The Holy Spirit: The Spirit and the Incarnation

The New Testament identifies the Spirit of God as the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7), the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9 ; I Pet 1:11), the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phill :9), the Spirit of the Father (Matt 10:20) and the Spirit of His Son (Gal 4:5). These designations reveal, ever so clearly, a relation with the Father and the Son that is not shared by any other, not even of the people of God. No other name has a correlation in a like fashion with the Spirit of God. The Scriptures establish a unique relation of the Lord Jesus to the Holy Spirit. It is the welcome purpose of these current articles to establish the teaching relative to this vital subject, being as it is, an integral part of the Faith.

We have absolutely no difficulty in acknowledging the eternality of the Godhead. Deity is eternal. This is stamped indelibly upon our minds. Though the word does not occur in Holy Scripture, we use the word Trinity freely, conscious of all it conveys in the Scriptural concept of the Godhead existing as three Persons in a blessed indissoluble oneness. Likewise then, the Trinity has no beginning. However, when did relativity in the Godhead begin? Relativity as far as the Godhead is concerned is like it in its Eternality and Trinity, it has no beginning. It is as eternal as the Deity and Trinity of the Godhead. Therefore relations between the Godhead are as eternal as they. Resulting from this is the evident reality that the relation between the Son and the Spirit is unoriginated and uncreated. Because of this it would be impossible to accredit or attribute to the Spirit of God anything that is derogatory to the Son of God. Paul establishes this unmistakably in I Corinthians 12:2 (RV) when he says, “No man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema.” Obviously a ministry that deprives the Savior of His eternal Sonship never finds its origin in the Spirit.

This unique relation of the Lord Jesus to the Spirit is never so manifest as it is in the incarnation. Two of the Gospels, namely Matthew and Luke, provide us with welcome insight to the conception, emphasizing the nature of this relationship in the greatest of all miracles.

Luke records the momentous events with extreme delicacy and exquisite delight to our worshipping hearts (Luke 1: 26-35). An outline will focus our attention the more readily on the passage.

  • Communication of the Angel (1:26-28)
  • Consternation of the Virgin (1:29)
  • Consolation of the Angel (1:30-33)
  • His Grace – ‘Jesus’
  • His Gift – ‘the throne’
  • His Greatness – ‘the Son of the Most High’
  • His Government – ‘His kingdom’
  • Concern of the Virgin 1:34
  • Confirmation of the Angel 1:35-37
  • Compliance of the Virgin 1:38

Our attention is focussed upon verse 35 where the conception is attributed to the Holy Ghost. Mary is made conscious of the Presence of the Holy Ghost. Many knew this in days past, when the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, enabling them to accomplish great exploits for God (for example Samson, Judges 13:25;14:6; 14:19; 15:14). Ponder all that this meant to Mary under these tremendous circumstances, and then allow it to work in on our own hearts as we know His indwelling Presence. Mary is to know, in this great experience coming to her, the Power of the Spirit overshadowing her. The sense conveyed in this word, used only here and in Mark 9:7 and Acts 5:17, indicates that a Power would enshrine and enshroud Mary in all the preserving power of the Spirit, entitling what would be born of her to be holy, the Son of God. The incipient humanity of the Lord was on the one hand ‘of the Spirit’ as it was of Mary on the other. Luke is establishing beyond doubt the very thesis of His Gospel, the impeccable humanity of the Savior. He is writing of a Perfect Man. Nothing then of Mary’s fallen nature touched the Son of God. The all-pervading enshrinement of the Spirit prevented this, so that He who came out of the womb was as pure as when He emerged out from the tomb. He is the Perfect Man, untainted and untarnished.

Matthew is given to record the relation of the Spirit to the incarnation of our Lord Jesus, and does so in terms indicative of the skill that the Spirit of God alone can impart (Matt 1:18-25). Again a brief outline should suffice.

The Astounding Discovery (1:18a) – ‘with child’
The Decisive Identity (1:18 b) – ‘of (ek. Out of) the Holy Ghost’
The Welcome Fidelity (1:19) – ‘a righteous man’
The Heavenly Ministry (1:20) – ‘an angel of the Lord appeared’
The Repeated Identity (1:21) – ‘of the Holy Ghost’
The Recorded Prophecy (1:23) – ‘Behold a virgin shall be with child’
The Devoted Complicity (1:24) – ‘took unto him his wife.’

The characteristic word of the first sixteen verses of Matthew I is obviously ‘begat.’ Special attention is drawn to the complete omission of it in 16b, as it is recorded, “Joseph the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” Matthew, having the Messianic character of the Savior in view, is guided by the Spirit of God to infer that had the Lord Jesus been begotten of Joseph, He would not have been the Christ.

Three important expressions must be carefully noted, namely ‘of whom (Mary) was born Jesus’ (V.16b) ; “of the Holy Ghost” (V.18) and verse 21 “of the Holy Ghost.” The last two relate to the conception which literally means ‘out of the Holy Ghost,” establishing beyond any shadow of doubt that the conception was intrinsically divine. We do well to term it the miraculous conception. It was the work of the Holy Spirit in all His divine power, wisdom and holiness. But verse 16b refers to the birth which, being a purely natural birth, took place when it did as appointed by God in time, place and manner.

Apostolic writings substantiate the record of the Gospels, affirming beyond doubt the incarnation of Christ. Paul confirms this by the words of Galatians 4:4, “born of a woman” (RV). He knows by the Spirit that the accounts of the incarnation are sufficient of themselves to establish this vital item of the Faith. He sees the Lord Jesus as ” the Lord out of Heaven”, as “the second man,” “the last Adam” by which the teaching is clearly endorsed by the doctrine of the Epistles and therefore adoringly received by those who know the truth, that Jesus is the Son of God as confessed by the Eunuch in Acts 8.

Finally, Hebrews 10:5 contains the whole truth in the prophetic utterance of the Savior, “But a body hast Thou prepared for Me” (RV). He, the Savior, prophetically announces all that both Matthew and Luke affirm, that the conception is of the Holy Ghost. If our understanding of this is unclear and in any way inhibited by doubt, then all that proceeds from such an unenlightened state will be dross. So make sure the truth is grasped and imbibed, for this is an essential factor of the Faith. All that is vital in our Savior’s work and glory, present and future, depends on the relation of the Spirit of God to the incarnation.