The Holy Spirit is seen at work throughout the Scriptures.
The Holy Spirit at Work In The Old Testament
Though not available to all, the Holy Spirit nevertheless is seen actively at work in Old Testament times. He is mentioned over 90 times in the Old Testament books.
- Creation of the Heavens and the earth (Job 26:13, Isaiah 40:12-14)
- The life-giving breath of man and beast (Psalms 104:30, Job 33:4)
- He strove with man in the days of Noah (Genesis 6:3)
- He has spoken through the prophets throughout history (Acts 7:51-52)
- The Spirit moved upon the prophets, giving them revelation, and inspiration, causing them to write the sacred scriptures. Through them He foretold the suffering and glory of Christ and the Church. (2 Peter 1:21, 2 Timothy 3:16, 1 Peter 1:11-12, 2 Samuel 23:2, Acts 1:16)
The only nation in which we see distinctive operations of the Spirit in the Old Testament is Israel. He equips, inspires and energizes men, clothing them with Himself. The work of the Spirit in men before the cross is temporary compared with His abiding presence and power in New Testament saints.
- The Spirit enabled Joseph to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh (Genesis 41:38)
- The Spirit gave wisdom for the building of the Tabernacle of Moses according to the divine pattern (Exodus 31:1-6)
- The Judges were equipped by the Spirit to deliver Israel (Judges 3:9-10; 6:34; 14:6)
- The King and psalmist David was anointed by God (2 Samuel 23:1-2)
- The Spirit was upon the priests of the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:14, Luke 1:5,67)
- The prophets had the Spirit upon them in various measures; Balaam (Num 24:2), Elijah (1 Kings 18:12), Ezekiel (Ezek 3:12-14), Daniel (Dan 4:8-9), Isaiah (Act 28:25)
- Judges, Priests, Kings and Prophets all experienced the Lord’s anointing. In their offices, all pointed to the Anointed One, Jesus Christ, who would have the fullness of the Spirit upon Him.
- The anointing of the Spirit came only upon a select few chosen men and women during OT times to equip them for divine service.
- At the close of the Old Testament age special manifestations of the Spirit took place such as John the Baptist’s infilling even from the womb (Luke 1:15-17), and, of course, Mary’s unique experience when she was overshadowed by the Spirit of God and Messiah was conceived (Luke 1:46-55)
The Holy Spirit at Work In The New Testament
We have seen that in the OT although the Holy Spirit was active in many ways, and especially the affairs of the people of Israel, His presence was temporary – for specific events or tasks. What we see in the NT is the possibility of people experiencing a fullness of the Spirit never before known to mankind. As Perfect Man, Christ Jesus could receive the fullness of the indwelling Spirit, and after His resurrection, as the Anointed One, send the Holy Spirit to those who believe upon Him. The gift is available to all who accept the finished work of Christ on the cross. (Matthew 3:11).
John 1:33 says “upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptises with the Holy Spirit”. One of the differences then between Old and New Testaments is the availability of the Holy Spirit to ‘remain’ on believers much as He remained ‘on’ Christ. This indwelling of the Spirit is pivotal to the believer being able to live the life of Christ here and now, in a mortal body.
The prophets under the OT clearly foretold of a day when the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all mankind:
“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”Joel 2:28,29, NKJV
Also Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26-27; Isaiah 44:3
This could only be achieved by the death, burial, resurrection and glorification of Jesus Christ. As the perfect man He received the fullness of the Spirit, which He poured out upon us.
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”John 7:37-39 NKJV
As we believe in Jesus’ finished work, the Holy Spirit in all His power and grace is made available to us. He works in us what was accomplished by Christ on the cross, making the legal possession a living reality.
Jesus Himself gave the perfect example of a man governed by the Spirit. Consider the following statements from Scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit in His life.
Matthew 1:18-20; Luke 4:1; Luke 4:18; Acts 1:5,8; Revelation 2:7,11; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 3:18; John 3:34; Acts 1:2; 1 Timothy 3:16; Luke 4:14; Luke 4:18; Matthew 12:28; Acts 10:38
We discover Jesus:
- Born of the Spirit
- Filled with the Spirit
- Led by the Spirit
- Empowered by the Spirit
- Anointed by the Spirit
- Spoke by the Spirit
- Healed the sick by the Spirit
- Cast out devils by the power of the Spirit
- Justified (vindicated) by the Spirit
- Offered up on Calvary by the eternal Spirit
- Resurrected by the Spirit
- Gave commandments to His disciples by the Spirit
- Baptised and empowered the Church by the Spirit
- Directs & governs the Church by the Spirit
We can see that all Jesus did was governed not only by what He saw and heard from the Father, but by the Spirit. That’s why it is important for us to open our hearts to the way of the Spirit – there can be no other true way to be followers of Jesus. The devil would love us to live the Christian life by the flesh – and how often we try to do this!
The Work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Believer
- New birth is by the Spirit (John 3:5-6)
- Indwells the believer’s spirit (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16)
- Gives assurance of salvation (Romans 8:16)
- Fills the Believer with Himself (Ephesians 5:18; Acts 2:4)
- Enables the believer to speak in unknown languages (Acts 2:4-8; 1 Cor 14:2,4,18)
- Speaks to the Believer (Acts 8:29; 1 Timothy 4:1)
- Opens the Believer’s understanding to the things of God (1 Cor 2:12)
- Teaches the Believer, guiding them into all truth (John 16:13; 1Jn 2:27)
- Imparts life (2 Corinthians 3:6)
- Brings renewal (Titus 3:5)
- Strengthens the Believer’s inner being (Ephesians 3:16)
- Enables the Believer to pray (Jude 20; Romans 8:26-28)
- Enables the Believer to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24; Phil 3:3)
- Leads us (Romans 8:14)
- Enables us to put the deeds of the flesh to death (Romans 8:13)
- Produces Christ-like character and fruit in the Believer’s life (Galatians 5:22-23)
- Calls the Believer for special service (Acts 13:2-4)
- Guides the Believer into their ministry (Acts 8:29; 16:6,7)
- Empowers to witness (Acts 1:8)
- Imparts spiritual gifts as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
- The Holy Spirit seals the Believer until the day of redemption (2 Corinthians 1:22)
- The Spirit will raise to immortality the believer’s body in the last day
(Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:47-51)
The Work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church
“…on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”Matthew 16:18-19, NKJV
The major features of the Spirit’s work in the Church include the following;
- He formed the Church on the day of Pentecost into a corporate structure, the Body of Christ. He baptised the living members into the spiritual Body. (Acts 2:1-4; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
- He formed the Church into a new and living Temple, setting Believer’s as living stones in God’s building not made with hands (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:20-22)
- He anoints, illuminates and directs the New Covenant Church as the priests of God (1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:20,27; Ephesians 1:17-18)
- The Spirit brings gifts and graces to the members of the Body of Christ, displaying His omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience and His wonderful nature and character (1 Corinthians 12:1-11, 28; Romans 12:6-8; Gal 5:22-23)
- He is the Agent of direction and government in the Church. The Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church in Heaven directing His affairs in His Body by means of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit Who calls, equips and energizes the various ministries in the Church and places each member particularly (Acts 1:8; 13:1-3; 15:28; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 12:8-11; 2:1-5; Ephesians 4:8-12)
“Foundations of Christian Doctrine”, Kevin J Conner
Just as the Spirit lived in and flowed freely through Jesus, so He must be allowed to live and flow freely through the mystical Body of Christ, the Church.
The Holy Spirit in the World
The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the world is three-fold.
It is summarized in John 16:8-11.
“And when He has come,He will convict the world of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
The root sin of all others is unbelief. It is unbelief that sends men to hell! The Holy Spirit will convict men of their sin and turn them to Christ.
and of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
The Holy Spirit will convict us of the righteousness and Lordship of Christ, even though we do not presently see Him with our eyes.
and of judgment because the ruler of this world is judged.”
The devil and all his hosts have been stripped bare by Jesus on the cross. The Holy Spirit will reveal this truth to us, convicting us of Satan’s utter defeat and our authority over Him. He will also convict that all works, both of angels and men, will come into final judgement.