What the Holy Spirit does.

Want to really know the essence of the Person, work and character of the Spirit of God? Read this!

Still the Spirit of Truth (2)

by Prof. David Engelsma (Standard Bearer, vol. 65, issue 16)

The Holy Spirit of God, however, the Spirit received by the glorified Jesus to be the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit poured out on the church on Pentecost, the Spirit with whom we have become familiar after some 2,000 years of church history under the new covenant—this Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Three times in the great passage of promise concerning the Spirit, John 14-16, Jesus calls the Spirit, “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). Truth is His nature. Truth is His business. Truth is His unmistakable, identifying mark—His “sound” or voice.

The Holy Spirit is truth, for He is God; and God is truth.

In the Triune Being of God, the Third Person eternally conducts a full, thorough examination of the reality of the Godhead. He is always studying the Truth in order to know It (Him) with huge delight. “The Spirit searches … the deep things of God …” (I Cor. 2:10).

The Holy Spirit can no more ignore, minimize or despise the truth than He can deny Himself.

In keeping with what He is in Himself, the Spirit is the Spirit of truth also as the Pentecostal Spirit, sent by Jesus to the church. He came as the witness to the truth. He came speaking. That which He speaks is the truth, namely, Jesus the Christ as made known in the gospel which is now written in the inspired Scriptures of the New Testament, as well as in those of the Old. By this means, He teaches the elect church, guiding her into all the truth. By this means, He also convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.

Always, the Spirit has been the Spirit of the Word, of Scripture, of doctrine, of preaching, of confessions, of intellectual knowledge of propositions that are in harmony with the reality of God. He inspired Scripture (writing! a book!). He moved prophets and apostles to teach. He created the church a confessing church. He put in the church the office of “pastor and teacher” (Eph. 4:11). He guided the church in rejecting heresies and in approving and understanding right doctrines (orthodoxy!) by the formulating of creeds. He illumined the minds of countless men, women and children to know the sound words of Scripture.

That He came as the Spirit of truth was evident at once on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit-filled believers spoke the wonderful works of God (and not their wonderful feelings). Peter preached a sermon—a doctrinal, biblical sermon. Thousands were converted by believing the message. The first thing said about the life of the church after Pentecost is that it was a life of adherence to right doctrine.

It is as the Spirit of truth that He is of any benefit to the church and to the Christians. Every blessing that the Spirit gives, He gives by means of the Word. He works faith—by the truth; He forgives—by the truth; He makes men and women holy—by the truth; He comforts the distressed and fearful—by the truth; He preserves believers to eternal glory—by the truth; He unites the saints—by the truth.

The Reformed faith confesses the indispensable instrumentality of the truth for the saving work of the Spirit in Question 65 of the Heidelberg Catechism, when it says about the faith by which alone we share in Christ and all His benefits that it is worked in us by the Holy Spirit “by the preaching of the gospel.” The Reformed believer who makes this his or her own is really saying, “I believe in the Spirit as the Spirit of truth.”

We should act accordingly.

As a believer, do I seek the riches that are in the risen Christ? I should! I must attend to the Word and doctrine, to the truth. I must see to it that I am a member of a church that maintains the truth. I must use the means of grace diligently. I may leave this church, whether for a church that corrupts the truth or for no church at all, for no reason. I may not despise the lively preaching of the truth. To do so is to forfeit the presence, operations, power, and gifts of the Spirit, if not to “do despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29; cf. v. 25), for He is the Spirit of truth.

As a preacher, do I desire, ardently desire, a spiritual congregation—a congregation of saints who love God and who love each other for God’s sake (which is different from, though it includes, having deep feeling for each other)? I should! I must give myself to preaching and teaching. There will never be a spiritual church where the truth is not faithfully preached. There cannot be. If there is, the Spirit has ceased being the Spirit of truth.

As a body of elders, do we take seriously our responsibility to keep the flock of Christ? We should! We must above all else make sure that the preaching on the Sabbath and the catechism instruction during the week are the sound, faithful explanation of God’s Word. This will guard and build up the church, not because preaching and teaching in themselves have this power, but because the Spirit is the Spirit of truth, making Christ’s words spirit and life.

What then must we make of the strange “Spirit” of our day—indifferent to doctrine; friend of the lie; critic of Scripture; contemptuous of creeds; disparaging of pure preaching?

One of two things must be true. Either the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ has changed recently, so as no longer to be the Spirit of truth, or this strange “Spirit” is not the Spirit of Christ.

But the Holy Spirit cannot change. He is still the Spirit of truth.

Ezekiel’s Temple (2)

In Ezekiel 47 we read of a river of water issuing from the temple getting bigger and deeper as it goes and eventually emptying into the Dead Sea which is healed and produces abundant fish! Jesus spoke of a bubbling up spring in the heart of every believer which is the water of eternal life (John 4:13-15). In Zechariah 14 and Revelation 22 we read of another river of life flowing from the New Jerusalem in the new heavens and earth bordered by twelve fruitful trees that also heal the nations. The first and last visions above are pictures of the truth of Christ’s teaching. From the temple of God in heaven and from the temple of God which is the church and each one of God’s people come forth continually the fruit of the Spirit of God and life eternal and all the life-giving blessings of salvation. Take a minute to thank and praise God for the Holy Spirit!

Nicene Creed: And I believe in the HOLY GHOST, the Lord and Giver of life; who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the prophets. (including Ezekiel!)

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 20: What dost thou believe concerning the Holy Ghost?

A-First, that He is true and co-eternal God with the Father and the Son; ; secondly that He is also given to me to make me by a true faith, partaker of Christ and all His benefits, that he may comfort me and abide with me forever. Blessed Spirit!-JK.

John Gill says,”  these waters also may be applied to the grace of the Spirit of God in regeneration and conversion; which is compared to water, for its cleansing, fructifying, and refreshing nature; to “waters,” for the abundance of it; and this flows from the God of all grace through Christ, and out of his fulness is gradually increased, and becomes a well, yea, rivers of living water, John 7:37, but it seems best to understand them of the Gospel, and the doctrines of it; which, like water, cools those who are inflamed with the heat of the fiery law; extinguishes the thirst of sensible sinners, and refreshes them; cleanses and purifies their souls, which is instrumentally done with the washing of water by the word; and makes them fruitful and flourishing: this is not of men, but God; comes from heaven, the holy of holies; and out of the house and church of God; from Zion and Jerusalem, by Christ the door, and points to him the way; and is chiefly concerning him, the altar, his sacrifice and satisfaction, peace, atonement, and propitiation by him; see Isaiah 2:3.

Highlighted sections all point to the power of the Spirit who accomplishes everything in the building of God’s kingdom-JK

Conversely it is worth noting that there is a disease called hydrophobia (hatred of water) which is rabies, transmitted from an infected animal bite that is usually fatal and reminds me of the corresponding wicked antagonism of the reprobate who are set against and immune to the work of the Spirit through his servants and word.

Pilgrimage Feasts (4)

PILGRIMAGE FEASTS IN N.T.

 

Sung Psalm 132 (another pilgrimage Psalm)

Readings Acts 12:1-12 and 20:16

Harking back to Acts 2 why were the 120 there at Pentecost? We believe for two reasons, firstly keeping the law and secondly because Christ had commanded them to wait there.

Paul and the apostolic band are in Philippi at Passover (20:6), so they clearly were NOT keeping the O.T. law but DID observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week (v7). In the first instance (Acts 12) around the time Herod killed James, the feast of unleavened bread is mentioned just to give us the date. Secondly in Philippi the same feast is mentioned to again give us the time of year but then why would Paul want to be, if possible, in Jerusalem for Pentecost? This was not a necessity just a preference (he tarried twice vv4,10). This was about 58AD some 28 years after the Cross.

Possible reasons:

  1. Teach the Jews and proselytes (to Reform them gradually)
  2. Keep the Law
  3. Evangelism
  4. Meet the church (leaders)
  5. Christian liberty
  6. Just give us a date.

We believe it was for evangelism (albeit as a prisoner) and to meet church leaders.

Pentecost (3)

Pentecost (3)

Sung Psalm 126 (a Pilgrimage Psalm)

Reading Acts 2:1-21

Here we see the fulfilment and reality of what the Old Testament Feast of Pentecost was pointing.

Three aspects fulfilled:

  1. Full harvest ─ redemption pictured and typified at Passover, applied and the riches of salvation understood, experienced and taught by and through the Spirit of the risen and ascended Christ.
  2. Firstfruits ─ first part of the full harvest, the Spirit being the earnest of our inheritance who now have a “small beginning” of the new obedience (Rom.8:23, II Cor.1:22, Eph.1:4)
  3. Wave offering ─ our consecration to God.

 

Passover precedes and leads to Pentecost, the cross of Christ to the outpouring of the Spirit of Christ. The church will become truly catholic (universal) in terms of nations, sexes, ages and civil states.

 

John 14-17 to me is all about the Spirit’s personal work in the believer while Acts 2 is about his public ministry and worldwide work.

Pentecost (2)

 

Sung Psalm 65:1-5 (note how this fits with the prayer of the saints, the answer, and the results on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2)

Readings Leviticus 23:15-21, Numbers 28:26-31 and Deuteronomy 16:1-17.

It is noteworthy that at first reading the offerings in Numbers are different from those in Leviticus, how do we account for this? The answer, which illustrates a principle throughout Scripture, as that the accounts are NOT contradictory but rather SUPPLEMENT each other. Number 28 fills out the detail of the sacrifices of Leviticus 23 e.g. during feast of unleavened bread. Regarding the feast of first-fruits (Pentecost) Leviticus mentions what were offered first namely two wave loaves plus sacrifices and Numbers 28 outlines offerings later that day.

Thus the offerings on Pentecost were:

  1. Daily morning burnt offering
  2. Two wave loaves, 7 lambs, 1 bullock, 2 rams, 1 kid, 2 more lambs (Lev.23 states these were WITH the bread).
  3. Later (Numbers 28) 2 bullocks, 1 ram, 7 lambs, 1 kid and the meal offerings.
  4. Daily evening burnt offering.

Deuteronomy 16 recaps all these pilgrim feasts, the sacrifices for which were obligatory and donated by leaders or king for the nation as a whole and adds personal freewill offerings of the people (verses 10,17).

Later in the Old Testament we read of these feasts in Solomon’s day (II Chron. 8:12-13) and they are substantially changed in Ezekiel 45:18-25 where Pentecost isn’t even mentioned, the offerings are changed with a new feast on new year’s day, all alluding to the huge change that Christ would initiate by fulfilling all of them and abolishing them too (Hebrews 7:12-22).

Pentecost

Sung Psalm 65:8-13 (a harvest Psalm)

Read Leviticus 23:9-22

In Exodus 23:14-17 we are first introduced to this pilgrim feast called the feast of harvest and feast of first-fruits (of wheat harvest). Later in Exodus 34:18-22 it is called the feast of weeks but we are not told why, till we get to Leviticus where it is set in the yearly calendar between the other two great pilgrimage feasts namely Passover/Unleavened bread and Tabernacles. It was a one day feast.

During this feast there was a new offering of two wave loaves made of the newly harvested wheat  (cf Lev. 2:11 where all other meal offerings were unleavened). This was ordinary leavened household bread.

It occurred on a Sunday (first day of the week),  the day after the seventh Sabbath counted from the sabbath of unleavened bread and first-fruit wave sheaf offering of the barley harvest (day after that sabbath and day of resurrection-verses 15,16) and was ultimately fulfilled 50 days after the resurrection on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), when the first great harvest comprising the church occurred.