The Holy Spirit – Presiding and Residing in the Church

In considering the subject, “The Holy Spirit as Presiding and Residing in the Church,” the following outline may be helpful.

1. The Relationships He Sustains

2. The Goals He Pursues

3. The Gifts He Controls

4. The Results He Procures

1. The Relationships He Sustains

a. His Relationship to the Father

The many titles accorded the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures reveal His character and work, and indicate His relationships to various individuals or corporate groups. Of these, the most obvious is the name by which He is introduced to us as a Person, both in the Old and New Testaments, “The Spirit of God” (Gen 1:2; Matt 3:16). Significantly, in Genesis I He is linked with the work of creation and in Matthew 3 with the beginning of the public ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As the “Spirit of God” He is called “the Spirit of your Father” (Matt 10:20), and is seen to pos

sess all the attributes of perfect Deity. What it posited with regards to the Deity of Christ must be recognized as pertaining to the Holy Spirit also. He is, therefore, to be rendered all the reverence and respect due to Persons of the Godhead. In this, He is seen as one with the Father.

b. His Relationship to the Son

In at least three of His titles, there is a similar relationship seen with the Lord Jesus. He is called “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:9); “the Spirit of His Son” (Gal 4:6), and “the Spirit of the Lord” (Luke 4:18; 3:17). In these, and many other Scriptures, the Holy Spirit is seen to be completely equal with the Father and with the Son in Godhead glory. There is no aspect of Divine activity, be it creatorial, redemptive or regenerative, in which the Holy Spirit is not seen at work equally with the Father and with the Son, our Lord Jesus (Job 26:13; Eph 4:30; Titus 3:5).

c. His Relationship to the World

The Lord Jesus says of the Holy Spirit that, “When He is come, He will reprove (convict) the world of sin, righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). In this connection, He is called “the Spirit of Truth” (John 16:13).

d. His Relationship to the Believer

Of all the titles linking the Holy Spirit to individual believers, “the Spirit of Life” and the “Spirit of

Adoption” (Rom 8:2; 8:15) appear to be most relevant. It is the Spirit Himself who gives life to the dead soul (John 6:63), thereby introducing the believer into God’s family. By the Spirit alone, we anticipate that glorious standing and now cry “Abba Father.”

e. His Relationship to the Church

Pertinent to our subject is the title “Spirit of Holiness” (Rom 1:4), signifying the “Spirit of separation to God.” Even if this title, found only once in the N.T., is explained as being that spirit of holiness marking our Lord Jesus personally, it still is most meaningful, being linked to the One who is so often referred to as “the Holy Spirit.”

2. The Goal He Pursues

In this present age, the Holy Spirit pursues a two-fold object in relation to believers corporately First of all there is the fitly framed building which groweth together into an holy temple in the Lord (Eph 2:21). Earlier in the Ephesian epistle, Paul calls this building “the Church which is His (Christ’s) body. “His second goal is to present the church as “a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor 11:3).

In their contexts it is evident that the former has to do with the Church of this present age to which the Holy Spirit has added all believers, without exception, as the result of His life-giving activity. First Corinthians states that “in one Spirit we have all been baptized into one body” (12:13 J.N.D.). Whether this means a once-only historical event at Pentecost or an individual experience upon conversion makes no difference to the immediate consideration. The Lord Jesus is the Baptizer and the “element” here is not water but the Holy Spirit. It is in the power of the Holy Spirit that the Body is formed. Every believer, without distinction, is with all others, “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” The Spirit of God dwells within the believer (Rom 8:9-11). Thus, in a Divinely mysterious way, a habitation for God is formed and God, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, has taken up residence therein.

The term “chaste virgin” most certainly has to do with an assembly of believers, formed by the Holy Spirit in a given locality. This is brought about by the workings of the Holy Spirit through God’s servants. It is as a minister of Christ that Paul, prompted by the Holy Spirit, seeks to guide the believers in that degenerate city in a path of holiness so that he can present a “chaste virgin” to Christ. What is true as to “the Church which is Christ’s body” is also true of the local companies of Christians. The Spirit of God dwells within (1 Con 3:16).

3. The Gifts He Controls

Dwelling in the assembly, The Holy Spirit makes the Presence of Christ a present reality. The assembly which He originally formed through the work of the Gospel is meant to reflect the holiness of God. To do this, the Holy Spirit is the vehicle through whom the Risen Head of the Church gives gifts to men “for the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12). These gifts in Ephesians, the pastor-teacher and evangelist, are gifted men given to the church in order that the unity of the “one body” be maintained by the ministry of the “one Spirit” (Eph 4:4; 16). Other gifts are spoken of in Romans 12 and in First Corinthians 12. These gifts are spiritual endowments to the men concerned with a similar object as that already spoken of, the perfecting of the saints. Such gifts, differing one from the other, are given by “the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12: 7-11). While some of these gifts were miraculous and temporary, as in I Corinthians 12, the principles governing their bestowal and control remain the same. The Spirit has given these gifts according to His own will (1 Cor 12:11) and they are given as “spirituals” or “manifestations of the Spirit” (12:7). Speaking, praying, blessing are all spiritual exercises (1 Cor 12: 2,15,16). Thus, the Holy Spirit who bestows the gift with a specific purpose in view, both energizes and presides in the use of such gifts in the assemblies of the saints.

On only two occasions are the words “led of the Spirit” used in relation to the believer in the NT. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God these (and these alone) are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). “If ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Gal 5:18). Neither of these references has a direct link to the use of gift in the assembly. Only those who manifest obedience to the leading of the Spirit can be recognized as sons of God.

In like manner, it is as we are obedient to the Holy Spirit in His ministry to the saints that it is evident we are not under the bondage of the law. The corollary is that the gifted servant, recognizing the presidency of the Holy Spirit, and as led by Him in all things, will clearly be subject to the Spirit in his use of the gift bestowed for the edifying of the saints. Possession of gift without subjection to the guiding control of the Holy Spirit is something to be deplored.

4. The Results He Procures

The Lord Jesus has made it clear that the Holy Spirit is to be the Revealer of truth to His own (John 16:13). As the Father is revealed in the Son, so the Holy Spirit takes these things and reveals them unto us (John 15:25). Such a revelation can only be discerned by the enlightenment of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14). This is not solely an academic exercise but is meant to have singularly practical results. God, having revealed Himself through His Holy Spirit, would have from us “the fruit of the Spirit” described as nine-fold in Galatians 5:22-23. For this fruit to be produced in the life of the believer, Paul’s words, “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18), must be obeyed with alacrity.

Residing and presiding as He is in the Church, it is the Spirit’s prerogative to control and regulate, by God’s Word, not only the individual lives of every believer but also the ministry of all who serve the Lord Christ. We, then, are obligated to heed the Spirit’s imperative, “If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:24).