56. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the world?

In Biblical teaching, the Holy Spirit is the ‘executor’ of the will of the Father. The word ‘executor’ refers to the person who carries out the will of a deceased person. When a person is alive they make a will so after their death the executor can carry out their desires. Jesus Christ, when on earth, revealed to His disciples the will of the Father. The last verses of Matthew are called the ‘Great Commission’. Jesus’ final words to His disciples were: ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey all the commands I have given you. Be sure of this, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:19,20). This Great Commission reflected the will of the Father because Jesus said He did nothing that the Father had not instructed him to do. What Jesus did and taught is what the Father wanted Him to do. When Jesus left the earth He entrusted the work of this Great Commission to the Holy Spirit to empower believers in Jesus to carry out the Father’s will. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united in perfect harmony; they are One.

In Acts chapter 1 verses 1-5 we read: ‘In my first book (the gospel of Luke) I told you Theophilus (a disciple of Christ) about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up into heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days following his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time and proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them ‘Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised as I told you before. John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’

On the day of Pentecost fifty days after Jesus crucifixion the Holy Spirit came upon one hundred and twenty disciples gathered in an upper room praying. This is recorded in Acts 2 verses 1-12: ‘On the day or Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly there was a sound like a roaring of a mighty windstorm and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone began speaking in other languages as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise everyone came running and they were bewildered to hear their own language being spoken by the believers. They were completely amazed. ‘How can this be’ they exclaimed. These people are all from Galilee and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages. Here are Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phyrgia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our languages about the wonderful things God has done. They stood there amazed and perplexed. ‘What can this mean’ they asked each other.’ Now in the light of history we know that this sign from heaven performed by the Holy Spirit was to empower the disciples to carry out the ‘Great Commission.’ Since that time followers of Jesus Christ have received the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work of spreading the good news about Jesus Christ to all the world. The Bible has been translated into thousands of languages spoken around the world so people of every tribe can have God’s word in their own language. That is why the Bible is accessible to so many people in their own tongue. The Holy Spirit placed the desire in many disciples’ lives down through the last two thousand years to spend a lifetime translating the Bible into the language of a people group who did not have the Bible in their tongue. This work is still not complete. There are still one to two thousand languages spoken in the world that need a Bible translation and many others who do not have the complete Bible in their language.

The Holy Spirit was also given in great power to enable the disciples of Jesus Christ perform miracles so non-believers would see the power of God and want to experience it themselves. Jesus promised that this would happen. In John 1 verses 49-50 we read: ‘When Nathaniel exclaimed, ‘Rabbi (Jesus) you are the Son of God – the King of Israel.’ Jesus asked him, ‘Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under a fig tree? You will see greater things than this.’ Then he said, “ I tell you a truth, you will all see heaven open and then angels of God going up and down on the Son of man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.’ In John 14 verses 12-14 Jesus speaking to his disciples said these amazing words: ‘I tell you a truth, anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with my Father. You can ask for anything in my name and I will do it so that the Son can bring glory to the Father; yes, ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.’ Jesus was able to confidently make this promise and prediction because He knew that the Holy Spirit was coming into the world to empower His disciples so they could be His disciples, and do marvellous works because of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them.
Finally, the Holy Spirit has been given to all believers who place their trust in Jesus for the purpose of making them holy and able to live righteous lives. This is explained in our next question.

The Holy Spirit is also one of the three persons of the Godhead. ‘For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; these three are one’ (1 John 5 verse 7 KJV). The three persons of the Godhead are distinguishable personalities, inseparable, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. They agree as one, in purpose and minister as one, and yet they each have distinct functions. This is demonstrated clearly at the baptism of Jesus Christ recorded in Matthew 3 verses 16, 17: “After his baptism as soon as Jesus came up out of the water the heavens were opened unto him and he saw the Spirit of God coming down in the form of a dove. And a voice (the Father’s) from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son and I am wonderfully pleased with him.’ Lovers of God are to be in relationship and fellowship with all three persons of the Godhead. This is clearly shown in the ‘Great Commission’ in Matt 28 verses 19 & 20. The Holy Spirit has many functions to fulfil. Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would always glorify Christ. ‘When the Holy Spirit, who is truth comes he shall guide you into all truth for he will not be presenting his own ideas but will impart to you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He shall praise me and bring me great honour by showing you my glory’ (John 16 verses 13-14). Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and Jesus glorified His Father and obeyed everything the father told Him to do. The three are One.

Other functions of the Holy Spirit are to:

Convict of Sin: John 16 v 8 Bring mankind to repentance: Acts 11 v 18. Acts of repentance do not earn God’s forgiveness from one’s sin.

Grant forgiveness as a gift from God to those whom he saves.” …they praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’

Bring to life mortal men: 1 Peter 3 v 18

Give ministries: 2 Corinthians 3 v 6

Teach and reveal the Word of God: 2 Peter 1 v 21; John 16 v 13

Give the water of life: Rev 22 v 17.

A Counsellor: John 14 v 15-21

Dwell in the believers: John 14 v 17.

Empower for Service: Acts 1 v 8

Overcome evil spirits: Matt 12 v 28; John 14 v 30

Help us to pray: Romans 8 v 26

Control the movements of believers: Acts 10 v 19 – 20

Direct in the selection of godly leaders: Acts 13 v 2

Choose the mission fields of operation: Acts 16 v 6. Be filled with the Holy Spirit: Eph 5 v 18.