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Doctrine of the Holy Spirit - The Work of the Spirit in Hebrews to Revelation Print E-mail
Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

I.  Introduction:

 I want us to look at the rest of the New Testament tonight before coming back to look at what Paul says to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12-14.  One of the central questions we might be asking is do the authors agree in their views of the Spirit?  I want us to keep this question in the back of our minds as we look at the different passages tonight.  We will attempt to look at all of the books from Hebrews to Revelation.

II.  Passages:

 A.  Hebrews 2:1-4 The author of the book of Hebrews is writing to encourage perseverance in the following of Christ.  It seems that some of the original recipients of the letter were being tempted to revert back to Judaism.  Thus, the author gives reason after reason why they should continue as disciples of Jesus and not go back.  We see this in what is said in 2:1-4.  The author compares the reliability of the Old Covenant to the New by discussing how each was received.  The Old Covenant was given to Moses by angels and it proved to be reliable.  The New Covenant was attested in several ways.  It was declared by Jesus, affirmed by those who heard Him, and God the Father bore witness to it by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.  Thus, these actions of the Father bore witness that a great salvation had indeed come.  The author does not really comment on the continuation of these activities since that is not his purpose in context.  Yet, he does seem to imply that at least the gifts are still possessed.  Some will use this to argue that signs and wonders are no longer needed to bear witness to the gospel and others will conclude just the opposite.  Since this is beyond the scope of the author, it is hard to argue either way.

 B.  Hebrews 10:29 I just want to mention this passage and point out that the Spirit can indeed be outraged by those who do not persevere in the faith and spurn the Son of God.

 C.  1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter begins his letter affirming the Trinity and speaking of the Spirit’s role in our sanctification, a point that we have seen Paul make.

 D.  2 Peter 1:19-21 This is an interesting passage because of what is said about prophecy. It seems that the prophetic word that Peter mentions in verse 19 refers to the Old Testament Scriptures.  He sees them as pointing to the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 16).  They were not mere ideas of men, but were given by God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.  Obviously in this context, prophecy is referring to the Old Testament scriptures and their teaching on the coming of Christ.  Again, we will look more at prophecy when we get to 1 Corinthians 12-14.

 E.  1 John 3:24, 4:13 In both of these passages John points out the fact that the Spirit gives us present assurance that we indeed belong to Christ.  This mirrors the teaching of Paul who also spoke of the assurance that we have through the Spirit.

 F.  1 John 5:6-8 Not only does the Spirit give us assurance that we are abiding in Christ, but He also testifies that Jesus really came in the flesh and died on the cross for our sins.  We can trust this testimony because the Spirit is the truth, a thought that echoes the teaching of Jesus.  In fact, if any ‘spirit’ does not recognize Christ and His coming in the flesh, then John tells us that such a ‘spirit’ is not from God    (4:3).  So the Spirit points us to the life and ministry of Jesus and keeps that our focus.

 G.  Jude 19-20 Jude tells us that those who cause divisions and are worldly people are actually devoid of the Spirit, which seems to imply that believers in Christ are not devoid of the Spirit and he goes on to say that they should pray in the Holy Spirit. Paul uses similar language in Ephesians 6:18 where we said that he is referring to praying in accordance with the Word.  Of course, this phrase could mean more than this, but that is difficult to argue on the basis of the two references alone.  From the rest of the New Testament we could say that it also includes the idea of praying by the power of the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, trusting in the intercession of the Spirit.  All of this and more could be included in the command to pray in the Holy Spirit.  I do not see this phrase as a reference to another category of prayer involving tongues or the like.  We will hopefully say more on this when we look at the gift of tongues in particular.

 H.  Revelation 1:10, 4:2, 17:3, 21:10 In each of these passages John describes himself as being in the Spirit.  These references bring up numerous questions that are beyond John’s purpose in the book.  Yet, what can we say about them?  First, each time John is ‘in the Spirit’ he receives a special word or vision from the Lord.  Second, we must at least note that these visions are being given for a particular purpose, namely the writing of Scripture.  Thus, the hard question is whether or not any of this is normative.  Visions of heaven for the purpose of writing Scripture are not normative.  Yet, the language in 1:10 seems to almost imply that being in the Spirit was a distinct and repeatable, even regular, experience of John.  This may be reading too much into the text and I am not sure that we can conclude this much from what we have.  Yet, it is interesting to consider.

 I.  Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22 A couple of things to note here.  First, we see the connection of Jesus and the Spirit since Jesus is the speaker and He calls for the churches to hear what the Spirit is saying.  Second, the Spirit is continually teaching and guiding the Church and pointing them back to Christ.  In one way or another, He is calling every Church that is addressed here to follow hard after Jesus and to conquer through Him.

III.  Implications:

 A.  There is agreement among the various authors of the New Testament concerning the work of the Spirit.  For the most part, the different authors tell us similar ideas about the work of the Spirit in the life of a believer.  We will identify some of these below (in our second implication.)  Before we do, let me say a word about the fact that the authors we looked at tonight do not seemingly speak as much about the power of the Spirit as Paul does.  Let me say a couple of things in regards to this.  First, even though it is not as explicit as it is in Paul, the other writers do imply the power of the Spirit in the life of a believer.  Peter tells us that we are sanctified through the Spirit and can face persecution through the Spirit.  Both of these imply the power of the Spirit in the life of a Christian.  Likewise, John speaks of assurance and being ‘in the Spirit,’ which also point to His power in our lives.  Second, different authors will often emphasize different ideas.  We see this in the Gospels and throughout the pages of the New Testament, so it should not surprise us or alarm us that Paul would be more explicit in his teaching about the power of the Spirit.  We must not conclude that the other authors denied the power of the Spirit at work in the life of believer but only that they emphasized different aspects of that power than Paul. 

 B.  The ideas of sanctification, assurance, and glorifying Christ are all emphasized in the passages we looked at tonight concerning the work of the Spirit.  I have said this numerous times, but we need to see all of the work of the Spirit and not be consumed by what is often considered to be the ‘more miraculous’ workings of the Spirit.  We need the assurance that the Spirit provides.  We need to know that our sanctification depends upon the power of the Spirit at work in us.  We need to keep Christ at the center of all we are and all we do, constantly being witnesses for Him as the Spirit calls and equips us to do.  Do we need the gifts?  You better believe it!  But we need sanctification and assurance and guidance as well.  Thus, again, it is never an either/or but always a both/and with the Spirit’s work in our lives.

IV.  Conclusion:

 Even our quick little survey of the work of the Spirit in the New Testament makes it clear how grateful we should be for His work in our lives.  His work is surely multi-faceted in the lives of believers.  Yet, His goal is simple: to purify the Church by conforming her more and more into the image of Christ.  I pray that we will honor Him by obediently and faithfully living our lives for the glory of the Son.  By the Spirit’s power, may we glorify Christ in all that we do.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Saturday, 09 May 2009 )

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