Select Page

A Brief Systematic on the Work of the Holy Spirit - by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

Articles on the Christian Walk, Systematic Theology and Practical Theology

Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.

Knowing Christ More

Take a moment to check out these solid, biblical Christ-glorifying works that will help you draw closer to the Savior.

Grow in Knowledge

These works will help you grow in your knowledge of God.

Workbooks Like No Other

There are no other workbooks like these anywhere that will help you work through the best biblical theology.

Some thoughts about the work of the Holy Spirit through the Bible. This overview rests on the book, “The Work of the Holy Spirit” by Abraham Kuyper.

One of the greatest studies a Christian can do is on the Holy Spirit. Oftentimes feelings on this issue override sound theological introspection in the Biblical data on the work and operation of the Holy Spirit. Upon close examination of these “ecstatic experiences” that seem to pass for the work of the Spirit, one finds that terminology is borrowed from the Word of God, but the actual experiences are spurious, to say the least. Great caution, then, is to be taken if Christians desire a serious study of the Word of God and its explanations of the mysterious wind of the Holy Spirit.

The work of the Holy Spirit that most concerns the Christian is the renewing of the elect after the image of God. In this sanctification of the redeemed, one finds the work of the Spirit embracing in past ages the Incarnation, the preparation of Scripture, the forming of man and the universe; and, extending into the ages, the Lord’s return, the final Judgment, and the last cataclysm that shall separate heaven from hell forever. This viewpoint is from the standpoint of the redeemed, though the Spirit may be seen in a greater capacity as vindicating the counsel of God in His great purpose to glorify Himself.

There is a difference between the indwelling work of the Spirit and the outgoing work of the Spirit. Indwelling is the mysterious operation of the Spirit that is not seen with the eyes, or perceived with outward senses in this way (Psalm 33:11). Outgoing works are externally manifest in creating, upholding, and directing all things in the universe (Zeph. 2:2). The Holy Spirit works in unison with the will of the Godhead in His activities, and they may be classified as follows: in every work effected by Father, Son and Holy Spirit in common, the power to bring forth proceeds from the Father, the power to arrange is from the Son, and the power to perfect is from the Holy Spirit. The Father is the Father. He generates the Son. And the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. They are one being, with three persons set for the sole purpose of glorifying Himself in all things.

The glory of God is the ultimate end of the purpose of God and the purpose of all creatures He has created (Job 26:13). God’s glory seems to be specially focused on the salvation and sanctification of His children. The Holy Spirit’s work in leading a son or daughter to his or her destiny to glorify God is done in three successive steps: first, impregnating matter; second, animating the rational soul; third, taking up His abode in the elect child of God. This is the process of regeneration.

Genesis 1:2 states that the Spirit was hovering over creation and forming out of its mass the symmetry of the universe (Job 33:4; Psalm 33:6; 104:30; Isaiah 40:13). He took up and accomplished a work of His own in creation. Here He is designated not “The Holy Spirit” but the “Spirit of His mouth” which points to the breath or wind of God and the use of the Word of God in creation (Psalm 33:6; Gen. 1:3; John 1:3). The Holy Spirit used the Word of God (or the Logic of God) to create all things.

The Lord comes into contact with men through the Holy Spirit. Christ, for example, never entered a human person, but took on a human nature. It is the Holy Spirit that directs such a contact between man and God (Job 33:4 echoes Genesis 2:7) and gives him the breath of life. He is the One who gives men both physical life and spiritual life. Man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) after the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and endowed with a rational soul reflective of God’s character in many ways. In this the Holy Spirit created and endowed man with a single personality, reflecting the being of God with a tri-personality.

God has gifted men through the Holy Spirit with various gifts and talents being made in His image, and for His glory (Judges 3:10). In this, the Spirit not only gifts men to be creative and work artistically (Exo. 31:2-3), but also qualifies men for official functions. This is even evident from the history of God’s dealings with various men through various ages. The Spirit was imparted to David and Saul, but in different ways, but for the same function. David receives the Holy Spirit as one of the elect, desiring that His spirit would never be taken away (Psalm 51:11), and Saul is gifted for a time by the Spirit but is not one of the elect of God, and ultimately loses the Spirit because of His disobedience. Different functions of the Spirit for different offices and purposes are evident all through the Scripture.

The Holy Spirit, as we have seen, created the universe, created man, and gifted man with various talents according to His will for both artistic and creative ends, and for official capacities. However, coming into direct contact with man in a special way is accomplished through His spiritual re-creation of them. This is the work of regeneration, which is the principal work of the Holy Spirit (Proverbs 1:23; John 3:3). The work of the Holy Spirit in this way is confined to the elect alone. So the Spirit has two distinct functions as seen at present – 1) an operation that touches every creature, animate and inanimate, in the upholding of their constitution as well as gifting rational moral creatures for service, and 2) the regeneration of the elect towards salvation, and their subsequent upholding and progression in sanctification under the word of God.

The operation of the Holy Spirit is organic and individual (Isa. 63:2). Such an operation by the Spirit is through the working of justification. Grace does not place the godly in a state of rectitude with God, but rather justifies him. Here, then, the sinner is not placed in God’s sight as he was before the fall (innocent like Adam), but rather, he occupies a position after the resurrection of Jesus Christ which is in accordance with forensic justification based on what Christ has done in imputing His active and passive obedience to us (Romans 5:1ff). Whether one is an Old Testament saint or a New Testament saint both are regenerated, and justified, by the operation of the Spirit of God by the application of the work of Christ to the soul. God’s elect in both ages walk through the same gate of justification.

The Holy Spirit’s re-creative operation consists of two parts: 1) the preparation of redemption for the whole Church, and 2) of the sanctification and consolation of Old Testament saints (Heb. 11:39). The rites and ceremonies, though tied to the old dispensation, do not exhaust the significance that this service always had, and still has, for the Christian church. For the Old Testament saints, they looked to Christ with anticipation, where Christians today look to Him by memory and fulfillment. In either case, the same re-creative power of the Holy Spirit endowed men with grace and justification in the same way (by faith) and the indwelling of the Spirit sanctified them for service and conformity to the will of God revealed in the Law.

The Word of God, in any age, is one of the primary operations of the Spirit of God in upholding the will of the Creator for men, whether innocent (such as Adam) or fallen (such as Adam’s progeny). However, the Word of God apart from divine life is valueless. It only exists in connection with the power of the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” And 2 Peter 1:21 states, “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” The Word of God is prepared by the Spirit and given to the Church. It is an instrument to work on man’s heart and convert him (as in regeneration) and it qualifies man perfectly to equip him for every good work. Here, then, we have the quickening of the Spirit on the heart of men, and then the lively exercise of faith flowing from this work.

The Holy Spirit worked the Word of God into the Hebrew volume that is known as Holy Scripture, or the Old Testament. To inscripturate the Word is the work of the Holy Spirit. What would be inexpressible by a perfect communication of truth from the throne to men’s minds, was instead inscribed in a book for men to read using human terms and forms. It was, at first, given by prophets to men in addressing them through preaching first, and then later it was written down. But now the Church has this sacred Word in written form, the Old Testament prophets having ceased preaching verbally, and the community of believers hold the Old Testament scriptures as a sacred volume of sealed words given by the Holy Spirit.

In this Hebrew canon the Holy Spirit has set down the Word of salvation and the facts of salvation. Through this word, God brought faith into direct link with the family unit. First through Adams children, such as Abel who by faith offered worship to God, and by Noah’s family who trusted in God’s provision and providence, and in Abraham’s family who brought faith into direct connection with the children through the sign and seals of that Word. At first the will of God was given verbally, as to these before mentioned. But to keep a sacred and untainted narrative of the redemption of God, it was later written down by Moses, and then through various scribes or prophets through the history of redemption. It seems, from a study of the Old Testament narratives, that such a “passing along” of revelation first began with Adam, Eve and Abel, then moved to Noah, then Abraham, then Moses, then to the individual Israelites, then the families of the Israelites, then the nation of Israel. The inscripturation of the Word seems to have birthed a whole community of organically linked families.

When looking at how God first communicated to men, it is worthy to note that He “spoke” to them (Jer. 20:9). Even in the New Testament we find the author of Hebrews saying, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets…(Hebrews 1:1).” God spoke to men in the Old Testament. These men were usually prophets, or became prophets. The word prophet (nabi) indicates a person who brings something to the people. Sometimes there are exceptions to this such as when God, “spake to the fish (Jonah 2:10).” When God communicates to men, He has a specific thought which He desires to communicate to them, He then executes the communication of that thought to them in a direct manner, and then that person now possesses the divine thought that he is conscious with the same idea that God has a moment ago. God certainly condescended to the limitation of the prophet, to human language, but one can rest assured that the message the prophet gave, through his own personality, was the same message he received by the Holy Spirit. Messages in this way were not for a singular purpose, but for the whole community. The very fact that all the Word of God is inscripturated for the Church to read, and it is all profitable, proves this point conclusively.

Before Jesus Christ came into the world as the incarnate One, and before there was a New Testament, the Old Testament existed. Before the incarnation, there was no other Scripture other than the Old Testament. It is absolutely amazing at the consensus of modern evangelicals that look to the New Testament first before they ever understand what God intended us to know in the Old Testament. How is the work of the Spirit to be traced in the construction of the Scripture? He began with the Old Testament, spoke, and the prophets wrote down the message. Attention should be given to them since the Holy Spirit saw it needful to write these words down first. And through these writings people were converted by grace, through faith, and were justified in the same way Christians are in the New Testament.

There is a great difference between being illuminated by the Spirit of God, writing down revelation and having the inspired Scripture. Illumination is the clearing up of the spiritual consciousness that in His own time the Holy Spirit gives more or less to every child of God. Revelation is a communication of the thoughts of God given in extraordinary manner, by a miracle, to the prophets and apostles. Inspiration, apart from both of these, is that special and unique operation of the Holy Spirit whereby He directed the minds of writers of the Scripture in the inscripturation. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” This He did by beginning with the Old Testament word, in eager expectation of the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ and the New Testament witness to the Old Testament truths of the Messiah.

The Old Testament was not the completion of the work that the Holy Spirit had planned for the inscripturation of the Word for the Church. The Incarnation and the preparation of the body of Christ were next in this plan (Hebrews 10:5; cf. Psalm 40:7-9). Such a conception was miraculous (Luke 1:35) and fabricated by the work of the Holy Spirit. He was the Creator of the human nature of Jesus, and created Him as separate from sinners (Luke 1:18, 35; Hebrews 7:26). Here, Christ does not participate in any of fallen humanity’s sin and guilt. God did not, at any time, place Christ under the imputation of the sin of Adam. The Holy Spirit created the human nature, and it was filled with the union to the ego, or persona, of the Son of God. This was not the creation of a human person, but only of a human nature (John 1:14). This was accomplished by the operation of the Holy Spirit.

The work of the Holy Spirit in the Mediator is of great importance. The Holy Spirit was immediately involved in the development of the human nature of Jesus (Hebrews 9:14). The Holy spirit was given to Christ without measure. This was not communicated by the Son to the human nature of Christ, but through the Holy Spirit. He was endowed with glorious gifts according to the will of the Holy Spirit, which included being filled without measure in His human nature. The difference between this fullness at his birth, and the further endowment of the Holy Spirit at His baptism is separated in terms of His personal life and His official life as the Christ. In either case, such fullness was given through the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit of God consecrated Jesus to His office (Matthew 4:1). But this does not mean that the Messiah was set into His Messianic office at His baptism. When He was in the temple at twelve years old teaching, He was about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49). Yet, we should see a full capacity set here in terms of a public acceptance and office. He enters upon His ministry with the power of the Holy Spirit. John in His Gospel details such an event as setting forth the power of the Lord Jesus Christ in opposition to any false messiahs that would have arisen, or did arise, on the scene to overthrow the work of Christ. He is then thrust in the desert to be tempted and proved (Luke 4:1-2), which he passes through sore temptations, and comes into His preaching ministry with power (Mark 6:14). Such a remarkable empowerment, and fullness of the Spirit, denominated Christ as meeting no resistance with the Spirit at any point, and bore a full effulgence of power for His ministry and task. Not only did Christ live and serve well in His life, but also He died, and was raised from the dead, by the power of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14).

Christ’s resurrection, ascension, royal dignity, and second coming are all empowered by the fullness of the Holy Spirit in the glorified Christ (Romans 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:2). The Holy Spirit performed a unique and peculiar work in the resurrection of Christ while dwelling in Him. Jesus’ own spirit fully concurred with the work of the Spirit in Him in that resurrection, and this is the reason that Christ could say, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father (John 10:18).” This was done through the fullness of the power of the Spirit in Him. In continuing His work, the Holy Spirit also inhabits the temple which includes Christ as the exalted Head. Ephesians 2:19-22 states, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

One of the most difficult discussions on the Holy Spirit surrounds the nature of His outpouring in the New Testament. Most believe that in the New Testament outpouring in Acts 2 marks the inauguration of the giving and indwelling of the Spirit, unlike anything He had done in the past. If the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, how could the Old Testament believers be partakers of His gifts? How is that outpouring different than those who are saved and gifted today? How could the apostles receive the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, when Christ had told them to receive the Spirit ten days earlier? How are the mysterious sings of such an outpouring explained for the church, and what is their relevance? To quickly gloss over these questions would be a tragedy, and much of the disparagement in the New Testament concerning the operation and work of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit, in the Old Testament, is said to be poured out in the future. Such Scriptures as Isaiah 32:14-17, Ezekiel 36:25, and 11:19, Joel 2:30-31 and Zechariah 12:10 confirm this. For example, Zechariah says, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” Even Moses said, “Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them (Numbers 11:29)!” How then, are these to be reconciled with Haggai 2:4-5, “’Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’” Isaiah 63:11 says, “Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying: “Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them.” Micah 3:8 also says, “But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD.” Are these prophets speaking something foreign? Not at all.

There is no place where the Holy Spirit is not in the fullness of His being. No man, angel or inanimate object is excluded from His immediate presence. He cannot be “poured” out, so to speak. He is already there where He is and cannot be anywhere else. The omnipresence of God teaches us this. David rightly says, “Psalm 139:7-8 says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” Therefore, a distinction must be made between the locale of space and time, and the world of the spirits. The Holy Spirit works inwardly and outwardly in believers. But no one may open up the chest cavity of a believer and find the Spirit of God dwelling in them. It is spiritual meaning and affect that is meant.

In the Old Testament there was an inward operation of the Spirit. Believing Israelites were saved, and they received saving grace, justification and indwelling in the same way that Christians do today. Romans 8:9-10 is exceedingly plain on this matter and unavoidable, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Either Abraham qualifies for this, or he does not. Either he is a child in this manner, or he is not of Christ. Either he has the Spirit in this way, or he does not. To say that Abraham had a different operation or indwelling than Christians do today is to fall in tomfoolery. One cannot divide the work of the Spirit in this “dispensational” manner among the saints of God in any age. Romans 8:9-10, speaking of the New Testament believer, determines that anyone who does not have this is not Christ’s. Will we say Abraham was not Christ’s? Or Abel, or Noah or any other Old Testament believer?

It is unavoidable to say, then, that the Spirit, upon the believer, works in two ways: from within, which is salvific in all the ways every believer is saved through the ages, and from without, by bestowing special gifts of service in accordance with His will on any given believer for a task representative of His work in the Church. In the New Testament, though, the Holy Spirit works organically upon a new body of united people whereas the Messiah is the Head. This body, not individuals making up the body, is gifted for service. The concept then, for the Church moving from family, to nation, to organic unity in the body under the Messiah, takes on an organizational change. This change in the church is gifted in a different manner, but by the same Spirit. The Old Testament believer was part of this body as the elect in the visible church, but not in service under the Headship of the exalted Christ who sends the Holy Spirit for the work of His church. In the Old Testament the Spirit worked among believers, but in the New Testament Christ works among believers through the Holy Spirit as an organic body. This mystical union marks the difference. This is not a different saving union, but a different union of operation under the Headship of the reigning Messiah.

With the apostles there is a threefold work of the Spirit seen on them: first, saving grace (Matthew 16:17), second, official gifts (John 20:22), and thirdly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). The Pentecostal outpouring was the beginning of the union of the church united. Jews and Gentiles would constitute one body. The Jews were gathered (as Joel 2 states and fulfilled in Acts 2) and the Gentiles would then be brought in, both through Peter and Paul. When a person is saved, he is then organically united to the body of Christ in a mystical union through the Holy Spirit – a union that already exists between the members and incorporates this new member.

On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, having found His temple in the Head of the Church, has no choice but to flow down into its constituent members and gift them for service. This is exactly what happened on Pentecost (Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4; 1 Cor. 12:10ff; 14:13ff). Such equipping was necessary for the conversion of the multitude and the service of the 120 for such evangelism. This was also the case when Christ breathed on the apostles and they received the Holy Spirit for service. They were not saved here, nor converted (cf. Matthew 16:17). That would have happened a long time before. Rather, they, as those in Acts 2, were empowered for service to preach the risen Christ and the benefits of his death, resurrection and exaltation. This incorporated the reception of the Holy Spirit for those tied to the organic body of Christ in heaven through faith.

The Apostolic era was a time of an extraordinary manifestation of the Spirit. It is temporary position with reference to the founding of the first churches, and it is permanent, with regard to the church in all ages. The apostles were extraordinary ambassadors for Christ with a special office. They were set apart by Christ Himself and qualified for their calling by the Holy Spirit. John 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” The purpose of this apostolate is to bring members into the church and into connection with the apostolate. 1 John 1:3 states, “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” This is the difference between the organic body and the schismatic factions that occur throughout church history.

The Apostles not only founded churches in connection with their teaching, but also continued to teach the church true doctrine and God’s word. 1 Corinthians 16:1, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also.” The apostles had a two-fold thought process around teaching. First, there was teaching that was direct from the Lord’s lips which encompassed the tradition of things ordained through His Gospel ministry, and that of the Holy Spirit, touching things to be decided by the apostolate under His guidance and direction. For example, Paul says, “Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy (1 Corinthians 7:25).” Not only did they direct the church based on tradition in this manner, but also by the guidance of their writings through the power of the Holy Spirit. This guidance was not mechanical dictation, as if the Apostles were secretaries, but a natural carrying of these men by the power of the Holy Spirit. As Peter says, “but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit was sent by Christ to the Apostles to guide them into all truth (John 16:13). John 14:26 is plain here, “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.”

Qualifications of the office for Apostle were 1) a call from the King Himself, 2) a peculiar qualification of the Holy Spirit making them infallible in the service of the Church, and 3) that they were witnesses of the resurrected Christ. Acts 1:25 and Romans 1:5 both point to the unique stature of the apostleship (cf. also1 Cor. 9:2; Galatians 2:8).

The gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church are the Holy Scriptures (John 20:31). Paul says that his revelation is “according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations (Romans 16:25-26).” Christ declares His will to the church through the Holy Spirit, and through the apostles. These apostles were to commit to writing the image of the divine Son in the inspired Writ. Also, those things which Christ could not bear to tell them at one point, the Holy Spirit would declare unto them to write down at another point. John 16:12-13 speaks to this, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. “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.” The New Testament, then, like the Old Testament originated by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit directed and guarded their thoughts to keep them from error, carrying them along by His power, and the product of this was the inspired Scriptures. The revelation of the Holy Spirit granted to the apostles was of such a nature that it could not be perceived by others. Revelation, if it were committed to “just anyone” would be no divine inspiration, but of commonality.

Revelation may be seen in three parts. 1) a divine working giving revelation to the apostles, 2) a working called “inspiration”, and 3) a working and created faith from the Scriptures in the heart of one unwilling (at first) to believe, but made to believe through regeneration.

The work of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament church is considerably more extensive than in the Old Testament (1 John 5:6). This is not to say that the church was “founded” at Pentecost, for that would be a denial of Old Testament revelation, and a falsification of the idea of the church as a body. The intent is to say that it is now a Church for the world. This is where the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual giftedness to the Church. Gifts range from salvation, to the charismata of spiritual gifts in the body. Acts 2:38 states, “and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 4:7 clarifies this gift, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

The gifts in the church are the spiritually ordained means whereby Christ enables His church to perform its task in the world. These gifts are given to the body, through individual believers, but it would be incorrect to think about the individual believer without thinking of the whole body. 1 Corinthians 14:12 says, “Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.” In the early days of the church, under the oversight of the apostles, gifts were more extraordinary since the canon was not yet complete and the church not yet mature in its possession of divine revelation. The gifts ranged from tongues, to the gift of knowledge or wisdom, and even healing. However, once extraordinary spiritual charismata had been completed in purpose in birthing the church, the revelation of God was employed as the only means to mature the church through the work of the Holy Spirit. The charismata now existing in the church are those pertaining to the ministry of the Word (John 16:13).

The Word is used in three manners by the Spirit in the New Testament church: 1)sealing, interpretation and application. Coming into direct contact and fellowship with the Holy Scriptures is done through the sealing of that Word to every believer. It is the constant state and impression of the Word wrought on the soul of every Christian. This is the work of the Spirit of God. By fighting such a work, and falling into disobedience to the word, the Spirit is grieved in opposition to being sealed by Him. Ephesians 4:30 states, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Interpretation is the indirect means by which the Holy Spirit works in the believer through study. It may involve scientific study, the ministry of the Word of God to others, and the spiritual experience of the Church in general under the Word. By the ministry of the Spirit’s help in interpreting the word (He alone can interpret it rightly), He moves the Christian to application. Application is when the minister says, “This is the message of the Word of God that the Holy Spirit intends for you.” This is indirect application since its given by the preaching of an external agent. The direct application of the word of God by the Spirit is through memorizing specific passages of the bible. Here the Holy Spirit works those into the heart of the believer, not only to memorize them, but to become part of the whole of his being, and ultimately part of the whole body in exhortation and edification of it in conversion or ministry.

The last work of the Holy Spirit in the Church is in its government (1 Cor. 12:3). Since the Church is a divine institution, it is the Spirit’s ministry to impart a continual impression of the Kingship of Christ over the body of believers. King Jesus institutes the offices and appoints men to the task of those offices through gifting them by the power of the Holy Spirit. These governed churches submit themselves under the rule of the Word of God. And here the Holy Spirit will preside over the assembly as the relation between the congregation and the Head of the body. This is why there are gifts given to the church in the form of prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers at different ages of the church. As Ephesians 4:11 states, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.”

The information given thus far is linked to the Holy Spirit’s work as a whole. Now it is time to consider His work among individual people (Proverbs 1:23). Through the cross of Christ, the manifestation of divine love for the elect, the Holy Spirit’s irresistible power is seen in their conversion and in their transformation form darkness to light. Love is the principle motivation for grace in every age, and it is vitally attached to the Spirit’s work on the elect.

The work of grace is accomplished as a unit (Romans 5:5). It is one eternal, uninterrupted act, proceeding from the womb of eternity, unceasingly moving toward the final consummation of the ages in glory. The salvation of a soul, then, has eternal ramifications, and begins in the decree of God and continues in the perseverance of the Holy Spirit through all ages. There is a work that is done before conversion in their spiritually dead state that is linked to both the work of the Holy Spirit in general and the Holy Spirit’s work through the Word of God. These works are done through preaching (as will be seen) and through the operation of the Spirit as the primary agent in converting the soul.

To understand the work of the Spirit on the soul, one must first understand the image of God in man. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The image of God must be connected with the features of God’s being, since man (both male and female) were created after the image. Man was created in original righteousness, where his nature was clothed in it. After the fall, this original righteousness was absolutely lost. This is why Paul says in Romans 3:10, “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Human beings are then made up of two parts, the material and the immaterial. Such parts demonstrate the human nature created by God, and the direction in which that nature moved in holiness and righteousness.

Three erroneous views of this righteousness have plagued the Christian church through the centuries: the Roman view, the Socinian view and the Arminian view. Rome teaches that original righteousness does not belong to the divine image, but to the human nature as a superadded grace which can be lost upon sin. Socinius believed that the image only found significance in man’s ruling the animals. Arminians say the same thing. The Lutherans also put in a different view that is in the middle of the Reformed view and the Roman view. They said that the image of God now is totally lost and that the sinner is helpless before the work of grace. Neo-Kohlbruggians also teach, erroneously, that the image of God could be taken away from man without removing God’s creature itself. This is a distortion of the truth, for without God’s impression and right relationship with men, the creature cannot have a positive relationship with God.

The Reformed view holds that the image of God is both His being and His state. It consists of the immaterial substance of the soul with its gifts of knowledge and will, all in created knowledge of God, the holy inclinations of his will before God, holy peace and enjoyment of God, and dominion over the creatures of the earth. God created man in His image, and not in his nature only. In finite man the infinite impress of God’s being is seen. He reflects God’s attributes and reflects a part of God’s sovereignty over the earth.

If man is to have a proper relationship with God as a reflection of His being, he must remember that he can never become the “being” of God, but must rest in being the image of God. God is God and pure being. Man is not God and not pure being. He is only a reflection, made in God’s likeness and image. He cannot become being, for that would mean, erroneously, one thinks he could become God. It is the essence of sin that man does not want to be the image of God, but rather, desires to be his own “being” apart from the being of God, or the commandments of God. He must remain God’s image (1 Corinthians 15:49; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:29).

Adam’s original image lacked nothing. He was created in righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24). The fall rendered his image marred and broken, defective in every way. A sinless man would not have died, and Adam would have been rewarded for his holiness and obedience if he had remained sinless. He would have remained perfectly righteous and completely holy. The fall rendered both of these negated.

Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). Sin can refer to the whole human nature that does not love God and the things above but is involved in loving the “self.” This sin is inherited by the parents to the children as it is imputed to them as a result of the fall of Adam. Most heresies revolve around a denial of this imputation and a denial of a full depravity of the human soul. This would be Dr. Bohl’s position on this doctrine, which has infected many others, classically bound to Arminianism. This depraved nature is not simply a lack of righteousness, or a lack or loss of something, but a whole corruption which fights vehemently against the holy nature (Romans 7:23).

The sinner is without knowledge, his feelings are perverted and corrupted, his will is paralyzed to do anything good or pleasing to God, his imagination is defiled, his desires are totally impure, and everything he does revolves around the wickedness of self-love. Everything that the sinner does, everything he touches, becomes defiled and for wicked use (Romans 3:10ff).

The horrible state of man’s depravity is not considered simply as one guilty, but guilty and corrupted (Romans 5:12). He is in a state of judicial violation. Sin is a non-conformity of an act, person, or condition to the divine law; guilt is against the divine right. Punishment, then, is a judicial process in which God will act upon sinners who have encroached His holiness.

Sinners became sinners judicially through the sin of the first man, Adam, in the garden. Adam’s treasure of fellowship and holiness in the garden was losable. He was under the Covenant of Works, which he broke, and then would have been later regenerated under the Covenant of Grace. This original sin in the garden is imputed to all Adam’s posterity. All goodness for Adam in this state of holiness before the fall was the operation of the Holy Spirit. All goodness came from Him. This does not mean, though, that in this first state of man the Holy Spirit indwelt Adam. Such an indwelling would not occur until the Covenant of Grace.

Punishment for sin was tried with death. Death is the curse set upon fallen men. A man that dies is proof of the continuation of the curse from the Garden of Eden. The soul lives on, but the body returns to the dust (Gen. 3:19). The bond that the Holy Spirit had with man was severed. Now men die, but may be reconnected with a new life and new creation through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

There is a difference between the gratia praeparans (a preparatory grace) and a preparation for grace. This preparatory grace involves the years between the reception of the knowledge of God and conversion wrought by the Holy Spirit. Some believe that preparatory grace cannot be true since, wherever sin is there is no grace. The Scriptures themselves say that God gives men over to their sin, and is not gracious to them at all (Romans 1:24-28). However, light and shadow in these things are necessarily blended. How should one understand this?

In baptism men may be born again before hand, but not necessarily so, as in the case of infants. Men are all conceived and born in sin, but who can tell when God regenerates an infant? Yet, during this time period from baptism to conversion there may be a preparatory grace with some. Preparatory grace always precedes new life and conversion. It is not conversion or new life. The grace of God first precedes, then prepares, and lastly performs (preaveniens, praeparans, operans). Grace will never wait for anything in the sinner before the Holy Spirit converts them, but the Holy Spirit will use means by which the opportunity of salvation will be more susceptible. This is why Reformed churches so strongly insist upon the careful training and raising up of covenant children in the fear of the Lord. Although Reformed Christians know they cannot effectually create that regenerating spark, when God comes to kindle the flame of regeneration in them, much depends upon their state of mind and their disposition to the truths of God in that conversion. As Edwards said, it is better to be in the church than at the bar if one desires to see conversion.

Regeneration is used broadly and narrowly. In its narrow sense it denotes the exclusive act of quickening the soul to new life (John 3:6). In its wider sense it denotes the entire change by grace effected in a sinner’s conversion from death to life. Thus, there is a work in a sinner that is done to spark the change, and there is also the continued work of the sinners in that change. God began the work of grace with the implanting of the faith-faculty (fides petentialis), followed by the new grace of the faith-exercise (fides actualis), and of the faith-power (fides habitualis). All of this encompasses the broader scheme of the ordo salutis and the salvation offered in that unbreakable chain of Romans 8:28-29.

Regeneration is recognized in three of the four classes in the church (Proverbs 20:12): 1) all elect persons regenerated before baptism (this is seen later in age after infants grow up), 2) elect persons who were regenerated in infancy but had early signs of regeneration in them from early childhood, 3) elect persons born again and converted later in life; mention should be made of number four – the non-elect in the church, or the chaff.

It should be noted that regeneration is not sacramentally offered in baptism. It is not affected by baptism at all in terms of communication regenerating grace (such as Roman Catholics teach in a rather twisted fashion). God is the one, independent of any act, to spark the germ of regeneration in the soul and to cause it to grow. This regeneration is done, usually, through the word of God, though this is not the case in the regeneration of infants (1 Peter 1:23).

Regeneration runs through three stages, 1) when the Lord plants the new life in the dead heart, 2) when the new-born man comes to conversion, 3) when conversion merges into sanctification. The Holy Spirit may affect all this in the sinner’s heart before, during or after the preaching of the Word of God. Salvation depends on faith, and faith depends on the hearing of the word in most ordinary cases. That is God’s regularly ordained means to affect salvation in an individual. “He who works in man both to will and to do produces both the will to believe and the act of believing also (Synod of Dort Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine, article 14).”

In regeneration there is the general implanting of Christ. There is no regeneration without establishing the mystical union between the sinner and Jesus Christ. This is not a divine-human nature that Christians receive, rather, they are mystically joined to the divine nature to feed off Jesus Christ. There is a real and true antithesis between God and man; one is Creator and the other is creature. So this mystical union is not the instilling of the divine into man in the fundamental sense. Peter says, though, that “we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). This, however, refers to the union that Christians have, not some transformation of their human nature into a divine nature (which is a contradiction).

The regenerate are called by the Word of God both externally and internally. In the operation of this grace, the sinner is passive. The Spirit changes him while the external call is going forth from the lips of the preacher. After this is accomplished, he is no longer passive and believes by faith, and repents. This too is a work of grace, but it is motioned by the Spirit and accomplished by the person being changed. God does not believe for the Christian, and God does not repent for the Christian. The Christian is motioned by the Lord, and then repents and believes. The sinner is summoned by the word (external calling) and then changed in regeneration by the application of the Word by the Holy Spirit (internal call or effectual call). This may also be distinguished between the ordinary call (outward) and the effectual call (inward). The work of the Holy Spirit here is twofold: 1) He comes with the Word, and He changes the sinner by the Word through illumination.

It is interesting to note that the Scriptures speak of conversion more than one hundred and thirty times as an act of man and only six times by the act of the Holy Spirit. Calvinists should not miss this point. Jeremiah 3:22 says, “Return, you backsliding children, And I will heal your backslidings.” “Indeed we do come to You, For You are the LORD our God.” Revelation 2:5 states, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place — unless you repent.” The word “conversion” can be used in many ways. It may be used in Scripture for forsaking wickedness (like with Nineveh through Jonah’s preaching), saving conversion (as in Isaiah 55:7), application of saving principles in the life of the Christian (Ezekiel 18:30), and converting back to the True Love that Christians often forget (Rev. 2:5). Preachers of the Word should take notice of this to reflect the Scriptures in their call for men to repent, and to turn back to God. Oftentimes stress is laid upon the sovereignty of God and the conversion of man is overlooked.

Justification is the cornerstone of the Protestant church and occupies a blatant place in Scripture both in the Old Testament and the New Testament (Romans 3:24; Romans 5:1; Romans 4:25; etc). Justification assumes juridical affects on the nature of man. Man’s condition before God should be thought of as judicial. He is at the judgment seat ready to be condemned by the righteous Judge for his wicked works. He is counted wicked as a result of the imputation of Adam’s sin to his account. His status is determined as wicked by the Judge, not by himself (Gen. 15:6; Phil. 3:9). As a result of this depraved and wicked status, imputed to his account, man is condemned to die unless he is justified somehow before God.

Justification is something that happens to the sinner from eternity in the decrees of God, and is actually bestowed in time upon a sinner. Justification in God’s “eyes” is not a limited act, but an eternal one, from the foundations of the world. The fate of every justified sinner was determined before the world began, and in this sense, it is eternal. There is no doubt, though, that such an act is set actually within the framework of time. Here God justifies a sinner in justification’s publication to him. This justification is certain since it rests in the decrees of God. The sinner is simply made aware of it at a certain point in his life.

Christians are saved through faith, which is not something they generate in and of themselves (Ephesians 2:8, 1Corinthians 12:3; Galatians 5:22). This is not faith in one’s ideas, or faith in faith. It is a faith that is generated and sustained by the Holy Spirit.

This faith rests on knowledge (John 3:36). It is not a blind faith in “the ethereal.” It is not something uncertain, but something resting on that which is very certain. It is housed in the strongest convictions about the Scriptures, God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Everything the Christian believes and trusts in within the invisible realm rests on a certain faith. The Christian believes something true about the invisible realm and the work God is accomplishing there. To believe something, or to have faith in something is always to assure the conscience that such a thing is true. This is not just based on a belief from the self, but from an objective source (such as the Scriptures) (Phil. 3:15). (To note: Brakel believed that the act of believing was in the will and Comrie believed it was in the objective act of faith given to man by the Holy Spirit.)

Faith belongs to the Covenant of Grace. It is made up of notia, assunsus and fiducia – notation, assent to that which is noted, and trust in it. The Christian is then assured, convinced and persuaded of what he believes. This is not “a certain knowledge, but certain knowledge.” (Romans 8:14) The consciousness is affected through the faculty of faith because this faith believes something certain and true. It is not a wavering faith, but a sure and firm faith that always believes.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Petrus Dinant (an 18th century theologian) has made a helpful rendering in the Greek text in explaining this passage and faith’s relation to grace. Many times inept Greek scholars have said that since the word “this” (which is touto in the Greek) is neuter, then it cannot relate back to either faith (pisteous – which is feminine). Some say, for whatever concocted reason, that one cannot compliment the other since they are of different genders. However, as Dinant points out, this is not in error, it is good Greek. The construction of the neuter pronoun with a feminine noun as an antecedent is not a mistake, but excellent Greek. A neutral demonstrative pronoun is frequently used to refer to a preceding masculine or feminine noun when the meaning is taken to refer to a general sense. Thus “faith” here, is a gift of God. God gives it to sinners. It is an act of divine grace that is motioned and wells up in the soul. The Holy Spirit then gives the Christian a continued assurance of the truth of God through the exercise, and continuation, of this faith. This is the testimonium Spiritus Sancti. The internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. It is a faith that believes Gospel history, Gospel miracles, and Gospel truths. It is through this divine and supernatural light that such faith continues to thrive and is exercised through the life of the Chrtistian.

Sanctification is also the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:30). It is a work of the Holy Spirit in a regenerated sinner, and it is the work of the regenerated sinner by the motioning of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that man is supposed to keep the law as sanctification. Sanctification and keeping the law are two different things. The keeping of the law is secondary to sanctification. The Holy Spirits work of sanctification in the believer (the life principle that continues to be activated and stirred by the Holy Spirit) will then have its fruit seen in being holy. This sanctification continues until the regenerated sinner dies and goes to heaven.

There is a difference between sanctification and justification. Justification works for man; sanctification in man. Justification removes guilt; sanctification removes the stains. Justification imputes to us an extraneous righteousness; sanctification works a righteousness inherent in our own. Justification is at once completed; sanctification increases gradually (Rev. 22:2). Sanctification conforms the man to the divine ordinances. Hence, like justification, sanctification is not inherited by man’s works, but by the Holy Spirit’s work in men.

The redeemed soul that is sanctified possesses all things in Christ. He is the complete Savior that saves men. Christ’s righteousness is given to us, and He is our Sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). Sanctification works holy dispositions in men’s heart – it does not make them holy. Christ alone makes them holy. The indwelling of the Spirit is the actual worker or applier of holiness (Rom. 8:28-29). Sanctification is part of the Covenant of Grace that is worked in the body of Christ through the application of it by the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is a gracious gift given to men by the Holy Spirit. This is where men receive implanted dispositions (2 Cor. 7:1).

Sanctification progresses by degrees and is not something that is perfectly given at the time of conversion (1 Thess. 5:23). Sanctification is a perfect work in that it infuses sanctifying principles in every part of the believer, but it is an imperfect work in that it is not complete until one reaches heaven. Its development continues over the life of the believer until they are called to heaven. It is perfect in parts, but imperfect in degrees.

Every true and lasting conversion must manifest itself in mortification of sin and vivification of new life. Mortification is the sanctifying principle that kills sin. Vivification is the work that brings new life and a continual renewing to the believer’s heart and mind. Both of these are impossible without the aid of the Holy Spirit. This is where the new man that is implanted wages war against the remnant of remaining sin still left after the death of the old man. The child of God must not be equated with the old man of his former eternal state. Rather, he is to be associated with the power of the Spirit and the new man that has been implanted and brought to life by the Holy Spirit. Sanctification, then, is a work of the Holy Spirit, and good works that arise from motions by the Holy Spirit in the Christian do are of men. One gives birth to the other in the war for the soul, and victory will ultimately come to pass because of the sovereign Spirit.

Sanctification embraces the will, the body, the mind and the affections (Col. 2:2). Good works are the fruit of these renewed elements in the person (Eph. 2:10). Good works are brought out of sanctification and out of the Spirit’s work and done or accomplished through faith. One of the main principles or good works that emerge from this new sanctification is self denial (Matthew 16:24). This is a vital point since the entirety of the new creation is awakened to the reality that he or she is to do all things to the glory of God and for the glory of God first and foremost. The Spirit animates Christians for that purpose. If this is true, and it most certainly is (1Corinthians 10:31) then everything the Christian accomplishes is under the guise of self-denial and giving God all the glory.

The Christians fount of sanctification emerges from the Holy Spirit who works in them the sanctifying power of Love (Rom. 5:5). Christian love mimics the perfect unity that the Triune Godhead has in exemplifying love. Christians desire to love and their chief aim is to love, both God and men because God is love (1 John 4:8). Love is not only forgiving sins (which is really a superficial understanding of Love) but rather, it is a higher principle of communion between beings – whether between God and God, between God and man, or between man and man.

The manifestation of holy love to Christians is seen in the Father’s preparation of salvation in Creation, the possibility of love seen and made possible by the Son in redemption, and the power of love effectually accomplished by the Holy Spirit in sanctification. This love is communicated to the Christian by the Holy Spirit who sheds abroad this love in the heart (Psalm 133:2). The Holy Spirit even loves the work He accomplishes in the Christian because it is the work of love that He is accomplishing in them. God is love and all He does flows from love. This love given to the Christian is “numberless.” It has no particles nor is consistent. It is an infinite love worked in us and is manifested by degrees (Matthew 27:37). The Spirit may be grieved by sin, even provoked, but He constantly continues to work love in the sinning Christian because He is faithful to His work of love. And then, once the Christian realizes this powerful gift of grace, he is bound to ask “Why me?” It is an amazing thing for the Christian to understand his unworthiness and the Spirit’s constancy in His work on the Christian even though the Christian continues to sin or fall into various temptations (2 Corinthians 6:6). The greatest act of the Spirit in the Christian is the beginning of love continued in him (1 Corinthians 13:13). God’s elect cannot exist without this love being worked in them, and they will always have the Spirit working such a love in them (1 Corinthians 15:28).

The Holy Spirit draws into a body of communing believers those He is working “love” in their spirits (Eph. 4:4). This love is manifested together in the midst of the elect. The rule of this communion between them is the love of the Holy Spirit. A distinction must be made between the church and the communion of saints. The church may have reprobate in it who are not bound by the union of love and grace, whereas the communion of saints, the outworking of electing love in the Christian, is only accomplished by the elect through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Christians who are among the communion of saints, are partakers of many blessings. They are partakers of Christ and all His benefits (1 John 1:7). They are obliged to take these benefits and share them among the communion of saints. They are endowed with spiritual gifts which are to be used in ministry to one another in the church (1 Timothy 1:5). They suffer for one another in love, and they suffer in the world on account of this love (John 15:13).

John says this communing love is “a new commandment (John 13:34).” But is this really new? How can this be a new commandment when those in the Old Testament were to love one another as well? This is only new in respect to the Christian community after the work of Christ. This does not mean it was not done before, but the principle no longer rests on the tablets of stone (in the ten commandments), but rather, on the finished work of Christ. This causes the church, in any age, whether old or new, to be organically unified as one church with one commandment of love.

God actively controls all men, though He is not the author of sin. And though he is love, He allows men to withdraw from that love offered in the Gospel. This is hardening. The darkening or spiritual slumber allowed men is an act of God’s sovereign control and is in no way inconsistent with His ability to love. He loves some and not others (Romans 9:18). God hardens some men and saves others (John 12:40). Positive hardening is called “darkening of their foolish heart” and is a positive action of God upon the human soul. He does not create sin in their heart, but He so orders their life that upon every choice and every turn they harden themselves through God’s direct providence. That is why the Scriptures say that, “He hath hardened their hearts.” Pharaoh, in Romans 9, is a perfect example of this.

There is a difference between temporary hardening and a permanent hardening. Temporary hardening may be done to those under God’s providential care and election. It is a withdrawing of the influences for His spirit for a time to teach them something. However, this is always done in the activity of love that God has for the Christian. Permanent hardening is akin to those like Pharaoh who are raised up for God’s glory in eternal hell. It is said in the Scriptures that God even hardens entire nations (Romans 11:7). This may manifest itself in the pagan nations that oppose God by false religions like Islam or Buddhism. Hardening overall is the effect of divine love turned in the opposite direction.

The sin against the Holy Spirit is a very grave sin since it contains no means for salvation after one commits it (Matthew 12:31). This sin is manifested in hypocritical professors who taste of the heavenly gift but are not actually made partakers of it and then fall back into the world and sin (Hebrews 6 and 10). But it must be noted that any character a person has is the direct result of the work of the Spirit or lack of the work of the Spirit in that person. If the person is elected and saved, the Spirit works in him love. If that person is not saved, or hardened, the work in them is for death.

The essence of prayer is bound up in the work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian (Eph. 6:18). All prayer is not equal and is not the same. The Lord Jesus Christ’s prayer as the High Priest is not the same as when a Christian prays. The prayer of the wicked is not the same as the prayer of the righteous. There should be made a distinction between these.

In considering the prayers of the righteous, there are certain elements that are inherent in a godly prayer. First, there should be thanksgiving. It should include praise and the outpouring of the soul to God. It should include supplication and petition. Prayer is really every religious act by which we take upon ourselves directly to speak to the Eternal being. Such prayers may be long or short, thought out or ejaculatory.

Prayer is accomplished with a thoughtful mind. The body and soul engage in prayer, but it is the prayer of the ego that rises up to God. There is a natural desire to make the whole body part of the prayer, but it is essentially that of the mind to God (Psalm 50:15). The mind uses the body to pray, but the body in those cases is the vehicle to prayer, not prayer itself.

Unconverted men pray, and that prayer is still of the Holy Spirit to a degree. That does not mean the prayer is accomplished by the Holy Spirit motioning prayer in the soul out of a sanctifying principle as in the elect, but even in its most deranged form due to sin, the reprobate pray because the Spirit externally presses them to take hold of prayer. The sacrifice is ultimately an abomination to God because they sin in their prayer, but it is still something the Spirit presses upon them as something the spiritual man should do. This is an operation of general grace upon the world, for all those who fall into hardships often take that time to pray. They are made aware of their need and that there is a Higher and Greater Being who has the ability to change life’s circumstances.

In the prayer of the regenerate, there is a distinction between what the Christian prays and what the Holy Spirit helps him to pray (Romans 8:26). The intercession of the Holy Spirit is according to the saint’s condition described in Romans 7. There is a struggle going on between the flesh and the Spirit and the Spirit motions the Christian to pray and carries him in that prayer. The Spirit works in their prayers to bring them “up to God” effectually.

Not only does the Spirit help Christians pray for themselves, but there is a unifying principle of praying for one another in the communion of saints and the church (James 5:16). Such prayer for one another is a mighty tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit for the effectual working of grace in the saints. Prayer should not be neglected nor overlooked, but exercised and used to the glory of God for and in His church.

Offsite Banner Ad:

Help Support APM

Search the Site

Reformed Theology at A Puritan's Mind