Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

How Does The Holy Spirit Work Today? (Part 1)

There are a lot of different ideas floating around in the religious world concerning the Holy Spirit and how he works in the lives of Christians today.  In order to separate truth from fiction, we must go to God’s Word and God’s Word alone to find out how the Holy Spirit works in Christians’ lives, because God’s Word is truth (John 17:17).

God’s Word has a lot to say about the Holy Spirit.  He is mentioned 88 times in 23 books of the Old Testament.  The New Testament refers to him 264 times.  Matthew through John refers to him at least 60 times, Acts alone mentions him 57 times, and all but three of the epistles make mention of him a total of 132 times.  Therefore, it is logical to conclude that the Christian needs to understand the Holy Spirit as much as humanly possible, if for no other reason than to understand much of the Bible itself.  What information does God’s Word give about the work of the Holy Spirit?

Scripture reveals that, among other things, the Holy Spirit was involved in revealing the will of God during biblical times.  The prophets of the Old Testament spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21; cf. 2 Sam. 23:2).  In fact, Peter would say that the Holy Spirit was in these prophets, testifying of what was to come in the future (1 Pet. 1:10-11).  We find an example of this in Isaiah’s prophecy about the suffering the future Messiah would endure on our behalf (Is. 53).  Likewise, the Spirit continued to reveal the will of God in New Testament times.  Jesus told his apostles that the Spirit would guide them into all the truth (John 14:26; 16:12-13), which the Spirit did after his death, resurrection, and ascension (1 Cor. 2:10-13; Eph. 3:3-5; cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-3).

One fact that many in the religious world fail to realize about the Holy Spirit is that the work the Holy Spirit was involved in was temporary in nature, taking place two thousand years ago during biblical times.  However, some of the work of the Spirit described in the New Testament goes on today and will continue to occur until Christ comes again at the end of time.  There is a distinct difference, and it is important to understand this difference because a lot of falsehood is being taught about the Holy Spirit that revolves around a misunderstanding of this subject.

Concerning the temporary work of the Holy Spirit as revealed in the New Testament, it should first be noted that that this work was promised in both Testaments.  Joel prophesied about it (Joel 2:28-32), a prophecy which was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension (Acts 2:16-21).  Joel had prophesied of many miraculous things occurring as a result of the Spirit being poured out.  On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit gave the apostles the ability to miraculously speak in other languages, causing some of their hearers to believe them to be drunk; Peter then explained what was really happening (Acts 2:1-15).  He attributed the miracles he and his fellow apostles could perform as a result of the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy about the Holy Spirit.

Jesus also defined the temporary work of the Holy Spirit to his apostles on three separate occasions during his last conversation with them in the upper room before his arrest.  He told them that the Spirit would “teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26), “testify about me” (John 15:26-27), “convict the concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…(and) guide you into all the truth” (John 16:7-8, 13).

The Spirit convicted the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment by miraculously inspiring the apostles to preach the Word of God (Acts 2:4; Matt. 10:19-20; cf. Acts 24:25).  He testified with the apostles by causing them to perform miracles to confirm the Word they were preaching (Mark 16:17-18, 20; Heb. 2:3-4).  What many fail to understand is that while the Spirit still convicts the world through the preaching of the gospel today, his doing so by directly and miraculously inspiring the speaker no longer occurs today.  Likewise, his testimony with the apostles through miracles to confirm the Word has also ceased.  The next article in this series will go into further detail about that.

Living Water

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

John 4:10 – Scripture of the Day (February 26, 2014)

I believe “the gift of God” and the “living water” referred to by Jesus here are one and the same, and are referring to the Holy Spirit.  I say this for several reasons:

  1. Later, Jesus specifically referred to the Holy Spirit as “living water” and, as here with the Samaritan woman, urged people to come to him and “drink” (John 7:37-39).
  2. Christians “drink” of the Holy Spirit first when they are converted (Acts 2:38-39; 1 Cor. 12:13).
  3. Christians continue to “drink” of the Spirit as they continually seek to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18) by singing and making melody with their hearts to God (Eph. 5:19), feeding upon “the sword of the Spirit” which is God’s Word (Eph. 6:17), and praying for strength through the Spirit (Eph. 3:16; cf. Luke 11:13).
  4. Jesus said that his water quenches thirst (John 4:14).  Isaiah said the same thing about the water which is the Spirit (Is. 44:3).  The Spirit, through the Word he inspired (2 Pet. 1:20-21), quenches our thirst by meeting our spiritual needs (Rom. 5:5; 8:12-13, 15; 15:13; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 3:16; cf. Ps. 119).

When The Spirit of Truth Comes…

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 16:13 – Scripture of the Day (February 20, 2014)

This passage is commonly cited by many as proof that the Holy Spirit miraculously guides and speaks to them.  However, as with just about everything in the Bible, both immediate and overall context must be considered to properly understand and interpret what Jesus is saying here.

Contextually, he is talking to his apostles on the night before he died.  Today’s scripture is part of the fourth and final time in this conversation that Jesus mentions sending the Holy Spirit to them at some later point (John 14:16-17, 25-26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15).  After his resurrection and right before his ascension, he would allude to the Spirit coming upon them again (Acts 1:6-8), something which occurred on the day of Pentecost ten days later (Acts 2:1ff).

Thus, the immediate context of today’s passage of Scripture about the Holy Spirit guiding into all truth applies solely to the apostles of Christ, and not to us today.  That is not to say that the Spirit gives us no direction or guidance at all today.  In fact, the verse indirectly alludes to the fact that he does, when you take into account the overall context:

  1. The Spirit would guide the apostles into all the truth (John 16:13a).  God’s Word is truth (John 17:17).
  2. The apostles and prophets who authored the books of the New Testament were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:19-21; Eph. 3:3-5).
  3. The Scriptures are said to be inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16).  The Spirit, who inspired the authors of the New Testament, did not speak on his own authority, but spoke whatever he hears (John 16:13b).  That would be what he heard from Jesus, who in turn heard it from God the Father (John 16:14-15).
  4. Thus, when we read God’s Word, we are reading a message from the Holy Spirit.  When we heed God’s Word, that’s how the Spirit guides us (cf. Gal. 5:16-25).