The Ministries of the Holy Spirit in Revelation and in RomansPosted: Sat. Dec, 24 2016
The person of the Holy Spirit
If you recall, in the first blog of this series, we came away with the distinct impression that something very different is going on in Revelation 2 & 3 than what is going in in Paul’s epistles.
Now we are checking things out systematically, taking up one subject at a time and comparing Revelation with Paul.
Last week we looked at the person of God the Holy Spirit.
We saw that the description of God the Holy Spirit in Revelation 1-3 lines up well with how He is presented in the Old Testament and in the rest of Revelation.
He appears in connection with the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And He speaks to the assemblies the same way He spoke to a divided nation of Israel made up of both the remnant and the rebellious.
But this depiction of the Holy Spirit is not found at all in Paul’s letters , nor indeed, the rest of the New Testament other than Revelation.
The ministries of the Holy Spirit
This week, we are going to examine the ministries of God the Holy Spirit to the church as presented in the letters of Paul. We will compare and contrast these with His ministry to the assemblies in Revelation 2 and 3.
We begin where we left off last week.
The only ministry to the seven assemblies
' He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'"
This is the only statement about the ministry of the Spirit to the seven assemblies. It is repeated in each of the seven letters.
What does this say about the ministry of the Spirit to the assemblies here?
One thing: He speaks prophetically to them.
In Revelation 2 and 3 the Spirit speaks to the assembly, but the Spirit does not act on behalf of or in these assemblies or the individuals therein.
This is consistent with the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. But it is very different from the ministries of the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ as revealed in the letters of Paul.
So we have to ask ourselves: what ministries are NOT found here in Revelation?
The ministries of the Spirit in Romans
To discover all that is not said concerning the Spirit in Revelation 2 and 3, we now turn to the letters of Paul.
First, we turn to the book of Romans. Romans gives the foundational truths of Christianity. We learn the basics about what it means to be a Christian.
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Notice right away that the Holy Spirit is active. He is pouring the love of God within our hearts. And He was given to us.
On to chapter 7 of Romans.
Released from the Law to serve
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
Notice that we have died to the Law and have been joined to Christ risen, so that we might bear fruit for God.
We have been released from the Law, we died to the bondage of the law. so that now we serve in newness of the Spirit.
The burdens of the Law
But there is no mention of this ministry of the Spirit in Revelation 2 or 3.
On the other hand, there is reference to the burdens of the Law. This is significant, since those who are in Christ have been released from the Law.
The Lord is about to issue a judgment against some in the assemblies of Pergamum and Thyatira according to the tenets of the Law, namely the prohibition against eating things sacrificed to idols along with committing sexually immoral acts. See REV 2:14 and REV 2:20. Compare to ACT 15:19-21 and ACT 15:28-29.
These prohibitions are from the Law, namely EXO 34:15-17 and Lev 8.
This is very significant! Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes (ROM 10:4)
This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
It's one or the other.
Let’s keep this point in mind as we search for the identity of these seven assemblies.
The Spirit in Romans 8
Now the one chapter in the New Testament with the most references to the Spirit is chapter 8 of the book of Romans. We will end our study this week in the first part of this chapter.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law [governing power] of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law [governing power] of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind (set on) [ of] the flesh is death, but the mind (set on) [ of] the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind (set on) [ of] the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Chapter 8 is loaded with statements about the active ministries of the Spirit to those who are in Christ Jesus.
As we go over them, one at a time, we need to reflect on why it is that not one of them is mentioned in Revelation 2 or 3. Or anywhere else in Revelation for that matter.
In Christ, in the Spirit
First of all, Romans 8:1 tells us that we have been placed permanently into Christ.
Who did that?
God the Holy Spirit did that!
1 Cor 12:12-13
12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Having been justified (declared righteous in God’s eyes), and having been placed into Christ, we are set free by the Holy Spirit, free from the governing power of sin and of death.
We are now the beneficiaries of the governing power of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
And we are no longer in the flesh. We are in Christ, and we are in the Spirit.
We do not walk according to the flesh any longer. Instead, we walk according to the Spirit.
This of course does not mean that we never sin.
It simply means that our real life is in Christ, and we can only live that life by means of the Spirit.
The walk according to the flesh simply doesn’t work for us any more. Trying to live that way is like walking into a wall again and again.
The Spirit dwells in us
Our life, and our peace, comes 100% from the mind of the Spirit.
And the Spirit dwells in us. This is an astounding ministry of the Spirit to the Christian.
The Spirit has come to live in our hearts.
6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, " Abba! Father!" 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
We are God’s sons and daughters. That means we are heirs.
Sealed with the Spirit
2 Cor 1:21-22
Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
As we see here in 2 Corinthians 1:22, we have also been sealed by God with the Holy Spirit as a pledge or a promise. God has promised to give us the rest of the inheritance, and that includes a perfect resurrection body.
ROM 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
The seven have great need for these…
Let’s stop at this point and ask a question: do we find any evidence in Revelation 2 or 3 that these 7 assemblies have received these ministries of the Spirit?
They need these ministries badly!
The seven assemblies face peril, suffering, death, loss of their status as a valid assembly, the demand to repent, suffering, prison, tribulation, death, living where satan’s throne is, having the Lord hold things against them, having people in their own assembly holding to false teaching, the Lord warning them that He will come soon and make war against some in the assembly , many members of their assembly being led astray by a false prophetess with the result that the Lord is about to throw them into great tribulation unless they repent, realizing that they are dead, the Lord about to come as a thief unless they repent, the possibility that they will lose their crown, realizing that they are lukewarm and the Lord is going to spit them out of His mouth, and having the Lord tell them that they are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
But these ministries are not operating for them
Amidst all of this, they are not reassured or comforted with the any of the things that we are comforted with.
They are not reminded that the Spirit has poured to love of God into their hearts.
They are not told they are dead to the Law, or that they now serve in newness of the Spirit.
They are not told that they cannot be perfected by the works of the Law, and it must come by hearing with faith.
There is no thought of them being led by the Spirit.
No explanation that they have been baptized by the Spirit into Christ.
They are not encouraged by the fact that they are all members of one body.
They are not told that they have been justified.
Not said to have been set free by the Holy Spirit from the governing power of sin and of death.
Not told they have the governing power of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Not told they are no longer in the flesh, but rather are in the Spirit.
Not told that the solution to their disobedience is to walk according to the Spirit.
Not told that they have the mind of the Spirit which is their life and peace.
There is no indication that the Spirit has come to live in their hearts.
They are not said to be the sons and daughters of God the Father.
Not given consolation that they have been sealed by the Father with the Spirit for the day of redemption.
And they are not given the promise that they are going to receive a resurrection body.
A deafening silence
Now, taken alone, the absence of any one of these things in Revelation 2 and 3 is to be expected, since no one portion of scripture can cover all these things.
But it is stunning not to find ANY of these ministries of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3.
Stunning, that is, IF these assemblies have believers in Christ who have been saved by grace through faith, forgiven of all their sins, are in permanent union with Christ, indwelt by the Spirit and sealed with the Spirit by the Father.
Yes, this is an argument from silence...but what a deafening silence it is!
We will continue along these lines in the next blog.
Until the next time, we’re all ….
In His grip,
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