We’ve spent a great deal of time here at Faithful Stewardship talking about God the Father, and God the Son who is Jesus Christ. We took a brief look at the God the Holy Spirit within the context of the Delegation of Authority within the Trinity. It was also important to see how this delegation of authority is conferred upon us Christians, especially those of us who are gentiles. Our authority to serve Jesus Christ is based in Jesus Christ, and empowered by God the Holy Spirit who was sent by Jesus to we who believe in His Gospel. But today, I want to take a good look at the Person of God the Holy Spirit. I’d like to make it clear that I will not be following any denominational quick-guide on the Holy Spirit. I shall endeavor to simply share what I’ve read in the Scriptures. I maintain 2 fundamental statements of faith as the basis for this discussion:
- The inerrancy of the Bible as the Word of God. In it we find that which God has revealed of Himself, His Nature, His Will, and His Love for us. While we cannot claim (nor should we) to know and explain everything about God (for we are only created beings) we can (and must) aim to know what He has given to us to know about Him, that which He has chosen to reveal about Himself by giving us His Word and His Spirit.
- The Trinity. There is only One God. He exists eternally as 3 distinct persons, God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.
So, I’m excited about this post. So much so, that I’m not sure where we should start. By way of review, I think it best that we start with the account in John 14 where Jesus is giving the disciples His promise to send the Holy Spirit.
John 14:15-31 (ESV) 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
There is just so much packed into this section, and even the whole chapter. Jesus is giving final instructions before the storm (for the ruler of this world is coming). I strongly encourage you to read full chapters of anything I post here. I try to give maximum context, but sometimes I trim down the copied portions to keep these posts readable within a lunch break. Notice here how Jesus is reaffirming His Deity, and His Oneness with the Father and the Holy Spirit, while also explaining very distinct Persons. I’ll be honest, I have no idea how anyone goes about reading this passage of scripture while denying the Trinity (rhetorical, not truly interested in that how). Let us take a look now at some of the key points regarding the Holy Spirit:
- In verse 16, we see that the Holy Spirit is a permanent gift for those who believe in Jesus Christ. This is a Promise from God. God keeps His promises.
- In verse 17, we see that the world cannot receive The Holy Spirit, because the world neither sees Him nor knows Him.
- Also in verse 17, we see that the disciples know the Holy Spirit because He dwells with them. The Promise, though, is that the Holy Spirit will (future) dwell in them. Jesus lived and walked with His disciples. The Holy Spirit was upon Jesus (and in Him). Looking ahead to our Great Commission, it is the Holy Spirit living in us that calls the unbeliever to repentance, and testifies of Jesus to open up their hearts to the Gospel that we are to preach to them.
- In verse 26, we see that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and remind us of all that Jesus had taught His disciples. They heard Jesus teach directly, but we need to read the Scriptures for the Holy Spirit to fulfill this part of His role (remembrance) in our lives. Incidentally, knowledge of the Word of God is necessary for us to properly test the spirits to make sure we are being taught by only the Holy Spirit of God, and not being lead astray by a false spirit or spirit of error.
Now, the focus of the book of John is the Love of Jesus and His Deity. The Book of Acts chronicles the early Church from the time of Christ’s ascension to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. The writer of the Book of Acts paid special attention to the work of the Holy Spirit as the Promise of God to those who believed. The writer spends most of the time chronicling the events in third-person, until Chapter 20, when the author notes that we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. We see him shipwrecked with Paul on Malta in Acts 28. I believe the writer to be Luke, of whom Paul spoke in Colossians 4, 2 Timothy 4, and Philemon. If you read Luke’s introduction to the book of Acts, he says, “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.” This is clearly the same author of the Book of Luke, which was also written for Theophilus. Luke’s understanding of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives and ministry of the Apostles reveals itself in Luke’s account of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a side note, I wonder why we print the Gospel in the Bibles in the present order (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John then Acts). After reading through Luke as a prelude to reading Acts, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to print the Gospel in the following order Matthew, Mark, John, Luke and then Acts? Anyway, forgive me the distraction. Let us continue in the Book of Luke.
Luke 1:5-17 (ESV) 5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
John the Baptist has a special calling on his life from God the Father. God the Father declared to Zechariah that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. This is a special assignment. What could this mean, though, for Zechariah? He didn’t have the book of Acts, or 1 Corinthians as we do. Where might he look for understanding of what this would mean? The Old Testament.
Exodus 31:1-11 (ESV) 1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. 6 And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: 7 the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, 8 the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, 9 and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin and its stand, 10 and the finely worked garments, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the Holy Place. According to all that I have commanded you, they shall do.”
If you are unfamiliar with this portion of Exodus, this is where the Lord God gave Moses instructions for building the Tabernacle and for how Aaron was to serve as priest. The Lord God filled the workmen with His Spirit so that they could do the work He laid before them. Does that ring a bell? It should… it really should.
Micah 3:5-8 (ESV)
5 Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets
who lead my people astray,
who cry “Peace”
when they have something to eat,
but declare war against him
who puts nothing into their mouths.
6 Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision,
and darkness to you, without divination.
The sun shall go down on the prophets,
and the day shall be black over them;
7 the seers shall be disgraced,
and the diviners put to shame;
they shall all cover their lips,
for there is no answer from God.
8 But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the Lord,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression
and to Israel his sin.
In a time when all of the false prophets and diviners were being silenced and put to shame, Micah declares that He has been filled with the Spirit of the Lord to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin. Now, I’d like to look at a couple more Old Testament examples of the Holy Spirit filling or moving on those called by God. The wording is slightly different, but I think the difference here will add to what we will discuss in the book of Acts (at this point not sure how long that might take).
1 Samuel 10:9-11 (ESV) 9 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. 10 When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11 And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”
Genesis 41:37-38 (ESV) 37 This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?”
So, the ramifications of Zechariah’s son, John, being filled with the Spirit even while in the womb are immense. From the small sampling, we can expect the calling of a Prophet, a charge to do the handiwork of God, and Power to declare to Jacob and Israel her sins and transgressions. So then, let us see how it plays out. Luke then records the Angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she would bear a son by the Holy Spirit, and His Name would be Jesus. Let’s now look at what happens when Mary visits the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Luke 1:39-45 (ESV) 39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
The child in Elizabeth’s womb was already filled with the Holy Spirit, for that is what God told Zechariah. Notice, however, than when John heard the voice of Mary and leaped in Elizabeth’s womb, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. When John was finally born, Zechariah’s tongue was finally loosed (v63-66).
Luke 1:67-80 (ESV) 67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
Praise the Lord! I know this is already a long post. Clearly, this is going to be a series of posts, and I’m so excited to keep working on this. But let us look at one more before we close out today’s post.
Luke 2:25-35 (ESV) 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
The work of the Holy Spirit is visible throughout the Scriptures… from Genesis 1:2b, “…And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” to the end of time and beyond (Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would live with us forever). We started in John to see His new promise of sending the Holy Spirit to all who believe. We jumped to Luke, since he is the same author of the Book of Acts, and I wanted us to get acquainted with his focus on the working of God the Holy Spirit. Clearly, in the very first chapter of Luke we see the Holy Spirit at work on those called by God the Father to play a role in the ushering of God’s Promised Messiah. Additionally, I wanted to make clear that the working of the Holy Spirit isn’t new the children of Israel, nor is His presence or even His gifts new. What changes in the New Testament regarding the working of the Holy Spirit, is that through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is now made available to all who have been redeemed by Grace, through faith, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the next post, we are going to (hopefully) move more quickly through Luke, reexamine the Great Commission in both Matthew and Mark, and then dive right into the Book of Acts. Which probably means that there will be a Part 3, if the Lord Wills, when we discuss 1 Corinthians and beyond. I’m so very excited, I hope you find blessing in this study.
May the Lord bless and keep you,