Chapter 11


The Person And Work Of God The Holy Spirit


“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”                                                                                                                                                      John 14:16-17


            As God the Son is the gift of the Father to his elect, God the Holy Spirit is the ascension gift of the enthroned Christ to his church and kingdom in this gospel age. He is described as our Comforter, the Promise of the Father, and the Blessing of Abraham (John 14:16-17; 1 Thess. 4:7-8; Acts 1:4-5; Gal. 3:13-14). In his office capacity, the Holy Spirit is distinctly set before us in the New Testament as the gift of God to his church and people through the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ, our exalted Lord and King.


            In this day of religious confusion in which men and women have substituted sentimentality and sensationalism for substantial gospel truth, in this day when most everybody confuses emotionalism with worship, there is much need for clear, biblical instruction with regard to the Person and work of God the Holy Spirit. In this study, I want to show you six things from the Word of God about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.


1.     The Holy Spirit is himself God, the third person of the holy trinity, in all things equal with the Father and the Son.


            He is named as one with the Father and the Son, both in the Apostolic benediction and in the inspired definition of the Trinity given by the Apostle John  (2 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 5:7). Far too often men and women think of the Holy Spirit as a great force, a mighty influence for good, or an emanation of God. Let us never  dishonor him by such low thoughts. We cannot lie to an emanation, as Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Ghost. We cannot grieve a force, as believers are said to grieve the Holy Spirit by unkindnesses done to one another. We cannot blaspheme an influence, as all those do who willfully turn away from Christ and his gospel in rebellion and obstinate unbelief. The Holy Spirit is God.


2.     The work of the Holy Spirit is as necessary for the salvation of God’s elect as the works of the Father and the Son.


            Far too often we think of the covenant of grace as a covenant made between the Father and the Son. It was not. It was a covenant made between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. God the Father elected us unto salvation (Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Thess. 2:13-14). He chose us, adopted us, blessed us, and predestinated us unto heavenly glory. We rejoice in that. Without election no one could ever have been saved. However, the Father’s election, by itself, could never save a sinner. We also had to be redeemed.


God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, volunteered to redeem us and became our Substitute (Eph. 1:7-12; Heb. 7:22). As Judah spoke to Israel his father for Benjamin (Gen. 43:9) and became surety for him, so our Lord Jesus Christ spoke for God’s elect and became our Surety in the covenant of grace before the world began, assuming total responsibility for the everlasting salvation of our souls. The Father trusted the Son with our souls (John 6:39; 10:29; 17:9 Eph. 1:12). They struck hands, as it were, and the covenant was set in motion. Then, in the fulness of time, Christ redeemed his elect. He bought us with his own precious blood. The Lord Jesus Christ brought in an everlasting righteousness by his obedience to God as a man, satisfied the justice of God by his death upon the cursed tree, and obtained eternal redemption for all God’s elect (Heb. 9:12).


Yet,  redemption alone could never bring a sinner to God. Something else must be done. Redemption is a work of God wrought for us. Redemption changed our standing; but it did not change us. Though chosen in eternal election and redeemed by Christ’s effectual atonement, we could never be saved, we could never enter into heaven until something was done in us, until grace actually changed us. Redemption alone is not enough. It is written, “Ye must be born again!”


That is the work of God the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-7; 6:63; Eph. 2:1-5). God the Spirit agreed to effectually apply the blood of Christ to every chosen, redeemed sinner, create each one new in Christ, give them faith, and seal to them all the blessings of the covenant. And that is exactly what he has done for us (Eph. 1:13-14). In order for a sinner to be saved: -- God must choose to save him. That is election. -- God must put away his sin and justify him. That is redemption. -- And God must sanctify him.  That is regeneration.


3.     The advent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was a once for all, never to be repeated, climatic event.


            There is much confusion about what happened on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two. The charismatic movement, with its emphasis on works, free-will, tongues, visions, and miracles, is one of the  horrible evils of divine judgment upon this generation (2 Thess. 2:7-10). The revivalist theology of modern religion, with its emphasis on decisionism, works and free will, upon euphoric feelings and experiences in temporary spasms of religious convulsion, is a reflection of the same divine judgment (2 Thess. 2:7-12).


Believers know that these things are the workings of antichrist and not of Christ. Yet, those who pretend to have the Holy Spirit and those apostolic gifts by which Christ’s ministry was announced and confirmed in the Book of Acts, point to the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 as proof that their doctrine, claims, and experiences are biblical. What really happened on that momentous day?


            The day of Pentecost in Acts 2 signaled the advent of the Holy Spirit. As the virgin birth was the advent of the Son of God in his office capacity as our Substitute and Redeemer, so the day of Pentecost and the events recorded in Acts 2 signaled the advent of the Holy Spirit in his office capacity as the Comforter and Sanctifier of God’s elect. Yes, the Holy Spirit was in the world before, even as the Son of God was in the world and working in the world before his advent. But now the Holy Spirit has come in his office capacity to fulfill his part in the covenant of grace.


            “At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came as He had never come before. Something then transpired which inaugurated a new era for the world, a new power for righteousness, a new basis for fellowship. On that day, the fearing Peter was transformed into the intrepid evangelist. On that day, the new wine of Christianity burst the old bottles of Judaism, and the Word went forth in a multiplicity of Gentile tongues (A. W. Pink).”


On that remarkable day, 3000 souls were regenerated and converted to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. What happened on that day? Four things specifically…



First, on that day the Lord Jesus Christ baptized his church, his kingdom, his body into the Holy Spirit as had been promised by John the Baptist (Mk. 1:8). This was the inaugural gift of King Jesus to his church. When he ascended on high and began his rule as our Redeemer-King, he immersed his kingdom into the realm of the Spirit. There are seven references in the New Testament to this baptism “in the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 1 Cor. 12:13)


In each of these places where we are told of baptism “with the Spirit,” the word “with” would be better translated “in.” As a person who is baptized with water has been dipped in water, so one who has been baptized with the Holy Spirit has been immersed in the Spirit. The Person who did the baptizing is the Lord Jesus Christ. The people baptized are the church of God. The element into which the church was baptized is the Holy Spirit. When reading these references to baptism with the Holy Spirit, we should always read them as speaking of baptism in the Spirit. [1]


The first five of these references were prophetic, spoken in anticipation of Pentecost. Acts 11:15-17 looks back to what had happened at Pentecost. When the Gentiles in Cornelius’ household experienced the same thing the believing Jews experienced at Pentecost, Peter remembered the promise of Christ and said, “This is the same thing!” It was confirmed to him that the gift of the Spirit was to the Gentiles, too (Acts 11:17).


1 Corinthians 12:13[2] also refers back to Pentecost. In Christ, by the Spirit of God, all true believers are one. All racial, social, cultural barriers have been broken down (Col. 3:11; Eph. 2:13-22). Every truly regenerate person has been baptized in the Holy Spirit, not when he is born again, not when he is baptized in water, but at the day of Pentecost when Christ immersed his church into the realm of the Spirit. When a person is born again, he is born into that body, that family, that church which was baptized in the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.


Second, on the day of Pentecost the promise of the Father was fulfilled (Acts 1:4-5; Gal. 3:13-14). This promise of the Father was an unconditional promise of covenant grace. Baptism in the Holy Spirit was not dependent upon the will, works, worth, or spirituality of the people, but upon the faithfulness of God. That which took place on the day of Pentecost was not a possibility, but an absolute certainty.


As all of God’s elect were redeemed by Christ at one time, so, too, all were baptized by Christ into the Spirit at one time. As we now receive and experience the benefits of redemption day by day, so, too, we receive and experience the benefits of this baptism day by day. But the baptism itself will never be repeated. There is no need. There is no more need of another Pentecost than there is of another Passover. Once redeemed, forever redeemed! Once baptized in the Spirit, forever baptized in the Spirit!


Third, this great advent of the Spirit fulfilled the Old Testament type set forth in the Feast of Pentecost (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:10; Lev. 23:15). The crucifixion of Christ took place on the day of atonement, when the paschal lamb was to be slaughtered, because that is what the passover represented. And the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit took place on the day of Pentecost, because this is what Pentecost represented. The Feast of Pentecost was at the beginning of the harvest season when wheat was harvested. On the day of Pentecost, Israel was required to present two loaves to God called, “The firstfruits unto the Lord.” These loaves represented the firstfruits of Christ’s atonement. That is exactly what believers are (James 1:18). The first wave loaf represented the ingathering of  God’s elect from among the Jews (Acts 2 - 3000 in one day). The second wave loaf represented God’s elect gathered from among the Gentiles (Acts 10).


Fourth, this mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost also fulfilled the typical Shekinah (Num. 9:15-22; 2 Chron. 7:1-3). As the glory of the Lord led the children of Israel, so the Spirit of God leads us through this world. As the glory of the Lord protected Israel, so the Holy Spirit now protects God’s elect. As the glory of the Lord filled the temple in Solomon’s day, so the Spirit of God fills and abides with the church, the temple of God, in this day of the Prince of Peace (1 Cor. 3:16-17).


Let us ever seek, by the grace of God, to be taught by the Spirit, led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:14), filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:17-23). But we do not seek the baptism of the Spirit. We have that if we are born of God.


4.     The works of the Holy Spirit, in general, are fourfold.


            I use the word “general” only for lack of a better word. There is nothing general about these four works of supernatural, divine power which are ascribed to the Holy Spirit. Creation is a work in which God the Holy Spirit participates with the Father and the Son (Gen. 1:2). “The Spirit of the Lord hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life” (Job 33:4).


Providence, like creation, is a work of God the Holy Spirit. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counselor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel?” (Isa. 40:13-14). It is the Spirit of God who turns the king’s heart withersoever he will.


Inspiration is the work of the Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21). The Book of God is his Book. He inspired it. Every word was written, every sentence was formed, and the order in which the whole Book was written was by his supernatural, unerring, infallible direction. Though many instruments were used to write the Book, God the Holy Spirit is its only Author.


The incarnation and virgin birth of Christ are works attributed to the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20; Heb. 10:5). The holy human body and soul of Christ was created by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary. It was God the Holy Spirit who prepared a body for our Savior in which he could both obey the law of God and satisfy its justice by the sacrifice of himself as our Substitute.


5.     It is by the sovereign, irresistible work of God the Holy Spirit that lost sinners are born again and brought into a living union of faith with Christ (Ps. 65:4; 110:3; John 6:63).


Regeneration, the new birth, is his work (John 3:3-8). It is the Spirit of life who gives life to dead sinners. The revelation of Christ is the Spirit’s work (John 16:13-14; 2 Cor. 4:6). We know Christ only as God the Holy Spirit makes him known to us and in us. We know the things of God only as he makes them known (1 Cor. 2:10-14). Chosen, redeemed sinners are convinced of their sin, of righteousness established by Christ, and judgment finished by his blood atonement, only by the almighty, efficacious grace of the Spirit of God. (John 16:8-11).


Effectual calling is the work of his omnipotent, irresistible grace (1 Thess. 1:4-5). As David sent Ziba to “fetch” Miphibosheth, so the Lord Jesus Christ, our King, sends his Spirit, at the appointed time of love, to “fetch” the objects of his covenant love to himself. The fact that they are all by nature unwilling to be fetched is no difficulty with him. He is just an influencer. He is God the Holy Spirit. He makes the chosen willing in the day of his power and causes them to come home to Christ (Ps. 65:4; 110:3). He converts those whom he calls and effectually gives them faith in Christ by the operations of his omnipotent grace (Eph. 2:8-9; Col. 2:12).


6.     It is by the work of God the Holy Spirit that the believer’s life is ordered and protected, and preserved in this world unto eternal glory.


            Believers are people who have been born again and live in the realm of the Spirit, the realm of faith (Rom. 8:5-9). God lives in us and we live in God. God the Holy Spirit takes up residence in every believer permanently from the moment of regeneration. He dwells in every believer forever. He works in every believer continually. He is the sanctifying influence of every believer’s life. He is the earnest of our inheritance and gives us the assurance of salvation (Rom. 8:16; 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:14). The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, the Teacher, the Illuminator, the Unction of God’s saints in this world (John 14:16-18; 1 Cor. 2:9-12; Eph. 1:17; 1 John 2:20, 27). He leads the believer in obedience and service to Christ (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:16; Acts 8:27, 29; Heb. 8:10). The Holy Spirit calls, qualifies, and equips men for special service in the kingdom of God (Acts 13:2-4). He distributes spiritual gifts in the body of Christ as he will (1 Cor. 12:4-11). He gives us the power and grace to do what we are called of God to do (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 2:4; 1 Thess. 1:5).


The Spirit of grace produces in every believer the fruit of grace (Gal. 5:22-25). They are the produce of his grace, not of our works. It is the Spirit who teaches us to pray according to the will of God (2 Sam. 7:27; Rom. 8:26-27; Gal. 4:6). The Holy Spirit directs the believer’s heart in worship (John 4:23-24; Phil. 3:3). In the last day, God the Holy Spirit will be the agent of Christ (Rom. 8:11-23) in the resurrection of our bodies (the second resurrection), as he has been in the resurrection of our souls (the first resurrection – Rev. 20:6).

[1] If the word should be translated “in instead of “with,” why is it translated “with?”  One answer to that question is obvious. The translators of our Authorized Version were all ministers in the Church of England. They were all working under orders of the King. As such, they labored hard to make room for some mode of baptism other than immersion. Not only did they refuse to translate the word baptize, (Baptize is a transliteration, not a translation of the Greek word baptidzo. A translation would be “dip, plunge, or immerse.”), but they also translated the word “in” (en) as “with” almost every time it is used in the New Testament in connection with baptism.



[2] The context of 1 Corinthians 12:13 demands that we understand this statement as referring to the water baptism of the believer. Our baptism speaks both of our identification and union with Christ as our Substitute and of our identification and union with his people in the life of the Spirit.