In the prologue to his gospel, John introduces the mystery of two distinct persons within the unity of the Godhead. Later on, he records what the Saviour says about ‘another Comforter’ (John 14:16). Jesus gave the name of the new Comforter (John 14:17, 26) as the Holy Spirit, a name that denotes deity. In the OT, God’s word and His spirit are parallel figures—Gen 1:2 ff, Psalm 33:6.
The Spirit’s mission is related to the will and purpose of the Father and the Son:
- Just as the Father sent the Son, He sends the Spirit (John 5:23).
- The Father sends the Spirit in the Son’s name, i.e. as Christ’s representative and with His authority (14:26). In the same way, Jesus came in His Father’s name (5:43) acting as the Father’s agent, speaking the Father’s words (12:49), doing the Father’s works (10:25; 17:12)
- The Spirit goes out from the Father (15:26), just as the Son had come from the Father. (16:27)
- The Son sends the Spirit from the Father (15:26; 16:7)
So we have the Son doing the will of the Father and the Spirit doing the will of the Father and of the Son.
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What is the importance of the work of the Spirit?
- Without Him, there would be no gospel and no New Testament. Christ gave His disciples the responsibility of going and making disciples of all nations. They’d never been good pupils, so how were they expected to do better now that He was gone?
Christ sent the Holy Spirit to teach them all truth and to remind them what they’d already learnt (John 14:26). And so it happened—1 Cor 2:12-13
- Without Him, there would be no faith and no new birth, i.e. no Christians. John 16:8-11—the Spirit enables sinners to see God’s truth in Scripture. 1 Cor 2:1-5
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We honour the Spirit by recognising and relying on His work; by reading the Bible He inspired with reverence and receptiveness; by applying the authority of the Bible in our lives and living by it, whatever men may say; by trusting in the Spirit to authenticate our witness, and not our human cleverness.