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Doctrine of the Holy Spirit - The work of the Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Part 1) Print E-mail
Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

I.  Introduction:

After looking at the book of Acts, we now turn our attention to the letters of Paul. I want to do this by first looking generally at the letters over the next couple of weeks. Thus, tonight I will be looking at Romans and Corinthians. Next week, we will look at Galatians through Philemon. Then I want to come back and spend a week or two on 1 Corinthians 12-14, since it deals so specifically with the gifts of the Spirit and their role in the life of the Church. Obviously all of this will overlap to some degree, but I think this will help us cover Paulís teaching concerning the work of the Spirit. I will not be looking at every verse for times sake, but those that teach us specifically about the work of the Spirit. Once again, if I do not comment on a particular verse that you would like to consider, then just let me know. Letís begin tonight with Romans.

II. Passages:

A. Romans 5:5 Paul makes a connection between Godís love and the Spirit being poured into our hearts. The Lordís love comes to us through the Spirit.

B. Romans 8:1-17 Paul tells us that we are no longer condemned under the law of sin and death. Rather, we have new life in the Spirit. He contrasts those who set their minds on the flesh and those who set their minds on the Spirit. The former leads to death and the latter to life. Only those who have the Spirit belong to Christ and all those without the Spirit are outside of Christ. Through the Spirit we can put to death our sin. It is the Spirit that bears witness with our Spirit that we are indeed sons of God through adoption. Thus the Spirit is giving us life, victory over sin, and assurance that we belong to God through Christ.

C. Romans 8:26-27 The Spirit helps us in our weakness, specifically when we do not know what to pray for. He intercedes on our behalf before the Father.

D. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5 We see here the Spiritís role in gospel preaching. If any good results from our preaching, it comes because of and as a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. We do not preach ourselves, or our own wisdom or power (which was popular in Corinth), but we rely fully on the Spirit and power of God.

E. 1 Corinthians 2:10-14 The Spirit that God has given to us will lead us into understanding the things of God. Only the one who has received the Spirit, the believer, can discern spiritual things. As Jesus told us, the Spirit leads us into truth.

F. 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19 These two verses teach that believers are now temples of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit dwells within us.

G. 1 Corinthians 6:11 We see the Spiritís connection to the work of sanctification and justification through Christ.

H. 1 Corinthians 12:13 Even though we are going to come back and look at Paulís teaching on the gifts here, I want to look at this one verse because of itís importance in the baptism of the Spirit discussion. Some might interpret this as only referring to water baptism, but the final phrase and all were made to drink of one Spirit does not lend itself to that interpretation. Others, like Martin Lloyd- Jones, see this as distinct from Spirit baptism, which they argue happens subsequent to salvation, because the preposition Ďiní could be translated Ďby.í They would say that we are baptized by the Spirit at conversion and by Christ with the Spirit subsequent to conversion. Yet, I am not convinced that Paul is referring to a separate Spirit baptism in this passage. Paul is stressing our unity in the body of Christ and says in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. The phrase he uses Ďin one Spirití is seemingly identical (en + dative of Spirit) to what John says in the Greek (see Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, Acts 1:5, and 11:16). Paul is seemingly referring to the same baptism of the Spirit that John foresaw. Likewise, he connects this baptism of the Spirit with our entrance into the body of Christ, which happens at conversion. Thus, it is hard to see the baptism of the Spirit as something that would occur subsequent to our initial salvation.

I. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 5:5 The Spirit is our guarantee of what is to come for believers in Christ. We can confidence that we will reach our heavenly dwelling because God has given us the Holy Spirit as our guarantee (also see Ephesians 1:13-14).

J. 2 Corinthians 3:6 Once again we see that the Spirit gives life.

K. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Paul speaks of the freedom that we have in the Spirit. In context Paul is referring to the fact that our faces are no longer veiled and we are free to behold Christ and come into the presence of God, as Moses did. We need to be careful in our understanding and application of this idea of Ďfreedomí by remembering the present context.

III. Implications:

A. God has given the Spirit to believers in Christ at conversion. Any who do not have the Spirit are not in Christ. This leads to some further implications. First, I would call this giving of the Spirit at conversion the baptism of the Spirit. I could see how the phrase could possibly be applied to subsequent fillings of the Spirit, but it seems best to me to reserve it for what happens when a person is first saved. Second, this giving of the Spirit is our guarantee that we are heirs with Christ. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we have been adopted into the family of God.

B. We have freedom and life through the Spirit and should seek to honor Him through our obedience in His strength. We live our lives as Christians in the power of the Spirit. He equips us to obey Christ in all that we do. It is the Spirit that gives us freedom and power to come into the presence of the Father in worship.

C. Finally, we see that the Spirit intercedes on our behalf. When we do not know how to pray for ourselves and for one another and for others, we know that the Spirit will aid us as we come before the Father.

IV. Conclusion:

Paul teaches us some important truths about the Spiritís working in our lives. As we have already seen, these issues can be controversial. Yet, I want to remind us again that we do not need to miss the great work of the Spirit in our everyday lives because we are caught up in the controversy. To ignore the less Ďspectacularí work of the Spirit would be a grave mistake. We want to know and appreciate all of the Spiritís work in our lives as believers. Amen.

Last Updated ( Monday, 06 April 2009 )

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(e.g., John 1 or God's love)

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