The works of the Holy Spirit
From the very beginning, the Holy Spirit has been at work. Generally, His work (as the Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient God) covers everything and every realm of existence. He was involved in the Creation (Psalm 104:30; Job 33:4). His activities extend to the revelation of Divine will and plan of redemption for mankind, as well as the authorship of the Scripture (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16). The Holy Spirit also played key roles in the earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Our focus here, however, is on the works of the Holy Spirit in relation to the salvation of man and the life of a Christian.
In promising to send the Holy Spirit, Jesus specified the work he was to do, particularly in relation to salvation and Christian life (John 16:7-16). The work was categorised in the passage into two namely: Convincing/Convicting (8-11) and Guidance into all truth/Revelation (12-15):
• Convincing/Convicting: The Greek word used here, elegcho, as variously rendered in the NT, can mean convince, convict, expose, show fault, rebuke and refute. It is obviously used here to mean convincing and convicting “in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment”. It is the Holy Spirit that in the first place, can make a person to see himself as sinner, and then be assured of the righteousness brought about by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, as well as Divine judgment. It is only by the convicting/convincing work of the Holy Spirit that one is saved and remains saved unto the end.
• The Guidance/Revelation work ensures that the Christian does not derail from the Way. He will be enabled to live the life that is in accordance with God’s Will, and to His praise and glory.
Our salvation, holy life and successful mission as Christians are possible only by the works of the Holy Spirit. There is a limit to what we can do. For instance, we can preach, but it is the Holy Spirit that can do the conviction and conversion. He is the one who brings conviction to the unbeliever and causes him to see the truth of the gospel in a clear light. Those who respond to this conviction and place their faith in Jesus Christ receive eternal life and a new nature.
The spiritual birth and fruitful/holy life are entirely dependent on the works and activities of the Holy Spirit, which are variously captured in the Bible as follows: He enhances access to God (Eph. 2:18); assures the sonship of God (Rom. 8:15-16, Gal. 4:6), cleanses from filthiness and unrighteousness (I Thess. 3:13, I Pet. 1:2); convicts of sin (John 16:9, 14); commissions tasks (Acts 20:28); empowers for service and witness (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8); intercedes (Rom. 8:26); interprets scripture (I Cor. 2:1, 14; Eph. 1:17); leads and guides in truth (Rom. 8:14, Jn. 16:13); teaches (Jn. 14:26); strengthens in the inner man (Eph. 3:16); regenerates (Titus 3:5); sanctifies (Rom. 15:16); seals (Eph. 1:13,14; 4:30); gives spiritual gifts (I Cor. 12:8-11); etc.
The Holy Spirit plays a major role in the application of salvation to the individual. He unites the believer with Christ in His death, enabling him to live victoriously over sin. The Holy Spirit in us is not for embellishment or fancy. He is rather a pressing need of every Christian and should be activated and fully utilised. It is tragic to resist or ignore the works of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The Ven. Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.