The Holy Spirit

Study 6. Who Is There to Help?

(A LOOK BACK)

1) What does God want Christians to keep on doing (II Peter 3:18)?

2) What is the standard by which we are to measure this (Ephesians 4:13)?

INSIGHT: The Bible states, "He who loves another has fulfilled the Law [God's holy standard]" (Romans 13:8). And the Lord Jesus set that standard very high with what He called a "new commandment" (John 13:34)

3) By what standard are we to measure our own love (John 13:34)?

INSIGHT: It was not a new thing to love God and love our neighbour. The Old Testament had already taught that (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18). But Jesus gave us a new Example, and a new standard of measurement during His life on earth.

4) From the following verses, what are some things we learn about this kind of love?

Mark 1:40-42 ("compassion" = merciful love)Luke 23:33-34 (compare Matthew 5:44)John 13:1, and verses 2-5John 15:9

INSIGHT: If we fully understand God's standard of perfect love, and are honest in evaluating ourselves, we will have to admit we have a long way to go. In fact, the requirements seem to be so high as to be out of reach. Yet it should be our aim to behave as Jesus would. And God has provided a special Helper to strengthen us and assist us.

5) Who is the Helper (called the "Comforter" in some Bible versions) Jesus promised would be sent from God the Father (John 14:16-17)?

INSIGHT: After Christ's death and resurrection, the Spirit of God, the third Person of the Trinity, "came" to begin a new work within believers (John 14:17). The moment we become Christians, through faith in Christ, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In fact, the person who does not have the Spirit within does not belong to Christ at all (Romans 8:9). Each individual believer becomes a living "temple" of the Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

6) But what event had to happen before this new work of the Spirit of God could begin (John 7:38-39)?

INSIGHT: This refers to Jesus' return to heaven, after His resurrection. At the right hand of the Father, He is glorified once again, as He was before He came to earth (John 17:5; Hebrews 1:3). There, from the throne, the Holy Spirit was commissioned to begin His new work (Acts 2:33).

INSIGHT: The Spirit of God in the Christian is referred to as His "Seal." Ancient documents were rolled up and sealed with hot wax. Before the wax completely hardened, the one sending the document would press his official seal into it. It was a way of expressing the ownership and authority of the sender. In the case of the Christian, the indwelling Spirit of God Himself becomes God's Seal of ownership, identifying him as a child of God.

7) According to God's promise, what does this Seal guarantee for the Christian (Ephesians 1:13-14)?

8) What is an important job of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:25-26)?

9) And what subject will the Holy Spirit focus on, in doing this (John 16:13-14)?

INSIGHT: "We have received...the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God" (I Corinthians 2:12). Those things belong to the Christian because of the work of Christ, so He is the focus of the Spirit's ministry. "He will testify of Me," Jesus says (John 15:26).

It is significant that in the Bible there are over 200 names and titles given to Christ, to reveal His Person to us. But almost always the Spirit of God is simply called "the Spirit," or "the Holy Spirit." His purpose is to remain in the background and glorify Christ.

INSIGHT: To understand the present work of God's Spirit we must compare two particular aspects of it. One is entirely new on this side of the cross. The other is found prior to the cross, though more often since then.

THE BAPTIZING WORK OF THE SPIRIT

INSIGHT: The baptizing of the Spirit is not to be confused with water baptism, which is a symbolic ceremony. This is a spiritual work of God, not something that is experienced physically.

10) When does this spiritual baptism take place, according to Galatians 3:26-27?

INSIGHT: This work of the Spirit is not something we need to ask for. It is part of what God does when He saves us. Christians can say, "By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body" (I Corinthians 12:13).

11) What does the spiritual baptism accomplish (Galatians 3:27)?

INSIGHT: It will be helpful to review the teaching about the Christian's legal position before God, found in Study 5.

12) What else does this baptism accomplish (Galatians 3:28)?

The statement "there is neither male nor female" does not mean Christians are to lead some kind of "unisex" life that ignores gender differences. It is speaking of our standing in Christ, and means that all Christians have an equally privileged relationship with God, through Christ. There are no second class citizens in God's kingdom!

INSIGHT: By a work of the Holy Spirit, a person is "baptized into" or placed into Christ as to his legal standing before God, and united with other believers, as a part of Christ's spiritual body, the church. Since the church is a new entity formed after Christ's ascension, this particular ministry of the Spirit is not found in the Old Testament. It was still spoken of by the Lord Jesus as a future thing in Acts 1:5, just before He ascended back into heaven.

THE FILLING WORK OF THE SPIRIT

INSIGHT: The Greek word (pleroo) translated "filled" also has the meaning of fulfilled. Matthew uses it that way when he states that the virgin birth of Christ "fulfilled" the prophecy of Isaiah (Matthew 1:21-23). When it is used of the work of the Spirit, it means that the indwelling Holy Spirit equips and enables the believer to fulfil God's purpose for him.

INSIGHT: Believers did experience the filling of the Spirit before the cross (see for example Exodus 31:1-5; Luke 1:67-69) but it is a more evident and extensive work afterward. While the baptism establishes the Christian's standing, the Spirit's filling ministry concerns his state--his daily experience and character.

13) What is one purpose of God in which the indwelling Holy Spirit is involved (Galatians 4:19)?

14) What kind of character qualities will this include (Galatians 5:22-23)?

INSIGHT: In addition to this inward "fruit" (or result) of the Spirit's work, God's purpose for us includes the outward fruit of effective service for Christ. When the early Christians "were all filled with the Holy Spirit...they spoke the Word of God with boldness" (Acts 4:31).

INSIGHT: Whereas the Spirit of God baptizes us into Christ once and for all, at conversion, the "fulfilling" of the Spirit can be repeated as often as it is needed (Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31). All that is required is that we be in a condition of heart and mind to be filled. To put it another way, the Holy Spirit's baptizing work places us forever in Christ; His filling work reveals Christ in us day by day.

15) Compare Ephesians 5:18-19 with Colossians 3:16. What is the major difference between the two passages?

INSIGHT: This suggests that the Holy Spirit fulfils God's purpose in our lives as we respond to His Word. The first emphasizes God's part, the second our part. Responding properly to God's Word involves consistent faith and obedience. This is what is called the Christian walk, described in Study 5. Thus there is an important relationship between being filled with the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. "Walking in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16, 25) means living by the Spirit's enablement and according to His will and direction. As we walk, He fills; as He fills, we walk.

16) What will be some qualities evident in the life of a person who is walking as he should (Ephesians 4:1-3; 5:1-4)?

INSIGHT: These two processes can also be see in Philippians 2:12-13, described in a little different way.

17) Which does Philippians 2:12 describe, God's filling, or our walking?

18) Which of the two does Philippians 2:13 describe?

INSIGHT: Philippians 2:12 is not saying we must work for our salvation--to earn it by our good works. It says we are to work it out--to work out in practice what God has done, and is doing, in our hearts.

19) Note the contrast in Ephesians 5:18. What are some frequent problems with the behaviour of a person "filled" with alcohol (see Proverbs 23:32-35).

20) What will be some other practical results of the Spirit's filling and fulfilling ministry, as described in Ephesians 5:19-21?

INSIGHT: A major contrast between the two is this: "Filled" with alcohol, a person loses self control and often acts foolishly, or even dangerously. Filled and fulfilled by God's Spirit he will be self-controlled (Galatians 5:22-23) and behave wisely.

21) To review an important area of truth: The Christian's position in Christ is constant and eternal because it depends upon the righteousness of whom?

21b) The Christian's condition (Christ revealed in him) may not always be consistent because it depends on what?

22) To which do the following passages refer: A) The Christian's eternal standing in Christ, resulting from the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit? Or, B) The Christian's practical state, which depends on his response to the filling and enabling of the Holy Spirit?


II Corinthians 5:17

Ephesians 2:10

Ephesians 3:17-19

Galatians 1:15-16

Galatians 2:20

Colossians 2:10

I Thessalonians 4:16