The Work of the Holy Spirit
November 27th, 1955 @ 7:30 PM
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 12:13
11-27-55 7:30 p.m.
Let us talk to the Lord for a moment. Holy Spirit of God, we have opened this Word that Thou hast inspired, and we’re seeking tonight, from Thyself, revelation to speak of Thee. We cannot do it except the Lord shall help us. It is just so many sentences, just saying syllables. It is just sound, unless God is in it. Difficult for us to speak of the Holy Spirit. Thou art beyond our kin, our understanding. Yet this Word reveals Thy presence, Thy personality, attributes. Unto Thy saving work, all of our hope, our salvation, our regeneration. As we speak of it tonight, help us. Stand by us and with us. When the service is done, may there be more of Thee in us and more of us committed to Thee. In Thy name and for Jesus’ sake, Amen.
In the twelfth chapter of the first Corinthian letter, in the thirteenth verse, Paul says, 1 Corinthians 12:13, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Now, when we speak of the Spirit of God, even here in the Bible, in the King James Version, in so many instances, the word pneuma, "spirit," is translated "ghost." And that was a good translation back yonder, three hundred fifty years ago: the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, the presence of God. But, in the years that have passed since they used that word ghost, because of our inability to enter into the understanding and the sensitivity to the Spirit’s presence, why, we have charged the word with something eerie. It is haunted. It is something that you’d be very happy to run away from, certainly not run into or open your heart or your door to the ghost. The very word sounds like all of those superstitions that are aroused in our minds when we think of a Halloween season or a witch riding on a broomstick or somebody covered over with a white sheet: a ghost.
Now, that’s all of the devil. That’s all of Satan. Just like practically all of the great truths and revelations of God, he dilutes them. He fills them with all kinds of connotations that take away their great spiritual meaning: a spirit, a ghost. Jesus Christ – You sound like you’re swearing when you say it. That’s the devil. That’s the devil. He sows it under and he plows it up. So it is with this word: the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost.
So, as best we can tonight, let’s look at this third person of the Trinity, for He is God. Thou art three in one: Our Father, God Almighty; our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior; and the Holy Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit of Jesus who is the instrument by which God the Father and God the Son regenerate us, save us, without whose saving power we have no hope in this world or the world that is to come. He is a personality in the Trinity.
He was present in creation, "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. But the earth was without form, and void; and darkness covered the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God brooded over the face of the waters" [Genesis 1:1,2]. He wrought a symmetry and beauty out of chaos. The Spirit of God was in creation.
This Bible here is the product of the work of the Spirit of God, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." [2 Timothy 3:16] "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." [2 Peter 1:21] Without the moving Spirit of God, there would have been no syllable of this Book, not a piece of it, not a line nor a syllable of it. The author actually of the Book I hold in my hand is the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
The entire body and life and work and ministry and incarnation and resurrection and ascension and glory of Jesus is the handiwork of the Holy Spirit of God. In the first chapter of Luke, in the thirty-fifth verse, the Bible says,
And the angel Gabriel came unto Mary in Nazareth and he said unto her, The Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
In the Apostle’s Creed that I read last Sunday night, you have it read in there, "he was conceived of the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary." He was conceived of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit of God formed in the body, in the womb, of the virgin Mary, the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was fashioned by His hands. He was born under the power of the Holy Spirit.
In that same gospel of Luke, in the third chapter, it says, "And when he was baptized, when he came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit of God came upon Him." And in the fourth chapter of that same book, it says, "And Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness." And then, a little further down, "And Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee." Then, a little further down, in the same chapter, "And he read saying, And the Spirit of God is upon Me."
All of his works were done in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew, it says, "And he cast out devils by the power of the Holy Spirit." When the Lord was slain and crucified, and He was wrapped in that long winding sheet and sheet and laid in a tomb, in a sepulcher, and the sepulcher was sealed. The Holy Spirit of God came down and quickened the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the eighth chapter of the Book of the Romans, Paul says that Christ was quickened. He was made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit. Had the quickening, pulsating breath of God not brooded over the body of Christ and not raised Him from the dead, His body had seen corruption in Joseph’s new tomb. He was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, it says that, by that eternal Spirit of God, Christ offered Himself a sacrifice unto the Father in heaven. And Isaiah, the eleventh chapter says, that when Christ comes back to reign in the earth He will reign by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God will be upon Him.
The only God that there is the one Lord God, pantokraktor, the Almighty. The only God you will ever see is the Lord Jesus Christ and the only God that you will ever feel, the only God that works, the only God that moves, the only God that regenerates, is the Holy Spirit of Jesus and of the Father. Now, He has a personality. He is somebody.
I copied out of the Scriptures these typical passages. By no means are they exhaustive. But, you look at them for just a moment. The Holy Spirit of God, He has knowledge, 1 Corinthians 2:11, "The things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God. He searcheth all things." 1 Corinthians 2:10, "For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." He divides gifts to the people – the message this morning – 1 Corinthians 12 and 11, "The Spirit divides to every man severally as He wills." With infinite knowledge, He helps our infirmities and He makes intercession for us, Romans 8:26, 27, "Likewise also the Spirit helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself.
Now, that’s where you get to calling Him an "it," among other things. And the reason for that is that, in the Greek language, you have gender that is not according to sex. You have grammatical gender. Lot of languages have that. For example, in German, a maiden is neuter gender. A girl is neuter. Well, that’s the language. Craziest thing you ever saw: that a girl would be neuter. But, you find that in a lot of languages and you find it in the Greek language. So, when the Greek says, "But the Spirit itself," it’s an actual translation of the Greek. But, it is a grammatical gender that, that is, in order to speak grammatically you had to say neuter, but it’s not in itself. It ought to be translated,
But the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And He that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
The Holy Spirit has a mind; the Holy Spirit intercedes and the Holy Spirit helps our infirmities. He may be grieved, Ephesians 4:30, "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." He may be vexed, Isaiah 63:10, "But they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit." He can be resisted, Acts 7:51, "Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do ye." He convicts the world, John 16:8, "And when He is come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. And, He teaches the Christian, guiding them into all truth, John 14:26, "But the paraclete", and you have it translated "comforter," like they sang tonight, "But the paraclete, when He has come, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I’ve told you."
And John 16:13, 14, "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth. He shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you. In Nehemiah 9:20, Nehemiah says, "Thou gavest also thy good Spirit to instruct them."
It is the Holy Spirit who is a person who has mind, who has understanding, who has power, who can be resisted, who can be vexed, who can guide and comfort us, who can teach us. He is somebody. He’s not a "it." He’s not an influence. He is God.
And I can’t understand how there can be three in one, how God Almighty is God and Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God. But, I don’t have to understand. Actually, finally, ultimately, don’t understand anything. How can a man be two: a spirit and a body? And, what happens to a man when they’re divided, and you say the man is dead? I don’t understand that. How did he get here in the first place? I don’t understand that, I don’t understand anything. Nor does anybody understand anything. These are just the great truths of the Almighty that we see around us and we marvel and adore Him because of His marvelous revelations to the sons of men.
Now, let’s pick up once again the work of the Holy Spirit. All of the work of Jesus Christ and of God our Father in the world is done in the Holy Spirit, by the Holy Spirit, through the Holy Spirit. Our regeneration and our salvation are the fruits of the Holy Spirit of God. We are convicted by the Holy Spirit. We are drawn to God by the Holy Spirit. No man could ever be a Christian except the Holy Spirit makes it possible for the man to turn to God.
When a man’s not convicted, when he’s not drawn, he’s like a stone wall to talk to. But, when a man’s heart is opened by the Spirit of God, it’s easy to win him to Christ, easy. In the sixteenth chapter of the Book of John I just read, "He will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment." That is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Regeneration, the miracle of a new birth, is the work of the Holy Spirit of God. In the third chapter of the fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John, Jesus said to Nicodemus, He says,
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born anothen, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born anothen.
Behold, the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof.
[John 3:5, 7, 8]
But you don’t understand it. You don’t see it. You don’t know where it came from. You don’t know where it goes to. You don’t know actually anything. You just see what God has done. So with the wind, it blows where it listeth. You don’t know where it comes from. You don’t know where it goes to. So is everyone that is born anothen. So is everyone that is born of the Spirit.
Our regeneration is a miracle of the Spirit of God. That famous passage in Titus 3:5 says the same thing, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done," not by something we have wrought, "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy did He save us, by the washing of regeneration, by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, of the Holy Spirit, within us."
Let me say it like this. One of the most marvelous, miraculous things in all the world was the creation, the generation, of the body of Jesus Christ. He was generated. He was created by the power of the Holy Spirit, "The Holy Spirit shall overshadow thee, shall come upon thee; and that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." The Holy Spirit created, generated the body of Jesus Christ.
That same Holy Spirit brings to pass a miracle in the life of every Christian who’s ever saved. It is a recreation. It is a regeneration. In a certain sense, God makes every man’s body. No man could make a body. How you can take that little egg, that little sperm, and put the two together and it finally grow into a human soul, a personality, into you, is a work of the creative Spirit of God.
Now, there is a recreation, there is a regeneration. The Spirit of God takes a lost man, a condemned sinner, and He makes a new man out of him. He gives him another heart and another nature. He regenerates him. He saves him. He becomes a Christian. And, that is the work of the Holy Spirit of God.
Then, the Holy Spirit of God continues that work in our lives, in the lives of all Christians. He comes into our hearts, just as much of Him as we will let, just as much as our yieldedness will permit. He comes into our hearts; He comes into our lives, and He makes our bodies His Temple. Jesus, gathering those disciples together in the upper room, breathed on them. Jesus breathed on them and said, "Receive ye the breath of God." Receive you the pneuma, ruach, breath, spirit, the animating, living, creating Spirit of God, the quickening power of God. And Jesus breathed on them and said, "Receive ye the Spirit of God." And He came upon them in great and tremendous power, and the works they did they did by the unction and the moving and the power of the Spirit of God.
Nor can any church have a quickening power, nor will any church be used to save, unless first it has in its midst that great moving of the Holy Spirit. He lives in us. When you come, you bring Him with you, if you do. And, the aggregate of us, all of us together with the Spirit of God and a power in our hearts, make a tremendous hour and a prayer service, if there is in us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God. He lives in us. He is Incarnate in us. This is his Temple. Like Paul saith in the first Corinthian letter, "Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; therefore, therefore glorify God in your body, which is the Lord’s." It’s his dwelling place. It’s his house.
Now, one other thing, in my text it says, "For ye are baptized by the Spirit into one body, whether we be Jew, Gentile, bond, free, male, female, we are all baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit."
Now, what is that? This is that, when we are sinners, when we’re lost, when we’re outside of Christ, we don’t belong to God; our allegiance is to the world. I’m an unbeliever. I’m an infidel. I’m a lost sinner. I haven’t accepted Christ. I haven’t made my peace with God. I haven’t given my heart to him. I’m out here somewhere. For, on the outside of the city, said John, were all of those who were not believers. They’re in the world. They’re with the world.
That’s what Jesus said, when he said, "And the Holy Spirit will convict the world of judgment." That is, Satan has already been judged; his cause is already lost; he’s going to be cast into the abyss, into the bottomless pit. And all of those who are for him and with him are going to be cast into everlasting perdition, when Satan falls. And when we’re lost, when we’re outside of God, when we’re outside of Christ, when we’re with the world, when we’re with the flesh, when we’re with Satan, we’re damned with him. When his house falls, it falls on those who live in that house. When this world is destroyed, those who follow Satan are destroyed with him. There’s a judgment day coming and a terrible perdition. On the outside were all of those who followed the world, the flesh, and the call of the devil.
But, on the inside, on the inside, there there is a great communion of saints. On the inside of the great jasper walled city there are those who belong to the Lord Jesus. Now, how do they get to belong to the Lord Jesus? The Bible says the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ. Now, a picture of that is up here in this baptistery. We are baptized into the body of Christ, the visible church. Down here, in this world, this First Baptist Church, we are baptized into that body by going to those waters.
You can’t join this church by holding up your hands. You can’t join this church by filling out a card. You can’t join this church by giving the pastor a hundred thousand dollars for that building. You can’t join this church but any one way in the earth. You are baptized into the fellowship of this church, only way in the world you can get it. And, that is a picture of how we become members of the body of Jesus Christ, "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." We become members of the body of Christ by being placed there in the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Some of these days that body of Christ is going to be called up to meet the Lord in the air, and all of those upon whom the Spirit of God has fallen, upon them who have been regenerated, upon them who have opened their hearts to Christ, the Holy Spirit makes them a member of the body of Christ. And they shall rise to meet the Lord in the air. And at the great wedding supper of the lamb, at the great marriage feast of Christ Jesus, all of those who have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ will sit with the Lord at the great and final marriage supper, the triumphant feast of the lamb.
But, if we don’t belong to His body, if we’re not saved, if we’re not regenerated, if we’re lost and undone, all of those great triumphant days are blackness and darkness and forebodings and thunderings and damnations for us. We are saved by the Holy Spirit, who makes us a member of the body of Christ.
Now, that other thing is our assurance, our assurance that we’ll be saved in those tragic and terrible times, those days of darkness and tribulation that are coming upon all men, upon all placed upon the world. When the powers of the heavens are shaken, when the stars fall, when the sun is darkened, when the great judgment day comes our assurance, that when that awful and tragic hour comes upon the world, our assurance, that we’ll be delivered, that we’ll be saved, our assurance is the earnest and the seal and the promise of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost in our hearts.
Listen to the word of the Lord in the first chapter of Ephesians, in the thirteenth verse, "Ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the whole purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." And he says the same thing in the second Corinthian letter, the first chapter and the twenty-second verse, "Who also hath sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."
What does that mean; He has sealed us by the Holy Spirit? Well, it’s that thing that the Jewish people did for generations, and it’s that same that high government officials will do today. If there is a great, important and marvelous document of government, it will have the seal of the United States government upon it.
And by the way, on a dollar bill, don’t you have both sides of that seal? I can’t remember. I know you have the backside. The United States government has a seal and that seal has two sides and that seal is affixed to the great treaties and the great commitments of the peoples of the United States. And it means, when that seal is affixed to a treaty, it means that the power and the armed might of the government of the United States is committed to those sacred covenants that are written in that document, that are sealed by the United States government.
If we say to France, "We guarantee a mutual defense pact with you. And if you are attacked by Russia, we will fight by your side. And by the signatures of the instrument, the men of government of America, there will be affixed the seal of the United States." It means we have pledged our sacred lives and fortunes and destiny as the people to being true to this commitment and this is our sign. This is our signature. This is our seal.
That’s what the Holy Spirit does for the Christian. He is the seal of God upon us, that God will keep His promise, the Holy Spirit of promise, against that day that God will keep us and deliver us and save us in that holy and final hour.
And He is the earnest of that inheritance. There’s another term that was used by the Jewish people all through that generation and is used today. When a man made a contract, when a man bought a piece of property, he gave an earnest. He gave an earnest to the man from whom he bought it. "Here, I’ll give you twenty shekels for that piece there and here are five shekels as earnest." I give him the five shekels as token of five that I’ve got fifteen more that I’m going to give him for the full purchase price.
When you buy something today, you can give a man an earnest money, earnest money. Here is a big corporation. We’ll give you five million dollars for that great property, and here’s one hundred thousand dollars earnest money. It’s a prepayment. It’s a token of the fact that we’re going to keep that covenant that is coming to pass. We will give it all to you.
So it is the Holy Spirit of God who has sealed us. We’re going to get there and he is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession. We haven’t got it all yet. There’s more yet to come. We’re not in glory yet. We’re not in heaven yet. We’re still in this body of death and suffering.
We have a glorious inheritance. We have a glorious immortalized and resurrected body. We have a mansion up there in glory. We have all of the things that God has promised in His Book. And, the earnest of it is the Holy Spirit which the Lord has given us in our hearts. It’s just a little token, God’s Spirit within us now, that some of these days we’re going to have the entire purchased possession of God given to us to rejoice in, to be glad over, to praise Him for forever. Even as the Scriptures say, "the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the whole purchased possession", God bought us body, mind, soul and all, unto the praise of His glory.
And that final consummation is coming by and by. And the promise of it, the earnest of it, the portent of it, the harbinger of it, is in our hearts now: the Holy Spirit of God, that the Lord gives us when we place our trust in Him.
Now, we sing our song and, while we sing the song, anybody you, somebody you, give his heart to Jesus, "Here, Lord, I open my heart to Thee tonight. I take Thee, best I know how, as my Savior." You come and give me your hand. "I give you my hand, pastor. Tonight I give my heart to God." Some of you, into the fellowship of His church, "Here I come and here I am. I want to be in this church with this people to pray, to work, to help, to come."
As God shall make the appeal to your heart that the Lord shall lead the way, would you come and stand by me, anybody, somebody you, a child you, a young man you, a girl you, a father, a mother, a family you, as the Lord shall say. You can’t come without Him. If you came, trusting in your own self, you’d might as well not come. But, if you come, opening your heart to Jesus, in humility, in trust, in faith, asking God to save and to keep, ah, what you’ll find at the end of a quest like that, "Here I am, Lord. Come into my heart. I trust Thee now, tomorrow, to the end of the way. Here I come and here I am."
While we sing the song and while we make appeal, would you do it tonight? Would you listen to the voice of the Spirit as He calls tonight and make it now, while we stand and while we sing?
OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
I. A member of the Trinity
part in creation (Genesis 1:1-2)
The real author of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16, 2
His hands, the incarnation, ministry and resurrection of Christ(Luke 1:35, 3:21-23, 4:1, 14, 18, Matthew 18:28, Romans
8:11, Hebrews 9:14, Isaiah 11:1-3)
Person, as Christ, as the Father
has knowledge(1 Corinthians 2:11)
He searcheth all things (1 Corinthians 2:10)
divides gifts to the people (1 Corinthians
With infinite knowledge he helps our infirmities and makes intercession(Romans 8:26-27)
may be grieved(Ephesians 4:30)
He may be vexed (Isaiah 63:10)
can be resisted (Acts 7:51)
convicts the world (John 16:8)
He teaches the Christian, guiding them into all truth(John 14:26, 16:13-14, Nehemiah 9:20)
II. He works the work of God and Christ in
the sinner (John 16:8)
to pass the miracle of the new birth (John 3:3,
5-8, Titus 3:5, Luke 1:35)
Makes a temple of our bodies(John 20:22, 1
us into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13)