The Work of the Holy Spirit

by Mike Ratliff

“When the Counselor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me. You will also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27 WEB)

We live in a time of biblical ignorance. Much of the ignorance is intentional. I have been involved in some discussions over the last several days that pertained to a movement that seeks to separate Jesus from Holy Scripture. Those who are immersed in the Word of God as they walk before the face of God in their sanctification see this movement with a great deal of incredulity. How can anyone learn about Jesus and what is expected of His disciples if all understanding of Him comes extra-biblically?

However, that is exactly what is happening in the New Evangelism. Some people are demanding my repentance for teaching the very words of Jesus from the Gospels as commands for us today. The accusation is that these teachings do not reflect the character or nature of Jesus. They accused me of holding doctrine higher than Christ. Let’s take a look at how we learn the truth about our Lord, our salvation, and how to live this life.

“These things have I spoken to you, so that you wouldn’t be caused to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues. Yes, the time comes that whoever kills you will think that he offers service to God. They will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have told you these things, so that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you about them. I didn’t tell you these things from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going? ’But because I have told you these things, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I don’t go away, the Counselor won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment; about sin, because they don’t believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to my Father, and you won’t see me any more; about judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged.” (John 16:1-11 WEB)

Did you notice how our Lord tied persecution together with the work of the Holy Spirit? Why does the persecution come upon believers?

“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his lord.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:20 WEB)

The world hates the Jesus of the Bible. Many may love their own Jesus, but that Jesus is not this one. Their Jesus is all love and unity at all cost. The Biblical Jesus is very different from their man-made one. The Biblical Jesus preached about Hell and obedience and how His disciples must die to self, deny self, take up their crosses and follow Him. He taught that those who obey Him would be persecuted by those who believe they are serving God, but don’t know the Father at all. (John 15:21) This persecution takes many forms, but most of it is verbal and peppered with enough biblical words to cut like a knife.

The Holy Spirit has come. These passages are an account of the words of our Lord on the night of His arrest prior to His trial and crucifixion. However, Jesus did not remain in the grave. Three days later He rose from the dead. On the feast of Second First-Fruits (Pentecost) the Holy Spirit did come and the Church was born. Jesus calls Him the Counselor. The KJV uses the word “Comforter” here. The Greek word here is “parakletos.” This word means, “to call hither, toward, or to speak to, to speak cheerfully, to encourage. It is used as an adjective to describe those who are helpers. The Greeks also used this word to describe legal advisors, pleaders, proxies, or advocates. It is describing one who comes forward on behalf of and as the representative of another. Jesus Christ is described with this word in 1 John 2:1 when He is termed our substitutionary, intercessory advocate. Jesus called the Holy Spirit, “Paraclete” in John 14:16. He also called Him “allos,” which means another of equal quality. Therefore, our Lord tells us that the Holy Spirit is equal with Him.

The Holy Spirit’s works includes witnessing about Jesus Christ (John 14:26; 16:7,14) and glorifying Him. He is Paraclete because He undertakes Christ’s office in the world while Christ is away from it as the God-Man. He also acts as Christ’s substitute on earth. The Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Son of God. In this, He confronts the world. He works through God’s people in this task of confrontation. Many may deem this work as not of Christ or disruptive to unity, but much of the Church is populated with tares and goats. They have brought the world into the Church corrupting the message of the Gospel and the person of Jesus Christ Himself. The Holy Spirit will convict and move believers to confront sin as He convicts from within. The nature of this is uncompromising. This combination of conviction and unwillingness to compromise is what causes the persecution to come.

On the other hand, the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of wicked people actually turns some from hostility and rebellion against God into belief regarding Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Therefore, God’s people are called to patiently endure the persecution while never compromising. No one can bear the fires of persecution without the Comforter coming along side to encourage and strengthen.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to convict men and guide believers into all truth. His guidance is one of encouragement. That is why we know that when we are being accused in a mean sarcastic way that that is not coming from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, those of us who do confront the apostates and heretics polluting the Church we must do so in the power of the Holy Spirit, not by Human Reason or for any motive other than obedience to our Lord. When the accusations come with the intent of intimidating and discouraging us, we must examine ourselves and make sure we are not using the enemy’s weapons in this battle. If so, then we must repent. If not, then we must remain in the thick of the battle in the power of the Holy Spirit as He leads.

The Holy Spirit guides believers into the truth and in the direction God wills for them to go. These are the Spirit-filled. They permeate their lives with the Word of God, confess their sins, and obey God in all things. The Holy Spirit fills their spiritual sails with His sanctifying wind driving them to walk before the face of God in His power and their humility. (Ephesians 5&6)

Today it seems that many hold that the Holy Spirit’s role is to make people laugh uncontrollably, bark like dogs, flop around on the ground, and empower TV evangelists to make lots of money. The reason there is so much false teaching about the Holy Spirit is that there is little focus on the genuine Gospel. Christianity has become focused on peripheral things, unimportant things, religiosity, or how much freedom can we extract from our salvation. This is not what Christianity is about nor is this what the Holy Spirit is about. He is about glorifying our Lord Jesus Christ, leading God’s people into the truth and repentance and obedience while convicting the world of its sin. We must repent of our self-focused religiosity and get in step with Him, our Paraclete.


25 thoughts on “The Work of the Holy Spirit

  1. Isn’t this the great mystery, Mike. Jesus is not just words on a page, but He cannot be separated from the Scriptures, ever. And it is the Holy Spirit that unlocks some of the great treasure inherant in God’s Word. The slightest, and I mean the very slightest, deparure from God’s written revelation either becomes emotionalism, error, or as we see today heresy.

    I have said it publicly before, the greatest single aspect of most Calvinists is their devotion and desire to remain true to Scripture. You fall into that gatagory, Mike.


  2. Are you debating with the Word/Faith movement again? They think the Holy Spirit is an emotion. When you go to a word faith type church they always talk about ” feeling” the Holy Spirit. I did feel pretty emotional and excited by all the hyped up loud music. 🙂


  3. Deb, no, the ones I have been “conversing” with lately seem to Universalists for the most part. Isn’t that something about how people confuse feelings for the work of the Holy Spirit? 🙂


  4. Yes, it can be very confusing. My brother has been one for many many years and a person can actually think that they are missing something if you don’t “feel” the Holy Spirit. The last church I attended the ministers wife asked if the Holy Spirit was their before the service began. I never went back. 🙂


  5. Thank you very much for this post and explanation of the role that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives. I’ve read the verses you refer to in your post many times over the years in my walk with GOD, and honestly, didn’t quite grasp their full meaning until I read your words. Thanks again and GOD bless, times are getting rough.


  6. They accused me of holding doctrine higher than Christ.

    Oh yeah — like the emergents that write about ‘bibliolatry.’ Gag me.

    Christ IS the living WORD — the WORD made flesh. Is it any wonder when we hold Scripture in such high esteem and take no direction for our source of doctrine other than from it?


  7. Mike, you mentioned that you had been accused of holding doctrine higher than Christ. Your detractors evidently don’t realise that only through doctrine can we know Christ. ref. 2 John 9 – “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”


  8. Beautiful exegesis of His Word: faithful and God glorifying. Another article of encouragement to the saints. Thank you for your faithfulness to the work God has given you to do. He is being glorified.


  9. Those who call themselves disciples of Jesus need to heed His Words in John 17:3- “And this is the way to have eternal life – to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You have sent to earth. ” Every disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to study this whole chapter which reveals Jesus’ prayer for His disciples. If one does not see that Jesus gave God’s Word while ministering, and that His Word is truth, then they need to fear these Words of Jesus’ in Matthew 7:23 – “But I will reply, ‘ I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized ( non – or extra – biblical ).’ ” Perhaps one should carefully, prayerfully, read Matthew 7:21-28! And I highly recommend every child of God to pray that He would reveal every lie that they are believing as truth. God is very faithful to do this. I know. And one should not think that they are exempt from such a prayer no matter how studious and obedient to God’s Word they are. But none of this will mean a thing to those without the Holy Spirit. They are none of His.


  10. What a difference it makes when a believer realizes The Comforter gives us divine strength to go through battles. Over and over we are told that we will be persecuted, but it doesn’t sink in. Soldiers are soldiers 24/7. Stand srong, Mike.

    I’ve been talking with a middle-aged guy who is from a Roman Catholic family. They aren’t “religious” but he was confirmed when he was old enough. His first confession was with a priest who was drunk at the time. He told me, “They tell you a priest is God. A drunk priest isn’t God.” Ever since he’s been an atheist, and I find it refreshing talking to an atheist. He’s in rebellion against God but he’s honest about it. When he found out I’m “one of those”, he was going to back away. He had a roomate and a girlfriend who got pretty angry with him when he wouldn’t agree with them. I told him that he can say whatever he wants. I won’t get angry. It’s wonderful to know that it is the Holy Spirit who draws people, and not my job to “win a soul to Jesus”.


  11. Alice,

    When my neighbour’s property when up for sale, I asked the Lord to send me a new neigbour that would be challenge for me. What a surprise! He sent me an atheist who is married to a RC. As neighbours and friends, I’d not want to trade them for any other.

    And what a great opportunity and practice it is for me to give him the gospel with both barrels because he keeps provoking me, knowing full well how I will respond. Even though the Lord has not opened his heart to see the Light yet, this fellow has become a good friend.

    We thank our Lord for such opportunities to share the Way, the Truth and the Life for His glory.


    Thanks for another excellent lesson from the Gospel.

    In Christ,


  12. Paul,

    My atheist friend doesn’t realize his objections and questions are ones Christians hear all the time. Makes me wonder if the only people he’s ever met have been “professing” Christians who tried to get him to pray the sinner’s prayer.

    “How could a loving God allow….fill in the blank.” I had to not laugh out loud when he was shocked I believed dinosaurs exisited. “Answers In Genesis” will come in very handy. It’s wonderful to be able to show someone that God is the Creator and you are a creature. That’s the basic starting point of the gospel to the gentiles.

    I asked him if he though all people were good. “People know what is right and wrong .” When I told him that God says that NO ONE is good…he was shocked, but not angry. This is all totally new to him.

    I must admit that as a “professing” Christian I would have been angry and trying to win an arguement. Now I know it’s not up to me. The doctrine of election is such a blessing. Rejoicing with you for the God-given opportunities He gives us. He is so good!


  13. Alice,

    We have won the argument, the lost just have not seen that yet.

    On a totally different note, my wife just came home a few minutes ago and told me that the last words her sister spoke this morning were, “Praise the Lord.” She is absent from her body and now present with the Lord. I was not there but I can see her joyous smile.

    As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.


  14. Paul,

    Isaiah 51:6
    Lift up your eyes to the sky, Then look to the earth beneath;
    For the sky will vanish like smoke, And the earth will wear out like a garment
    and its inhabitants will die in like manner; But My salvation will be forever; and My righteousness will not wane.

    May your hearts be strengthened by His grace. May you cling ever tighter to His Word. He is unchanging in His mercy and love.

    With tears and prayers for you and your family…….because death brings home the reality that sin is an offence against a holy God. May the day come soon when all believers will be home and God will wipe away our tears and death will be no more. Praise the Lord!


Comments are closed.