive in Jerusalem (Acts 21:11). In other cases the Holy Spirit revealed
to Paul that he would suffer in Jerusalem (Acts 20:23; 21:4) and expressly said to Paul
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 143 12/1/10 3:22 PM
144
Making Sense of Christ and the Spirit
things that would happen in the latter days (1 Tim. 4:1), and revealed to him what God
has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor. 2:10).
The illuminating work of the Holy Spirit is seen in the fact that he enables us to
understand: “We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from
God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God” (1 Cor. 2:12). Therefore,
“The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts (literally, things) of the Spirit
of God” but “The spiritual man judges all things” (1 Cor. 2:14 – 15). We should pray
that the Holy Spirit would give us his illumination and thereby help us to understand
rightly when we study Scripture or when we ponder situations in our lives. Although
he did not mention the Holy Spirit specifically, the psalmist prayed for such illumination
when he asked God, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out
of your law” (Ps. 119:18). Similarly, Paul prayed for the Chris tians in and around
Ephesus,
. . . that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a
spirit [or: “the Spirit,” NIV] of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of
him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the
hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance
in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who
believe, according to the working of his great might. (Eph. 1:17 – 19)
D. The Holy Spirit Unifies
When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church at Pentecost, Peter proclaimed
that the prophecy of Joel 2:28 – 32 was fulfilled:
But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
yes, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days
I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:16 – 18)
There is an emphasis on the Holy Spirit coming on a community of believers — not
just a leader like Moses or Joshua, but sons and daughters, old men and young men,
menservants and maidservants — all will receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in
this time.16
In the event of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit created a new community which was the
church. The community was marked by unprecedented unity, as Luke reminds us:
16This was also a fulfillment of Moses’ wish that the Lord
would put his Spirit on all his people (Num. 11:29), and of the
vision of the valley of dry bones revived by the Spirit in Ezek.
37. See also Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology (Leicester:
Inter-Varsity Press, 1981), pp. 512 – 13, 540, 562.
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 144 12/1/10 3:22 PM
145
Chapter 6 • The Work of the Holy Spirit
And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold
their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And
day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes,
they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having
favor with all the people. (Acts 2:44 – 47)
Paul blesses the Corinthian church with a blessing that seeks the unifying fellowship
of the Holy Spirit for all of them when he says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and
the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit17 be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14). It is
significant that in this trinitarian verse he especially attributes the deepening of fellow –
ship among believers not to the Father or the Son but to the Holy Spirit, a statement
consistent with the overall unifying work of the Spirit in the church.
This unifying function of the Holy Spirit is also evident when Paul tells the Philippians,
“If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation
of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit . . . make my joy complete by being of the
same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Phil.
2:1 – 2 NASB).18 In a similar way, when he emphasizes the new unity between Jews and
Gentiles in the church, he says that “through him we both have access in one Spirit to
the Father” (Eph. 2:18), and says that in the Lord they are built into the one new house
of God “in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). When he wants to remind them of the unity they
should have as Chris tians he exhorts them to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
Paul’s discussion of spiritual gifts also repeats this theme of the unifying work of the
Holy Spirit. Whereas we might think that people who have differing gifts would not readily
get along well with each other, Paul’s conclusion is just the opposite: differing gifts
draw us together, because we are forced to depend on each other. “The eye cannot say to
the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’ ”
(1 Cor. 12:21). These differing gifts, Paul tells us, are empowered by “one and the same
Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Cor. 12:11), so that in the
church, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor.
12:7). In fact, “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves
or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13, author’s translation).
The idea that the Holy Spirit unifies the church is also evident in the fact that “strife
. . . disputes, dissensions, factions” (Gal. 5:20 NASB) are desires of the flesh that are
opposed to being “led by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:18; cf. v. 25). The Holy Spirit is the one who
produces love in our hearts (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22; Col. 1:8), and this love “binds everything
together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14). Therefore when the Holy Spirit is working
strongly in a church to manifest God’s presence, one evidence will be a beautiful harmony
in the church community and overflowing love for one another.
17The word koinonm ia, “fellowship,” could also mean
“participation in the Holy Spirit,” but it would make little
sense for Paul to wish for them something they already had
as believers (participation in the Holy Spirit). It is better
to translate the verse, “fellowship of the Holy Spirit,” thus
emphasizing a blessing from the Holy Spirit that Paul hoped
would increase in the Corinthian church.
18The Greek word koinonm ia is also best translated “fellowship”
here because Paul’s purpose in Phil. 2:1 – 11 is to
encourage unity in the Philippian church. (See the preceding
footnote also.)
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 145 12/1/10 3:22 PM
146
Making Sense of Christ and the Spirit
E. The Holy Spirit Gives Stronger or Weaker Evidence of the Presence and
Blessing of God According to Our Response to Him
Many examples in both the Old and New Testament indicate that the Holy Spirit
will bestow or withdraw blessing according to whether or not he is pleased by the situation
he sees. It is noteworthy that Jesus was completely without sin and the Holy
Spirit “remained on him” (John 1:32) and was given to him without measure (John
3:34). In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came mightily upon Samson several times
(Judg. 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14), but ultimately left him when he persisted in sin (Judg.
16:20). Similarly, when Saul persisted in disobedience the Holy Spirit departed from
him (1 Sam. 16:14). And when the people of Israel rebelled and grieved the Holy Spirit
he turned against them (Isa. 63:10).
Also in the New Testament the Holy Spirit can be grieved and cease to bring blessing
in a situation. Stephen rebuked the Jewish leaders, saying, “You always resist the Holy
Spirit” (Acts 7:51). Paul warns the Ephesian Chris tians, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit
of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30), and exhorts
the Thessalonian church, “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19; cf. the metaphor of
delaying to open the door and thereby disappointing one’s lover in Song of Sol. 5:3, 6).
In a similar vein, Paul gives a serious warning to Chris tians not to defile their bodies by
joining them to a prostitute because the Holy Spirit lives within their bodies: “Do you
not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from
God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body”
(1 Cor. 6:19 – 20).
Even more serious than grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit is a deeper, more hardened
disobedience to him that brings strong judgment. When Peter rebuked Ananias,
“Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the
proceeds of the land?” (Acts 5:3), he fell down dead. Similarly, when Peter said to Ananias’s
wife Sapphira, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the
Lord?” (Acts 5:9), she immediately fell down dead as well. The book of Hebrews warns
those who are in danger of falling away that severe punishment is deserved by the man
“who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he
was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29). For such a person there only
remains “a fearful prospect of judgment” (Heb. 10:27).19
Finally, there remains one more level of offense against the Holy Spirit. This kind of
offense is even more serious than grieving him or acting with the hardened disobedience
to him that brings discipline or judgment. It is possible so to offend the Holy Spirit that
his convicting work will not be brought to bear again in a person’s life.
Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit
will not be forgiven. And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be
forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either
in this age or in the age to come. (Matt. 12:31 – 32; cf. Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10)
19This passage could also be put in the next category, discussed
in the following paragraph.
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 146 12/1/10 3:22 PM
147
Chapter 6 • The Work of the Holy Spirit
These statements are made in a context in which the Pharisees willfully and maliciously
attribute to Satan the powerful work of the Holy Spirit that was evident in the ministry
of Jesus. Since the Holy Spirit so clearly manifested the presence of God, those who willfully
and maliciously spoke against him and attributed his activity instead to the power
of Satan were guilty, Jesus said, “of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:29).
All of these passages indicate that we must be very careful not to grieve or offend the
Holy Spirit. He will not force himself on us against our wills (see 1 Cor. 14:32), but if we
resist and quench and oppose him, then his empowering will depart and he will remove
much of the blessing of God from our lives.
On the other hand, in the life of Chris tians whose conduct is pleasing to God, the Holy
Spirit will be present to bring great blessing. The Holy Spirit was “poured out” in fullness at
Pentecost (see Acts 2:17 – 18) and he now dwells within all true believers, making them temples
of the living God (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19 – 20). We can know close fellowship and partnership
with the Holy Spirit in our lives (2 Cor. 3:14; Phil. 2:1). He entrusts gifts (1 Cor. 12:11) and
truth (2 Tim. 1:14) and ministries (Acts 20:28) to us. In fact, so full and abundant will be
his presence that Jesus could promise that he will flow out of our inmost being like “rivers of
living water” (John 7:38 – 39). Peter promises that his presence especially rests on those who
suffer for the sake of Christ: “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed,
because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14).
Therefore it is important that all our ministry be done in the Holy Spirit, that is, that
we consciously dwell in the Godlike atmosphere created by the Holy Spirit — the atmosphere
of power, love, joy, truth, holiness, righ teousness, and peace. But greater than
these characteristics of the atmosphere created by the Holy Spirit is the sense of the presence
of the Holy Spirit himself — to be in the Holy Spirit is really to be in an atmosphere
of God’s manifested presence. This is why people in the New Testament can walk in the
comfort of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31), and why it is possible just to be “in the Spirit” as
John was on the Lord’s day (Rev. 1:10; cf. 4:2).
It is surprising how many particular activities are said in the New Testament to be
done “in” the Holy Spirit: it is possible to rejoice in the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21), to resolve
or decide something in the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:21), to have one’s conscience bear witness
in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 9:1), to have access to God in the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18), to pray
in the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20), and to love in the Holy Spirit (Col. 1:8). In the
light of these texts, we might ask ourselves, for how many of these activities during each
day are we consciously aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence and blessing?
It is also possible to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18; cf. Luke 1:15, 41, 67; 4:1;
Acts 2:4; 4:8; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9). To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled
with the immediate presence of God himself, and it therefore will result in feeling what
God feels, desiring what God desires, doing what God wants, speaking by God’s power,
praying and ministering in God’s strength, and knowing with the knowledge which God
himself gives. In times when the church experiences revival the Holy Spirit produces
these results in people’s lives in especially powerful ways.
Therefore in our Chris tian lives it is important that we depend on the Holy Spirit’s
power, recognizing that any significant work is done “Not by might, nor by power, but by
my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). Paul is emphatic in telling the Galatians
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 147 12/1/10 3:22 PM
148
Making Sense of Christ and the Spirit
that the Holy Spirit was received by faith in the beginning of their Chris tian life (Gal. 3:2)
and would continue to work according to their faith in their lives subsequent to conversion:
“Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? . . . Does he who
supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by
hearing with faith?” (Gal. 3:3, 5).
Therefore we are to walk according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:12 – 16;
Gal. 5:16 – 26) and set our minds on the things of the Spirit (Rom. 8:4 – 6). All our
ministry, whatever form it may take, is to be done in the power of the Holy Spirit.
QUESTIONS FOR PERSONAL APPLICATION
1. In the past, has it been hard for you to think of the Holy Spirit as a person rather
than simply as a presence or force? What items (if any) in this chapter have
helped you think more readily of the Holy Spirit as a person? Do you think that
you have a consciousness of relating to the Holy Spirit as a person who is distinct
from God the Father and God the Son? What might help you be more aware of
this distinction among the members of the Trinity as they relate to you?
2. Do you perceive any difference in the way the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit relate to
you in your Chris tian life? If so, can you explain what that difference is or how you
are aware of it?
3. Have you ever been especially aware of the Holy Spirit’s empowering in a specific
situation of ministry? (This could have been while doing evangelism or counseling,
Bible teaching or preaching, prayer or worship, or in some other ministry situation.)
How did you perceive the presence of the Holy Spirit at that time, or what
made you aware of his presence?
4. In your own experience, in what ways does the guidance of the Holy Spirit come
to you? Is it primarily (or exclusively) through the words of Scripture? If so, are
there times when certain Scripture passages seem to come alive or speak with great
relevance and forcefulness to you at the moment? How do you know when this is
happening? If the Holy Spirit’s guidance has come to you in other ways in addition
to speaking through the words of Scripture, what have those other ways been?
5. Do you have a sense from time to time of the pleasure or displeasure of the Holy
Spirit at some course of action that you are taking? Is there anything in your life
right now that is grieving the Holy Spirit? What do you plan to do about it?
6. Did the Holy Spirit immediately leave Samson when he began to sin (see
Judg. 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14)? Why or why not? Is the presence of spiritual power
in someone’s ministry a guarantee that the Holy Spirit is pleased with all of that
person’s life?
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 148 12/1/10 3:22 PM
149
Chapter 6 • The Work of the Holy Spirit
SPECIAL TERMS
blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in the Holy Spirit
filled with the Holy Spirit manifestation of God’s active
Holy Spirit presence
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bruner, Frederick Dale. A Theology of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970.
Carson, D. A. Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Co rin thi ans 12 – 14. Grand
Rapids: Baker, 1987.
Carter, Charles. The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974.
Caulley, T. S. “Holy Spirit.” In EDT, pp. 521 – 27.
Gaffin, Richard B., Jr. “The Holy Spirit.” WTJ 43:1 (Fall 1980), pp. 58 – 78.
Green, Michael. I Believe in the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975.
Hawthorne, Gerald. The Presence and the Power: The Significance of the Holy Spirit in the
Life and Ministry of Jesus. Dallas: Word, 1991.
Hoekema, Anthony A. “The Role of the Holy Spirit.” In Saved By Grace. Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, and Exeter: Paternoster, 1989, pp. 28 – 53.
Horton, S. M. What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit. Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing
House, 1976.
Ladd, George E. The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism. Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974.
Moule, C. F. D. The Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978.
Pache, Rene. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. Chicago: Moody, 1954.
Packer, J. I. “Holy Spirit.” In NDT, pp. 316 – 19.
_____. Keep in Step with the Spirit. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1984.
Palmer, Edwin H. The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958.
Ryrie, C. C. The Holy Spirit. Chicago: Moody, 1965.
Smeaton, G. The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. 2d ed. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1889.
Sproul, R. C. The Mystery of the Holy Spirit. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale, 1990.
Stott, John R. W. Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today. Downers Grove,
Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1964.
Swete, Henry B. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament. 2d ed. London: Macmillan, 1910.
White, John. When the Spirit Comes with Power. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press,
1988.
Wood, Leon J. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976.
SCRIPTURE MEMORY PASSAGE
Romans 8:12 – 14: So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the
flesh — for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death
the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 149 12/1/10 3:22 PM
150
Making Sense of Christ and the Spirit
HYMN
“Come, O Creator Spirit”
This is one of the oldest hymns in any hymnal, written by an anonymous author in
the tenth century or earlier. It directly addresses the Holy Spirit and asks him to come
and bring blessing in our hearts, filling us with joy and love and praise, and giving us
protection from the enemy and peace in our lives.
Come, O Creator Spirit blest,
And in our hearts take up thy rest;
Spirit of grace, with heav’nly aid
Come to the souls whom thou hast made.
Thou art the Comforter, we cry,
Sent to the earth from God Most High,
Fountain of life and fire of love,
And our anointing from above.
Bringing from heav’n our sev’n-fold dow’r,
Sign of our God’s right hand of pow’r,
O blessed Spirit, promised long,
Thy coming wakes the heart to song.
Make our dull minds with rapture glow,
Let human hearts with love o’erflow;
And, when our feeble flesh would fail,
May thine immortal strength prevail.
Far from our souls the foe repel,
Grant us in peace henceforth to dwell;
Ill shall not come, nor harm betide,
If only thou wilt be our guide.
Show us the Father, Holy One,
Help us to know th’ eternal Son;
Spirit divine, for evermore
Thee will we trust and thee adore.
ANON., TENTH CENTURY
Alternative Hymn:
“Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart”
Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as thou art,
And make me love thee as I ought to love.
0310493145_MSense_ChristSpirit_int_CS4.indd 150 12/1/10 3:22 PM
151
Chapter 6 • The Work of the Holy Spirit
Hast thou not bid us love thee, God and King?
All, all thine own, soul, heart, and strength and mind.
I see thy cross – there teach my heart to cling:
O let me seek thee, and O let me find.
Teach me to feel that thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh;
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.
Teach me to love thee as thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The baptism of the heav’n descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and thy love the flame.
AUTHOR: GEORGE CROLY, 1854