Berean Digest

Tavares D. Mathews

The Holy Spirit

In this article we would like to address the subject of the Holy Spirit’s work in the New Testament. We will do this simply by making statements of fact as expressed by apostles and prophets.

Characteristics of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a divine person. He possesses the nature of deity, therefore, He is called God (Acts 5:1-4); He is eternal in nature (Heb. 9:14); He is all-knowing (1 Cor. 2:9-11) and all-present (Psalm 139:7-10).

The Holy Spirit is a person and possesses all the qualities of a person. The biblical record indicates that the Holy Spirit loves (Rom. 15:30); has knowledge (1 Cor. 2:11) and He wills (1 Cor. 12:11).

The Holy Spirit guides (John 16:13); He forbids (Acts 16:6, 7); He searches (1 Cor. 2:10); He teaches (1 Cor. 2:13) and speaks (1Tim. 4:1).

He can be lied to (Acts 5:3); He can be grieved (Eph. 4:30) and can be insulted (Heb. 10:29).

He communicates as any intelligent person does – through Words (1 Cor. 2:13; Rev. 2:7).

The Work of the Apostles

Jesus chose twelve men to go into the world to preach the gospel to all nations  (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16; Luke 24:47-49).

The Holy Spirit was to be given to the apostles to bring all things Jesus had taught them while He was with them back to their remembrance and to reveal those things that were yet to come (John 14:26; 16:13; Matt. 10:18-20).

As they went about preaching the gospel – the Holy Spirit brought back to their remembrance the Words of Jesus when He was with them and revealed to them God’s Word. The Holy Spirit would also allow them to speak in the language of the people that they came in contact with and to perform miracles in order to authenticate their message. The apostles were in essence the chief authoritative mouth pieces for God. Their messages were infallible because they spoke as they were directed by the Holy Spirit.

John, an apostle of Jesus, as he was on the Isle of Patmos was instructed to write what Jesus told him, yet in verses 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13,22 of the book of Revelation, the text says, “hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches”. Obviously, John was guided by the Holy Spirit to write Jesus’ instructions to the churches. Notice the words of Christ concerning the Holy Spirit: “

[F]or he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak”(John 16:13; Acts 2:1-11, 43; 3:6; Mark 16:20; Matt. 16:19; 18:18).


Confirming of the Word

The apostles of Jesus possessed all nine of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and only they were able to give a/the gift(s) to others (Acts 6:6; 8:14-18; Rom. 1:11; 1 Cor. 1:7; 12:7-11; 2 Tim. 1:6).


The gifts were for a limited time and they served a particular purpose. They were only used as a means to confirm the words which men of God preached until “complete” revelation of God’s Word was written down                      (1 Cor. 13:8-12; Eph. 4:11-14; Mark 16:20).


Once the apostles of Christ and those that the apostles laid hands on – made an end of writing the Holy Scriptures (the 27 books of the New Testament) and they (apostles and those they laid hands on) died – the miraculous age of the Holy Spirit was finished. There was no need for it to continue because it had fulfilled its purpose – to lead men in the writing of God’s Word (1 Cor. 2:9-13; 2 Peter 1:20, 21; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17).


The Holy Spirit does not perform miracles through individuals today, if He did the Holy Scriptures that He inspired men to write would be useless and would have been written for nothing (1 Cor. 13:8-10; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 1 John 5:13). We are admonished by the Scriptures to read (Eph. 3:4; Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:17), study the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15) and meditate on the Scriptures (1 Tim. 4:15) in order to gain understanding of God’s Will for our lives.

Being Led by the Spirit 

When these three things are done (reading, studying and meditating) and we apply the scriptures to our lives we are said to be “led by the Spirit” and are called “sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). Christians are “led by the Spirit” when they conform their lives according to the Words inspired men wrote under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20, 21) Meaning – they live according to the Word of God. (John 14:15) The Holy Spirit does not work directly on the spirit [mind] of the Christian. Meaning – the Holy Spirit only works through the Words which He inspired. The Holy Spirit works representatively through the Word of God – the words that were inspired by the Holy Spirit – just as Jesus baptized representatively through His disciples (John 4:1, 2).

Illumination of the Spirit

The false idea of special illumination of the Spirit is also totally false. This false teaching, which is Calvinistic to the core, makes the bogus claim that the Holy Spirit helps individuals understand the Bible. In other words, the Holy Spirit interprets the Bible message for those who need it. This would mean that the Holy Spirit did a very poor job in writing the Bible and now needs to help man understand what He [the Holy Spirit] could not make plain enough when He had it written down. Also, if this were the case – those that claim to have this special illumination of the Spirit should all and always be in agreement when they teach God’s Word– but this is hardly the case. As Luke wrote of those in Ephesus when Paul had visited the city: “Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together”(Acts 19:32).

We are admonished by an inspired apostle of Christ to read, to study and meditate on the Word of God in order to understand its message. (Eph. 3:4; Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Tim. 4:15) It is never stated that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. We already have all truth – the Holy Spirit guided inspired men to write it down with ink onto paper! (2 John 12) We now must read it, study it, meditate on it – and live it!

The Holy Spirit is a Divine person who enabled the apostles and prophets to write down those things which we needed to live acceptably before God. We are led by the Spirit of God today when we obey His inspired Words.