The Holy Spirit occupies a very special place in relation to Christians, distinct from anything set forth in Old Testament times or enjoyed by Old Testament saints; distinct from what was enjoyed by the disciples who companied with the Lord previous to His death, resurrection, and ascension; and distinct from what will be wrought in men (Israelites and Gentiles) after Christians are gone from the earth to the Lord; when the time will have come for the millennial reign of Christ, and its attendant glory and blessing.
We will reverently speak of His unique service in Christianity, and invite the reader's prayerful study and exercise of heart over the Scripture; that we may seek to answer to the grace that God has shown to us, and to the position Christ has won for us, loyally and largely, till He come.
First of all.
WHO IS THE SPIRIT?
We require to distinguish between the ordinary human spirit conferred on God's creature man in Gen. 2:7, by the breath of God, and the Spirit of God who moved independently on the face of the waters before man was made, in Gen. 1:2. The first constitutes man a responsible being before his Creator, destined to exist for ever; the second is a Divine Person. They are very clearly separated in 1 Corinthians 2: 11. The spirit of man equips him for intelligence within the compass of his position as a man; the Spirit of God searches the deep things of God. We met a man not long ago who foolishly argued that, inasmuch as unconverted men had not the Spirit of God, each of them would cease to exist when he died. But when this passage was pointed out to him, he wisely bowed to the word which shows that every man has his own spirit whether he has the Spirit of God or not.
The Holy Ghost is a separate Personality in God. His Name is seen in conjunction with the names of the Father, and the Son, in Matthew 28 Christian baptism commits one to the confession of God as revealed by Christ, the full revelation of the one true living God being Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. There are not two Gods, or three Gods, as ignorant objectors allege; but three Personalities in one God. These three ever subsisted in the Godhead; and with regard to the Holy Spirit, He is expressly called the Eternal Spirit (Heb. 9: 14). Before the worlds were made, God is (Heb. 11: 3, 6); but even when heaven and earth were created these material things were not capable of bringing to light all that God is. Moreover, though Enoch and Noah walked with God, and Abraham was called God's friend, and the Lord spake face to face unto Moses as a man speaketh unto his friend, their great intimacies did not bring to light the full truth. He was known to the patriarchs under His name of Almighty God, for the attribute of All-might pertains to the whole Godhead. Later, an advance was made when God especially linked His name of Jehovah with the nation of Israel (Exodus 6: 2, 3), for eternal existence and unchangeable glory (which are implied in that name) belong equally to the whole Godhead. Yet amid all the glories unfolded by the prophets, the Godhead secret was never fully disclosed until in the fulness of time Christ came when it was no longer a question of the creation of worlds, or of the power that could sustain faith and reward it, as in Old Testament times, but rather of making purgation of sin and of revealing all that God is, the appearance of the Son of God in a concrete human form, apart from sin, necessarily brought to light His relations with the other Persons in the Trinity. Christianity therefore is based upon the knowledge of God as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
But once we have light as to Him we can see how large a part the Spirit played in the history of the world in times that are past.
- In creation He is the first Personality distinguished by Name (Gen. 1: 2), and is there seen in connection with the ordering of the earth for man.
- In Job 26: 13, He is found garnishing the heavens. See also Isaiah 40:13.
- The formation of man is attributed to Him in Job 33:4.
- He operated in a special way in all the writers and in all the writings of the Scripture (2 Sam. 23: 2; 1 Chronicles 28: 12; Neh. 9: 30; 1 Peter 1: 10-11; 2 Peter 1: 21; Heb. 3: 7; Heb. 9: 8; Heb. 10: 15). He imparted special wisdom to men, understanding, knowledge, skill (Ex. 31.; Neh. 9: 20); peculiar and temporary energy and power (Balaam, Num. 24: 2; Othniel, Judges 3: 10; Gideon, Judges 6: 34; Jepthah, Judges 11: 29; Samson, Judges 13: 25, etc.; Saul, 1 Sam. 10: 6, 10, etc).
He is spoken of DIRECTLY and PERSONALLY, as in Genesis 1: 2; Matthew 3: 16, etc.; John 7: 39; Acts 8: 39; Acts 13: 2; Acts 16: 6, 7; Romans 8; 1 Corinthians 12; Revelation 22: 17.
He is spoken of SYMBOLICALLY, under the idea of seven Spirits, in Revelation 1, 3, 4, 5. Compare Isaiah 11: 2. Thus also Christ is spoken of symbolically as a Lamb having seven horns and seven eyes.
He is spoken of TYPICALLY, as oil, for anointing, etc., Exodus 30: 22-33. Compare Acts 10: 38 and 1 Samuel 16: 13. And as wind, or breath (Ezek. 37: 1-10. See verse 14).
He is spoken of CHARACTERISTICALLY, as the Spirit of grace (Zech. 12: 10; Heb. 10: 29), of truth (John 14: 17, 26, etc.), of holiness (Rom. 1: 4. So called everywhere the Holy Ghost), of life (Rom 8: 2), of Christ (Rom. 8: 9, etc.), of sonship or adoption (Rom. 8: 15), of God's Son (Gal. 4: 6), of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1: 7), and of glory and of God (1 Peter 4: 14).
He is spoken of PROPHETICALLY, in Isaiah 44: 3, where it is foretold that He will be poured out on Jacob's seed through the sovereign will and mercy of God; in Ezekiel 11: 19, and 36: 26, 27, in contrast with their former idolatry and uncleanness, and their captivity in heathen lands; also in Joel 2, where Jehovah declares His purpose to bring all flesh, i.e.,Gentile as well as Jew, under the Spirit's power. This will be connected with the future deliverance in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, when God shall save His remnant of the Jews; though the Apostle Peter Indicates a partial fulfilment of it in Acts 2: 16, etc.
Lastly, He is said to give character to
- gift (Rom. 1: 11);
- the mind, life, and disposition of saints generally as such (Rom. 8).
- certain godly believers in contrast with certain carnally minded believers (1 Cor. 2: 15; 1 Cor. 3: 1; 1 Cor. 14: 37; Gal. 6: 1).
- the part taken by saints in Christian assemblies, and among their fellow Christians (1 Cor. 12)
- the resurrection body (1 Cor. 15: 44).
- the whole of our blessings (Eph 1: 3).
- our songs (Eph. 5: 19).
- the house of which we form constituent parts, and our sacrifices (1 Peter 2: 5).
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