The Spirit of Christ
From Genesis to Revelation, the holy Spirit is given various descriptive titles, such as the Spirit of God (Gen. 1:2), Spirit of the Lord(Isa. 11:2), Spirit of grace (Zech. 12:10), holy Spirit (Lk. 11:13), Spirit of truth (Jn. 14:17), Comforter (Jn. 15:26), eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14), Spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15), Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), holy Ghost (Mt. 1:18), and others too numerous to mention here.
There are many similar instances of using various titles for the Spirit. In 1Samuel 10:6, Samuel told Saul that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him, but when it happened (v.10), we read that the Spirit of God came upon him. For another example, we find in Acts 5:3 that Ananias and his wife lied to the holy ghost, but in verse 6 it was the Spirit of the Lord against which they had sinned. Again, this time using Joels voice, God promised that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh (2:28). When this wonderful prophecy began to be fulfilled in Acts 2:4, the promised Spirit was called the holy Ghost. And to confirm this, Peter says in verse 16, This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.
Some have mistakenly concluded that the holy Spirit and the holy Ghost are different spirits. A brief survey can correct that wrong impression. Here are a few blessings that come through the holy Ghost, which in other verses are said to come by the holy Spirit: Sanctification (Rom. 15:16; 2Thess. 2:13); spiritual gifts (Heb. 2:4; 1Cor. 12:4); instruction for believers (1Cor. 2:13; Jn. 16:13); help in prayer (Jude 20; 1Cor. 14:16); and dwelling in saints (1Cor. 6:19; Eph. 2:2).
If we read carefully, we will learn from the Scriptures that there is only one holy Spirit described in many different ways.
Consider carefully, please, the words of these gospel writers, as each describes the Spirit as it came upon Jesus, when he was about 30 years of age:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw THE SPIRIT OF GOD descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.
And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and THE SPIRIT like a dove descended upon him.
Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened. And THE HOLY GHOST descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him.
And John bore record, saying, I saw THE SPIRIT descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
Now, unless a flock of doves descended from heaven, THE SPIRIT OF GOD that Matthew saw is THE SPIRIT that Mark and John saw, and they both are THE HOLY GHOST which Luke saw. My friend, can you not see that only one dove descended upon Jesus, and that same dove was given different titles by the writers?
Much can be learned about the Spirit from the application of various titles to it. For example, when Jesus disciples were saddened by the news that he would soon leave them, Jesus referred to the Spirit that he would send them as the Comforter. And when Paul spoke of our admission into the family of God, he referred to the Spirit as the Spirit of adoption. Jesus gives us an impression of the holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth, for, he said, he will guide you into all truth. And since Christ Jesus declared himself to be the truth (Jn. 14:6), the Spirit of truth is obviously the Spirit of Christ.
The Spirit of Christ
For those who think that the Spirit of Christ and the holy Ghost are different spirits, let us study this issue together.
Only twice in the Bible is the phrase the Spirit of Christ used (Rom. 8:9 and 1Pet. 1:11). In 1Peter 1:11, Peter states that the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets of old, and testified beforehand the suffering of Christ, and the glory that should follow. But notice that in his second epistle (1:21), Peter writes, prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the holy Ghost. Surely, the ancient prophets were not inspired by two different spirits.
King Davids stunning prophecy from Psalm 22 foretold the gruesome crucifixion of Jesus. Part of Davids prophecy reads, They pierced my hands and my feet. . . . They parted my garments among them, and cast lots for my vesture.
The word my in this prophecy refers not to David but to Christ. Davids hands and feet were never pierced, nor were his clothes ever parted among his enemies. The Spirit of Christ, through David, was testifying beforehand of the sufferings of Jesus. Near the end of his life, David said, The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was in my tongue (2Sam. 23:2). Are we to understand by this that the Spirit of the Lord spoke by him on one occasion, and the Spirit of Christ on another? Of course not. The Spirit of the Lord is the Spirit of Christ, for God has made that same Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).
Further, we hear these words from Peter, as he stood in the midst of the disciples in the upper room awaiting the descent of the Comforter, Men and brethren, this Scripture must necessarily be fulfilled, which the holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake . . . concerning Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus (Acts 1:16).
Davids prophecy to which Peter referred on this occasion is found in Psalm 41:9, and reads, Yea, my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. The me and the my of this prophecy from Psalm 41 is the same me and my of Psalm 22, which spoke of the crucifixion. In both cases, the Spirit of Christ was the speaker, for in both verses, events that happened to Christ were foretold, and in both verses the speaker says the events happened to me. Yet, Peter said the holy Ghost inspired Davids words. Clearly, then, when Peter said the holy Ghost spoke through David, he was referring to the Spirit of Christ, or we could say, the Spirit of the Lord.
The other verse in which Spirit of Christ appears is in Pauls letter to the saints at Rome. It is an arresting, sobering statement: Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Rom. 8:9). Paul is declaring in no uncertain terms that until one receives the holy Ghost he is not a member of the family of God, for the Spirit of Christ, as we have seen, is the holy Ghost.
Paul said that the Spirit of God is life itself, and it is. It is Gods life that is within Him. Jesus suffered and died for one purpose; namely to save us by making that eternal life, the holy Ghost, available to us who believe. Eternal life for us is what he purchased with his blood. I am come that they might have life, he said, and that they might have it more abundantly. He was speaking of the Spirit.
The sum of this truth is clear: If we do not have the holy Ghost dwelling within us, we do not have life. But because of Jesus, there is hope. You can repent of your sins in the name of Jesus and receive that eternal life from the Father. Jesus wanted you to have it so much that he was willing to give up his life and purchase it for you. Why not kneel down right now and ask him for it?
When is a person really born again?
When were the disciples born again? Over the years, I have posed that simple question to a number of people, including Christian ministers, and I have yet to find anyone who had pondered it before I asked. Some seemed surprised that such a question would even be asked. A fairly typical response has been this one, from a man who had been in the ministry for some time: I have never thought about it. My sincere reply is, Why not? Why have so many, especially those in lofty religious positions, not considered the most important issue that exists?
Considering the contradictory answers given by various groups to this simple question, one might be led to think that the Bible is unclear in its answer, but it is not. I suspect that the issue is avoided by many clergymen precisely because the Bibles answer is so clear. There is something in the hearts of some ministers that tells them that if the children of God ever discover the truth concerning the new birth, then their influence and control over the flock of God will be threatened. At the heart of the widespread neglect of this most important issue of life is rebellion against the truth that the Bible proclaims. And that truth is this: No one is born of the Spirit until he is baptized with the holy Ghost, with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Are you willing to look at the evidence?
To find out the answer to this question, When is a person really born again?, Listen online to our CD series on The New Birth