“Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.”
(I Corinthians 12:3 ESV)
In previous installments I have written about How the Holy Spirit Works, usually in reaction to the claims that people make saying that the Spirit has led them to this or that decision. A recent conversation has prompted me to write today about the work of the Holy Spirit, describing the work of the Spirit. As this is a weekly post and not a doctrinal tome, this will be far from exhaustive, but I pray it helps you to grow in your understanding.
I remember reading in an overview of theology that in Reformed circles the Holy Spirit is often considered the “Cinderella” of the Trinity. The Father and Son have been taken to the theological ball, while the Holy Spirit is left behind. While it is true that other churches may place more emphasis on the manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit, it isn’t fair to say that the Reformed tradition is any less “Spirit” centered than others.
As Kevin DeYoung comments in The Good News We Almost Forgot (a great study on the Heidelberg Catechism), “we must never forget that the work of the Holy Spirit is first of all to glorify Christ… We are very intimately connected with the work of the Spirit, because wherever we are drawn to Christ as Savior, led to worship Christ as Lord, made to behold Christ as glorious, we are being operated on by the Holy Spirit.”
Without going into too much detail, here are some bullet points of the ways in which the Holy Spirit works:
- The Holy Spirit regenerates the dead in sin who have been called by God
- The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin
- The Holy Spirit reveals to our hearts and minds the truth of the Gospel
- The Holy Spirit corrects us and restores us to paths of righteousness
- The Holy Spirit applies the saving work of Christ to our lives
- The Holy Spirit comforts our hearts with the assurance of salvation
- The Holy Spirit illumines and renews our minds through the word of God
- The Holy Spirit empowers us to follow Christ
- The Holy Spirit animates our personality
- The Holy Spirit equips us for ministry
- The Holy Spirit unites us with Christ and with all believers
- The Holy Spirit teaches us to pray, and often intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words
- The Holy Spirit enlivens our worship
- The Holy Spirit seals us with our promised inheritance in God
As a Pastor, everything I do depends upon the work of the Spirit. Were it up to me to ensure the conversion of hearts and minds through my preaching, I would have to walk away from the pulpit an empty failure. That task is beyond my ability. But God’s gracious Holy Spirit can and does work through me, speaking the word of God to the hearts and minds of those who have ears to hear, so that they may be renewed by the transforming of their minds in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not up to me to generate a certain emotion, to create an atmosphere, to subtly craft just the right words so as to lead a sinner to salvation. I must only be faithful, to do my best to present the word of God simply, humbly, and honestly, and the Holy Spirit will use my broken and stumbling lips to make Christ known.
To quote DeYoung again, “The focus of most of our churches is on Christ and not the Spirit, because that’s the focus of the apostolic gospel, the New Testament, and the Holy Spirit Himself! Spirit-led worship has at its heart not an emotive experience (though emotions are good), nor a spontaneous feel (through spontaneity isn’t bad), but rather a Christ-exalting, cross-focused, Word-centered event where the name of Jesus is praised in the power of the Spirit to the glory of God the Father.”
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!