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Dogmatology T201 Seminar 19 HS Person and Ministry

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Andrew Hodge                                                                                               17th February 2006

CMI Dogmatology T201

Seminar 19

God the Spirit - His Person and Ministry

L.P.Chafer "Systematic Theology" Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Dallas Theological Seminary 1948 and 1976  I, 397-410  God the Holy Spirit



Explain the personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit:

The Person of the Holy Spirit is in many respects simpler than that of the Son in that it is not necessary to cope with two natures in a hypostatic union.

Firstly the Deity of the Holy Spirit is established in four ways (Chafer):

            The Holy Spirit is called God (Peter accusing Ananias and Sapphira Acts 5:3-4)

Also 2 Corinthians 3:17 where the Spirit is termed kurios.

            The Holy Spirit is associated with God as a full member of the Trinity (see Seminar 12). Chafer extensively quotes Bishop John Pearson (pp400-1) in an attempt to explain the manner of (the Holy Spirit’s) being. If this is not read carefully in context it could be taken as blasphemy concerning the Deity of both the Son and the Spirit.

The essential is that the Spirit proceeds from both the Father (John 14:26,15:26) and the Son (Galatians 4:6, Romans 8:9, 1 Peter 1:11, Philippians 1:19) and this determines the usual designation of the Trinitarian Godhead as Father, Son and Holy Ghost, in that order.

            The attributes of God are found in the Holy Spirit  The Spirit is eternal (Heb. 9:14). He is omnipresent, since He is said to dwell in every believer (1 Cor. 6:19). He is omniscient. He it is who searcheth all things, even the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10). He is one of supreme majesty, for to vex Him, to do despite to Him, or to blaspheme Him, is sin in its most serious form. He giveth life (John 6:63). He inspires the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16); He teaches (John 16:13); He regenerates (John 3:6); He is the Spirit of “truth,” of “grace,” and He is holy, being especially honored with that descriptive title.[1]

            The Holy Spirit may be blasphemed  Matthew 12:31 “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”[2]

In addition, the Holy Spirit can be resisted (Acts 7:51), can be lied to (Acts 5:3) and can be obeyed (Peter going to the house of Cornelius Acts 10).

Secondly, the personality of the Holy Sprit is much more difficult to nail down because His nature is not theanthropic as is the Father’s and the Son’s. The usual symbolism is breath or wind (but also by clothing as at Pentecost, dove, pledge 2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:14, fire, oil, seal, and water). Just because humanity finds it difficult to imagine infinite God without a body, does not diminish His Deity nor does it alter the essences of personality. The three elements of personality - intellect, sensibility (emotions) and will - are entirely independent of the attributes of God eg omnipotence, omniscience etc.

The fact that the Spirit is both equal in every respect to the Deity of the other two Persons, and also has personality, gives the lie to those who would demote Him to an impersonal force, a mere attribute of the Father. The Spirit demonstrates independent responsibility (John 16:13, 14:16) and dwells in us in a personal relationship (John 14:17,26). He is cooperatively obedient to the Son and tells the truth (John 15:26) and in a sense takes the place of Christ within us, just as close as Jesus is (John 16:7-15).

            The Holy Spirit has intellect or intelligence (1 Corinthians 2:10, Ephesians 1:17), knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:11), mind (Romans 8:27), emotions (Ephesians 4:25-30), and will (1 Corinthians 12:11, Acts 16:6).

            The Holy Spirit teaches (John 14:16, 26), testifies (John 15:26), guides (John 16:13), convicts (John 16:8), regenerates (Titus 3:5), intercedes (Romans 8:26) and commands (Acts 13:2, 4, 8:29). A personality which can interact at human and Divine levels is required in order to display these characteristics.



Delve into the Spirit’s ministry in the Old Testament:

Chafer claims that regarding the Holy Spirit “the Old Testament leaves no vital feature unannounced.”[3] In the interest of maintaining a strict OT monotheism, the full disclosure of the Trinity, ie the Second and Third Persons, must be left to the NT.

The Person, Presence and Power of the Spirit is the first Member of the Trinity  to be acknowledged (Genesis 1:2), all of these characteristics of Deity being assumed without argument.

Although He appears in every Book of the NT except Philemon, 2 and 3 John, there are many in the OT that do not mention Him at all.

Chafer approaches the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the OT under three headings:

            The Holy Spirit in cosmical undertakings  Chafer: “It is written: “By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens” (Job 26:13); “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth” (Ps. 104:30); “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life” (Job 33:4).”[4]

            The Holy Spirit’s work in things governmental  “The Spirit of Jehovah came upon…” is a frequent precursor to His work in enabling chosen individuals to undertake God’s will eg the workmen instructed by Moses for the building of the Tabernacle (Exodus 31:2-5), the Judges of Israel (Numbers 27:18), the Kings of Israel (1 Samuel 16:12-13).

The outstanding manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the OT is surely prophecy, not only because the prophets themselves were frequently unaware of the near and far fulfilment of what God inspired them to say, but also because God the Holy Spirit says so (2 Peter 1:21, Haggai 2:5, Zechariah 4:6).

The essential difference between the operation of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments is that He came upon the human instruments of His will in the OT from without, and for the accomplishment of some specific and limited purpose; in the NT He permanently resides within. In both cases, His will is achieved in isolation from any natural abilities a person might possess, although it must be remembered that He “divide[s] to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:11), and NT believers are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) as we adjust to the required sovereignty of God in our lives. The ‘coming upon….’ of the OT is entirely unrelated to any process of salvation.

Chafer describes the greatest of the Holy Spirit’s governmental roles in Isaiah 11:1-4 where He gives seven Godly attributes to the “rod out of the stem of Jesse” ie the Christ. The Spirit carries His ministry up to the First Coming of the Messiah “my Servant” in Isaiah 42:1-4, and in 61:1-3 where Christ fulfils the prophecy given to Isaiah about 700 years before.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Second Coming is also prefigured in Joel 2:28-29.

            The Holy Spirit in relation to individuals  The doctrine of regeneration by the Spirit came as a surprise and bewilderment to the NT Nicodemus. The Jews considered themselves to be a chosen nation led by God, rather than a group of individuals; ie God dealt with them on a corporate basis rather than individually. The sacrificial system allowed individuals to develop and purify their relationship with God, but the system was primarily to promote and maintain the rightful place of Yahweh in their thinking and practice nationally. In the context of the practice and application of the various Tabernacle sacrifices the Word Biblical Commentary on Leviticus observes: “God is to be treated as holy in the midst of his people by their enthusiastic, wholehearted observance of these decrees (19:12b). Faithful observance honors God. When the people honor God, he is in their midst sanctifying them (20:8; 21:8). Since he sets his name in the midst of his people, they must conduct themselves in a way that will not defile it. For whenever they transgress any of God’s laws, they shame his name, i.e., tarnish his reputation. His reputation is intricately tied up with Israel, for Yahweh has identified himself as the God who delivered Israel from the land of Egypt, where they were in bondage to a powerful nation (cf. 19:36; 25:38; 26:13). This great act of salvation reveals his love for his people and his desire that they make him their God (cf. 11:45; 25:38; 26:45). Because of what Yahweh has done for them, they have every reason to keep his commandments.[5]” It can easily be imagined that within a short time after God’s proclamations, the average Israelite would comply with His programme out of a sense of duty rather than enthusiastic willingness, which in the NT sense would be characterised as being driven by the Spirit.

The proportion of Jews who actually did distinguish themselves in their deep personal relationship with Yahweh is impossible to now determine, but a list of those notable for their faith is in Hebrews 11:1-40. These men and women, including those not named (vv36-38) may be listed because they are the stand-out few; but there may well be many others.

The accomplishment of specific OT tasks required the Holy Spirit to be given (King Saul 1 Samuel 10:6,9) and removed (2 Samuel 7:15) when appropriate. The withdrawal of the Spirit is clearly established in several scriptures (Psalm 51:11, Isaiah 63:10-11).

Eschatologically, the OT prophesies the activity of the Holy Spirit in the end times eg Zechariah 12:10 cf Joel 2:28-29.

Jesus chides Nicodemus for not knowing sufficient about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, particularly as he was a ‘ruler in Israel’. The description of the activities of the OT Holy Spirit above would seem to give Nicodemus no excuse, but viewing the OT through OT glasses shows a solid monotheism, an envelope which is difficult to think outside of, even though the principles of new spiritual birth are definitely foreshadowed (Psalm 51:10, Jeremiah 31:34, Ezekiel 11:19, 18:31, 36:24-27, and Ezekiel 37 - the valley of the dry bones).



Summarise the Spirit’s ministry among unbelievers today:

The following Table outlines the consequences to humanity when the daily restraint of the Holy Spirit is lifted:

Scripture Spirit’sRestraintEffected Spirit’sRestraintLifted God’sParallelJudgements
Genesis 6:3 Noah ministering Noah removed Flood
2 Thessalonians2:7–8 Church ministering Church removed Tribulation



The Moody Handbook of Theology discusses the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the world in general in terms of Common or General Grace, and Specific or Efficacious Grace. Note that there is no hint of coercion, God’s blessings being large and impartial toward all mankind - leaving no individual with any excuse whatever that he/she was never included in the Spirit’s pleading on their behalf for salvation. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”[7]

Definition of common grace. If God is sovereign and man is depraved in his sinful estate, then God must move to bring about reconciliation between man and God. Differing categories are given to grace, but for this work the categories of common and efficacious grace will be used. Common grace is broader in scope, aimed at all mankind. In concise terms common grace may be defined as “the unmerited favor of God toward all men displayed in His general care for them.”22 An expanded definition of common grace is “(a) those general operations of the Holy Spirit whereby He, without renewing the heart, exercises such a moral influence on man through His general or special revelation, that sin is restrained, order is maintained in social life, and civil righteousness is promoted; or, (b) those general blessings, such as rain and sunshine, food and drink, clothing and shelter, which God imparts to all men indiscriminately where and in what measure it seems good to Him.”23,[8]

 Definition of efficacious grace. Efficacious grace is narrower in scope than common grace and as the name indicates, it is efficacious, that is effective, in those to whom it is given. All who are the recipients of efficacious grace respond to it and become believers. Efficacious grace is also called special grace in contrast to common grace.

A concise definition of efficacious grace is “the work of the Holy Spirit which effectively moves men to believe in Jesus Christ as Saviour.”28 A further definition is that “Special grace is irresistible.…by changing the heart it makes man perfectly willing to accept Jesus Christ unto salvation and to yield obedience to the will of God.”29 An important emphasis in this definition is that efficacious grace renders the person willing to believe in Jesus Christ; in other words, the individual willingly believes. He does not come against his will. Walvoord’s definition has a similar emphasis: “[efficacious grace is] the instantaneous work of God empowering the human will and inclining the human heart to faith in Christ.”30 Efficacious grace is based on the “called” passages of Scripture (cf. Rom. 1:1, 6–7; 8:28; 1 Cor. 1:1–2, 24, 26; Eph. 1:18; 4:1, 4; 2 Tim. 1:9). This calling denotes the effective invitation of God whereby He woos the person through the power of the Holy Spirit and renders the individual willing to respond to the gospel.[9]


Define the dispensational views regarding the Holy Spirit and determine for yourself which of the views seems most Biblical and which seem most extreme:

It proved difficult to find material bearing on this. Clearly the ministry of the Holy Spirit will be different in today’s Age of Grace, to that in the Tribulation, that in the Millennium and presumably to that in the New Heaven and Earth. The ministries in the previous Dispensations (Creation to Christ) are sufficiently poorly defined (apart from that mentioned above) that differences are unlikely to be obvious.



Explain the difference between the Holy Spirit’s work of Theocratic enablement versus regeneration:

See above


[1]Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. Originally Published: Dallas, Tex. : Dallas Seminary Press, 1947-1948., Vol. 1, Page 401. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993.

[2] The Holy Bible : King James Version. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.

[3]Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. Originally Published: Dallas, Tex. : Dallas Seminary Press, 1947-1948., Vol. 1, Page 402. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993.

[4]Ibid p404

i.e. id est, that is

cf. confer, compare

[5]Hartley, John E. Vol. 4, Word Biblical Commentary : Leviticus. Word Biblical Commentary, Page 362. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.

[6]Enns, Paul P. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997, c1989.

[7] The Holy Bible : King James Version. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.

22 22. Charles C. Ryrie, The Holy Spirit (Chicago: Moody, 1965), p. 55. See also Ryrie’s The Grace of God (Chicago: Moody, 1963), for a comprehensive discussion of grace.

23 23. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 436.

[8]Enns, Paul P. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997, c1989.

28 28. Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, p. 61.

29 29. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 436.

30 30. John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1958), p. 122.

[9]Enns, Paul P. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997, c1989.

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