The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Part One)

dscn0538Acts 1:1-2

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen (ESV).

Why should we study the Bible’s teaching about the Holy Spirit? Though we could list many reasons, I will focus on three.

  • Since the Holy Spirit is God, it is part of our worship of the true and living God to understand and experience God’s glory in the full majesty of all that God is. Knowing more about the Spirit of God will enhance our worship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • The subject is a crucial part of understanding God’s plan of redemption in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • A correct knowledge of the Holy Spirit and his ministry is essential to a proper Christian way of life.

First, we must avoid a wrong idea. Since I have been a pastor and teacher for over forty years, I know something of how people can misinterpret what a pastor or teacher says because they are viewing things through the wrong grid. I relate the following story not to embarrass the people involved; in fact, they reminded me about it two weeks ago, and they expressed their thanks for the teaching they received. When I was in upstate NY, I was preaching about the doctrine of adoption or adult sonship. A new family began to attend our local gathering at that time, and after a few weeks of attending they came to me with a concern. They asked, “Pastor Frampton, are you a Charismatic?” I replied, “No, I am not, but why do you ask?” They responded, “We thought you were because you talk much about the Holy Spirit.” Obviously, there were some deficiencies in their doctrinal knowledge, though they had been Christians for many years. Perhaps some reader of this blog might have a similar gap in his or her understanding about the Holy Spirit. If so, please read each article about the Spirit of God carefully, before you form an opinion.

In addition, we must also avoid a wrong attitude. Our goal is not to fill your mind with facts. It is to lead you closer to the living God, to refresh the inner person of your heart, and to prepare you to better do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12). If we are to serve the Lord, we must have correct ideas about the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Our opening text (Acts 1:1-9) presents us with essential perspectives on the Holy Spirit. It provides us with “Biblical links” back to the teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures and forward to the final unfolding of the doctrine through the apostles and prophets of the New Testament Scriptures. This text speaks of an important event in history. It contains the final words of our Lord to his apostles before his ascension into heaven.

We first learn that the Holy Spirit worked in the world before Pentecost (Acts 1:2). This might seem extremely basic, but I have heard Christians talk like they didn’t know that. (If it happened, it’s possible!)

Jesus gave instructions to the apostles through the Spirit. The New Testament Scriptures teach that the Lord Jesus did his work through the Spirit (Luke 4:14, 18). The apostles had heard Jesus teach this truth. “If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28). The Holy Spirit has an essential ministry in revelation; that is, in God making himself known to mankind. As we shall see, God the Father works through the Son by the Spirit. The two parts of revelation are general and special.

This statement is a link to teaching about the personality of the Holy Spirit. The backward link is to the Old Testament Scriptures teaching about the personality of the Spirit. Read 2 Samuel 23:2 and compare Mark 12:36. The forward link is to the Spirit’s personal ministry in this age, as taught in the Acts (13:2).

When we think of the Holy Spirit, we must keep a proper reverence for his divine Person. Do not regard him as a force or a power that you can use. The Spirit of God freely chooses to use people, how and when and where and for as long as he wants to. He speaks through the Scriptures and we are wise to listen. He grabs hold of people with irresistible power and changes them forever. Respect him from the depths of your being.

Grace and peace, David

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