The Person and Work of the Spirit of God: Part 2

Introduction and Review:
We are going to look at part 2 of this series that I have entitled the person and work of the Spirit of God. Last week, we look at the Spirit of God and his work throughout history. We focused on his personhood as third person of the trinity and the equality He has in the godhead and yet his distinctive roles as the Spirit. One of those roles we studied was the roles at creation. What we need to see is how the Spirit of God is active both in the creation of all of life, both biological and spiritual. The direction for our study today is to see the Spirit at work in the creation in the spiritual life of all believers from beginning to end. We will frame these doctrinally truths with two major works in the whole of Redemption: regeneration and preservation.
To begin, let’s look at Eph 1 and let’s frame the work of God in salvation with all of history. Let’s look at three verses in Eph 1.
Ephesians 1:3–4 NASB95
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
To begin out study today, we look at the context of Paul writing to the Ephesians about their spiritual heritage in salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ alone. They were given spiritual blessings in Jesus because of the truth that He chose them and all believers in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world.
This means that our election to salvation by the Father, which was accomplished by the Son, is the starting point for the Spirit’s work. In other words, as John says in Revelation chapter 3, 13, 17, 21 and 23, those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world are the ones who are saved in Christ Jesus by the Spirit of God working in them.
Hypothetically, it’s as if the Father comes to the Son and the Spirit in a roundtable meeting in eternity past, and says, “ok, Men, here are a list of names that will belong to the church, your Bride-Son, whom I am giving you. These people are the ones who you will go and give your life upon the cross to gain victory over sin and death for them. Spirit, these people will be the ones you work powerfully in to give them new life, make them holy and keep them until the end from falling.” This is exactly what
The Spirit’s work begins in the great doctrine of election. Keep reading in Eph 1:7-8
Ephesians 1:7–8 (NASB95)
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us.
This is when the work of the Son is accomplished at calvary. Forgiveness of sin is accomplished in his death and resurrection and applied to those who WILL BELIEVE in the the church, the bride of Christ.
Now look at verse 13-14
Ephesians 1:13–14 NASB95
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
I will show you from today from Scripture how the Spirit is at work in this description by Paul for all who “listen to the message of truth, the gospel…having also believed” is a work of regeneration in your lives and in doing so at your new life in Christ, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit until be kept forever with Christ. These are the beginning and final


The first doctrine we want to understand about the work of the Spirit, is the way that the Spirit gives new life to those who believe in Christ. We have already look at this in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 NASB95
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
We looked then at how the Spirit of God takes unclean, unholy, spiritually dead persons and he makes them alive with new life. We call this regeneration and it does NOT befall on every man and woman but only those who are saved by the grace of God unto salvation.
This is the conversation that Jesus has with Nicodemus in John 3 which is where we will look closely at the doctrine of Regeneration by the spirit so please turn there.
John 3:3–6 NASB95
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
The background is a teacher comes to Jesus under the disguise of night to inquire more of Jesus about if he truly is more than just a teacher sent by God. Some believe he was just a spy for the religious leaders to trap and condemn Jesus. Others believe he came secretly because of his desire to learn more about the teachings of Jesus. Nicodemus’ statement to Jesus in v2 only acknowledges that Jesus is a teacher sent from God but Jesus speaks to the greater issue of Nicodemus’ heart.
Jesus makes two parallel statements in v 3 and 5:
Being born again- seeing the kingdom of God
Being born of water and spirit- entering the kingdom of God
RC Sproul writes,
“To be “born again” is to experience a second genesis. It is a new beginning, a fresh start in life. When something is started, we say that it is generated. If it is started again, it is regenerated.”
Sproul, R.C. Mystery of the Holy Spirit, The . Christian Focus Publications. Kindle Edition.
The idea that Jesus is communicating to this religious leader of the people is that transformative work of the Spirit must occur in every person before they can see and enter God’s eternal kingdom. For Nicodemus, this would mean that no religious merit and service would gain him access to God’s kingdom, only a work of the Spirit of God within him.
This doctrine of regeneration is the process whereby the Spirit of God transforms a wretched, spiritually dead, rebel against God and radlically changes him so that new life is given by the Spirit, grounded in the work of Christ upon the cross, who defeated sin and death and rose from the grave, promising new life to all His people.
In order to understand how we are regenerated by the Spirit, be reminded what we are transformed from:
spiritually dead (Eph 2:1)
spiritually blind (Eph 4:18)
a slave to sin (John 8:34)
bound to darkness and evil (Col 1:13)
enemies of God (Romans 5:10)
truth suppressors (Romans 1:18)
But God by his grace does not leave his people in this state, but he sends his Spirit to save sinners by giving new life in Christ Jesus. Look with me back in Eph 2
Ephesians 2:1–5 (NASB95)
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
The Spirit makes the believer in Jesus Christ alive so that we can and will believe in His only Son for salvation for sins. It is creation of new life which sees Christ as satisfactory over the world, who rests in the peace of his finished work on the cross and who hopes in the glorious resurrection from the dead.
Jesus uses the picture of physical birth as a great instructor to our spiritual rebirth. We must ask in what ways are we agents of our physical births? We cannot cause ourselves to be born in any way. Likewise to enter the kingdom of God is to be reborn by the Spirit in his power and timing alone. We talked about this in month or so ago as we looked at the gift of faith by the Spirit being a monergistic truth.
MON-ERG-ISTIC: One power acted upon us, bringing us to new birth
SYN-ERG-ISTIC: Cooperation with available power to bring new birth
Mono- meaning one, erg- from energy which means that one singular power is part of our being born again or be regenerated- God’s Spirit working in us. This is contrary to the idea that out new birth is SYN-ERG-ISTIC, SYN meaning working together with an available power to regenerate. Clearly, synergism in relationship to our new birth in Christ is not what Jesus is teaching Nicodemus about how people are born again.
One more passage for us to look at for further proof, if Paul and the Lord Jesus has not convinced you. How about our passage that was read earlier:
1 Peter 1:3 NASB95
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Here Peter speaks in the divine passive tense where those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, do so because God acted upon them to begat them or cause them to be born again. It is in his power and plan for His people to be saved through the Spirit of God who works in us.
This gives us great clarity in our own efforts in salvation. We are incapable to doing anything thing to merit our salvation. We have no ability in us. We have do desire to be saved in our wretched and unregenerate state. The Lord invades our lives by His Spirit to awaken us, regenerate us and save us all by his beautiful and unlimited grace.
Now let’s look at the end of our lives. Not only does the Spirit of God bring us to new life in Christ, but he keeps us until the end.

2. Preservation

Ephesians 1:13–14 NASB95
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Looking back to Ephesians again, Paul gives us a concluding promise to give believers in Jesus Christ great hope. The Holy Spirit seals those who believe in Christ alone. The sealing of the Spirit is Paul using a common word picture of a royal seal that would have been pressed into wax to seal official documents sent by the king. Charles Hodge reminds us that sealing accomplished three things:
A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (Commentary)
1. To authenticate or confirm as genuine and true 2. To mark as one’s property 3. To render secure
2 other passages that speak to this sealing:
Ephesians 4:30 NASB95
30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
2 Corinthians 1:21–22 NASB95
21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
To he sure that we belong to God, Paul continues by reminding the Gentile believers that the Spirit was given, and it manifest in their lives so that they may know that they belong to Christ. Paul uses another word picture, ‘a pledge of our inheritance.” Some better translations are an earnest or guarantee of our inheritance. Graham Cole elaborates,
“In commercial transactions in Paul’s day the term described a sum of money paid in advance to validate a legal contract or secure an article of some kind. Unlike a pledge, this earnest money was not returnable.”
— He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit by Graham A. Cole
Paul is saying that the Holy Spirit has been deposited into the life of a believer, securing him or her to something ensured to come in the future, an eschatological hope of eternity with Jesus Christ. He weds that hope to a relationship verbage as a pledge of our inheritance. The giving of the Holy Spirit to believers, give us the full confidence that what Jesus promises as eternal life for all who believe, can NEVER LOSE or FALL SHORT of realizing that future hope of a life in the presence of eternal glory.
Connecting this doctrine of preservation, we then must link it to two more concepts that help us understand our preservation:
Justification: ** I am not trying to throw a lot of big terms at you for the sake of sounding intellectual. Instead, we must see the connection of all these workings of the Spirit in our lives. Justification is a legal term that reflects the legal standing before a holy God. The Bible teaches that justification comes at faith in Christ.
Romans 3:28 NASB95
28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
Romans 4:3 NASB95
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Righteousness is given to us by God, we cannot earn or acquire it by following the Law of God. This is why Jesus came to the earth, to live a perfect life and in his death and resurrection, being justified before God, he became the perfect and necessary substitute for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB95
21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
When we are regenerated by the Spirit, we are given faith to believe in Christ alone for salvation. Upon that faith to believe, the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to each individual so that before the eyes of the Just Judge, we are innocent in his sight. Our justification leads to our escaping the wrath that is to come, because they blood of Christ and the promise of the Holy Spirit confirms our safety and security in Him.
Sproul writes,
“it is absolutely crucial to understand and fix firmly in our minds that if regeneration is real it will always and ever yield faith. If faith is genuine it will always and ever yield justification.”
2. Adoption: Paul gives one more beauftiful word picture back in Eph 1:13 when he states that the Spirit is the promise and pledge of our inheritance. Inheritance is a word centered on relationship. The inheritance of heaven and a relationship with Yahweh was a Jewish promise but Paul speaks these words to Gentiles, like you and I. While we are promised by the work of the Spirit in our regeneration and justification that we are new creations that will not face the wrath of God, we must also see that we were now enemies of God, are now sons and daughters of the most high king.
This reality was so important for Paul to confirm in the hearts of Gentiles who were not taught the Scriptures as young boys and girls. They did not know these promises of God’s eternal rest could be available for them. But when Jesus spoke of this to his disciples.
John 10:14–16 NASB95
14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
This is the good shepherd, who protects all his sheep, those Jews who believed the promised of God and those Gentiles who believed that his promised are extended to them as well in Jesus Christ. This ensures that the YHWH is Father to Jews and Gentiles, all one flock, united in a relationship with the Creator, in the Son and by the Spirit.
Ephesians 1:14 (NASB95)
14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
This brings great glory to God to accomplish such a work in us through his Spirit. It magnifies his great love, his great grace and his great power. This belonging brings great hope and confidence to the believer to know that no matter who a person is culturally or even sinfully, the grace of Christ is extended to sinners and through a miraculous work of regeneration by the Spirit, sinners are made righteous in the sight of God and are preserved to the end by their loving Heavenly Father. There is no reason to doubt when Christ has saved us by His miraculous grace. We are secure in him!
John 10:27–28 NASB95
27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
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