The Ministries of the Holy Spirit (Part 2)

From Pentecost until Christ has come to take His bride to heaven, which five ministries of the Holy Spirit are performed at the moment a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ? This is the second partial summary of an article written by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum of Ariel Ministries called The ministries of the Holy Spirit.

During the Church age (from Pentecost until the Church is taken to heaven), when a person believes the gospel of Christ, the Holy Spirit performs five ministries (or works) immediately and instantaneously in the life of that brand-new believer, namely the ministries of regeneration, indwelling, Spirit baptism, sealing and anointing. We focus briefly on each of these five ministries:

1. Regeneration: The basic meaning of regeneration is the concept of new birth, a renewal or a re-creation (cf. Titus 3:5). When one is born again, one is born of God and has eternal life implanted in that believer. The basis of regeneration is faith (John 1:12-13) and the means of regeneration is the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-6). This work of regeneration by the Holy Spirit is, in and of itself, non-experiential (but it could lead to diverse emotions and reactions) and it is instantaneous, i.e. it is not a process. The results of regeneration are manifold, such as that it cannot be undone (Philippians 1:6), the believer has eternal life (John 3:16) and is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) with a new nature (1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1).

2. Indwelling: As taught by John 7:37-39 and 14:16-17, from Pentecost onwards the Holy Spirit indwells all believers forever, not temporarily as was sometimes the case during Old Testament times, but for ever. The indwelling of the believer by the Holy Spirit is a gift of God (Acts 11:17), a product of the love of God (Romans 5:5), makes the body of the believer a temple of God the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and is an earnest of many more blessings to come (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 5:5).

3. Spirit baptism: During the Church age, when a person comes to faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit baptises that brand-new believer into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). This ministry of Spirit baptism is unique to the Church age. It was prophesied about by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11), was still future in Acts 1:5 and only commenced on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4 and see also 11:15-17). The baptism of the believer by the Holy Spirit is not the same as water baptism and it is not the same as being filled by the Holy Spirit (cf. Ephesians 5:18). By this ministry of the Holy Spirit, the new believer during the Church age is united not only to all believers in the Body of Christ, but to Christ Himself. Please read pages 16-28 of the afore-mentioned article by Dr. Fruchtenbaum to see why there were sometimes a delay in Spirit baptism in the Book of Acts (see chapters 2, 8, 10-11 and 19) and how this is connected with the apostle Peter’s use of the keys of the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matthew 16:19).

4. Sealing: Every person who becomes a believer in Jesus Christ during the Church age is sealed by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30). In the Old Testament, sealing was a mark of authority (1 Kings 21:7-9; Esther 3:9-12), of a finished transaction (Jeremiah 32:10-15) and a mark of security (Daniel 6:17). The significance of this ministry of the Holy Spirit for the Church age believer is fivefold: firstly, God owns the believer; secondly, it signifies the certainty of the promise of salvation; thirdly, it signifies the certainty of God’s promise to keep the believer until the Day of Redemption, so that if a person dies in Christ, his or her body will be resurrected (Ephesians 4:30); fourthly, the believer has the authority of Christ with the right to exercise it; and fifthly, the seal signifies that the transaction for the believer’s salvation is finished, even if the full enjoyment of it will come later.

5. Anointing: The three relevant texts are 2 Corinthians 1:22, 1 John 2:20 and 1 John 2:27. This anointing is the basis for the firm conviction of the truth of the gospel, the basis for learning more spiritual truths and the basis for service.

There are five ministries of the Holy Spirit in relation to salvation during the Church age. The first ministry is regeneration by which a person is born again and Christ enters into the person’s life. Secondly, the Holy Spirit makes his residence in the believer through the ministry of indwelling. Thirdly, by Spirit baptism the believer is placed into the Body of Christ. Fourthly, because the believer is sealed, the believer is locked into the Body of Christ and can never fall out of it. Fifthly, by anointing the believer has the truth of the gospel confirmed and is now open to learn more spiritual truths. During the Church age, these five ministries of the Holy Spirit happen instantaneously at the very moment one comes to faith in Christ. The New Testament believer is never exhorted to ask God the Father for these ministries to happen or to happen again in his or her life, because God the Holy Spirit has already done it at the moment of salvation.

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