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Plain Papers on the Holy Spirit: 2. The Holy Spirit Before And Since Pentecost

By C.I. Scofield


      It is obvious to every reader of the Bible that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit follows, in common with every other doctrine, the law of progressive development. In Scripture nothing is completely told at once. "First the blade, then the ear; after that the full corn in the ear," is ever the divine method of revelation. If we seek for the natural divisions in this progressive unfolding of the truth concerning the Spirit, we shall find them so broadly marked of as to be unmistakable. These divisions are:

      1. The Holy Spirit before the Incarnation of Christ.
      2. The Holy Spirit in relation to the Person and ministry of Christ from the Incarnation to Pentecost.
      3. The Holy Spirit from Pentecost to the opening of the door to the Gentiles.
      4. The Holy Spirit in His present offices and relationships as defined in the Epistles.
      5. The Holy Spirit (prophetically) in the future kingdom age.

      The purpose of this Paper is briefly to sketch the development of the doctrine in the first four aspects of its fivefold order, and to note the distinctions which may save us from confusion of thought.

      First: the Holy Spirit before the Incarnation.

      In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is revealed, as we have seen in the preceding Paper, as a divine Person. As such He is associated in the work of creation (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13, Job 27:3 Job 33:4, Psalm 104:30); strives with sinful man (Genesis 6:3); enlightens the spirit of man (Job 32:8; Proverbs 20:27); gives skill of hand (Exodus 31:2-5); bestows physical strength (Judges 14:6); and qualifies the servants of God for a various ministry (Exodus 28:3; Exodus 35:21,31; Numbers 11:25-29; Judges 11:29-31; 1 Samuel 16:14; 2 Samuel 23:2). To this should be added that operation of the Spirit by which the men of faith in the Old Testament ages were regenerated. While this doctrine is not explicitly taught in the Old Testament (except prophetically), our Lord's words in John 3:5, and Luke 13:28, leave no doubt as to the fact itself. Since the new birth is essential to seeing and entering the kingdom of God, and since the Old Testament saints are in that kingdom, it follows necessarily that they were born of the Spirit. But, since that was the period of nonage, as Paul explains, (Galatians 3-Galatians 4), they had not the indwelling Spirit of sonship. They were minors, "under tutors and governors."

      It should be remembered, also, that to the Old Testament saint no way was revealed by which he might receive the Holy Spirit. He sent His Spirit upon whosoever He would. That the Spirit came upon an individual did not by any means prove him to be in salvation. Even a sincere believer had no assurance that the Spirit might not forsake him; (Psalm 51:11) whereas the believer of this dispensation has an express promise of the abiding of the Spirit.

      Secondly: The Holy Spirit in relation to the Person and ministry of Christ from His conception to Pentecost.

      The Four Gospels present the Spirit in connection with the person and ministry of Christ. Our Lord is conceived by the Holy Spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit, baptized, and led by Him. In His power Christ casts out demons, and performs His astonishing works. luke 1:15, luke 1:35, luke 3:21,22, luke 4:1, luke 4:18,21, Matthew 12:28. He is pointed out by John as the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, and this testimony Christ confirms in His last discourse. Matthew 3:11, Acts 1:4-5.

      Furthermore, our Lord taught His personal disciples how they, too, might have the Spirit. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Luke 11:13.

      So familiar are we with this passage that we little think with what astonishment our Lord's words must have fallen upon the ears of His disciples. Doubtless they were acquainted with the prophecy of Joel*, but what pointed to a sovereign act of God wholly without reference to prayer or any other human condition. Up to that time as we have seen, no means had been made known by the use of which any and every man of faith might obtain the Spirit. In Old Testament times the Spirit came upon some men as God's service required, but these cases were rare, occasional and exceptional. All was purely within the sovereign will of God. But now to the whole body of disciples came the astonishing statement that any one of them, simply by asking, might receive the Spirit! The privilege was too great for their faith. Not only is there not the smallest evidence that any of those disciples asked and obtained that the gift of the Spirit, but there is the most conclusive evidence that none of them did so ask and obtain.

      At the close of His earth-ministry our Lord defined the person, relationships and offices of the coming Spirit.

      (1) Since they had not prayed the Father for the Spirit, He would. "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever." John 14:16. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father," "but if I depart, I will send him unto you." John 15:26, John 16:7.

      (2) The coming One should stand related to believers in a threefold way. "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." John 14:17. "Behold I send the promise of my Father upon you." Luke 24:49. The coming One should be "with" men, convicting, converting, regenerating; "within" men, as a fountain of living water, cleansing, renewing, satisfying; "upon" men, bestowing gifts and power for service. He should be Comforter, Guide, Teacher, Revealer.

      (3) Himself leaving the body of revealed truth incomplete, Christ promised that the Spirit of truth should complete it. John 16:13. Then He went to the cross.

      Beginning, on the very day of His resurrection, His new ministry, He fulfilled, for his disciples, the promise, "He shall be in you." John 14:17, John 20:22. On the evening of His resurrection, our Lord "breathed on them, and saith unto them, receive ye the Holy Ghost." They had not, then, already received Him. Nor, let it be observed, did they then receive Him by claiming the promise, "much more shall [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Luke 11:13. Christ shewing His hands and His side, the proof that redemption was fully accomplished, as "first-fruits" Romans 8:23 and "seal" Ephesians 1:13 of that redemption, imparted the indwelling Spirit to the men who believed on Him. It was their privilage, as believers, now that the blood of atonement had been shed, without other condition, to receive the Spirit. He was the "earnest of their inheritance." Ephesians 1:14. Absolutely the only condition in them was faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. That impartation of the Spirit as indwelling the believer simply and only because he was a believer, marked the tremendous transition from the age of law to the age of Grace.

      But there was yet another relationship of the Spirit, the baptism, or the "upon" relationship, for which these disciples who had received the Spirit as indwelling, were commanded to wait. "Behold I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." Luke 24:49. "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence. But ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:5,8.

      Then he was parted from them; and the "tarrying" began.

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See Also:
   Introductory
   1. The Holy Spirit As A Divine Person
   2. The Holy Spirit Before And Since Pentecost
   3. The Holy Spirit Before And Since Pentecost, Part 2
   4. The Filling With The Holy Spirit
   5. The Filling With The Holy Spirit Is Indispensable

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