Chapter 3: The Presentation of the Holy Spirit
by Tom Wilson, Scotland
"Canst thou by searching find out God?" Zophar the Naamathite asked in his first answer to Job, Job 11.7. He elaborated further to observe that such knowledge is "as high as heaven" and so altogether inaccessible to man; it is unfathomable, being "deeper than hell"; and so incomprehensible in its scope that "the measure thereof is longer than the earth and broader than the sea". Man must bow before the greatness of God in the realisation that only what God reveals of Himself can be known by man. Self-revelation belongs to Deity alone. It was our Lord Jesus who revealed the Father and spoke to us of the Holy Spirit. It was the Father who identified the Lord Jesus as His beloved Son, a declaration with which the Holy Spirit identified Himself when the Lord had been baptised of John, Matt.3.16-17. The Holy Spirit has revealed to us much of His Person, character and work in the Holy Scriptures; there we find several presentations of the names and titles He has graciously revealed to us, 1 Cor.2.13; 2 Tim.3.16; 2 Pet.1.20-21. Self-revelation belongs to God, and so to the Holy Spirit. Without revelation, even the most diligent searcher will not find out the Holy Spirit.
Our Lord Jesus proclaimed: "… no man knoweth the Son but the Father: neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him" Matt.11.27. He was identifying Himself as the Revealer of the Father. The Lord also spoke of the Holy Spirit as the Revealer of the Son: "He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you" Jn.16.14. Who then is the Revealer of the Holy Spirit? Our Lord had not come to this world as the Revealer of the Spirit, but He did speak of the Spirit. He indicated that the Spirit was to be "sent down from heaven," 1 Pet.1.12, i.e. into the world. His mission was specific: "… He shall not speak from Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, these shall He speak" Jn.16.13, R.V. Our Lord Jesus did not say that the Holy Spirit would not speak about Himself. He did say that He would not speak " from Himself". He would ‘not speak from His own independent authority’, but in communion with the Father and the Son. Once the Lord Jesus was exalted in heaven, the Spirit revealed Himself to His people as the Interpreter of the Old Testament Scriptures and the Inspirer of the New Testament Scriptures. The New Testament reveals much of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit Himself has conveyed to us through chosen vessels like Paul and John those things the Lord would unfold for the upbuilding of His people. The titles used by the Spirit present much about His Person and work in ways the Lord would have us to understand. These things were among the many things the Lord had yet to say to His own when He was with them, things they were not at that time able to bear, Jn.16.12.
John Ritchie1 suggested that in the Scriptures there are "at least thirty" names and titles; he added, "… each with its own significance". Yet the Bible’s Christ-centredness, being the work of the Spirit, whose delight is to glorify Christ, Jn.15.13-14, is evident when we observe that over 200 names and titles are applied to Christ2. Nonetheless J. E. Cummings3 notes 86 references to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and 261 in the New Testament; among these references His names and titles are to be found. In the first reference in the Bible He is named as "the Spirit of God," Gen.1.2; the last is in Rev.22.17 where the name "the Spirit" is used. He Who is the Eternal Spirit had no beginning and moved upon the face of the deep, Gen.1.2. In the last reference in the Word He is associated with the Bride – the Church. Between the first and the last references to the Holy Spirit are many names and titles to be considered prayerfully, some of which present Him in His own singular glory, others reveal Him condescending to indwell those who know the Saviour and to use them for Christ’s glory.
- 1 Ritchie, J. "The Holy Spirit," The Faith; edited Tatford F. A. Kilmarnock: John Ritchie Ltd, 1999.
- 2 Pentecost, J. D. "The Divine Comforter", Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1963.
- 3 Cummings, J. E. "Through the Eternal Spirit: A Biblical Study on the Holy Ghost", New York: Fleming H Revell, 1896 .
So numerous are the names and titles associated with the Holy Spirit, that the author would group them for the purposes of this article in three categories:
Such categories are not mutually exclusive, but enable a number of associated themes to be developed.
The revelation of this Blessed One does not fall short in any sense from all that we associate with the Father and the Son. We acknowledge "the eternal God," Who is eternal in His being, Rom.16.26, and therefore gladly own that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are eternal in their being. The name "the Eternal Spirit" confirms that glorious truth in respect of the Spirit of God. In an absolute sense He is holy, to which witness three of the names listed above – "the Holy Spirit," "the Holy One," and "the Spirit of holiness". Being God, none can deny Him glory, Who is the Spirit of glory. Being God, the very Spirit of life is life to the believer "because of righteousness" Rom.8.10. As it is appropriate to associate Lordship with the Son, so it is with the Father in Acts 4.29, and with the Spirit as the reference in 2 Cor.3.8 shows. Further confirmation of the Spirit’s Lordship would be found in the dialogue between Peter and the One whose voice Peter heard in his trance, Acts 10.13,15. Certainly vv.19-20 of that chapter identify that the voice which commanded was as authoritative as the earlier voice that said: "… go with them … I have sent them". There is no reason to stumble at the thought that the earlier voice was that of the Spirit. We can conclude from a brief survey of these Scriptures that the blessed Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son.
The Holy Spirit, The Holy One, The Spirit of Holiness
The three names associated with holiness we ignore at our peril. The world in which we live is defiling, yet in our bodies dwells the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor.6.19. We acknowledge that "that holy thing" born of Mary was "conceived of the Holy Ghost" Lk.1.35; Matt.1.20, and would understand why the power of the Highest overshadowed the chosen vessel through whom the Son of the Highest would enter the world, Lk.1.32,35. We are not troubled when the Lord Jesus describes His body as "this temple" Jn.2.19, but do marvel that the same Spirit has made the believer’s body His temple. What demands that makes upon our living! How sensitive He is to all that is unholy! The Spirit of God is holy and hence every saint should be aware too that He has also chosen to make the local assembly His temple. Who would dare to "defile the temple of God … for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" 1 Cor.3.16-17? Whether by carnal behaviour or corrupting associations, the Holy Spirit may be grieved, Eph.4.30. The Pauline expression "the Spirit (or spirit) of holiness" may refer either to the Lord’s spirit or to the Holy Spirit. It may highlight the quality of holiness that ever marked the Holy One of God Who exercised resurrection power in raising Himself from the dead; or it may cause us to reflect on the Holy One upon Whom the Spirit Himself would act in resurrection power to present this world with ‘incontrovertible evidence that Jesus Christ … is actually the Son of God’.
The Eternal Spirit
The Spirit of God is also known to us as "the Eternal Spirit". We have the record of many of the Spirit’s activities in the period covered in both Testaments, but we accept the testimony of Scripture that He had no beginning. In the counsel chambers of eternity, He with the Father and the Son designed the great plan of salvation. We mark His activities in time and confess that whatsoever the Eternal Spirit does, it is for ever, Eccl.3.14. To those Jews who had grasped the sobering fact that their ceremonies involving bulls and goats were merely temporal, how encouraging to realise the work of Calvary was eternally planned and brought to full and final fruition since "Christ … through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God" Heb.9.14. We have been born again of the Spirit and are sealed by the Spirit and He is to us the Spirit of adoption. We confess in respect of His work; "… nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it" Eccl. 3.14.
The Spirit of Glory
The Spirit of glory reminds us that glory belongs to God Himself. We know that when Herod Agrippa 1 took to himself divine honours, "the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory" Acts 12.23. We only wonder that such judgment does not fall more often on any who think that theirs is "the voice of God, and not of a man". But Divine honours fittingly belong to the Spirit. He is the Spirit of glory. The full title of 1 Pet.4.14 – "the Spirit of glory and of God" leaves no doubt that the Holy Spirit is in view. The structure of the Greek text places the two genitives "the glory" and "the God" between the definite article "the" and the noun "Spirit" and reads literally, "the of glory and the of God Spirit upon you rests". This emphasises the characteristics of this One Who rests complacently on the persecuted saints upon whom the world hurls shame and consequently rejects. How evident He makes heaven’s verdict on what men say! What glory is theirs who bear reproach for Christ! Important as it is to note that He, as the Spirit of glory, has the right to honour these saints, it is equally important to note that He is providing the afflicted with a foretaste of the glory they will one day share. They have suffered with Christ, and will have the glory of reigning with Christ, 2 Tim.2.12. To them, who had been partakers of Christ’s sufferings, the Spirit of glory brought the truth that they will one day share the glory of His appearing, 1 Pet 4.12-14.
The Spirit of Life
The presentation of the Spirit as the Spirit of life is used in respect of the spiritual life of the believer in Rom.8.2, but in respect of physical life at Rev.11.11. We rightly speak of the Lord Jesus as the Giver of life, Jn.5.40; 6.33; 10.28; 17.2; and of the Lord raising the physically dead, Jn.6.39,40. The Spirit is the power of that life that the Lord the Giver has bestowed upon us in infinite grace. Without His power we could never enter into the fullness of that life. The fixed operative principle on which the Spirit acts ensures that every believer has the potential to live without being dominated by the law of sin, Rom.8.2. That same chapter reveals that the quickening of our mortal bodies will be by the Spirit, Rom.8.11. Later, after we are in glory, He will quicken the bodies of the two witnesses three and half days after they are martyred, Rev.11.11. He is the Spirit of life, because He is God. We know that by the Spirit John reveals of the Word that "the Word was God" and "in Him was life" Jn.1.1,4. We know that the Father has life in Himself, Jn.5.26. We rightly associate life with the Spirit of life.
The One Spirit, The Seven Spirits of God
The final two references in the above list seem at first sight to be contradictory. We confess: "there is … one Spirit … one Lord … one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" Eph.4.4-6. We baptise "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" Matt.28.19. The work of the "one Spirit" who indwells every believer of this period is related in the context of Ephesians chapter 4 to the "one body": "There is one body and one Spirit …". Without His work the "one body" would not be instinct with life, nor would it form one whole. But the presentation of the Spirit in Revelation contrasts greatly with His unifying power in the "one body". Revelation is the New Testament book where we do not find the name "Father" after chapter 3, but we meet the phrases "He that sat (or sitteth) on the throne" 4.2-3; 5.1,7,13; 6.16; 7.10,15; 19.4; 20.11; 21.5; and "Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come" 1.4,8; 4.8; 11.17. Revelation is the book where the name "Lord Jesus" or "Lord Jesus Christ" is not used until 22.20,21, but the name "Lamb" is used 28 times. The Lord Himself speaks as "I Jesus" 22.16. In Revelation, not surprisingly in the light of references to the Father and the Son, we meet phraseology different from that used elsewhere in the New Testament, when four times we read "the seven Spirits of God". The number seven is very prominent in Revelation from its first mention, "the seven churches" Rev.1.1 to the last, "the seven last plagues" Rev.21.9. But emphasis on the number seven does not explain the meaning of the phrase "the seven Spirits of God", or the reason for its use. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ a number of threads from Old Testament Scriptures are drawn into the weaving of a magnificent tapestry of Christ’s glories. We recall that in Isa.11.2-3 the Messiah is marked out as the One on Whom the "Spirit of the LORD shall rest". The fullness of that outpouring on this Branch from Jesse’s roots is further explained in six additional expressions to provide a sevenfold explanation. In Him rests "the Spirit of the LORD … the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD." The plenitude of the Spirit’s power is His. The Revelation shows us that sevenfold ministry of the Spirit at work:
We conclude that since the Spirit is equal in every respect to God the Father and the Son of God, the presentation of the Spirit in the New Testament links eternality, holiness, life, Lordship and plenitude of power; and we rejoice to note that as there is uniquely one Father and one Lord, so there is one Spirit.
John F. Walvoord4 notes sixteen references that emphasise the Spirit’s relationship to the Father and the Son, but appears to omit "the Spirit of your Father" Matt.10.20. The biblical references are many and might be ordered as follows:
- The Spirit of God - Gen.1.2; Matt.3.16.
- The Spirit of Jehovah – Judg.3.10.
- The Spirit of the Lord - Lk.4.18; Acts 5.9; 8.39.
- The Spirit of our God - 1 Cor.6.1.
- The Spirit of the living God - 2 Cor.3.3.
- The Spirit of your Father – Matt.10.20.
- The Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead – Rom.8.11.
- My Spirit – Gen.6.3.
- His Spirit - Num.11.29; Eph.3.16.
- Thy Spirit – Ps.139.7.
- The Spirit of Jesus - Acts 16.7 J.N.D, R.V.
- The Spirit of Christ - Rom.8.9; 1Pet.1.11.
- The Spirit of Jesus Christ – Phil.1.19.
- The Spirit of His Son – Gal.4.6.
The Spirit of God, The Spirit of Jehovah, The Spirit of The Lord, The Spirit of our God, The Spirit of the Living God
The first five of the names that speak of the Spirit’s relations with the Father and the Son leave no doubt in the enlightened mind that the blessed One called the Spirit of God, or by any of the other four names, proceeded from God that the purpose of God might be advanced, whether in respect of creation, Gen.1.2; or the anointing and accreditation of the Servant of Jehovah, God’s Son the Beloved, Matt.3.16; or empowering His people against an aggressive enemy, Judg.3.10; or empowering the Preacher of glad tidings to the poor, Lk.4.18; or sanctifying a saint, 1 Cor.6.11; or writing an epistle of Christ in the heart, not on stone, a living letter, not commandments that could not give life, 2 Cor.2.2-6. All that the Spirit has been engaged in over the millennia since Genesis chapter 1 is owned of God and carries the hallmark of perfection, as does the work of the Father and the Son.
The careful reader will observe that the same Holy Spirit Whose equality with the Father and the Son we consider, introduces emphasis in the fourth and fifth of these references. Such distinctions are not merely stylistic or the favoured terminology of the human writer but the "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth" 1 Cor.2.13. The apostle Paul refers to God as "our God" at 1 Cor.6.11, the only such reference in the two letters to the assembly of God at Corinth. In each of the two letters he speaks once of "my God" 1 Cor.14.18; 2 Cor.12.21. In the context of 1 Corinthians chapter 6 the apostle takes account of the appalling sins that had marked the Corinthian saints before the Lord saved them, 1 Cor.6.9-10. We might not have been surprised if the name used of the Spirit had been "Holy Spirit" in contradistinction to the defilement that had been theirs, but the Spirit’s words are "the Spirit of our God". The God who has "called us into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord," that God, our God, has brought us into the good of the work of Christ by faith and by the Spirit of our God. Such is the value of the blood of Christ that He can do so without compromise to His holy nature. The Spirit worked in our souls to make good to us sanctification that we might know fellowship with our God. As already noted above, the use of the name "the Spirit of the living God" is in stark contrast to the dead letter of the Law that false teachers would have commended to any Gentile turning to Christ. In contrast to what could only condemn, "the Spirit of the living God" works in the believer’s heart. To the first recipients of that letter to Corinth there would also be a manifest contrast to the dead idols they had worshipped.
The Spirit of Your Father, The Spirit of Him That Raised up Jesus from the Dead
The references to "the Spirit of your Father" and "the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead" link the Spirit with the Father’s interests in a very evident way. The only other New Testament reference that identifies the Spirit as closely with the Father in this way is Eph.3.14-16: "… the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened by might by His Spirit". These titles all indicate the delight the Father has in vindicating Christ, whether it is in a saint arraigned before governors or kings or ignorant, idolatrous Gentiles, Matt.10.19-20; or in triumph raising Christ before the defeated host of hell, Rom.8.11; or in the daily experience of a Christian exalting Christ to the place of pre-eminence in the heart, Eph.3.14-16. The references to the saint of God being arraigned before the Jewish religious courts are encouraging to any who knows persecution at the hand of Jew or Gentile. Clearly the Father’s interest is evident in the name the Lord Jesus employs – "the Spirit of your Father" Matt.10.20. We have already noted that, writing on the same issue, Peter uses the name "the Spirit of glory and of God" 1 Pet.4.14. In a passage parallel in some ways to Matthew chapter 10, the Lord promises the accused: "I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist" Lk.21.15. Stephen proved this promise to be true when facing aggressive Jews, as Paul did before the Roman powers: "… the Lord stood by me and strengthened me" 2 Tim.4.17. Evidently the resources of heaven are on the side of the saint. Even if the outcome were martyrdom, the Father’s interests would be secured by the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead, Rom.8.11. The indwelling of the saint guarantees the saint will be raised from the dead. He may appear to die an ignominious death, but his will be a body of glory.
My Spirit, His Spirit, Thy Spirit
In the three names of the Spirit that carry the personal pronouns "My," "His," and "Thy," there is the evident recognition of the Spirit and His work. That Divine Worker, says God, I own as "My Spirit" Gen. 6.3. Reproaching Joshua who would have silenced Eldad and Medad as they prophesied, Moses intimated that all who speak for God are those upon whom "the Spirit rested" Num.11.25,26, J.N.D; "… the LORD would put His Spirit upon them" Num.11.29. Moses was owning that the Spirit was sent of God to inspire His prophets. David also knew he had been favoured by the Holy Spirit coming upon him, to which portion he refers in Ps.51.11 where he speaks of "Thy holy Spirit". Ps.139.7 reveals something of the Holy Spirit seeking out, and working in, the wanderer. David owns this work is of God and that it will attain its purpose, for it is the Spirit Himself who is undertaking this work. Inherent too in David’s question: "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit" Ps.139.7, is the recognition that the Spirit is not only omnipotent and omniscient; He is also omnipresent, Ps.139.8-9. David owns that the exercise of the Spirit’s Divine prerogatives is for his good.
The Spirit of Jesus
The four statements that are linked so clearly to the Lord Jesus Himself are worthy of our meditation. They boldly express the Spirit’s association with Christ in Manhood, and no doubt capture the delight He found in association with the Man of God’s pleasure. Writing of the expression "the Spirit of Jesus," Alford5 notes that "no where else, on doctrinal grounds," are the words "of Jesus" employed in this way. Kelly6 draws particular attention to the expression: "‘The Spirit of Jesus’ blends the personal interest of the glorified Man Whose Name it was their heart’s desire and the great object of their life to make known, subject to His will, with the power of the Spirit Who is the energy of the new man." But we should also see in the expression that the Spirit Who led the Lord Jesus as a dependent Man, Whose leading of the Lord moved Him to other cities, Lk.4.43; also caused Him to pause that Bartimaeus might be brought to Him, Lk.18.40; and to tarry at a well until a woman came to speak with Him, Jn.4.6. The Spirit of Jesus required the apostle and his fellow labourers to halt, to wait and to listen for further guidance, Acts 16.6-7. That guidance came in a night vision of the man of Macedonia; and so the gospel reached Europe.
- 5 Alford, H. "Alford’s Greek Testament Volume II", Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980.
- 6 Kelly, W. "An Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles", London: C. A. Hammond, 1952.
Features of that lovely Man were evident in Paul and his fellow-servants on this and other occasions. Paul and the company bowed to the will of the Spirit of Jesus Who "suffered them not" Acts 16.7. Later the same Paul had the experience of the disciples of Ephesus suffering him not to enter into the affray at Ephesus, Acts 19.30. It is easier to discern the will of the saints than of God. But we need to be conscious of both, as Paul evidently was. How God glorifying when we are sensitive to the Spirit’s guidance and know when it is not God’s will for us to move in a particular direction.
The Spirit of Christ
The Spirit of Christ is a further association of the Spirit with the Lord Jesus. We learn from 1 Pet.1.11, R.V. that it involved the revelation of Christ through the Old Testament Scriptures that so fully unfolded "beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow". We acknowledge too that He has also been the great Revealer of Christ through the New Testament. 1 Peter chapter 1 does not deal with that aspect of Scriptural revelation of Christ but it does continue to speak of the Holy Spirit "sent down from heaven" as the power behind the preaching of the gospel. That same name of the Spirit occurs in Rom.8.9 in an absolute statement: "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." Those unambiguous terms make it clear that every believer has been indwelt by the Spirit. If a man is not indwelt by the Spirit, "he is none of His"; he is not a believer; he is not saved. We ought to be able to see the evidence of that indwelling in an individual’s manner of life. The Spirit of Christ Who revealed Christ in the Scriptures always desires to reveal Christ in the believer’s life. Albert Leckie commented: "We cannot see the Spirit of God in one another but we can see the Spirit of Christ as He replicates Christ in me."7
The Spirit of Jesus Christ
Writing to the Philippians Paul used the phrase "(the) supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ" Phil.1.19. It is granted that phrase could mean the further supplies that Jesus Christ might make available to Paul, but it should also be considered that perhaps Paul himself would be supported by the very supply that so richly furnished the Lord Himself. The Spirit of Jesus Christ is both the Gift and the Giver! We recall John’s statement, "God giveth not the Spirit by measure (unto Him)" Jn.3.34. No wonder the features of that lovely Man, both in public and in private, delighted heaven. It would appear that there was in the assembly at Philippi much to delight the Lord’s heart. All such features are produced by "(the) supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ" Phil.1.19; they are not the outcome of natural disposition.
The Spirit of His Son
Writing to the Galatians, Paul describes Jewish experience prior to Christ’s coming as that of a minor placed in the care of a pedagogue by his father. The Jew remained in that position until "God sent forth His Son … to redeem" Gal.4.4-5. That work was essential to redeem them that were under the law, but so too was the sending of the Spirit to indwell Jew and Gentile who turned to Christ. Elsewhere we read of the Father sending the Spirit, and of the Son sending the Spirit, Jn.14.16,26; 15.26; 16.7; but here God Who sent His Son, sends the Spirit. The Spirit is called the Spirit of His Son, Gal.4.6. In the context, He is to empower the saint to commune with the Father. The greatness of that privilege is highlighted in the very language the son will be able to use; he will be able to address the Father in language the Lord Himself used: "Abba Father" Mk.14.36. However, the language of communion does not fully unfold why the name "the Spirit of His Son" is used. We recognise that on resurrection ground the Lord Jesus set out the full extent of sonship privilege when He announced: "I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God" Jn.20.17. The ministry of sonship was initially unfolded by the Son Whom God sent into the world. It is the Spirit of His Son Who moves the heart to respond to the privilege of being sons.
The works of the Holy Spirit are numerous. In Gen.1.2, as noted above, the Spirit is associated with creation, as He moved upon the face of the waters, when "thick darkness" was "its swaddling bands" Job 38.9. The verb "moved" is associated with the maternal instincts of a bird hovering over its nest of young. Many are the spiritual works we associate with the Spirit of God. We know that His is the work of regeneration, when a soul is "born of water and the Spirit" Jn.3.5, as is the ministry of conviction, Jn.16.8-11, and that of sanctification, 1Cor.6.11. To these initial works in the soul we add His leading, Rom.8.14; His witness, Rom.8.16; His anointing, 2 Cor.1.21; His sealing, 2 Cor.1.22; Eph.1.13; 4.30 and His filling, Eph.5.18. He is too the earnest of our inheritance, 2 Cor.1.22; 5.5; Eph.1.14, and the Comforter, Jn.14.16,26; 15.26; 16.7. The inspiration of Scripture has been His work in respect of both Testaments, 2 Tim.3.16.
Chafer8 lists 17 works that belong to the Spirit of God, associated with which are names that reveal His glory. A number of the Spirit’s tasks listed by Chafer will be dealt with elsewhere in this volume. We note ten important names in this section, some of which have already been highlighted in this chapter.
Above we have considered briefly that as very God, "the Spirit of holiness" may be a reference to the Spirit Himself. We have also commented on "the Spirit of glory and of God," "the Spirit of life" and "the Spirit of wisdom".
The Spirit of Truth
We might have considered the title "the Spirit of truth" within the group of titles that belong to the Spirit because He is God. Only God could be described as "… the Spirit is the truth" 1 Jn.5.6, R.V. and J.N.D. We recall that the Lord Jesus stated with authority: "I am … the truth …" Jn.14.6. The totality of revealed truth is encompassed in the phrase "the truth".
The glorious designation of the Holy Spirit as "the Spirit of truth" is not simply saying that He does not tell lies - that we know for He is "God that cannot lie" Tit.1.2. When truth is revealed in a written form, the Spirit of truth is the source of all that revelation. The designation also reminds us that He forms our affections according to the truth; in the context of John chapter 14 we see that He would motivate us to keep Christ’s commandments, Jn.14.21. Because of the Spirit of truth indwelling, Christians have the loins of their minds girt about by truth, 1 Pet.1.13. As the Spirit of truth regulates us by the truth, His express interest is making us like Christ. To that end we must absorb the truth as expounded in the Scriptures so that the work of transformation may continue in our souls. Jn.14.17 dismisses any thought that the scope of this work may include unregenerate men. The world cannot receive the Spirit of truth, "because it seeth Him not". William Kelly9 observes: "He is no object of sight or knowledge, and the world has no faith, or it would not be the world."
The Spirit of Grace and Supplication
In both Testaments, the Spirit is identified as a veritable fountain of grace. In Zechariah chapter 12 we learn of the exercises that will be Israel’s at the end of the great tribulation. They will have been brought to a point where extermination seemed to face them, at which point the Lord will personally intervene on their behalf: He will "seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem" Zech.12.9. He will not only work for Israel; He will work in them by His Spirit. Then the nation that hardened its heart against Him at His first advent will melt in supplications and mourning and bitterness. The Spirit will move them tribe-by-tribe and family-by-family. They will acknowledge that their nation wilfully misinterpreted passages like Isaiah chapter 53, because there was no beauty in the One it described that they should desire Him, Isa.53.2. That nation will need grace to supplicate; otherwise they would "be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow" and perish in despair, 2 Cor.2.7. There will be grace for the broken in spirit. In Hebrews chapter 10, however, the need is not that of the broken in spirit and repentant. We meet those abandoning the work of Christ in apostasy. They have scant regard for the Son of God, for the blood of the covenant and for the Spirit of grace. The work of the Spirit of grace they would have encountered would be in stark contrast to the works of the law that drew them away from Christ. As the Spirit of grace He would have worked with those who left the ritual of the temple for the reality of Christ. It would have been a work of consolidation, establishing those drawn to Christ in grace. Our circumstances may be different from those Zechariah and the Hebrew writer had in mind, but the ministry of the Spirit of grace is still needed, moving us to supplications, and ensuring the consolidation of the work of God in our souls.
The Spirit of Adoption, The Spirit of Promise
Two New Testament presentations that are delightful to all who joy in salvation are "the Spirit of adoption" Rom.8.15, and "the Spirit of promise" Eph.1.13. The first reveals a present privilege that belongs to the sons of God, the second also relates to the present period before the heirs of promise enter into their inheritance. The Spirit has come that we might be able to sustain the enjoyment of the relationship that belongs to sons, a relationship that even the godliest of Old Testament saints did not know; they were more like servants than sons, Gal.4.1-7. They lacked the right to address God as "Abba Father". In a wealthy first-century home, attended on by servants, a son had privileges servants did not have. If, out of a full heart, the son wished to pour out his thanksgiving, he could. If overwhelmed with problems, a son desired to seek his father’s counsel, he could speak freely as no servant could. In the same way, the sons of God can turn to the Father and cry, "Abba Father". Among the causes for thanksgiving is the promise of future glory. In the Spirit of promise the sons of God have the earnest of their inheritance. The Spirit was promised to the saints; indeed the Lord Jesus spoke of Him as "the promise of the Father" they would receive "not many days" after His ascension, Acts 1.4-5. However, the name "the Spirit of promise" does not look back to the promise that the Spirit would be sent, but looks forward to the inheritance the Lord Jesus has purchased, Eph.1.15. He is the Earnest, that is, the part payment that assures us that we are heirs and will inherit with Christ. Indeed the Spirit has sealed us as those who have been acquired to the end that they might inherit. What a rich ministry the Spirit provides!
The title of which many saints delight to speak is "the Comforter" or "another Comforter" Jn.14.16,26; 15.26; 16.7. It announces that the Spirit provides to the saints the guidance and advocacy the disciples had found in the Lord, when He was with them. It is a title in which John glories by the Spirit. Rightly, most would be reluctant to limit the scope of a ministry when the Lord’s teaching stresses its permanence, its teaching, its powers of recall, its revelations of things to come, its testimony to Christ and its reproof of the world. What an all-encompassing ministry belongs to the Comforter!
The Free Spirit
It was in his darkest hour that David cried: "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit" Ps.51.12. In v.10 of the Psalm "the right spirit" clearly refers to the penitent’s spirit, whilst David’s plea at v.11 that the Lord’s "Holy Spirit" be not removed from him is equally clearly a reference the Holy Spirit Himself. Not surprisingly there is some division among commentators as to the meaning of "Thy free spirit," v.12, A.V.; and "a free spirit" v.12, R.V. The Hebrew adjective translated "free" is elsewhere rendered "freewill" in relation to offerings, so it emphasises spontaneity, generosity, a willingness to act without reluctance or coercion. That kind of spirit would uphold David that he might not fall. The absence of the pronoun "thy" from the Hebrew text would weigh against the reference being directly to the Holy Spirit. However only the Holy Spirit could equip the spirit of a man who had shown scant regard for either Bathsheba or her husband, that he should no longer live to please himself or indulge his lusts; He alone is the Spirit Who delights in making a child of God willing to obey Him and bless others.
We noted above that the Lord taught that the Spirit would not speak from Himself: "… He shall not speak from Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, these shall He speak" Jn.16.13, R.V. We noted that our Lord Jesus did not say that the Holy Spirit would not speak about Himself. He did say that He would not speak "from Himself," i.e. He would ‘not speak from His own independent authority,’ but in communion with the Father and the Son. Because He does not speak independently, we have assurance that every glory He reveals of Himself is His by right, and that every revelation is made in communion with the Father and the Son. We justly delight in the presentation of the Spirit of God in the Scriptures. That presentation is necessary and sufficient to spiritual growth and Christ-like living. The presentation of the Spirit’s person and work is necessary, for no man by searching can find out the Spirit of God. It is sufficient, for from the Scriptures’ presentation we are able to confess, "the measure thereof is longer than the earth and broader than the sea" Job 11.7-9.