Herbert E. Douglass, Th.D.

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Jesus and the Holy Spirit
By Herbert E. Douglass

A Commentary on the Sabbath School Lesson for April 8Ė14, 2006

The connection between Jesus and the Holy Spirit is probably at the bottom of most all confusion in the Christian Church regarding what is meant by righteousness by faith and what the New Testament means by the atonement. (Atonement is an English word that appears only once in the King James Version [Rom. 5:11]; the same Greek word is translated "reconciliation" in 2 Cor. 4:18).

To Paul, for example, salvation is not based on believing an idea or an historical fact, but in experiencing and receiving Jesus as a living presence. New Testament writers amplify our Lordís own lucid analogy of the vine and the branches: If I do not abide in you and you in meóno fruit, no salvation.

Jesus continued to speak even more clearly: I will be leaving you but you will not be left alone. In fact, if I do not leave you, you will not grasp the whole point of salvation and how to defeat the Evil One. Being rescued from the Evil One involves more than listening to my words or even modeling your life after mine. You are going to need help as much as the branch needs the help of the vine. That help will come through the personal presence of the Holy Spirit, and "He will testify of Me" (John 15:26). As you listen to him, "He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13).

Paul got the point. He saw clearly that treasuring the memory of the historical Jesus will not save anyone. Salvation will happen, Jesus will "save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21), when "those who are in Christ JesusÖdo not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Rom. 8:1). What is Paulís high goal for the Christian walk with the Holy Spirit? "That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (8:4).

No wonder Paul sang to the Colossians about the mystery that hangs over anyone who tries to think spiritually with only cognitive, impersonal terms: "The riches" of Godís glory remains "a mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). That truly is the Christianís breath of hope! Not looking back only, but looking forward, daily, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

It was the same song of Paul that permeated all of his letters. I treasure this one: "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you" (Rom. 8:11).

This thought sums it up in a few words:

Abiding in Christ means a constant receiving of His Spirit, a life of unreserved surrender to His service. The channel of communication must be open continually between man and his God. As the vine branch constantly draws the sap from the living vine, so are we to cling to Jesus, and to receive from Him by faith, the strength and perfection of His own character. (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, 676)
.Letís look at our Lordís relationship to the Holy Spirit from another angle. Jesus relied on the Holy Spirit to help him in all the temptations that Satan threw at him. Jesus would never have lived his unsullied life without the constant empowerment of the Holy Spirit. In many ways, his followers can understand and appreciate our Lordís humble acknowledgement: "I can of Myself do nothing" (John 5:30).

This insight highlights the interaction between our Lord and the Holy Spirit:

"The prince of the world cometh," said Jesus, "and hath nothing in Me." John 14:30. There was in Him nothing that responded to Satanís sophistry. He did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us. Christís humanity was united with divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And He came to make us partakers of the divine nature. (White, Desire of Ages, 123)

What a theme to contemplateóthe historical Jesus and all that to thrill us and the indwelling Jesus through the Holy Spirit to give us power and hope!


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