By Reuben Archer Torrey
There are many who think of the work of the Holy Spirit as limited to man. But God reveals to us in His Word that the Holy Spirit's work has a far wider scope than this. We are taught in the Bible that the Holy Spirit has a threefold work in the material universe.
I. The creation of the material universe and of man is effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
We read in Ps. xxxiii. 6, "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth." We have already seen in our study of the names of the Holy Spirit that the Holy Spirit is the breath of JEHOVAH, so this passage teaches us that all the hosts of heaven, all the stellar worlds, were made by the Holy Spirit. We are taught explicitly in Job xxxiii. 4, that the creation of man is the Holy Spirit's work. We read, "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." Here both the creation of the material frame and the impartation of life are attributed to the agency of the Holy Spirit. In other passages of Scripture we are taught that creation was in and through the Son of God. For example we read in Col. i. 16, R. V., "For in Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him and unto Him." In a similar way we read in Heb. i. 2, that God "hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds (ages)." In the passage given above (Ps. xxxiii. 6), the Word as well as the Spirit are mentioned in connection with creation. In the account of the creation and the rehabilitation of this world to be the abode of man, Father, Word and Holy Spirit are all mentioned (Gen. i. 1-3). It is evident from a comparison of these passages that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all active in the creative work. The Father works in His Son, through His Spirit.
II. Not only is the original creation of the material universe attributed to the agency of the Holy Spirit in the Bible but the maintenance of living creatures as well.
We read in Ps. civ. 29, 30, "Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled: Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth." The clear indication of this passage is that not only are things brought into being through the agency of the Holy Spirit, but that they are maintained in being by the Holy Spirit. Not only is spiritual life maintained by the Spirit of God but material being as well. Things exist and continue by the presence of the Spirit of God in them. This does not mean for a moment that the universe is God, but it does mean that the universe is maintained in its being by the immanence of God in it. This is the great and solemn truth that lies at the foundation of the awful and debasing perversions of Pantheism in its countless forms.
III. But not only is the universe created through the agency of the Holy Spirit and maintained in its existence through the agency of the Holy Spirit, but the development of the earlier, chaotic, undeveloped states of the material universe into higher orders of being is effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
We read in Gen, i. 2, 3, "And the earth was (or became) without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." We may take this account to refer either to the original creation of the universe, or we may take it as the deeper students of the Word are more and more inclining to take it, as the account of the rehabilitation of the earth after its plunging into chaos through sin after the original creation described in v. 1. In either case we have set before us here the development of the earth from a chaotic and unformed condition into its present highly developed condition through the agency of the Holy Spirit. We see the process carried still further in Gen. ii. 7, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Here again it is through the agency of the breath of God, that a higher thing, human life, comes into being. Naturally, as the Bible is the history of man's redemption it does not dwell upon this phase of truth, but seemingly each new and higher impartation of the Spirit of God brings forth a higher order of being. First, inert matter; then motion; then light; then vegetable life; then animal life; then man; and, as we shall see later, then the new man; and then Jesus Christ, the supreme Man, the completion of God's thought of man, the Son of Man. This is the Biblical thought of development from the lower to the higher by the agency of the Spirit of God as distinguished from the godless evolution that has been so popular in the generation now closing. It is, however, only hinted at in the Bible. The more important phases of the Holy Spirit's work, His work in redemption, are those that are emphasized and iterated and reiterated. The Word of God is even more plainly active in each state of progress of creation. God said occurs ten times in the first chapter of Genesis.