The Unifying Spirit
The Holy Spirit Empowers
He Gives Life. In the realm of nature it is the role of the Holy Spirit to give life to all animate creatures, whether on the ground or in the sky and sea, for “When you send forth your Spirit, they are created” (Ps. 104:30). Conversely, if God “should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust” (Job 34:14, 15).
He Gives Power for Service.
Old Testament: In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit frequently empowered people for special service. He empowered Joshua with leadership skills and wisdom (Num. 27:18; Deut. 34:9), and empowered the judges to deliver Israel from their oppressors (note how “the Spirit of the Lord came upon” Othniel in Judg. 3:10, Gideon in 6:34, Jephthah in 11:29, and Samson in 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14).
New Testament: The empowering work of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is seen first and most fully in his anointing and empowering of Jesus as the Messiah. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22).
The Holy Spirit also empowered Jesus’ disciples for various kinds of ministry. Jesus had promised them, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). That power was manifest in miraculous signs, and in preaching the word (Acts 2:37).
He Provides a Godlike Atmosphere When He Manifests His Presence.
Because the Holy Spirit is fully God, and shares all the attributes of God, his influence will be to bring a Godlike character or atmosphere to the situations in which he is active. Because God is “not a God of confusion but of peace” (I Cor. 14:33), the Holy Spirit brings an atmosphere of peace into situations: “The kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17; cf. Gal. 5:22).
The Holy Spirit Unifies
When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church at Pentecost, Peter proclaimed that the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 was fulfilled.
But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yes, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:16-18)
Paul blesses the Corinthian church with a blessing that seeks the unifying fellowship of the Holy Spirit for all of them when he says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14).
It is significant that in this Trinitarian verse he especially attributes the deepening of fellowship among believers not to the Father or the Son but to the Holy Spirit, a statement consistent with the overall unifying work of the Spirit in the church.
This unifying function of the Holy Spirit is also evident when Paul tells the Philippians, “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit … make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Phil. 2:1, 2).
Differing gifts draw us together, because we are forced to depend on each other. See: (I Cor. 12:21)
Systematic Theology; An Introductory To Biblical Doctrine, Wayne Grudem