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The Spirit and the Church

  • September 2021 Issue
Practical Theology

“The apostle Paul writes that a person who does not have the Spirit, does not belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9). The Holy Spirit is the Christian’s birthright!”

One of the theological themes of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians is the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. Jesus promised His disciples that the Father would send the Holy Spirit and used several key terms that help us understand His nature and ministry. For example, Jesus described the Spirit as “another advocate to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16–17). Jesus characterized the Spirit as “another advocate,” implying that His ministry is similar to that of Christ. The Holy Spirit is a divine person distinct from the Father and the Son but also equal with them. The Spirit is not a separate god but, like Christ, is one with the Father. The Spirit is “sent” and “goes out from” the Father (John 15:26).

Like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is a revealer of truth. He guides the church into biblical truth and teaches them about Christ. Jesus called Him “the Spirit of truth” (John 16:3). He is the ultimate author of Scripture. Although God used people to write the words of Scripture, these human authors were empowered or “carried along” by the Holy Spirit as they wrote (2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit’s ministry is necessary for anyone who wants to understand God’s Word. In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul warns that someone who does not have the Spirit, “does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”

After His resurrection, Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would grant them power to bear witness to Christ (Acts 1:8). He told them to “wait for the gift my Father promised” (Acts 1:4). Since Pentecost, all believers receive the Holy Spirit as soon as they are born again. New Testament commentator Leon Morris explains that the work of the Spirit in the believer “is a consequence of the saving work of Christ and not something separate from it.” The apostle Paul writes that a person who does not have the Spirit, does not belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9). The Holy Spirit is the Christian’s birthright!

For Further Study

To learn more, read How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit by A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers).

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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