The Holy Spirit is at work now in the life of the believer. What is His character and work?


by Chester K. Lehman

The Bible unfolds the doctrine of the Holy Spirit; first, by way of depicting His mighty works; and second, by giving teachings concerning His nature and activities.

The Spirit of God in the Old Testament

The Old Testament has many references to the Spirit's work in men of God. "The Spirit of God came upon" such men as Gideon and Samson. He "came mightily upon" Saul and David at their respective anointings as king. Oil anointing became the symbol of Spirit anointing. Bezaleel and Micah were filled with the Spirit. The Spirit "entered into," and "fell upon," Ezekiel. He instructed, warned, spoke, gave rest, and could be grieved. Concerning exiled Israel God predicted, "I will put my spirit within you." He also assured them, "My spirit remaineth among you." How marvelously identical are all these manners of activities with His acts after Pentecost!

The Promise of the Spirit

The author of Psalm 2 evidently saw in Nathan's promise of a son to David the prediction of a far greater Son who in the fullest sense would be God's Anointed. Of this One, Isaiah predicted, "The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him." The Servant of the Lord Himself said, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me."

In the days of the Messiah, God declared, "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh" Joel 2:28; cf. Isa. 32:15; 44:3; Ezek. 37:14; 39:29). "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you and cause you to walk in my statutes" (Ezek. 36:26, 27).

The Holy Spirit in Christ

The quickening power of the Holy Spirit effected the conception of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The descent of the Spirit upon Jesus was the Baptist's sign for knowing that Jesus was the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. This descent of the Spirit John witnessed at Jesus' baptism. God gave the Spirit to Christ in unlimited measure, for immediately Jesus was "full of the Holy Spirit," and was "led by the Spirit." In the temptation Jesus withstood Satan through the power of the Spirit and so "returned in the power of the Spirit."

By reading "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me" Jesus claimed to be the Servant of the Lord. Jesus' healing ministry fulfilled another Servant of the Lord prediction in which God had said, "I will put my spirit upon him." Charged with casting out demons by Beelzebub, Jesus remonstrated that this work was done by the Spirit of God. His accusers were blaspheming the Holy Spirit--a sin which will never be forgiven.

The language, "Christ . . . through the eternal Spirit offered himself," may mean that the Holy Spirit empowered Christ to give Himself as a sacrifice. Finally by the resurrection Jesus was "designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness." All this proves that Jesus did all things through the power of the Spirit.

Jesus' Teaching on the Holy Spirit

The familiar scenes and discourses found in John's Gospel are the chief source of Jesus' teaching on the Holy Spirit. Unless one is born anew, born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. The Spirit is the life-giver to those who believe on the Son of man. In answer to Jesus' prayer the Father will send another parakietos (Comforter, Counselor, Advocate, Helper). This one is the Spirit of truth. He is a companion dwelling by our side and within us. He will convince the world of sin and will guide the believer into all truth.

Jesus spoke finally of baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote in similar trinitarian language in his benediction in II Cor. 13:14.

The Outpouring of the Spirit

On the day of Pentecost, God poured out His Spirit upon all the assembled believers. God vouchsafed this miracle by the accompanying gift of speaking in other tongues. These miraculous credentials were also present at the outpouring of the Spirit upon the Samaritans and the Gentiles. Peter interpreted the Pentecost event as the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. The "last days" of the prophets had come!

Apostolic Teaching on the Spirit

In Galatians and Romans, Paul related the work of the Spirit to personal Christian experience. The Holy Spirit poured God's love into our hearts. We now serve God in the new life of the Spirit. The new law of the Spirit has to do with life found alone in Christ, In view of the antagonism between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit we should walk by the Spirit. By this walk the fruit of the Spirit becomes manifest.

This walk requires the setting of the mind on the things of the Spirit. It involves the indwelling of the Spirit. He who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. It is by the Spirit that we put to death the deeds of the body. All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Because we are soils, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba, Father." We who have the first fruits of the Spirit are waiting for adoption as sons. The Spirit also helps us in prayer.

In other epistles Paul dealt more with the workings of the Spirit in the church. His own ministry was a demonstration of the Spirit and power. He imparted a secret and hidden wisdom of God by a revelation through the Spirit. The saints are God's temple and God's Spirit dwells in them. Even the body is a temple for the Spirit's indwelling. Only by the Spirit is one able to say, "Jesus is Lord."

The Spirit bestows a great variety of spiritual gifts which are apportioned to each one individually as He wills. Saints are a letter from Christ written with the Spirit of the living God. God qualified Paul to be a minister of the new covenant in the Spirit.

To the apostles and prophets the Spirit revealed the mysteries concerning the church. Believers should be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. In the believers' spiritual welfare God strengthens them with might through His Spirit in the inner man. Their great offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

Saints are warned not to quench the Spirit. God chose them from the beginning to be saved through the sanctification by the Spirit. It is a salvation by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Spirit. If those who have once been enlightened and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit commit apostasy, it is impossible to restore them again to repentance.

The Holy Spirit was the empowering agent in the use of the Scriptures. Note Peter's descriptive language introducing a quotation: "The Lord by the mouth of David spoke by the Holy Spirit." In definitive language Peter wrote, "No prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."
Harrisonburg, Va.

From the Gospel Herald, Scottdale, Penna., Nov. 26, 1963, p 1053, 54

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June 22, 2000