The Holy Spirit in the New Testament Part 5. Spiritual Power.
This continues our series on the Holy Spirit through the whole Bible. Here’s the rest. We are looking at passages (from the New Testament letters and the Gospel of John) topically, with minimal commentary. The next topic is . . .
The Spirit and the Ancient Prophets
It should come as no surprise that the New Testament letters associate the Spirit with the ancient prophets. In Hebrews, for example, quotations from the Old Testament are said to be words of the Holy Spirit. See Hebrew 3:7; 9:8; and 10:15.
Here’s another relevant passage:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things (1 Peter 1:10-12).
Peter also says:
Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
The Spirit Reveals and Teaches
On a related theme, New Testament writers speak of the Spirit as one who teaches Christian believers. Jesus, on the night of his arrest, tells his disciples in the Gospel of John,
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:25-26).
“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify” (John 15:26-27).
“I have much more to say to you, more that you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you” (John 16:12-15).
Paul also tells the Corinthians where his knowledge comes from:
We speak of God’s secret wisdom. . . God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. . . We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. (1 Corinthians 2:7-13).
But Paul doesn’t want to hoard this wisdom for himself:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit
of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Ephesians 1:17).
Another passage proclaims that “The mystery of Christ. . . has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.” (Ephesians 3:5). And, on a more dour note, Paul tells his padawan that “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith.” (1 Timothy 4:1).
The Spirit Enlivens
The Bible also speaks of the Spirit giving life. Jesus says, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63). A similar saying occurs in Second Corinthians 3:6: “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
Peter says that “Christ was . . . put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went
and preached to the spirits in prison. . . .” (1 Peter 3:18-19).
The fact that the Spirit raised Jesus has a practical application for believers: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11).
The Spirit Empowers
The Spirit is also a source of inner strength and power. Paul prays that “out of [the Father’s] glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:16-17).
What kind of power does Paul want his friends to experience? The power to live out the character of Christ! I think that’s what he means by Christ dwelling in our hearts. And faith equals dependability. By being faithful, the character of Christ grows within us and animates us, with the assistance of God’s indwelling Spirit. And it’s all a result of God’s grace.
In another passage Paul tells Timothy to “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us.” (2 Timothy 1:14). What is this “good deposit?” I think it’s a spiritual gift, an empowerment of some sort. And the Spirit can help Timothy keep this deposit safe. How interesting is it that God’s gift is something we must guard lest it be lost? But how comforting that we can call on the Spirit to help. May the Lord help us both be good stewards of his gifts, and may he find us worthy to give us more!
Like this post? Share it! And read about what God’s indwelling Spirit does for you in my book, Heaven’s Muscle.
Bren Hughes (M.A., M.Div., J.D.) is a lawyer and former minister who lives in the hills of Kentucky.