The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

In chapter 15, Jesus tells us there are going to be difficulties for His followers. These difficulties come from the world outside the church and from within it. One would think this would be the best time for Jesus to be by our side. However, He also tells His disciples that He will be going away -- and that it is to their advantage that He goes away.

As hard as that may be to accept, especially when facing opposition, if Jesus says this is better, then we need to accept it as true. As we continue to consider the role that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, has when Jesus leaves, we will learn why Jesus says it is to our advantage that He goes away.

What does the Holy Spirit do corporately?

When Jesus leaves, the ministry of the Holy Spirit begins. If you are a Christian, you’ve been baptized by the Spirit. This places a Christian into the church. 1 Corinthians 12:13 states that we have all been baptized into one body (the church). Baptism is a one-time act; we don't need to continue to pursue it afterwards. Jew and Gentile, who previously worshipped differently, have been placed into one body.

What does the Holy Spirit do individually?

In John 3:3 and 3:6, Jesus tells Nicodemus that a person needs to be born again. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, to give spiritual life to us. He regenerates the life of a Christian.

He indwells us and permanently abides with us. The Holy Spirit seals us, guaranteeing our final salvation. He also fills us, in that He controls our behavior.

The Holy Spirit filling us means He indwells us. We don't need to invite Him to fill us. Equally, we don't need more of Him, like a cup that’s half full. Once we are saved, we have all of Him. We are told to be filled with the Spirit by yielding and submitting to God’s Word.

When we say that the Holy Spirit controls us, it means that we yield to the truth of God's Word, and the Spirit controls what we do and say. This is not a mindless, robotic control. It is an active yielding and submitting to God’s authority, which the Holy Spirit will empower us to do.

He produces fruit in us, making us more like Christ as evidence of the Spirit's control. When our environment is working against these virtues, the Spirit produces and grows us in these areas. He gives us joy in hardship (John 16:20-24) and peace which is produced especially in circumstances that do not seem peaceful (16:32-33).

Why is the Holy Spirit being with us better than Jesus staying?

Everything Jesus does is perfect, so it seems it would be better if Jesus was with us now. Jesus' words in John 16:7 indicate that it would not be better for Him to be walking on earth now, ministering and sharing the Gospel. Because Jesus is not with us, the Holy Spirit now has a fuller ministry, magnifying the completed work of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit enables believers to go to the uttermost parts of the world. Jesus came to minister to Israel, but through the Spirit, we can go out into all the world and still have God's presence with us (Acts 2:32-41). Jesus says we will do greater works than what we saw Jesus do (John 14:12).

Application Points

  • Believers in Jesus Christ have been gifted and tasked to do God's work through the Holy Spirit. As individuals filled with the Holy Spirit, we feel acutely that doing the best we can is still done imperfectly. Yet Jesus tells us that this is better than His physical presence right now. Let’s acknowledge and accept that God wants to use and grow us through our imperfect means as we humbly submit to Him. Let Jesus define spiritual productivity. He knows what is best.
  • Believers living in the Spirit are how Jesus builds His church. At the end of the day, this is where our peace must come from. We must find peace in Christ, regardless of what we see or are capable of doing. He doesn’t expect us to overcome the world. Jesus says, "I have overcome the world." So where is your peace found, in your abilities or in Christ through the Holy Spirit working in you?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • Ephesians 2:1, 5 - Regeneration
  • Ephesians 1:13-14, 5:18
  • John 16:20-24, 32
  • 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 - Spiritual Gifts