In the New Testament, there are many verses which give us insight concerning the Holy Spirit. Scripture says more about the Holy Spirit than many theologians cover in their expositions. Perhaps it is because Christology is emphasized to such an extent that the Gift of the Spirit is undervalued. Nonetheless, it was the glorified and resurrected Christ who sent the Holy Spirit. For many teachers and preachers, the Holy Spirit is thought of in terms of nominal Christianity, and the special gift of Pentecost has little meaning for them.
The word “Spirit” has been defined in various ways. Some hesitate to cover the topic. And indeed, words fail to do justice to clearly describe the Holy Spirit. Yet at the time of the Apostles, the concept “Spirit” had a clear and definite meaning. The Christian experience, which includes the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, was such a marvelous and unique experience for the Apostles, so different from all else, that it could not be overlooked or misinterpreted. At the time the New Testament was written, experiencing the Holy Spirit had a clear and definite meaning.
The most wonderful and marvelous thing about the experience of Pentecost, fifty days after Christ’s resurrection, was not the rushing of the wind or the tongues of fire that descended upon the group of one hundred and twenty who were gathered in prayer. Rather, it was that the Spirit of God was actually poured out into the hearts of the believers. The blessing they received did not just last until the end of that day of Pentecost.
No, the Holy Spirit is the gift of the resurrected and glorified Savior, Jesus Christ. Through His sacrificial death and resurrection, He made salvation possible for us. Our transgressions are blotted out through the cross. He did not remain in the grave but arose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Sitting at the right hand of God, He continues the work that He began on earth. After obtaining salvation for us, He now offers it to us through the Holy Spirit. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are given the heritage of the saints, which Christ purchased for us through His own blood and sealed with His death.
Without Calvary, there would be no Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was the Promise of the Father, part of the reward obtained by Christ’s obedience, even to the point of His death on the cross. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was a confirmation that the Father had accepted the sacrifice of the atonement made by the Son. This important fundamental fact is of great significance and should not be overlooked. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter said that Christ was “exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:33), the result of which was now evident.
The Holy Spirit is often called the “Spirit of Truth.” By receiving the Holy Spirit, the first Christians were reminded of the past, so that by faith the life and sacrificial death of Jesus was seen in the light of God and properly understood. The Lord still had much to say to His disciples while He was still with them (John 16:12), but they were not ready for it yet. They were not to be left walking in darkness, so the Spirit of Truth came to glorify Jesus and to lead His disciples into all truth. The New Testament is proof that the Lord fulfilled His promise.
One of the roles the Spirit of Truth has is to bring the wonderful gospel of Christ to peoples’ hearts and to convict them of their sinfulness. “And when He [the Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment” (John 16:8). The role of the Spirit is to teach people to recognize what sin is. Out of compassion and love for us, Christ sent His Spirit to convict people of their own sins.
Secondly, holiness is an important leading attribute of the Holy Spirit. Every child of God experiences the work of the Holy Spirit. It is through the Spirit that the new life in Christ is given. All experiences that we can make as Christians are made through the Holy Spirit. First, the Spirit convicts of sin. Then the Spirit gives us new life so that we can be children of God. We read that “the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses” (Romans 8:26). “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Looking at the Christian life, we realize that all is dependent on the working of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit calls us, and we respond. He leads us to sanctification. We are totally dependent on Him. No one can be holy, in the New Testament understanding of holiness, without having the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is also a Spirit of Power. Before the Ascension, Jesus said to His disciples: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). In the gospel according to Luke, we read of the same promise: “but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). We know that being endued with power on high is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
This power is an equipping of the saints that gives us the special anointing, making our ministry effective. Christ taught His disciples that they cannot be effective witnesses without the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they were to wait until they had received the Holy Spirit in His power.
Paul testifies: “my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). When Peter and John preached the Word, we read that when the people “perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled” (Acts 4:13). The reason for their boldness and success was the disciples’ experience at Pentecost. The anointing of the Holy Spirit transforms people into living witnesses for Christ.
The unseen power of the Holy Spirit is as effective today as it was at the time of the first disciples. The power of the Holy Spirit is still here. May we all understand and experience the secret of being filled with the power from on high!