The Business of the King (4)
“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.” John 16.7
We are beginning to see that, as He rules from His throne of power at the right hand of God, our King Jesus is continuously and critically busy. He upholds the creation and everything in it, giving to all creatures and things life and continued existence according to His steadfast love and faithfulness. And He intercedes for His people to ensure that they may be strong in their faith and pleasing to their heavenly Father.
But Jesus continues to pursue His business in other ways as well, and, in so doing, He is not alone. With the Father, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to His faithful children and directs His work as He prepares the saints, from glory to glory, for their appointed callings and tasks. With the Spirit, moreover, our King marshals His angels, day by day, to protect, guide, and assist the saints in the great work of making disciples to which He has appointed them (Heb. 1.5-7; Rev. 14.6, 7).
The Spirit of God, with multitudes of angels to assist Him, serves in the interests and for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in equipping His people and building His Church (Jn. 14.26; 1 Cor. 12.4-7; Eph. 2.19-22). This should not be taken to imply some subordinate role for the Spirit; rather, His work fulfills the work of Jesus, Who could not accomplish His agenda without the aid of that heavenly Comforter.
But what does Jesus send the Spirit to do in the lives of His people? Four tasks in particular have been entrusted to this most holy and powerful member of the Triune God.
The Spirit gathers the saints
The first work of the Holy Spirit is that of gathering the elect of God and bringing them into the fold of King Jesus. The Spirit accompanies the preaching of the Word of God to regenerate and indwell those whom God has chosen from before the foundations of the world (Jn. 6.63; Gal. 4.6; Jn. 3.6-8; Eph. 1.4). Those whose names have been written in the Book of Life await the word of witness from faithful evangelists, so that, with the hearing of the Gospel, they might be saved (Rom. 10.10-17). When it pleases God, on such occasions, the Spirit convicts lost sinners of their sin, opens their eyes to the Truth of God, captures their hearts, and engages their tongues to confess God as Father and Jesus Christ as Savior and King.
"...none of us would ever come to a salvation and life in Jesus Christ."
Were it not for the fact that the Spirit, the “eyes of the Lord” (Zech. 3.9-4.10), roams the earth in search of the lost sheep of God, none of us would ever come to a salvation and life in Jesus Christ. We were dead in our trespasses and sins and enemies of God; we would never have sought Him on our own, though that is His longing (Eph. 2.1; Rom. 5.10; Acts 17.26, 27). But our King Who loves us with an everlasting love sends His Spirit out, the White Horse of Revelation 6.2, day by day, to patrol the earth and gather those whose appointed time has finally and graciously come.
The Spirit sanctifies the saints
The second work of the Spirit is to sanctify the saints of God, working within them with mighty power to transform them into the image of Jesus Christ and make them willing and able to do the will of God (2 Cor. 3.12-18; Phil. 2.12, 13).
This He does, again, by the ministry of the Word of God (Jn. 17.17), causing the read, studied, preached, and taught Word to dwell within the believer where it begins to bear fruit in a transformed heart, mind, conscience, and life. The Spirit uses the Law of Christ, as foundational to all the rest of God’s Word, in this great undertaking (Ezek. 36.26, 27), teaching and admonishing, by comparing Scripture with Scripture (1 Cor. 2.12, 13), in order to shape and fashion the believer increasingly into the image of Jesus Christ, Who is the end of the Law for all who believe (Rom. 10.4).
This work of sanctification is accomplished from within the soul, where, as the Spirit convicts, teaches, and fills, the believer comes to understand and desire the things of the Lord, leading to obedience in the whole of life. All this work of the Spirit is directed by our King Jesus, since His words are the means for our sanctification (Jn. 6.63; 14.26) and His image is the end to which we are being conformed (2 Cor. 3.12-18).
This work of sanctification divides into two aspects, holiness and equipping for ministry (2 Cor. 7.1; Eph. 4.11, 12). As we are being sanctified, the Spirit enables us to bear virtuous fruit and employ supernatural abilities in glorifying God and serving others (Gal. 5.22, 23; 1 Cor. 12.7-11).
The Spirit empowers the saints
This leads seamlessly into the fourth great work for which Jesus sends His Spirit to His saints: that they might be empowered to do the will of God in serving others and being witnesses for Jesus Christ (Jn. 13.1-15; Acts 1.8).
"The gift of the Spirit is not an end in itself..."
The gift of the Spirit is not an end in itself, but a means to the end of glorifying God through our Lord Jesus Christ by good works of love (Eph. 2.10) and good words of truth (Eph. 4.15). As the Spirit sanctifies the believer, he gains not only an understanding of divine mysteries, but a growing hunger and zeal for them, that he might carry them out in obedience. That, in turn, establishes the will of God as the primary value of the conscience, leading to acts of obedience in service and witness to others.
The Spirit keeps the saints
Finally, the Spirit of God, sent by Jesus and the Father, keeps the saints of God against anything that might pluck them from the Father’s hand (1 Pet. 1.5). The Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the sons and daughters of God (Rom. 8.16). Thus assured, we rest in His presence and care, fixing our minds on the things that are above, where Christ is seated in glory, and not on the things below (Col. 3.1-3; 2 Cor. 4.6).
We are kept from falling away by the staying power of the Holy Spirit, not by our good works. He keeps and guards us unto the day of redemption; we joyfully concur in His inward witness and strive to demonstrate our gratitude and sense of calling through sanctification and service.
So our King Jesus is busy through His Spirit on our behalf, working within us to will and do of the Father’s good pleasure, so that we might know true righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit in the Kingdom of God’s own dear Son (Rom. 14.17, 18; Col. 1.13, 14).