The Spirit filled Life

Our aim for this page is to consider the Spirit filled life of the Christian. However we will firstly consider the wider Bible teaching concerning the Holy Spirit and then the Holy Spirit within the life of the Christian.

The subject will be divided according to the following headings:

  1. The Spirit of God Himself
  2. The Spirit in Creation
  3. The Spirit prior to Pentecost
  4. The Teaching of Christ concerning the Spirit
  5. The Spirit after Pentecost
  6. The Spirit in the life of the Christian

The Holy Spirit and the Spirit filled Christian

The subject falls into the following sections:

  1. The Spirit of God Himself: Index of Headings
  2. The Spirit in Creation
  3. The Spirit prior to Pentecost
  4. The Teaching of Christ concerning the Spirit
  5. The Spirit after Pentecost
  6. The Spirit in the Christian

In-Page Navigation

Please click on the following links to go to each main section.


1. THE SPIRIT OF GOD HIMSELF

1.1 The Personality of the Spirit

It has been taught that the Spirit of God is a name for the influence or energy or power of God. This idea still has some influence in the church even today but Scripture and in particular the words of Jesus clearly teach that the Spirit of God - or God the Holy Spirit - is a Divine Personality. Clear examples are found in John 15:26 "he will testify about me"; John 16:8 "When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgement" and John 16:13 "However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming."

Just from these verses we can see that Jesus speaks of the Spirit as a Person with influence, not an impersonal power. We also see that the Spirit is in perfect harmony and co-operation with Jesus.

That the Spirit is Divine is clearly evident in the creation account Genesis 1:2 "God's Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters."; and in the work of regeneration, in Jesus' words to Nicodemus John 3:6 "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

The Scriptures therefore teach that the Spirit is a Divine Being having all the Divine attributes and who carries out Divine actions. Denying this truth reults in breakdown of the whole structure of Christianity.


When the Counsellor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me.
John 15:26

When he has come, he world about sin, about and about judgement.
John 16:8

However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming.
John 16:13

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty. Darkness was on the surface of the deep and God's Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Genesis 1:1,2

That which That which is born of the is born of the flesh is flesh. Spirit is spirit.
John 3:6

1.2 The Relation of the Spirit to the Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity is evident in Scripture but without clear explanation. There is one living and infinite God but three distinct, inseparable Divine Beings equally sharing the Divine life: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. All are uncreated, infinite, all powerful, all knowing, all present personalities. All partake of the Divine Being of God.

Whilst Scripture is silent on the explanation of the Trinity (no doubt for good reason because it would too difficult for man to comprehend - though it may be instructive to consider man, created in God's image, in similar fashion: as having mind, body and spirit) there are many Scriptures which reveal distinctions and relationships in the operation and work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Divine works of creation and regeneration; Jesus' teaching particularly in John chapters 14-16; the teachings of the New Testament and the names or titles given to Jesus and the Holy Spirit all help to reveal these distinctions and relationships but also a harmony and unity in perfect co-operation.

From Scripture we can see a pattern (being aware of its inadequacies and incompleteness) of the Father as Divine Author, the Son as the Divine Executive and the Spirit as the Divine Enabler. So, for example in salvation we might describe the Father as the loving Mastermind of the plan, His Son as the sent Saviour to implement the plan and the Spirit as the Agent to make it happen. There is always perfect harmony, equality and co-operation, but as can be seen distinction in responsibility and relationship.

When we compare some of the titles given to Jesus (word, light of the world, bread of life, good shepherd, the sheep gate, the way the truth and the life etc.) with some of the words used to describe the Spirit (wind, oil, breath, water, fire, dove) we get the similar idea of the Son as the visible God reaching out to man in love and life, with the Spirit as the God unseen, working almost in the background but bringing things to happen, making things work to achieve success.

This picture, though imperfect, can greatly assist in appreciating the full meaning of the verses below. We see that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equally Divine and perfectly united in purpose but there is an underlying order in the revelation and working of the three Persons of the Trinity. The Son is spoken of as being sent by the Father and the Son speaks of sending the Spirit from the Father. This is evident from John 3:17 "For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him" and John 15:26 "When the Counsellor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me."

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, God's love, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
2 Corinthians 13:14

But to us, God revealed them through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For who amongst men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God, except God's Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:10,11

Jesus, when he was baptised, went up directly from the water: and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming on him.
Matthew 3:16

John testified, saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending like a dove out of heaven, and it remained on him."
John 1:32


2. THE SPIRIT OF GOD IN CREATION

2.2 The Spirit in Creation

There is perhaps a tendency to concentrate attention on the work of the Holy Spirit in relation to spiritual regeneration, to the neglect of consideration of his work in original generation, i.e. creation. Yet the Bible has much to say about the work of the Spirit in creation, such that we can be in no doubt that creation was the work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in perfect harmony and co-operation.

Taking Genesis 1:1-3, Psalms 33:6 and Job 26:13 we find that creation was through the will of the Father, uttered by the Word of the Son and accomplished by the Breath of the Spirit. We are not given the detail but creation appears to have included a process of transformation from disorder to order accomplished through the enabling (hovering, brooding) of the Spirit. Somehow we learn that the action of the Spirit is to bring order, to establish calm after the storm, to bring beauty from chaos. The similarity with the work of the Spirit in regeneration is clear.

Isaiah 40:7 and Psalms 104:29,30 tell us that the work of the Spirit is not confined to original creation but also to ongoing natural processes. These verses are staggering declarations suggesting that natural processes may not be that natural at all. In Ezekiel 1:20 the writer beholds the Divine activity and operation of the cosmos as a dynamic machine concluding that every movement of nature perhaps to an astonishing extent is through the influence, action and power of the Holy Spirit.

We also see in Romans 8:22,23,26 that the Spirit joins nature and the church in yearning for restoration of creation, suggesting that the Spirit is greatly grieved by its current fallen state. No doubt the Spirit who has been active in creation, and is now passionately involved in the preservation and administration of the creation, will be fully engaged it its final restoration.

From these scripture we deduce that the Holy Spirit is the enabler of order in the creation. The order and beauty in creation is the work of the Spirit. The Spirit brooded over the cosmic beginnings and has been brooding over creation ever since, every form of beauty and renewal is a manifestation of his work and a expression of his Divine being. It is to be expected that man's new spiritual life is also his unique work.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty. Darkness was on the surface of the deep and God's Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Genesis 1:1,2

By the LORD's word, the heavens were made: all their army by the breath of his mouth.
Psalms 33:6

By his Spirit the heavens are garnished. His hand has pierced the swift serpent.
Job 26:13

The grass withers, the flower fades, because the LORD's breath blows on it. Surely the people are like grass.
Isaiah 40:7

You hide your face; they are troubled. You take away their breath; they die and return to the dust. You send out your Spirit and they are created. You renew the face of the ground.
Psalms 104:29,30

For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body. In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don't know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can't be uttered.
Romans 8:22,23,26

2.2 The Spirit in Relation to Unfallen Man

In consideration of the Spirit's relation to unfallen man, we begin with Adam, and with the limited information that we have before the fall, we may say that:

Since man was created in perfection to be a spiritual being, we must conclude that life for unfallen man should have been completely empowered by and under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

There is perhaps sometimes a failure to fully appreciate what man was before the fall. Psalm 8 tells us that he was created (i) "but a little lower than God"; (ii) "crowned with glory and honour" and (iii) "in charge of the whole of creation." This is suggestive that unfallen man had great potential for worship, dignity, communion with God and achievement in the creation. Of course this is not our present experience but this Psalm is speaking of what man should be.

Is there anything more that can be said? Well, in a way, we can speak of Christ, although God, also as "unfallen man" and see in him some of the things Adam should have been. This may seem unusual but is appropriate since Hebrews 2:7-9 tells us that in Christ the position and potential of man ("but a little lower than God" and "crowned with glory and honour") were fulfilled but not as yet the activity (all things subjected). This is a clear reference to Psalm 8. Therefore we can perhaps glean some further insight into the relation of the Spirit with unfallen man through a brief consideration of the Spirit in relation to Jesus.

About Christ we may say:

These verses suggest the Divine ideal for man was the essential presence of the Spirit in every stage of life from childhood, through development to manhood.

God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. God created man in his own image. In God's image he created him; male and female he created them."
Genesis 1:26,27

The LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Genesis 2:7

The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but you shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die."
Genesis 2:16,17


3. THE SPIRIT PRIOR TO PENTECOST

3.1 The Spirit from the Fall to the Messiah

The present age is pre-eminently the dispensation of the Holy Spirit and distinct from the period from the fall to Christ. However the Spirit was by no means absent in Old Testament times, but his ministry was intermittent.

Until the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, the Spirit is not spoken of as creating a Church by his own abiding indwelling. Neither is he spoken of as the one direct and only administrator of the affairs of such a body. He is not spoken of as a sanctifier. All the other aspects of the Spirit’s work are found, not continually and in an abiding sense, but as special occasions demanded.

In the Old Testament, the Spirit came upon, or came mightily upon, and filled men individually for specific work according to Divine prerogative, and for various reasons for example, leadership, battle and teaching. After the ascension, the Spirit’s filling is for every for one of God’s people and the filling is in the Lord’s service as Head of the church, for sanctification, edification, cleansing and holiness. There is no record in the Old Testament of anyone asking God for the Holy Spirit.

The Old Testament describes the coming of the Spirit on individuals in one of four ways. The literal meaning of these is (i) the Spirit clothed himself with the man; (ii) the Spirit compelled the man; (iii) the Spirit dwelt in the man; and (iv) the Spirit filled the man. Examples of these are (i) of Zechariah as an instrument through which the Spirit accomplished his work; (ii) of Samson as the Spirit compelled him to slay a lion; (iii) of Joseph as he needed wisdom and discretion to be the successor to Moses and lastly, (iv) the only time where it is said that the Spirit filled man was in the case of the craftsmen for their constructing of the tabernacle.

All these illustrations go to show that the Holy Spirit was always interested in and working among men, and that he did not “abide with” them as the New Testament describes. Sometimes he was providing organizational skills, sometimes military might, sometimes spiritual insight, teaching and prophecy and sometimes enabling heroic deeds.

There is another sense in which we read of the activity of the Spirit and it occurs in Genesis before the time of the flood where we read that God says "my Spirit shall not strive with man forever”. From this we can deduce that before the flood, the Spirit was actively striving for people to turn to God but that in man’s depravity only eight persons had listened and so the flood was a necessary “change in this approach", due to sin.

So in the Old Testament the Spirit of God was the Spirit of conviction while sin worked itself out from Fall to Flood; he was the Spirit of detailed service while the people were being organized into a nation; he was the Spirit of strength while the people were fighting for the land and he was the Spirit of instruction, restoration and hope when the people had fallen into idolatry.

Pharaoh said to his servants, "Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?"
Genesis 41:38

I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all kinds of workmanship, to devise skilful works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in bronze, and in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all kinds of workmanship.
Exodus 31:3,4,5

The LORD said to Moses, "Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him."
Numbers 27:18

The LORD's Spirit came mightily on him, and he tore him as he would have torn a young goat with his bare hands, but he didn't tell his father or his mother what he had done.
Judges 14:6

When they came there to the hill, behold, a band of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came mightily on him, and he prophesied amongst them.
1 Samuel 10:10

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the middle of his brothers. Then the LORD's Spirit came mightily on David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
1 Samuel 16:13

Then the Spirit came on Amasai, who was chief of the thirty, and he said, "We are yours, David, and on your side, you son of Jesse. Peace, peace be to you, and peace be to your helpers; for your God helps you." Then David received them, and made them captains of the band.
1 Chronicles 12:18

The Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people, and said to them, "God says, 'Why do you disobey the LORD's commandments, so that you can't prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has also forsaken you.' "
2 Chronicles 24:20

3.2 The Spirit during the Mission of the Messiah

The prophets had spoken of a coming one but now, even they, had been silent for nearly four hundred years. Nevertheless a remnant remained loyal to these promises. At last the silence was broken by John. Concerning John, the angel Gabriel announced to his father Zacharius that John "will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb." Then John, to his disciples announced that one was coming who would "baptize you with the Holy Spirit". So Jesus came after John and he himself claimed the sacred anointing of the Holy Spirit to carry out his mission when he declared in the synagogue "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me … to preach good news".

The whole of Jesus early life was accomplished under the guidance and in the power of the Spirit: Luke 2:40 tells us that the child was "becoming strong in spirit, being filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him". Then we read that the Holy Spirit "descended upon him" at his baptism; then he is "full of the Spirit"; then he is "led by the Spirit" into the wilderness to be tempted; then he returns from the wilderness in the "power of the Spirit". There is a clearly marked sequence here.

What does Jesus teach about the Holy Spirit? A well known verse is Luke 11:13 "…how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him". This is a verse which Christians often use to ask for the Holy Spirit. It seems more likely that this was a word to the disciples transitional up to the time of Pentecost. They could have asked for the Holy Spirit then, but it appears they were so shocked by this statement that they never did ask. The Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost and Christians do not need to ask again for the Spirit: he is available; we need to be welcoming and yielding! This is alluded to in the unusual verse Luke 12:49 where Jesus says "I came to throw fire on the earth. I wish it were already kindled". He is saying that part of his mission is to bring down the Spirit on the earth and he wishes it was already starting to happen. Jesus confirms the completion of his mission in Acts 1:5 where he says "ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence". It is recorded that this baptism was accompanied by "tongues of fire". Fire was the symbol of the Spirit, purifying and energizing, and adds further to our understanding of Luke 12:49. Filled with the Spirit, led by the Spirit, Jesus looked upon men with tender love wanting them to give them this blessing, yet unable to "throw this fire on men" until his atoning work was complete.

Other teaching of Christ concerning the Spirit is found in the Gospel of John and the teaching to his general hearers is suggestive and to his disciples more direct. To the woman of Samaria Jesus says "the water that I shall give shall become a well of water springing up into eternal life". It is to be expected that the woman did not clearly understand this saying. Again Jesus says "If any man thirst let him come to me and drink" and "he that believeth me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water". In these sayings, Jesus hints that faith in him will lead to a new depth of life, where man's spiritual and life needs are not only satisfied but overflowing even to be a blessing to others. The direct teaching of Jesus concerning the Spirit cannot be summarized so easily and therefore they are considered in the next sections.

Our final point in this section is the occasion in the upper room after the resurrection, John 20:21-23, where Jesus "breathed on his disciples and said to them ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’". We understand this to be consistent with the previous comments by noting that subsequent facts show that this was a prophetic breathing. He also told them in Luke 24:49 to "wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high." His breathing was a suggestive symbolic act indicating the power of the Spirit that they would receive later to enable them to continue the work of Christ.

A shoot will come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots will bear fruit. The LORD's Spirit will rest on him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
Isaiah 11:1,2

Come near to me and hear this: "From the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it happened, I was there." Now the Lord GOD has sent me with his Spirit.
Isaiah 48:16

The Lord GOD's Spirit is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the humble. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to those who are bound.
Isaiah 61:1

John answered them all, "I indeed baptise you with water, but he comes who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptise you in the Holy Spirit and fire."
Luke 3:16

Now when all the people were baptised, Jesus also had been baptised, and was praying. The sky was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on him; and a voice came out of the sky, saying "You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased."
Luke 3:21,22

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
Luke 4:1

Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and news about him spread through all the surrounding area.
Luke 4:14

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
Luke 4:18,19

Jesus answered her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."
John 4:13,14

"He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water."
John 7:38

I came to throw fire on the earth. I wish it were already kindled.
Luke 12:49

Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit!"
John 20:21,22


4. THE TEACHING OF CHRIST CONCERNING THE SPIRIT

4.1 The Coming of the Spirit

With the shadow of Christ's departure looming, Jesus tells his disciples that they were not to be left "comfortless", or more literally "as orphans". Jesus gives his disciples a system of teaching on the coming, character, mission and results of the Spirit.

The teaching of Christ concerning the coming of the Spirit is given in the following statements:

Firstly, Jesus teaches that "I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, that he may be with you forever". (John 14:16). The word translated as "pray" does not imply the same as our requests to God through prayer. The thought is better understood as "speak". So the Spirit is the gift of the Father, brought about through the Son. Also, this Divine discussion was to take place after the ascension, in other words the Spirit could not be given until Christ's Passion was complete. The Spirit could only be given upon the basis of perfect fellowship based on a perfect work in response to the presence with God of the one who had accomplished the work.

Secondly, Jesus says "I have said these things to you while still living with you. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you". (John 14:25,26). This reveals that the Spirit is to be the messenger of the Father in the name of the Son because the Son is "gone away". Previously Jesus had said he was come in his Father's name and now he is saying that of the Spirit. Thus establishing continuity.

Thirdly, Jesus says "When the Counsellor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me." (John 15:26). This verse says that the Spirit is also sent by the Son. This is not contradictory but gives insight into unity and indicates the work of Christ is continued and vindicated by the Spirit.

Fourthly, Jesus says "Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I don't go away, the Counsellor won't come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7). Thus the Spirit will only be given after the Son "has gone away".

I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, that he may be with you forever: the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him and doesn't know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also.
John 14:16-19

But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.
John 14:26

"When the Counsellor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me. You will also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
John 15:26,27

Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I don't go away, the Counsellor won't come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgement.
John 16:7,8

4.2 The Character of the Spirit

The teaching of Christ concerning the character of the Spirit is given in the following statements:

Firstly, Jesus says "I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, that he may be with you forever". (John 14:16). The word counselor may also be translated as comforter or advocate and also as paraclete. It includes the idea of representative and advocate, and perhaps could be explained as one who comes with support and friendship to another to annul the condition of orphanage or desolateness. As Jesus speaks to God on behalf of man, the Spirit speaks to man on behalf of God, to bring man into the Lordship of Christ in every area of his being.

Secondly, Jesus says "the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him and doesn't know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you". (John 14:17). Jesus gives the Spirit the title Spirit of truth. This affirms the unity of the Son and Spirit since Jesus said of himself "I am the truth". In other words their work and message and character is the same.

Thirdly, Jesus says "But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you." (John 14:26). The Spirit is the Spirit of Holiness, declaring the moral perfection of the Spirit and his Divinity.

Fourthly, Jesus says "But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you." (John 14:26). And also "When the Counsellor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me." (John 15:26). Here the Master declares that the Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom, teaching, revelation and insight: the one who witnesses and teaches.

I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, that he may be with you forever: the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him and doesn't know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you.
John 14:16,17

I have said these things to you while still living with you. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, I give to you. Don't let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.
John 14:25-27

"When the Counsellor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me. You will also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
John 15:26,27

However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming. He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said that he takes of mine and will declare it to you. A little while, and you will not see me. Again a little while, and you will see me."
John 16:13-16

4.3 The Mission of the Spirit

The teaching of Christ concerning the mission of the Spirit is given in the following statements:

Firstly Jesus says "I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, that he may be with you forever: the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him and doesn't know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you." (John 14:16,17). From this we see that the Spirit is given to abide with the people of God. This confirms that the children of God have no need to pray that the Spirit is given to them. He is already given and is not a transient guest but rather the indwelling life of the believer. Through his individual abiding in Christians he is present in the Church.

The Spirit’s mission to the Christian is given by Jesus, "But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you." (John 14:26). And "However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming. He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you." (John 16:13,14).

Summarizing:

The Spirit’s mission to the world is also given by Christ, "When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgement; about sin, because they don't believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to my Father, and you won't see me any more; about judgement, because the prince of this world has been judged." (John 16:8-11).

Summarizing:

I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, that he may be with you forever: the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him and doesn't know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also.
John 14:16-19

But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.
John 14:26

When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgement; about sin, because they don't believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to my Father, and you won't see me any more; about judgement, because the prince of this world has been judged.
John 16:8-11

4.4 The Results of the Spirit's Coming

The teaching of Christ concerning the results of the Spirit is given in the following statements:

Firstly Jesus says "I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you." (John 14:18). This tells us that the Spirit can dispel loneliness and even give the sense of the personal presence of Jesus irrespective of circumstance or situation.

Secondly Jesus says, "But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, I give to you. Don't let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful." (John 14:26,27). These verses add a sense of peace to the benefits of the Spirit. Jesus says it is his peace which he gives but not in a way that the world could give because the peace of Jesus comes only through the Spirit.

Thirdly, Jesus says "When the Counsellor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me. You will also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning." (John 15:26,27). Here we see that a result of the Spirit is power to witness.

Fourthly, Jesus says "He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said that he takes of mine and will declare it to you. A little while, and you will not see me. Again a little while, and you will see me." (John 16:14-16). Here Jesus is speaking not of his return at the end of the age but his "return" in the work of the Spirit. So we see here that the Spirit gives "vision of Christ".

Summarizing, these four results are:

However these results are achieved only in proportion to the extent that we yield to the Spirit, living in obedience to him. What Jesus teaches here in principle is developed further in the Acts of the Apostles as we shall see in subsequent sections.

I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, that he may be with you forever: the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him and doesn't know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also.
John 14:16-19

I have said these things to you while still living with you. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, I give to you. Don't let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.
John 14:25-27

"When the Counsellor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me. You will also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning."
John 15:26,27

However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming. He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said that he takes of mine and will declare it to you. A little while, and you will not see me. Again a little while, and you will see me."
John 16:13-16

4.5 The Letters to the Church

The Letters

In addition to the teaching of Christ during his earthly ministry must be added his instruction in the seven letters to the churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. In every one of these letters we find the command that his people must be listening for what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).

So what might the Spirit say to the churches? We know that the Spirit always speaks about, applies and gives guidance on the words of Christ. The Spirit will not bring new doctrine which has not already been declared by Christ. So that must be our test.

The seven-fold repetition of this command clearly adds to the emphasis. The suggestion is that the church's responsibility is not to pray for a new sending of the Spirit, nor even for receiving, but rather listening to the Spirit that has already been sent.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.
Revelation 2:7

4.6 Summary of Christ's Teaching concerning the Holy Spirit

During the Mission of the Messiah (The transition from Old Testament times to after Pentecost)

The Coming of the Spirit

The Character of the Spirit

The Mission of the Spirit

The Results of the Spirit's Coming

The Challenge


5. THE SPIRIT AFTER PENTECOST

5.1 Pentecost

The Master concluded his teaching, passed to the cross and rose. He then told his disciples to "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" but before they could obey that instruction they were told to "Don't depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which you heard from me." In other words they were told not to begin any work until they were endued with power from God. They were not told to pray for power, but that power would come. It seems that they made an error in regards to this instruction by selecting a replacement for Judas Iscariot by the casting of lots. They should have waited until the Spirit was given. From subsequent events it appears evident that the Spirit's choice was Paul.

Then at Pentecost, the Spirit came, initially to a smaller company of gathered followers, and accompanied by the symbols of the Spirit; rushing wind and fire. To these symbols witnessed through sound and sight, were added the gift of ability to speak in foreign languages. Many rushed to see what was happening and heard speech in their own native languages.

The significance of Pentecost is:

For the followers of Jesus who experienced Pentecost they were in a moment changed from being merely followers to members of the risen Lord. The experience was for them their new birth. Jesus had come to his own but had been rejected by the national and religious leadership. Nevertheless there was a band of faithful Jewish followers and now they were baptized in the Spirit and filled with the Spirit and became the Church of Christ. Until that time they were a band of individual men and women having a bond of dedication to the Lord but now they are baptized by the Spirit into an eternal corporate unity of the living Christ, one with Christ and one with each other. A new temple for Divine praise and prayer and wisdom (i.e. God's message to man) is established, collectively as the church and individually as Christians. No longer is Jerusalem the place for worship but the Church has received that privilege. Beyond this, the Kingdom was opened up to the Gentiles and the only condition of entry is belief and submission to Christ.

Before we leave Pentecost it is important to recognize that for the first believers the gift of the Spirit was a subsequent blessing for the faithful Jewish followers. This is because the Jew really thought first of Christ in terms of an earthly, temporal Kingdom and had yet to see Christ's Spiritual Kingdom. From the time that Peter preached to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius this subsequent or second blessing is never spoken of. So there is no longer any second blessing and now Gentiles and Jews hear and receive the whole Gospel, accept salvation from sin, receive new birth, are baptized by the Spirit and become members of the Church simultaneously as they become a Christian.

Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD's people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!"
Numbers 11:29

For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and streams on the dry ground. I will pour my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring: and they will spring up amongst the grass, as willows by the watercourses.
Isaiah 44:3,4

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 28:19

"Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father."
John 4:20,21

Being assembled together with them, he commanded them, "Don't depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which you heard from me. For John indeed baptised in water, but you will be baptised in the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
Acts 1:4,5

Suddenly there came from the sky a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. Tongues like fire appeared and were distributed to them, and one sat on each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak.
Acts 2:2-4

5.2 The Spirit in the Church

As we have seen the Church is a new creation, in effect a new Temple, a new institution and it is for praise, prayer and wisdom (i.e. God's word for man). It is the Spirit that enables these functions to be fulfilled.

In the first letter to the Corinthians in chapter 12 and 13, Paul deals with the relation of the Spirit to the Church of God.

Firstly he states "No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," but by the Holy Spirit" and also "For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit."

Secondly he states "Now there are various kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are various kinds of service, and the same Lord. There are various kinds of workings, but the same God, who works all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all. For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, by the same Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of languages; and to another the interpretation of languages. (1 Corinthians 12:4-10)"

In 1 Corinthians 12:9,10 we read that healings, miracles and speaking in other languages are gifts of the Spirit given to one "for the profit of all". As with all the Spirit's gifts they are for the benefit and advance of the Church in accordance with the needs of the church. At the time of the apostles it is clear that special gifts (e.g. speaking in tongues, physical healing, prophecy) were needed because they were given. It may be that the needs of the church were unique at that time because at the time of its formation access to the Old Testament was scarce and in few languages and much of the New Testament was not yet written. To what extent these gifts are given or not given to the Church today or in future times is as the Spirit chooses. However we read that love is essential and endures and never fails and is to be desired above all.

Thirdly he states "But earnestly desire the best gifts. Moreover, I show a most excellent way to you. If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal."

So we learn:

Therefore I make known to you that no man speaking by God's Spirit says, "Jesus is accursed." No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," but by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:3

For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13

Don't you know that you are a temple of God, and that God's Spirit lives in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16

Now there are various kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are various kinds of service, and the same Lord. There are various kinds of workings, but the same God, who works all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7

For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, by the same Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of languages; and to another the interpretation of languages. But the one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing to each one separately as he desires.
1 Corinthians 12:8-11

But earnestly desire the best gifts. Moreover, I show a most excellent way to you. If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:1

Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
Acts 2:43

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with.
1 Corinthians 13:8

5.3 The Spirit in the World

There are various Scriptures which give insight into this subject and they confirm that the Spirit is by no means confined to working in the Church.

Firstly, "It will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh." The verse is quoted from Joel 2:28. The term "all flesh" is almost always used in reference to all mankind, except for a few times when it refers to everything having life. The way in which the Spirit is poured on all flesh is in the sense of the Spirit’s availability, patience and coercion towards the ways of God.

Secondly, "When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgement; about sin, because they don't believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to my Father, and you won't see me any more; about judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged." (John 16:8-11) Here Christ refers to man’s past, present and future outlook. The reality of past sin, the demand for righteousness and pending future judgment. The Spirit takes these three facts and makes man aware of them so that he may not make an error of judgment through lack of knowledge. In this teaching we also learn that with the coming of the Spirit:

Thirdly, taking together the following four Scriptures:

  1. "Let no one deceive you in any way. For it will not be, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction, he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself up as God."
  2. "Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son."
  3. "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit who doesn't confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already."
  4. "Now you know what is restraining him, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness already works. Only there is one who restrains now, until he is taken out of the way."

Here we see that there is a "mystery of lawlessness" (or "spirit of antichrist") at work among men and that there is a day coming when that mystery will have a manifestation in an actual person, the lawless one. But Paul is here declaring that there is one who restrains this evil. The Holy Spirit is not clearly identified as the restraining one but this is clear from another Scripture: "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit who doesn't confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already."

So we learn that the Spirit is also restraining evil in the world. In other words were it not for the Holy Spirit, evil in the world would be much worse.

It will happen afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions.
Joel 2:28

When he has come, he world about sin, about and about judgement.
John 16:8

Now you know what is restraining him, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness already works. Only there is one who restrains now, until he is taken out of the way.
2 Thessalonians 2:6,7


6. THE SPIRIT IN THE CHRISTIAN

6.1 You must be Born Anew

You must be born anew: these were the words of Jesus to Nicodemus. Jesus Christ also said he is the door to Christianity and so we may say that the Spirit is the Door-Keeper. In other words no person can be a Christian without the miraculous, renewing work of the Holy Spirit.

The need for new birth is necessary because man who was created as a spiritual and material being has, through sin, become spiritually dead and alienated from the life of God. The material man cannot discover and relate to the living God and is compelled to constructing an imaginary deity, or deifying self, man, objects or concepts.

The old life is summarized in the following verses:

  1. "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit."
  2. "You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience."
  3. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh."
  4. "For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God's law, neither indeed can it be. Those who are in the flesh can't please God."

The new life is summarized in the following verses:

  1. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new."
  2. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
  3. "But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God's children, to those who believe in his name."

You must be born anew. Apart from this there is no possibility of spiritual life. Apart from spiritual life there is no possibility of any knowledge of, or relationship with the infinite eternal living God. With spiritual life there is the reality of the adoption into God’s family to become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.

Don't marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born anew.'
John 3:7

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God's law, neither indeed can it be. Those who are in the flesh can't please God.
Romans 8:5-8

You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience.
Ephesians 2:1,2

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

That which That which is born of the is born of the flesh is flesh. Spirit is spirit.
John 3:6

But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God's children, to those who believe in his name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:12

In him you also, having heard the word of the truth, the Good News of your salvation-in whom, having also believed, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of his glory.

6.2 The Baptism of the Spirit

The term baptism of the Spirit has been confused with the filling of the Spirit. As such the baptism of the Spirit has been taught as a second blessing. That view is not the view of Scripture. The baptism of the Spirit is the primary blessing and it is the blessing of regeneration. In other words the baptism of the Spirit is conversion (new birth). The filling of the Spirit (the New Testament ideal for the Christian) is discussed in the next section. The baptism of the Spirit is also the same as that described by the sealing of the Spirit and is synomonous with the new spiritual life (re-birth) of the Christian and the presence of the God's Holy Spirit with the Christian's spirit to give communion and fellowship and the power to live the Christian life.

The confusion can arise because many New Testament verses refer just to 'baptism' when they refer to 'baptism of the spirit' as evidenced by the context. Such an example from the lips of Jesus is Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned." Here Jesus says that both believing and baptism are necessary for salvation. But baptism (by water) is just an outward sign. Salvation is by believing (the human action) and baptism by the Sprit (the Divine miracle of regeneration).

Acts 18:24-19:5 is sometimes used to support the idea of a second blessing or baptism of the Spirit as something different from regeneration. However it is clear from the following verses that these people were not yet Christians; they this were disciples of Jesus as He was heralded by John - by the baptism of water and repentance. They had yet to receive the Holy Spirit and new birth, so Paul had to explain the gospel and then they received the Holy Spirit. The is exactly the same as for the disciples at Pentecost.

He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned.
Mark 16:16

For John indeed baptised in water, but you will be baptised in the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
Acts 1:5

Or don't you know that all we who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:3,4

I indeed baptise you in water for repentance, but he who comes after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you in the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 3:11

For John indeed baptised in water, but you will be baptised in the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Therefore when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, are you now restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It isn't for you to know times or seasons which the Father has set within his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth."
Acts 1:5-8

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus. He was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside, and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
Acts 18:24-26

He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They said to him, "No, we haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." He said, "Into what then were you baptised?" They said, "Into John's baptism." Paul said, "John indeed baptised with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus." When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke with other languages and prophesied.
Acts 19:2-6

6.3 The Filling of the Spirit

Like Baptism of the Spirit, the term Filling of the Spirit is also often misunderstood. Whereas Baptism of the Spirit in once only, synonomous with conversion and the Spirit's activity at new birth, filling of the Spirit is best understood by Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman by the well that "he who believes in me, from within him will flow rivers of living water". In other words it is not a static filling but is a continual flow of Spirit-life in the Christian. In other Scriptures, mostly in Acts, individuals are described as being filled with the Spirit at conversion and also for a particular action in particular situations, suggesting (i) the Spirit filled life is what God wants for a Christian and (ii) a special flow or Spirit filling is needed to accomplish a work for God. In yet other Scripture, we read of the possibility of grieving the Spirit and the injunction to be filled with the Spirit, indicating that the filling of the Spirit may not be the continual experience of the Christian.

From this we can conclude:

  1. the Spirit-filled life is the normal condition that should be experienced by all believers
  2. the Spirit-filled life is available from conversion and not something that the believer has to wait for
  3. the Spirit-filled life can be lost but also restored, thus indicating that the believer has responsibilities to maintain the Spirit-filled life
  4. there may be crisis times in a believer's life when a special filling of the Spirit is needed and received to accomplish God's purposes

What are the things which can cause the Christian to lose the filling of the Spirit? These are:

  1. disobedience
  2. disloyalty to God
  3. lukewarmness
  4. indifference to the claims and work of Christ
  5. worldliness
  6. harbouring sin
  7. fear (lack of trust, faith)
  8. not allowing the Spirit into one or more areas of our life: holding back

However through repentance and prayer, the Christian can be restored to the Spirit-filled life. Acts 4:31 is an example of a re-filling of the Spirit.

So what are the believer's responsibilities to be being-filled by the Spirit? These are:

  1. reject the things God disapproves of
  2. give ourselves and our life totally over to God

If we are doing these things, we will not grieve the Holy Spirit and will not thereby lose the Spirit-filled life.

Now on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water." But he said this about the Spirit, which those believing in him were to receive. For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus wasn't yet glorified.
John 7:37,38,39

Ananias departed and entered into the house. Laying his hands on him, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord, who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he received his sight. He arose and was baptised. He took food and was strengthened. Saul stayed several days with the disciples who were at Damascus.
Acts 9:17-19

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

6.4 The Power of the Spirit

Having considered the Baptism of the Spirit and the Filling of the Spirit the obvious question is for what purpose have these been given. The simple answer is to enable the Christian to live the Christian life. This enabling is the Power of the Spirit and it can be seen to be effective in four areas:

  1. Spirit-power for knowledge and understanding and comprehension of Christian things and especially Jesus and the Cross: it is not a natural thing to be able to understand that life has come from death; victory has come from defeat.
  2. Spirit-power for overcoming sin and living a holy life in obedience to God: lives are not transformed and sin is not defeated by natural strength.
  3. Spirit-power for love and desire for God's will and purposes, especially in the face of hardship and suffering.
  4. Spirit-power to be a witness for Jesus, in whatever method or capacity, to be a constant living witness to Jesus' message and the life-giving power of the Cross.

By looking at these in reverse order it will be seen that we can only be a good witness for Jesus, first with a love for God and men and women and a desire for their salvation, secondly if our Christian life is in good shape and we are living in obedience to God, not harbouring sin and thirdly if we have a personal experience of the illumination of the Spirit in the Word - not just a knowledge of theology.

The difference that the power of the Spirit makes can be clearly seen in the Bible references in the case of the disciples. Before the Spirit came, we read "they all left him and fled" and after the Spirit came they were able to witness before Kings and Governors, and face persecution, imprisonment and death with boldness and courage.

The power of the Spirit is given that the church may witness to her absent but living Lord. The church is powerless to witness without this co-operation from the Spirit of God. God has chosen to be helpless without the co-operation of the church. The more the Church lives in the power and control of the Spirit the greater is her witness and the greater the Spirit reveals Christ to the as yet unsaved.

The outworking of the Spirit's power in the individual is the fruit of the Spirit which is increase in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Clearly the Christian has responsibilities to co-operate with the Spirit in this transformation but it is ultimately and only through the Power of the Spirit that lives can be transformed and such characteristics outworked and evidenced to greater effect in the life of the Christian. Much of the New Testament contains teaching on how we can co-operate with the Holy Spirit are a summary is given below:

"To do"

"To not do"

When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were gathered together. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:31

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won't fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, that you may not do the things that you desire. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the deeds of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practise such things will not inherit God's Kingdom.
Galatians 5:16-21

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. If we live by the Spirit, let's also walk by the Spirit.
Galatians 5:21-25

6.5 Be Filled with the Spirit

In our consideration of the Holy Spirit we have understood Paul's injunction in Ephesians 5:18 "to be filled with the Spirit" to be of the nature of a command and should be the normal experience for all Christians, rather than a possibility only available to an elect few believers.

We know that the Christian has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit since "no man can say Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit" neither is it possible to do anything in the Lord's service except by the Spirit, nevertheless it is often our experience that we fall short of God's ideal.

So if we say that being filled with the Spirit is a possibility for every Christian but it is not our perpetual experience what can the Christian do? Is the Christian waiting for God or is God waiting for the Christian? Perhaps we can start to understand this by trying to understand the term "filled with the Spirit". The expression seems to suggest that the Spirit is active in every part and corner of life; every action, every choice, is laid before, and done in obedience to the Spirit. So the difference between a Spirit filled life, and a life not filled with the Spirit, comes down to whether we fully seek God's will (i.e what God wants) in our lives or we want our own way for some things.

To take this further it is suggested that two things are necessary for a Spirit filled life:

  1. Abandonment
  2. Abiding

First, abandonment: there are three scriptures having a bearing on this:

Also, do not present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Romans 6:13

Don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander be put away from you, with all malice.
Ephesians 4:30,31

Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.
Romans 12:1

Abandonment means handing over the whole of our lives to the control of God, in order that his will may be realized, his plans may be carried out, his standards may be adopted. It includes abandonment of our natural preferences and propensity to sin to embrace his purity and righteousness. It also includes the presentation of the whole being to God, sacrificing our own life and desires to him. Notice that Paul does not say "put away bitterness, wrath etc." but "let bitterness, wrath etc. be put away". Putting these things away is not man's work - it is the Spirit's work, though that is what we usually try to do. Our responsibility is not to grieve the Holy Spirit - in other words to yield ourselves, our lives and our desires to him. This helps us to understand abandonment nevertheless even if the theory seems easy it has to be said that the practice is harder.

Secondly, abiding: The key verse having a bearing on this is:

"This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded. He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us."
1 John 3:23,24

To abide is to continue in obedience, keeping the commands of faith in Christ and love for one another.

Whilst some Christians may have special testimonies to various experiences of the Spirit filling, the methods of the Spirit are not the same for all. The commonality of every genuine filling of the Spirit is the increasing Lordship of Christ in the individual resulting in increasing likeness to the life of Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. These are the evidences of the Spirit filled life.

So the question for us all is whether the Spirit is indwelling in all his fullness. Or have we kept him back through a reluctance to accept his total government of our lives? This matter is for our individual challenge and prayerful consideration.

Don't be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18

Also, do not present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Romans 6:13

Don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:30

Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.
Romans 12:1

This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded. He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us.
1 John 3:23,24

6.6 Resist not, Grieve not, Quench not the Spirit

These terms do not refer to the same danger.

  1. Resist Not: This refers to regeneration and to those who are not yet born again, resisting the Spirit’s conviction of sin and salvation.
  2. Grieve Not: This refers to indwelling and to Christians when by sin or reluctance to completely submit to the Lordship of Christ they cause sorrow to the Spirit.
  3. Quench Not: This refers to service and to Christians who resist the Spirit’s leading towards service or resist the exercise of gifts given by the Spirit.

"You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit! As your fathers did, so you do."
Acts 7:51

Don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander be put away from you, with all malice.
Ephesians 4:30,31

Don't quench the Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:19