Understanding Theology - Lesson 7

The Holy Spirit

In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the person of the Holy Spirit, both his personhood and his deity. He also covers the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, in the life of Jesus, and in the church.

Bruce Ware
Understanding Theology
Lesson 7
Watching Now
The Holy Spirit

I. The Person of the Holy Spirit

A. The Personhood of the Holy Spirit

1. The Holy Spirit has the attributes of a person.

2. The Holy Spirit performs the actions of a person.

3. The Holy Spirit is treated as a person.

4. Personal pronouns are used of the Spirit.

B. The Deity of the Holy Spirit

1. The Holy Spirit is declared to be God.

2. There are attributes that are true of God alone that are predicated of the Holy Spirit.

3. Works of God alone are done by the Holy Spirit.

4. The Holy Spirit has the prerogatives of deity.

5. Triadic Passages

II. The Work of the Holy Spirit

A. The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

1. Old Testament references to the Holy Spirit

2. The Spirit’s Empowerment in the Old Testament

a. Empowering Judges

b. Empowering Prophets

c. Empowering Civil Leaders

3. Prophetic Visions about the Future Role of the Spirit

B. The Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus

1. Old Testament Expectation of the Coming Spirit-empowered Messiah

2. The Spirit in Jesus’ Life and Ministry

3. Jesus and the Future Coming of the Holy Spirit

C. The Holy Spirit and the Church

1. Pentecost: the Age to Come Arrives!

2. Empowerment for Witness in the World

3. Empowerment for Service in the Church

  • Studying systematic theology in this 10-hour course will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the doctrines of the Christian faith, from God and Christ to sin, salvation, the church, and the last things. By exploring these doctrines, you will strengthen your faith, gain hope and courage, and deepen your knowledge of God's character, work, and purposes. This course is liberating and will provide you with the truth that sets you free to live in the light of God's promises.
  • This is the first of ten lectures on Systematic Theology, a survey of the whole corpus of theology, and each lecture will be one hour long and each covering a separate doctrine or series of doctrines together. In this lesson Dr. Ware introduces the what and why of theology and discusses the foundational doctrines of Revelation and Scripture.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the Doctrine of God proper: why we need to know God, his incommunicable attributes, and those attributes that in some sense are communicable to humans.

  • Dr. Ware discusses the biblical basis for monotheism and trinitarianism. He also gives a brief overview of the history of the doctrine and the heresies that arose concerning the Trinity.

  • This lesson is an overview of the doctrines of humanity and sin, including a discussion of the origin of humanity, what it means to be created in the image of God, the nature and effects of sin, and original sin.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the doctrine of the Person of Christ, which includes his pre-incarnate existence, his incarnation, his deity and his humanity. He also discusses the important Christological passage of Philippians 2:6-8 and what does it mean that Christ “emptied” himself. Dr. Ware concludes this lesson with a discussion of the Council of Chalcedon.

  • Dr. Ware discusses the past (Atoning Savior), present (Mediator and Lord) and future (Coming Judge and Reigning King) work of Christ.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the person of the Holy Spirit, both his personhood and his deity. He also covers the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, in the life of Jesus, and in the church.

  • This lesson is an overview of the doctrine and process of salvation, beginning with election and then discussing calling, regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and, finally, the glorification of the believer.

  • Dr. Ware talks about the church universal and the local church. He discusses the offices of the local church, including the roles of elders and deacons. Dr. Ware also looks at how the church can be organized and what ordinances should be celebrated by a local body of believers.

  • In this final lesson, Dr. Ware gives a rationale for studying eschatology or last things. He discusses what happens to people just after they die and before the return of Christ. He also gives an overview of the various beliefs about the timing and events of the last days. He completes the lesson with a discussion of final judgment, heaven, and hell.

We all have a theology, a set of beliefs, but many are not able to articulate it or really understand it. This class will walk you through a basic evangelical understanding of God and his Word.

Recommended Books

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

We all have a theology, a set of beliefs, but many are not able to articulate them or really understand them. This class will walk you through a basic evangelical...

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

Dr. Bruce Ware
Understanding Theology
The Holy Spirit
Lesson Transcript

So we move on now to lecture seven, which is the doctrine of the person, and work of the Holy Spirit. So we start with the person of the Spirit, which really involves two elements of the personhood of the Spirit and the deity of the Spirit, that he is a person in his own right, but a divine person. So we need to think about those together. One of the reasons that the personhood of the Spirit needs to be dealt with is simply because there are some who think of the Spirit, the term in the New Testament is pneuma. It's not a masculine, feminine term. So some people think of the Spirit in impersonal terms like electricity or wind. In fact, the word pneuma can be translated wind or breath, so they think of it in impersonal terms. But it's very clear from the teaching of the Bible, New Testament in particular, that the Spirit is not impersonal but is very much personal.

For example, he has attributes of a person. He has intellect, 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, "The Spirit knows the thoughts of God." He has emotions, Ephesians 4:30, the Spirit can be grieved. He has a will. 1st Corinthians 12:11, "The Spirit distributes gifts among the body of Christ as he so wills." So mind, emotion, will are true of the Spirit. And then you think of the fruit of the Spirit that is discussed in Galatians 5:22-23. These are qualities of persons, attributes of persons. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. These are character qualities, attributes of a person. And then one more is interesting that the term Holy Spirit is used 94 times in the New Testament, indicating that that's the core of his character is holiness. And of course that's true then of a person.

So he has attributes of a person. He performs actions of a person. There's just a number of things. You see, for example, he teaches John 14:26. He bears witness John 15:26. He leads or guides, Romans 8:14. He intercedes for us, Romans 8:26. He sends out missionaries, Acts 13:4. He is a comforter or a helper, John 14:16. So these are all ways in which you see the Spirit performing actions that persons do. He's treated as a person. Now sadly, the examples that you find in the Bible are he's treated badly, but nonetheless is he's treated as a person. For example, the Bible talks about the Spirit can be lied to. Acts 5:3, where Ananias lies to the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51, he can be resisted, Stephen says, "You've resisted the Holy Spirit," Acts 7:51. He can be blasphemed Matthew 12:31, which also supports his deity by the way. You can't blaspheme what is not God. But here we're talking about the personal element, so it's a person. And then Hebrews 10:29, he can be insulted, insulting the Spirit of grace Hebrews says. He's treated as one who is a person, not an impersonal reality. 

And then one last point is that the masculine pronoun is sometimes used of the Spirit. The Spirit is neuter, but the masculine pronoun used indicating a personal identity. So for example, the term a ekeinos a masculine pronoun is used in John 15:26 and John 16:13 and 14.

So yes indeed he is a person, but then he is a divine person. So the deity of the Spirit needs to be affirmed as well. And here are some categories. I went through some categories with you on the deity of Christ. Here are some categories to consider on the deity of the Spirit. The first is he's declared to be God. And there are some important passages that teach this. I'll just give you a few of them. In Acts 5:3-4, Peter says to Ananias, "Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?" But then in verse nine he says, "You've not lied to men but to God." So to lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God, Acts five. 

1st Corinthians 3:16, "Do you not know that you are a temple of God, that the Holy Spirit dwells in you?" So who is God who dwells within us? It's the Spirit. So he's identified there with God as he indwells the temple, which is us, our own bodies. You think of the Old Testament temple, what an amazing thing to think of. The Shekinah glory of God where his glory is manifest now becomes us. Our own bodies as well as the collective whole of the church becomes the temple in which God dwells and that's the Spirit, 1st Corinthians 3:16. 2nd Corinthians 3:16-18, 2nd Corinthians three, "Whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit." So here Lord is used of the Spirit as it's used also of Christ, "We're transformed into the image of the Lord Jesus." So of Christ, Lord of the Spirit, both of them God.  And the last one I'll give to you is in Act 7:51, Stephen accuses his hearers of resisting the Holy Spirit just as their fathers resisted God. So they resisted God in the Old Testament, and here he's indicating that is the Holy Spirit. So indeed he is declared to be God. 

Secondly, he has attributes of God that are predicated to him. He's referred to as the Eternal Spirit in Hebrews 9:14, well, only God is eternal, and yet he has that attribute, so he is God. He is omniscient, 1st Corinthians 2:10, he knows the thoughts of God. Well, that's an amazing statement. We know some of the thoughts of God, but we don't know the thoughts of God. The Spirit does though, and that indicates he is God. 

He has omnipotence, he has power to do what only God can do. For example, the incarnation is through the power of the Spirit. The angel Gabriel tells Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the most high will overshadow you. So the holy one born of you will be called the Son of God." So the power of the Spirit bringing about this miracle of the incarnation, only God can do that, and the Spirit does that.

And he's omnipresent, that's an attribute that is true of God In Psalm 1:39, "Where can I go from your Spirit?" And of course the answer is nowhere. He's everywhere present. And so indeed the Spirit has that divine attribute indicating he's God. 

Works of God that are done by the Spirit, works like creation. He's involved in creation. You see this in Genesis 1:2, With the Spirit hovering over the waters. And then passages like Psalm 33:6 and Psalm 104:30 also indicate the role of the Spirit in creation. Not only creation, but recreation or regeneration, bringing new life, this is done by the Spirit. John 3:5-6, Titus 3:5. The Spirit brings about sanctification. Again, only God can make us holy, but the Spirit does this, 1st Peter 1:1,2, 1st Peter 1:1,2, 2 Corinthians 3:18.

The Spirit is the one who inspires the Bible. He's the one who moved in the hearts of individuals to bring about the holy scriptures. And we saw this in 2nd Peter 1:21, men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. So the Spirit is the one who brings about the inspired word of God. The Spirit raises the dead. Only God can raise the dead, Romans 8:11. The Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, and he will also raise us from the dead Paul says. 

And then the fourth category is the Holy Spirit has prerogatives of deity, that is he has the right to do certain things that only God has the right to do. He directs where Philip goes to bear witness of Christ. Well, that's God's prerogative in Acts 8:29. He sends out missionaries. Well, that's God's prerogative, Acts 13:4. He distributes gifts to the body of Christ. Well, that's God's prerogative to do that, 1st Corinthians 12:11. 

And then finally the last category is triadic passages, triadic meaning where all three members of the Trinity are mentioned together as the one God. And we talked about a couple of these already. Let me just remind you of them, Matthew 28:19, where Jesus commands his disciples to go into all the world, make disciples of the nations, baptizing them in the name, singular, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit. So to include the Spirit in that indicates Father, Son, and Spirit all comprise the one name of God, and hence the nature of God is the property of each of those three persons. And then the other passage is second Corinthians 13:14, 2nd Corinthians 13:14, this benediction from the apostle Paul, "May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you." So the Christian way that Paul says, "May God be with you," is, "May the Father, the Son, and the Spirit be with you." So again, the Spirit understood with the Father and the Son as equally God.

Clearly the Spirit is a person and the Spirit is a divine person. He's the third person of the Trinity. Now let's take a look at the work of the Holy Spirit, this is where we'll spend the bulk of our time and attention. We want to track this through the Bible as it were. You can see from the outline. We will start with the work of the Spirit in the Old Testament, and then move forward to the work of the Spirit in the life and ministry of Jesus, and then in the church itself. 

It's interesting when you look at the Old Testament terminology used for the Spirit, the term ruach is the term used in the Old Testament for Spirit. And it can be translated as breath or wind or Spirit, it can be human spirit or divine spirit. The term Ruach is used in the Old Testament, a total of 388 times. And of those 388 roughly 100 of them refer to the Spirit of God, the one we know of as the Holy Spirit. And of those references to the Spirit of God, we find them referred to in terms of his work in four different categories of people that you see in the Old Testament. Of civil rulers, like a Moses or a David, of craftsmen Bezalel who builds the tabernacle. Of judges, people in the book of Judges, people like Gideon and so on, who the Spirit comes upon them, or finally prophets who speak the word of the Lord.

And it's interesting when you look at these passages, we won't take time to go through all of these passages, when you look at them what is common among them is that the Spirit comes upon this really select few numbers of people. In the whole of the Old Testament you can count up barely over a 100 people total, that the Bible specifically says the Spirit comes upon them. 

And in the Old Testament you don't have any teaching that indicates that the Spirit comes upon all believers, that's a new covenant reality. We'll come to that in a moment. His coming rather than the Old Testament is quite selective. And his coming is really for the purpose of enabling those people to carry out some task that they've been assigned to do. A prophet speaking the word of the Lord with power and accuracy. A king leading the people against the enemies of Israel, a judge rising up to assist the people against the Philistines in the book of Judges, or a craftsman to be able to build the tabernacle in just the right way. So it's a select number of people, a task oriented you might say. 

And the last characteristic in the Old Testament of the Spirit's work is very interesting, that it is temporary, that is the time of the Spirit's work in the person's life is tied to the task that they're doing. And when the task ends, presumably the Spirit leaves. We don't know that in every case, but we know that in some cases. So for example with Saul, you might remember King Saul who was the pick of the people to be the king of Israel, not the pick of God. God's pick was David, we know that later. But Saul was selected by the people, and God approved that for the time being. But Saul sinned grievously against the Lord, and so the Spirit was taken from Saul. We see that in 1 Samuel 16:14, the Spirit was taken from Saul. And in the very same context there, the Spirit was given to David.

There is a sense in which the Spirit's giving in the Old Testament was on a select few number of people, was task oriented and was temporary. At least it was for the purposes of fulfilling the task that was there. When the task was done, then the Spirit would be removed. I take it that would be the case with Bezalel who was given the Spirit for the purpose of building the tabernacle. I don't think there's any reason to think that following the completion of the tabernacle, he had that same perfect skill to build things exactly right as he did with the tabernacle. But nonetheless, he had the Spirit for the purpose of that when he did. 

And it's interesting when it comes to Saul and David. David, as you remember took the place of Saul as king of Israel. And David also sinned grievously against the Lord with his sin with Bathsheba. And you'll remember in Psalm 51, one of the things that David prays as he confesses his sin and pleads for God's mercy, he says, "Lord, do not take your Holy Spirit from me." And I take it the extended thought that is implied there is, "Like you did to Saul." Because David saw the effects upon Saul when the Spirit was removed from him, he became deranged, and angry, and vengeful. And David did not want that same thing to happen to him. And God in his mercy did not take the Spirit from David, but the Spirit was upon him through the whole of his life as king of Israel. 

So I do want to take you to one passage though that is very interesting in terms of the Spirit coming upon people and it's very instructive. It's Numbers 11, if you turn there for a moment. This is the Spirit who is upon Moses as he is directing the people of Israel. And he's very frustrated even though he has the Spirit, he has supernatural enablement to deal with people's problems, and to adjudicate the issues that are taking place in Israel. But you have to remember there's a million plus people that he's responsible for, this is a huge task that he has and Moses is very frustrated. And so let's pick up with me at verse 10, Numbers 11:10, "Now Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, each man at the doorway of his tent. And the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly and Moses was displeased. And Moses said to the Lord, 'Why have you been so hard on your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight that you have laid the burden of all this people on me? Was it I who conceived this people? Was it I who brought them forth that you should say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant,' to the land which you swore to their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people for they weep before me saying, 'Give us meat to eat.' I alone am not able to carry this people because it is too burdensome for me." So Moses says, "If you are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once if I have found favor in your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness." I've never been that desperate to plead with God, to take my life from me. But this is Moses, he is just beside himself because all these people have been eating manna day by day. You'd think they would be grateful God is providing for them, but they want meat to eat. And they're crying out for this and they're relentless in it. And Moses is so frustrated because he can't do anything to satisfy their cravings. 

So here is God's solution to the problem in the verses that follow. This is verse 16, "The Lord therefore said to Moses, 'Gather for me 70 men from the elders of Israel whom you know to be the officers, the elders of the people, and their officers. And bring them to the tent of meaning and let them take their stand there with you. Then I will come down and speak with you there and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you and I will put that Spirit upon them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you that you'll not bear it alone.'" So there you see that the solution that God provides for this is to take the Spirit that is on Moses and distribute that to 70 others. So instead of there being one man in charge of a million people, there's 71, 70 others would join him in this task. And so this happens, I won't read the next verses for a bit here.

Pick up with me at verse 24. So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord, and he gathered the 70 men of the elders of the people and stationed them around the tent. So by tent he means they went outside of the camp to this tent. So the people are in the camp and they're not seeing what happens in the tent. They went out to the tent, "Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and he took the Spirit who was on Moses and placed him upon the 70 elders. And when the Spirit rested upon him, they prophesied, but they did not do it again." Now, my take on this is they prophesied indicating that they indeed received the Spirit, it was verification, empirical verification that they had received the Spirit. Much like the tongue speaking in Acts chapter two was verification that the Spirit had come upon them. But the fact they did not do it again is simply the fact that they're not prophets, they're not called to be prophets. And so they're not speaking the word of the Lord as a prophet would necessarily. But nonetheless they did it this one time to indicate that indeed they had the Spirit upon them. 

So keep reading with me, this gets interesting. "But two men had remained in the camp." So we didn't know this until now, but only 68 went out, not 70. 68 went out to the tent, two of them stayed in the camp. "The name of one was Eldad and the name of the other Medad, and the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those who had been registered but had not gone out to the tent, and they prophesied in the camp." See the Spirit came upon them also, "And they prophesied." Now what might be the problem with that? Well, we're about to find out. So a young man ran and told Moses and said, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." And Joshua, the son of nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth said, "Moses, my Lord, restrained them." You see the problem? They worry that these two men who stayed in the camp and prophesy that people will see they have the Spirit upon them, "let's follow them," and they won't follow Moses any longer. And so they're worried about Moses' own place as leader of the people of Israel.

But here's Moses' attitude, verse 29, "But Moses said to him, 'Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all of the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them?'" Isn't that something? So Moses, the godly man that he was rather than thinking, "Oh, it's terrible that those two men have the Spirit upon them and are prophesying in the camp." Oh no, just the opposite. He's thinking, "how wonderful it would be if all the people of God had the Spirit upon them." But of course they didn't, it was just the 70 and Moses who had the Spirit. And so Moses is really kind of reflecting in his mind on the day of Pentecost, of what would happen when the Spirit comes upon all the people of God as happens at that particular point. 

So the Spirit in the Old Testament then is one in which he is empowering people for specific tasks to be carried out like this, to adjudicate the issues of the people, to lead them. Prophets to speak the word of the Lord and so on, to do those various things. But what you don't find in the Old Testament is the Spirit given in the wholesale way that the Spirit is in the new covenant, where he comes upon all the people of God to bring about transformation of their lives, so that they are godly Christ-like people. That is reserved for the new covenant.

We don't see that in the old covenant. And then we do see in the Old Testament though anticipation of that day coming. So number three, their prophetic vision of the role of the Spirit in the latter days. Let me just take you to a few passages that indicate what God will do when the Spirit comes in the latter days. Turn for example to Isaiah 44, the first five verses describe what will happen when the Spirit comes upon all the people of God. Isaiah 44:1, "But now listen, O Jacob, my servant and Israel whom I have chosen. Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb who will help you. Do not fear O Jacob my servant and Jeshurun in whom I have chosen. For I will pour out water on a thirsty land, streams on the dry ground. I will pour out my Spirit, " now notice what it says, "on your offspring." Not on you, not this current generation, not there in the old covenant, but there will come a time when I will do this on your offspring, "My blessing on your descendants, and they will spring up among the grass like poplars by the streams of water. This one will say, 'I am the Lord's.' And that one will call upon the name of Jacob and another will write on his hand Belonging to the Lord and will name Israel's name with honor." Do you see what happens when the Spirit comes upon these descendants, these offspring, it will result in a transformation of them where they love to be the people of God. They write it on their hand Belonging to Yahweh. 

When you think of the history of Israel, how seldom they were proud to be the people of God, how often they wanted to be like the other nations. They took the idols of the other nations to worship them and so on. How seldom it was that Israel had a heart for Yahweh, "But the day is going to come says God when I will send my Spirit, then he will accomplish this work to bring about a complete transformation of them, so that they will walk in my ways and love to be the people of God." 

Another passage, Ezekiel 36, turn there if you would please, beginning at verse 25, "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean, and I will cleanse you from your filthiness in your idols." By the way, notice the reference here and in Isaiah 44 to water and Spirit. You think of John four, "You must be born of water and the Spirit." So there is this sense of the Spirit is the life-giving Spirit where there is water, there is life. "So I will pour water on you, you will be cleansed." Verse 26, "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit within you. I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." It's a great image, a heart of stone indicating you're cold toward God, you're dead, you're not following him. But a heart of flesh is you're vibrant and pulsating and alive toward God. Well, how will this happen? Verse 27, "I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you'll be careful to observe my ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers, so you will be my people and I will be your God." So this day is coming says the Lord, when he will send the Spirit and the Spirit will bring about this renewal of their lives, they will be transformed. He will bring righteousness to the earth, and cause the people of God to live in complete obedience before him. 

Now one question that comes up at this point that I think we should just address right here is the question of isn't this talking about a day when the Spirit comes and he'll bring about complete obedience, he'll bring about complete renewal of the people of God. And yet we live in a time right now when the Spirit has come, but we're not completely obedient, isn't that the case? Pentecost has happened, the Spirit has come, and yet even in the New Testament itself, think of the book of First Corinthians. We see lots of problems with Christians that they don't obey the Lord fully. And yet this is describing a time when there is complete obedience, "I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes."

You will be careful to observe my ordinances. So we realize that the fulfillment of what is promised in the Old Testament is different than we anticipated. What appears to be the case from the Old Testament promises, this relates to the promises of the coming of Christ as well. That when Christ comes the Old Testament says he will set up his kingdom. He will reign over everything and everything will be right. And he will vanquish the enemies of Israel and all of that. But Christ has come and yet there is still much unrighteousness on the earth, so the same thing applies there. The fulfillment is different than we anticipated. So rather than the fulfillment of these promises happening instantaneously, the fulfillment happens incrementally, over a long period of time resulting in the end with everything that was promised being fulfilled. But how is it fulfilled in segments, stages, incremental fulfillments, bit by bit along the way, resulting in the end with all of it being fulfilled.

You ask the question, “Did Christ fulfill the promises of when he comes he'll set up his kingdom?” Yes, and no you have to say. Already we are in the kingdom of Christ. Colossians 1:13 says so, "We've been transferred from the dominion of Satan into the kingdom of his beloved son." And yet we do not now see all things subject to him, Hebrews 2:8. So the fullness of that kingdom is not manifest until Christ comes again. So really the parameters between the beginning of the fulfillment and the completion of the fulfillment are the first and second comings of Christ. When Christ comes in his first coming, he brings with him the Spirit. And the Spirit begins a work in our lives to transform us. He establishes his kingdom, but that kingdom isn't completed when he first comes. But then over time we see incremental growth in the kingdom, incremental growth in our lives as believers, that will result in the end with everything that was promised being completed.

Sometimes this is referred to as “the already, not yet.” Has the promise of the coming kingdom been fulfilled? Well, yes, already in part, but not yet completely. You see it, already, not yet. Yes, in part already, but not yet completely. So this is one of the surprises I think for us in the New Testament age, is to see how those promises in the Old Testament are fulfilled in relation to the coming of Christ in the coming of the Spirit. But back to the main point. But it is clear that the Old Testament promises this day when the Spirit will come upon all the people of God, and will transform them in mighty ways.

So this leads us now then to the capital letter B, The discussion of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of Jesus. With Jesus there is an anticipation also of the Spirit coming upon him. So take a look with me at Isaiah 11 verses one and following. It's a very instructive passage. Isaiah 11 verse one we read this, "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse." You remember who Jesse is? This is David's father. So here we have embedded in this opening statement, the Davidic covenant, the promise to David that he would have a son who would reign upon his throne forever, 2nd Samuel seven. That's really in the background here. "A shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse and a branch from his roots will bear fruit." Now look at this, "The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. He will delight in the fear of the Lord."

Now let me stop right there and think with you about this. Here is an indication that Jesus will have understanding, and wisdom, and counsel, and strength, and knowledge. He will fear the Lord that have a heart that longs to be obedient to the Lord and to follow in his ways. How? By the Spirit. So think with me for a moment. Is it clear when you think of the life of Christ, the life and ministry of Jesus, that he exhibited, for example, wisdom in how he conducted himself with people?

Well, the answer's an obvious yes. Think of the wisdom of Christ that he had in his encounter with the Pharisees, the wisdom that he had with Nicodemus, and with the Samaritan woman, and in various conversations that he had with his disciples. Yes, obviously he had wisdom. According to Isaiah 11:2, how did he have that wisdom? Do you see it? "The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding." So we realize that Jesus came in the power of the Spirit to live the life that he lived with resources granted him by the Spirit, and he needed that because as a man he needed supernatural enablement.

I remember wondering years ago, "Why, what's the point of the Spirit coming upon Jesus? Because he's already fully God. What can the Spirit of God add to the deity of Christ? And the answer is nothing. He could add nothing. But because he comes as the second Adam, as the son of David, as a man, now you ask the question, "What can the Spirit of God add to the humanity of Christ?" And the answer is everything supernatural. To enable him to do the things that he did, to perform the miracles that he did, and to live the life of obedience that he did, to accomplish the work that he did, all in the power of the Spirit. Jesus lived his life in the power of the Spirit as is prophesied in the Old Testament. 

By the way, we talked about the already, not yet just a moment ago. Here's a great text. Oftentimes when I teach of this I go to Isaiah 11 because when you keep reading, look what comes. This is of the coming of Christ, look what you read in verses four and five, "With righteousness he will judge the poor and decide with fairness, the afflicted of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth. And with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about his loins and faithfulness the belt about his waist." So let me ask you was the verse two fulfilled when Jesus came in, his first coming? Yes, he had the Spirit upon him, the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, and so on. But verse four, at the end of verse four, "He will strike the earth with his rod of his mouth. With the breath of his lips, he will slay the wicked."

Was that accomplished when Jesus came in his first coming? No. Do you remember John 3:17? "God did not send his son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him." So you realize this passage is a great example of its fulfillment being already, not yet. The first part of it is happened in the first coming of Christ. The second part of it awaits the second coming of Christ. We await the second coming of Christ for all the rest that is here. In fact, if you keep reading, "The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the young goat." This restoration of creation where there's peace and no violence and the earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, we realize that is yet to come. There's a whole lot more that will happen when Christ comes again to bring about the fulfillment of everything that is in this passage. So yes, he's come, the fulfillment has begun, but it hasn't been completed yet. 

Now back to the main point. Main point being, yes, Jesus lived his life in the power of the Spirit. Isaiah 11 says that. Here's one other passage that is really important because Jesus quotes it in the New Testament. Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted, he has sent me to bind the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of the vengeance of our God. To comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of the Spirit of fainting, and they will be called oaks of righteousness." What a great image, "Oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he may be glorified." So here again as a passage that indicates he will come in the power of the Spirit. 

Let's move on then. The Old Testament references to Jesus coming in the power of the Spirit is fulfilled then as Jesus does indeed live his life and carry out his ministry in the power of the Spirit. And just a few passages here I want to look at with you. The first one is where Jesus comes into Nazareth and begins his public ministry, and announces himself by quoting from Isaiah 61, so the passage we just read. Turn to Luke chapter four, after he was tempted by the devil that begins chapter four, he comes back to Nazareth where he was raised, comes into the synagogue, pick up with me at verse 16. Luke 4:16, "He came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and as was his custom, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, stood up to read and the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him." So I take it he was handed a scroll or a book, where he picked the passage that he wanted to read and where does he go to, "Isaiah 61."

And so he reads, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he's anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He sent me to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. And then he closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, sat down the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, 'Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'"

It's amazing statement. I just wonder if Jesus was handed this Isaiah scroll and turned to the passage he wanted to read. In that same scroll, usually the whole of the book of Isaiah was divided into chapters one to 39, and 40 to 66 in two scrolls. I've seen that myself in Israel, these two different scrolls. And so he was probably handed the second scroll that contained Isaiah 40 to 66, and he turned to Isaiah 61. You know what else he could have turned to easily would be Isaiah 53. Why not turn to Isaiah 53 to describe to them what he came to do as the suffering servant? And I think the answer is this. Before they can understand what he came to do, they need to understand who he is, and who he is is the long awaited Spirit anointed Messiah. What was the main mark of the coming of the Messiah?

He would come in the power of the Spirit and be the son of David. It's interesting, among the kings of Israel the only kings that are stated who have the Spirit were Saul and then David. You don't find another king of Israel including the kings of Judah that had many good kings. You don't find an explicit reference in the Old Testament to any of those kings having had the Spirit upon them. It doesn't mean they didn't, it just means that the Bible doesn't indicate, it doesn't state that the Spirit was upon them. The last one we know biblically who had the Spirit upon him was David. And here we anticipate Messiah coming in the line of David. He will have the Spirit upon him. And so Jesus wants them to know, the scripture is fulfilled, "I who stand before you am none other than the long awaited Messiah." That's what his focus was. 

And Jesus did what he did in the power of the Spirit. And I think this goes back to his childhood even if you go back into Luke two, we talked about this briefly already. That verses 40 and 52 speak of Jesus in his youth growing and becoming strong, increasing in wisdom. In verse 52, "Jesus kept increasing in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God in men. "That I think right from his childhood all the way through the Spirit was at work in him. Remember Isaiah 11:2, again, the Spirit of wisdom. So indeed Jesus grows in wisdom by the power of the Spirit and accomplishes the work that he is called to do. 

And that work includes the miracles that Jesus did, the exorcisms. So take a look with me at Matthew 12 just for a moment. Matthew 12, where Jesus has performed a miracle in casting out a demon. The Pharisees who witnessed this cannot deny that a miracle took place, it's obvious to everyone. So they don't say, "Oh, he's a charlatan or he is a magician," something like that. They know a miracle has occurred, so if it's a supernatural act, you have one of two choices. Either God did it or Satan did it. So what do they say? "He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons." And Jesus corrects them. He chastises them for that. He actually gives them three responses. Here's the third one, the one that pertains to our subject right now. Verse 28, Matthew 12:28. Jesus said, "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."

Here Jesus is declaring that the power by which he did this deed of casting out this demon was not by accessing as it were his own divine nature, which of course he could have done. But rather in his human nature, relying upon the Spirit by which he could cast out this demon, "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God." So it's an explicit reference then to his doing this act as a human in the power of the Spirit rather than utilizing the power of his own divine nature. But then notice the second half of that verse, "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. What's the mark of the king of the kingdom? He will have the Spirit. And therefore, if I have the Spirit and I'm doing these miracles in the power of the Spirit, guess who I am? I'm the king who you are refusing, who you are rejecting," is the point he's making to these Pharisees. I'm bringing in the kingdom and you are rejecting the king of the kingdom in this. 

Just a couple other passages to help us see Jesus' life in the power of the Spirit. These are both from Peter, I've mentioned one earlier to you, but they're both in the book of Acts. The first one is in Acts chapter two after Peter quotes from Joel two. On the day of Pentecost he quotes that long passage from Joel. And when he is done with that in verse 22, he says this, "Men of Israel listen to these words. Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles, and wonders, and signs which God performed through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know." 

So notice here that Peter puts the emphasis on the humanity of Christ. A man attested to you by God. And how did he do these miracles? These miracles and signs and wonders? How did he do this? God was with him. God enabled him to do this. God performed these things through him in your midst. So again here in terms of kind of the general statement that Peter makes, and this is significant that this is Peter because Peter knows that Jesus is God. He worshiped Jesus. He was with Thomas on that day after the resurrection of Christ where Jesus appeared into the room and Thomas had said, "I won't believe unless I see for myself." So Jesus said, "Come here, Thomas, touch my hands, my side, be not unbelieving but believing. And Thomas declared, 'My Lord and my God." Peter was there. He knows that Jesus is God. But you've asked Peter the question how did Jesus perform these miracles and signs and wonders. Answer? As a man. God worked through him. Of course he doesn't mention Spirit, but that's the obvious answer to who this is when he says which God performed through him, it would be the Spirit. 

And that's confirmed in Acts 10:38, the other passage where Peter speaks of the Spirit on Jesus. And this one is explicit. This is a statement to Cornelius, before Peter presents the actual words of the gospel to him, he gives him a one verse summary of the life and ministry of Jesus. And here's what he says, "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power. And how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil for God was with him." So indeed the Spirit of God worked in Jesus to enable him to live the life that he lived, the moral goodness that he performed doing good and the miracles, healing all who were oppressed by the devil for God was with him. The Spirit of God was working in his life. 

Now you might wonder, after Jesus lived his life, died, the Spirit enabled him to go to the cross. Hebrews 9:14, by the eternal Spirit he offered himself. So the Spirit was involved right from the beginning in the whole of Jesus' life, right to the very end. You might wonder, "Well, was that the end then of the Spirit in the life and ministry of Jesus after his death? That was it." And the answer is no, evidently not. We have one verse that indicates that Jesus, after his resurrection continued to have the Spirit upon him. It's in Acts chapter one verses one and two. This is how Luke who is writing the book of Acts begins the book of Acts, he says, "The first account I composed Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after he had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom he had chosen."

You see it, you just pass over it quickly if you're not paying attention, "After he had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles." What are those orders? Well, that's the great commission. That's Matthew 28, "Go on to all the world, make disciples of all the nations," and so on. This great commission of Jesus was given to the apostles by the power of the Spirit. So the Spirit is still upon him. And I think you see that also in Revelation five where Jesus with the Father are worshiped together at the end of that marvelous chapter. But Jesus has been described earlier as one who had upon him seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God. So I think you have the Spirit on Jesus and that act of worship, it's actually Trinitarian Father, Son, and Spirit who are present in the worship that takes place at the end of Revelation five.

Jesus lived his life in the power of the Spirit and accomplished his work, went to the cross and all the rest. But then Jesus also promises the Spirit will be given to us. Turn to John 16, beginning in chapter 14 Jesus begins to tell them that he's going to be leaving. Do you remember John 14? "I go to prepare a place for you." So he's been kind of getting them acquainted with this idea that he's leaving them and they don't like it. They don't understand it, they don't get it. Why is he talking about leaving? It makes no sense to them. So pick up with me in John 16 verse five, Jesus says, "But now I am going to him who sent me." Obviously, to the Father. "And none of you asked me, 'Where are you going?'" If I was talking with Andy and I said to Andy, "After class is over today, I'm going to head off on a trip." What would you say? "Oh, where are you going?" That's the natural way you would talk about this, but they're not doing that with Jesus. He's saying he's leaving and they're just aghast, they are dismayed. So let me keep reading, "None of you says to me, 'Where are you going?'" But because I have said these things sorrow has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away." 

Those are stunning words. What could be better than having Jesus walking by your side? Answer. Listen to it. "For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." What could be better than having Jesus walking by your side? Having the Spirit of Jesus living in your very life, in your heart. So indeed the great gift of the Spirit that Jesus promises to us is a gift by which we will be enabled to live lives by the power of the Spirit, in a way that reflects how Jesus lived his life in the power of the Spirit.

Of course, we won't live that perfectly. We have a sin nature. He did not. We fight against sin and we will fail. We all sin in many ways James reminds us. But nonetheless, we have the Spirit who can work within us to help us grow and become more like Christ. And in the end, remember already not yet. When the not yet is fulfilled in the end by the Spirit we will live lives of complete obedience.

So this is the trajectory we're on as those who are followers of Christ, we're given the Spirit. In John 14, he said, "He who is with you will be in you." So indeed the Spirit will be given to each one of us, and by the Spirit we will grow and be able to become more and more what God created us to be, redeemed us to be in Christ. And then see that fulfilled in its fullness in the age to come. 

Then finally, the Holy Spirit and the church. Pentecost of course is where the Spirit comes upon the church. In Acts chapter two, I won't read that passage to you, I know you're familiar with it. But this day finally came where the believers are gathered together in this room and the Spirit comes upon them. And flames of fire are part of this. Again, similar to what we saw in numbers 11, there is physical manifestation of the coming of the Spirit. So people have no doubt that the Spirit was at work. Included there were the tongues that people spoke where they could speak other languages. People heard of the glories of God, the majesty of God spoken in their own language. And I see Pentecost as a step of returning from what happened at Babel. Some people say Babel in the Book of Genesis, where the people are divided according to their languages.

But in Christ people will be united in languages, and in this case by having a supernatural ability to speak a language they didn't know proclaiming the glories of God. Perhaps the ultimate end of this will be that all of us are able to speak and understand all of the languages that will take place in heaven, perhaps that will be.

But in any case, we see in Pentecost this display of the Spirit's empowerment that comes, and he comes upon them to indwell them. And it's very clear that those believers, those very believers who believed in Christ, did not have the Spirit until this time. So for example, in John chapter 7:39, I think it's verses 38 and 39, "Jesus came to the great feast and on the last day he stood up and proclaimed, 'Out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" And then John's commentary is this, "But this Jesus spoke of the Spirit whom those who believed in him were to receive, but they had not received him yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified." So it was as Christ was ascended to the right hand of the Father that then he gave the Spirit to the church, and they didn't have the Spirit until that point. They believed in him, but they hadn't received him, that's what John 7:39 says. But then we read in Acts 2:33, Jesus having ascended to the right hand of the Father, having received from the Father the gift of the Holy Spirit. He has poured forth that what you see in here, the gift of the Spirit to the church comes at Pentecost, so that Spirit enables us to do what Jesus did. 

I love the connection between Acts 10:38, I mentioned to you before, "You've heard of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power." The connection of Acts 10:38 with Acts 1:8. Wait in Jerusalem for what the Father promised, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses." So indeed as Jesus lived his life with the Holy Spirit and with power, so we are given power and the Holy Spirit to live the lives we are called to live, to bear witness of Christ, to grow in grace and to minister to others.

So Pentecost is the point where the Spirit comes upon our lives as believers, and he provides empowerment really in two broad ways. Empowerment first for witness in the world. That's Acts 1:8, isn't it? You receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses. So you realize that the responsibility and privilege we have to bear witness of Christ is not something that we are left to our own to do. We rather are granted the Spirit to grant us power, wisdom, words by which we can speak the gospel to others. And you know this without any question, that the Spirit who dwells within you wants to glorify Christ. That's John 16, "He will glorify me."

The Spirit wants to glorify Christ by making Christ known to others. So walk in the Spirit. Guess what one of the things you will do will be? You will want to speak of the glories of Christ to those whom you have opportunity to do so. So witness that takes place to bring people to Christ. 

And then also within the church then the Spirit empowering for service to one another, by which we enable one another to grow and become more like Christ. Look at Ephesians four with me for a moment here where we see how growth takes place in the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11, he says this, "He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors, teachers for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service." So notice that the ministers in the church, those who are called to do the work of service, the ministry of service are not the professionals as we think of it, the clergy. But rather the people, they minister to one another, to the building up of the body of Christ.

They're equipped by the professionals, by those gifted men that God has given the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, those gifted people equip the church. Grant them teaching and help them grow in ways that they can be more effective. But the membership, the ministry of the body is what accounts for the growth that takes place. Verse 13, until we attain to the unity of the faith, the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. So until we attain the fullness of Christ, we have our work cut out for us to help each other grow in becoming more of what we are to be. 

And if you ask this question, ask the question, are we responsible to do this on our own? The answer is no. 1st Corinthians chapter 12, "The Spirit grants gifts to us by which we use those gifts to build up the body of Christ." Both in terms of our witness in the world and our service in the church to enable each of us, all of us to grow more and more, to be like Christ. The Spirit is at work now to bring about what ultimately will be the completion of the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, to be fully like Christ in the end. Praise me to God for the gift of his Spirit to us in this age.

So I have a question, back when you were talking about Isaiah 61, and the Spirit's work in the life of Jesus.


So we know that that verse describes some of the work that will be done by the Messiah when he arrives. But then in Luke, when Jesus quotes it declaring that it is fulfilled this day in him, he stops at that quotation in Isaiah 61 verse 2A.

So it would seem like he stops there, but Isaiah 61:2B goes on to prophesy more things that the Messiah would bring about. So are these things to be understood as coming about at the second coming, and that that is the reason why Jesus stopped the quotation in midstream?

I think so. I think that's the reason because he quits the quotation in Isaiah 61 verse two, "To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." That's where he quits quoting. The next phrase is, "The day of the vengeance of our God." So really those two phrases, "The favorable year of the Lord is right now, this is the day of salvation." This is the day when the gospel goes forth to the nations and people have opportunity to repent of their sin, believe in Christ and be saved, this is the favorable year of the Lord. But what follows that is the day of the vengeance of our God where there's no gospel, no salvation possible when Christ comes in his second coming.

The very same Jesus who died for sinners will personally kill all sinners who stand against him in that day of judgment, Revelation 19 makes this crystal clear. Psalm two makes this crystal clear. So I think you're right, Robbie, that he intentionally stops the quotation at the favorable year of the Lord. Today the scripture is fulfilled in your hearing, because the rest of this isn't fulfilled until he comes again in his second coming. The day of the vengeance of our God sobering phrase, isn't it? Thank you. Good question.

Can you address the laying on of hands? There are several instances especially in Acts where there are believers and yet they don't have the Spirit until... apparently don't have the Spirit until laying on of hands. And then it's manifested and they speak in tongues and they evidently are indwelt at that point, but not until that point.

Well, the one I'm thinking of that the laying on of hands is the laying on of the apostles hands who come from Jerusalem to the Samaritans in Acts chapter eight. And so they evidently are believers, they have believed in Christ, but they haven't received the Spirit. Some people in the Pentecostal movement argue from that text, that there's a division between conversion and a second act of grace where you receive the Spirit. And the laying out of hands is sometimes thought to be a part of that.

But I think that misses the historical redemptive point of what happens in Acts eight. Here's my take on it. Is it back in Matthew 16 Jesus promise to Peter, remember when he said, "Who do people say that I am? 'Oh, you're Jeremiah one of the prophets and so on.' Who do you say that I am? 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Blessed are you, Simon Barjona. Flesh and blood didn't reveal this to you, my father in heaven revealed this to you". So Peter, "You'll no longer be called Cephas, but Peter. And upon this rock, petros, rock, I will build my church." So notice Peter is present on the day of Pentecost, and is the prominent apostle who preaches and is there, as it were opening the door of the Spirit being given to the people in Jerusalem.

Samaria, Peter's not there. They came to believe in Christ, but Peter's not present there. So opening the door for this new covenant reality of the Spirit coming requires Peter's presence. So Peter comes and when Peter's there, then they receive the Spirit. So I think this is the point, it's a historical redemptive point, not something that is normative that should be taken forward in terms of we practice this in an ongoing way in the church.

And interestingly, another thing that confirms this way of thinking is then Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria to the uttermost parts of the world, so the Gentiles. So even though in Acts chapter nine Paul was called to be the apostle to the Gentiles. I wonder if he was a little bit bothered by this? He was not the one called to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles in Acts chapter 10 instead who does God pick?


Peter. Peter. So I think this is fulfilling, Acts 16... I'm sorry, Matthew 16, where Jesus said upon Peter, upon this rock I will build my church. So Peter is present there in Pentecost and present in Samaria, present with the Gentiles as the one who as it were opens the door of the gospel. And the new covenant reality that happens by the Spirit with Peter there, that's how I take it. 

I don't think the Pentecost's argument works. Because you don't find in the New Testament any evidence that there is a second work of grace. Actually, there's a second and a third, a fourth and a fifth and a sixth. All of life is grace given to us by which we grow and so on. But we don't see a second work of grace, that is some kind of definitive change in who we are. It's all what happens at conversion, including the giving of the Spirit. So for example in Galatians 3:26 we read, "You are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." Very straightforward. How do you become a son of God through faith in Christ. Few verses later Galatians 4:6, "Because you are sons..." How did you become a son? Through faith. "Because you are sons, God has poured forth the Spirit of his son into our hearts crying Abba Father." So faith in Christ to become a son, you receive the Spirit.

So there's no evidence that there's some kind of a gap between Christian conversion and subsequently receiving the Spirit. No, the Spirit is given at the point of true conversion. This is why in Acts 19, Paul will ask those disciples of John the Baptist, "Did you receive the Spirit when you believed?" It's Paul's way of asking the question, "Are you a true believer in Christ?"

But he laid on his hands.

Well, yes he did. He did. And then they received the Spirit. Your main question was the laying on of the hands, sorry Eddie. So I think the laying out of hands is something that can accompany, I don't see any evidence in the New Testament that this is a necessity. But it is something that can accompany a work of God that takes place with a group of people, that indicates your participation with them in what they're about to receive. And so you lay hands on them as they trust in Christ or as they're perhaps called to ministry, that sort of a thing. The laying on of hands can be appropriate for that.

Can I ask a following one on that? In that same area, I know there are some denominations that will use the text and chapter eight of Acts to bolster their arguments for apostolic succession and ordination, the laying on of hands by Peter.

I see.

Do you have any comment on that or do you see anything there?

No, I don't. I mean the apostolic succession, there's no evidence that the authority given to the apostles carries forward after the apostles. It's the churches built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. And once that's done, that does not continue. So I think the Roman Catholic view that somehow Peter the Bishop of Rome, apostle, that Peter's very apostolic authority is invested then in those who take over the bishopric in Rome from that point on, and hence the papacy. It's an interesting theory, but there's no biblical basis for that.

You talked about in the Old Testament where the Spirit was given but then taken, for an instance, for a particular work.


Twofold question, can the Spirit be taken from us now? And I'm thinking specifically towards the end times there's going to be a great apostasy, is that believers, not believers? If it is believers, does that mean that the Spirit has receded or been taken away? Do you have any thoughts on that?

The answer to your first question, can the Spirit be taken from a true believer from believers post Pentecost? The answer is a definitive no. So we should never pray the prayer that David prayed in Psalm 51, "Do not take your Holy Spirit from me." Because in a sense that's like saying to God, "I don't believe you that you promised me the Holy Spirit as a guarantee." Isn't that Ephesians one verses 13 and 14, let me just remind you of that, "In Christ, you also after listening to the message of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed."

So he makes it very clear. You have to have heard about Christ, you have to believed in Christ. What do you get? "You were sealed in him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance with the view to the redemption of God's own possession to the praise of His glory." So this is God. It's like an engagement ring that a young man will give to the one he wants to be his bride pledging, "I am yours and I ask you to be mine forever." Now this is God though, human beings can break their word. God doesn't. Thanks be to God, he does not. So this is his pledge, his oath that he gives with the token as it were of the Spirit indicating we are his. We will receive the inheritance, this is a guarantee. A believer cannot have the Spirit taken from him or her. 

The apostasy that Paul talks about, for example, in 2nd Thessalonians two, this great apostasy, I take it, is examples of people who are in the Christian community, who have every reason to believe that they're genuine believers. They profess the things that they should, they act in ways that you think are consistent with the faith and the like, but their hearts have never truly been changed. I'm not going to name names, but I can think of people just in recent, very recent memory. Notable Christian people who have completely turned away from the faith in a decisive way, have renounced Christ fully, who once were upheld as remarkable Christian leaders, highly respected. So I take it these are people who in their heart of hearts, it never was the genuine thing.

And so they were never saved.

They were never saved. "They went out from us because they were not of us. If they had been of us, they would've remained with us, but they went out in order to show that they were not of us." One of the marks of true saving faith is ongoing faith and faithfulness. Not perfect, we sin. But ongoing believing in Christ, ongoing trusting him and seeking to obey him. For example, in one Corinthians 15, when Paul reminds the Corinthians of the gospel, notice what he says, "I make known to you brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold fast the word that I preached to you unless you believed in vain."

So is there such a thing as vain belief, that is a false profession of faith? Yes. How do you know? Well, what you believed in which you stand by which you are saved if you hold fast. So what's the mark of genuine saving faith? Ongoing faith. So faith, saving faith is a living reality, it's not a one-time act. It now puts you in relationship with God where you trust him, you look to him, you hope in him. He is now your life in Christ. And again, we don't live this out perfectly. We're very fallible people as Christians. But nonetheless a Christian is marked by constantly going back to their commitment to Christ, and they're longing to live their lives to please the Lord, and live in that kind of a way of ongoing faith in God, and faithfully carrying out what God calls us to do even though we fail along the way.

Another text is Titus one, this speaks of a profession of faith that is not real. Verse 16, they profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny him being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. Titus 1:16. So is there such a thing as what the Puritans called false professors, not people like me who teach that kind of professor, but professing faith in Christ. Is there a false profession of faith? Yes. What's the mark of a true profession? You keep believing ongoing faith, ongoing faithfulness in life. You want to follow up?

It's just a struggle. I think about what's to come the apostacy, you worry about your brothers and sisters, and you don't want them to fall away. And then introspectively, you go, "Okay, what would it take to shake my face so much that I would just say no and turn my back?" And it's not that I'm void of sin, I'm a sinful to a man. And Paul even said that himself, he hates the sin, hates the thing that his behavior that continues. And so it's just a measure of I have the Holy Spirit. I believe in Christ with all my heart. And I want that assurance that, "Okay, I'll step forward in faith." And hopefully this world is a broken, fallen place. And you can see in today's world it's spiraling. And so I have some clarity about the end times that are to come.

And if I'm to live through some of that more, "What will it take to shake me away from Christ?" At this moment in time, I can be bold and say, "No, it'll make me even closer." I'm closer to him. I have that peace. I have that understanding and strength, but still in the Scriptures reading about what's to come. And the great falling away just makes me wonder, the role of the Holy Spirit in that or lack of the Holy Spirit in. That people who fall away never had that in the first place. Or is it you can rebel in your heart to a point where you suppress that, suppress the Holy Spirit that you were given?

You can for a time period, but not permanently. Not that you lose your salvation or forfeit your salvation. He who began a good work in you might continue it until the day of Christ Jesus. No, no, he who began a good work in you will continue it until the day of Christ Jesus. "Faithful is he who called you who will bring it to pass," 1 Thessalonians 5:24. "May your Spirit, soul and body be preserved complete at the coming oral, Lord Jesus Christ at Faithful as he who called you who will bring it to pass." Or Jesus, "All that the Father gives to me. I will raise up on the last day." So to say that someone for whom Christ died and are saved can be lost in the end is to call Jesus a liar.

Do you want to do that? Do you want to call Jesus a liar? Because He said, "All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and I will raise them up on the last day." It's in John six. So indeed there's great confidence we have that for our security in Christ and that we are truly saved. But the mark, how do we know that? There's one thing, the objective reality is there, but how do we know that? By looking to him, trusting in him, by continuing a life of faith in him. That's how we know it.

There's certain, I don't know if they're denominations. But I've seen this in commentaries over time where these commentators will actually rail on the Holy Spirit as not being equal. You've never heard of this sort of thing ever?

No, I don't know what you mean.

And they'll quote so many instances and you'll see it. I wish I could point them out. But so many instances in the New Testament where they talk about the Father, Son, Father, Son, Father, Son, Father, Son. But not triadic, not father, son, Holy Spirit. So you pointed out the triadic passages. But in as many as there are those I think there's actually more where it just…

Oh yeah, that's true.

... says Father, Son.

There's a lot of father and son, right.

Right. And so they'll kind of hang their hat on that as being, "Okay, well there's a Holy Spirit, it's a useful thing of God, but not equal to, not part of the Trinity."

In that case, they're drawing conclusions that are just misguided. There is a prominence of Father, Son relationship because the Father sent the Son, the Son does the will of the Father, but he does all of that in the power of the Spirit. And before he leaves, he tells his disciples, "I have great news. The Spirit's going to come upon you." So the Spirit plays a very important role in this, but the Spirit is also happily hidden in many, many cases.

He really is about exalting Christ to the glory of the Father, not so much putting himself forward. I think there's reason for that. When you think of the whole Bible being inspired by the Spirit, but notice the Bible is not autobiographical in that sense. It's not, "Let me tell you about me, the Spirit." He says, "Let me tell you about Jesus." That's what he wants to do is put forward Jesus.


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