As the Holy Spirit, the THIRD PERSON in the Godhead, has existed from all eternity (Heb. 9:14), it stands to reason that if we would pursue the same course of speaking and writing about Him, as we do about the person and work of Christ, much of the mystery and misunderstanding as to His person and work would disappear.
Let us therefore take up His work in each Dispensation.
1. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN CREATION
We read in job 26:13, "By His SPIRIT He hath garnished the heavens." That is, made them beautiful with stars and suns. The work of the Trinity in Creation has been described thus: God the FATHER created the matter, God the SON moulded it into shape, as seen in the heavens, and earth, and every visible object, and God the HOLY SPIRIT breathed into all animate creation life. This seems confirmed by the account of the creation of man in Gen. 2:7, "And the LORD GOD (the Triune God) formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the BREATH OF LIFE: and man became a LIVING SOUL." Here we see the threefold work of God. The Father made the "dust of the ground," the Son, like a sculptor molds the clay into a statue, formed the dust into the shape of a man, and the Holy Spirit breathed into its nostrils the "BREATH OF LIFE."
In Gen. 1:2, we read that-"The Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the SPIRIT OF GOD (Holy Spirit) moved upon the face of the waters." Here we have the work of the HOLY SPIRIT in the restoration of the Earth to its Primeval State. This reveals to us that the work of the Holy Spirit in Creation was to impart and restore life.
2. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE DISPENSATION FROM THE FALL TO THE FLOOD.
This was the "Dispensation of CONSCIENCE, " and the work of the Holy Spirit during that Dispensation seems to have been to "strive" with men through their conscience to live better lives, for we read in Gen. 6:3, "And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always STRIVE with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years." That is He would bear with them for 120 years longer, and if they did not repent and turn to Him, He would send the Flood.
3. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE DISPENSATION FROM THE FLOOD TO THE BIRTH OF JESUS.
This Period included Three Dispensations, the "Post-Diluvian," the "Patriarchal" and the "Legal." The work of the Holy Spirit in these Dispensations seems to have been about the same, and was neither constant nor specific. He came upon individual men and women and filled them for some special service or specific work without reference to their character, such as Balaam (Num. 24:2-4), Samson (Judg. 13:24-25), and King Saul. 1Sam. 10:6-8. The Holy Spirit came upon these men not because they were good men, but on account of their official position, and was given for a special service. With few exceptions, such as Joseph (Gen. 41:38-39), Joshua (Num. 27:18), and Daniel (Dan. 4:8, Dan. 4:9, Dan. 4:18; Dan. 5:11-13), the Holy Spirit did not abide on men for any length of time during this Dispensation, but came and went, as, in the case of Samson, His presence was necessary. When the time came to construct the Tabernacle and its furnishings, God specially endowed Bezaleel for the work by filling him with the Holy Spirit. Ex. 31:1-3. Thus the whole of the work of the Tabernacle in its exquisite perfection and glorious beauty, was the work of the HOLY SPIRIT through Bezaleel. So the people could not praise Bezaleel, and say-"Bezaleel, what a wonderful and skillful workman you are", but were compelled to say-"See how wondrously the SPIRIT OF GOD has wrought through Bezaleel." So it was with the Old Testament prophets-"the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the HOLY GHOST." 2Pet. 1:21. The work of the Holy Spirit in this Dispensation was mainly to fit men for some special work.
4. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE "PARENTHETICAL DISPENSATION" BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT DISPENSATIONS.
The work of the Holy Spirit during this "Parenthetical Dispensation" has to do mainly with the earthly life of Jesus, and throws additional light on the relation of the three persons of the Godhead to each other, and shows that even God the SON, could not take on our human nature and do the work He did for the redemption of the race without the aid and co-operation of the "HOLY SPIRIT." The work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus is very clearly outlined in the New Testament.
1. He was CONCEIVED by the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:30-31, Luke 1:34-35. Matt. 1:18-20.
2. He was BAPTIZED by the Holy Spirit. Matt. 3:16. Luke 4:1.
3. He was led by the Holy Spirit into the Wilderness to be TEMPTED (Tested). Matt. 4:1. Luke 4:1-2.
4. He performed all His MIGHTY WORKS by the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 10:38.
5. He was ANOINTED TO PREACH by the Holy Spirit. Luke 4:18.
6. He DIED ON THE CROSS through the Holy Spirit. Heb. 9:14.
7. He was RAISED FROM THE DEAD by the Holy Spirit. 1Pet. 3:18.
8. He gave His POST RESURRECTION DIRECTIONS to the Apostles through the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:1-2.
5. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE DISPENSATION FROMPENTECOST TO THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
This is preeminently the "DISPENSATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT." The Old Testament Dispensation was that of the FATHER, the Millennial Dispensation will be that of the SON, and this is that of the HOLY SPIRIT. Jesus said to His Disciples"It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away the COMFORTER (Holy Spirit) WILL NOT COME UNTO YOU; but if I depart , I will send him unto you." John 16:7. This clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit is a PERSON, and that He and Jesus cannot both reside at the same time on the earth. The Holy Spirit has a specific work in this Dispensation. It is the formation of the "BODY OF CHRIST"-THE CHURCH, into which we are baptized by the Holy Spirit. 1Cor. 12:13, 1Cor. 12:27. The Holy Spirit took up His residence on the earth at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3), and will remain on the earth until the Church is complete and then He will escort it to meet the Lord in the air at the Rapture.
But you ask-"If the Holy Spirit is now residing on the earth, where may He be seen? Is He in the Holy Land or in some other part of the world? " The Holy Spirit at Pentecost did not assume a bodily form, but took up His residence in the Church. The Apostle Paul, writing to the saints at Corinth, said-"What! Know ye not that your BODY is the TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST? " 1Cor. 6:19. And in 1Cor. 3:16, he speaks of them as being collectively the "TEMPLE OF GOD, " and that the "SPIRIT OF GOD" (Holy Spirit) dwelt in them, that is, had his residence among them. And in Eph. 2:21-22 he speaks of the Church as a Building, "fitly framed together" for a "HOLY TEMPLE, " into which the saints are being built, as building stone is built into a building, and that the purpose of the building was to make a "HABITATION FOR GOD" in which He could dwell on the earth in the Person of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:22-23, in anticipation of His going away, and in answer to Judas Iscariot's question as to how He would manifest Himself to His disciples after His departure, and not to the world, Jesus said-"If a man love me he will keep my words: and my Father will love him and WE (the Triune God) will come unto him, and make our ABODE with him." And in the "appendix" to the "Great Commission" (Matt. 28:20) Jesus said-"Lo, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE AGE." that is, the end of this Church Dispensation. Now the idea is, not that Jesus Himself IN PERSON will be with us in this Dispensation, for He cannot leave His High Priestly duties at the Right Hand of God, but that He will be with us in the Person of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is now the REPRESENTATIVE of the Godhead on the earth, for when Jesus said "I will be with you," He meant by "I" the Godhead, and the Godhead is represented on the earth whenever one of its members is resident on the earth, as it was represented in Jesus when He was on the earth (John 1:14. 1Tim. 3:16), and is now represented by the Holy Spirit.
It follows therefore, as every true believer is a "Temple of the Holy Spirit," if we would see the Holy Spirit during His residence on the earth we must see Him in the glowing face and Christlike behavior of the sanctified child of God.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE CHURCH
The Holy Spirit, by virtue of His residence in the Church, is the
PRESIDING OFFICER OF THE CHURCH.
Says Dr. A. J. Gordon, in his work on the "Ministry of the Spirit"-"The Holy Spirit has rightly been called the 'VICAR OF JESUS CHRIST.' To him has been committer the administration of the affairs of the Church. There is but one 'Holy See' upon earth,' and that is the 'Seat' of the Holy Spirit in the Church. There is but one 'Infallible POPE, ' and He is the Holy Spirit. He alone can speak 'Ex Cathedra'."
This is clearly brought out in Acts 15:13-15 in the account of the First Church Council, where the record states (Vs. 28), "For it seemed good to the HOLY GHOST and to us," implying that the Holy Ghost was present in the Council, and acted in an official capacity.
When Ananias and Sapphira were arraigned for conspiracy and falsehood in the sale of a certain piece of property, Peter said to Ananias-"Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the HOLY GHOST? " (Acts 5:3), thus implying that the invisible presiding officer at that trial was the Holy 5pirit Himself.
As Jesus chose and sent forth His Apostles, so the Holy Spirit chooses and sends forth His Apostles; for we read in Acts 13:2-4-
"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, (He must have been personally present)-'Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, BEING SENT FORTH BY THE HOLY GHOST, departed to Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus."
Paul's last words to the Ephesian Elders were-'Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the HOLY GHOST HATH MADE YOU OVERSEERS, to feed the 'Church of God,' which He hath purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28. Clearly the pastors or bishops of the Apostolic Church were chosen by the Holy Spirit, and not by the suffrage of the people.
As an illustration of the mistake that may be made in filling an official position in the Church without consulting the Holy Spirit, we have the case of Matthias. A vacancy had occurred in the "Apostolate" by the suicide of Judas. Standing in the upper-room, surrounded by the 120, Peter boldly affirmed that the vacancy must be filled, and of the men who had companied with them during the Lord's earthly ministry-"One must be ordained to be a witness with us of HIS RESURRECTION." Acts 1:22. But the Apostles had hitherto had no voice in choosing Apostles. The Lord had done this of His own sovereign will-"Have I not chosen you twelve." John 6:70, John 13:18. Now the Lord had gone back to heaven having commanded His disciples to do NOTHING until His 4 4 Vicar" the "Holy Spirit" should come (Luke 24:49), and as he had not yet arrived no business that they might transact would be LEGAL. But in spite of the Lord's command a nomination was made, and an election held but there is no indication that their choice was ratified by the Holy Spirit when He came. On the contrary, Matthias, who was chosen from that time, passed into obscurity, and his name is never again mentioned. A few years later, on the road to Damascus, the Lord Himself chose Saul of Tarsus to be an Apostle in Judas' place, certifying to the choice by filling him with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:15-17), so that the Apostle could say of himself-"Paul, an APOSTLE, NOT OF MEN, NEITHER BY MAN, BUT BY JESUS CHRIST, AND GOD THE FATHER.' Gal. 1:1.
While the Apostolic Office ceased with the death of the Apostle John, for its qualification was that the holder should be a witness of the Lord's resurrection, and Paul was a witness of that (1Cor. 15:3-5), it is still the Divine plan that the office of the successors of the Apostles, the pastors, elders, bishops, and teachers of the flock should be filled by Holy Spirit chosen men. Acts 20:28. There is no certainty when an Archbishop, or Bishop, or some other church Functionary, appoints a pastor over a flock, whether the appointment is of the holy Spirit or not. We see therefore that while it is easier to get-"the sense of the meeting by a show of hands" in the choice of a pastor, that it is not the Apostolic way, and accounts for the mistakes and misfits that occur in filling the pastoral office. It also accounts for the decline and death of many church organizations. It is far. better by prayer and fasting to wait upon God until the "MIND OF THE SPIRIT" is made manifest, and the right man sent.
And not only should a church consult the Holy Spirit in the choice of a pastor, but the pastor should consult the Holy Ghost as to a field of service. Of Paul and Timotheus we read--"Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia, and the region of Galatia, and were FORBIDDEN OF THE HOLY GHOST to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed (attempted) to go unto Bithynia; 'BUT THE SPIRIT SUFFERED THEM NOT'." Acts 16:6-7. We naturally ask-"Why not? " And we do not have far to go for an answer, for in the next three verses we read-"And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas, and-a vision appeared to Paul in the night: there stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, COME OVER INTO MACEDONIA AND HELP US. And after he had seen the vision, IMMEDIATELY WE ENDEAVORED TO GO INTO MACEDONIA ' ASSUREDLY GATHERING THAT THE LORD HAD CALLED US FOR TO PREACH THE GOSPEL UNTO THEM." Acts 16:8-10. And into Macedonia they went and were blessed in their work. We see then that the pastor, and missionary, and every Christian worker, should follow the Holy Spirit's guidance in the choice of a sphere of work. The Holy Spirit makes no "Misfits." This is beautifully illustrated in the experiences of Adoniram Judson, William Carey, and David Livingstone. Judson purposed going to India, the Holy Spirit sent him to Burmah Carey purposed going to Tahiti, the Ho 1y Spirit landed him in India. Livingstone purposed going to China, but the Holy Spirit led him to Africa.
When Jesus was on the earth the Father spoke and said-"This is my beloved Son HEAR YE HIM." The night before His Crucifixion Jesus said to His Disciples-"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the 'Spirit of Truth' (H. S.), is come, He will guide you into ALL TRUTH: He will show you things TO COME." John 16:12-13. The reason was that the teachings of Jesus required to be illumined by the light of the Cross and of the Resurrection, and the further light that He would be able to furnish after His Ascension. There were certain limitations to Christ's knowledge while on the earth. When asked as to the time of His Second Advent, He replied-"Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in Heaven, neither (not yet) the Son, but the Father." Mark 13:32. But as soon as Jesus was "Glorified" He knew all about it, and 66 years after His Ascension He revealed it to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos. The Book of Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which GOD GAVE UNTO HIM, to show unto His servants THINGS WHICH MUST SHORTLY COME TO PASS" 'Rev. 1:1), and in the Messages to the Seven Churches of Asia, which are typical churches (Rev. 2:1, Rev. 3:22), we find, SEVEN TIMES REPEATED, the command "He that hath an ear, let him HEAR what 'THE SPIRIT' SAITH UNTO THE CHURCHES."
The Holy Spirit's Teachings and communications are not His own, but CHRIST'S. "Howbeit when He, the 'Spirit of Truth,' is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but WHATSOEVER HE SHALL HEAR, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. He shall GLORIFY ME: for He shall RECEIVE OF MINE AND SHALL SHOW IT UNTO YOU". John 16:13-14. The office-work then of the Holy Spirit in this Dispensation is to reveal the things of the Glorified Christ to the Church.
To this end the preacher and teacher of the "Word" should be a Holy Spirit filled person. Peter said-"We have preached the Gospel unto you WITH THE HOLY GHOST SENT DOWN FROM HEAVEN." 1Pet. 1:12. And Paul said-"And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT AND OF POWER." 1Cor. 2:4. Education is not enough. The Disciples were in training with Jesus for three years, but He forbade them to preach until they were ENDUED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH. Luke 24:49. Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-3. Peter, the fisherman, could never have preached the sermon he did on the Day of Pentecost without the help of the Holy Spirit. The preacher is to "Rightly Divide the Word" (2Tim. 2:15), and Peter could not have done so in his apt quotations from the Scriptures if the Holy Spirit had not aided him. The "Instrument" that the Holy Spirit uses to convict and convert men is the "WORD OF GOD." "The 'Seed' is the WORD OF GOD." Luke 8:11. But -as in the Natural World the seed must be alive to germinate, and there can be no life without-"PRE-EXISTING LIFE, " for there is no such thing as "SPONTANEOUS GENERATION OF LIFE, " so in the Spiritual World the "Seed" (the Word of God) must be vitalized by the Holy Spirit, otherwise it is BARREN. This explains why sceptics and scientists and philosophers and others may know the Scriptures and be able to quote them glibly and yet not be converted by them. To use another figure the Scriptures are "Burglar Proof" to those who have not the "Spiritual Combination, " for "the NATURAL man receiveth not (cannot understand) the things of the 'Spirit of God': for they are foolishness unto him; neither -can he know them, because they are SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED." 1Cor. 2:14. A spiritual revelation cannot be comprehended by the natural understanding. Says Dr. R. A. Torrey, "I would as soon think of setting a man to teach art merely because he understood paints, as to set him to teach the Bible merely because he understood Greek or Hebrew."
In the Natural World there can be no offspring without the union of the two sexes. There must be a father and a mother. How was the "Son of God" born? The Holy Spirit was his Father, and the Virgin Mary his mother. Luke 1:30-32. As the womb of the Virgin was the place of conception of the Son of God, so the HUMAN HEART is the place of conception of the "Children of God." Similarly "Sin" is generated in the human heart by Satan the "Father of Lies." Peter said-"Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou CONCEIVED this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." Acts 5:3-4.
The "New Birth" then is the COMMUNICATION of a "New Life", the IMPLANTATION of a "New Nature" by the SPIRIT OF GOD. When as he sat under a Numidian Fig-Tree there fell into the heart of Augustine, who was living a profligate life, the "Seed" of Rom. 13:13-14, "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but PUT YE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND MAKE NOT PROVISION FOR THE FLESH, TO FULFIL THE LUSTS THEREOF, " and Augustine's heart received the words by faith, they being vitalized by the Holy Spirit, caused Augustine to become a "NEW CREATURE, ' and he arose to his feet no longer a child of the Devil, but a SON OF GOD.
What every minister of the Gospel and Bible Teacher should do, is to so familiarize himself with the Scriptures, and saturate his mind with them, that he shall be able skillfully to use the instrument that the Holy Spirit has provided, for the "Sword of the Spirit" is the "WORD OF GOD." And it is only by the proper use of it that men are convicted of sin and regenerated.
But it is just as important that we have the Holy Spirit's help in our PRAYING as in our preaching. Ought we to prepare and write out our prayers and memorize them, or read them from a book? For an answer we turn to the Scriptures. In Eph. 6:18, we read, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication IN THE SPIRIT." Paul says ::"Likewise 'THE SPIRIT' (H. S.) also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but "THE SPIRIT" HIMSELF (R. V.) MAKETH INTERCESSION FOR US with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the 'MIND OF THE SPIRIT, ' because He maketh intercession for the saints ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD." Rom. 8:26-27. There is a promise which Christians love to quote-"lf two of you shall AGREE ON EARTH as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven." Matt. 18:19. This is generally taken to mean that if two persons mutually agree to pray for a certain thing they have God's promise that they shall have it.
The word here translated "AGREE" is the Greek word from which our word "SYMPHONY" comes. In tuning an organ all the notes must be keyed to the standard pitch or harmony is impossible. So in prayer the suppliants must not only agree, they must SYMPHONIZE, and this must be done by the "DIVINE TUNER, " the HOLY SPIRIT, else they will not be in agreement with the "MIND OF THE SPIRIT, " and cannot ask according to the "WILL OF GOD." If two persons find themselves, without previous arrangement, praying for the same individual, they have doubtless been prompted so to do by the Holy Spirit, and their prayer will be answered.
There may be an agreement which is SINFUL. "How is it that ye have AGREED TOGETHER to tempt the 'Spirit of the Lord' (H. S.) ? " (Acts 5:9), asked Peter of Sapphira. Here there was "mutual accord, " but guilty "discord" with the Holy Spirit. It is not enough that two persons agree with each other; they must be in accord with a "THIRD"-the HOLY SPIRIT.
Having thus dwelt at length on the Holy Spirit's work in this Dispensation in the Church, let us now briefly note
HIS WORK IN THE WORLD
His work in the world is outlined in John 16:8-10. "And He, when He is come, will CONVICT THE WORLD IN RESPECT OF SIN, and OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and OF JUDGMENT: of Sin, because they BELIEVE NOT ON ME; of Righteousness, because I GO TO THE FATHER, and ye behold Me no more; of judgment, because the 'Prince of this World' HATH BEEN JUDGED." (R. V.)
The Holy Spirit's work then as to the World is threefold-
1. TO CONVICT THE WORLD OF "SIN."
Some hold that "Conscience" is all-sufficient to convict men of sin, and they quote Rom. 2:15, where, speaking of the Gentiles, Paul says-"Which show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile ACCUSING or else EXCUSING, one another." But there is a vast difference between "LEGAL" conviction, and 'SPIRITUAL" conviction. Conscience only begets "Legal" conviction- while the Holy Spirit begets SPIRITUAL conviction. Conscience may produce fear and remorse, but it will not keep men from doing wrong, for Conscience imparts no "power, " but the Holy Spirit imparts "power" and begets HOPE. Conscience only "Accuses" or "Excuses, " while the Holy Spirit CONDEMNS. Conscience convicts men of sin against the "Law," for the "Law" says-Thou shalt not steal, or covet, or commit adultery, or kill, and so when men steal, or covet , or commit adultery, or kill, conscience convicts them of those sins. But the "SIN" that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of is none of these, but of the special sin of UNBELIEF. "He will convince the World-, of sin, because they BELIEVE NOT ON ME." The entrance of Jesus into the world rendered possible a sin hitherto unknown, the sin of REJECTING HIM AS THE WORLD'S SAVIOUR. What was the sin that Peter charged his audience with on the Day of Pentecost? Listen! "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him, in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, YE HAVE TAKEN AND BY WICKED HANDS HAVE CRUCIFIED AND SLAIN." Acts 2:22-23. Their sin then was the REJECTION AND CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF. And we read (Acts 2:37) that they were PRICKED (Convicted) IN THEIR HEART, and cried out- "Men and brethren, what shall we do? " Now what produced that conviction for sin? The presence of the Holy Spirit, who, using", Peter as a mouthpiece, charged His hearers of the awful sin of "UNBELIEF" in rejecting the claims of Jesus.
The sin then that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict men of in this Dispensation is the sin of REJECTING JESUS. Conscience may convict men of "legal sins," such as murder, theft, covetousness, adultery, etc., but only the Holy Spirit can convict of the SIN OF UNBELIEF, the most awful and damning sin of the World today. So it is no longer the "SINS QUESTION, " but the "SON QUESTION"-"What shall we do with JESUS? "
It is only then as we present and press home the "Sin of UNBELIEF IN JESUS." that we may expect the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, and the conviction of sin in the unbeliever.
2. TO CONVICT THE WORLD OF "RIGHTEOUS
What is "Righteousness? " It is to be conformed to the standard of right and justice, to be upright and blameless. I not the "World's Righteousness" that is here meant, for it has none, it is the "Righteousness" of Jesus. When Jesus was on the earth he claimed to be the "Son of God." He claimed to forgive sins, and to be Himself holy and sinless, and that whosoever believed on Him should have "Eternal Life." But He died an ignominious death. He went to the Cross under charges of sedition and blasphemy, even amid His dying agonies the challenge was hurled at Him-"If Thou BE THE SON OF GOD, come down from the Cross." Matt. 27:40-42. He failed to justify His claim by coming down from the Cross. He died as an ordinary mortal dies. The shades of night found Him locked in the Tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, and a Roman guard keeping watch. Where now are all His claims to Deity? Was that to be the end of all His pretensions? Suppose He had remained in the Tomb and had not risen, what evidence would we have had that He was not an imposter, a false Messiah, like many before Him? None. "If Christ BE NOT RISEN, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." 1Cor. 15:14.
If Jesus had not risen from the grave that would have been the end of His Righteousness, for three times He had declared that he would, and it was for fear that He would that a guard was placed at the Tomb. Matt. 27:63-64. The fact then that Jesus rose from the dead is proof that His claims were true, and thus His RIGHTEOUSNESS was established, and He was "DECLARED TO BE THE SON OF GOD with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, (Holy Spirit), by the RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD." Rom. 1:4.
The standard miracle of the Old Testament is the opening of the Red Sea, and the standard miracle of the New Testament is the Resurrection and Exaltation of Jesus to the Right Hand of God. Eph. 1:19-20. We read in Phil. 2:8-10, that, because He was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, " that God hath HIGHLY EXALTED HIM.
The "Resurrection" and "Exaltation" of Jesus then is indisputable proof of His RIGHTEOUSNESS. But how is the world to know and be convinced of this? That is the work of the Holy Spirit. That is what He is to convince the world of in this Dispensation. How is He to do it? How did He do it at Pentecost? In John l 4:16, Jesus said "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter." That the Father had acceded to Jesus request is clear from Luke 24:49, where, after His Resurrection and just previous to His Ascension, He said to His Disciples-"Behold, I send the 'PROMISE OF MY FATHER' upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power FROM ON HIGH." "And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it FILLED ALL THE HOUSE WHERE THEY WERE SITTING. (That is, the sound filled the house). And there appeared unto them 'CLOVEN TONGUES' like as of fire, and it (a cloven tongue) sat upon each of them. And they were all FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, (that is, the Holy Ghost took up His residence in them, and they became 'Temples of the Holy Ghost'-l Cor. 6:19), and began to speak with other tongues, as the SPIRIT (H. S.) gave them utterance." When this was "voiced abroad" a crowd collected and wanted to know the meaning of the strange proceeding, and Peter stood up, and having charged them with having crucified Jesus, he declared that God has raised Him from the dead, and exalted Him, thus justifying His claims, and-"Therefore, being by the Right Hand of God EXALTED, and having received of the Father THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY GHOST, He (Jesus) hath shed forth this which ye NOW SEE and HEAR." Acts 2:33.
While the disciples of Jesus knew that He had been raised from the dead, they did not know whether He had been "Exalted" and could not unless a "WITNESS" was sent from Heaven, and the "Witness" sent was the "Holy Ghost." If a friend should tell you that He was going to take a trip to the Holy Land, and that when he reached there he would send you a "box of figs," though you did not hear from him by cable or letter, the receipt of the "box of figs" would be evidence sufficient that he had reached his destination. So the receipt of the "promised gift" of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was visible and sufficient evidence to the Disciples that Jesus had reached Heaven, that the Father had approved of His work on earth, and accepted the sacrifice of the Cross, and as an acknowledgment of His RIGHTEOUSNESS had EXALTED Him to a seat beside Himself on His Throne.
In Peter's defense before the Council he said-
"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God EXALTED with His Right Hand (that is, drew Him up with His right hand, to a seat at His right hand on His Throne) to be a 'PRINCE' (He is not yet a King) and a SAVIOUR for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we (the Disciples) are His WITNESSES of these things; and so is also the HOLY GHOST." Acts 5:30-32.
The Law required two witnesses. Deut. 17:6. While the Disciples could bear witness to the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus, they could not testify to His "EXALTATION" as that was beyond their human vision, but the Holy Ghost could, for He had witnessed in the presence of Angels, Archangels, and all the Principalities of Heaven the EXALTATION OF JESUS, and had been sent to the earth to bear witness to the fact.
If Jesus had not been what He claimed to be, the Father would never have received Him back and "Exalted" Him, and the Holy Spirit would never have been sent to testify to His EXALTATION. The Holy Spirit then is the only one who can convince the world of Jesus' RIGHTEOUSNESS.
3. TO CONVICT THE WORLD OF "JUDGMENT."
Many in quoting this passage say-"Of a judgment to come." But the words, "to come, " are not there. It was Paul before Felix who "reasoned of Righteousness, Temperance, and judgment to come, " and the result was that Felix trembled. But it was only the conviction of conscience, not Holy Spirit conviction, for though Felix trembled he did not change his course of life, but dismissed Paul with the words, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." Acts 24:25.
The judgment that the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of in this Dispensation is not a future judgment, but a judgment that is PAST. Neither is it a judgment of the Righteous or the Wicked; it is a judgment of SATAN, the "Prince of this World." John 16:11. And it does not refer to a future judgment of him, but declares-"IS JUDGED." When was Satan judged? In the first place he was judged in the Garden when God passed the sentence on him-"I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed (Christ) ; it (He) shall bruise thy head and thou shall bruise His heel." Gen. 3:15. In the second place Satan was judged on the Cross. Satan is the author of "Death." To overcome the work of Satan it was necessary for Jesus to die on the Cross, and by rising from the dead to "ABOLISH DEATH." 2Tim. 1:10. The purpose of Christ's death then was"That THROUGH DEATH He might DESTROY HIM THAT HATH THE 'POWER OF DEATH.' That is, THE DEVIL; and DELIVER THEM who through 'fear of Death! were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Heb. 2:14-15.
While the "Prince of this World" (Satan) has been judged, and condemned to the Bottomless Pit for a thousand years, (Rev. 20:1-3), and finally is to be cast forever into the "Lake of Fire," (Rev. 20:10), his sentence has not yet gone into effect. But he does not want the world to know this lest he lose his influence, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit in this Dispensation to convince the world that Satan has been judged and that his power is on the wane, and that "Death" will soon be swallowed up in the victory that the Resurrection shall have over the grave. For if the "Tomb" could not hold Jesus, neither hall the "Grave" hold us.
But there is one more work the Holy Spirit is engaged in in this Dispensation, and that is to hinder Satan in his efforts to produce His Masterpiece, the "MAN OF SIN." Writing to the Thessalonians Paul said--
"And now ye know what WITHHOLDETH that he (the "Man of Sin"-THE ANTICHRIST, 2Thes. 2:3-4) might be revealed in his time. For the 'Mystery of Iniquity doth already work; only he who now letteth (restraineth, R. V.) will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that WICKED Antichrist be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the 'Spirit of His Mouth,' and shall destroy with the Brightness of His Coming: even him, whose coming is after the workings of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders." 2Thes. 2:6-8.
There has been a great deal of controversy about who or what is meant by the "Restrainer" or "Withholder" in this passage, but the Apostle John clears it up -
"Hereby know ye the 'SPIRIT OF GOD': every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is OF GOD: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is NOT OF GOD: and this is that 'SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST, ' whereof we have heard that it should come: and even now already is it in the World. 1John 4:2-3.
Here we have two opposing Spirits, one the "SPIRIT OF GOD" and the other the "SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST." The "SPIRIT OF GOD, " or the "HOLY SPIRIT, " must therefore be the "RESTRAINER" who keeps Satan from producing his "Man of Sin," the Antichrist.
A part of the Holy Spirit's work in this Dispensation then is to hold in check the full development of evil until the Church is complete. Then He will be "Taken away" and there will be nothing to prevent the manifestation of the "Mystery of Iniquity."
6. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE PARENTHETICAL DISPENSATION BETWEEN THE RAPTURE AND REVELATION.
As we have seen, the Holy Spirit who came at Pentecost to form the "Body of Christ," the Church, will, when the Church is complete and caught out, return with the Church to Heaven. This will leave the world without the presence of the Holy Spirit, and as no man can be "Born again" (John 3:3, John 3:5-7), or call Jesus LORD but by the Holy Ghost (1Cor. 12:3), the world will be in a bad plight. And as the "SALT" of "Pure Christianity" will have been removed from the earth, the earth's "Moral Rottenness" will rapidly develop into such a state of "Putrefaction" that only the return of the Lord can stop. But we read that during this period between the "Rapture" and the "Revelation" a "great multitude" shall be saved, out of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues. Rev. 7:9-11. Now how is this "great multitude" to be saved if the Holy Spirit is no longer resident on the earth? They will be saved as the Old Testament Saints were saved, by the Holy Spirit coming to individuals and regenerating them. The work of the Holy Spirit then in the "Parenthetical Dispensation" between the "Rapture" and the "Revelation" will be individualistic only.
7. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE DISPENSATION FROM THE REVELATION OF CHRIST TO THE RENOVATION OF THE EARTH BY FIRE.
This is the Dispensation commonly spoken of as "The Millennium." The work of the Holy Spirit in this Dispensation is foretold in Joel 2:28-30.
"And it shall come to pass afterward (after Israel shall have returned to their own land, which will be before the Millennium, Joel 2:21-23), that I will pour out MY SPIRIT (H. S.) upon ALL FLESH; and your (Israel's) sons and your daughters shall PROPHESY, your old men shall DREAM DREAMS, your young men shall see VISIONS: and also upon your servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out MY SPIRIT. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, BLOOD and FIRE, and PILLARS OF SMOKE. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible 'Day of the Lord' come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever, shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call."
But you say this was fulfilled at Pentecost. Yes, in part only. That was the "First Fruits" of a future and greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit, for while Peter quoted all but the last few lines of Joel's prophecy, the physical phenomenon that is to attend this outpouring of the Holy Spirit did not take place at Pentecost. There were no wonders in the heavens and in the earth, such as blood and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun was not darkened, nor the moon turned into blood, and as these things are to occur during the Tribulation Period and just previous to the Millennium, it is clear that the prophecy has reference to the Millennial Dispensation.
Whether this "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" shall be on the Jews only is not clear, but it will overflow on the Gentiles, for in those days a King (the Lord Jesus Christ) shall reign in righteousness (Isa. 32:1), and the work of righteousness shall be peace (Isa. 32:17-18) and upon the bells of the horses shall be inscribed "HOLINESS TO THE LORD." Zech. 14:20-21. All this will be largely possible because Satan will be bound, but the Holy Spirit will doubtless have much to do with the righteousness of those days.