The Holy Spirit In The Church


The title of this part of our study may well have been the Holy Spirit and the church, but the heading chosen is more precise.

1. We have already seen what Jesus said the Holy Spirit would do for the apostles.

When they received the promised ‘baptism’ of the Spirit, their ‘overwhelming’ by and in the Spirit, they would be qualified and equipped to become the Lord’s ‘witnesses’, because the Holy Spirit would provide the following.

a. Remind them, ‘give them total recall’ of all that He had taught them during His ministry. John 14:26.

b. Guide them into all the truth that the Father intended them to receive. John 16:13

c. Reveal to them ‘things to come’. John 16:13.

d. Testify to Him, bear witness by means of the miracles they would be able to perform. John 15:26-27. This promise of the miraculous testimony of the Holy Spirit to their preaching of the Gospel was again promised by the Lord, after His resurrection, as recorded in Mark 16:17-18.

The passage is sometimes wildly misunderstood by some who claim that believers today are able to perform miracles, especially of the kind mentioned in these two verses. But if we read the verses in Mark 16:7, we see that, at first, His disciples didn’t believe the claims of those who said they had seen Him after His resurrection, Mark 16:11 / Mark 16:13-14.

Notice that the Lord rebuked them for their unbelief. Then follows His commission, ‘Go!’ And He gives the promise of miraculous support to ‘those who believe’.

Hebrews 2:3-4 records that the apostles did believe, and their witness to Jesus and His resurrection was endorsed by the miracles they performed. The miracles are described by Paul as ‘mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God’. Romans 15:19

2. In John 16:8-11, Jesus reveals the work of the Holy Spirit with regard to the world.

He sums this up as convicting the world, in respect of three powerful facts. These are the fact of sin. The fact of righteousness. The fact of judgment. This means that, whenever and wherever the Gospel is preached faithfully, the Holy Spirit will use the message to convict men and women of the following.

a. The fact that ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’. Romans 3:23.

Here, ‘sin’ is described as a ‘missing of the mark’. The word used is ‘hamartia’, ‘to fall short’ it means to fail to reach the target, the standard, which God requires. Think of an arrow which falls short of its target!

b. The fact that ‘there is none righteous, no, not one’. Romans 3:10.

Having no righteousness of our own, we need the righteousness which is made possible by the sacrifice of Christ. Romans 5:21.

c. The fact that ‘it is appointed to men once to die but after this the judgment’. Hebrews 9:27.

Notice the word ‘but’. It assures us of the certainty of future judgment.

In Romans 2:16, Paul speaks about, ‘The day when God shall judge the secrets of men, by Jesus Christ…,’ and he tells us that this is the message contained in what he calls, ‘my gospel’.

In human affairs, evil may seem to escape punishment, but no one will escape the inevitable judgment of God. See Romans 2:3.

However, in the Gospel of Christ, the Holy Spirit declares that, for those ‘in Christ, there is no condemnation’. Romans 8:1

The Greek word ‘katakrima’ means ‘sentence to be served’ because the Lord Jesus has taken our guilt upon Himself, and because we have ‘put on Christ in our baptism, we are clothed with His righteousness and, therefore, there is no sentence to serve’. Galatians 3:26-27.

Paul expresses this truth in a powerful way in Romans 8:33-34, when he asks, ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?’

He asks a series of rhetorical questions, although this is something which does not appear in some translations.

He asks, ‘Who shall make any accusation God’s chosen ones? GOD, Who Himself justifies them? Who will condemn them? Christ, who dies for them? He who rose from the dead, and who, even now is at the right hand of God making intercession for them?’

So, the Holy Spirit tells the world, through the proclaiming of the Gospel the following.

a. That sin is real. That God demands righteousness. That there will be a final judgment.

b. But through Christ, sin can be forgiven. The guilty can become justified before God, through the sacrifice of Jesus.

c. That, when we are justified we needn’t fear the Judgment, because when God Himself declares us righteous, no one can lay any charge against us.

1 Peter 1:12, refers to the part played by the Holy Spirit in the preaching of the Gospel. He says that those first preachers, ‘preached the Gospel, with the Holy Spirit, sent down from heaven’.

3. What, then, is the work of the Holy Spirit where the church is concerned? Expressing this more directly, what can the Holy Spirit do for us?

When we were baptised, Acts 2:38, we received the gift, the Greek word ‘dorea’ which means ‘free gift’ of the Holy Spirit.

Allow me to point out that this ‘free’, or ‘extra’ gift, is God’s own gift of the Holy Spirit, to us. It is important that we don’t confuse it with the ‘charismata’, the ‘grace gifts’, which were miraculous powers that the Holy Spirit Himself gave to the infant church in order to establish it. Romans 1:11. These miraculous powers weren’t meant to last forever. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.

Here in England, when a new building is being erected, they put up scaffolding. But they don’t leave the scaffolding up after the building work is finished! So, think of these ‘miraculous gifts’ as the scaffolding that the Holy Spirit used until the Church was safely established.

Very important!

The miracles of the time of the New Testament proved that the Gospel is true, there is a saying in law that says ‘a thing once proved is proved for ever’.

It is clear that even before all the apostles of Christ died, the miraculous gifts, including, for example, the ‘gift of healing’ ceased.

First, read Acts 19:11-12, and you will see that Paul had the power to heal. Then, read Philippians 2:25-27, and ask yourself the question, If Paul still had the gift of healing why was he so worried that Epaphroditus, his fellow servant, was going to die? And why did he not heal Trophimus? 2 Timothy 4:20.

The people who like to be known as ‘Pentecostals’ don’t understand the Scriptures. They don’t realise that ‘the gift of healing’ wasn’t given to cure the world of sickness but to convince unbelievers that the Gospel is a message from God. The miraculous powers were ‘signs’, as Peter said on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:22.

Incidentally, have you ever wondered why God didn’t remove Paul’s own ‘thorn in the flesh’, about which he prayed three times? 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. The healing of the soul is far more important than the healing of the body, which isn’t going to last anyway!

But, perhaps we should ask the question, what is meant by ‘the indwelling of the Spirit’? Or how does the Holy Spirit enter to control our lives? In Romans 6:16, Paul tells us, ‘You are the servants of the One to whom you yield yourselves as servants to obey.’

This means that, as we submit ourselves to the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit, which is given to us through the Scriptures, which the Spirit Himself has given to us, His control over us grows, and certain changes occur in us.

We develop ‘the mind’ of the Spirit and we begin to think like Him. We act as He wants us to act because we know what pleases Him, and we are led by Him. When we are willing to allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives, He guides us through the Word and we find that He really does become our Comforter.

It was Jesus Himself who described the Holy Spirit as ‘The Comforter’. John 16:7. He used the word ‘parakletos’, which means ‘one called alongside to help’. The English word, ‘Comforter’, is formed out of the Latin ‘con’ ‘with’, and ‘fortis’ ‘strength’, and this gives us a very similar definition. ‘The Strengthener’.

I think that Paul had this in mind when he wrote to the Church at Philippi from Rome. Philippians 1:19. The word ‘supply’ is a very interesting word. It is the word ‘epichoregia’, it is really a three-part word, and, in English, the three parts are ‘on chorus lead’.

The basis of the word is ‘choregeo’, which you will recognize in the word ‘choreography’, and I am sure that you know what ‘choreography’ is! Peter uses the same word in 1 Peter 1:5, ‘ADD to your faith, virtue, knowledge’ etc.

When Paul writes about the ‘supply of the Spirit’, he has in mind all the ‘help’ and all the ‘resources’ that the Holy Spirit can supply. Paul was confident that the Holy Spirit would enable him to survive whatever trials lay before him, whilst he was Nero’s prisoner in Rome.

Incidentally, the word, ‘epichoregia’ was used in ‘Hellenistic Greek’ in several other ways.

1. It was used to describe the ‘abundant, rich provision’ that a wealthy man provided when he invited guests to a feast. It paints a picture of a table groaning under the weight of the rich food upon it! That was his ‘supply’.

2. The word was used in ‘medicine’, to describe the function of the ‘ligaments’ which bind the parts of the body together, the idea of ‘bringing together into unity’.

3. It was also used of the ‘equipment’ that was provided for a soldier to fit him out for battle. Everything he needed with which to face the enemy.

And so, if only we understood what the Holy Spirit can do for us, and how He can help us, our Christian lives would be far less stressful than they sometimes are.

Of course, it is difficult to understand how the Holy Spirit can ‘indwell’, live in us! But I do not think that this should trouble us! After all, we all surely believe that there is a ‘spirit’, a ‘human spirit’ inhabiting this physical body of ours, in this ‘tabernacle’, as Paul calls it in 2 Corinthians 5, which is made up of about sixteen different chemicals, a few elements, and a lot of water.

And, if you can explain to me, how your own ‘human spirit’ inhabits your body, I might be able to explain to you how the Holy Spirit is able to live in you!

But here is something to consider

Turn your Bibles to John 14:23.

‘If a man loves me he will keep My word and My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our abode with him’.

So, first, we find that both the Father and the Son, ‘indwell’, live in the Christian who keeps the word of the Saviour.

And then, turn to 1 Corinthians 6:19.

‘Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have (received) from God, and you are not your own. You were bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.’

Have you realised what these verses mean?

They mean that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, ‘inhabit’ the obedient child of God! The Godhead lives in you!

But let us look at some passages which tell us very precisely what the Holy Spirit is capable of doing for us.

1. He bears witness that we are children of God. Romans 8:14-18, because He is the ‘Spirit who adopts’.

2. He makes intercession when we pray. Romans 8:26-27.

3. He confirms our sonship, as the seal of our salvation. 2 Corinthians 1:22. A seal does several important things.

a. It marks as genuine. Romans 8:9.

b. It indicates ownership.

c. It guarantees security.

d. It is a pledge of an intention. ‘Earnest’ ‘arrabon’. Ephesians 1:13-14 He is ‘the Holy Spirit of promise’.

4. He is the Spirit who sanctifies. 2 Thessalonians 2:13. 1 Peter 1:2. ‘Sanctification of (by) the Spirit.’

‘This is the will of God, even your sanctification.’ 1 Thessalonians 4:3

The word ‘sanctification’ ‘hagiasmos’ reveals that it is related to holiness, because the word, ‘hagios’ is the word for ‘holy’, and ‘hagiasmos’ is also the word for ‘holiness’.

What is sanctification?

It means ‘separation’. Anything, or anyone, described in the Scriptures as ‘sanctified’, or ‘holy’, has been separated for service. This being the case, the first step in ‘sanctification’ is ‘cleansing’. Hence, the Holy Spirit helps us to cleanse ourselves from the sin in our lives, so that we may effectively serve God.

Listen to Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:21-22, ‘If a man cleanses himself from these (see v.22) he shall be a vessel of honour, sanctified and fit for the Master’s use’.

5. This cleansing makes it possible to produce ‘the fruit of the Spirit’. Galatians 5.22-25. The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of real spiritual life.

Notice that we do not read of ‘fruits’, but of ‘fruit’. Different fruit comes from different trees. Every virtue named in these verses is produced by the action of the One, True Holy Spirit.