Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 13, 1959
NUMBER 14, PAGE 2-3a

The Holy Spirit III.

Arthur W. Atkinson Jr. Columbus, Ohio

We are studying the important subject of the Holy Spirit. We have showed how God's Spirit worked in the Old Testament upon the people. At a matter of review let us quickly notice what we have learned. God chose individuals to lead his people and they (the individuals) were inspired to speak and lead the people. What they spoke was also written and this record became permanent law of the Lord. These laws or spoken words were directed to the understanding of man. Thus, the Holy Spirit worked through these men and their words spoken, upon the people.

Now let us progress to the working of the Spirit in the New Testament. But before we actually begin our study let us notice some prophecies concerning the work of the Spirit in the New Dispensation. Isa. 61:1-3, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; and hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." Again we read, Joel 2:28-32, "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call!' We can clearly see that the Spirit has a great work to perform in the New Testament.

The first man that we wish to notice in the New Testament is John the Baptist. John the Baptist was never in the church or kingdom. He lived, preached and died under the Old Testament dispensation. However, his work is recorded in the New Testament. In him we see again the working of the Spirit upon the people through the leader chosen by God. In John's case the Spirit came upon him at birth. To my knowledge this never happened before nor after this time. It is my understanding that not even Christ our Lord had the Holy Spirit from birth. Let us read of John's receiving the Spirit. Luke 1:13-15 "But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." Let us notice what the prophets had to say of this man John. Malachi 3:1, "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts." Malachi 4:5, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." John fulfilled these prophecies. Luke 1:16,17, "And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Mark 1:2,3, "As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." These passages clearly show that the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in John. His work was not to start the kingdom or church but only to prepare and make way for the Lord. Many people turned to God during his ministry, which was directed to the Jewish people only. So we see that John had a great work to do and the Holy Spirit inspired him to do it.

The next person we notice in the workings of the New Testament is Jesus Christ. Jesus also lived and died under the Old Law. The church or kingdom did not come into existence during the personal ministry of our Lord. It did not come into existence while he was on earth at all. The preaching and ministry of Jesus was parallel with John's for a short time. Christ received the Holy Spirit at His baptism. Let us read of this in Matt. 3:16,17, "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The Spirit was not given to Him in any measured amount but he received it without measure. John 3:34, "For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." Some among us have suggested that the Spirit of God is not given in measure. This is a wrong conclusion. This verse infers that it is possible to measure the Spirit and it was measured out to others.

Let us now hear Jesus, himself, speak of the Spirit. John 6:63, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." From this we learn that the Spirit is the begetting power or that which begets the spiritual life. But how does it do it? Jesus says through the words that he spoke. They are spirit and they are life. Again we read, John 12:46-48, "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I come not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." We see here again the great emphasis put upon the word. The word quickeneth or giveth life and the word shall judge us at the last day. Again we read, John 15:3, "Now ye are clean through the word, which I have spoken unto you." We cannot divorce the work of the Spirit from the medium through which He is manifested, the WORD.

Let us notice further the importance of the word in the New Testament. Acts 6:7, "And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." Acts 12:24, "But the word of God grew and multiplied." Acts 19:20, "So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed." Rom. 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel (or word) of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." There is not a conversion recorded in the New Testament but what the WORD had to first be spoken, heard and finally obeyed. There are no exceptions to this. We bring these important truths to your attention to show you the link between the Spirit and the word. Unless you tie the two together you cannot have an understanding of God's plan. The word or gospel is here. We read it, study it, meditate upon it, pass judgment upon it and then either accept or reject it. If I reject it I have in turn rejected the Holy Spirit for He is made manifest by the word. If I accept it by my obedience then I receive the blessings promised in it. I may not fully understand exactly how the Spirit works in the word but I do understand that it does work. I may not fully understand the Spirit but I can understand His message, the word. The same holds true in many things. I do not fully understand why it is that when you plant a seed it brings forth fruit, but I know that it does and I do not throw the seed away simply because I do not understand its workings. The seed of the kingdom is the word of God. Luke 8:11, "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God." This word when planted in the hearts of mankind brings forth fruit or lays in barren soil and dies.

Now we have seen that God has not changed His method of working with man. He still works through His Spirit. The Spirit comes upon certain individual leaders and these leaders teach the people. The words spoken are directed to the understanding of man. He then receives or rejects them. Thus the work of the Spirit is carried out through the word. This is important for us to know.

Many people have said that the Holy Spirit can go places that the word has never been. We do not doubt that He can, but we do doubt that He does. In fact the scriptures teach us that He does not work separate and apart from the word. Common logic will prove also that He does not. We can go to the wilds of the Amazon and the savages therein will not be practicing Christianity. Why? Because the Holy Spirit has never been there. Why has He not been there? Because no one has as yet taught these people the WORD. When the word is taught, then the Holy Spirit works through it to convert the person. All know that this is so. Where there is no Bible, there the Spirit of God is absent. There are no exceptions to this.