Office and Work of the Holy Spirit

Office and Work of the Holy Spirit

A look at the doctrine of the Third Person of the Godhead.

By TAYLOR G. BUNCH, Pastor, South Lancaster, Massachusetts

Because He is a member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is called God in the Scrip­tures. The Triune Godhead is composed of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The gospel is proclaimed by the authority of, and baptism administered in the name or character of "the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Matt. 28:19. (See John 5:7.)

In the Spirit of prophecy the Holy Spirit is called "the third person of the Godhead." (The Desire of Ages, p. 671; Testimonies to Minis­ters, p. 392.) We are told that "there are three living persons in the heavenly trio ; . . . the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."—Spe­cial Testimony to Ministers, series B, no. 7, p. 63. The three are one in character, one in plan, and one in purpose, the voice of any one of them being "the word of God."

Being a person, the Holy Spirit cannot be a mere influence, although He wields a mighty influence. Influence is never independent of personality. In John, chapters 14, 15, and 16, the Holy Spirit is described by the pronouns He, Him, and whom twenty-four times. He is said to possess the personality marks of knowl­edge, a will, and a mind. He can love and com­mune. He "speaks" and we "hear His voice." He can be grieved, insulted, tempted, and lied to. He is known by twenty-five different titles, all of which indicate personality, and more than twenty actions are attributed to Him which could be performed only by a person.

We are warned against conjecturing as to the nature and appearance of the Holy Spirit. In these studies we will keep within the limits of what has been revealed.

"The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. Men cannot explain it, because the Lord has not revealed it to them. Men having fanciful views may bring to­gether passages of Scripture and put a human con­struction on them ; but the acceptance of these views will not strengthen the church. Regarding such mys­teries, which are too deep for human understanding, silence is golden."—Acts of the Apostles, p. 52.

CREATION.—"Let us make man in our image," indicates a council which doubtless in­cluded all three members of the Godhead. In the beginning when "the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep," "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" and brought order out of chaos. The following statements also give the work of the Holy Spirit in creation: "By His Spirit He bath garnished the heav­ens." "Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth." Job. 26:13; Ps. 104:3o. The latter text describes the resurrection and the creation of the new earth. Creation was the result of the decision of the Father, the voice or word of the Son, and the active creative energy of the Holy Spirit.

REVELATION.—The Holy Spirit is likewise the author of the Scriptures. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" through the agency of the Holy Spirit. "For 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." 2 Peter 1:21. At the close of each of the seven epistles of Christ to the churches of Asia, and hence to the church uni­versal, is the statement: "He that bath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

The Scriptures therefore constitute the voice of the Holy Spirit. We are told that "the Spirit of Christ" was in the prophets and through them "testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." I Peter 1:1. For this reason a warning is given that when "the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear His voice," we should at once obey and harden not our hearts. (See Heb. 3:7, 8.)

In Ephesians 6:17 the Word of God is called "Me sword of the Spirit." This is the "sharp twoedged sword" the Revelator saw coming out of the mouth of Christ, which when wielded by the Spirit, pulls down strongholds, casts down evil imaginations, and brings every thought into captivity to Christ. (See 2 Cor. 10:3-5.) This was the mighty weapon of the Spirit that pricked the hearts of the multitude on the day of Pentecost. "The sword of the Spirit, newly edged with power and bathed in the lightnings of heaven, cut its way through unbelief. Thousands were converted in a day." —Acts of the Apostles, p. 38.

Holy Spirit as Christ's Representative

To comfort His disciples, Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit as "another Com­forter," who would abide with them forever. Since the Spirit would come as His personal representative, He could truthfully say, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." Through the person of the Holy Spirit He would return to them. He could therefore say, "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." This is made clear by the following statements:

"The Holy Spirit comes to the world as Christ's representative."—Counsels to Teachers, p. 68.

"The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, as the personal presence of Christ to the soul."—Review and Herald, Nov. 29, 1892.

"Pentecost brought them the presence of the Com­forter. . . . Henceforth through the Spirit, Christ was to abide continually in the hearts of His children. Their union with Him was closer than when He was personally with them."—Steps to Christ, p. 80.

"On the day of Pentecost the promised Com­forter descended, and the power from on high was given, and the souls of the believers thrilled with the conscious presence of their ascended Lord."—The Great Controversy, p. 351. Jesus declared that the purpose of the coming of the Spirit would be to reveal Him to man. (See John 15:26; 16:13, 14.) He concealed Himself in order that He might the more effectually reveal Christ. We too can best reveal Christ to others when we keep ourselves in the back­ground so they can see and hear Him only.

"While Jesus ministers in the sanctuary above, He is still by His Spirit the minister of the church on earth. . . . While He delegates His power to inferior ministers, His energizing presence is still with His church."—The Desire of Ages, p. 166.

On the Isle of Patmos, Jesus presented Him­self to John as the high priest of the heavenly sanctuary. While representing man before the Father, He at the same time ministers among the seven lampstands of gold, symbolic of the seven churches. The daily, or continual, min­istration of Christ is therefore carried on in the church courts and heaven at the same time, as was true in the type.

Of the soldiers of the cross we read: "They are to contend with supernatural forces, but they are assured of supernatural help. All the intelligences of heaven are in this army. And more than angels are in the ranks. The Holy Spirit, the representative of the Captain of the Lord's host, comes down to direct the battle." —Ibid., p. 352.

The Holy Spirit is, therefore, the head of the church in Christ's absence and in His stead. He is the commander in chief of the army of Prince Emmanuel on earth. He is the vicege­rent of the Son of God, the true Vicarius Filii Dei, of which the pope is the usurper and counterfeit. Jesus told His disciples that He would "go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth."—Ibid., p. 667.

As Christ's plenipotentiary on earth, the Holy Spirit possesses full authority in all things pertaining to the plan of redemption. "The Comforter . . . is the Spirit in all the fulness of the Godhead."—Special Testimony to Min­isters, series B, no. 7, p. 63. He speaks and acts for the entire Trinity.

"Evil had been accumulating for centuries, and could only be restrained and resisted by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the God­head, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power."—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 392.

Another Advocate, or Paraclete

Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit as "another Comforter." Another means "one more ; a second of the same kind." Jesus was one, and the Holy Spirit was the other_ "Helper," "counselor," and "advocate" are other translations. "Advocate, or Helper, Gr.. Paraclete," is the marginal reading in the Re­vised Version.

In the Greek, advocate is a paraclete, which is "one called to aid or support, a counselor, comforter, or intercessor." A clete is one called, the Latin being cliens from which we get the word client. A clete is one called or summoned into court to answer before a judge or jury. Para means "along with," or "one who is called along with another," or "called to another's aid." A paraclete is, therefore, the helper of the clete or client.

Those who have had experience in court know the comfort of a good attorney or advo­cate who knows the law, the judge, and the court procedure. All of us have a case pending before the supreme court of the universe, and it is a great comfort to know that we have two advocates, helpers, or paracletes—Christ and the Holy Spirit. The word advocate comes from the same root word as "vocal" and means "an added voice."

In Romans 8:34 we are told that Christ "also maketh intercession for us." "Also" indi­cates that there is another intercessor who is brought to view in verses 26 and 27. The Holy Spirit "also helpeth our infirmities," or "pleads for us" (Moffatt). The deep love and intense interest of the Holy Spirit in our behalf is in­dicated by the fact that He "maketh interces­sions for us with groanings which cannot be uttered," or "with signs that are beyond words" (Weymouth). He also "maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

Two or more attorneys are employed in im­portant cases before earthly courts, one an ex­perienced court attorney and the other a skilled consulting attorney. We had an Advocate before the heavenly tribunal who "was in all points tempted like as we are," and is therefore "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," and also a consulting Advocate on earth who loves us and intercedes for us with an earnest­ness that can be expressed in no human language. Through the "communion of the Holy Ghost" the Christian, when summoned to court for his faith, can see fulfilled the promise of Christ that it is "not ye that speak, but the Spirit." It is the work of an attorney to prompt the defendant in what he shall say on the wit­ness stand.

When the Son of man ascended to represent man before God, the Holy Spirit came down to represent God before man. Christ pleads for us before the Father, and the Holy Spirit pleads with us in Christ's behalf or in His stead. In Greece and Rome the advocate, or paraclete, helped the client, or clete, in one of two ways. Sometimes he prepared the speech for him, and at other times he spoke for him before the tribunal, as do advocates, or attor­neys, today.

We are all cletes in need of a paraclete, for we have been summoned to meet our life's rec­ord at the judgment bar of the Eternal Judge who "hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness," and there­fore, "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." None can escape this ordeal, for "God shall judge the righteous and the wicked," and in that searching test He "shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Jesus declared that "every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."

We, therefore, have a serious case pending before God on which depends our eternal des­tinies. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," and the penalty or "wages of sin is death." This is the second death which is eternal, and from which there will be no awakening. Our only hope is in our Advocate, who never loses a case in which the client gives wholehearted cooperation. It is comforting to know that this Advocate loves us with a love whose height and depth and breadth cannot be measured. We never question the love of the Father or the Son, but we need to know more of "the love of the Spirit."

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By TAYLOR G. BUNCH, Pastor, South Lancaster, Massachusetts

November 1948

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