The Holy Spirit and the Church
Eph 2:19-21 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
The Scriptures are real clear about the many works of the Holy Spirit in the establishment of and in a relationship to the Church. In this blog I want to briefly touch on the following facts concerning the Holy Spirit and His relation to the Church. We will see that the Holy Spirit a. establishes the Church, b. brings unity to the Church, c. equips the Church for life and godliness and growth, d. governs Her and, e. guides the bride of Christ – the Church through the call of men to administer the word and the sacraments..
I. The Holy Spirit Establishes the Church.
The Church is an institution established by the Holy Spirit that includes all believers. The Church is not a man made organization. It is not put together just because a few people want it. The church is made of those who worship the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ. The church is made up of individuals whose lives are united to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit..The entrance into the church is only through the means of “the door” which is JesusChrist (Jn 10). The desire and power to enter the Church through Jesus Christ is done by the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of His people. The Holy Spirit is outside the door sovereignly regenerating the hearts of men and women leading them to repentance of sin faith in the Savior thereby causing them to enterthe Church through and by Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit brings the persons he regenerates to the place where they truly acknowledge that Jesus is Lord (Jn 3:5; 1 Cor. 12).The Holy Spirit has always been the establisher of the Church in both the Old and New Testaments. Notice that the people of God in the Old Testament, in the wilderness wanderings are called the church (Acts 7:38). Paul in Romans 9:24-26 interprets Hosea's references to the Israelites as applying to the Roman Christians. Therefore God places His people into the church in the same way in both the Old and New Testaments. Both saved by faith in the Messiah. The Ephesian Gentiles (Eph. 2:11-16) are said to be one with Israel because of their union with Jesus Christ worked by the Holy Spirit. Sinful hearts since the fall of Adam have always had to be regenerated. Those that are regenerated are sons of God. Those that are, have been or will be regenerated are the Church. The Holy Spirit regenerates men and incorporates them into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).
II. The Holy Spirit Unifies the Church..
The Holy Spirit always mediates the believers union with Christ. It isthrough the Spirit that Christ dwells in the believer. It is by the Holy Spirit that the believer becomes a permanent member of the body of Christ. Believers are united withChrist in his life, death and resurrection. We who believe are in unity with Her head – Jesus Christ and His bride.
Not only are we in union with Christ and the Church but we are in union with each other as believers. We all are baptized by one Spirit into the body, the church. The body ofChrist, the church, is a unit made up of many parts that form the body. Each person intricately make up the parts of the body (1 Cor 12:12-13; Eph. 4:3). The union of believers to each other is a mystical union. It is a union that is very difficult to grasp and is described in the Bible in abstract terms. We must look to the Bible for descriptions for us to understand the magnitude of this union. We are so united by the Holy Spirit that we are described as a functioning body (ICor. 12). We are also so united that we are described as a place for God to dwell (Eph 2:21-22). Jesus even compares this union to the union of the Blessed Trinity (Jn. 17:1 ff.).
Paul compares the believer’s relationship to each other as building materials that go to make a temple. Wood and stone are not the same material but they have an important part in making the one building. As for church amongst the believers the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. It is in the church, the building made by the believers, Jew and Gentile, in union with Christ where God livesand dwells by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:21-22)..
III. The Holy Spirit's Equips the Church.
With in the unity of the Church there is diversity. The distinctive of each character is not done away with at regeneration or salvation. The Holy Spirit regenerates the man, andestablishes the personality and the characteristics of the blessed children of God. The mind, will and actions are renewed in the believer for the unity of the body of Christ. Each person’s personality is affected by the work of the Holy Spirit in the direction of righteousness and holiness with the desire to do that which would please God..
The Holy Spirit gives different gifts to the members of the church as it pleased Him. The Holy Spirit granted to the early church specialized gifts such as tongues, prophecy, miracles, healings..
No one in the church is without a gift for "to each man the manifestation ofthe Spirit is given" (1 Cor 12:7). The gifts are given to the Church for the profit and welfare of all members of the church of Christ (1 Cor 12). In order to be a functioning church there is a need of the gifts the Lord gives His people who are the church. The greater parts of the Body are in need of the lesser parts, and visa versa, as Paul states in 1 Cor 12..
Practically we are so united to one another that we can move forward together in evangelistic and missionary efforts, preaching and proclaiming the Messiah's life, death, burial and resurrection. We can contend together for the most holy faith once deliverd to the saints. And we can also seek to take dominion which is our calling in life by the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit doing all things to the glory of God (Gen 1,2; 1 Cor. 15). We can together stand against abortion, new age, and sins. Living orthodoxy can be our cry. Therefore we should make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit and be oneeven as the Holy Trinity is one (Eph. 4:3; Jn. 17:11).
IV. The Holy Spirit Governs the Church.
The Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the apostlesexpanded the Church. The Church has been given directions concerning the functioning and tasks which it has been called to do. Our Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit governs the organized church in its various activities. The Scriptures, inspired by the Holy Spirit, established the church in it's: form of government, discipline, sacraments, care for the poor, etc. The Holy Spirit, provided and provides, the human leadership by giving gifts to certain men to be apostles, pastors, teachers and rulers. (1 Cor. 12:28 w/ Rom. 12)..
The Bible gives many examples (the whole of the scriptures) of the Holy Spiritguiding the church. We can only conclude then from the passages below that it is the Holy Spirit which appoints, directs and rules the church through Jesus Christ.
Acts 13:2 = The Holy Spirit told the Church at Antioch to ordain Pauland Barnabas as missionaries..
Acts 16:6,7 = The Holy Spirit guided Paul on his missionary journeys..
Acts 15:28 = The Holy Spirit directed the decisions of the Jerusalemcouncil..
Rev. Chapters 2, 3 = The Holy Spirit confronted and counseled the Churchesin Asia Minor..
Acts 20:28 = The elders are overseers of the church of God (Heb 13; 1Tim. 3; etc.).
Can you find other passages in the Old Testament? What about others in the New Testament?
V. The Holy Spirit Guides the Church
Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit and that he would guide the Church into all truth.
a. He gave us the inerrant, inspired, authoritative word of God. He calls and ordains the men into the ministry of the administration of the word and sacraments. He has given the Church good men that have kept the doctrines of the Bible and the Church. Some which come to mind are:
The gates of hell can not stand against the church. The Holy Spirit will continue toguide the church till Christ's enemies are made His footstool (I Cor. 15).