You Have an Unction
The Ministries of the Holy Spirit
Dr. David Clifford is currently engaged in international Bible lecturing and teaching, and now makes his home in Florida.
His present article is the third of thirteen studies on the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit’s Titles in Both Testaments
When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, He was already here in the world, as the Old Testament reveals. The Spirit is God, as we have seen, and is therefore omnipresent; He is not limited as one who is spoken of in the New Testament as in the Old. There are similarities as to His working in both Testaments, and there are distinctions too, as we shall see. It is important to differentiate between His omnipresence and His residence. In one sense, he was already here, when, at Pentecost, he came to take up His residence in the Church which is “a habitation of God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22, KJV). He also came to take up His residence in the hearts of God’s people as individual believers in the Lord Jesus. Our Lord has said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper … He will be in you” (John 14:16-17). This must be the main reason why the Saviour said, “It is expedient for you that I go away, if I go not away the Spirit will not come.” He Himself was by His disciples’ side for three years, but the Spirit would be in them and abide with them forever.
The significance of the titles of the Holy Spirit in both Testaments is similar, but it is also true to say that He undertakes different activities in different ages. Nevertheless, much added truth about this divine Person awaits its full expression. In the opening verses of the Bible, without introduction, explanation, or preparation His Person and power are assumed. The titles He is given throughout are certainly worth our consideration.
We read of the Holy Spirit in Isaiah 11:2 in this way: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest on Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord … with righteousness He will judge.”
First of all, He is the one who is Jehovah. This speaks of the divine Person. He is also the spirit of Wisdom and Understanding. The wisdom of God is personified in Him and He is omniscient, understanding all things. He is also revealed as the Spirit of Counsel because He has always through the ages both counselled and guided His own. But note that He is also called the “Spirit … of might.”
The third Person of the Trinity was and is omnipotent. In this same passage He is called “the Spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.” He was, even at that time, the only one who was able to teach sinful men the knowledge of God and also the necessity, and indeed the ways, of reverently trusting Him.
God’s Presence and Care Known Through the Spirit
In Isaiah 63 there are three more titles of the Holy Spirit which are full of meaning:
“The angel of His presence saved them… But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit” (vv. 9-10).
“Where is He that brought them up out of the sea (Red Sea) with the Shepherd of His flock? Where is He that put His Holy Spirit within Him?” (v. 11, KJV).
“That led them by the right hand of Moses with His glorious arm .. . the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name” (vv. 12 and 14, KJV).
He is the Holy Spirit who is here named “the Angel of His Presence,” who made God’s presence real to His own in those days (just as He does today). It was the Holy Spirit here named “the Shepherd of His Flock” who made God’s guidance known to His own in those days (just as today), and it was God’s Holy Spirit who is here called “His Glorious Arm” who made God’s power available to His own in those days (just as today).
“The Angel of His Presence,” “the Shepherd of His Flock,” and “the Arm of His Strength” are titles both beautiful and full of significance, given in those far off days to the One who is always the same in any age toward the people of God.
The titles of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament reveal much more of His gracious Person and glorious power. He is “the Spirit of your Father” (Matt. 10:20) in which is declared the Father’s heart of pity to them that fear Him. He is the “Spirit of God” (Matt. 12:28) which emphasizes His deity. He is the “Spirit of the Lord” (Luke 4:18) denoting His authority and sovereignty. His main title is “the Holy Spirit” showing Him to be the author of all holiness (Luke 11:13; etc.), and because He is truth, that is, divine truth personified, he is called the “Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17). He imparts to believers the divine nature and is so named in Romans 8:2 the “Spirit of Life.” And another title, the “Spirit of His Son” (Gal. 4:6), shows without doubt that He Himself not only represents Christ, the Son of God, but is actually His Spirit in the world. Similarly, He is named in Philippians 1:19, the “Spirit of Jesus” in the world. Similarly, He is named in Philippians 1:19, the “Spirit of Jesus Christ,” referring to Him as the Spirit of the promised Messiah and Saviour.
In Hebrews 9:14 the writer refers to Him as “the Eternal Spirit,” declaring Him to be the Eternal God, but the Apostle Paul gives Him another name, the “Holy Spirit of Promise,” because he was promised by both the Father and the Son. It is interesting to see that John 7:39 simply says, “the Spirit”, when speaking of the ever-present One, and in so doing John is stressing the incorporal nature of His personality. Later on, in the same Gospel, the special title of “Comforter” is given to Him by our Lord, thus declaring that His presence, when He came, would be both a strength and comfort to His own. The Greek word, paracletos, literally means: “one called alongside to enable.”
In 1 Peter 4:14 the apostle refers to the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of Glory” because he is talking about the future inheritance into which He will eventually bring God’s suffering saints. In Revelation 1:4 He is spoken of as “the seven Spirits which are before His throne.” Because the whole of the remainder of Scripture teaches there is one Spirit of God alone, we gather that this phrase or title must be referring to the seven expressions of the one Spirit’s personality, or the seven ways in which He represents the seven churches in Asia, as seen in the first three chapters of the book.
Finally, we mention the Apostle Paul’s descriptive title of the Spirit used in Romans 8:15: he is the “Spirit of Adoption.” Here, in this name, is emphasized the divine objective in making believers in the Lord Jesus legally and righteously the true sons and daughters of the Living God.