What is God Like? --Part 13

What is God Like?
Part 13

John S. Robertson

What is the Work of the Holy Spirit?

In our last get together,” began John, “we spoke of the person of the Holy Spirit and His deity, but we left His work to this discussion. What does the Holy Spirit do?”

“There are at least seven areas in which the Holy Spirit operates, so once again we must limit our talk to two of those fields: His work in relation to salvation and His work in relation to the saved as individuals.”

“You did say the last time we were together that the Holy Spirit was responsible for the New Birth,” reminded John. “Just what part does He play in this?”

“Jesus explained the New Birth to a very intelligent man called Nicodemus, in John chapter three, and he had difficulty understanding it, so it may be difficult for a small boy to understand what the New Birth is and how it comes about. But we will try to make our explanation as simple as possible. We have already pointed out in previous talks that at our first birth we were born sinners and ‘shapen in iniquity’ as it says in Psalm 51:3. Also Romans 8:8 says, ‘they that are in the flesh cannot please God.’ So it is necessary to get rid of our sins and start all over again with a new birth. Jesus emphasized this when He said in John 3:6, ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit’ and in verse seven, ‘marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.’ This is the work of the Holy Spirit.”

“How does the Spirit bring this about?” questioned John.

“First of all, the Spirit has to convince a person that he is a sinner and under the judgment of God,” replied grandpa. “When Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come after He Went home to heaven, He said of Him, ‘He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8). Having shown the sinner that only punishment awaits him because of his sin, the Spirit directs him to the remedy, ‘whosoever believeth in Him (Christ the Saviour) should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16). First John 5:1 says, ‘whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ (the sent-One to procure salvation) is born of God.’ All who believe that Jesus died to put away their sins are born again and begin a new life in Christ Jesus.”

“So the Holy Spirit leads us to believe in Jesus as Saviour,” volunteered John. “That is His work in our salvation. Now what work has He with us after we are saved?”

“Once a person accepts Christ into his heart as his personal Saviour,” continued grandpa, “the Holy Spirit comes into his life and directs his actions. First Corinthians 6:19 says, ‘Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,” while Romans 8:9 tells of the change in the believer’s life in these words, ‘But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be it that Spirit of God dwell in you.’ In this new relationship with God we are born into the family of God; He is our Father and we are His sons, ‘and because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father’ “ (Galatians 4:6).

“Then the New Birth means we are in a new family and our Father is God,” concluded John. “When it says our body is the temple of the Spirit is that figurative language?”

“Yes,” agreed grandpa. “When we talk about spiritual things it is much easier to understand their meaning if we compare them to something visible.”

“How does the Spirit teach us and guide us in our lives so that we live to please God?” was John’s next question.

“In Romans 8:16 it says, ‘The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.’ This indicates the Spirit’s method of communication with us. If we are listening we will hear Him speak to our conscience. The Holy Spirit is mentioned nineteen times in this chapter and we should read it over carefully many times if we want to know how the Holy Spirit operates in our lives.”

“I think I understand how the Spirit speaks to us to direct us,” offered John. “In previous discussions you mentioned that the Spirit instructs and comforts, and we also touched on the fruit of the Spirit. Are there any other things the Spirit does for us?”

“Yes, there are,” confirmed grandpa. “There are three prerogatives of the Spirit that I think we should mention because all Christians do not agree on their interpretation or meaning. The first is the ‘sealing’ of the Spirit. This takes place at the time of conversion, as it says in Ephesians 1:13, ‘In Whom also (Christ) after ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest (pledge) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.’ A seal is both a proof of ownership and a promise of security. It is the work of the Spirit to mark us out as children of God and to guarantee that our place in His family is secure for eternity. It is hard to see how anyone can deny the eternal security of the believer in view of the verse quoted and the confirmation in Ephesians 4:30.”

“That seems clear to me,” acknowledged John. “What is the second point on which Christians disagree?”

“The second is ‘baptism’ in the Spirit,” answered grandpa. “It would take a complete discussion of it to try to clear this up. I will make one simple observation on this point and leave it for the time being. It seems very obvious to me that baptism in the Holy Spirit is the right and privilege of every believer and not an experience given to only a select few who seek a second blessing, no matter how earnest or sincere they may be. First Corinthians 12:13 states, For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,’ and this settles it for me beyond the shadow of a doubt.”

“That satisfies me too,” declared John. “If only a few receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, then that verse is untrue and God cannot lie. Now what is the third point?”

“The third one is ‘filling’ with the Spirit,” continued grandpa. “Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a once only experience, but filling can happen again and again. The expression ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ occurs twice in Acts 4. Peter, faced with the challenge of his faith by a hostile Sanhedrin, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and in the strength He supplied stood up to the test. Later, when he recounted his experience to the other believers, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and went out to witness for Christ. In every case where saints had this experience they were faced with a challenge and emboldened to act for God. In only one case is this filling followed by speaking in tongues, and that was at the formation of the church at Pentecost in Acts 2:4. The case for speaking in tongues as a result of the filling with the Holy Spirit rests on rather weak ground, I believe.”

“The Holy Spirit is a very busy person,” concluded John. “Keeping us following after the things of God is a work that only He could hope to accomplish.”

Passages to read: (Acts 2:1-4; 4:8, 31; 13:4, 9; Romans 8:5-27; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 12:12, 13; Galatians 4:6; 5:22-23; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30; 5:18; 1 John 2:20, 27; 5:1; John 3:6-8; 15:26-27; 16:7-14).