The Mission of the Spirit in the Church

This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on April 26 2015.

Ideas around the role of the Holy Spirit in some circles can be rather fuzzy. If you’ve been around a variety of Christian churches you will be aware of some of these ideas, and may have formed some opinions about them. I would like to share a little of what the Apostle John taught concerning the mission of the Holy Spirit in the church. In a nutshell, the Spirit’s mission is to bring glory to Jesus and the message about him, and to keep the teachings of and about Jesus in the hearts and minds of his people.

Consider what John recorded in his Gospel. Jesus said: “the Holy Spirit . . . will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you . . . he will bring glory to me by telling you what he receives from me.” (John 14:26; 16:14 NLT) The Spirit’s role in shaping our faith is much more as a witness to ‘tradition’ (i.e. recorded stuff about Jesus), than as a giver of new revelation. The Spirit keeps our attention on Christ so we learn more deeply and practice more fully the ‘basics’ of the Christian faith that we have already learned from Jesus.

We have a part to play in this also. We must “remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning” (1John 2:24). We keep an inherently conservative bias in belief and our behaviour, being careful to stay close to Christ’s teaching. The Spirit helps us in this. That is why it is important to ‘keep in step with the Spirit’ and to take care not to ‘grieve’ him (cf. Gal. 5:25; Eph. 4:30). Failing in this is to make oneself insensitive to one of his most important works for your faith. It is almost like cutting the anchor rope of a boat. This work of the Holy Spirit is a blessing to us; make sure you are blessed by it!