19 May 2021
The Holy Spirit is the One through whom all the blessings of God , planned by the Father and purchased by the Son, become ours.
For Owen, if we are to experience the power of the Spirit in our lives, and the wonder of the new creation, we must first become familiar with His ministry in the life of the Saviour Jesus Himself. Our communion with the Spirit is dependent on, and shaped by, His communion with Christ and Christ’s with Him. The Spirit who comes upon believers is one and the same Spirit who dwelt on the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus received the Spirit to engage in His ministry as Redeemer;He has now given this very same Spirit to all who are united to Him by faith. Therefore, our first step to appreciate what it means to enjoy the communion of the Holy Spirit is to trace His presence in the ministry of Jesus.
Jesus, who gives us the Spirit , is the One upon whom the Spirit came. He received, bore, and was borne by the Spirit throughout His life and ministry, not only prior to our receiving Him, but also with a specific view to our receiving Him as the Spirit of Christ.
Thus, the Spirit who was present in and through the life of Jesus is the very same Spirit who is now given to all believers.
The Spirit through whom the Saviour was conceived in the womb of the virgin is the One who conceives us spiritually when we are “born of the Spirit” (John 3:3,6,8). This is none other than the One who empowered the Saviour throughout His ministry from womb to cross, from tomb to throne. Christ received the Spirit, was filled with the Spirit, and walked in the Spirit in order that on His ascension He might give the Spirit who dwelt on HIm to all who believe in Him (2 Cor. 3:18). Only the Spirit of Christ has the capacity to transform us to be like Christ.
For Owen, there are several stages in our Lord’s relationship to the Holy Spirit in connection with His ministry to Him as the Messiah: these can be summarised in four ways.
1. The incarnation of Christ. The conception of Jesus has all the characteristic marks of the Spirit’s work. As the Spirit overshadowed the darkness in the work of creation, so also He overshadowed the darkness of the womb of the Virgin Mary. In the conception of the Saviour, grace and nature were joined together in perfect and holy harmony.
2. The ministry of Christ. Although our Lord lived in the power of the Spirit, He “acted grace as a man.” Everything He accomplished for us He did as the divine Son of God, but did so as a man – fully man, truly man. He shared every aspect of our human condition, apart from sin. He did so resting in the presence, communion, and power of the Holy Spirit.
This is seen in two ways: a) In His human nature, Jesus “grew” – not from sin to holiness as such, but in holiness, from holiness to holiness. The Spirit enabled Him to make progress step by step with His natural maturing (Luke 2:52). Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus developed in harmony with His mental capacities. The Messiah did not come immediately from heaven to the cross. Rather, Jesus grew. The fruit of the Spirit in His life went hand-in-glove with the natural development of all His individual human characteristics. But this “natural development” was the fruit of His submission to the work of the Spirit. Therein lay the intimacy and the beauty of His experience of the love of His Father through His communion with the Spirit.
b) At HIs baptism, Jesus entered into the fullness of the Spirit, not for progress in holiness, but for the fulfilment of His messianic ministry. Gifts were given to Him by the Spirit to equip Him for the climatic stages of the age-old conflict between the kingdom of God and the powers of darkness. Sustained by God’s Word (“the sword of the Spirit” ), He simultaneously obeyed His Father, worked miracles, maintained HIs integrity and caused Satan to flee.
3.The cross of Christ. Hebrews 9:13-14 refers to the Spirit’s sustaining of the Lord Jesus in His sacrificial death. It was ‘through the eternal Spirit’ that our Lord “offered Himself without blemish to God”. Only through His communion with the Holy Spirit could Jesus bear the weight of the sins of the world and make atonement for them.
a) The Spirit supported Jesus in HIs decision to offer Himself to the Father throughout the whole course of HIs life with a view to His sacrificial death.
b)The Spirit sustained Jesus when, in the garden of Gethsemane, He caught sight at close range of the bloody altar that awaited Him.
c) The Spirit undergirded Jesus in the breaking of His heart and the engulfing of His soul as He experienced the dereliction of Calvary.
From womb to tomb the Son was always in communion with the Spirit.
4. The exaltation. The Spirit declared the Lord Jesus to be Son of God with power through the resurrection; He vindicates HIm in the resurrection. This is a work of transformation, and its end result is HIs glorification. As Owen puts it, “He who first made his nature holy,now made it glorious”. Not only from womb to tomb, but also from womb to glory, the Spirit was the companion of the Saviour.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. He is intimately knowledgeable about Christ. He takes what is Christ’s and gives it to us with the goal of forming us into Christ’s likeness. The Spirit cannot rightly be known (and therefore communion with Him cannot be fully enjoyed) apart from Christ – just as Christ cannot be known apart from the Spirit. For the identity in which we have communion with the Spirit is defined for us by His intimate relationship to the incarnate Saviour.
The fact that the Father and the Son together send the Spirit to the church is an indication of the Spirit’s relation to them both in the inner life of God as well as in HIs external activity toward the world.
Thus, within the life of God the Trinity, the Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son to one another. Just as He is the bond of union between the Father and Son and believers, so He is the bond of union between the Father and Son. The Holy Spirit is given to us in light of Christ’s costly obedience; we receive Him freely as a gift in which we rejoice. By faith, we seek to grasp all that He is to us.