If you had the option to be together with Jesus, face to face, or to have the Holy Spirit with you always, which would you choose? This was the difficult question in the hearts of the Apostles when Jesus told them something rather shocking about Jesus’ ascension.
John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
It’s better that Jesus goes away? How can that be? How could having the Spirit be better for us than having the risen Lord with us? What does the Spirit do that improves our lives and what could He provide that would help us more than having the Savior with us? First this is a great deal of humility on the part of Jesus and a great example of the love at the center of the Trinity. Jesus isn’t a glory hound, but gives honor to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
To understand this we need to consider why creation and salvation happen THROUGH Jesus BY the Holy Spirit. We are used to hearing that Jesus lives in our hearts and that Jesus transformed us. What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit? Christ is upon His throne; He accomplished His earthly ministry and returned to the right hand of the Father to rule and reign. It is the Holy Spirit who is the “perpetual minister of God’s presence among us” (Our triune God, Ryken, 83). That is His ministry. He is God among us and God within us.
Firstly, the Holy Spirit brings order out of Chaos; life out of nothing. In Genesis the Spirit of God is hovering over the void and is the acting agent of the Godhead in creation and in all subsequent acts of generation and regeneration. The Holy Spirit is the life giver. He is the breath of life (Genesis 2:7) and Job says “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4). It is the Holy Spirit that gives life to Mary’s womb (Luke 1:35).
The Holy Spirit also brings order out of the chaos of an unbeliever’s life through regeneration. The Holy Spirit applies the saving work of Christ to us; just as he generated us, he also regenerates us (Romans 8:9-11).It is the Holy Spirits’ ministry to work in each of us, the salvation of Jesus, by transforming us through sanctification. The Holy Spirit does not serve himself or seek his own glory. The Holy Spirit is invisible and draws no attention to himself, because His ministry is to point the world toward the Son. The Holy Spirit’s goal is to point us toward His beloved; Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
A second aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to bring us before the face of God. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. The Spirit is invisible and works where he cannot be seen; over the chaos before creation, in the womb of Mary, in the tomb of Jesus and in the hearts of men. Jesus accomplished His ministry and ascended to His throne, where he sits now. We have access to that throne room, to the power of Christ, to go before the face of God and it is the Spirit that carries us there through Worship and prayer. It is the Spirit that builds the body into the dwelling place of the Lord and closes the physical separation between us and God (Psalm 104:29-30; Ezekiel 39:29; John 4:23-24; Psalm 51:9-12).
Ephesians 2:18-22 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Jesus went to His Father and not only does the Holy Spirit carry us up to stand before Him, the Spirit resides in us in a way Jesus cannot (Romans 8:16; Romans 8:14; 1 John 3:24; 2 Corinthians 1:22). It is the Holy Spirit that carries us before God’s throne on the Lords’ Day. It’s the Holy Spirit that carries our prayers to God’s waiting ears. The Holy Spirit is the active agent, the application, the mover who fulfills all that the Lord wills and commands. The Holy Spirit is the binding agent between God and us, between man and wife and between one believer and another.
We serve a Triune God. When we say that God lives in our hearts we are not saying that Jesus is over there in heaven and the Spirit is here with us. The Spirit unites our spirit with God’s spirit. He generates, regenerates and removes distances. He makes bread into Jesus flesh in communion, illuminates our created minds with the knowledge of the uncreated God, gives us limitless power and authority in the Name above all names (Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Corinthians 2:9-12).
There Jesus was before the Apostles, separate in person from them because he had taken on flesh, but Jesus wanted the same unity with them that He has with the Father. He wanted to make the church into a temple for His glory where He could dwell, so he had to depart. Jesus departed to send one who works where people cannot see; a helper who would not merely know us as the all-seeing, all-knowing God, but dwell in our very hearts with a unity that cannot be separated. It is the Ministry of the Holy Spirit to give believers one mind, heart and flesh with Jesus.
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit is not about tongues or snake handling. The Ministry of Holy Spirit unites us to Christ, applies Jesus’ work to us and brings us before God who secured union and communion between himself and us by shedding His blood. The Ministry of the Holy Spirit is Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s mission is to make all things new; to regenerate man, heaven and earth by the work of Jesus, for Jesus. The coming of the Spirit was the next phase in God’s plan to remake heaven and earth.
Are you weary? Is your life chaotic? Are you wounded, guilty or sore from the battering and trials of everyday life? From cancer, financial strain and the sins of friends and loved ones? God has sent us the comforter; the giver of life; the one who carries us into the presence of our Lord and gives us access to the limitless life of the one who destroyed death. As we study the ministry of the Holy Spirit over the duration of this course, remember one thing; that God is with you in the person of the Holy Spirit. And in the inner man where your fears, hurts and shame reside; where you think no one can see or reach, the Holy Spirit is sent by God to reach all the way into our inner self to generate and regenerate life and life in the fullest.