Notes on the Holy Spirit – Part 2 – New Testament

This is page 2 of my handout. PLEASE remember that I was functioning under limited space constraints. I will plead with the class to prayerfully examine all the texts mentioned, and to search for more, because it is clearly impossible to say everything. Acts is particularly short-changed, but what else can I say? Please, share your insights with me!

As a personal note: I think much of our struggle in the brotherhood with understanding the Spirit comes from our obsession with “getting it right.” The Holy Spirit is so powerful, so innovative, and so self-abnegating that no one will ever “get it right.” I think sometimes the Spirit does things in new ways just to poke us in the eye and say, “Let God out of that box!” How ironic that what Paul taught as the basis for unity has become the source of so much division. I pray that this class contributes some tiny offering to the elimination of divisions in the body of Christ.





The Work of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament

Background to Spirit in NT – OT and Foundational Ideas

1. Ruach – breath, wind, spirit – Creative, Life-Giving & Sustaining (Gen 6, Job 27), instructional, motivational, special role in offices of Judge, Prophet, and King. One of five major ways OT describes God in action – Wisdom, Torah, Law, Shekinah, Spirit.

2. The Holy Spirit works to transform the life of the believer into one appropriate for an intimate relationship with the one true God. The life proceeding from this transformation will be characterized by God’s own holiness.

I. What do they say? Synoptics; Johannine Literature; Acts; Paul; Hebrews – General Epistles – Revelation

II. Synoptics

A. 7 ways Holy Spirit involved in mission of Jesus – Promise of Spirit in words of John the Baptist (Lk 3); Virgin Birth (Lk 1); Simeon’s prophecy (Lk 2); Baptism of Jesus (Lk 3); Temptation (Lk 4); Exorcisms (Lk 10); Public Ministry (Lk 4; cf. Is 61:1-2 & Mt 12:28)

B. What does Jesus say about the Spirit? Blasphemy saying (Mk 3); Guidance through persecution (Mk 13:11); Inspiration of Scripture (Mk 12:36); Given in response to prayer (Lk 11:13); Baptismal Formula (Mt 28:19); Promise of Power for Mission (Lk 24:49)

III. Johannine Literature – What the Spirit does THROUGH Believers/Church

A. Pre-Passion – John’s report of Jesus’ baptism (1:29-34); Transformation of believers (3:3-10); Unlimited potential (3:31-35); Role of Spirit in true worship (4); Link between Spirit and real life (6); Promise of Spirit (7:37-39)

B. Upper Room/Passion Passages (14:15-17, 25-26; 15:26-27; 16:5-11, 12-15)

C. Jn 20:21-23 – Jesus foreshadows Pentecost

D. Epistles – 3:24 (abides in believers); 4:1-6 (contrast between Holy Spirit and anti-christ spirit); 5:7 (Spirit is witness, Spirit is truth); 5:8 (linked with water and blood as witnesses)

IV. Acts – The Holy Spirit is the main character in the book of Acts – pre-Pentecost, at Pentecost, Jerusalem and Samaria, Paul and Cornelius, Gentile Mission.

V. Paul – What the Spirit does IN Believers/Church

A. Individually? Sanctification (1 Cor 6:11; 2 Thes 2:13); Adoption (Gal 4:6); Illumination (1 Cor 2:10-16); Liberation (Rom 8; 2 Cor 3); Guidance (Rom 8:14); Strength (Eph 3:16ff); Growth (Gal 5:22)

B. Corporately? Basis for Unity (Php 2:1-4; Eph 4:3-5); Baptism in the Spirit (1 Cor 12:13); Fullness of the Spirit (Eph 5:18-20); Giver of Gifts (1 Cor 12-13)

C. The Spirit is the source of the message Paul proclaims. The Spirit:

1) Glorifies the risen Christ

2) Confirms the promises of God

3) Acts on behalf of the Son

VI. Hebrews, General Epistles, and Revelation

A. Hebrews – 2:4 (giver of gifts); 6:4 (all believers share); 10:29 (rejection of Jesus outrages Spirit); 3:7, 9:8, 10:15 (Spirit inspires Scripture); 9:14

B. Petrine Epistles – 1 Pet 1:11ff, 2 Pet 1:21 (Spirit interprets and inspires Scripture); 1 Pet 1:1, 3:18, 4:14ff (all believers possess life-giving Spirit)

C. Jude – All believers share Spirit (v.19 – mockers LACK Spirit); should pray in the Spirit (v.20)

D. Revelation – SEVEN-FOLD Spirit of God – metaphor for perfection (1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6); Spirit reveals truth (conclusion of each letter)


About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 20 April, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Nick,
    I want you to know that over the last year or so the way I view the Holy Spirit has really grown. I think many Christians put the Holy Spirit in a box. Others say, it can do this but not that, etc. Yet, I have experienced what the Holy Spirit can do in a persons life. I was in ICU and a nurse put his hand on my head and started to pray in the Spirit for my healing. I could feel a supernatural warmth that I have never felt before. The warmth of the mans hands entered through my body and flotted around in my body as if it was working for healing. I felt like I had been annointed by this man as He was praying for annointing, indwelling, healing, and other blessings. I think the Holy Spirit just like God does more than we can ever ask or imagine. I am looking forward to your series on this topic. So far you have done wonderful job with Scripture brother. Keep it up Nick!
    In Him,
    Kinney Mabry

  2. Delighted to see you wrestling with these issues. I do hope KC has been a helpful resource in this regard. Blessings my friend.

    Seeking Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  3. Nick,
    Thanks for your thoughts which are always helpful.

    I think there are two extremes among many of our brethren when considering the Spirit’s work in our lives: (1) As you point out, many try to put him as it were in a box, implying that they know exactly how he works and affects our lives. The truth, of course, is that we cannot comprehend all the ways he uses his power to help us. (2) Attributing our feelings and intuitions to the Spirit’s leading, when they may just reflect our own desires. This latter extreme leads to subjectivity.

    I think a scriptural approach is to thank God for all the ways He works in our lives which are beyond our comprehension, even as we trust in the Word as our only source of reliable revelation.

  4. Space constraints… bet you had some time constraints as well! Lots of material there, all of it needing much thought.

    I continue to grow in my understanding of the Spirit and hope that I always will.

    Grace and peace,

  5. Tim,

    Yeah yeah! I absolutely knew that there was no way I could cover all of that material in a semester, much less a class period.

    I wanted to give the class a 1-page handout with as much NT material on the Holy Spirit as I could fit onto it. I wanted to give them a bit more user-friendly reference than a concordance layout or a word study outline.

    I want to agree with you, but if we’re going to base our understanding on the Bible, we can’t go so far as to say that the Word is our only source of reliable revelation. The Bible simply does not make that claim for itself.

    I agree on the dangers of subjectivity (and the implied and much larger danger of SUPERFICIALITY). But I believe that we are being trained by God to be wise stewards and ambassadors for His Kingdom. There is a difference between what is true in every situation and what needs to be done in every situation.

    As wise stewards, we need to strive to deeply understand what is objectively true in order to apply it to the world in which we subjectively think, speak, and live. We need wisdom and grace in abundance.

  6. Nick,
    I could use several different approaches to ask for your help to clarify your point of view in my mind, but will simply ask — In what way, other than inspired scriptures, do you think that God reveals his will to us today? Thanks for any clarification you can give!

  7. Dear Gardner,

    I believe he retains the prerogative to use every means he has always used around the world and throughout time.

    I believe that you and I and so many others strive to immerse our lives in His Word. That is a wonderful thing, because it allows us to be drawn so much closer to him than those who choose not to do so. We can submit our lives to Him, and align our lives with his purposes.

    But the world does not begin and end with us. Not everyone lives in a place where the Bible is freely available. God is completely free to take pity on people who do not have his Word, and to reveal himself to them in visions and dreams and other kinds of messages.

    If that belief devalues Scripture, then I believe it does so honestly, because I believe that I’m placing the value on Scripture that Scripture places on itself.

    in HIS love,

    PS – I also rely highly on the wisdom of the gathered community of Christians. One could argue that that wisdom is (or should be) derived from the Word. But when I go to the community, I’m not going to the Word directly. I’m seeking God’s wisdom through His people. That is another source of revelation.

  8. Nick,

    This is an area that led me in a different direction in my life. Holy Spirit discussions became more about fact and our understanding then the Spirit and what the Spirit is doing.

    I think it goes back to that you have to have everything and know everything right attitude that exists. To think in the wrong way about the Holy Spirit in some peoples mind can endanger you standing with God. No wonder when they talk about the Sprit it becomes a fact finding mission.

    This weekend for me is a great example of the Spirit working. On Saturday I was at a conference and during it I had a real burden on my heart about a certain ministry. I felt I needed to sit down with the leaders and get their buy in on a new direction.

    Well needless to say the next day I found out that some things had happened in this ministry that I was unaware of that needed to be dealt with. The only reason I made that effort was because I senses something on Saturday. Well the meeting I felt called to have happened and we took care of what needed to be handled.

    I was confident in my direction because I had it before I even knew something was up. What truth is that challenging?

    I will be interested in finding how yours goes. I remember how mine did.

  9. I appreciate so much your sincerity, but think my fears about subjectivity are valid when we begin to think in terms of direct revelation today with “visions, dreams and other messages” and “burdens on the heart.” I can think of so many occasions when such have proven to be unreliable indicators of God’s will and I know you can as well.

  10. No more, brother, than I’ve seen men and women led astray by someone ‘s opinion of the word of God.

    No matter how objective the Word is, we are and will always be subjective readers of it, interpreters of it, followers of it. God made us this way, so I do not believe subjectivity is a bad thing.

    in HIS love,

  11. At least an opinion of the “word of God” is an opinion about an objective source of authority. There are correct and incorrect interpretations of it, even though we may have to struggle sometimes to find the former. Our problems don’t come from the fact that the source is subjective, but that we must grow in our ability to digest the meat.

    An opinion about a dream, vision or feeling is about a completely subjective source. There are really no correct or incorrect interpretations about a dream.

  12. That’s not what Joseph and Daniel would say. I do not mean to be flippant; I am trying to “speak where the Bible speaks.”

    And if opinions about something objective will lead someone astray as easily as something subjective, the problem doesn’t seem to reside in the objective/subjective divide.

    Have you ever thought about the fact that until the printing press was invented, there had never existed two identical copies of a biblical book? I’m beginning to believe that our assumptions about objectivity have been heavily influenced by technology.

    All that I am saying at this point, all that I’m committed to believing, is that our Father in Heaven never restricted his revelatory methods beyond what we know from Scripture. In Scripture, though, we see several limits. Messages from God are NEVER sent without an interpreter and no message from God ever denies the Lordship or Mission of Christ.

    So I think Scripture presents us with at least a two-step process:

    1) You MUST evaluate the message YOU THINK you received from God in light of the identity and gospel of Jesus Christ. If it passes that test, then

    2) You MUST bring the message before the church. This step can probably be broken down along the basic lines laid down in the church discipline process (one brother, then a small group including a leader, then the whole congregation). If no one has received an interpretation of your message, then you must reject it.

    I cannot stress enough my understanding that in a community as soaked in Scripture as the church in America, this will be extremely uncommon. God works primarily through Scripture.

    But there are places (including parts of America 2008, although it is far more prevalent in India and China and Africa) where believers in Christ have extremely limited access to Scripture. Will God not guide his children who seek his wisdom?

    I believe He will, and I believe He is free to take pity on unbelievers and send them messages as well. He meets people where they are.

  13. Nick,
    Will let you have the last say. I appreciate your utter sincerity!

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