INTERPRETING THE ACTIVITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THIS AGE
A. Concerning the activity of the Holy Spirit in this age, the relative lack of biblical commentary on its inherent meaning is due to the commonly understood cosmogenical reality. The broader context of redemptive history informs the “elementary teachings about Christ” (Heb. 6:1).
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ (by the Holy Spirit) and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so. 4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened (by the Holy Spirit), who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance… (NIV Hebrews 6:1-6)
- In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit (Hb. ruwach) of God was hovering over the face of the waters… 2:7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath (Hb. neshamah) of life, and the man became a living creature. (ESV Genesis 1:1-2:7)
- As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul, 3 as long as I have life within me, the breath (Hb. ruwach; “spirit” KJV/ESV/NRSV) of God in my nostrils, 4 my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit. (NIV Job 27:2-4)
- The Spirit (Hb. ruwach) of God has made me; the breath (Hb. neshamah) of the Almighty gives me life. 5 Answer me then, if you can; prepare yourself and confront me. 6 I am just like you before God; I too have been taken from clay. (NIV Job 33:4-6)
- Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment (Gk. anapsuxis, i.e. recovery of breath) will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. (NLT Acts 3:19-20)
- If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you… 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him… 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God… 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. (ESV Romans 8:11-24)
B. Since signs and wonders reinforce the reality of the coming age, they reinforce the identity of the Church as a sojourning nation waiting to inherit the resurrected body and the restored earth. Though we experience neither justice nor life in this age, He gives us signs of the age to come to strengthen us in our faith. Provision for the impossible now, strengthens our faith for the impossible eschatologically.
Now faith is being sure (Gk. hupostasis; “substance” KJV/NKJV, “assurance” (NASB/ESV/ NRSV/NLT) of what we hope for and certain (Gk. elegchos; “evidence” KJV/NKJV, “conviction” NASB/ESV/NRSV) of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for… 8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age– and Sarah herself was barren– was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth… 17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. (NIV Hebrews 11:1-19)
- For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith… 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” (cf. Gen. 15:5) 19 He did not weaken in faith (of a son from his own body, unto becoming the father/chief of many nations) when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (ESV Romans 4:13-22)
C. Activity of the Holy Spirit in this age before the resurrection is given by God as gift to strengthen our faith. God knows the workings of the human heart and the “mechanics of faith.” If we never see demonstrations of the age to come, we begin to loss heart in the reality of it. Thus the Holy Spirit is given as a “Helper” to help us in our faith as we sojourn unto the Kingdom.
Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. 15 If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor (Gk. parakletos; “Helper” NASB/ESV/NKJV) to be with you forever– 17 the Spirit of truth…25 All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (NIV John 14:11-26)
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. (ESV John 15:26-27)
He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God… 4 while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about… 8 you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV Acts 1:3-4)