Among the glorious realities of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is the practical accessibility of the Spirit. Far from being a mere abstraction or only a proposition of truth, the Spirit is genuinely and practically available to us today. His personal presence is granted to us and promised to us by the Father in the Scriptures. What makes this point so valuable for our lives is the doctrine of sanctification. We are in a war against sin and the world not to mention the evil one. But the Spirit is here for us ready to assist us to bless us and empower us to wage a good warfare in our pilgrimage of faith. He is part of the armor of God the apparatus and weaponry of spiritual war craft (Eph. 6.10-17). Part of the Spirit’s blessing is that not only is the Spirit with us at the moment of war with sin and temptation (cf. Mt. 4.1); He is also with us in the trenches of daily life and trials. He abides with us and in us (John 14.17). In the trenches and storms of life the Spirit grants us the comfort of His peace and the blessing of His inner testimony and assurance. This is why we need to keep His availability ever before us.
The Spirit of the Promise
What we now experience is the fulfillment of God’s promise. This is God’s promise to give us the fullness of the Spirit in a heightened covenantal age in the new covenant. That is the theological background of it all:
Ezekiel 36:22–28 22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. 23 “I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. 24 “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.
This text stood behind Jesus’ teaching on the new birth in John 3 (esp. Ezek. 36.35-27). I cite the context only to show that Jesus used an OT text that pertained to the nation Israel, gathering His people into the land and fulfilling the word spoken to the “forefathers” (v.28), to show that Jesus understood these magnificent prophetic promises both in terms of how it related to the Jews (e.g. Nicodemus), but also in terms of how they apply to every believer through regeneration. The Spirit that was promised by Ezekiel is now being connected to faith in Jesus Christ. When Jesus told Nicodemus to be born again He was speaking about the need to be born again by the Spirit who would mysteriously move upon a person so that they would come to trust Jesus, know Jesus and commune with Jesus (cf. John 3.1-8). Regeneration is the entry point of the Spirit but the Spirit continues to conform us to be like Jesus Christ our entire life (cf. 2 Cor. 3.17-18; 4.4-6; Gal. 5.22-23).
In this connection, the Spirit is extending to us the ministry and presence of Jesus Christ (John 16.12-15). Like the Son of God, the Spirit does not act on His own initiative. Everything He does, He does in conjunction with what the Father and the Son are also harmoniously doing in our lives. This relates to our redemption or conversion and salvation as well as our ongoing sanctification and conformity to Christ’s own image (cf. 2 Cor. 3.18; 4.4-6, Gal. 4.19). The Father promises to give us His Spirit out of the kindness of His heart and as an expression of His faithfulness to us:
Luke 11:9–13 9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. 11 “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
We can see that this promise is immensely practical for, in asking through persistent prayer, we have the promise of God granting us His Spirit to bless and enrich our walk with Him. The Spirit is the demonstration of God’s goodness and kindness toward us. That is the Spirit’s role, to give us the blessings of God in an experiential way. God’s love, comfort and peace are all available through the ministry of the Spirit (cf. Acts 9.31). If we follow Jesus’ metaphor, any reasonable, especially godly parent who loves their children understands the sentiment Jesus is pointing to here. We “know how to give good,” and if we know as evil, fallen, sinful and selfish parents how to bless our children, think of God’s ability and disposition to bless us. God knows His children better than we know our children, God loves His children better than we love our children, God understands His children better than we understand our children. So then, “how much more” (the all important point here), will God give His children what is “good.” Notice that God’s superlative gift here is “the Holy Spirit.” Nothing is better than the Spirit because of course the Spirit is one with the Father and one with the Son. The Spirit brings to us the fullness of communion with the Godhead (cf. John 14.18-26).
The Spirit’s fullness in our lives should be seen in our longing to have Him. We should long for the Spirit like we long for God to be good to us. The desire of any child of God is for God to be good to them. Therefore, what we should desire most is God’s Spirit who is given to us to keep us from being estranged from the Son as we live to please the Father in this world of sin and misery (John 14-16). Of course, the Spirit supplies us the power to do all of this. He provides us the conviction, the faith, the longing indeed the unutterable language of the heart when we cry out to God the Father in prayer. He is available to us in the deepest way and for the deepest work of the soul. The Spirit interprets our yearning and brings understanding to our longing for God:
Romans 8:26–27 26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
All of the riches of God’s Spirit; His glorious and gracious operations upon our lives and hearts were promised by God in the promise of His Spirit. This promise of the Father was fulfilled in those whom the Spirit makes alive through regeneration. Those who have been made alive are also continually vivified through the Spirit’s gracious influences. As we think about the Spirit being available, He is available to comfort (Acts 9.31), fellowship (2 Cor. 13.14), assure (Rom. 8.15-17), intercede (Rom. 8.26-27), illuminate (1 Cor. 2.12-16), teach (John 14.26a), remind (John 14.26b), lead (Gal. 5.18), empower (1 Cor. 2.1-5), gift (1 Cor. 12.11), protect (Acts 20.23), compel (Acts 20.22), conform (2 Cor. 3.17-18), seal (Eph. 1.13-14), and resurrect (Rom. 8.11). Even as the Spirit is promised by the Father for new covenant grace, He is also the promise of future grace:
2 Corinthians 1:21–22 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
When God promised His Spirit to us He was granting us nothing less than His personal presence indwelling us, His comfort flooding us with hope, and His will to glorify us and bring us to His Spirit filled heaven. The Spirit is available; will we not take advantage of this good Gift?
Questions for Practical Reflection:
1. How can we be certain the Spirit is available to us? What Scriptures support this?
2. How does our love for our children or family point us to God’s Spirit? How does God’s Spirit show God’s love for us?
3. Meditate on some of the benefits of the Spirit, what aspects of these gracious gifts are we seeing in our lives now? In what way do we neglect the Spirit’s influence in our life?
4. Reflect on ways the Spirit can be a greater blessing to the believer in our many weakness. How does the Spirit impart comfort, peace and hope to you daily?
Soli Deo Gloria