The WORK of the Holy Spirit in salvation

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    Many seem to disagree over what WORK the Holy Spirit does in the salvation process. In that discussion, it seems that the work the Holy Spirit has done in bringing the gospel through scripture and through messengers is disregarded or taken for granted.

    Let me explain. We all agree that scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit must work in order for someone to be saved, but what is that "work?"

    Is not the gospel itself a work of the Holy Spirit? Is not the gospel the "power of God unto Salvation?"

    Does not faith come by hearing this gospel?

    During the time of Christ this gospel message was a "mystery" that even the disciple themselves didn't fully understand. The Holy Spirit had not been poured out and the gospel truth had not been sent out to the world.

    It was ONLY AFTER CHRIST was lifted up that he sent the Holy Spirit and commissioned the apostles to go into all the world, thus "drawing" all the world to himself. Until that time, however, Jesus warns his disciples to keep things quite and he even hides the gospel truth in parables "lest they do repent." (Mk 4; Matt 13) Now why would that be necessary if indeed the gospel isn't powerful enough to lead someone to salvation apart from a prior work of regeneration?
     
  2. BobinKy

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    A few paragraphs from Life in the Spirit (Oden, 1987).



    The Neglect of the Teaching of the Holy Spirit

    The work of the Spirit has been less studied and consensually defined than the work of the Son. When Paul asked his hearers at Ephesus, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" they answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit" (Acts 19:2). Even now many think it possible to teach the gospel of Jesus without awareness of the work of the Spirit. . . . The modern tendency is to depersonalize the Spirit, to treat God the Spirit as reducible to an idea of spirituality or an attribute of God, rather than God's own personal meeting with persons living in history. . . . The laity have a right to be scripturally instructed, but the clergy remain ill prepared (Oden, 1987, p. 3-4).

    Spirit Works Through the Word in the Heart to Persuade

    The Spirit both inspires the scripture and convinces the hearer of its truth. . . . The Spirit does not work only objectively or externally through scripture and preaching. The Spirit also works inwardly: in the heart of the unconverted to elicit repentance and faith, and in the heart of the believer to dispense the gifts of the Spirit in faith, hope, and love. In this way the Spirit works to bring the saving grace of the triune God to realization by eliciting full response to the unalloyed message of salvation, the whole counsel of God.

    Two steps are implied: The Holy Spirit works in the administration of redemption first to speak to the human spirit through scripture and preaching, and then within the human spirit to elicit repentance and faith. The Spirit thus works both externally in bearing the objective testimony of scripture and preaching and inwardly within the hearts of the resistant as well as the faithful. It is through the work of the Spirit that humanity has come to hear of the work of the Son.

    Elihu reasoned that "it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding" (Job 32:8). Only the inwardly personal spirit of a man or woman is able to hear the intensely personal disclosure of the Spirit of Yahweh [God]. God's own Spirit enables the human spirit to understand the word itself, and that the word comes from God. . . . The Spirit assists hearers to "understand what God has freely given us" (1 Cor. 2:12). Unless the Spirit is active to penetrate our self-deceptions, how could we, trapped in a history of sin, recognize this address? The Spirit works preveniently to make the mind receptive, to enable openness to the divine address, and to prepare the believer to be unafraid of receiving the truth. . . .

    It is the Spirit of truth who is Himself the truth (John 14:17; 1 John 5:7). Now we see as if dimly through a mirror. The Holy Spirit works to make the image clearer. Ultimately we will come closer to a more perfect knowledge (1 Cor. 13) (Oden, 1987, p. 72-73). ​


    REFERENCE
    Oden, Thomas C. (1987). Life in the Spirit. [Systematic Theology, vol. 3.]. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.


    ...Bob
     
    #2 BobinKy, Feb 12, 2011
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  3. Skandelon

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    Where does the scripture teach of this second inward working? Is the gospel itself powerless without this? If so, certainly the scripture would speak of it very clearly, right?
     
  4. Tom Butler

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    This is a good topic to discuss. Thanks, Skandelon, for starting this thread.

    The Holy Spirit is active in illuminating the mind. Bob has already mentioned I Corinthians 2, where Paul says the Spirit enables discernment.

    V. 10 But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit....

    The Holy Spirit is active in regeneration. Jesus said in John 3 that believers are born of water and the Spirit. (I believe the water is the scripture, as Paul said in Eph 5:26 "....cleansed by the washing of water of the word."). Jesus also told Nicodemus that that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

    I read somewhere that the Spirit is the agent in regeneration, and the word is the instrument.

    The same Paul who said spiritual things are spiritually discerned, enabled by the Spirit in I Cor 2:10-14, also said one chapter earlier that it pleased God to save through the foolishness of preaching. (1:21)

    Neither of these propositions conflict with the idea that the gospel is the power of God to salvation. In fact, they explain how it is so.
     
    #4 Tom Butler, Feb 12, 2011
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  5. convicted1

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    This is a very good topic to discuss!! Thanks for starting this one!!

    Now, this is the way I have believed the Spirit works in our salvation process. When we are saved, the blood cleanses our soul and purifies it. Then the Holy Ghost comes in and takes up His abode and leads and directs us in the way of righteousness. IOW, the Spirit goes no further than the blood of the Lamb. Wherever the blood is, He is, and where it isn't, He isn't.

    John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

    Rom. 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    1 Cor. 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

    Whenever we are born again, the Spirit comes in and takes up His abode in our soul/spirit. It then bares witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God. So the Spirit of God dwells in the "inner man"!!! Praise His sweet name!!

    i am I AM's!!

    Willis
     
  6. mets65

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    The Gospel, and the entire word of God is a work of the Holy Spirit. This of course isn't the only way that the Holy Spirit works in us to draw us to him but I would say it is the foundation of the work of the Holy Spirit.
     
  7. glfredrick

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    Good topic. I'll continue reading.
     
  8. Skandelon

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    And clearly he is speaking to believers about better understanding the things of the spirit. This is not necessarily about the work of the spirit in salvation, though it could be a reflection of that work I suppose. I just don't see enough here to rest an entire doctrine of a "second working" of the spirit in addition to the work of inspiring men to write scripture producing the gospel...and his continual indwelling of believers to inspire them as they preach.

    I agree, but through what means does the Spirit work, is really the question I'm exploring here. Do we just assume that a work of the spirit is some erie inward secret movement? Or could it be the work that is clearly revealed in scripture...the "power of God unto salvation," the WORD itself? Consider these texts:

    Acts 4:31
    And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (The Holy Spirit's work is the preaching of the WORD)

    Ephesians 6:17
    Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Again, the Word is equated with the Spirit)

    John 6:63
    The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (Again, the author equates the words being preached with the spirit.)

    Hebrews 4:12
    For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (This indicates the power of the words to penetrate)

    This passage is also about "the deep things of God" vs 10 and not necessarily regarding salvation. In fact in the following verses speak of the inability of the carnal believers in Corinth being unable to discern these truths. So, once again I don't think this addresses the question of the OP.
     
  9. Tom Butler

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    Skandelon, my view is that along with the preaching of the word, there must be a work of the Holy Spirit to open our understanding. That's what I mean by illuminating the mind.

    Paul said this in 2 Corinthians 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. I think one can make the case that the gospel is hid to the perishing, and it takes a work of the HS to unveil it.

    I'm not making a Calvinist argument here that it is unveiled to the elect. I'm making the case that it is veiled to the lost, and requires and unveiling.
     
  10. Skandelon

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    I understand that view, but that is the view I'm questioning. I'm wondering if there is sufficient biblical support to suggest the need for a second working of the spirit. Is the gospel not powerful enough apart from this additional working? If so, where is that clearly laid out in scripture.

    How is that that you can tell me the story of George Washington and I have the ability to believe that truth, but not the ability to believe the truth of the story about Christ? My contention is that only those who have grown hardened wouldn't be able to hear, see, understand and repent. (i.e. Acts 28:21-28, etc)

    Is it veiled from them because they are perishing or are they perishing because it is veiled from them?

    Could it be that if they turned to Christ the veil would be removed? Maybe the veil is representative of the hardening process that takes place when one continues to turn away from God. If you read the context of that passage I think that idea is very supported.

    I understand that, but as I stated, I'm not sure there is enough here to suggest an additional work of the spirit is needed beyond the work of bringing the gospel and holy spirit indwelled messengers.
     
  11. Dr. Bob

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    Major work of the holy Spirit is in regenerating sinful man. John 3 details explicitly this unseen work in the heart of God's elect.

    Without this "born again" regeneration, man cannot be saved. He cannot even hear the truth or see the light. Without this work, all the other work of the Spirit (inspiration, empowering, filling, etc) would have no result. What He uses (verses, testimony, lifestyle, creation) is secondary in importance.

    So put me down on the "priority" list as holding to the regenerating work of the Spirit as #1.
     
  12. pinoybaptist

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    Lots of philosophy going on in here.
    My questions are:

    When did the Holy Spirit begin to exist for the benefit of God's people ?

    Wasn't He around before the gospel ?

    Did He stay up in Heaven beside the Father until it was time for Him to raise up Christ ?

    Does He "hitch a ride" with the gospel and its preachers so He can get to God's child ?
     
  13. Skandelon

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    It really doesn't detail it in a way that supports Calvinism unless one brings their presuppositions to the text.

    You are describing the hardened individual not a merely unregenerate one. Acts 28:21-28 and other text reveal this clearly.

    Do you have any specific text that support these claims?
     
  14. Tom Butler

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    Let me juxtapose some scripture verses, both written by Paul, '"written to the congregation at Corinth:

    1. I Corinthians 1:21 "it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe." This supports Skandelon's argument that the gospel is powerful enough in itself without a 'second working of the spirit.'

    2. 2 Corinthians 2:9-10 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

    Paul wrote these things 19 verses apart, part of the same discourse. Paul obviously does not write these things to conflict with each other. Therefore, I can agree with Skandelon that the gospel is sufficient, and also hold that the Holy Spirit reveals truth to us.

    In fact, just a couple of verses later, verse 2:12/13 Paul says we have received the things of God, which are the things about which Paul speaks, which the Holy Ghost teaches.
     
  15. BobinKy

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    Some good discussion about the work of the Holy Spirit can be found in Life in the Spirit by Thomas C. Oden, which is vol. 3 in his Systematic Theology Series (1987), Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. I quoted a few paragraphs from this book in a previous post of this thread.

    [​IMG]



    Hendrickson has also published the series in a single volume edition under the title Classic Christianity: A Systematic Theology (2009). The smaller font is tough on aging eyes, but you do have fewer indexes to search when looking up topics or scripture references.

    [​IMG]



    Oden is an evangelical theologian in the Wesleyan Methodist tradition. His Systematic Theology Series presents scriptural support, as well as references to theologians from the first century forward. His writing style is accessible for both clergy and laity. Among the various theology resources--Oden is my favorite.

    Another good theology resource that I have hung on to is Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (2nd ed.) edited by Walter A. Elwell, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker. T. S. Caulley presents a short summary on the theology of the Holy Spirit in his article published in this dictionary (p. 568-573).

    [​IMG]



    Another summary article on the theology of the Holy Spirit is presented by P. K. Jewett in The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible (5 vols, revised, 2008).

    [​IMG]



    I am sure there has been much good theology published on the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, other forum participants can continue to list their favorite references.

    . . .

    Back to Oden, which is the most extensive discussion I have run across on the Holy Spirit (548 pages). Here is the Table of Contents from Oden's Life in the Spirit, vol. 3 of his Systematic Theology Series. Chapter 2 discusses the work of the Holy Spirit (p. 31-78).

    Life in the Spirit
    Vol. 3 of Systematic Theology by Thomas C. Oden

    Table of Contents

    Part I. The Holy Spirit
    Chapter 1. The Person of the Holy Spirit.
    Chapter 2: The Work of the Holy Spirit.

    Part II. Salvation
    Chapter 3. The Way of Repentance.
    Chapter 4. Justification by Grace through Faith.
    Chapter 5. Baptism of the Spirit.
    Chapter 6. Union with Christ and Sanctification.

    Part III. The Church
    Chapter 7. The Community of Celebration.
    Chapter 8. Marks of Ekklesia.

    Part IV. Human Destiny
    Chapter 9. Last Things: Death and Personal Survival.
    Chapter 10. The End of Human History.
    Chapter 11. The Communion of Saints and the Life Everlasting.

    Indexes

    ...Bob
     
    #15 BobinKy, Feb 14, 2011
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  16. Skandelon

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    I agree. When we rightly understand that the scriptures are themselves a work of the Holy Spirit we don't dismiss them as just being some common powerless revelation. We have to understand that when all this was happening in the first century that it was a mystery that Christ had died for the sins of the world (including Gentiles). The gospel was unheard of and once it was revealed and spread by word of mouth through Holy Spirit indwelled people it was a powerful thing. The church (the spirit of the bride) says "COME!" That is a work of the Spirit which should NEVER be thought of as being insufficient because scripture NEVER indicates that it is.
     
  17. glfredrick

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    Are these rhetorical questions?

    The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, and we find His activity in Genesis 1 -- and obviously He predates Creation, as Holy God of Holy God, the Holy Spirit IS.

    But, also, He was not sent by God into every believer until Pentecost. That was part of the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Joel (and other OT prophets as well).
     
  18. webdog

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    I see the point you are making, and the point Tom is making. In actuality, you are both right :)

    The Word is power in itself, but I also agree with Tom that the Holy Spirit can and will act to illuminate the Word. The Ethiopian riding on the chariot is a a good example. The Holy Spirit worked in this individual's life to illuminate the Word to him, even though the Word is fully inspired. Acts 17:26-27 also states that each individual who has ever lived was placed in the right location and place in history to seek God and perhaps reach out and find Him. This is the Holy Spirit's work.
     
  19. Skandelon

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    I don't doubt the ability and even need of the Holy Spirit to illuminate certain spiritual matters in some inward and secret manner at times throughout history. For example, Jesus chose to reveal himself to Thomas to give him greater understanding and belief, but does that mean it is necessary for all and that he needs to do it for all in this manner?

    In the case of the Ethiopian, you must remember he is reading the Old Testament and doesn't not have the gospel teaching which reveals the mysterious truth of Christ and his provision for the whole world. That had to be explained to him. How? The Gospel.

    So, the question is more along the lines of the necessity of an extra work of illumination for someone to sufficiently understand and thus choose to believe the gospel message. Make sense?
     

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