While Jesus was on Earth, He did a lot for His disciples. However, when He promised them the Holy Spirit, He expected that the Spirit would do something for them that He Himself had not done.
The Holy Spirit had already done something for the disciples, for He was involved in their salvation. I believe that we too easily forget the involvement that the Holy Spirit has in the first work of grace, which is salvation. His first role was to convince the disciples of their sin and of the need for a Savior, for it is the Holy Spirit who “will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). The disciples had accepted Jesus; they were born of the Spirit of God.
Before His ascension to heaven, Jesus told His disciples: “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you” (John 16:7). This arrival was meant to be a sure benefit for the disciples. The work of the Holy Spirit should closely correlate with each person and the work of Christ. The way the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost shows that something brand new began. In a greater measure than ever before, the powers of the invisible world were given here in order to pour into the hearts of followers of the Lord. A new life and a new power came into the world on this day.
The Holy Spirit sanctifies. Although a person experiences purification at the time of re-birth, it is not complete if that person is not baptized with the Holy Spirit.
The evidence for this is found in Acts 15. Here, Peter explains in front of the council in Jerusalem what God’s stance toward Cornelius and his household was: “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9). Cornelius’ heart, therefore, was sanctified or purified, for sanctification means purification. When we repent, we are saved from the guilt of the sins we committed and are purified. We are purified of the depravity we are born with, or inherited sin, through sanctification. This is what the Holy Spirit did on Pentecost for the disciples, and He wants to do the same for us today.
The Holy Spirit gives power: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8) was the promise that was given, and this promise was fulfilled. They received power – power to witness for Christ wherever He sent them.
The Holy Spirit guides us: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13).
The Holy Spirit instructs us: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).
The Holy Spirit comforts us: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Comforter]…the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16-17).
He also wants to bring God’s people together into unity: May they “be sanctified by the truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:19-21).
The Holy Spirit brought Christ back to the disciples, not in the flesh but to live in their hearts. During His time of teaching on earth, He was with them. But He could only be in one location and couldn’t be in numerous locations at the same time. Even after His resurrection, His appearances were limited by location and time. But what a difference after Pentecost!
The disciples knew that Jesus lived after His resurrection. They had seen how He had ascended to heaven, but ten days later, He appeared to them again in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Now He lived IN them. Their lives were filled with His presence, and their hearts burned completely for Him. Jesus’ promise: “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) had become a reality for them.
Paul testified: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Christ-like living is simply the life of Christ in us. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in the hidden place of our soul and shares the life of Christ with us so that the inner residing of Christ becomes a wonderful reality. All this is what the Holy Spirit can do for us.