Biblical Survey of the Works of the Holy Spirit

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INTRODUCTION

We live in the dogmatic and ideological religious community whereby people of this community have diverse understandings of who the Holy Spirit is and what role he played in creation, the birth of Christ, and the initiation of the new order on the Day of Pentecost. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is clear from scriptures; however, there are misunderstandings among denominations about the Holy Spirit and his works in the church of Jesus Christ. Some denominations have accepted the person of the Holy Spirit as the third person in the Divine Trinity while others have refused to believe and to accept him as the third person in the Divine Trinity or even if the Holy Spirit exists. In an effort to give resolution to these concerns under review as this paper clearly delineates, it will be necessary to lay emphasis on the below listed captions: the person/typology of the Holy Spirit, the works of the Holy Spirit, and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in an effort to give a biblical survey of who the Holy Spirit is in Christendom.

THE PERSON AND TYPOLOGY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

            The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Divine Trinity. He was used in the creation process according to the Genesis account. “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. God said, let there be light and there was light.”[1](Genesis 1:2-3[NIV]). God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have unique roles in the creation of the universe according to the Genesis account. In this scripture, the Holy Spirit moved over the waters and God spoke his word giving rise to creation. God the Father is the Originator of everything. He initiated creation through the spoken word called rhema. God the son is the Administrator in the creation process. According to St. John 1:1-5, Jesus was with God in the beginning[2]. Col. 1:15-16, everything seen and unseen was made by him[3]. He is before all things. In Jesus Christ dwells the fullness of Godhead in bodily form. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit in the creation process in Genesis account is the power source. He was used to create the world, to bring about the birth of Jesus Christ according to Matthews 1:18-25[4]. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and Jesus was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that empowers the apostles according to Acts 2:1-4[5]. Jesus told his disciples not to depart from Jerusalem until they were endowed with power on high (Acts 1:1-8)[6]

            According to Thomas Williams, “In the spiritual life, the Holy Spirit energizes and makes fruitful the human nature that the Father has created and that the Son has redeemed, so that the rational creatures achieve their appointed end.”[7]

            While the Holy Spirit was used in the creation episode, the birth of Jesus, and the empowering of the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, he is the One used in the regeneration and sanctification process. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no new birth followed by new life (John 3:1-8).[8] The Holy Spirit empowers the believer to live above the sin nature.

            The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Godhead who reveals revelation to the believer from the Father. He takes things from the Father and makes them known to the believer. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no power, no understanding, no wisdom, and no knowledge. He is called the Spirit of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, revelation, counsel, and might according to Isaiah 11:2[9]. There are symbols manifested in both the Old and the New Testament which exemplified the typology of the Holy Spirit. According to St. Luke, the Holy Spirit is the clothing to the believer (Luke 24:49).[10] He serves as the security and protection to the church. God in the person of the Holy Spirit went before the children of Israel as the Pillar of Cloud by day and Pillar of Fire by night. The Holy Spirit has all the attributes as God the Father has. He is God; therefore, his equivalency is directly proportional to God the Father equivalency in term of attributes, essence, might, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, abilities etc. Without the Holy Spirit, there is not such as these mentioned. The Holy Spirit clothes the church in term of power, wisdom, understanding, protection, and abilities.

            During the baptism of God the Son, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove and God the Father spoke to affirm Jesus’ sonship (Matthew 3:16, John 1:32, Luke 3:32)[11]. The Holy Spirit is described or named as the Earnest of the Spirit (II Cor. 1:22; 5:5, Eph. 1:14)[12]. Paul wrote to the Ephesians Christians naming or describing the Holy Spirit as the Earnest expectation of those who are God’s possession until the final redemption comes when Christ returns to earth for the second time to judge the world.

            According to John F. Walvoord, “The plan of consideration directs to the person of the Holy Spirit to the exclusion of his works. It must be admitted that the study of his person is never complete without the compliment of the revelation of his person in his works.”[13] The Holy Spirit must be studied in regard to what is being revealed through what he had done in creation, through the birth of Jesus, and the empowering of the apostles on the Day of Pentecost. The wondrous deeds performed by the apostles through the Holy Spirit indicate that the Holy Spirit is God, because only God who performs miracles. Without the compliment of the revelation of his person in his works, it will be incomprehensible to study the person of the Holy Spirit. This is the reason some denominations had refused to accept the person of the Holy Spirit in their churches today because they have rejected the revelational teaching and Biblical teaching concerning the person of the Holy Spirit including various manifestations. This rejection about the person of the Holy Spirit and his works in the life of the church does not nullify the reality that the Holy Spirit is a real individual in the Godhead. The teaching that the Holy Spirit coming into the form of a dove, fire, cloud etc. is vague to them because they have rejected the primary; as such, it will be impossible to comprehend the secondary aspects about the Holy Spirit.

            Additionally, the Holy Spirit is described as Tongue of Fire and Oil according to the following references: The Holy Spirit came down as Cloven Tongue of Fire on the Day of Pentecost to empower the apostles (Acts 2:3)[14]. Samuel anointed David with oil and the Spirit of God departed from Saul and came upon David and he was changed into a different man and he prophesied (I Samuel 10:1; 16:13)[15]. The Holy Spirit used the oil as medium to empower the believers (Psalm 92:10-15).[16] He is also symbolically represented in these scriptures as oil (Exodus 27:20-21, Lev. 1-7).[17]

            In addition to the typology of the Holy Spirit, he is also described as the seal of the believers (II Cor. 1:22, Eph. 1:13; 4:30).[18] The word seal signifies multiple purposes regarding the works and the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the security because he provides safety. The seal of the Holy Spirit places the believer to become the ownership of God. The believer is recognized by the kingdom of darkness because he or she has the mark of recognition. The seal of the Holy Spirit makes the believer to become obligated to God by virtue of the covenant. He is the mark of authority, secrecy, and finished transaction. The Holy Spirit is also referred symbolically in John 4:14; 7:38-39, as the water and referenced in John 3:38 and Acts 2:2 as the wind[19]. These symbolic characteristic of the Holy Spirit reveals clearly his attributes, power, essence, and being.

            According to John F. Walvoord, “It is fundamental to any doctrine that it be related to the sovereign purpose of God. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is no exception. Behind the work of the Holy Spirit in time is the work of the Holy Spirit in eternity.”[20]

            The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament era is the same Holy Spirit in the New Testament era. He operates as he wills according to his plan as it relates to dispensations. The manner in which the Holy Spirit operates in the Old Testament believers might be different from the New Testament believers. There are theological arguments whether people in the Old Testament were regenerated; however, the statements are not conclusive to bring about the finality as to whether the Old Testament believers were regenerated. The proposition is based on the place and presence of the Spirit in the believers or upon the believers. Based on these belief systems indicate that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is crucial to be studied. Let’s examine the various positions as indicated below.

            “Continuity proposition represents the affirmation that the Old Covenant believers were regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.”[21] The continuity position can be examined based on historical statement of scriptures in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament era, the Spirit of God was upon the people selectively, namely, the priests, kings, and prophets. The believers were not indwelt by the Spirit of God according to my opinion for the fact that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit prophesied in Joel 2:28 had not come to fulfillment until the Day of Pentecost; conclusively, the believers were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The question as to whether the believers were regenerated is closely examined by considering the meaning for the term in question, “regeneration.”To be regenerated is to be made anew through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The believers in the Old Testament were not regenerated since they were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. They were moved upon by the Holy Spirit.

            According James Hamilton, “The Old Testament does not describe God as dwelling in his chosen people, but it does describe him dwelling with them, in their midst. Throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh affirms to dwell with his people; I will be (or am/have been) with you.”[22]

            “The second position called more continuity than discontinuity states that there is no fundamental difference between the activities of the Spirit in the Old Testament versus the New Testament, though, different language may be employed to describe the activity of the Holy Spirit in the two covenants.”[23]

            The activity of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament can not be the same as in the New Testament in that the Holy Spirit was upon the people selectively in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit indwelt the believers and he is not for selective few as it was in the Old Testament time, but all believers have the Holy Spirit.

            “The third position called some continuity some discontinuity position affirms that while Old Covenant believers were regenerated by the Holy Spirit, they were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit.”[24]

            Regeneration and indwelling are twin words that go hand in hand. If the Old Covenant believers were regenerated by the Holy Spirit; then, they could have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The fact that they were not indwelt by the Spirit proves that they were not regenerated. Regeneration must accompany indwelling of the Spirit. In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God was upon the believers selectively.

            “The fourth position called continuity than discontinuity affirms that the Old Covenant believers were operated upon by Yahweh, and by inference, it may be said that it was God’s Spirit who ministered to them.”[25]

            This position is clearly stated in scriptures that the Spirit of God in the Old Testament was upon the believers. God was with the people of Israel and he lived among them.

            “The fifth position called discontinuity represents the view that the Spirit of God had nothing to do with the faithfulness of those who lived under the Old Testament.”[26]

            The word faithfulness is associated with the word faith. It is impossible to be accepted by God without having faith or being faithful to him. The selective few in the Old Testament that had the Spirit of God being operated upon had the spirit of the fruit of faithfulness before they became accepted in the sight of God. It is impossible to please God without faith [27](Heb. 11:6).

            “The last position called vague discontinuity affirms that the Holy Spirit operated in the New and distinct ways in the New Covenant without raising the question of how Old Covenant believers came to faith and lived obediently.”[28]

            When men start to rationalize the Holy Spirit in their human understanding, they never come to understand his works. The manner in which the Spirit of God saved people in the Old Testament to make them obedient to the faith is incomprehensible and likewise the manner in which he saves people under the New Covenant can not be understood by the human intellect. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. This work is accomplished by the Holy Spirit.

            According to John F. Walvoord, “Many of the titles referred to as indicating his attributes also connote his works.”[29]

            The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of glory (I Pet. 4:14)[30]. He is called the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2)[31]. He is called the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4)[32]. He is called the Spirit of holy (Matt. 1:2)[33]. He is called the Holy One (I John 2:20)[34]. He is called the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, and the Spirit of knowledge of the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2)[35]. He is called the Spirit of truth (John 14:17)[36]. He is called the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29)[37]. He is called the Spirit of grace and supplication (Zech. 12:10).[38] He is called the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15). And he is called helper, aider, and assistant (John14:16, 26)[39].

THE WORKS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

            Before ascension of Christ into heaven, he told his disciples to remain in Jerusalem to wait for the promise of the Father (Acts 1:1-8)[40]. They were empowered on the Day of Pentecost for mission evangelism (Acts 2:1-4).[41] The primary works of the Holy Spirit is found in John 16:5-16[42]. The Holy Spirit comes to do the following: He convicts the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8-11[NIV]).[43]

            According to Thomas Williams, “We can not yet imagine what completion of the Holy Spirit’s incorporative work will look like. Our churches are still broken and divided.”[44]

            You can not give out to anyone what you don’t live. Denominations who claim to lay emphasis on the person and works of the Holy Spirit do not believe the Holy Spirit. How can they do the unusual thing? The Holy Spirit is not moving and operating in churches who claim to believe in him but are walking in a spirit of hypocrisy. The virtue of his name, the Holy Spirit deduces that he can not communion or operate in people who are living in gross disobedience before God. The church of God must live up to what they believe. The church can not function properly and effectively if she is not living up to what she professes. The Bible says, signs follow those who believe. Our belief systems dictate our daily walk with God, the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

            The Holy Spirit does not only convict and empower believers for service, but he also guides the believers.

            According to Amy Plantinga Pauw, “In its prayer, worship, study and mission, the Christian community is guided by the Holy Spirit to share life of Christ with each other and the world.”[45]

            John 16:13, states that when the Holy Spirit comes, he will guide the believer in all truth[46]. The Holy Spirit guides the believers in time of prayer, worship, and the study of God’s word and during mission evangelism. The Holy Spirit sends messages through a servant of God during crusades, revivals, Sunday services etc. The Holy Spirit empowers the believer to pray and worship. Without the Holy Spirit, no one will come to God. There will be no fulfillment in the Christian lives without the Holy Spirit.

THE MANIFESTATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

            According to I Corinthians chapters 12 and 14, the manifestations of the Holy Spirit are seen through the nine spiritual gifts given for the common good of all.[47]

            “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another, the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another, gift of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another interpretation of tongues.”[48](I Corinthians 12:7-10[NIV]).

            The church of Christ needs these nine manifestations of the Holy Spirit to enable her do mission on earth.

            According to Jack P. Lewis, “The kingdom is, indeed, a dream, a preferred society, an idea life, but it is a present reality in so far as men live the life of the Spirit in their character and action.”[49]

            The manifestation of the Spirit in the lives of believers might have been misconstrued by the Christian community in some aspects based on the system of beliefs to be dynamic with physicality; however, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers indicates character development as the result of the new creation reality. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s fruits in believer’s lives is the result of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit in believers’ lives, there will be no power in the Christian lives; as a result, Christianity becomes frustration and God’s power is doubted in Christendom.

CONCLUSION

            The person and the works of the Holy Spirit and his manifestations indicate his supreme essence, self-existent, simple unconstraint by time or place, and immutable.

According to John Moorhead, “By the time the Holy Spirit appears on the scene in the monologion, Anselm has established to his  own satisfaction that there is one supreme essence, self-existent, simple, unconstraint by time or place, and immutable.”[50]

            In conclusion, the person of the Holy Spirit and his works are important to understanding mission evangelism.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hamilton, James. Old Covenant Believers and the Indwelling Spirit: A Survey of the Spectrum of Opinion (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 1984.

Lewis, Jack P. The Kingdom of God Is Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit: A Survey of Interpretation (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 1978.

Moorhead, John. God Who Sows the Seed and Gives the Growth: Anselm’sTheology of the Holy Spirit (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 1984.

Pauw, Plantinga Amy. Who or What is the Holy Spirit (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 2000.

Walvoord, John F. The work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 1956.

Williams, Thomas. God Who Sows the Seed and Gives the Growth: Anselm’s Theology of the Holy Spirit (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 1967.


[1]Genesis 1:2-3

[2]John 1:1-5

[3]Col. 1:15-16

[4]Matthew 1:18-25

[5]Acts 2:1-4

[6]Acts 1:1-8

[7]Thomas Williams, God Who Sows the Seed and Gives the Growth: Anselm’s Theology of the Holy Spirit (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 1967, 10.

[8]John 3:1-8

[9]Isaiah 11:2

[10]Luke 24:49

[11]Matthew 3:16, John 1:32, Luke 3:32

[12]II Cor. 1:22; 5:5, Eph. 1:14

[13]John F. Walvoord, The work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 1956, 12.

[14]Acts 2:3

[15]I Samuel 10:1; 16:13

[16]Psalm 92:10-15

[17]Exodus 27:20-21, Lev. 1-7

[18]II Cor. 1:22, Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30

[19]John 4:14; 7:38-39; 3:38, Acts 2:2

[20]Ibid

[21]James Hamilton, Old Covenant Believers and the Indwelling Spirit: A Survey of the Spectrum of Opinion (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 1984, 25.

[22]Ibid

[23]Ibid

[24]Ibid

[25]ibid

[26]Ibid

[27]Hebrews 11:6

[28]ibid

[29]Ibid

[30]I Pet. 4:14

[31]Romans 8:2

[32]Romans 1:4

[33]Matthew 1:2

[34]John 2:20

[35]Isaiah 11:2

[36]John 14:17

[37]Hebrews 10:29

[38]Zech. 12:10

[39]John 14:16, 26

[40]Acts 1:1-8

[41]Acts 2:1-4

[42]John 16:5-16

[43]John 16:8-11

[44]ibid

[45]Plantinga Amy Pauw, Who or What is the Holy Spirit (Web: ATLA Series with ReligionDatabase with ATLA Series), 2000, 45.

[46]John 16:13

[47]I Corinthians 12 & 14,

[48]I Corinthians 12:7-10

[49]Jack P. Lewis, The Kingdom of God …Is Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit: A Survey of Interpretation (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 1978, 34.

[50]John Moorhead, God Who Sows the Seed and Gives the Growth: Anselm’s Theology of the Holy Spirit (Web: ATLA Series with Religion Database with ATLA Series), 5, 1984.