The Old Testament contains two wonderful promises from God that believers looked forward to under the new covenant. Many of us emphasize the first promise. But do we emphasize the second enough?
God’s first incredible OT promise was that he would send a Savior to redeem people for himself. The second great promise, the one some of us don’t seem to emphasize as much, was to pour out his Holy Spirit upon all believers.
John Owen says:
For when God designed the great and glorious work of recovering fallen man and the saving of sinners, to the praise of the glory of his grace, he appointed, in his infinite wisdom, two great means thereof. The one was the giving of his Son for them, and the other was the giving of his Spirit unto them.Hence, from the first entrance of sin, there were two general heads of the promise of God unto men, concerning the means of their recovery and salvation. The one was that concerning the sending of his Son to be incarnate, to take our nature upon him, and to suffer for us therein; the other, concerning the giving of his Spirit, to make the effects and fruits of the incarnation, obedience, and suffering of his Son, effectual in us and towards us. To these heads may all the promises of God be reduced.
…when once that first work was fully accomplished, when the Son of God was come, and had destroyed the works of the devil, the principal remaining promise of the New Testament, the spring of all the rest, concerneth the sending of the Holy Spirit unto the accomplishment of his part of that great work which God had designed. (John Owen on the Holy Spirit)
The salvation Jesus provided on the cross is good news. Forgiveness of sins, acceptance by God, adoption as sons of God, eternal life. But Jesus promised us even more. He promised to pour out the Holy Spirit on all believers to indwell and empower them to witness for Christ, teach them inwardly and produce much fruit. The New Testament tells believers to walk by the Spirit, sow to the Spirit, continuously be filled with Spirit and seek the gifts of the Spirit.
Many of us tend to emphasize God’s first promise, salvation, far more than we do his second promise of the Spirit.
But John Owen says the doctrine of the Holy Spirit should be huge for New Testament believers:
Hence, the Holy Ghost, the doctrine concerning his person, his work, his grace, is the most peculiar and principal subject of the Scriptures of the New Testament, and a most eminent immediate object of the faith of them that do believe.
If the doctrine of the Holy Spirit should be the “most eminent immediate object of the faith of them that do believe” and “the most peculiar and principal subject of the Scriptures of the New Testament” then shouldn’t we emphasize His person, work and power more?
Just like Peter did on the day of Pentecost, we should promise the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who receive Jesus through faith and repentance.
Can I make a suggestion? Highlight the passages in the New Testament that talk about the work, gifts, power and fruit of the Spirit. Then begin to pray more frequently for his presence and power in your life and church.
Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit would convict and give new life to many every Sunday. While never neglecting the good news of all Jesus did through his life, death and resurrection, let’s emphasize the gift of the Holy Spirit for power and witness. And may this be said every Sunday in our meetings – “surely the Lord is in this place.”