The “Role” and the “Work” of the Holy Spirit
In Part 1 of this study, we saw how the bible portrays the Holy Spirit as the “power” of God. By the word “power”, I mean the active force that accomplishes the will of God. For example, it was the Spirit of God (aka the Holy Spirit) who was “moving over the face of the waters” during the creation of the world. (Gen 1:2) It was the Holy Spirit who inspired the prophets to speak the word of God. (2 Peter 1:21) It was the Holy Spirit who “overshadowed” Mary when she became pregnant with the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit was called “the power of the Most High”. (Luke 1:35) It was the Holy Spirit who “guided” the apostles “into all truth”. (John 16:13) It was the Holy Spirit who “came upon” the apostles on the day of Pentecost, giving them “power”. (Acts 1:8)
The Holy Spirit is the POWER of God, who accomplishes will of God. The “role” of the Holy Spirit, is to accomplish God’s will, by performing the various works, or deeds, that serve to accomplish that will. For example, the bible says in 1 Timothy 2, verse 4, that God “Desires all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Since that is God’s will, it is the “work” of the Holy Spirit, to make that possible. Of course it’s also God’s will that all people have the ability to make their own choices, and the Holy Spirit can not interfere with man’s freedom to choose. Therefore, the Spirit’s work is limited to making salvation possible, by making the truth available, while not forcing it on anyone.
Remember what Jesus said, in John 4, verse 34.. “My food (or My meat) is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.” Well, that’s exactly the same with the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit was sent to do the will of God who sent Him, and to accomplish His work. So then at least in that one respect, the Spirit of God, and the Son of God, had this very same “role” to accomplish.
The Holy Spirit Revealed the New Covenant
One of the “works” that the Holy Spirit was sent to do, was to reveal the new covenant law of Christ. Jesus had already started to reveal some things concerning the new covenant, but that really wasn’t the main “role” that Jesus was sent to fulfill. The main purpose that Jesus was sent for, was to become a sinless sacrifice, and to die for the sins of the world. That was the main “role” of Jesus. That’s what Jesus was referring to when He said; “My meat is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.” The “work” that Jesus was sent to do, was the “work” of providing the means of salvation.
But Jesus also revealed quite a bit about the new covenant. He taught about believing in Him, as the Christ, in John 8:24. And he taught about confessing your faith in Him, in Mathew 10:32 & 33. And He taught about the necessity of repenting of sins, in Luke 13:3. And He taught about the necessity of baptism for the forgiveness of those sins, in Mark 16:16. And He even taught about the need to remain faithful unto death, in Mathew 24:13, and in Revelation 2:10. Jesus actually taught the whole plan of salvation, didn’t He?
And one of the “works” of the Holy Spirit, was to continue those teachings, and to reveal the rest of the new covenant. Here’s three verses that bear out that fact;
John 14:26, says; “But the Helper, (or comforter) the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name (that’s Jesus speaking) He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” The Holy Spirit was going to “remind” the apostles of what Jesus had already taught, and then He would continue the revelation of scripture. Jesus said, the Holy Spirit would “teach you all things”, and that’s exactly what the Spirit did. That’s why the scripture says in 2 Peter 1, verse 3; “Seeing that His divine power (remember, the Holy Spirit is the “power” of God) “..His divine power has granted to us everything, pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
Next, John 15:26 says; “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me.” The Holy Spirit bears witness of Jesus Christ. The KJ says; He will “testify” concerning Jesus. What that means, is that the Holy Spirit would “confirm” what Jesus had already said. He would verify that Jesus’ words were the truth. That’s why the Spirit is called “the Spirit of truth”, because He would speak the truth, and verify the truth.
And our third verse is John 16:13; “But when that one, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth..” Jesus began teaching the truth, and the Holy Spirit took over where Jesus left off, and completed the work of the revelation of God’s word. And now we have the whole truth, revealed to us in the bible.
The Holy Spirit was sent from the Father; The scripture says, “He proceeds out from the Father”, (John 15:26) for the purpose of teaching the truth, which was one of the “works’ that Jesus first began.
The First, New Testament “Work” of the Holy Spirit
So then the revelation of the truth was one of the “works” of God, which the Holy Spirit was sent to accomplish. But there was a “work” of the Spirit that came before that. The first “work”, recorded for us, that the Holy Spirit accomplished, in new testament times, was to bring Jesus Christ into the world. Remember how Mary questioned the angel Gabriel, when he told Mary that she would conceive a child.. And Mary said in Luke 1, verse 34; “How can this be, since I know, no man?” Well, the angel answered in verse 35, and said; “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the POWER of the Most High will overshadow you, and for that reason, the holy begotten, shall be called the Son of God.”
It was the “work” of Jesus, to become the sinless Lamb of God, and to die, and to shed His blood, and to make salvation possible; But it was the “work” of the Holy Spirit, to bring Jesus into the world in the first place. And actually, everything that Jesus did during His physical lifetime here on earth, was done by the power of the Holy Spirit.
For example; Jesus was accused by the Pharisees, of casting out demons by the power of Satan, in other words, by the power of evil. But listen to how Jesus refuted that accusation.. He said in Mathew 12:26 thru 28; “And if satan casts out satan, he is divided against himself; How then shall his kingdom stand? And if I, by Beelzebul (satan) cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?” (In other words, demons don’t cast out other demons!) “But if I cast out demons, by the power of the Spirit of God (that’s the Holy Spirit) then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Jesus was clearly implying, that He DOES cast out demons by the power of the Spirit of God! The power that Jesus had, was the power of the Holy Spirit of God. That was another “work” of the Holy Spirit. To give Jesus “power”, while He lived on the earth. The Holy Spirit IS the Spirit of the Son, therefore it was the power of the Holy Spirit that enabled Jesus to accomplish His work on earth.
The Holy Spirit Gave “Power” to the Apostles
But Jesus wasn’t the only one who the Holy Spirit gave “power” to. He also gave “power” to Christ’s apostles. The first example of that was during Christ’s ministry. Jesus said to His disciples, in Mathew 9, verses 37 & 38; “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest, to send out workers into His harvest.” Jesus was about to commission His disciples to be workers, along with Him.
Chapter 10, verse 1 says; “And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority (in other words, He gave them power) over unclean spirits, to cast them out. And to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” Jesus worked by the power of the Holy Spirit, and now Jesus gave some of this power, which the scripture calls “authority” to His twelve disciples.
And just to show once again that this power was coming from the Holy Spirit, listen to verses 18 thru 20; “And you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My name sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak, for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, who speaks in you.”
The Holy Spirit, empowered the apostles with the ability to perform miracles, in order to confirm that their words were from God; And the Holy Spirit of God gave them the words to say in their defense, and in their testimony of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit, is the “power” of God!
Jesus told His apostles, in Acts 1, verse 8; “But you shall receive POWER, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Again, power from the Holy Spirit to testify of Jesus and His word. That was one of the “works” that the Holy Spirit was sent to accomplish.
Building the Body of Christ
Jesus said in Mathew 16, verse 18; “I will build My called out assembly (My “church”, as it’s commonly called) and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.” In other words, Jesus was saying; Even My death, will not prevent Me from building My “called out assembly of the saved”. Why wouldn’t the death of Jesus prevent Him from building His assembly? How could he build His called out assembly, if He was dead? The death of Jesus couldn’t prevent Him from building His assembly, because He was going to be raised from the dead, and rescued from hades!
That’s what was prophesied about, in Psalm 16, verse 10; “For Thou will not abandon My soul to the nether world (or hades), nor will Thou allow Thy Holy One to see corruption.” And of course, that prophecy was quoted by Peter, in Acts 2, verse 27, when Peter was preaching the risen Christ, on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit of Jesus, was going to be temporarily, reunited with His physical body. His soul would not be abandoned to hades, nor would His physical body be allowed to see decay in the tomb.
Now, let me ask you this; Who raised Jesus from the dead? What power was able to do that? Romans 6, verse 4 tells us that “Christ was raised from the dead through the GLORY of the Father.” “Through” the glory of the Father, means “because” of the glory of the Father. The “glory” of the Father, is the goodness, and the excellence, and the praise, and the majesty of the Father; Therefore, because of those qualities, Christ was raised from the dead. So then it sounds like the Father raised Jesus from the dead.
But listen to Romans 8, verse 11; “If now the Spirit, the One who raised Jesus out from the dead, dwells in you, the One having raised Jesus out from the dead, (the Spirit) will also give life to your mortal bodies, because of His Spirit dwelling in you.” Now it says that the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. So was it the Spirit, or was it the Father, who raised Jesus. It was both! It was the Spirit of the Father, and the “power” of the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.
Without “the power” of the Holy Spirit, Jesus would not have been able to build His spiritual body. But because of the power of the Spirit of God, Jesus was raised, to become the “head of the body”, as He’s called in Colossians 1:18.
The building of the body was a “work” that Jesus accomplished, by having “been made perfect”, so to speak. That’s what we’re told in Hebrews 5, verse 9, which says; “And being made perfect, He became the author (or the source) of eternal salvation, unto all them that obey him.” The very “author of salvation” is also the “head of the body, the called out assembly of the saved.”
And so Jesus did exactly what He had promised that He would do. In Mathew 16, verse 18, Jesus said; “I will build My church”; The “called out assembly of the saved”.
But He didn’t do it alone. In order for Jesus to have “been made perfect”, it took the “power” of the Holy Spirit of God, to raise Him from the dead. And it also took “the glory of the Father” to raise Him from the dead.
The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit of God, all had a role to play, in establishing the kingdom of Christ, which is His spiritual body.
The Holy Spirit, which “proceeded out from the Father”, brought Christ the Son, into the world, by “overshadowing” Mary, causing her to became pregnant with Jesus. The bible says in Hebrews 10, verse 5; “..but a body Thou hast prepared for Me.” It was the power of the Holy Spirit, that “prepared” that body for Jesus.
And then Jesus led a sinless life, and offered up that body, as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. And then once again, the power of the Holy Spirit raised up Jesus from the dead, thus “perfecting Him”. And then upon Christ’s ascension back to heaven, the Father presented the kingdom, to the Son.
And we read about that in Daniel 7, verses 13 & 14, where the bible says; “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, One like a Son of Man was coming.” (Daniel records this vision, as if viewed from heaven itself, with the son of Man coming up to heaven.) “And He came up to the Ancient of Days, and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom; That all the peoples, nations, and tongue, might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which will not pass away, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”
Now just to summarize once again, here’s the “process” by which the church was built.. The Spirit proceeds from the Father, and overshadows the virgin Mary, and prepares a body for the Son. The Son lives a sinless life, and He offers His body as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind, through the shedding of His blood and His death. The Spirit then raises the Son from the dead, through the glory of the Father. The Son then ascends back to heaven, He is presented to the Father, and the Father presents the Son, with a kingdom, and thus the body of Christ was established.
And Romans 8:34 tells us that Christ now “sits at the right hand of God” which means that Christ reigns as “the power of God”, (the “right hand” signifies “the power”) and He serves as our “intercessor for sin”, before the Father. And so you can clearly see the various “roles” which are played, by the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and how all three were required, in order for the body to be established.
I want to share with you just one more verse concerning the establishment of the kingdom, (the body). The apostle Paul was speaking to the elders of the congregation at Ephesus, and he says in Acts 20, verse 28; “Be on guard for yourselves, and for the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of the Lord, which He purchased with His own blood.”
To say that the Lord “purchased the church with His own blood”, is the same as saying that Jesus “built His church”. He “built it”, so to speak, through His sinless life and His sinless death, and by shedding His blood, so that souls could be forgiven of their sins, and could be added to His church. Without the shedding of the blood of a sinless sacrifice, there wouldn’t be any church, because there wouldn’t be any forgiveness of sins!
But even though the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit all had their part in establishing the church, the body itself wasn’t completed all at once, when Jesus first established it. 1 Peter 2, verse 5 tells us; “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house, for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ.” So then, the spiritual body of Christ is still being built up, even to this day, as souls are being saved, and are being added to the body.
The Spirit Continues to Build the Body
I want to point out something about that verse in Acts 20:28. And it relates to the “work”, or the “role” of the Holy Spirit. The verse says that “..the Holy Spirit has made you overseers”. How did the Holy Spirit, make some of the members of the Ephesus congregation, overseers? How did the Holy Spirit make them elders?
It’s estimated that the congregation in Ephesus was established in about 52 AD. And when Paul said that “the Holy Spirit has made you overseers”, that was probably only a couple years after the congregation was established. Maybe a few years at most. So how did the men who were the elders, become qualified in such a short period of time? Well, I believe that the answer is in those very words; “The Holy Spirit has MADE you overseers”. I believe that the Holy Spirit miraculously gave those men some of the qualifications that they needed, to be elders, that they otherwise may have lacked. Remember, they had only been Christians for a short period of time, and so the Holy Spirit supplied their needs.
Listen to what the bible says in 1 Corinthians 14, verse 28; “And God has appointed in the assembly, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” How did all those people come to possess all of those qualities? How did an apostle, become an apostle? How did a prophet, become a prophet? And so on. They came to have those various qualities, because the Holy Spirit GAVE them those qualities!
After Jesus had “built His church” the body still needed a lot of strengthening. And whose “work” was it to accomplish the strengthening of the body? It was the “work” and the “role” of the Holy Spirit.
What was the purpose of the spiritual gifts that were given to Christians in the first century? The purpose was stated in 1 Corinthians 14, verse 26; “Let all things be done for edification.” The meaning of the word “edification” is.. “building up”. The Holy Spirit was “building up” the church. That statement was specifically made in reference to the use of spiritual gifts in the worship assembly. And who was the giver of all spiritual gifts? It was the Holy Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 12, verse 4 says; “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” Verse 7 says; “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit, for the common good.” It was the “work” of the Holy Spirit, to edify Christ’s body. And how did the Holy Spirit accomplish that “work”? The “work” was accomplished by “empowering” Christians with miraculous gifts, in other words, with miraculous abilities.
The Holy Spirit, is the “power” of God, accomplishing the “works” of God, to fulfill the “will” of God.