On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified (NIV).
Presently we are investigating what God says in the Bible about the Holy Spirit. As Spurgeon said years ago, “the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity” (New Park Street Pulpit, Number 1). So then, with this good purpose in mind, we will continue with this study about the Holy Spirit.
Every pastor or teacher should explain the direction of his teaching ministry from time to time. This allows people to grasp the larger context of his presentations, or to use a common illustration, it enables them to see the tree and the forest. Our method of approach in this study about the Holy Spirit is primarily that of Biblical theology—viewing God’s revelation of his person, words, and saving activity from the standpoint of God’s progressive opening of his truth to his people in redemptive history. So then, starting with the pivotal text of Acts 1:1-9, we have studied the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament Scriptures, the work of the Spirit in giving the Scriptures to us, the Holy Spirit and salvation, the Holy Spirit and Christ, and now Christ’s promise of the outpouring of the Spirit, which will lead us, God willing, to the Pentecost and its meaning. Then we will be in a position to study the new covenant ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The setting of these verses is a response by the Lord Jesus to the events of the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. That festival was a happy time for God’s old covenant people—a time when they remembered their journey to the Promised Land. During the festival, there was a ceremony when a priest poured out water from a golden flagon, while a trumpet sounded joyfully. It seems that the people also sang Isaiah 12:3 in connection with that ceremony. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation (NIV). On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus called out to the assembled people these memorable words that are recorded in 7:37-38. These verses are his promise of the Holy Spirit to all who believe on him. Notice the typical context. Christ’s people will be on a journey to the eternal Promised Land. As God guided them with the cloud, so the new covenant people will receive the Holy Spirit.
Regretfully, believers have not thought much about the promise of the Holy Spirit in its connection with God’s storyline in the Bible. (Remember, God’s word is the true story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ.) What did God the Father promise about the Holy Spirit? What did Christ promise? Here will see that Jesus promised that he would give the Holy Spirit to all those who come to him. The Holy Spirit would then live in each one. And we will learn about the power of this ministry. For now, read the above promise and meditate on its significance. What does the Lord Jesus want us to learn? What ought we to learn about the greatness of our God? Let our minds be stretched as contemplate this promise.
Grace and peace, David