This week we find a helpful summary of the biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Climbing above the confusion of modern misunderstandings or misrepresentations of the Holy Spirit, Packer takes us up to cruising altitude and gives us the 30,000 foot view of what the Bible reveals about the blessed third member of the Trinity. In short order he covers the procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son, the sending of the Spirit by Jesus, and the role of the Spirit in and among God's people.

Included is a helpful summary of that rich vein of Trinitarian theology, John 14-17 (66-68). He then discusses the works of the Spirit, including inspiration (69-70), regeneration (70-71), and illumination (71). He closes with some helpful starting points for application (72).

While this is a quick chapter, it holds immense importance. We would do well to stop and ponder it. As you read this week consider the following questions.


Read

Read chapter 6, "He Shall Testify"


Think

  • How does the modern church undermine and disrespect God's word? Why does this grieve the Holy Spirit? (Ephesians 4:30).
  • What is the chief aim of the Holy Spirit? Why was he sent?
  • How does this conflict with the understanding of many charismatic churches?
  • How should the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, including his part in the new birth (John 3) affect your evangelism? Do you have to say the perfect words, or have the perfect reply to a skeptic? What if you mess up? Can that person still be saved?
  • How should a rich doctrine of the Holy Spirit affect our "worship" or singing in the church? Do we have to create emotions through moving songs for the Spirit to be at work? How does a reliance on ambiance, atmosphere, mood, and emotion dishonor the Holy Spirit?
  • Does the illuminating ministry of the Spirit mean you don't need the ministry of pastors and teachers? Does it mean you don't need to read commentaries? Why or why not? Explain your answers from Scripture.

Recommended Resources:

  • Pick up and read Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth, edited by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue. Read the chapters on the Holy Spirit. It is really good. You can find that book here.
  • If you want a more meaty volume on the Holy Spirit, read volume 3 of John Owen's Works. I know of no volume that compares to Owen's on the person of the Holy Spirit.

My boy Owen

My boy Owen


A final word.

The Holy Spirit acts as our comforter. One of the ways that the Holy Spirit comforts us is by pouring into us from the deep and boundless well of God's consoling love. Owen defines consolation helpfully as "the setting and composing of the soul in rest and contentedness in the midst of or from troubles, by the consideration or presence of some good, wherein it is interested, outweighing the evil, trouble, or perplexity that it hath to wrestle withal (Works, 2:250).

Owen answers two questions that we might have about God's consoling love:

1.How can I access the consolation God promises? Owen answers, "through prayer." The Holy Spirit is the one who prays on our behalf and communicates our prayers to God (Romans 8:26, 27). By the Holy Spirit prayer is,

a means of retaining communion with God, whereby we sweetly ease our hearts in the bosom of the Father, and receive in refreshing tastes of his love. The soul is never more raised with the love of God than when by the Spirit taken into intimate communion with him in the discharge of this duty (prayer); and therein it belongs to the Spirit of consolation, to the Spirit promised as a comforter (Works, 2:249).

2.How powerful is the consoling ministry of the Holy Spirit? Owen answers that by the consolation we gain from the Holy Spirit,

There is no comfort but from them; and there is no trouble that we may not have comfort in and against by them. That a man may have consolation in any condition, nothing is required but the presence of a good, rendering the evil wherewith he is pressed so inconsiderable to him. Suppose a man under the greatest calamity that can possibly befall a child of God,...,let this man have the Holy Ghost performing the works mentioned before towards him, and , in despite of all his evils, his consolations will abound. Suppose him to have a sense of the love of God all the while shed abroad in his heart, a clear witness within that he is a child of God, accepted with him, that he is sealed and marked of God for his own, that he is an heir of all the promises of God, and the like; it is impossible that man should not triumph in all his tribulations (Works, 2:250).

So you see, there is great profit in the ministry of the Holy Spirit and in you growing in your understanding of it. How many Christians today miss out on the consolations, the comfort that is available to them in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Thank God for his faithfulness and his consoling love. Then ask the Spirit of God to show you the truth of God's love toward you from the Bible and to press those truths deep into your heart. May you know the consoling love of God through his Holy Spirit.

 

Postscript.

Is anyone interested in making this informal book club semi-formal? I have been thinking about having a meet up to discuss our reading to date along with some hot beverages and snacks. Any takers? Hit me up at michael@valleychapelfairfield.org.