The Holy Spirit 

by Mervyn Tilley – 5 April 2017 


The Holy Spirit“We believe in the deity of the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son and in the necessity of His work in conviction of sin, repentance, regeneration and sanctification and that the believer is also promised an endowment of power as the gift of Christ through the baptism in the Holy Spirit with signs following. Through this endowment the believer is empowered for fuller participation in the ministry of the church, its evangelism, worship and service.” 
In view of the above statement we therefore believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. One God – yet three persons – equal in God-like qualities but different in function. 
These different functions of the Godhead are intended for our benefit rather than God’s – to help understand God’s relationship to man and also to show us how each member of the Godhead played His part in the story of man’s redemption. We see a beautiful example of mutual submission in the Godhead which is the secret of all successful relationships (John 12:44-45, 12:49-50 and 16:13-15).
At this point it is important to stress that the Holy Spirit is as a much a person as God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit is not an abstract power as the Jehovah Witnesses teach. Every reference in John’s Gospel in particular always refers to the Holy Spirit as He and never as It. The Holy Spirit sees, hears and speaks. The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit can be lied to (see Ephesians 4:30, Isaiah 63:10 and Acts 5:3). You cannot grieve or lie to an abstract force! 
However, for us to understand the work and function of the Holy Spirit, various earthly elements are used to describe Him and His work. For example:

- Fire (Matthew 3:11-12).

- Wind or breath (Acts 2:1-4).

- Water (John 7:37-39).

- Oil (1 Samuel 16:13).

- Wine (Acts 2:15-18 and Ephesians 5:18).

- Dove (Matthew 3:15-17)  The dove is also used to demonstrate the character of the Holy Spirit. The dove is one of the most timid of creatures which is why he can be scared away so easily. This is why the Holy Spirit can be grieved. 

There are four vital activities of the Holy Spirit without which we cannot be saved or be able to continue our Christian walk: Conviction, Repentance, Regeneration and Sanctification. 
1. Conviction of sin (John 16:7-10)

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to prepare us for salvation by convicting us of our sins and of our need for God’s help. The Holy Spirit shows us our true position from God’s perspective: lost. The general lack of peace prior to conversion is greatly increased when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. 
Many believe that Saul of Tarsus was first convicted of sin when he witnessed the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Saul got worse before he got better – and he didn’t get better until he surrendered himself to Jesus. There are examples in Scripture of conviction without repentance (Acts 7:54).
2. Repentance

The purpose of conviction is to lead us to the place of repentance which in itself is a gift of God (Romans 2:4 and 2 Corinthians 7:10). Repentance marks the turning point in our lives (Acts 2:37).
3. Regeneration

No man can save himself – no matter how hard he tries (John 3:3-8). We had no control over our first birth and we can have no control over our rebirth. The only part we can possibly play is in cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He does His work. In regeneration we are born again, made new and made alive to God according to Ephesians 2:1, John 5:24 and Titus 3:4-8. 
4. Sanctification

(1 Thessalonians 4:3) To sanctify means ‘to set apart’ for special use. Jesus said, “You have not chosen me but I have chosen you and ordained you that you should go forth and bear fruit”. The word ‘sanctuary’ means a place set apart for the purpose of worship – a place for God to dwell. The Tabernacle and Temple are good examples of this. Paul also extended this thought to our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Sanctification is a twofold work: 

- Positional – this is how God sees us. When He called us He set us apart for Himself – once for all (Jeremiah 1:4-5, Acts 9:15 and Galatians 1:15). In this sense we never need be anxious about our standing in God because that is firmly established. On the other hand there is another view we need to consider.  

- Experiential – this is not so much where we are in God but rather where we are in our daily lives. We are very much a work in progress – even though God sees us as the finished article – “You are complete in him”, like an architect’s plans and the finished building (Hebrews 10:14 and Philemon 2:12-13).

As we are sensitive and submissive to the Holy Spirit we are in the process of being changed from one degree of glory (2 Corinthians 3:18 and 2 Corinthians 1:10). We are indeed a work in progress and, according to Paul in Romans 8, we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit. These four stages are just the beginning of our walk with God and without the power of the Holy Spirit none of this would be possible. 

The baptism of the Holy Spirit

The baptism of the Spirit is derived from the victory on the cross. When God poured out the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost it was His way of saying that He was pleased with the sacrifice of His Son. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is God’s promise to every believer. First Jesus instructed His disciples to make sure they were in the Upper Room. Then in Acts 2 Peter threw open the offer of the Spirit to the new believers. From then every people group had an encounter with the Holy Spirit (Acts 8, 9, 10 and 19). Peter summarised it best in Acts 2:38-39.


Signs following

(Acts 2:1-4) One of the main signs of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is the ability to speak in tongues. Let us be clear – tongues are not the least of the gifts – and also tongues is probably the most attacked sign of all. There is a distinction between tongues as a prayer language (which is for every believer) and tongues which is a spiritual gift requiring interpretation (this may not be for everyone although the potential is always there if God so determines). 
Paul did not hesitate to talk up tongues when he said, “I speak in tongues more than you all” and “I would that you all spoke in tongues”. For those who say that tongues finished with the early church the question must be asked – if God has finished with tongues why does the devil continue to imitate them? 

Personal experience over tongues – in the past I have made the mistake of telling a person they were not filled with the Spirit because they had not spoken in tongues – more latterly I have advised people they had been filled before tongues and later they did speak in tongues. There are at least 27 gifts listed in the New Testament. They are all designed to help us do the job God has given us to do (1 Corinthians 12:7-11, Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Peter 4:10-11).



As a general rule the baptism and gifts do not come automatically. They have to be sought – even coveted. Isaiah said, “I will pour water on him who is thirsty”. While purity is an ideal for seeking the Spirit, on the other hand the Spirit is given to make us pure. The determining factor is hunger. God always rewards faith no matter how imperfect the person may be. 
All gifts are given not for personal glory, but rather for the blessing, benefit and building up of the body – the church. 

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