The Spirit’s Ongoing Ministry

Fulfilling Christ’s Pledge in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14–16)
Just as the Spirit is at work upholding creation and bringing about its fruitfulness even amid sin and corruption, so the Spirit also brings about the reality and fruitfulness of the new creation, inwardly convicting us of God’s judgment and convincing us of God’s mercy in Christ. In John 14–16, Jesus highlights three aspects of the Spirit’s mediation of Christ’s gracious reign.

  1. The Spirit’s ongoing ministry is judicial (16:8). The Spirit is sent to convict sinners of their sin and to convince them of God’s judgment and the free grace of Christ’s righteousness.
  2. As the Son is the embodiment of all truth, the Spirit guides into all truth (16:13). The Spirit does not replace or displace Jesus but unites us to Jesus and makes us children of our heavenly Father. The Spirit is not at our disposal but speaks only what he hears from the Father: the truth of the Son spoken in the Word.
  3. The Spirit glorifies the Son (16:14)—Just as the Son has glorified the Father by his work, so now the Father and the Spirit glorify the Son, and the Spirit brings us into enjoyment of this glory with the triune God; though Christ our Head is bodily absent, the Spirit continually joins us to him and keeps our faith fixed on what we do not yet see.

From John 14–16, we also see that the ascended Christ carries out the work of his offices by the power of the Spirit, making effectual Christ’s prophetic (e.g., 16:8), priestly (e.g., 14:16), and kingly (e.g., 16:33) activities.

Advertisements

The Empire of the Holy Spirit

Written by Dr. Michael Haykin is one of the greatest books I have read in the last 10-years. $20 paperback and only $3 Kindle, it is a must read for any believer seeking to learn both a Biblical understanding and historical overview of the role of the Sprit in the life of a believer.

Combining both keen historical reflection and rich biblical insight, Michael Haykin has pulled from his expertise in both church history and biblical spirituality in the writing of this volume. The book has already received high praise from several individuals who have endorsed the book.

Malcolm B. Yarnell states:

“This little treasure…comes with my highest recommendation.”

Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes:

Michael Haykin’s The Empire of the Holy Spirit is not just a book about the Holy Spirit. This is a book written, obviously, by one who knows the Person (not just the topic) of which he writes. This book will prompt you to think. You’ll want to scratch down notes, and talk about insights over coffee with friends. But, more than that, this book will prompt you to get on your knees, through the Spirit of God, and cry out “Abba Father!”

Dr. Joel Beeke, President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, has written:

Haykin’s Empire of the Spirit covers a rich cluster of subjects on the Holy Spirit from various biblical, historical, and theological perspectives.  Whether speaking about the Spirit’s role in sanctification, in revival, in the Great Commission, in the exercise of genuine success, or in promoting Christian unity, Haykin’s thoughts, tethered to Scripture, offer an exciting read. This book needs to be pondered over and yet it is a page-turner.  I pray that it may promote a deepening interest in and appreciation for the Spirit’s indispensable, variegated ministry in the lives of believers.

If you would like to listen to the author’s own thoughts on the book, you can download this podcast in which I interview Dr. Haykin about his most recent book.


The Joy of the Spirit

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

1Thessalonians 1:6-7 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.

Out of all of the truths that lie in the gospel, nothing should bring a smile to the face of a believer more than enjoying the gospel. The Spirit allows the believer to enjoy the gospel at salvation and forever after; and he is able to boast in this gospel, which is the greatest news that exists.

The joy of the Spirit is marveling at the fact that the gospel of Christ allows believers to have enjoyment both on earth and eternally. This joy lasts forever, and is indeed unfathomable. It is an eternal joy that will – and should also now – bring delight to men’s souls when they find that all happiness and delight and pleasures meet in the gospel alone. The Spirit causes affections to be revealed in – and through – the believer. These affections should be seen flowing out of the believer in all their movements, actions, words and thoughts. The believer should always see, find, and enjoy the gospel given to them by the Spirit at salvation.

From the moment of salvation, the Spirit was given to the believer to aid them in pursuing perfection: living every day for the glory of God, by the example of Christ’s life on earth, through the enablement of the Holy Spirit. From that moment, the believer begins on the path of advancement towards perfection, which will culminate in glory. It is the joy of the Spirit that makes this process so great and so enjoyable; being able to live every day in the Christian faith, living the Christian walk, boasting in the gospel. There is no greater joy in life than living out something so great and being able to enjoy it always, no matter if the days are hard or easy. The Christian life is enjoyable because the believer has been given the Spirit. This living for the gospel and enjoying the gospel boasts in Christ, boasts in God, and boasts in the Spirit. When the believer lives for the gospel and enjoys the gospel every day – seeing that it is their very life – they then enjoy boasting every day for the gospel, in the gospel. Living a gospel-centered life for the glory of God boasts in the Spirit because without Him, the believer could never enjoy the gospel.

It is sad how often believers either forget or neglect to look at any of the above. In the post-modern world people tend to look everywhere for their own enjoyment. Sex, booze, drugs, filthy reading, eating – what they want, when they want, and of as much as they want. People today (and yes, even believers) look for enjoyment in friends, in popularity, in community; or even in getting a spiritual high off studying theology and doctrines for their own mind and not to boast in the gospel. Man looks for enjoyments in politics for fame, power, wealth, possessions, etc. These are all part of how the world enjoys life, and enjoys it for themselves. I simply say what Paul told Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7: “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” Believers delight in the duties related to that which saved them, and what is given them and named as theirs: the Father, for His glory, Christ, because of His cross, and the Spirit, given so that the believer can enjoy the good news. For it is the joy of the Spirit that allows mankind to pursue a life of holiness like Christ and be like Christ – for Christ – so that others may see the believer boast in the gospel. This joy is what gives the believer a deeper, more intimate relationship with God, as he gains the intellectual knowledge of the gospel. This Spirit of the gospel gives the believer a brighter, more desirable sight of the enjoyment that lies in the gospel; it gives a more vigorous faith to the gospel, it gives a delight to the gospel, and a will that enjoys the gospel. It gives the believer joy in that they can know the delight of giving up the flesh and finding joys not in this world, but in what saved them – the gospel. And this joy of the Spirit is what gives the believer a willingness to suffer for the sake of the gospel and make themselves servants of the Master. Having the Spirit of joy is simply enjoying the gospel forever. How great it is for sinners to be able to enjoy anything for eternity, let alone knowing and enjoying God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


The Comfort of the Spirit

John 14:16-17 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 15:26 But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

There is no greater comfort to the heart of man than the Holy Spirit. For the believer to boast in knowing that the Comforter dwells inside him, places God where He should be – glorified above all things.

The comfort of the Spirit could be talked about in many ways. However, there is nothing more satisfying to the soul of man than knowing and seeing the Spirit engaged in this particular work in their life. This Comforter is like none other, as He is one with the Son and Father, being always faithful to the believer. There are no days off, vacations, or breaks. The Holy Spirit is faithful to those who are the Father’s at all times. The same love of God read about earlier in the book is the love of the Spirit, and in the Spirit’s comfort He displays not only His love, but also His love for God’s people. The Spirit is both loving and comforting in His work in the heart of the believer. The Spirit acts as the greatest Comforter in that He is what restores the soul to God when in conviction and in doubt. For there is nothing that can bring about rightful living in the believer’s life other than the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is always alive, in that He – even now – molds the believer and beings to show them how to live for the gospel by making it known above all things. Through enjoying its truths, the believer is given a sense of comfort in whom they are rooted in, and what they are rooted in – namely, the gospel.

When the believer is stressed or in a time of need and cannot find aid in human hands, the Spirit of comfort is always there to aid in bringing the soul of man back to Christ. When man is in sorrow because of a situation or because of his own sin, the Spirit is there to comfort the soul. The believer often becomes so stressed at life in general that they tend to forget what the gospel gave them: the Holy Spirit as their Comforter. Nothing makes the gospel known more than when the believer runs into the arms of the Spirit, depending upon Him, and not his own self in time of need. Depending on a comforter that never falters, never fails, but is altogether wise brings comfort to the soul of man, so that he can boast in the gospel truth of always having a Savior, a Father and a Comforter in the time of need. It is this Spirit in which the believer can boast: the Spirit who brought them to God, out of sin to righteousness, and keeps them from eternal judgment (and these are only part of the ways in which the Spirit comforts the soul!). For the believer to wake every morning and know with certainty that no matter what they face their hearts have been cleansed from all sin and they will be forever redeemed by the cleansing of sin, is something that should bring about such joy in the Father’s plan of redemption set forth in Christ.

The Spirit of God came not just to cleanse men from sin, but to dwell in them until the day of the renewing of their bodies to the state of glorification forevermore. Here on earth, in the flesh, conflicts often arise, troubles occur, and hardships set in. The death of children, parents and grandparents happen every hour, and diseases that take over the earthly body seem to worsen every day. Day after day men die because of the curse of sin. Even for believers it is often hard to deal with such areas of life. Cancer, AIDS, MS, and numerous other worse, or lesser-known diseases, take over and set in to destroy not only the flesh, but the heart of man as well. Hardships in friendships and relationships, ruined marriages, the loss of a child running down the wrong path, are all areas that crush and break down the soul of a believer, that can sometimes black out the gospel from the believer’s sight. Broken cars, broken hearts, run-down houses, bodies worn out from work, financial struggles, etc – all will never compare to the lost state and debt that the believer was in before the Spirit of comfort brought them to God. The great truth of this comforting Spirit is the knowing the truth that in all times there is one in whom the believer can run to for comfort. The world does not know sin the way that a believer does, and has no clue that they are in sin – bringing forth their own death. Of all of the comforts the Spirit gives, none compares to the comfort He gives in the gospel. The Spirit bringing man out of sin and into the hand of God is THE greatest comfort He can – and will – give to the believer’s life every single day. The believer boasts in this, remembering that the Spirit comforted them once so much that that act alone was – and is – enough for the believer to enjoy the gospel for the rest of their earthly lives, until they enjoy the gospel eternally with God – the very gospel Himself. The believer, in enjoying the comforts of the Spirit that are given to him at the moment of salvation, also boasts in the truth of the Spirit – bringing all the glory to God by the work of Christ for the satisfaction of the soul of man. That, and that alone, is boasting properly in the gospel which the Spirit comforted the lost soul with, and it should be boasted of every day!


The Fellowship of the Spirit

Philippians 2:1-2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

The fellowship that the Spirit gives the believer is the communion that exists between the Father and the Son, and is like nothing else that man could ever imagine. Boasting in the fellowship given by the Spirit gives God the glory He deserves, as it provides a way for sinners to come and enjoy the fellowship of the Triune God.

Paul’s benediction in his second letter to the Corinthians ends with the best way of showing exactly what this fellowship of the Sprit means to the believer. There is no better way to end any letter than giving the over-arching plan of redemption contained in one sentence. As Charles Hodge puts it, this single verse gives “first, the grace, or favor, of our Lord Jesus Christ, secondly, the love of God, and thirdly the communion of the Holy Ghost.”22 For it is by Christ’s great grace and God’s love that the believer can enjoy the fellowship of the Spirit. The reason that the believer can enjoy the fellowship of the Spirit is because of the death of Christ. It is the cross of Christ that has given the Spirit the ability to now allow sinners to enter fellowship with God, and even boast in God in great measure. That is why Paul could say in Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree—’ so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” It is this Spirit that the believer is fully secured in – in the covenant of redemption – and brought into fellowship with God, because of the death of Christ. The believer enjoys the gospel as he sees the Trinity at work not only in this verse, but in his life; and as he sees that the gospel works itself out for the glory of God. The believer, when coming into the fellowship of the Spirit, then enjoys the grace of Christ and love of God, and he is able to boast in the Triune God at work in giving the gospel to sinners.

One of the many aspects that this fellowship is lived out through boasting is by the way we approach God. Doing so in fellowship with Him brings light to the gospel, and gives the believer the means of communion with God. All of the teachings and all of the learning that the believer sees and hears from the Word of God, comes from the Spirit. It is through the fellowship of the Spirit that the believer is able to learn, see, and enjoy the gospel. From the moment of justification everything that the believer has learned and will learn, is through the fellowship of the Spirit. All of the growth in the believer’s life comes from the fellowship of the Spirit of God that moulds and shapes the believer to be more like Christ. Possessing the Spirit who has fellowship with believers, and bringing about communion with the Father and Son, is what fills the heart of the believer with warmth and the joy to boast in the gospel. This is done by examining the countless blessings that the gospel has given the believer by the indwelling of the Spirit. This is not done by grieving, resisting, blaspheming, insulting, or quenching the Spirit, but only by boasting in the Spirit to bring glory to God. All power and authority in this fellowship has been given to the sinner by the Spirit so that they can increasingly live for the gospel rather than themselves.

While this is a simple truth of the gospel to boast in, the believer often needs to be reminded of it. The fellowship of the Spirit brings the believer into communion with God the Father and Christ the Son, it lets the believer learn, see, know, and understand theology, it lets the believer understand who God is and what Christ did, and most of all, it lets them see the gospel! Everything that the believer has ever come to know from God’s Word about Him is because the Spirit gave them fellowship to learn and know about God. Without the Spirit of fellowship, no man and no believer today could have ever come into a right relationship with God, nor could the church know as much about God as it does. The Spirit fellowshipping with the believer is what allows for boasting, and brings glory to Christ. Bruce Ware says, “so long as we make clear that the Spirit seeks always and only to point away from himself to the Son and, through him, to the Father, we can honor the Spirit in a way that also honors the focus of his own Person and work.”23 When the believer boasts in the fellowship that the Spirit brings to him, they are boasting in the gospel, glorifying Christ and God above all things. The believer is to boast in the fellowship, simply because there is no greater fellowship than that of the Father and Son – the God and the Christ. That truth alone will call the believer to find all enjoyment in itself about the gospel.


The Guarantee of the Spirit

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

2 Corinthians 5:5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

Ephesians 1:13-14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The Spirit that Christ promised to His people has come. The believer can boast in knowing that they are forever Christ’s. Along with boasting, they ought to give their life to the gospel.

The Holy Spirit is holy in Himself. It is because He is holy that the believer is made holy as well. The Holy Spirit, being the Spirit of promise, is what gives the believer hope to look to the day of eternal holiness and joy when they can stand before God, sealed by Him. This seal that the Holy Spirit gives to the believer is an eternal inheritance. Forever sealed until the end of time on earth, the believer can enjoy knowing that his pursuit of holiness will not end in failure, but that he will be made holy like God for eternity. When the Spirit enters a man’s heart, He is sealing it forever, making the soul God’s. In this, the believer has the guarantee of the Spirit. This guarantee gives the believer the enjoyment of the gospel in looking towards Christ’s life as an example of how he should live for Christ while on earth. But even more, he is given the enjoyment in the gospel knowing that one day he will worship God in all holiness, forever! This “mark” of the Spirit is a distinguishing mark that belongs only to those whom the Spirit indwells.

The believer can enjoy the fact that this guarantee which the Spirit gives them will not only reap blessing here on earth, but is the very seal that allows them to stand in Christ’s righteousness before God. This earnest part of the Spirit’s work is a gift that the believer is to enjoy, given because of what Christ had done previously on the cross. Out of this, the believer is privileged to enjoy the gospel through many areas that the Spirit gives throughout his life. All of the things that the Spirit does – all that He influences, all that He leads, all that He teaches, and all of His comforts – are only but a hint of the eternal joy that the believer will enjoy even more, in all fullness, in eternity. The believer enjoys this every morning as he awakes from his sleep, being able to live another day for Christ – glorifying God in the way He designed all things, worshipping Him in all things, and proclaiming the gospel, showing others this good news which saves and gave the believer a way of life, and living by the work of the Spirit in their life. The Spirit who gives the guarantee of promise is the same Sprit who enjoys the gospel Himself. The Spirit enjoys being the One who seals; He enjoys convicting, He enjoys molding the heart, and He enjoys keeping those that are the Father’s until the day their souls leave earth. This promise is what makes the believer heirs with Christ, and is what makes the believer a brother with Christ, and it is what leads the believer to the process of sanctification. This promise is what shapes the believer more every day into the image that Christ has set before His people as a living example here on earth. This inheritance is not partial or in any way deficient, leaving the believer to complete it. No! It is complete because of the work of Jesus Christ, and will lead the believer to live out the gospel until the day of redemption. As the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 1:13-14,

“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

For the believer to boast properly in the gospel truths which the Spirit gives them, they must realize every morning they awake, that they awake as God’s own. From the moment of the promise of the Spirit, they are Christ’s bought souls, and that in itself deserves nothing less than a pursuit of holiness to glorify God always and before all else. The believer must allow the Spirit to shape their lives from the Scriptures, they must allow the Spirit to mould their hearts to care like Christ, and they must allow the Spirit to groan for them when they go in prayer. This is why the believer listens to the Word preached, and why the believer prays and sings songs of worship and praise to God – to live out the gospel truth that the Spirit dwells in them, making the glory of God further known among all the inhabits upon the earth. It is the power of the gospel that gives the believer the enjoyment of what the Sprit does for them – things that the believer doesn’t even know and cannot comprehend, and what the believer cannot and would never be able to do on their own. That is why the believer boasts in the guarantee of the Spirit – because it does all that man could never do.


The Cry of the Spirit

Romans 8:15-17 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

The cry of the Spirit is given so that believers can call upon their heavenly Father, enjoying relationship with Him. Knowing that they can call upon their Father anytime, they should boast in this by lifting high what the Spirit does for them.

The believer, immediately following the act of salvation (justification), is adopted into the family of God. Having been adopted into God’s family they now have the Spirit who calls upon God. It is as if the believer is given a tuning device enabling them to communicate with God the Father. The believer can now call upon the Lord. This cry of the Spirit brings many blessings upon the believer. It is what gives the believer the right to the eternal inheritance of membership in the family of God. And it is also the cry that makes the believer a brother of their Savior, Jesus Christ.

This cry of the Spirit gives the believer several blessings to boast in. The believer can boast in the fact that they have intimate fellowship with Christ and God because of the Spirit who cries, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:7 says, “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” This Spirit not only gives intimate fellowship, but also guidance. This is how one knows they are a part of the family of God. This is seen in Romans 8:14: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” The believer can boast in knowing that he – when receiving this Spirit – can always call upon his Father, being a true son of God. The believer can boast in the knowledge that he is a believer. Once receiving the Spirit, he will forever have the Spirit. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Once a believer of the Gospel; always and forever – with the Spirit as their witness – a believer of the gospel. The believer can boast in the gospel because they bear the Spirit in their hearts in perfect communion, making them a son of God in an intimate relationship with the Father. Romans 8:14 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

Another way the believer can boast in the Triune God is in seeing that this truth of the Spirit is what makes the believer an heir of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is sweeter to know, and what is more beautiful to dwell upon, than knowing that upon receiving this Spirit they have become part of a family that is not physical, but of the spiritual realm that will never end. When joining this family it is great to often look towards the future of glorification when one day the believer will bear the likeness of the glorified body – of Christ. Then the believer will boast always and forever in the gospel, glorified like Christ, so that they can worship Him and boast in Him perfectly, for eternity. In 1 John 3:2, this is stated perfectly: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” Oh, how greatly will the believer rejoice then! The cry of the Spirit is what gives the believer the inheritance of all things, adopted in the Son of God. In 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, Paul says, “So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

There are a number of areas of this “cry” that may be boasted in. The experiences that it allows (the enjoyment of membership in the family of God) and the ways in which it makes the believer today boast in the gospel, are sweeter to the soul of mankind than all else. For this is the very highest blessing of the gospel itself. There is no aspect of the gospel more beautiful than God’s adopting His children. These blessings that the believer can enjoy – in praising God in thanks – are not only enjoyed on earth but will be enjoyed forever in heaven with their Father; worshiping their Father, crying no longer in need, but in worship alone, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb.”