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I hope that the reader will derive as much joy and profit from
the reading of this article as I have received from the preparation
of it. I have been preaching the gospel for forty years and must
confess that I have preached much more on God and Christ than I
have preached concerning the Holy Spirit. The more I study the
godhead, the deeper becomes my appreciation for "the grace of the
Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the
Holy Spirit" (2 Cor. 13:14).
This article will identify and enumerate various aspects of the
work of the Holy Spirit and provide evidence to show that each
facet of the Spirit's work is accomplished by means of his words.
One may know that there is a Supreme Intelligence -- God -- by
observing the universe (cf. Rom. 1:20; Psa. 19:1). However, all
that we know about the work of the Holy Spirit is learned from the
Bible by direct statements made by and about the Spirit, by
examples of what the Spirit did and by necessarily inferring some
things from the facts stated.
It is not the purpose of this article to identify all that the
Word of God says concerning the work of the Holy Spirit. The design
of this paper is to note some selected features of the Spirit's
work in the plan of salvation and to describe the manner in which
he accomplishes his mission.
1. The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible. "No prophecy of
scripture (whether found in the Old or New Testament, ldh) is of
private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of
man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (2
Pet. 1:21). Men did not conjure from their own minds the
prophecies. They were moved, carried, or borne along as the wind
carries a sailing vessel, by the Holy Spirit. The Bible, then, is
from the Holy Spirit and not from man and is, therefore, to be
"Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered
not into the heart of man" (1 Cor. 2:9) have reference not to
heaven, but to things which "God revealed . . . through the Spirit"
which things Paul said he spoke, "not in words which man's wisdom
teacheth, combining spiritual things with spiritual words" (v. 13).
From this we learn that the mind of God was revealed to the apostle
Paul by the Holy Spirit. Yes, the very words were selected by the
Spirit. Later, Paul said that "by revelation was made known unto me
the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, whereby, when ye read,
ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; which in
other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it
hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the
Spirit" (Eph . 3:3-5). It was the work of the Spirit to reveal the
mind of God to the apostles, who both spake and wrote these things.
The written word, the Bible, is authored in this manner by the Holy
2. The Holy Spirit testified against unfaithful Israel. God
testified against Israel for the purpose of bringing them again to
his law (Neh. 9:29). For many years God bore with his unfaithful
children and "testified against them by thy Spirit through thy
prophets" (Neh. 9:30). This passage helps us to understand not only
the work of the Holy Spirit, but also the manner or "the how" of
his work. The Spirit achieved his purpose by means of words put in
the mouths of the prophets.
3. The Holy Spirit guided the work of John, the forerunner of
Christ. Before the birth of John, his father, Zacharias, was told
that John would "be great in the sight of the Lord . . . and he
shall be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Lk. 1:15). When John was
born, Zacharias, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied that John
would "go before the face of the Lord to make ready his ways: To
give knowledge of salvation unto his people in the remission of
their sin" (Lk. 1:76,77). The words of the Spirit guided John's
tongue in his pointed preaching concerning remission of sins.
4. The Holy Spirit provided Christ with unlimited power during
his personal ministry. The Holy Spirit said through Isaiah (11:2)
that "the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon" Jesus. In a synagogue
in Nazareth, Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1,2 which says, in part,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to
preach good tidings to the poor" (Lk. 4:18). Jesus thus affirmed
that he preached by the power of the Spirit. Peter said that God
anointed Jesus "with the Holy Spirit and with power" (Acts 10:38).
5. The Holy Spirit along with God and Christ, made baptism a
prerequisite to discipleship. Read the familiar Matthew 28:18-20.
Here the Holy Spirit is shown to be divine, on par with God and
Christ. Along with God and Christ, the, Holy Spirit is at work when
we baptize those who have been taught the word of God. He works
through the preached word to make disciples.
6. The Holy Spirit made known to the apostles what they should
say. "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will
send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your
remembrance all that I said unto you" (Jn. 14:26). When the apostle
Paul said, "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself
said, It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35), was
he not taught this by words of the Holy Spirit?
7. The Holy Spirit begets spiritual life. Being "born anew'
(Jn. 3:4) is one birth composed of two aspects: (1) being born of
water, and (2) being born of the spirit (Jn. 3:5) This new birth
places one in the kingdom. The water is baptism, which results in
newness of life (Rom. 6:4). The Spirit is the Holy Spirit who
begets through the word, which is the "seed of the kingdom" (Lk.
8:11). One is "begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of
incorruptible, through the Word of God, which liveth and abideth"
(1 Pet. 1:23). "Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of
truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures"
(Jas. 1:18). The Colossians were saved or "delivered out of the
power of darkness" when they were translated "into the kingdom"
(Col. 1:13). They entered the kingdom by the new birth. When the
begotten one is born of water, baptized, he is translated into the
kingdom. He is born anew.
8. According to Romans 8, the Holy Spirit does three things: a.
Leads or guides God's children. "For as many as are led by the
Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (v. 14). Those who are "after
the Spirit, mind the things of the Spirit" (v. 5). We mind our
parents by obeying them and we mind the things of the Spirit by
obeying the words of the Spirit, which are found in the Bible.
b. Bears witness that one is a child of God (v. 16). The
witness or testimony of the Spirit is in his Word and his testimony
is that one must hear the word, believe that God is, repent of
sins, confess Christ to be God's son, and be baptized for the
remission of sins. Note that Romans 8:16 says that the Holy Spirit
bears witness with our spirit. When our spirit gives the same
testimony as that of the Holy Spirit then this is assurance that we
are children of God.
c. Intercedes for the children of God (v. 26). It is
significant to note that the Spirit speaks to God in this work and
does not speak to us. The Spirit speaks to us through his Word, the
9. The Holy Spirit serves as an "earnest" of future blessings
and as an incentive for holiness of life. Paul said, ". . . ye were
sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is an earnest of our
inheritance, unto the redemption of God's own possession" (Eph.
1:13,14). The Spirit is the earnest or guarantee of future
inheritance, contingent, of course, on our fidelity to God (Rev.
2:10). God's children are urged to "flee fornication" and otherwise
to keep the body as a living sacrifice. Sufficient motivation for
this purity is found in the knowledge that the "body is a temple of
the Holy Spirit which is in you" (1 Cor. 6:1). I could not know
this except that the Holy Spirit has thus testified by means of the
words of the New Testament.
10. The Holy Spirit convicts the world (Jn. 16:8-11): a.
Concerning sin. The Holy Spirit exposes, brings to light, or proves
to be wrong those who do not believe Christ to be the Son of God.
Through the preaching of the gospel, sin is exposed. For example,
Peter, through inspiration of the Spirit, exposed the sins of his
hearers in Jerusalem (Acts 2). The Spirit uses the Word to
prosecute those in sin.
b. Concerning righteousness. All of God's commandments are
righteousness (Psa. 119:17). The righteousness of God is revealed
in the gospel (Rom. 1:16,17). He that doeth righteousness is
righteous" (1 Jn. 3:7). Peter used the words of the Holy Spirit at
the house of Cornelius to say that "in every nation he that feareth
him (God, ldh) and worketh righteousness, is acceptable" to God
(Acts 10:35). To do righteousness is to do right. The right ways of
God are revealed by the words of the Holy Spirit found in the New
c. Concerning judgment. This should strike godly fear in our
hearts. To know that God "hath appointed a day in which he will
judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained"
(Acts 17:31), should cause us to live as the Holy Spirit teaches us
in his Word to live.
When Paul stood before Felix he "reasoned of righteousness,
self-control, and the judgment" (Acts 24:25). The Spirit works
through his word to reason with us on these same vital matters.
My subject is "How The Holy Spirit Works Through the Word." I
have shown (1) what the work of the Spirit is, (2) that this work
is accomplished through the use of words, and (3) that one must
hear and obey the Word in order for the Spirit to accomplish his
wonderful work in one's life. The Holy Spirit will not go against
the will of man.
The Holy Spirit once spoke through inspired men. Now he speaks
to us in the inspired book, the New Testament.
We "hear what the Spirit saith to the churches" (Rev. 2:7) by
reading his words. The Holy Spirit works through the word, the New
Testament. "Blessed is he that readeth" (Rev. 1:3).
At the request of brother Willis, I submit below the excellent
outline on the work of the Holy Spirit by brother H. Leo Boles
found on p. 186 of his book on The Holy Spirit. All Christians
should have this good book.
Holy Spirit and Word of God
Holy Spirit has various relations to God, to Christ; these are
important; his relation to word of God.
I. Holy Spirit Used Words.
1. Prophets spoke by Holy Spirit (2 Sam. 23:1,2; Isa. 1:1,2).
2. Holy men spoke by Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21).
3. Holy Spirit speaks through New Testament (1 Tim. 4:1).
4. Holy Spirit spoke through apostles (Matt. 10:20; Acts 2:4).
5. Holy Spirit took words of Christ (Jn. 16:13-15).
II. Dispensation of Holy Spirit.
1. Law spiritual (Rom. 7:14).
2. Teaching spiritual (1 Cor. 9:11).
3. Our service spiritual (Rom. 12:1).
4. Christians a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5).
5. Spiritual food (1 Cor. 10:3).
6. Spiritual milk (1 Pet. 2:3).
III. Spirit and Word Inseparable.
1. Words, spirit, and life (Jn. 6:63),
2. Word living and active (Heb. 4:12).
IV. Identical in Action.
Holy Spirit -- Word
1. In creation: Gen. 1:2; Heb. 1:3; Job 33:4 2 Pet. 3:5
2. Gives life: 2 Cor. 3:6 Jas. 1: 18
3. Born of: Jn. 3:8 1 Pet. 1:23-25
4. Salvation: Tit. 3:5 Jas. 1:21
5. Sanctification: 1 Cor. 6:11; Jn. 17:17
2 Thess. 2:13
6. Dwells in: Rom. 8:11 Col. 3:16
7. Spirit is truth: 1 Jn. 5:7 Jn. 17:17
8. Power of: Rom. 5:13 Heb. 1:3
by Lynn D. Headrick -- Guardian of Truth XXXV: 8, pp. 227-229, April 18, 1991
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