"The Kingdom of God Becomes Reality Through the Holy Spirit".
by Dr Ern Baxter.
In some Christian circles, discussion about the Holy Spirit is considered improper. Many believe that any emphasis on the Spirit is unscriptural in the light of John 16:13 where we are told in the KJV that, "when He the Spirit of truth is come ... He shall not speak of Himself". Those of us who have talked about the Holy Spirit through the years have more than once had this Scripture brought to our attention in order to correct us for our "error".
But this hesitation to talk about the Spirit is based on a misinterpretation of the word "of" in the KJ text. Almost any other translation clarifies the problem. The New American Standard Bible reads, "But when He the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own initiative but whatever He hears He will speak". A simpler translation yet is, "He will not speak from Himself".
The Holy Spirit is the author of the sacred Scriptures for "holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21). Yet the author of the sacred Scriptures speaks of Himself in them a great deal. He speaks of Himself in both testaments. He speaks of Himself in almost every book of the New Testament and there are entire sections devoted to His description of Himself and of His work. Undoubtedly the Holy Spirit speaks of Himself and for good reason, as we shall discover in this study.
The Spirit and the Kingdom.
One of my concerns about the Holy Spirit in His distinctive relationship to the Kingdom and government of God and its outworkings in the earth. Romans 14:17 says "The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". I believe it is gramatically legitimate to take out the inner part of that verse to make this statement, "The Kingdom of God is ... in the Holy Spirit". Although it is not called the 'Kingdom of the Spirit' - but rather the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son - it is nevertheless the kingdom in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the One who is responsible for bringing the government of God into historical realisation.
The relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Kingdom is rather strongly implied by our Lord in Matthew 12:28 where He says "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you". Our Lord here equates His kingship with the dynamic of the HOly Spirit who enabled Him as Jesus of Nazareth to cast out demons. Everything that the Messiah did, He did because the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to enable Me to preach the gospel to the poor, to bind the brokenhearted" and to do all the other things that were His mission. The Spirit's Presence upon Jesus also prophetically anticipated the success of His reign - a reign brought about by the dynamic of the Holy Spirit - for "the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power" (1 Corinthians 4:20).
My concern is this: How will the establishment of the Kingdom which we talk about ever be brought about? As I have searched the Scriptures, I have become aware that the kingdom of God will become reality by the ministry of the Holy Spirit through us.
Understanding God's Nature.
We must digress for a moment to understand properly the Source of Truth. The nature and purpose of God are a matter of revelation. The nature and purpose of God have not been discovered in scientific laboratories, nor in brainstorming sessions among brilliant minds; they have not been revealed by any combination of the five senses in research or investigation. The nature and purpose of God are a matter of revelation. The measure of our faith in what God will do is the degree of confidence we have in the integrity of what God has said in the revelation of His Word, much of which is totally beyond the ability of our five senses to discern.
In Psalm 90:2 Moses said, "Before the mountains were brought forth or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God". In John 5:26, Jesus says it simply, "The Father has life in Himself". God is God - uncreated and self-existent. We are totally dependent upon revelation for this knowledge. Every time man, unassisted by revelation, tries to create a deity, he projects his best ideas of what God should be like into infinity and the result is one of those hydra-headed, multi-membered monstrosities that men worship as idols. We don't understand God by a projection of our best inner consciousness into infinity; we understand Him by a humble reception of His revelation when He says, "I am God, and beside Me there is none other. I have chosen to reveal Myself for I am a Communicator".
Scripture tells us that as a communicator, God "who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son" (Heb 1:1-2). The most thrilling fact in the universe is that the great God of the universe, the First Cause, the Creator of All, has spoken. He has communicated, He has articulated His nature and His mind in a way that we can understand - and it is our exciting privilidge to probe what He has stated, to find out what He intends to do and to participate in it.
God's perspective is the ultimate perspective, the ultimate reality and we must open our hearts to receive a divine revelation of His nature. We must understand that when God eternally exists and He manifests Himself to us in Three Persons. The doctrine of the Trinity therefore, is a revelation, not a human formulation and if we are to comprehend something of God's nature, we must understand the distinctive place of the Holy Spirit.
The Distinctive Place of the Holy Spirit.
We have been taught - and accurately I believe - that based on the Bible, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are God. The Father is God, the Son is God and the Spirit is God. They are co-equal and yet the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit and the Spirit is not the Father. Within the infinite mystery of the structure of the triune God, there are actions that are distinctive to each of them without violating their equality. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal but They are functionally different and so the Bible says, "The Father sent the Son". It also says that the Son was obedient in that He came and did exactly what the Father wanted Him to do. In 33 and a half years He lived out His impeccable life - climaxed in His vicarious death - rose in victorious resurrection - ascended in magnificent triumph and sat down in fulfilling enthronement at the Father's right hand. After the Father sent the Son, and the Son came and returned to the Father, They sent the Holy Spirit and the Spirit came and stayed.
Many sermons have been preached on the 33 years of our Lord's life on earth, of the sufferings, He endured - and rightly so. But how many sermons have been preached on the fact that the blessed Holy Spirit has resided down here in the midst of this muck and mire, this sordid atmosphere of falleness for nearly two thousand years? The Holy Spirit is God active, the "executive agent" of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the "doer" of the Godhead - God at work, God exerting power. Put very simply, the Father thinks it, the Son articulates it and the Spirit does it. The Spirit testifies tothe immediate present activity of God. From the birth of nature at creation, to the re-birth of man's soul in eternal life, the Bible records the ceaseless activity of the Holy Spirit. We talk about what the Father does and what the Son does, but what the Father and the Son do is done by the Holy Spirit for He is the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son. He is the One who in the mystery of the Trinity reaches out to human need in history.
My concern these days is that it is possible for us to be theologically accurate in our perception of the Holy Spirit and yet miss His experiential significance by failing to be personally involved with the Person of God who is acting. We may have high ideas about the Father and address Him with great reverence. We may have a great love for the lordship of Christ and speak highly of His deity. But the Holy Spirit must bring that knowledge into the reality of my experience.
When I approach cosmic, history-shaping concerns in which the Father and the Son reveal Their intentions for this planet, then I begin looking for the Holy Sprit. Whatever the Father and the Son intend to do with individuals and nations will be done by the Holy Spirit.
Next: Part 2 - The Restoration of God's Government, the Neglect of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit in the twentieth century.