THE HOLY SPIRIT
"There is much confusion and error current in this day concerning the personality, operations, and manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Conscientious but misguided scholars have held wrong views concerning this doctrine. It is vital to the faith of every Christian that its Scriptural teaching be seen in its true light and held in its right proportions" (Bancroft, Elemental Theology).
I. THE PERSONALITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
In ascribing personality to the Spirit we mean that He is not an impersonal energy, influence, or emanation. He is a self-conscious, self-determined, willing, feeling intelligence. "Personality may be said to exist where there is found united in a single combination intelligence, emotion, and volition, or self-consciousness and self-determination" (Bancroft, Elemental Theology).
That the Holy Spirit is a person is proved by-
1. The Mention of Him along with Other Members of the Trinity.
Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14.
2. His Association with Other Persons in Personal Relationship.
3. The Ascription to Him of Emotion and Volition.
1 Cor. 12:11; Eph. 4:30.
4. The Ascription to Him of Personal Acts.
(1) He searches the deep things of God.
(2) He speaks.
(3) He teaches.
Luke 12:12; John 14:26; 1 Cor. 2:13.
(4) He leads and guides.
John 16:13; Rom. 8:14.
(6) He bestows gifts.
1 Cor. 12:7-11.
(7) He calls men to service.
5. The Representation of Him as being Affected as a Person by the Acts of Others.
(1) He may be rebelled against and vexed or grieved.
Isa. 63:10; Eph. 4:30.
(2) He may be blasphemed.
(3) He may be lied to.
6. The Use of the Masculine Pronoun with Reference to Him.
In John 16:13,14 the Greek masculine pronoun "ekeinos" is used in alluding the Holy Spirit. This is very significant since the Greek word for "spirit" (pneuma) is neuter. Thus we see that the idea of the personality of the Spirit is so strong that it here takes precedence over grammatical order. In Rom. 8:16.26, in a closer construction, the grammatical order is allowed to prevail. This is true in other places also. However this does not annul, but rather serves to emphasize, the setting aside of the grammatical order in the former case.
"Parakletos" is the Greek word for "Comforter" in John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7.
"The name 'parakletos' cannot be translated by 'comfort,' or be taken as the name of any abstract influence. The Comforter, Instructor, Patron, Guide, Advocate, whom this term brings before us, must be a person" (Strong, Systematic Theology).
II. THE RELATION OF PENTECOST TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
Gen. 1:2; Neh. 9:20; Psa. 51:11; Isa. 63:10; 2 Pet. 1:21. We have seen that the Holy Spirit, as a member of the Trinity, is coeternal with the Father.
See all passages immediately above that follow the first passage.
3. He Came on the Day of Pentecost in Special Capacity.
This explains the meaning of Christ's promise to send the Spirit. This special capacity was:
(1) Perhaps as the antitype of the Shekinah.
Num. 9:15-22; 2 Chron. 7:1-3. The Shekinah, in the case of the tabernacle, was for leadership, and in the case of the temple it was a symbol of ownership and possession. The coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost meant both of these to the church.
(2) In fulfillment of prophecy and promise.
Joel 2:28; Matt. 3:11. We do not hold, however, that the day of Pentecost marked the complete and ultimate fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. This day saw only a partial and spiritual fulfillment of this prophecy. Indeed Peter's words need be understood as meaning no more than that the thing being witnessed on that day was the same in kind as that of which Joel had foretold. The literal, ultimate, and complete fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32 will come in the conversion of the Jewish nation at the second coming of Christ. See Zech. 12:9-11; 13:8,9; Rom. 11:26.
(3) To empower the church.
(4) As the abiding comforter and teacher of believers.
In John 14:17 note that Jesus told the disciples that the Spirit "dwelleth WITH you, and shall be IN you." Here the two tenses- present and future, and the two prepositions- with and in are significant. As already noted, before Pentecost the Holy Spirit had access to the earth. He was God's agent in creation. He inspired the prophets. He even came upon such wicked men as King Saul and Balaam. He also regenerated men. But an inseparable union between the soul of the believer and the Holy Spirit was not formed then as it is now. (This inseparable union as now formed is clearly shown in John 7:37-39; Rom. 8:26; Eph. 1:13,14; 4:30.) While, by the special dispensation of God, the Spirit was in the prophets (1 Pet. 1:11); yet, as a rule, He was only WITH the people of God until the day of Pentecost. This is further shown by John 7:37-39. Note John's explanation that the blessing promised by Christ could be fulfilled only when the Holy Spirit had been given, manifestly alluding to Pentecost. Even the presence of the Spirit WITH God's people before Pentecost was not necessarily permanent. His presence could be forfeited then by sin. Thus it was that David prayed: "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me" (Psa. 51: 11). Before the day of Pentecost, believers could have the Holy Spirit through prayer. Luke 11:13. But after the day of Pentecost, as we shall note more at length later, there is no indication that believers should or did ask for the Holy Spirit. He now abides constantly and inseparably in believers. (John 20:21,22 must be considered exceptional, because the recipients of the Spirit were apostles, or anticipatory of Pentecost.)
(5) To convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
John 16:8-11. We hold this passage as referring primarily to an indirect work of the Spirit. For the difference between the direct and indirect work of the Spirit see later under the treatment of His work in the lost.
4. His Coming on Pentecost was Dispensational and Final.
There is absolutely nothing to justify the belief that Pentecost is to be repeated in the experience of each believer. It came in fulfillment of definite and particular prophecy and promise. It marked the beginning of the special dispensation of the Spirit.
Pentecostalism is the most absurd nonsense. One might as well talk of a repetition of the resurrection and ascension of Christ as to talk of a repetition of Pentecost. Pentecost has never been and never will be repeated. The occurrence in the house of Cornelius was merely supplemental to Pentecost (Acts 10:44-47), and was brought about that Peter might know that believing Gentiles were received of God on the same footing as believing Jews.
5. Since Pentecost the Holy Spirit Enters Every Believer at Conversion and Never Departs.
John 7:38,39; Acts 19:2 (R. V.); Rom. 8:9; Gal. 3:2; 4:6; Eph. 1:13; 4:30; Jude 19-20.
It is folly for the believer to pray for the Holy Spirit, though he may pray for His power and fullness. Neither does the believer need to pray that God will not take the Holy Spirit from him; for, though the believer may grieve the Spirit and quench Him (1 Thess. 5:19)- refuse His impulses; nevertheless, the believer is permanently sealed by the presence of the Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).
Eph. 5: 18.
We have shown that each believer has the Spirit. It now remains only to be remarked that there is no warrant in Scripture for affirming a baptism of the Spirit today either in or after regeneration. The Scripture is silent on the notion of a baptism of the Spirit for this day. The passage usually referred to, to substantiate a baptism of the Spirit in regeneration (1 Cor. 12:13) refers to water baptism. See its treatment under water baptism.
The believer has all of the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit does not usually have all of the believer. His presence is an expansive one. He fills so much of the believer as is emptied of selfishness and sin. Thus the exhortation to be filled with the Spirit is an exhortation to surrender completely to Him. The more completely He fills us the greater will be the manifestation of His power in our lives (Acts 6:3-5; 11:24). The evidence of the fullness of the Spirit will be found in the fruit of the Spirit. See Gal. 5:22,23.
III. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
1. His Work in General.
(1) He was the agent of God in creation.
Gen. 1: 2.
2 Pet. 1:21. See other passages under discussion of verbal inspiration.
(3) He is, in general, the agent of God in all God's works.
Job 33:4; Psa. 104:29,30; Isa. 40:7; Luke 1:35; Acts 10:38.
2. His Work in the Lost.
By the indirect work of the Spirit in the lost we mean such work as He performs mediately through the Word and not immediately by personal impact upon the soul. Any work produced by the Word is a work of the Spirit, for He is the author of the Word. This is proved by Acts 7:51,52, where the resisting of the word spoken by the prophets is said to be resisting the Holy spirit.
In the indirect work of the Spirit in the lost He-
Gen. 6:3. This striving is done through men, such as Enoch and Noah, in the preaching of the Word.
To use Gen. 6:3, as many preachers do, to prove that the Holy Spirit strives directly and immediately with all sinners today and that He can be compelled to withdraw because of man's refusal to yield, is to misuse it inexcusably. The passage makes no allusion to the direct work of the Spirit, and it does not remotely suggest that a man can drive the Spirit away. The passage simply means the indirect ministry of Spirit for that generation was to continue for only one hundred and twenty years longer; this being the length of time that would elapse before the destruction of that generation in the flood.
B. He convinces them of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
John 16:8-11. The presence and operations of the Spirit in the world, as one who came to take the place and carry forward the work of a rejected and crucified Christ, constitute a potential convincing of sin. Had Christ been an imposter, His promise of the Spirit would not have been fulfilled. It is as though the ghost (spirit) of a man should come back to haunt his murderers and to carry on the work that the murderers had tried so vainly to end. Such would tend to convince the murderers of their guilt and witness to the righteousness of the man they had killed.
Thus it is with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6). And thus it is that the Holy Spirit gives evidence of the righteousness of Christ by manifesting that He has gone to the Father and by manifesting that He is thus seen to have triumphed over Satan, who sought in every way to prevent the purpose of God through Christ. By this means He convinces men of the sin of rejecting Christ, and of the certainty of judgment to all that remain in league with Satan, because Satan is already judged (John 12:31). "This judgment of Satan was secured at the cross and he was potentially rendered powerless" (Bancroft).
Let it be noted that the Holy Spirit in His convincing or convicting work, "convicts, not primarily of the sin of lawbreaking, but of the sin of unbelief, 'of sin, because they, believe not on me.' (Acts 2:36-37). As all sin has its root in unbelief, so the most aggravated form of unbelief is the rejection of Christ. The Spirit, however, in fastening this truth upon the conscience, does not extinguish, but, on the contrary, consummates and intensifies the sense of all other sins" (Bancroft, Elemental Theology).
We call special attention to this last sentence above. Many would have it that unbelief is the only damning sin. Some would even say that this is all that men will suffer for in hell. Such a notion is abundantly contradicted by the Bible. See Rom. 2:5,6; 7:7-11; Gal. 3:10,24; 1 John 3:4; Rev. 20:12. The Spirit does not merely convict of the sin of unbelief, but of sin because of unbelief. That is, He shows men their sinful condition by causing them to see that they are rejecting the Christ of God, thus showing rebellion against God. Unbelief is the principal symptom of the disease of sin, whose essence is lawlessness.
The indirect work of the Spirit, not only may be resisted, but is constantly resisted by sinners. Sinners do nothing else but resist the Spirit until the Spirit, by direct and personal impact upon the soul, quickens the dead sinner into life. This as already indicated, explains Acts 7:51,52.
(2) His direct work in the lost.
We refer here to regeneration. Regeneration is instantaneous. It cannot be otherwise, for there can be no such thing as a man being partly alive and partly dead from a spiritual standpoint. It is for that reason that we put conviction before regeneration.
Sinners show evidence of varying degrees of conviction through periods of varying lengths. Of course, it is only in the moment of regeneration that conviction reaches its highest intensity. The indirect work of the Spirit in conviction is brought to instantaneous completion in the moment that the dead soul is quickened into life. But conviction exists before the quickening. See Paul's experience, Acts 26:14. See also and compare Acts 2:37. Note that in the parable of the dry bones in the valley (Ezek. 37:1-10) there was an effect produced by preaching before the Spirit (symbolized by breath) came upon them. This illustrates the indirect work of the Spirit in conviction prior to quickening.
The direct work of the Spirit in regeneration is irresistible. This does not mean that the Spirit violates the will. He simply works back of the will. Regeneration takes place in "regions of the soul below consciousness" (Strong). It is the means by which our wills are conformed to God's will strictly according to the laws of the will and its action. See chapter on free-agency of man. Regeneration is irresistible because it is a work of God, and is not dependent upon the will of men (John 1:12,13). It is in regeneration that God enables men to come to Christ (John 6:65). It is thus that He gives over His elect to Christ (John 6:37). Regeneration is the drawing referred to in John 6:44,45, in its consummation. Man can do nothing pleasing to God while spiritually dead, being in the flesh (Rom. 8:7,8). But when quickened into life he is certain to act in general harmony with the will of God (1 John 5:4; 3:9). Thus regeneration is necessarily irresistible.
3. His Work in the Saved.
(1) Giving assurance of salvation. Rom. 8:16; 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:14. The Spirit not only witnesses to believers of present sonship, but gives assurance of final salvation. It is in this latter sense in which the work of the Spirit is an "earnest," which means a pledge, a part of the purchase price paid in advance as a guarantee that the transaction will be completed. The presence of the Spirit in our hearts affords us a foretaste of Heaven and is a guarantee of our receiving the inheritance "incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven" for us "who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Pet. 1:4,5).
(2) Comforting, teaching, and illuminating.
John 16:7; 1 Cor. 2:9-12; Eph. 1:17; 1 John 2:20,27.
(3) Leading in obedience and service.
Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:16; Acts 8:27,29; Heb. 8:10.
Acts 13:2,4. "The Holy Spirit not only directs the general tenor of the Christian life, but He calls men out for special work, such as missions, the ministry, teaching, etc."
"This passage does not tell us how the Spirit calls men, presumably because He does not always call men in the same way. It is for us to be willing to be called, to desire it, and then to wait for the Holy Spirit to call us. He does not call all to foreign missionary work, though every Christian should be willing to answer that call. He does, however, call every Christian to some field of service, and will lead him, if yielded, to that specific field" (Bancroft).
(5) Distributing spiritual gifts.
1 Cor. 12:4-11. Note that "the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man (that is, every saved man) to profit withal (1 Cor. 12:7). No saved man may truthfully say, therefore, that he is devoid of spiritual ability in the service of the Lord.
(6) Empowering in service.
Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 2:4; 1 Thess. 1:5.
(7) Making fruitful.
Rom. 8:26,27; Gal. 4:6.
(9) Moving to worship.
Phil. 3:3 (R. V.). It has been said, "In our prayers we are taken up with our needs, in our thanksgiving we are taken up with our blessings, but in our worship we are taken up with God Himself."