Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Spirit's Majesty, Ministries

1 John 2:25-27 This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. 26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

The Holy Spirit in the writings of the Apostle John
The Apostle John wrote a total of 5 writings: Gospel of John, 1,2,3 John and Revelation.  Of those writings, the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is mentioned in three of them.  In John's Gospel we see the primary emphasis upon the Majesty of the Holy Spirit as He is related to God the Father and God the Son. (John 3,4,7,14,15,16)  When you turn the the Epistle of 1 John, the emphasis is placed more upon the Ministry of the Holy Spirit. (1 John 2,4,5)  Then in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, we see the primary emphasis being upon the Message of the Holy Spirit. (Revelation 1-3, 4-5, 22)1  Today we will focus our attention upon the Spirit's Majesty and Ministries, with tomorrow's blog featuring the Spirit's message in John's writings and particularly Revelation. 

The Spirit's Majesty - 1 John 2:25
Even though John's primary emphasis upon the Holy Spirit in 1 John has to do with His ministries, that does not mean he does not include the other two themes of the Spirit's Majesty and Message.  We read in 1 John 2:25 - This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.  What is meant by the phrase "Eternal Life"? In the New Testament the phrase "Eternal Life" occurs over 40 times.2  In most instances the phrase refers to the spiritual life imparted to the Christian at salvation.  However in a few instances the phrase "Eternal Life" speaks of the very life of God Himself as expressed between the Three Persons of the Trinity.  For instance, in 1 John 1:2 John speaks of having seen "The Eternal Life" that had always been with the Father manifested in human flesh to he and the other apostles. 

In our text of 1 John 2:25, that same idea of Deity is expressed, only the reference is not being made to God the Son, but rather God the Holy Spirit.  We know John is speaking of the Holy Spirit because of the reference He makes to "The Promise which He himself made", echoing of course the promise of the Holy Spirit spoken of by Jesus Christ the Son in John 14:16-17, 15:26 and 16:8-16.  Thus in a span of thirteen words in the original language, John tells us that the promise of Jesus Christ to the Christian is none other the Majestic Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.  But notice a second truth about the Holy Spirit in 1 John 2:26-27, namely....

The Holy Spirit's Ministries
As we said earlier, this particular aspect of John's doctrine of the Holy Spirit seems to be of particular focus in 1 John.  In studying 1 John 2:26-27, we discover three ministries of the Holy Spirit:

1. Inspiration of the scriptures.  1 John 2:26 "These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you."  The Baptist Faith and message 2000 defines the inspiration of the scriptures:  "It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter."  2 Timothy 3:16 states - "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness."  Then one more passage, 2 Peter 1:21, details the process of Divine inspiration: "for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." As you can see, the Holy Spirit is the Primary Author of scripture along with human authors such as the Apostle John.

2. Illumination. 1 John 2:27a "As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you..."  That phrase "the anointing" is one of the titles used for the Holy Spirit and refers to the activity He does in bring understanding and empowerment for the Christian life.  It is the Holy Spirit who sheds light and brings understanding of the scriptures, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)  Any insights gained from scripture is not inspiration - for that work of the Spirit is passed and closed.  Rather illumination correctly describes the Spirit's ongoing task of making clear the words of God through preaching, teaching and Bible study.  

3. Sealing.  1 John 2:27b  "you abide in Him."  A recent book commenting on the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 has this to say of the Spirit's ministry of sealing:3

"The Holy Spirit seals the believer's salvation and serves as the absolute assurance that God's saving work will be completed in the believer's life.  In the Holy Spirit believers are sealed "for the day of redemption" and thus abide in Christ. (Ephesians 4:30; 1 John 4:13) 

The one passage in the above quoted reference on the BFM 2000 is 1 John 4:13 "By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit." When we compare this verse to 1 John 2:27b, the idea of "abiding in Christ" is not merely something we do by our own effort, but is made possible by the Holy Spirit's ministry of sealing us. Just as ancient documents were "sealed" with wax to deter pre-mature tampering, the believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit to prohibit any thing from "breaking in" and stealing our salvation.   

More tomorrow....


1. Let the reader note that the Spirit's Majesty, Ministry & Message are spoken of throughout John's writings.  When we say for example that John's Gospel is primarily speaking of the Spirit's Majesty, we certainly are not excluding the fact that the Spirit's ministries of convicting men of sin for example or message of exalting the Son are excluded.  Rather we are saying that of those three themes, John is focus mainly on the Spirit's Majesty.  The same can be said respectively of 1 John and Revelation in how John speaks of the Holy Spirit in those books and His emphases in them.

2. In 36 of those occurances the phrase refers to the spiritual life received at salvation. However in four places, we discover that "Eternal Life" could be translated from the Greek "The Eternal Life" or "The Life of the Eternal One", meaning that the phrase is an actual title of God Himself. In 1 John 1:2, 5:11 & 5:20 the phrase refers to the Deity of Jesus Christ. In one place, 1 John 2:25, the phrase "Eternal Life" could be translated "The Life of the Eternal One", and is referring to the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, in studying the Greek Text of 1 John 2:25, the term translated "Eternal Life" in the NASB is not referring to spiritual life received from salvation, but rather is a Divine Title for the Holy Spirit Himself. 

3. Kelly Charles, Richard Land and Al Mohler Jr.  The Baptist Faith & Message. Lifeway Press. ninth printing.  Nashville, TN. 2009. Page 54