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Systematic Theology - Volume I
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§ 2. The Office of the Holy Spirit.

A. In Nature.

The general doctrine of the Scriptures on this subject is that the Spirit is the executive of the Godhead. Whatever God does, He does by the Spirit. Hence in the creed of Constantinople, adopted by the Church universal, He is said to be τὸ Πνεῦμα, τὸ κύριον, τὸ ζωοποιόν. He is the immediate source of all life. Even in the external world the Spirit is everywhere present and everywhere active. Matter is not intelligent. It has its peculiar properties, which act blindly according to established laws. The intelligence, therefore, manifested in vegetable and animal structures, is not to he referred to matter, but to the omnipresent Spirit of God. It was He who brooded over the waters and reduced chaos into order. It was He who garnished the heavens. It is He that causes the grass to grow. The Psalmist says of all living creatures, “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.” (Ps. civ. 29, 30.) Compare Is. xxxii. 14, 15. Job, speaking of his corporeal frame, says, “The Spirit of God hath made me.” (Job xxxiii. 4.) And the Psalmist, after describing the omnipresence of the Spirit refers to his agency the wonderful mechanism of the human body. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . . my substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Ps. cxxxix. 14-16.) Cyprian (or the author of the Tract “De Spiritu Sancto,” included in his works) says, “Hic Spiritus Sanctus ab ipso mundi initio aquis legitur superfusus; non materialibus aquis quasi vehiculo egens, quas potius ipse ferebat et complectentibus firmamentum dabat con gruum motum et limitem præfinitum. . . . [Hic est] spiritus vitæ cujus vivificus calor animat omnia et fovet et provehit et fœcundat. Hic Spiritus Sanctus omnium viventium anima, ita largitate sua se omnibus abundanter infundit, ut habeant omnia rationabilia et irrationabilia secundum genus suum ex eo quod sunt et quod in suo ordine suæ naturæ competentia agunt. Non quod ipse sit substantialis anima singulis, sed in se singulariter manens, de plenitudine sua distributor magnificus proprias efficientias singulis dividit et largitur; et quasi sol omnia calefaciens, subjecta omnia nutrit, et absque ulla sui diminutione, integritatem suam de inexhausta abundantia, quod satis est, et sufficit omnibus, commodat et impartit.506506Works, edit. Bremæ, 1690, on p. 61 of the second set in the Opuscula.

The Spirit the Source of all Intellectual Life.

The Spirit is also represented as the source of all intellectual life. When man was created it is said God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became (נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה) a living soul.” (Gen. ii. 7.) Job xxxii. 8, says, The inspiration of the Almighty giveth men understanding, i.e., a rational nature, for it is explained by saying, He “teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven.” (Job xxxv. 11.) The Scriptures ascribe in like manner to Him all special or extraordinary gifts. Thus it is said of Bezaleel, “I have called” him, “and I have filed him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass.” (Ex. xxxi. 2, 3, 4.) By his Spirit God gave Moses the wisdom requisite for his high duties, and when he was commanded to devolve part of his burden upon the seventy elders, it was said, “I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them.” (Num. xi. 17.) Joshua was appointed to succeed Moses, because in him was the Spirit. (Num. xxvii. 18.) In like manner the Judges, who from time to time were raised up, as emergency demanded, were qualified by the Spirit for their peculiar work, whether as rulers or as warriors. Of Othniel it is said, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel and went out to war.” (Judges iii. 10.) So the Spirit of the Lord is said to have come upon Gideon and on Jephthah and on Samson. When Saul offended God, the Spirit of the Lord is said to have departed from him. (1 Sam. xvi. 14.) When Samuel anointed David, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon” him “from that day forward.” (1 Sam. xvi. 13.) In like manner under the new dispensation the Spirit as represented as not only the author of miraculous gifts, but also as the giver of the qualifications to teach and rule in the Church. All these operations are independent of the sanctifying influences of the Spirit. When the Spirit came on Samson or upon Saul, it was not to render them holy, but to endue them with extraordinary physical and intellectual power; and when He is said to have departed from them, it means that those extraordinary endowments were withdrawn.

B. The Spirits Office in the Work of Redemption.

With regard to the office of the Spirit in the work of redemption, the Scriptures teach, —

1. That He fashioned the body, and endued the human soul of Christ with every qualification for his work. To the Virgin Mary it was said, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke i. 35.) The prophet Isaiah predicted that the Messiah should be replenished with all spiritual gifts. “Behold my servant whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” (Is. xlii. 1.) “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” (Is. xi. 1, 2.) When our Lord appeared on earth, it is said that the Spirit without measure was given unto Him. (John iii. 34.) “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.” (John i. 32.) He was, therefore, said to have been full of the Holy Ghost.

2. That the Spirit is the revealer of all divine truth. The doctrines of the Bible are called the things of the Spirit. With regard to the writers of the Old Testament, it is said they spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The language of Micah is applicable to all the prophets, “Truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.” (Micah iii. 8.) What David said, the Holy Ghost is declared to have said. The New Testament writers were in like manner the organs of the Spirit. The doctrines which Paul preached he did not receive from men “but God,” he says, “hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” (1 Cor. ii. 10.) The Spirit also guided the utterance of those truths; for he adds, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; communicating the things of the Spirit in the words of the Spirit” (πνευματικοῖς πνευματικὰ συγκρίνοντες). The whole Bible, therefore, is to be referred to the Spirit as its author.

3. The Spirit not only thus reveals divine truth, having guided infallibly holy men of old in recording it, but He everywhere attends it by his power. All truth is enforced on the heart and conscience with more or less power by the Holy Spirit, wherever that truth is known. To this all-pervading influence we are indebted for all there is of morality and order in the world. But besides this general influence, which is usually called common grace, the Spirit specially illuminates the minds of the children of God, that they may knew the things freely given (or revealed to them) by God. The natural man does not receive them, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. All believers are therefore called (πνευματικοί) spiritual, because thus enlightened and guided by the Spirit.

4. It is the special office of the Spirit to convince the world of sin; to reveal Christ, to regenerate the soul, to lead men to the exercise of faith and repentance; to dwell in those whom He thus renews, as a principle of a new and divine life. By this indwelling of the Spirit, believers are united to Christ, and to one another, so that they form one body. This is the foundation of the communion of saints, making them one in faith, one in love, one in their inward life, and one in their hopes and final destiny.

5. The Spirit also calls men to office in the Church, and endows them with the qualifications necessary for the successful discharge of its duties. The office of the Church, in this matter, is simply to ascertain and authenticate the call of the Spirit. Thus the Holy Ghost is the immediate author of all truth, of all holiness, of all consolation, of all authority, and of all efficiency in the children of God individually, and in the Church collectively.


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