The Holy Spirit in the Church Today

Jesus Christ lived before His incarnation and continued to live on after His ascension; but for some 30 years in between those two events, He came to earth to perform a specific mission. Having accomplished it, He returned home to be with the Father. So the Holy Spirit came into the world at an appointed time for a specific mission and He too will leave when His mission is completed.

1. Three Dispensations of the Trinity

There are three major dispensations or periods of time in Scriptures that correspond to the Three Persons of the Godhead (the Trinity).

  • The Old Testament is the dispensation of the Father.
  • The New Testament is the dispensation of the Son.
  • The Age of Grace, in between the ascension and the Second Coming of Christ, in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit’s ministry on earth will continue until Jesus comes back, and then another dispensational ministry will begin.

The whole Trinity works together to manifest God during each of the dispensations; each Member exercises an earthly ministry.

  • The Father descends at Sinai;
  • The Son descends at the Incarnation and the Father commends the Son from Heaven;
  • The Spirit descends at Pentecost and the Son commends the Spirit and the Spirit testifies to the Son.

As the Son of God became incarnate in a human body at His birth, so the Holy Spirit became incarnate in the Church, which is His body. This is what happened on the day of Pentecost. What the cradle was to the incarnate Christ so the upper room was to the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at exactly what happened on that day.

The Day of Pentecost

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. (Acts 2:1 NIV)

Birth of the Church

The Feast of Pentecost is a Jewish feast celebrated 50 days after Passover. It’s place within the Jewish calendar is all-important.

  • Passover commemorated the deliverance of Israel from Egypt in the night after the people of God ate the slaughtered lamb in houses marked by it’s blood. This is typical of the death of Christ, the Lamb of God, whose blood shelters us from the judgment of God.
  • On the Sabbath after Passover a sheaf of specially selected barley was reaped by the priests and offered before God as the first-fruits of the harvest. Similar to the tithe principle, it was offered in recognition of God’s rulership and ownership over the forthcoming harvest. This is also typical of Christ as “the first fruits of those fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). In other words, as He was resurrected, so all believers will be resurrected in due time. He is the guarantee that all believers will follow Him.
  • 49 days follow this offering and on the 50th day, Pentecost, the first two loaves of bread made from the wheat harvest are waved before God, again in acknowledgment of God’s headship over that harvest.

What does all this have to do with what happened in the upper room? The 120 in the upper room were the “first loaves” of the Christian church, offered up to the Lord by the Holy Spirit 50 days after the resurrection of Christ. Those 120 men and women were just the first-fruits of millions of believers that have followed since.

Evidence of Christ’s Glorification

The descent of the Holy Spirit was a “message” from heaven, announcing Christ’s arrival the God’s right hand–

Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. (Acts 2:33 NIV)

The disciples knew that their Lord had ascended because He answered them by the “sound from heaven.”

The Completion of Christ’s Work

The Exodus was not complete until 50 days later, when Israel gathered at Mount Sinai and organized as the people of God. Similarly, the work of the atonement was not completed until, in the fullest sense, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred, as a sign that Christ’s sacrifice was accepted in heaven and that now His work was done.

The Anointing of the Church

As the Lord’s baptism had been followed by His ministry in Galilee, so the baptism of the church was to be preparatory to a world-wide ministry that could only be fulfilled in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Indwelling of the Church

After the nation organized itself at Mt. Sinai, God came down to dwell in their midst, in the Tabernacle. On the day of Pentecost, God the Holy Spirit came down to dwell in another kind of tabernacle: the collective body (the church) and individual believers.

3. The Ministry of the Spirit

In simplest of terms, the Holy Spirit is Christ’s representative on earth to whom has been committed the administration of the Church until Christ returns. Christ took His position in Heaven at the Father’s right hand (symbolic of a place of high authority), and the Spirit came down to being the work of building up the Body of Christ.

The perfecting of the Body of Christ is the ultimate purpose of the Comforter.

When we read the book of Acts and the Epistles, we get the impression that Paul and Peter and all the very early church leaders utterly depended on the Holy Spirit for guidance in all aspects of their lives and ministry.

The Spirit’s control is recognized in these aspects of the life of the Church:

  • Administration. The expansion of the church in Acts were commanded and approved by the Holy Spirit. Paul was ever-conscious that his whole ministry was inspired by the Holy Spirit. On all his journeys, Paul was guided and protected by the Spirit. The Spirit guided the church in it’s organization. Acts 8:29; 10:19, 44; 13:2, 4; Rom. 15:18—19; etc.
  • Preaching. The first Christians were accustomed to hearing the Word “preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.” (1 Peter 1:12). Note the words of 1 Thess. 1:5,

[O]ur gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.

A.J. Gordon once observed, “Our age is losing its grip on the supernatural—the pulpit is descending to the level of the platform.”

  • Prayer. Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. We call that prayer “the Lord’s Prayer.” But before leaving, our Lord spoke of a new kind of prayer, prayer “in my name,” John 16:23. This doesn’t mean repeating His name like a kind of magic charm, but by approaching God spiritually, united to Christ by the Spirit.
  • Singing. When they were filled with the Spirit, believers spoke to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:18—19). Being filled with the Spirit means that when you turn and speak to each other and when you sing to God, you do so under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “Making music in your heart to the Lord” denotes a kind of spontaneous melody of praise and worship to God inspired by the Holy Spirit. In other words, anywhere, anytime is the appropriate time to worship God.
  • Testimony. In the very early church, there was no distinction between the minister and the laity, as we have today. The church was governed by a group or council of elders, but the ministry of preaching or testifying was not confined only to them. They all spoke as the Spirit moved them.

4. The Ascension of the Spirit

What is true of Christ is also true of the Spirit. After He has accomplished His mission during this dispensation, He will return to heaven in a body which He now inhabits—the Church.

According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:15—17)


1 Response to “The Holy Spirit in the Church Today”

  1. 1 myintswe July 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm


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