Lesson Seven (Introduction) – The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit

Lesson Aim:  To show how the Holy Spirit cooperated with our king to establish His kingdom in Christ, full grown, and able to reproduce.


But I tell you this truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.  And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment.  John 16:7, 8

Jesus made the foregoing statement to His disciples just before His death.  In this lesson we will study this often misunderstood person of divinity, the Holy Spirit.  We will investigate His role as He works with Jesus Christ, our king, to establish and maintain the goals of God, the Father, for mankind in His kingdom.  We will appreciate how the strategies of our king required absolute coordination with the work of the Holy Spirit.  It will be assumed that you have made some study from God’s word about the Holy Spirit and you have accepted Him as a person with attributes similar to the Father and the Son.

The first part of this four part lesson will be a general introduction of the Holy Spirit.  The second part will show the Holy Spirit’s involvement with the apostles as they were “baptized” with Him to evangelize the world.  In the third part we will see how the Holy Spirit imparted spiritual gifts to some church members to mature the local church.  The last part will show how the Holy Spirit continues to cooperate with Jesus in the sanctification of His citizens to qualify us, as children of God, to inherit His great kingdom.

Part 1:  Introduction of the Holy Spirit


In the beginning God created the heavens and earth…and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.  Gen. 1:1, 2

In the first chapter of Genesis, each day for six days, we see God calling into physical reality our present cosmos.  The Hebrew word elohim has been translated God.  Since it denotes plurality in number, it does not surprise us to hear God say, “Let Us make man in Our image.”  Genesis 1:26.  The plural pronouns Us and Our may very well include God the Father, the Spirit who was moving over the waters and Jesus Christ in whom, through whom and for whom all things were created (Col. 1:16).  Job suggests the Holy Spirit is capable of creating when he said, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”  Job 33:4.  Isaiah made a distinction between the Lord God and His Spirit in Isaiah 48:16.

The King James translators made use of the word “Godhead” to translate the Greek words theios in Acts 17:29, theiotes in Rom. 1:20 and theotes in Col. 2:9.  The New American Standard translators chose “divine nature” for these Greek words.  There are several scriptures in the New Testament that identify three separate persons who form the Godhead or Deity.  See Matt. 28:19; Rom. 15:30; Mark 1:9-11; John 15:26; II Cor. 13:14; I Pet. 1:2.  From a study of these scriptures and others we understand the Holy Spirit is a person just as the Father and Son.  For instance, the Holy Spirit loves Christians and move in fellowships with us.

If we were to attempt to assign a main role to the Holy Spirit throughout all the ages of mankind it appears that He is an informer to man.  He brings instructions from God and gives us spiritual information.  Peter said, “For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  II Pet. 1:21.  However, this was not His only role for just as the Psalmist suggests; the Holy Spirit creates.  He worked with Bezalel in craftsmanship (Psa. 104:30; Ex. 35:30, 31).  The Holy Spirit has a complete understanding of the laws of nature.  He worked so many miracles.  Miracles demand changes in the result of natural laws.

The Holy Spirit changed the nature of conception when a virgin named Mary conceived Jesus.  Jesus, the Christ, emptied Himself of the form of God and was made in the likeness of man (Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:35; Phil. 2:6, 7).  Although the Holy Spirit was instrumental in Mary’s conception of Jesus, we are not told of another encounter between Jesus and the Holy Spirit until 30 years later.  This was when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist (Luke 3:21-23).  The birth of John the Baptist was a miracle in which the Holy Spirit was active; in fact, He was with John even while he was in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15).

The birth of Jesus and John the Baptist show the work of the Holy Spirit as He cooperated with the other persons of Deity to give us a divine king over the kingdom of God.  At that time in history the man dimension of God’s kingdom was in sad disarray.  The physical nation of Israel did not have a king from the seed of David.  Rome ruled their nation; however, Jesus was soon to make Himself known as the Messiah through His own preaching and that of His forerunner, John the Baptist (Matt. 11:1-14).

The Holy Spirit had prepared John the Baptist well for his role as the “forerunner” of the king.  John said, “I am not the Christ,” and again he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  John 3:28, 30.  Jesus and John both preached the kingdom (Matt. 3:1; 4:17).  John baptized in water, a baptism of repentance, but Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11).  Those whom Jesus sent out: preached the kingdom; had power over demons and the power to heal diseases; however, none of them were baptized with the Holy Spirit until after Jesus returned to heaven (Acts 1:5).  We will discuss the difference in Part 2 of this lesson.

John the Baptist said, “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.”  John 3:34It is significant to note that Jesus did no miracles until after the Holy Spirit was with Him “without measure.”  We might hypothesize how working with law of nature was one of the Holy Spirit’s departments.  It is just a thought, perhaps without much scriptural foundation; however, we do know everything Jesus did after His baptism was done in a very close relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was vindicated in the Spirit in I Tim. 3:16.  The Hebrew writer said, “Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God.”  Heb. 9:14.  The Holy Spirit was not only with Jesus in His death, He declared Jesus to be the Son of God by the resurrection of the dead (Rom. 1:4).  When the scribes accused Jesus of being possessed by Beelzebub He gave the following warning to them.

Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin:—because they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’ Mark 3:28-30

Jesus could accept the fact He would be rejected and could even forgive them when they repented but no one should venture to attribute the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan or demons.  The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for a forty day fast.  At the end of this fast Jesus was tempted by Satan.  This is the first recording of Jesus directly rebuffing Satan but, happily, not the last (Luke 4:1-13).  Jesus continually cast out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit during His ministry on earth (Matt. 12:28).

Jesus said the Spirit was upon Him just as Isaiah had prophesied.  He read Isaiah 61:1 in His home town synagogue and then said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  Luke 4:16-22.  After Jesus returned to heaven and baptized the apostles with the Holy Spirit, Peter said to the household of Cornelius, “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him.”  Acts 10:38.

In summary we can say the Holy Spirit, as a person of Deity and in cooperation with the other two Persons, created this world and everything in and on it.  The Holy Spirit assisted Jehovah God in His kingdom by giving men wisdom by inspiring their ability to do crafts and with their leadership roles.  He served as a heavenly informer to mankind.  Furthermore, the Holy Spirit helped in the transition of the Son of God to the son of man and continued to assist Jesus in His strategies on earth to establish His reign over God’s kingdom.  The Holy Spirit assisted Jesus with His preaching the word of God, in casting out demons and the healing of sick people.  He was with Him in His physical death and resurrection.  He continued to serve Christians’ king as He took His seat in heaven at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:56).  Jesus had the assistance of the Spirit “without measure” while upon earth (John 3:34).  In the remaining segments of this lesson we will see how some received the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit; how others received gifts via the Holy Spirit and how all faithful Christians enjoy His presence.

Questions for Discussion

  1. The man-dimension of God’s kingdom with Jesus as king was established after Jesus returned to heaven by whose direct assistance?
  2. What is the significance of God’s use of plural pronouns in Genesis 1:26?
  3. Who are the three persons identified as the Godhead or Deity?  List one scripture that includes the three.
  4. What appears to be the main role of the Holy Spirit in relation to mankind before the Bible was completed?
  5. List some other roles of the Holy Spirit.
  6. In what way did the Holy Spirit prepare John the Baptist well for his ministry?
  7. What was the degree of cooperation between Jesus and the Holy Spirit?  Please give one scripture for your answer.
  8. List some of the traumatic periods of Jesus’ life in which the Holy Spirit shared.
  9. What did the scribes say that prompted Jesus’ warning about a sin God will not forgive?
  10. Make a summary paragraph about the Holy Spirit from the information presented in this lesson.

Part 2:  The Baptism of the Holy Spirit


Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.  Acts 2:33

John the Baptist said Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11).  This did not happen until after Jesus took His seat at the right hand of God as king over God’s kingdom.  During the forty days Jesus spent on earth after His resurrection, He told the apostles, “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  Acts 1:5.  The baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit the apostles received came on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).

Some have concluded the first Gentile converts were baptized with the Holy Spirit while Peter was preaching to the house of Cornelius.  For when relating to this incident later Peter said, “The Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the beginning.”  But then he went on to say, “and I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’”  Acts 11:15, 16.  The question is, did Peter mean the Gentiles were baptized with the Holy Spirit, or did he mean when he saw the Holy Spirit fall upon the Gentiles, as He fell upon the apostles at the beginning, he was reminded of what Jesus said about some being baptized with the Holy Spirit?

Since there appears to be a vast difference in the powers Cornelius and his household possessed and those the apostles possessed, we might conclude, only the apostles had the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit.  The Gentiles on this occasion merely received a special gift.  Our main interest in this lesson is to understand the Holy Spirit’s role as He cooperated with Jesus in ordering God’s kingdom; consequently, we will not pursue all of the “side avenues” concerning the Holy Spirit.

We must conclude from the information we find recorded in the book of Acts, Jesus enjoyed a fantastic and successful evangelism program after He returned to heaven and baptized the apostles with the Holy Spirit.  First, three thousand Jews or Jewish proselytes were baptized on Pentecost (Acts 2:41).  Then shortly thereafter the number rose to five thousand men (Acts 4:4).  After this multitudes of men and women were added (Acts 5:14).  Then Luke, the most likely author of Acts, tells us conversions were increasing in numbers, including large numbers of  priests (Acts 6:1, 7).  In Samaria both men and women were baptized after hearing the message of the kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12).  In Lydda and Sharon all turned to the Lord, while the numbers increased in Judea, Galilee and Samaria (Acts 9:31, 35).  Even the Gentiles were offered repentance that leads to life (Acts 10:48).  The success story continued as large numbers were converted at Antioch and in parts of Asia (Acts 11:21; 14:21).

In our time, it is not uncommon to hear church leaders use the foregoing numbers from Acts to try to inspire the church members to be more active in evangelism.  We cannot help but wonder if this success story could be duplicated in our time without the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit.  It has not happened, yet.  Of course, on a world wide scale in the same amount of time, we perhaps could convert as many with only the power of the word and our vast communication system.

What made the new divine king’s heavenly directed, Holy Spirit powered, apostle preached, evangelism program so successful?  Jesus told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high,” and so they did and they were (Luke 24:49).  For the first time, they fully understood the kingdom of God and how they were to be children in God’s heavenly spiritual kingdom.  They understood Jesus in His spiritual role as king and the high priest in His own priesthood (Heb. 5:8-10; 7:26, 27; 8:1).  Although Jesus had explained these things to them carefully, it took the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit to open their minds so they could understand what they had heard.

This new understanding became the basis for their faith; consequently, they took courage.  As was suggested in a previous lesson, we see a great difference in Peter after he was immersed in the Holy Spirit.  Compare Peter’s behavior the morning they arrested Jesus with his boldness after Pentecost when he came before the same people in authority.  Peter was not afraid of physical death, because he had come to understand the resurrection (John 18:15-27; Acts 4:19, 20).

Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marvelling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.  Acts 4:13

Jesus had told His disciples not to worry about encounters like the foregoing, because He said, “The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”  Luke 12:12Also, He said, “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”  John 14:26.  And again, He said, “He will bear witness of Me.”  John 15:26.  Before the apostles enjoyed the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus confused the apostles when He said, “A little while, and you will no longer behold Me; and again a little while, you will see Me.  And so they were saying, ‘What is this that He says, A little while?  We do not know what He is talking about.’”  John 16:16, 18.  However, after they were clothed with the Holy Spirit they could explain all things concerning Jesus and His kingdom.

It is easy to lose sight of Jesus our king as we become engrossed in the work of the Holy Spirit and the apostles in Acts; however, we must remember Jesus was the source of all the directives the apostles received via the Holy Spirit.

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  John 16:13

We can be sure what Jesus wanted implemented in the world is exactly what the Holy Spirit directed.  For instance, Jesus wanted to convict the world concerning sin, righteous and judgment; therefore, Jesus said, “And He (the Holy Spirit), when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment.”  John 16:8.  The gospel of the kingdom is the powerful message that convicts the world, but it must be preached in an understandable way.  The apostles obtained the power to understand when they were clothed with “power from on high.”  They also had some other powers supplied by the Holy Spirit to aid their work.

The cloven tongues of fire resting on each of them undoubtedly convinced the apostles of this truth in John the Baptist’s message.  He had said that they would be baptized with fire and the Holy Spirit.  The presence of the Spirit was accompanied by a sound like a rushing mighty wind.  This helped draw an audience.  Another power that became a useful part of the apostles’ ministry was their ability to speak in tongues (Acts 2:1-6).  This relieved the early preachers and teachers of the need to spend time in a language school.  Their being able to speak in tongues also served as a sign to the non-believers.  This gift made it easier for the public to believe the message was authorized by God (I Cor. 14:22).

These Spirit immersed apostles were able to heal some sick people and to make some people sick who were well.  For instance, Peter healed a man who had been lame from his birth and Paul struck Elymas blind (Acts 3:6; 13:9-11).  Handkerchiefs and aprons were carried from Paul to some people who were sick and other people were laid on Peter’s path with the hope his shadow would pass over them (Acts 5:16, 17; 19:11, 12).  They even had a cure for those who went to sleep during the sermon and when members of the church lied about their contribution.  Paul revived Eutychus when he went to sleep and fell out of the third floor window during his sermon.  Ananias and Sapphira died when they lied about their offering to the Holy Spirit in the presence of Peter (Acts 5:1-10; 20:9).  The foregoing are things the apostles were able to do after they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul claimed to have the same powers as the other apostles; although, he did not qualify to be one of the Twelve when the Holy Spirit first descended at Pentecost (I Cor. 9:1; Acts 1:21, 22).  An investigation of the miracles performed by Christians, other than the apostles, shows they had the power to perform some of the same miracles.  A power that appears to belong only to the apostles was this; they were able to pass on to other Christians gifts of the Spirit.  This enabled others to perform miracles.  We can make this deduction because Peter and John travelled from Jerusalem to Samaria to lay their hands on certain believers so they could receive the Holy Spirit in such a way as to perform miracles (Acts 8:14, 15).  The elders of the local churches did have some power to lay their hands on others to endue them with the power of prophetic utterance (I Tim. 4:14).

An overall study of Acts and the epistles will show the apostles had authority over the churches for a while, just as Paul said in I Thess. 2:6 and II Cor. 13:1, 2.  With this power working through the apostles, Jesus Christ, our king, was able to win many citizens for His kingdom in the first century.  This authority and these powers were the result of them having been baptized with the Holy Spirit.

If the first century mission campaign was so successful then we might ask, why did our king remove the baptismal power of the Holy Spirit from the leaders of the church?  It appears it would be useful to have those great powers of the Holy Spirit to fulfil our ministry.  The ability and power of preaching and teaching with a full understanding of the kingdom of God; speaking the language of different audiences; healing the sick; raising the dead; striking blind those who hinder the hearers; casting out evil spirits; enjoying immunity from poisonous snakes and insect bites would surely be a great asset to cooperate with Jesus for building churches for God.  After a successful evangelism in a town the apostles had the power to pass on gifts from the Holy Spirit to certain church members for maturing the church (I Cor. 12:27, 28; II Cor. 12:12).

According to human wisdom it might seem wise for Jesus to have continued with this arrangement.  Evidently, many charismatic leaders believe He has not changed His original program.  The world is waiting for them to prove their point.  To the rest of us it appears the Holy Spirit cooperated with Jesus in this powerful manner until the church was established – full grown and able to reproduce herself with the word of God.  Our king did not want this type of campaign after certain goals were accomplished.  We must come to this conclusion because we cannot find anyone who is able to perform the variety of miracles on the level of completeness the men did who were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps, Jesus now wants people to be converted to the kingdom based upon the power of the word and without the excitement and the intimidation of the miracles.  We know our Lord’s church is unique: a church that functions as the body of Christ; a church with a clear understanding of the kingdom; a church whose leadership consists of successful fathers; church members with personalities and characters like Jesus combined with the faith of Abraham.  This unique church should be able to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment without the performance of miracles.  Surely, Jesus wants this type of evangelism program today and this is perhaps why He does not baptize anyone with the Holy Spirit.  However, Jesus did establish His kingdom in the first century with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit in miraculous ways because of the baptism of the apostles.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Who was the first person to speak of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament?
  2. When did the first baptism of the Holy Spirit happen?
  3. What incident reminded Peter of Jesus’ statement about the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
  4. Name the goal the Holy Spirit helped Jesus accomplish?
  5. Describe the success of the evangelism program Jesus implemented with the help of the Holy Spirit?
  6. What were some of the immediate powers the apostles gained after they were baptized with the Holy Spirit?
  7. Describe the change in Peter’s behavior after he was baptized with the Holy Spirit?
  8. Who aided the apostles in preparing their lessons?
  9. Why is it easy to lose sight of Jesus as king in a study of the book of Acts?
  10. Of what did Jesus want to convict the world?
  11. List all of the powers listed in this lesson the apostles gained as a result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
  12. How much power did the Apostle Paul claim?
  13. Why might we conclude only the apostles had the power to pass on to other Christians certain gifts of the Holy Spirit?
  14. Why do you think Jesus stopped arranging for the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit?
  15. Describe the church that will be able to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment?

Part 3: Gifts of the Spirit


And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. I Cor. 12:28

The aim of Jesus Christ is to have “called out” groups of people, or churches, all over the world as citizens of His kingdom.  He did not want Jerusalem, Antioch or Rome to be the headquarters.  Heaven is the headquarters and Jesus is the only head (Eph. 4:15).  The church we read about in the book of Acts before the middle of the first century was not the church Jesus wanted.  He did not want a church with the apostles or other authoritarian leadership over it, other than Himself (Acts 4:12).  He wanted a church functioning as a family under elders who feed the church on His word (Acts 14:23; 20:32).  However, to get the necessary evangelism under way and to establish churches throughout the world in one generation, some men were baptized with the Holy Spirit.  The Apostle Paul claimed the whole world heard the gospel by the time he was imprisoned in Rome (Col. 1:23).

Wherever the evangelism programs were successful a church was established.  If an evangelist like Paul had stayed with the church for a long period of time it would have stopped his world-wide evangelism thrust.  On the other hand, if he had left the new church they would have had no teachers qualified to mature the church.  Jesus solved the problem in a very unique way.  He gave some of the members of the local church spiritual gifts.

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.  Eph. 4:11, 12

This was another way the Holy Spirit cooperated with Jesus to attain His goals for God’s kingdom (I Cor. 12:11).  Christians endowed with spiritual gifts worked as evangelists and in other capacities to develop the local church.  For instance, Stephen and Philip were evangelists (Acts 6:8; 7:59; 8:26, 39).  Agabus prophesied of coming events (Acts 11:28; 21:10, 11).  Silas, Titus and Timothy did most of their Spirit “gifted work” under the direction of Paul as he functioned in his apostolic calling (II Cor. 8:23; Tit. 1:5; Phil. 2:19; Acts 17:15).  Still other Christians who had spiritual gifts worked in the local congregations to build up the church.

Some of the Corinthian church members who had these gifts had a jealously problem.  This was the occasion for the Paul’s dissertation on the subject of spiritual gifts and their uses in a local church (I Cor. 12:1-11).  He mentioned nine gifts.  All were very practical for the operation of a local church; a church that did not have the Bible as we have it today.  Any one of the apostles who had been baptized with the Holy Spirit probably had all nine of these gifts.

Jesus did not want these new churches to be misled by ignorant Christians or the workers of Satan; therefore, He gave one or more members a word of wisdom.  Also, He gave the word of knowledge either to the same person or to some of the other members.  Other gifts the local church members received were spiritual gifts of faith, healing, effecting of miracles, prophecy and the distinguishing of spirits.  Some Christians had the gift of speaking in tongues.  A different member had the gift to interpret these foreign languages.

These gifts gave the churches a clear message of God’s kingdom and the way Jesus wanted them to function.  This equipped them to work in His evangelism program.  For instance, some members had the gift of faith to evangelize in dynamic ways, where others with less faith would not be able to perform. The gifts of healing and the power to perform miracles were useful to draw an audience to hear the gospel. These miracles would assure the hearers the message was authentic.  Of course, they also served to relieve the afflicted.

The gift of prophecy was for edification, exhortation and consolation of the churches (I Cor. 14:3, 4).  The tongues were a sign to the unbelievers but they also served to break down the linguistic barriers.  Of course, there had to be an interpreter for those present who did not speak this particular language.  The spiritual gift of interpretation of tongues was one of the gifts available to members of the local church for the common good.  The Lord gave the churches a protection system against those who might be pretenders; consequently, some members were given the power to distinguish the spirits.  John said they could test the spirits (I John 4:1).

Therefore I make known to you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is accursed’; and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.  I Cor. 12:3

Others were equipped to function in the type of government Jesus had in mind for His church.  The successful fathers who had wisdom, knowledge and faith were the type of overseers, or elders, Jesus wanted to feed and superintend His church.  The Holy Spirit provided the wisdom, knowledge and even the faith, for the men in the churches who desired to take the responsibility of the leadership of their respective congregation.  They should have been mature and be the head of a godly home.  The Holy Spirit did not present these kinds of gifts.

We have seen in Part 2 of this lesson how the Holy Spirit worked in a powerful way to evangelize the world through the apostles and others.  Similarly, in this lesson we have understood how He worked with the churches to give them protection against being, as Paul said, “carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love.”  Eph. 4:13, 14.  The local church was led to maturity in the first century by these wonderful powers working through the members; however, Paul suggested there was a more excellent way (I Cor. 12:31).  Today, we have all of the information needed to serve Jesus as His church and also to mature in love, the more excellent way.  We have all three persons of Deity working with us (II Cor. 13:14).  The Holy Spirit continues to lead through the word and the strengthening of Christians by indwelling or fellowshipping us (I Cor. 6:19; Eph. 3:16).  We will study more about the Holy Spirit’s part in sanctification in Part 4 of this lesson.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Explain why the church, as it functioned in the book of Acts, was not exactly like the church Jesus wants today.
  2. What happens when evangelism is successful?
  3. What would have happened in the middle of the first century if the evangelists had immediately left the church they established?  What would have happened if they had stayed in the new church for a long period?
  4. How did Jesus solve the problems in questions number three?
  5. How was the work of Timothy and Titus different from an evangelist today?
  6. What was the occasion for Paul’s dissertation on spiritual gifts?
  7. List all of the spiritual gifts listed in the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians.
  8. Name the gifts that were useful for evangelism.  List the gifts given to help mature the local churches.
  9. List the gifts given to help a mature godly Christian man to serve as an elder.
  10. What does it mean to speak in tongues?
  11. How did Jesus protect the church against unscrupulous men who made false claims about spiritual gifts?
  12. What do you think the apostle Paul meant when he said, “…and I show you a still more excellent way?”  (I Cor. 12:31).

Part 4:  The Holy Spirit’s Work in Sanctification


We have seen how the Holy Spirit worked with Jesus Christ, our king, to order His kingdom in the first century.  At this point in history the physical nation of Israel was no longer any more important to God’s purposes than another nation (Rom. 11:1, 23).  As the first century A.D. came to a close, congregations of God’s people were functioning all over the world with both Jew and Gentile members (James 1:1; Eph. 2:13-18).  Some of the apostles were already dead and if the others were still alive, they were very old (Acts 12:2; II Tim. 4:6).  We must assume they and the Holy Spirit had served our king’s purposes during this time in a special manner.

Jesus still has the same purposes for His church today; however, He has a different staff and another way for expediting His plans.  The administrative staff no longer includes the apostles but it does the Holy Spirit.  While the apostles and other divinely inspired men were alive, the Holy Spirit used some of them to write down our Lord’s instructions.  These scriptures are the guide for Jesus’ subjects, especially after the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts were no longer available to members of the church (II Tim. 3:16, 17; II Pet. 1:20, 21; 1 Cor. 12:28-31).

We can argue all day about when and how those days of miracles came to an end; however, let us remember the Holy Spirit is a person, not a system.  We do not want to be guilty of limiting Him to a systematic control.  If God decided today the powers manifested by the Holy Spirit in the first century were needed, we are sure the Holy Spirit has not forgotten how to cooperate with Jesus.  All we would need to see is the power of the Spirit in progress to be convinced; however, we cannot accept certain peoples’ claim they have been divinely inspired without a manifestation.  The following is the work performed by spirit gifted men and women in the first century.  We would expect to see the same today from a person who claims to have spiritual gifts.

And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.  Mark 16:17, 18

Some Christians believe Paul spoke of the end of these powers when he said, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”  I Cor. 13:9, 10.  Perhaps he did, for in the first century each teacher and preacher who received their message by the direct power of the Holy Spirit gave a partial message at each performance.  In these last days of the man dimension of God’s kingdom on earth, we have the complete message about God’s final plan to accomplish His purposes.  This message, a Christian’s faith, was once and for all delivered before the end of the first century (Jude 3).  They had the partial but we have the perfect because it is complete (Eph. 1:10).  If the message we have in the Bible is not complete then Christians have been living by an incomplete message for almost 2000 years.

We must reject any prophet who says he has a message from God that contradicts what we already have written in the Bible (Gal. 1:6-12).  The churches today have all of the information the churches of the first century received through those men, and some women, who were guided by the Holy Spirit.  We know how to function and what to preach and teach on all subjects pertaining to the Lord’s purposes for eternal life as children in His kingdom.  The providential care and wisdom of God is still available to those of us who ask through faith and according to His will (Jas. 1:5, 6).

God is still interested in us and the Holy Spirit has not yet finished His work with Jesus’ reign.  We know God responds to our prayers for the sick and other situations requiring His help.  But there is a difference between the way God intervenes today and the way He worked through those with spiritual gifts (Jas. 5:13-16).  Today, the power belongs to God to heal in answer to our prayers.  The spiritual gifts in the first century gave certain Christians the power to heal in the name of Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit still has a role in sanctification in our time and this is our subject in the final part in this lesson on His work.


The goal of our Lord Jesus Christ is to conform each one of His citizens to His own image and present us all to God, the Father, as His children (Col. 1:27; Gal. 4:19).  Our Lord’s strategy to accomplish His goal is to have the Holy Spirit work with each of us in our sanctification.  Peter declares sanctification to be the Holy Spirit’s work in the following scripture.

According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood:  May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure. I Peter 1:2

The Holy Spirit’s fellowship was one of the blessings promised to Abraham for the Gentiles (Gal. 3:14).  In fact, the promise of the Holy Spirit is for every obedient believer in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:39; 5:32).  Faithful Christians need only to ask the Father for the Spirit’s fellowship (Luke 11:13; I Thess. 4:8; II Cor. 13:14).  The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s work in sanctification is to help Christians gain spiritual strength (Eph. 3:16).  Jesus said, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to me to drink.”  And then He said:

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.  John 7:38, 39

The last days, or the Christian age, are known as the period of the ministry of the Spirit.  He is now serving Christians in a more personal way than He served God’s people in any other age (II Cor. 3:8).  It is by His presence Christians know the Father and Son have made their abode with us (John 14:23; I John 3:24).  This all began after Jesus was glorified on His throne.

The Holy Spirit ministers to us the words of life He has written down for us in the divinely inspired scriptures (II Cor. 3:1-3).  A part of God’s new covenant is that He will write His laws on our hearts and mind (Heb. 10:16, 17).  The Holy Spirit gives us life by leading us in a plan to implant this perfect law, the law of liberty, on the characteristics of our inner man.  This creates the new self as we are transformed into the image of Christ.  Consider the following scriptures.

Who also made us adequate as servants of the new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. II Cor. 3:6

Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.  Jas. 1:21

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  II Cor. 4:16

And put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.  Eph. 4:24

The fruit of His work in Christians’ lives will be manifested by the qualities listed in the following scripture.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Gal. 5:22, 23

The Christians’ part in the ministry of the Spirit is to accept the new covenant, let Jesus cleanse us in His blood and walk with the Spirit by letting Him lead us in the spiritual life (Rom. 8:5-8).  It is the only direction in which He will lead us, according to Paul in his letter to the Galatians.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.  Gal. 5:16, 17

This walk takes the exact steps John had in mind when he said, “The one who says he abides in Him (Jesus) ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”  I John 2:6.  The tool the Holy Spirit uses to lead Christians is the word of God.  He sanctifies us in the truth He revealed to us by inspired Christians in the first century (John 17:17).  However, the Holy Spirit has another device He uses in His work of our sanctification in these last days.  He personally dwells with each Christian in our own body in order to strengthen our inner man, so that we, not He, can put to death the deeds of our flesh.  Consider the following:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  I Cor. 6:19

That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;  Eph. 3:16

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  Rom. 8:12, 13

It is believed by some the Holy Spirit does all of His sanctifying work through the word; however, Paul said in the foregoing scripture the Holy Spirit was with the Corinthian Christians in their bodies.  The following scripture reveals a function of the Holy Spirit today that would be impossible for Him to accomplish through the word.  Today, He intercedes in our prayers to God.  The Holy Spirit can help Christians’ weak prayer lives through His teachings about prayer in the Bible, but He cannot intercede for us through the word.  Granted, He does not need to indwell to intercede, but we know He does indwell.

And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  Rom. 8:26, 27

The Holy Spirit strengthens our inner man through the word but He also indwells us in order to strengthen us.  Our inner man’s personality and character can be strengthened as a result of the Holy Spirit helping us in the following ways: in our communication with our Father; in our identification as sons of our Father; in order to have a healthy view of our resurrection and our inheritance and by enjoying a personal fellowship with Him.

Let us first consider how the Holy Spirit helps us in our communication.   Our communication with God may be taken for granted, and it can be; however, we may be able to communicate in some cases only because the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.  Paul said the Spirit helps our weaknesses (Rom. 8:22-27).  How does He help us?  The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words and God knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  The Spirit knows God’s thoughts and His will (I Cor. 2:11).  The Holy Spirit dwells in Christians and He is able to relate to those whose minds are controlled by the Spirit (Rom. 8:6).

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.  Rom. 8:9

The Holy Spirit is in the very best position of all persons to make sure Christians’ Father understands the content and intent of our prayers.  We may not be able to state our case properly or even fully understand His will.  If, in fact, the Holy Spirit is able to bear witness with our spirits that we are sons of God, then He can also understand us well enough to know the intent of our prayers (Rom. 8:16).

Unless we have been in a country where we could not communicate in their language, we may not fully appreciate how communication strengthens our inner man.  Suppose we were in a foreign country and needed some medicine but we were afraid our request would be misunderstood by the pharmacist.  This could make us hesitant to attempt to communicate.  A loss of communication weakens our position in life.  We know the importance of children communicating with their parents so they can express their desires and appreciation.  Their lives interact because of their ability to communicate.  Many people have a serious problem with communicating their thoughts and desires to others.  This inhibits their socialization into their society.  Peoples’ happiness and well being are strongly related to their socialization into their society.

Similarly, it is important for Christians to communicate with our Father in heaven.  We are being socialized, or sanctified, into His heavenly society.  Our Father speaks to us through His word and it is very important we understand His will.  The Holy Spirit combined spiritual thoughts with spiritual words and gave them to us in the Bible (I Cor. 2:13).  We speak to our Father in prayer and the Holy Spirit is nearby to intercede when we need Him.  It would be terrible to be afraid to speak to our heavenly Father for fear He would misunderstand us.  We are strengthened in our inner man by a clear channel of communication through prayer and by knowing there will be no misunderstandings (I John 5:14).

Another way the Holy Spirit strengthens our inner man, so that we can put to death the deeds of the flesh, is by helping us to identify as sons of God.  If we are not enlightened about the importance of identification in relation to strong character, a little research on this subject would help at this point.  It would help us to better appreciate the importance of the Holy Spirit as He bears witness with our spirit to help us identify as children of God (Rom. 8:16).  Consider the steps an adolescent takes to finally arrive at some form of stable identification.  So to speak, they try on a certain role and then present themselves to their public to see if they will accept them in the role.  If they are not accepted in that role they may find a new character as their role-model and try on another— and another.  Their audience’s reaction has a lot to do with the adolescent’s ability to identify them in a meaningful way.  Of course, all of us go through identification crisis at all ages but this is a very active process in the adolescent years.  Some people never attain a stable identity; consequently, they suffer from weak character.

Jesus knows the importance of having His citizens identify with their purpose in creation.  He knows when we identify as sons of God, this new identification alone will be a tremendous help in our putting to death the deeds of our flesh and our putting on the Lord Jesus Christ.  People are prone to behave on the life level, or death plateau, if the case be so, with which we identify; that is, liars lie and thieves steal.  Some women sell themselves, but most would never entertain the thought.  The difference is found in how they identify themselves.  Paul was dealing with the identification benefit of the Holy Spirit’s role in the Christian’s sanctification when he said.  “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying ‘Abba!  Father!’”  Gal. 4:6.

Although our new birth gave us our status as God’s children, Jesus knows we will need a lot of help to make this new status our own personal identification.  This is just one of the reasons He sent the Holy Spirit to help us accept God as our Father.  Some might ask, “How do we know the Holy Spirit is with us?”  To answer this question we need only to ask; “How long after we became a Christian did we start crying, Abba, Father?”

If we feel comfortable when we call God our Father, then let us attribute the feeling to the presence of the Holy Spirit, just as the Bible teaches.  We correctly attribute our cleansing of our sins to the blood of Jesus and we feel free of guilt.  Then let us, just as properly, attribute our identification with God as our Father to the Holy Spirit’s work through the word and also by His bearing witness with our spirits that we are indeed sons of God.  If our cleansing from sin is accomplished we know the blood of Jesus is present; likewise, if we address God as Father we know the Holy Spirit is with us.  The Bible is our source for both points of faith.

The concept of Christian identification with the help of the Holy Spirit can be seen in action in Romans 8:16 where Paul said, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”  Please consider the following as a possible illustration of the function of this scripture:  An alien sinner hears God’s word and learns he was created to be a son of God but at this time he is a slave of sin (Gal. 4:7).  He continues to study and learn; if he could be freed from sin he is a son of God; therefore, he is baptized for the remission of sin.  He knows from the scriptures he is now a son of God.  His spirit bears witness to this fact.  When his spirit bears witness to this fact, the Holy Spirit, who came to dwell with him when he obeyed the gospel, bears witness with his spirit (Acts 2:38).  This helps to solidify his identification as a son of God.  The Holy Spirit re-enforces his witness.

Does the Holy Spirit do His witnessing through the word, or does He do it in person?  Remember, the Holy Spirit does indwell Christians.  He does work outside the word.  He is a person, not a tool.  Why does it seem incredible He would personally bear witness with our spirits?  Two witnesses are better than one to establish a fact, and it also works well in the process of identification.

For instance, consider the process a child enters to acquire the identity of a bike rider.  He mounts his new bike.  He is now in the seat all by himself for the first time.  He is moving, hooray!  He is now a bike rider.  Immediately, he will look to his parents or a friend to see if they acknowledge his new identity.  They nod their head in approval and he is on his way.  He has identification as a biker in his neighborhood.  The child bore witness with himself and the others added their witness to his.  The second witness helped to re-enforce the identity of his self as a bike rider.

In the same way the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God, but we must bear witness first.  Identification is a vital aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work in sanctification.  God knows His children because He has given us the Holy Spirit as His seal (II Cor. 1:22; Eph 1:13).  We know we belong to Him when we identify as His son.  He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us identify in this glorious role.

The Holy Spirit is given to all who believe and obey but some quench His presence and do not have the benefit of His fellowship (Acts 5:32, I Thess. 5:19).  If we were driving cross-country and someone was sitting in the back seat of our automobile without our knowledge, they would be there, but we would not have the benefit of their fellowship.  So it can be with Christians.  If we are faithful Christians the Holy Spirit is with us but we may not be enjoying His fellowship.  There is nothing that grieves the Holy Spirit more than having us ignore Him, unless it is immoral behavior while He is in our body (Eph. 4:30; I Cor. 6:15-20).

It is vitally important for Christians to come face to face with ourselves about the presence of the Holy Spirit’s work and presence in our lives.  If we can believe He has been with us once, then we can believe He will be with us all of the time.  We need His companionship.  Bad company corrupts good morals; just so, good companions strengthen our ability to maintain high morals (I Cor. 15:33).  We are more apt to behave properly in the company of people we revere.  Children generally behave in a proper manner when their parents are present.  An awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit gives us good companionship all the time.  His very presence helps us to live above sin.  Another way the Holy Spirit strengthens our inner man is by serving as the pledge, or earnest, of our inheritance.  This is what Paul told the Christians at Ephesus in the following scripture.

In him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.  Eph. 1:13, 14

Jesus has promised He will come again for us.  We will come forth from the grave, or if we are still alive, we will be changed into our glorious bodies.  Then He will take us to His and our Father’s house (John 14:1-3; I Cor. 15:42-44, 51, 52).  Even more wonderful, He has promised us an inheritance of God’s kingdom and eternal life (Matt. 19:29; 25:34).  We literally live on hope – a hope that is vital to spiritual growth (Rom. 8:24, 25).  The pledge by God of this hope is the Holy Spirit’s presence with us.  This gives Christians a view of ourselves after we have been redeemed from all that is corruptible.  This view has a great effect on our daily lives while we live in our physical bodies in this corrupt world.  We can enjoy the storms that may come in life because we know we have safety, perhaps not now, but on the other shore.

To illustrate the value of the Holy Spirit in His work as God’s pledge to Christians let us consider this story.  There was once a ship adrift in the Adriatic Sea.  It was being lashed by a violent storm, which is commonly known as Euraquilo.  The crew had abandoned all hope and had even given up eating food; however, one person among them had control of himself.  He encouraged the others in this time of trouble.  You see, the Apostle Paul had been shown a vision of a scene after the storm was over.  The vision assured him of safety (Acts 27:9-25).  The view Paul had of safety after the storm strengthened his character while in the storm and let him be useful to others.

We are now in the storms of life.  Many people panic and become self-destructive to themselves and others.  Jesus knows a view of our redemption and our inheritance will help us make it through the present storm and even let us be useful to others at the same time.  Who knows, we might even be able to enjoy tribulations if we let the Holy Spirit serve us “with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession.”

Physical death becomes an enjoyable subject when we know the Holy Spirit will be working to give us a better container in the resurrection.  This is another purpose for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  We learn this from the following passage.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.  Rom. 8:11

The work of the Holy Spirit is just as vital today as it was in the first century.  The spiritual gifts helped Christians maintain a healthy church until they received the full message in writing.  However, the presence of the Holy Spirit was vital in the foregoing ways for their personal growth.  Today, we have the word of God that came to us by the Holy Spirit; however, we also need His fellowship to help strengthen our inner man.  The spiritual healthiness of the body of Christ is dependent upon our spiritual maturity.  The love of God has truly been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us for the purpose of sanctification (Rom. 5:5).  He leads us through the word.  He personally keeps a clear line of communication open to our Father by interceding in our prayer life.  He re-enforces our identification as a son of God.  He offers us His fellowship and serves as the earnest of our inheritance.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Rom. 15:13 

Questions for Discussion 

  1. What do we have today as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in the first century?
  2. What is one way we can determine if people still receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
  3. What do we have more perfect than what the churches had as a result of spiritual gifts?
  4. What is different about God answering our prayer for the sick and the spiritual gift of healing?
  5. If people are still receiving messages in addition to the Bible today in what position does that put the church throughout the last 2000 years?
  6. Does the Holy Spirit still have a role in the Lord’s church today?  If so, what is it?
  7. How far back in history has the promise of the Holy Spirit been on record for the Gentiles?
  8. What had to take place before the Holy Spirit could be received by Christians?
  9. Why is the Christian age known as the ministry of the Spirit?
  10. What will be the attributes in Christians’ lives when we have the fruit of the Spirit?
  11. Name a device the Spirit uses in our sanctification.
  12. Give one way the Spirit works with Christians that could not be accomplished through the word.
  13. List the different areas in which the Holy Spirit works as He indwells Christians.
  14. Why is the Holy Spirit the right person to help us in our communication with God?
  15. How would a loss of communication weaken our position in life?
  16. What is the process of a Christian’s identification as a son of God?
  17. What is the connection between our purpose in life and our proper identification?
  18. How could identification as a son of God help keep a Christian from lying?
  19. How can we know the Holy Spirit indwells us?
  20. What is the difference in becoming a son of God and identifying as a son of God?

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