By Lynn D. Headrick
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 revered.
“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 Spirit.
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 the should say. “But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you al 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 no 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 or 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 lead 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 New Testament.
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 Testament.
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
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 8, pp. 227-229
April 18, 1991