The Necessity of the Holy Spirit: Part 1

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Where do you start a series of the Holy Spirit? Perhaps we should begin with the deity of the Spirit, or with His personhood, or with His essential character as Holy. But some simple orthodox statements are in order. The Sprit is the third person of the Trinity. He is fully God and one with the members of the Godhead. He was there at creation as the Spiritus-Creator (Gen. 1.2; Ps. 104.30). The Spirit has always been God’s redemptive Agent that brings conviction on the world of sinners as He strives with men in their sin and convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (Gen. 6.3; John 16.8). The Spirit is also the Paraclete of God’s people- He is God’s Spirit of comfort and grace (Ps. 51.11; John 14.16). The Spirit of God is also the Spirit of common grace gifting men with natural skill and universal wisdom (Ex. 31.3). 

The Spirit of God is also God’s redemptive-historical Agent that accompanies the mighty deeds of God and His terrible judgments (Neh. 9.20; Ps. 106.33; Is. 48.16; 63.10-14; Ezek. 11.5-12). He is the Spirit of Christ that anointed the Messiah for His redemptive mission (Is. 11.1; Lk. 4.18). From Genesis to Revelation, the Spirit is also the Revelator- prophesying, predicting and promising God’s salvation in Christ (2 Sam. 23.2; Neh. 9.30; 1 Pet. 1.10-11; Rev. 1.10). The Spirit of God is also the Consummator-Spirit of God who closes the Cannon of Scripture with the final eschatological invitation for humanity to ‘close’ with Christ and enter into His heavenly supper (Rev. 22.17). This is God’s Spirit given to you at regeneration (Rom. 5.5; 1 John 3.24; 4.13).

There is so much confusion on the person and work of the Spirit today, and even beyond this confusion and often misunderstanding; there is also neglect. Perhaps the former is the cause of the latter but our negligence of the Spirit is to our own detriment (cf. Acts 7.51). The Spirit was given to us to save us, to seal us (Eph. 1.14), and to sanctify us (2 Th. 2.13), and to glorify us (cf. Rom. 8.30). In other words, the Spirit is absolutely necessary. His indispensible ministry begins in our lives at regeneration as God causes us to be born again by the Spirit of God (John 3.5-8; 1 Pet. 1.3). We owe our entire religious life to the Spirit of God and His gracious influence in our lives. Our entire lives are to be dominated by the Spirit because the Spirit’s whole purpose, as Herman Bavinck said, is ‘to make us spiritual people.’ The Spirit not only places us into the sphere of salvation but into the sphere of the Spirit (cf. Rom. 8.9). In reality, the Spirit places us into a new realm (1 Cor. 15.42-49; Eph. 2.6), a new age (Heb. 6.4-6), and a new world (2 Cor. 5.17). The Spirit is necessary not only for our initial redemption but throughout eternity He will fill the air that we breathe (cf. Heb. 9.14; also Gen. 2.7). Without the Spirit we have no sanctification (1 Pet. 1.2), either definitive or progressive, no adoption (Rom. 8.15), and practically we have no spiritual comfort either (Acts 9.31). The Spirit comforts us by imparting His truth (John 14.17), His peace (Gal. 5.22; Eph. 4.3), His intercession (Rom. 8.26-27), His illumination (1 John 2.27), His conviction (John 16.9), His leading (Gal. 5.25), His sealing (Eph. 1.14), His assurance (Rom. 8.15-16), His aid (Rom. 8.26a), His presence (John 14.16), and His glory (1 Pet. 4.14). 

While the Spirit can be mysterious and profound, the beauty of the Spirit can be experienced by the remarkably simple act of prayer. There in communion with God we begin to see just how much the Spirit of God loves us and helps us as our Helper and our Comforter to commune with our Father in Heaven: 

Romans 8:26–27 26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 

It is the Spirit who “gives life”; and the Divine Holy Spirit never ceases to give us more and more of this abundant life. This is why the Spirit is absolutely necessary, life itself would not be worth living without Him and could not be experienced apart from His sustaining grace. He is truly the “Spirit of life” (Rom. 8.6). As Vos teaches, he is now the principle, indeed- the Person, who dominates our new nature: 

“Just as in Christ the old sinless nature, nevertheless ravaged by the consequences of sin in which death had hitherto reined, is replace by a nature in which immortal life reigns, so too for believer the law of sinful flesh will give way to the a law of the life of the Spirit.” (Geerhardus Vos, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3 (Bellingham; WA: Lexham Press, 2014) 221)

Soli Deo Gloria