Church Education Trust

Christian Belief

ST007/2 The Holy spirit in the Old Testament and in the life of Christ.


The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.

The revelation of the Holy Spirit is a progressive one and because He is the One Who completes the Trinity, His full revelation came last. The full revelation of the Spirit could hardly come till after the full revelation of the Son. While, however, the full dispensation of the Spirit did not commence till Pentecost, He was very really at work from the start.

He is at work in creation and in providence - Gen.1:2; 2:7; Job 33:4; Isa.40:7; Ps.104:29-30. His work in connection with man and his redemption is rather different in Old Testament history from what it is in New Testament times. The work of the Holy Spirit in O.T. times can be summed up under three heads:-

  1. He imparts gifts of office and ability to perform special duties Cf. Judges 3:10; 6:34; 1 Sam.11:6; Exod.35:30. The emphasis is more along this line than along the definitely ethical and spiritual line of the New Testament, although the ethical line is by no means absent. Cf. Gen.6:3; I Sam,10:6.
  2. He comes occasionally and intermittently upon men as compared with His permanent and abiding presence which is the privilege and heritage of the New Testament saints.
  3. He prepares the way for Christ and full redemption by His dealings with mankind. Wiley divides these into four periods.
  4. In the first He strives directly with the consciences of men in a personal way, cf. Cain and Abel and Gen.6:3.
  5. In the second He works through the chosen family - Abraham and his seed. This is the Church in germ form.
  6. In the third He works through the formation of a nation and the giving of the law. This was an external appeal added to the internal striving of the Spirit. The Ten Commandments were said to have been written by the finger of God, which is the equivalent seemingly of the Spirit of God (Matt.12:28 & Luke 11:20).
  7. The fourth period is that of the prophets. The Law being an external, fixed instrument, men began to pay more attention to the form than the spirit of the law. Therefore the prophets were raised up to insist on the inner moral cleansing and message of the law. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:21). The prophets more than all in the previous periods, pointed men to a coming Redeemer. During all this period the Spirit of the Lord was at work "coming upon" or "coming mightily upon" the Judges and the early prophets. He is also revealed in the later prophets and in the Messianic predictions. (See Ezek.2:1-3; 3:13-14; 8:3; 11:1; 36:25-27; Isa.11:2; 32:14-15; 42:1; 44:3; 59:19; 63:10-11; Joel 2:28-29).

2. The Holy Spirit and the Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ.

a. The Holy Spirit and the Incarnation.

The Incarnation was the work of the Holy Spirit. He it was Who accomplished it. As the bond of union between the Father and the Son it was appropriate that He should be the One to bring about the wonderful union between the human and divine natures in the Person of Christ.

The Incarnation made possible the full unveiling of the Third Person of the Trinity. Before the annunciation He had not been revealed as a distinct Personal Agent. We read of "Thy Holy Spirit" (Ps.51:11) and "His Holy Spirit" (Isa.63:10) but not of "the Holy Spirit". The full disclosure of His personality and attributes was not made until the time had come for the inauguration of the Dispensation of the Spirit.

b. The Holy Spirit and the Baptism of Jesus.

All four Gospels relate the Baptism of Jesus and all four bring out the significance of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Him at this time. He descended like a dove on our Lord and the words of commendation were heard - "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased". (Mark 1:10-11; Luke 3:21-22). It is at this baptism that John prophesies that Jesus Christ should be the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

c. The Holy Spirit and Christ's Earthly Ministry.

The humanity of Our Lord was the temple of the Holy Spirit and God gave to Him the Spirit "without measure" (John 3:34). Whatever Christ did as man He did under the direction and through the power of the Holy Spirit. This subordination ceased when He laid down His life of Himself and after the resurrection and exaltation the One who had been presided over by the Spirit during His humiliation became and is now the Giver of that same Spirit to the Church.

d. The Holy Spirit in the Teaching of Christ.

Much of this will come in the discussion of the various experiences in the Christian life and it is sufficient at this juncture to point out that Our Lord prophesied the coming of the Holy Spirit and His work on three specific occasions, with a fuller revelation each time. The first is in the words, "How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him" (Luke 11:13), which is the "faint dawn of the pentecostal day".

The second and fuller revelation is found in John's Gospel chapter 7 and verses 37 and onwards, where Christ speaks of the rivers of living water flowing from the believer and where John, in a parenthesis, explains that Christ was speaking of the Holy Spirit who had not yet been given.

The last and the full and complete revelation is found in the last discourses of Our Lord to His disciples in the upper room and recorded for us in John 14, 15 and 16. In these discourses we have a clear revelation of the three Persons of the Trinity.

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