Five great events that thrill the child of God are recorded in the New Testament. First, the incarnation when the Word became flesh and dwelt among men; He had come to seek and to save that which was lost. Second, the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ; He who knew no sin was made sin for us to be the Saviour (2 Cor 5.21). He must bear the judgment due to sin. Third, the triumphant resurrection of Christ from among the dead; the evidence of a finished work. He "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom 4.25), a living Saviour and a living Lord. Fourth, the glorious ascension of the Lord when He ascended far above all, leaving behind rank after rank of celestial beings, including the highest and most glorious. Alone, as the glorified man He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in the heights. Fifth, the descent of the Spirit of God on the day of Pentecost. How important this event is in Christianity - the formation of the church, the power behind Christian living.
Our subject is the Spirit of God and His work. In John 14.15 the Lord indicates that the real proof of our love for Him is our obedience, the carrying out of the Word of God. It is the true test of our spirituality. In v.16 when the Lord shows His love for the disciples, His care and concern for them, He speaks of the Spirit and His ministry.
The Person of the Spirit
His Deity. "Another Comforter" (Jn 14.16). The Greek word means "another of the same kind", the same kind as the Lord Jesus. This confirms His equality with the Son - co-equal and co-eternal. The deity of the Spirit is clearly taught in the Scriptures. He is called the Spirit of God (Mt 3.16), the Spirit of the Lord (Lk 4.18) indicating that He is God, the Spirit of the living God (2 Cor 3.3) indicating that He gives and maintains life, and the Lord the Spirit (2 Cor 3.18, JND) indicating His sovereignty. He is omnipotent (Zech 4.6), omnipresent (Ps 139.7ff), omniscient (Is 11.2), and eternal (Heb 9.14).
His Distinct Personality. "He [the Father] shall give you another Comforter (Jn 14.16)". He is one of the Godhead, distinct from the Father and the Son. The Trinity is clearly in view here. The Son will pray the Father and He (the Father) shall give you another Comforter (the Spirit). The Trinity is also in view at the Lords baptism (Mt 3.16-17), the Lords commission to His disciples (Mt 28.19), and in the benediction of 2 Corinthians 13.14.
His Essential Character. The Holy Spirit (Jn 14.26), or as it really is, "the Spirit, the Holy One". In this the absolute holiness of the Spirit is emphasised. In v.17 He is the "Spirit of truth", indicating His relationship to the Holy Scriptures; indeed, the Spirit is the life of the Scriptures (2 Tim 3.16). Note also "the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth" (1 Cor 2.13), and "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet 1.21). The Word of God is the voice of the Spirit to us. How solemn to treat the Word of God lightly and be guilty of slighting the Holy Spirit.
The Coming of the Spirit
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name " (Jn 14.26). The Lord Jesus was referring to Pentecost (Acts 2.1-4). When He spoke of "rivers of living water" (Jn 7.38) He was referring to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit had not come then because Christ had not been glorified, but when Christ was glorified in His resurrection and ascension He came on the day of Pentecost.
The Indwelling of the Spirit
"That he may abide with you for ever" (Jn 14.16). To abide is to be at home with you, to make His abode and never leave. This is different to a past day when He came upon men temporarily.
"he shall be in you" (Jn 14.17). This refers to the indwelling which would take place at Pentecost. The indwelling Spirit is the proof that we are Christs (Rom 8.9). It is the proof that we are the sons of God (Gal 4.6), and the Spirit is a witness to our spirits that we are the children of God (Rom 8.16). The new birth is the work of the Spirit (Jn 3.8), and the moment a person is saved, born of the Spirit, at that moment the Spirit comes to indwell that person. When we think of the Spirit indwelling believers we must consider at least three things, each one of which is found three times in the New Testament.
1. The Seal. A seal is to show ownership, and to guarantee security (2 Cor 1.22; Eph 1.13; 4.30). We learn from these verses that God seals us with the Holy Spirit, that He sealed us when we believed, and that He sealed us unto the day of redemption, the fullness of redemption. The sealing is a proof of ownership, that we belong to God, and is a proof of eternal security.
2. The Earnest. The earnest is a promise of what is to come, a sample of what is to follow (2 Cor 1.22; 5.5; Eph 1.14). We learn from these verses that God gives us the earnest, the Holy Spirit, in our hearts and thus the earnest is a pledge of future blessedness and a foretaste of what is to come.
3. The Anointing. Anointing imparts authority or power (2 Cor 1.21; 1 Jn 2.20,27). We learn from these verses that God anoints us with the Holy Spirit, and He enables us to discern. Thus through the anointing we have the power of discernment.
We must never forget the warning to the Corinthians: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you" (1 Cor 6.19). He has entered to take practical possession of that which belongs to the Lord.
The Activity of the Spirit
The Comforter (Jn 14.16). He draws alongside to help us and guide us, to comfort and to control, to support and sustain, and to exhort and to encourage us. He does all this through the Word of God.
He shall teach you all things (Jn 14.26). He instructs and imparts knowledge through the Scriptures. He recalls to our minds, and revives teaching we have heard.
Baptism in Spirit or in Holy Spirit (Mt 3.11; Mk 1.8; Acts 1.5; 11.16; 1 Cor 12.13): "with" is better translated "in". There is no command or exhortation to be baptized in Spirit. The verb in 1 Corinthians 12.13 is passive, showing that believers are not the active agents. It is something that the Lord has done, and believers come into the good of it when they trust Christ.
The Filling of the Spirit
"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be ye filled with the Spirit" (Eph 5.18). "Filled" has to do with control, and influence. It is not how much of the Spirit we have because He indwells us, it is how much of our lives are controlled by the Spirit.
1. It is a command to be obeyed. This is not optional for the believer; it is an obligation to be carried out, and is vital for true Christian living.
2. The phrase "be filled" is plural. This is not addressed to a select few, the elders, the preachers, or to the older believers. It is addressed to each one in the assembly without exception. Every believer is obligated to be filled with the Spirit and thus to be under His control.
3. It is in the Passive Voice, meaning that we cannot do this ourselves. We cannot fill ourselves with the Spirit, so the idea is to allow ourselves to be filled with the Spirit, to yield ourselves to the Spirits control. It involves emptying oneself of self and letting the Spirit control our lives.
4. It is in the Present Tense. At the present time, now, we ought to be continually filled with the Spirit and let the Spirit continually control our lives. The norm of Christian living is being under the Spirits control. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" (Col 3.16) would indicate that this is linked with the word of Christ. The filling of the Spirit is a life controlled by the Spirit, a life lived in keeping with the Word of God.