Spirit and Church -- By: Arthur M. Climenhaga

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 01:0 (NA 1968)
Article: Spirit and Church
Author: Arthur M. Climenhaga

Spirit and Church

Arthur M. Climenhaga

A Word Concerning the Holy Spirit

In His parting counsels the Lord Jesus Christ spoke freely of the Holy Spirit. This is significant in that one of the remarkable features of His earlier ministry was His comparative silence concerning the Holy Spirit. Earlier occasions were rare when He mentioned the Spirit and then always in circumstances which made the reference necessary — for example, the word to Nicodemus in John 3:15, again speaking of the power of prayer and giving of the Holy Spirit in Luke 11:13, and warning about the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. But now the shadow of the Cross falls over His path and in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth chapters of John Jesus speaks in the Upper Room. In a few pregnant sentences He gathers up all that can be said of the Spirit’s relation to the Church, the World and God. Herein is to be found a summary statement of the doctrine of the Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity.

Three outstanding truths concerning the Spirit underline these teachings of the Christ:

  1. The Spirit comes to take the place of Jesus Christ, to be to the disciples all that Christ had been and more than He would have become had He stayed with them.
  2. The Holy Spirit promised to the disciples is the selfsame Spirit who dwelt in the Christ and was the explanation of His earthly life and ministry.
  3. The Spirit comes to dwell in the disciples as He dwelt in Christ in order that Jesus Christ will be reproduced in the disciple thus making him what Christ would have been had He stayed on the earth and lived where that disciple lives.1

A Word Concerning the Church

Someone once spoke of history as biography “writ large.” Presumably he meant that to write in detail of a few leaders in any country or group is to write in essence of the history of that particular country or group. This is particularly true of sacred history.

The history of the early church is a composite of sketches in more or less detail of the lives of the early disciples and especially of two outstanding leaders, the Apostles Paul and Peter. These sketches are in the final analysis the recounting of the manifestation and working of the Holy Spirit among men during the several decades following the ascension of our Lord. This working of the Spirit among men redeemed by Jesus Christ and called out from a life of sin to a life of holiness is the recorded history of the formation of the Church. The Church then is the biography of its divinely-raised up, Holy Spirit filled and dominated...

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