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What the Bible Teaches--A Guide to Total Christian Commitment 
by Rev. James McRobbie    ©Pillar of Fire, International 
"The victorious, happy, useful, contented Christian life can only be attained by yielding oneself to the complete control of the Spirit."
Learn more about the power of the Holy Spirit for personal holiness through Sanctification

[Bottom of page] [The Living Word] [Back: Chapter 2] [Next: Chapter 4] [Index]
Chapter 3 Contents: |The Comforter| |Age-Mission of the Spirit| |Divinity of the Holy Spirit| |Pentecost| |Various Phases of the Spirit| |Receive Ye the Holy Ghost|

[What the Bible Teaches refers to numerous passages from the Bible. Your study will be greatly enhanced by looking up the verses as you go along. If you want to look up Bible verses online as you study, clicking here will open up "The Bible Gateway" in a new window. You may then use the title buttons on your browser screen to move back and forth between the Bible and this study. All quotations in What the Bible Teaches are from the King James Version [KJV] unless otherwise specified.]

Chapter 3: What the Bible Teaches ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT

"Our blest Redeemer, ere He breathed
His tender last farewell,
A Guide, a Comforter bequeathed,
With us to dwell."
    Since we are now living in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, and since the Holy Spirit is vitally related to our spiritual well-being, this subject cannot be studied with but much profit and interest.

The Comforter

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    The words, Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost, are used interchangeably in the Scriptures, and both are taken from the Greek word, pneuma, signifying wind, air, or to breathe. Dr. Godbey reminds us that the word "Ghost," is from the Anglo-Saxon Guest, suggesting that the Holy Spirit is to be our abiding Guest. The Weymouth translation uses the words "Holy Spirit" exclusively.
  In John 14:16 Jesus introduces us to that other beautiful word as the unique name of His Successor: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter." The Greek word here is Paracletos, which signifies Advocate, Teacher, Friend, Guide, or, summing up all -- Comforter. Jesus being rejected must of necessity go away; His chosen nucleus would falter and fail in His absence, but now He gives the assurance that He is not to leave them as orphans. He had been their Teacher and Master, but, says He, when the Comforter is come, "he shall teach you all things" [John 14:26]. We see then that the Holy Spirit was given in order to reveal the things of God [1 Corinthians 2:10, 13]; the things of Christ [John 16:14]; the future [Luke 2:26; Acts 21:11]; to bring the words of Christ to remembrance [John 14:26]; to direct one in the ways of godliness [Isaiah 30:21]; to enable ministers to teach [1 Cor. 2:7-10]; to guide into all truth [John 14:26; 16:13]; to direct the decisions of the church [Acts 15:28]. The Holy Spirit exalts the Lord Jesus Christ: "He shall glorify me" [John 16:14]. We are always to remember that the great work of the Spirit is to empower members of the church of Christ: "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you [Acts 1:8].
    We will remember that the Holy Spirit has always been in the world. In the second verse of the Bible are the words: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." We also find the plurality of the Godhead in Genesis 1:26, showing that the Holy Spirit was present at creation: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." The Holy Spirit was conspicuous in the antediluvian [pre-Flood] world, probably exercising a restraining influence -- striving with man [Genesis 6:3]. Gideon, Samson, Jephthah, David, the prophets of the Old Testament, and others, were clothed upon by the Spirit.
    The whole volume of the Scriptures is the result of the inspiration of the Spirit of God. In 2 Peter 1:21 we read: "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." The Holy Spirit then was present all through the period we call B.C., yet it was in a limited sense, for during the course of our Lord's earthly ministry He declared that the "Holy Ghost was not yet given." He also said the "Father will send" Him, and, "Tarry ye. . . until ye be endued with power from on high." This was not a contradiction of facts but referred to the coming dispensation of the Spirit, which had its inauguration on that memorable day of Pentecost [Acts 2]. Previous to this we are safe in assuming the Spirit acted with or upon those individuals, but now He was to dwell in men. Now He "dwelleth with you," said Jesus, but with the coming of the Comforter, He shall "be in you" [John 14:17].

Age-Mission of the Spirit

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    The descent of the Spirit at Pentecost confirms the fact that there is an age-mission of the Spirit. Augustine emphasized this thought when he referred to the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost as the dies natalis, the "birthday" of the Spirit. That could hardly be comparable with the incarnation of Christ, although the idea is the same. We have a phrase in our Authorized [KJV] Bible which substantiates the idea of the Spirit's dispensational coming, but which bears the opposite meaning in the English translation: "That he may abide with you for ever" -- for the aion, not "for ever" but for "the age." There is also our Lord's other word: "Lo, I am with you alway, [not literally, but through the agency of the Spirit] even unto the consummation of the age" [R.V., marg.]. The age-mission of the Spirit will come to an end, for Jesus referred to the consummation of it. Why? Because Jesus Himself will return "as he went away" to become Lord and Master of His own coming kingdom -- His reign of righteousness on the earth.
    The Holy Spirit working in and through the church bears a restraining influence upon the overspreading of evil through Satanic agencies. St. Paul definitely says, "There is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way [2 Thessalonians 2:7, R.V.]. This restraining power is a personality, "He," and is a reference to the Holy Spirit. By and by He will be taken "out of the way," not out of the world, as many would infer; then will come the unrestrained "mystery of lawlessness," the end-period of this dispensation when Satan will come down to the earth having great wrath [Revelation 12:7-12], when he will put forward his masterpiece of sin -- the Antichrist.
    In the interim, the great work of the Spirit is not alone to convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come, or to be the Comforter to all believers, but more especially to gather out the church, and to perfect it in holiness in view of its final consummation in rapture at the coming of the Lord. "To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" [1 Thess. 3:13; 5:23; Romans 15:16].
    The work of the Spirit will not come to an end when His age-mission will be accomplished at the close of this age. We are to bear in mind that the outpouring at Pentecost was only initial. The Holy Spirit is to be outpoured in far greater measure yet in the future. But it is not in this age, for this age is to culminate in apostasy and failure and in the manifestation of the man of sin [2 Timothy 3:13]. Turn your Bible to Joel, chapter 2. Verses 21-27 reveal Israel restored and blest of God. Then there follow the words Peter referred to: "It shall come to pass afterward," that is, after the regathering of Israel, "that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh;" a reference to a time of universal outpouring; a condition which has not yet taken place; it is a millennial condition: "And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." This is a reference to the Israelites, for Joel was preaching to the Hebrews. During the millennium they will be the world's Spirit-anointed evangelists. There is then a reference to the "servants," and the "handmaids," perhaps referring to Arabs and others. They will likewise be recipients of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Joel's prophecy is in association with the "great and terrible day of the Lord," that is, the day of the revelation of Jesus Christ, when He will come in "flaming fire," to establish His government upon the earth and to render judgment upon the ungodly. With Satan incarcerated, with the incorrigibly wicked obliterated, with Christ present, with the Holy Spirit outpoured, we will have a wonderful world -- an age of worship and world-wide righteousness.

Divinity of the Holy Spirit

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    Ancient Socinianism, denying the Trinity, naturally robbed the Holy Spirit of His divinity. There are modern systems that do the same. To all who believe in the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, it can readily be seen that the Holy Spirit is classed as one with the Father and the Son. For example, there is 1 John 5:7 which tells of the three which bear record in heaven. There is the fact of St. Paul's divine benediction used in all Protestant churches: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost" [2 Corinthians 13:14], coupled with which is our Lord's appointed order for baptism in the name "of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" [Matt. 28:19]. For a fuller account of this subject see next chapter: "Holy Trinity."
    Against the idea that the Holy Spirit is but an influence, is the fact that all through the Scriptures He is designated as a person. "When he is come," etc.
    In order to prove the omnipresence of the Spirit we have David's statement in the 139th Psalm: "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" That the Spirit searches all things, even the "deep things of God" [1 Cor. 2:10], proves His omniscience. The Spirit is the author of "might signs and wonders," and is associated with creation, showing His omnipresence -- very God of very God. [See Luke 1:35; Rom. 15:19; Job 33:4.]


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    The disciples before Pentecost were very ordinary persons. They were subject to passions [James 5:17] like all others, considerably carnal [Luke 9:54], conspicuously ambitious [Mark 9:34], and most vacillating [Mark 14:50]. But Pentecost changed all that. Here is seen the unique purpose of the gift of the Holy Spirit. In their natural condition the disciples stood chiefly in need of power. So our Lord's last word to them was: "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you" [Acts 1:8, R.V.]. The book of Acts records how that heavenly dynamite [the Greek word here for "power" being dunamin] was demonstrated to the world in preaching, revivals, miracles, evangelism, and the administration of the church.
    The Spirit was given as the great means of unification in the church. If all who professed the Christian religion were truly sanctified persons [Spirit-filled], there would be no divisions. Now, as then, He works out the same benign purpose among His people. The Corinthian church was divided, and Paul added, "Ye are yet carnal." There is one Spirit and one baptism [Ephesians 4:4-5] -- the baptism which Jesus gives: "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire" [Matt. 3:11]. Although the universal church has a heterogeneous membership -- people of all temperaments, classes, and races -- these respective members are not to be "biting and devouring one another," not divided, not deifying those whom God sets up as leaders. The respective members of the church are comparable to the various organs of the human body -- all harmoniously working together under one directing mind [Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:12-25]. The Word expressly states that by "one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" [1 Cor. 12:13], and adds, "Now ye are the body of Christ." People who are indwelt by the Holy Ghost are not divided; the Holy Ghost in them binds them together. The flesh, with its carnal lusts and cravings being crucified, the "body of sin" being destroyed, then God the Father, Son, and Spirit alone are exalted.
    Although basically it is the blood (or death) of Christ that avails for our cleansing [Heb. 13:12], yet the great work of the Spirit is to apply the blood in the sanctification of the believer. The baptism of John was comparable to water -- signifying the washing of regeneration; but the baptism of Jesus, that of the Holy Ghost, is comparable to fire -- cleansing, purging, purifying. When speaking of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Gentiles, Peter said God "put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" [Acts 15:9]. As God is perfect in holiness, and as heaven is immune from all that is defiling, so the Holy Spirit, executive of the Godhead, works out the perfecting of holiness in every heart whom He possesses. Because He is the Holy Spirit then God's people are preserved holy.
    The third person of the Trinity will be the agency in the rapture of the saints. He who raised Jesus from the dead "shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" [Rom. 8:11]. We shall be changed "in the twinkling of an eye," and "caught up to meet the Lord in the air," through the power of the Holy Spirit. They who have no Holy Spirit will experience no quickening, electrifying rapture-thrill when the voice of Jesus [John 5:28] shall summon the dead and living saints to meet Him in the air.

Various Phases of the Spirit

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    The sealing of the Spirit is the guarantee of our immunity from falling. So long as we abide in the Spirit we are "sealed unto the day of redemption" [Ephesians 4:30]. The only way by which a sanctified person can fall is by grieving the Spirit away. He who abides in God cannot sin [1 John 3:9]. The sealing is also the branding of identity which reveals ownership. The Spirit takes possession, the flesh is crucified, self no longer dominates. Christ, through the Spirit, rules supreme in the citadel of the soul.
    The filling of the Spirit is an imperative requirement [Ephesians 5:18; Luke 24:49]. The infilling of the Spirit imparts all the graces and goodness of God within the believer. A pailful of water dipped out of the ocean contains in substance the fulness of the briny deep. So we, through the Spirit that "dwelleth in us," become partakers of the nature and attributes and character of God; we become "filled with all the fulness of God" [Ephesians 3:19].

Receive Ye the Holy Ghost

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    Christ Jesus the Lord, even with His spotless humanity coupled with deity, would not dare commence His ministry without the anointing of the Spirit [Luke 3:22]. His whole life's work was controlled and empowered by the Spirit. It was through the Holy Ghost that He gave commandment to the apostles [Acts 1:2]. His anointing to preach the Gospel was predicted with the opening words of Isaiah 61: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach" [Luke 4:18]. The anointing of the Spirit was the secret of Christ's ministry. The commission of the church to go was to be associated first with tarrying for the Spirit-enduement.
    Christ's power in healing and casting out demons was not merely the consequence of His inherent divinity; it is definitely attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit [Acts 10:38; Matthew 12:28].
    The Holy Spirit is the key to everything in the life of the church: the minister, the mission worker, the Sunday-school teacher, the laity of the church in general. The victorious, happy, useful, contented Christian life can be attained only by yielding oneself to the complete control of the Spirit. St. Paul says, "Walk in the Spirit [Galatians 5:16];  "Live in the Spirit" [Galatians 5:18]; pray "in the Spirit" [Ephesians 6:18]; be 'led of the Spirit' [Galatians 5:18]. Then how comforting, at the first resurrection or the Rapture, to know that He who "raised up Christ from the dead" shall also "by his Spirit,"
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