THE HOLY SPIRIT:
HIS SECRET WATERING THAT MAKES US
FRUITFUL TO BRING FORTH THE BUDS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
A Research Paper
Dr. Robert L. Plummer
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for
88905 Foundations of Biblical Spirituality
Damon Elliott Palmer
November 18, 20131
THE HOLY SPIRIT: BY HIS SECRET WATERING THAT MAKES US FRUITFUL TO BRING FORTH THE BUDS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS1
1 John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Faith, vol. 2 (1960, reprint, Louisville, KY: The Westminster Press, 2006), 540.
2 All Scriptural quotes in this work are taken from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).
3 John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 3 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1862), 115.
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;
You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.
You visit the earth and cause it to overflow;
You greatly enrich it;
The stream of God is full of water;
You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth.
You water its furrows abundantly,
You settle its ridges,
You soften it with showers,
You bless its growth.
You have crowned the year with Your bounty,
And Your paths drip with fatness.
The pastures of the wilderness drip,
And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.
The meadows are clothed with flocks
And the valleys are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, yes, they sing.
As David extols God in this psalm, he also speaks to a higher truth than providential agrarian splendor. He speaks of “Your signs,” signs of the secret work of the Holy Spirit, who is introduced in the Scriptures while hovering over the tōhû and bōhû of the deep, primordial waters, and continued on to plant, water, and harvest the sons of God, often hidden from the eyes of men in Scripture.3 As God’s plan unfolds, He reveals to His people the pattern of heaven in types, for example, the garden, the tabernacle, and the temple, as places God desires to abide among His people, all of these designed to keep the minds of the people of God on the true heaven to come and on the God who abides there. Yet, each manifestation of God’s presence in this world seems to be temporary, for the people He has created for Himself are continually falling into sin and must face the necessary consequences. The result is that for a season, the 2
people of God are growing and maturing in the Spirit, deep in the realization of their past sins and the reality of the consequences, and not in the close physically observed presence of God in His chosen worldly location.
In God’s timing, he reveals a fuller manifestation of His presence among them: the garden becomes a tabernacle; the tabernacle becomes a temple; the temple becomes a spiritual house of living stones; and finally, this house will become the true Temple of glorified and perfected saints. This is a continuous plan of God to show forth the outer manifestations of the truths of heaven until the people of God are ready to receive the full revelation of His kingdom, which, to this date, awaits the final culmination in the new heavens and the new earth.
Likewise, the Trinity manifest Themselves in a deliberate and appropriate manner to the maturing people of the covenants, which are being revealed progressively from Genesis to Revelation. Likewise, their work in redemption is also being manifested progressively and reflects the full scope of Scripture and the fuller revelation of the Son and Spirit in the New Testament. Robert Reymond, in his systematic theology, concisely summarizes the their work in the full economy of God’s plan: “The Holy Spirit would apply Christ’s accomplished redemptive benefits to elect sinners of the New Testament age and those same redemptive benefits anticipatively to elect sinners of the Old Testament age, the necessary first condition to the consummation of the original determined end.”4 In other words, the Son and the Spirit are both necessary and present, working redemption in believers, from Genesis to Revelation, around the central act of history: the cross.
4 Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1998), 495.
The redemptive ministry to Old Testament believers, to whom God the Father is progressively unveiling His plan for the wedding of all eternity through the continuous indwelling presence of the Spirit is designed to build up His Son’s bride until the day of the feast. Some assume that God is changing things in dispensation after dispensation, or that His plan demonstrates more discontinuity than continuity, yet this is an affront to His character and 3
being. 5 To say that He is continually revealing and conforming His creation to the pattern of His plan through His work among the Trinity is to affirm the revelation of Scripture. Both the Son and the Spirit were present in the creation, they are both revealed through types and theophanies throughout the Old Testament, and both are fully revealed in the New Testament, yet many challenge their active and necessary role in the Old Testament administration. Underlying each worldly location of God’s presence (garden, tabernacle, and temple) is the truth of the heavenly and actual being of God’s presence, dynamically present in the hearts of the elect. God has never left His throne in heaven, per se, even though it is often said that He came down from heaven figuratively, or in the sense that His glory resides in a chosen worldly location. God in the Trinity is omnipresent, except for the hypostatic human body of Christ which is hidden until His second coming. The worldly locations are only transitory visual and physical outward manifestations that are designed to teach and guide the people unto a proper worship of their almighty God, through the ongoing shadowy and internal labors of the Holy Spirit, effecting Christ and His work prospectively as a seal of what is to come.6
5 Calvin, Institutes, vol. 1, 463.
6 Ibid., 459.
7 Owen, Works, 115.
The labors of the Son and the Spirit, and the Father though more outwardly, are so intertwined, that even the elect are unable to truly see the inner workings of the Trinity and its fellowship. What Scripture does affirm is that the salvation of all men, from both Old and New Testaments, is a faith in the work of the coming Messiah, more recently revealed as Jesus of Nazareth. There is no other name under heaven to be saved and the merits of the cross are applied prospectively to the Old Testament elect who were called unto this faith in the Christ to come by the Holy Spirit. In addition, the Spirit is the one who applies this work to the hearts of the elect to regenerate and preserve them until the Last Day, from Adam through to the last of the elect, and not just in the elders, prophets, and kings, but all of the elect in all times.7 Note 4
here, that the preservation, or perseverance, of the elect is just as necessary as regeneration,8 and that the Spirit carries out this perseverance by an inner working in the elect to conform them to the Son. The warning passages of the New Testament testify to the dangers of not conforming to Christ and the necessity of the Spirit’s indwelling to complete the work begun in the elect. To separate the Spirit from His incipient work of regeneration and leave the elect either to their own devices or an “external” activity of the Spirit, is to expose the elect to the very dangers warned of in the New Testament. Note, however, that there is a distinction between regeneration and sanctification, and further, definitive and progressive sanctification, but in effect, they are all necessary for full salvation on the Last Day.
8 Calvin, Institutes, vol. 2, 972.
The brevity of this work precludes a full defense of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and His work in the elect. There are many full-length works that frame the entire argument and are worthy of the reader’s time to investigate; therefore, this work will utilize some of these works as a framework to support the argument that follows. The first section will give evidence for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, as well as engage opposing views. The second section will briefly discuss the proponents and antagonists of this position. Then finally, the conclusion will bring together the argument’s salient points for the consideration of the reader.
Scriptural Warrant for the Indwelling of the Spirit in the Old Testament
First, the Scriptural evidence for the indwelling of the Spirit in the Old Testament is rather extensive. As to leaders, prophets, and kings, a long line of the Spirit’s outpouring on these men is encountered in Scripture: Exodus 28:3 (skilled artisans); Exodus 31:3-11 (Bezalel & Oholiab); Numbers 11:16-17 (Moses and the Seventy Elders); Numbers 14:24 (Caleb); Numbers 24:2 (Balaam); Deuteronomy 34:9 (Joshua); Judges 3:10 (Othniel); Judges 6:34 (Gideon); 5
Judges 11:29 (Jephthah); Judges 13:25, 14:6, 15:14 (Samson); 1 Samuel 10:6; 10:9; 11:6 (Saul); 1 Samuel 16:13 (David); 2 Kings 2:9 (Elisha); 1 Chronicles 12:18 (Amasai, chief of the thirty); 2 Chronicles 20:14 (Jahaziel); 2 Chronicles 24:20 (Zechariah); Isaiah 11:2 (Christ); Ezekiel 2:2 (Ezekiel); and Haggai 1:14 (Zerubbabel and Shealtiel). However, note that not every ordained leader is evidenced above, so one could conclude that Scripture does not mention the spiritual anointing of every person, even of somewhat important men of the Bible, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Solomon, Isaiah, Daniel,9 and many others; whereas few would doubt the indwelling of the Spirit in them, especially Abraham and Isaiah, for example.
9 Although Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:8-9) seemed to think so in his own spirituality.
Second, there are many passages that speak of the future “Pentecostal” filling of the Spirit after the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross. These are especially grouped in the prophetic books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Amos, Joel, and Zechariah, to name several. These references all speak to the coming work of the Spirit in the New Testament revelation of Christ as Messiah, delivered at Pentecost; however, not all of these references are clear-cut only to the Pentecost. Many have some specific references to the Exilic period and exhibit some dual characteristics, some applicable to the elect returning to Jerusalem, but also to the Acts period elect who experienced the full measure of the indwelling Spirit, for example, Isaiah 34:16ff., Isaiah 44:3ff., Isaiah 63:7ff., Ezekiel 36:26ff., etc. While these passages are not conclusive, they do have reference to the Second Temple elect who returned to Jerusalem, and intimate that the Spirit is more than just dwelling amongst the people. In addition, there is the principal that what one inspired writer meant for his immediate purpose to the people of his time, God also meant it for communication to people later in their time. For example, Jesus’ usage of Jonah, Isaiah’s usage of the Exodus as a model for the return from Exile, and even Paul’s interpretation of Sarah and Hagar in Galatians 4, lay the groundwork for a possible local, i.e., Old Testament meaning for these same prophetic passages. 6
Third, there are several references to the indwelling of the Spirit in general, but all need some interpretation for clarity. First, Genesis 6:3, “Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The main point of the argument for this verse is the clause, “because he also is flesh.” If the Spirit was not indwelling man before the flood, then what value does this clause have? The Lord could just have said, “I will not strive with mankind forever…” Of course not everyone has the Spirit before the flood, but it seems that the Spirit is striving with those who have the Spirit in them and are also flesh, i.e., they are spiritual and fleshy creatures.
Another reference is Exodus 35:21: “Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments.” Here, the phrase “moved him” is more literally translated as “made him willing.” Note that the verse already has stated that their hearts had been stirred, i.e., their own desire had been stirred, so that this second phrase that their spirit had made them willing is the more telling phrase. It could be argued that this is a more general outpouring related to the special indwelling of Bezalel and Oholiab in order to fit out the rest of the tabernacle, akin to Numbers 11, but it still seems to apply to many in the camp and had nothing to do with special skills or leadership.
Another passage is Job 32:8, “But it is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.” Spoken by Elihu, the young antagonist of Job, the literal translation is “Still the spirit it is in man,” 10 as opposed to the bare “life force” of every living creature in the second phrase. Elihu here seems to be justifying his place to speak by claiming he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and therefore able to join the fray over Job’s condition and the poor advice of Job’s friends. Here Elihu is not a leader or prophet per se, so he may be added to the other evidence.
10 John Peter Lange, Philip Schaff, Tayler Lewis, Otto Zöckler, and L. J. Evans. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Job (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 554. 7
In like case, later in Job 34, verses 14-15, “If He should determine to do so, if He should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.” Here again we see the dichotomy between the creative breath and His spirit, the argument being that there is a difference between the bare life of the soul for living and the indwelling spirit of God. Again, as above, it is cast in a negative statement, and does not imply that all have the spirit of God, but it does, as above, affirm that the Spirit is in at least some men, and in this case, in general, not only in leaders or prophets.
In Isaiah 30:1, another instance, Scripture states, “Woe to the rebellious children, declares the Lord, who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin.” Calvin comments that not only did they despise the Spirit but the Word also, in not remembering the prohibition against associating with the Egyptians in Deuteronomy 17:16.11 Here we see again the ministry of the Spirit, which the people had, yet they rebelled against Him, albeit here, many of these would have been leaders, and of course, Isaiah, the great prophet is the one speaking, but the verse references rebellious children, not just the one leader.
11 John Calvin, and William Pringle Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 344-345.
Later in Isaiah 63:10-14, another instance: “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them, who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths? Like the horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble; as the cattle, which go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest. So You led Your people, to make for Yourself a glorious name.” Here we have three aspects of the Spirit’s ministry in one passage: in the first, “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit,” in the second, “Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of 8
them” and the third, “the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest.” Notice that in the first instance the Spirit is grieved because of their rebellion. This has New Testament undertones as the echoes of Ephesians 4:30 or 1 Thessalonians 5:19, yet this is written to the Old Testament believer and is akin to Genesis 6 above. In the second aspect, the Spirit is “placed” in the “midst” of them. Hamilton, in his work on the Holy Spirit12 makes note of the fact that “in the midst of” does not imply indwelling, and on the surface reading, i.e., only referencing Isaiah 63:10-11, he may have had a point (and this will be addressed below); however, the third instance is clearly a reference to spiritual rest. The verses before this instance speak of “Like the horse…as the Cattle…” they did not stumble. This is not a reference to physical stumbling for the people of God, but an analogy from a non-spiritual creature physically stumbling in the wilderness versus the spiritual creature stumbling in the wilderness of sin and looking for rest, spiritual rest. Here is a clear reference to the indwelling of the Spirit and the spiritual pinnacle of rest in God, not merely the outward manifestation of Him.
12 James M. Hamilton, Jr., God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old & New Testaments, NAC Studies in Bible & Theology Series (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2006), 39-41.
The next passage to consider is Psalm 65, the opening quote of this paper. Here, again, the surface reading seems to speak of God’s provision in the physical world, the cycle of agrarian life and the common grace of God to provide rain and sun in their seasons and the celebration “of manifold witness” in the culmination of harvest plenty. However, the first seven verses of Psalm 65 cast light on the last six:
“There will be silence before You, and praise in Zion, O God, and to You the vow will be performed. O You who hear prayer, to You all men come. Iniquities prevail against me; as for our transgressions, You forgive them. How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You to dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple. By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea; who establishes the mountains by His strength, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples.” 9
In this first half of the psalm, David speaks of the relationship between God, “the God of our salvation,” and man, whose “iniquities prevail against [him]…[and yet] You forgive them.” Note the play of God who “establishes the mountains…stills the roaring of the seas…and the tumult of the peoples.” The central idea here is that God is to be praised, man is to pray for forgiveness, and He is “the trust of all the ends of the earth.” This brings together the following verses quoted at the beginning of the paper again, where the remaining verses speak of the bounty of the land, rather than the indwelling bounty of the Holy Spirit, at least on the surface. Here, it seems to be clear that the work of God’s “water” and “rain” overflows, streams, waters, settles (or pools), softens, and drips, is a clear metaphor for work of the Spirit in the believer, especially in the later mentioned outward joy and song. Note the similar language in Isaiah 44:3-4, while speaking of the future, the language is very similar. This passage, makes a strong case for the hidden or shadowy ministry of the Spirit to be fully revealed in the New Testament, and bears witness to the hidden work of the Spirit in the Old Testament, much like the hidden work of Christ, both with fuller and complete revelations to come.
The final, but by no means only, other reference to the question of indwelling in general, is Proverbs 1:20-23: “Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: ‘How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.’” Here again, the work of the Spirit is hidden in analogy and metaphor. The personification of Wisdom is a central character in Proverbs, and many classical writers for that matter, and hides the ministry of the Spirit under the cloak of wisdom literature. Much like Ecclesiastes, under the “all is vanity and chasing after the wind,” the inspired writer returns to the underlying truths of God and His plan for His people. Here, Wisdom, often interpreted as Christ the Word, is here probably the Spirit, or even the Spirit of Christ, demonstrating the revelatory nature of God’s wisdom through the ministry of the Spirit and that it is in the form of pouring out, or indwelling. 10
The overall witness of Scripture is full of glimpses into the true nature of the Spirit in the Old Testament, and there is enough evidence, that much like Peter speaking to the coming of Christ, much is learned of the Spirit as well: “the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.” (1 Peter 1:10–12)
Argument for the Indwelling of the Spirit in the Old Testament
The foregoing discussion, while not absolutely bearing out the indwelling presence of the Spirit in all believers, does prove a stronger argument than many antagonists allow. This leads to the broader theology of the continuous nature of the plan of redemption, from Genesis to Revelation and beyond. This section will argue for, 1) the continuous nature of the body of Christ, 2) the continuous and general indwelling of the Spirit from Adam to the last believer to come, and 3) the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit while being continuous, is not of the same quantity, but within limits, is of the same quality from Old to New Testament.
As to the continuous nature of the body of Christ, this writer falls in the continuous spectrum of the argument as espoused by Hamilton.13 While arguing for the discontinuous nature of the Spirit’s indwelling through the witness of the New Testament, Hamilton actually helps confirm the continuous nature of the body of Christ. The beauty of full revelation in the New Testament is that all the information hidden in the Old Testament is now made blessedly clear in the New. All the references used in Hamilton’s argument affirm the fact that without the indwelling of the Spirit, no one can come to complete salvation in the end. This means that no
13 Hamilton, Indwelling Presence, 9-24, esp. chart, 23. 11
one in the Old Testament, according to this argument, could be saved. He may argue that the leaders, prophets, and kings who were especially indwelt for their calling were saved, but no common citizen of Israel, or for that matter, anyone outside of the room on Pentecost, except for John the Baptist, Christ, and a few others, like Simeon, Mary, mother of Christ, and Elizabeth are able to be saved either.
To escape this problem, Hamilton, distinguishes between the Spirit’s work in regeneration and His work by indwelling. He affirms the regenerative work of the Spirit in the Old Testament required for salvation, but insists that the Spirit only dwells in the midst of Israel, not inside the believers themselves. This outward ministry, according to Hamilton, is demonstrated by the guiding pillars of smoke and fire in the Exodus passages, by the residence of God in the tabernacle and temple, and eventually in the rebuilt temple of Zerubbabel.14 He even states that this presence in the midst of the people “sanctified them.”15 While sanctification in its most limited sense does mean to set apart for a purpose and encompasses definitive sanctification, he is missing the progressive aspect of sanctification, and it seems that this lowest common denominator thinking is missing the point of sanctification unto salvation. God’s elect are not saved by the external work of the Spirit but by the internal transformation of the believer into the image of Christ. This cannot be effected from without, as Paul, Peter, James, etc. make eminently clear. The Word must be in the heart; not merely heard, but done. We are by nature unable to keep perfectly the commands of God, even under the Covenant of Grace, without the indwelling work of the Spirit. Therefore, in order for an Old Testament believer to attain unto final salvation he must persevere until the end,16 and apart from the Spirit, man is unable to keep the Law, even the lighter law of Christ.
14 Hamilton, Indwelling Presence, 3, 39-40.
15 Ibid., 36.
16 Calvin quoting Augustine; Calvin, Institutes, vol.2, 972; from Augustine’s Perseverantia. 12
In addition, Sinclair Ferguson would perhaps disagree with the distinction of regeneration and sanctification. As he states in his work, The Holy Spirit, “total regeneration leads to moral, but also physical renewal, in the regeneration of the whole being in the resurrection. The new man is put on; he is constantly being renewed by the Spirit, and finally will be resurrected and glorified through his power.”17 Here, what Ferguson stresses in regeneration by the Spirit is not functionally different from what is effected by sanctification. The same process of becoming more and more like Christ as His image in creation and for full salvation is a process by the Spirit of transformation of both spiritual and physical scope. This is not a process that can be accomplished by an external ministry of the Spirit because it reflects that a believer must be renewed both in mind and nature, aspects which are internal to man.
17 Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, Contours of Christian Theology Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 123.
18 Ibid., 50.
19 Hamilton, Indwelling Presence, 117.
Hamilton also mentions, in fact, he titles a chapter with: “Not In But With in the Old Testament” (italics mine). Here he builds a case for the above mentioned proposition of being in the midst rather than indwelling, but then makes an interesting statement, “One wonders whether the Spirit being again in the midst of the people would be read as indwelling were it not for the New Testament.”18 This is the very crux of the matter, and its interpretation is the key to the solution. Hamilton uses John 7:39 (“But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”) to make his argument that the Old Testament saint could not have been indwelt because the Spirit had not yet been given.19 He does make the distinction in a note that this does not mean that the Spirit did not exist yet, but he is firm that the indwelling aspect of the Spirit has not yet been ushered in. This, however, is the key moment not for a new dispensation per se, but a new filling of the Spirit in a fuller way. This is analogous to Christ being revealed as the Messiah through His ministry on the cross and being made effective to all believers of all times. This fulfillment 13
or completion of the work promised to Adam and Eve is made effective down through the ages through the sealing work of the Spirit. The Spirit has been, and continues to be, the sign and seal of the Messiah’s work until it is manifested in completed regeneration. The outward sign of Baptism is effected by the seal of the Spirit working in believers, conforming them to the image of Christ, and keeping them until the Last Day.20 What was given at Pentecost was a deeper filling of the Spirit, much like what was given to the leaders, prophets, and kings in the Old Testament, whenever God desired to anoint someone for greater service to Him, much like our pastors and evangelists are ordained for greater service in the kingdom.
20 Affirmed by Calvin; Calvin, Institutes, vol. 2, 965.
21 The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, Ch. 11, P. 6, http://www.1689.com/confession.html#Ch. 11, accessed 11/16/13 at 16:08. The SBC’s Baptist Faith and Message and SBTS’ Abstract of Faith both allude to the sanctifying work in all believers, but neither state specifically that the same dispensation of the Spirit in the New Testament applies to Old Testament believers.
22 SBTS Press Release, Nov. 7, 2013, Southern Baptists Need “Table Manners” When Discussing Calvinists, accessed electronically, Nov. 16, 2013.
The Reformed tradition affirms that true believers, the elect, are the members of the invisible church, both now, and for all times. In fact, both the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith affirm that believers in the Old Testament are saved “in all these respects” as they were in the New Testament.21 John 7:39 and other passages actually prove that there could not have been any saved persons in the Old Testament without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, therefore, there is a continuous nature to the Israel of God, and to their successors, the church of Christ catholic.
The second aspect of the indwelling of the Spirit is the continuous and general nature of indwelling from Adam to the last of the elect to come. Here, the disputation has fallen along lines of Calvinists and Arminians, or among many who are now calling themselves “Traditionalists,” because they do not affirm that anyone can actually lose their faith.22 Yet, this argument seems to go back much farther than the Reformation, as early as Augustine stated 14
above, but also in Calvin, John Owen, and the more contemporary, Arthur Pink, Sinclair Ferguson, and Robert Reymond.
Augustine, in his “A Treatise Against Two Letters of the Pelagians,” wrote that
they who are placed under grace, whom the Spirit quickens, do these things of faith which worketh by love in the hope of good things, not carnal but spiritual, not earthly but heavenly, not temporal but eternal; especially believing on the Mediator, by whom they do not doubt but that a Spirit of grace is ministered to them, so that they may do these things well, and that they may be pardoned when they sin. These pertain to the new testament, are the children of promise, and are regenerated by God the Father and a free mother. Of this kind were all the righteous men of old, and Moses himself, the minister of the old testament, the heir of the new,—because of the faith whereby we live, of one and the same they lived, believing the incarnation, passion, and resurrection of Christ as future, which we believe as already accomplished,—even until John the Baptist himself, as it were a certain limit of the old dispensation.23
23 Augustine of Hippo, “A Treatise Against Two Letters of the Pelagians,” in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series: Saint Augustin: Anti-Pelagian Writings, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. Robert Ernest Wallis, vol. 5 (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1887), 406–407.
24 Calvin, Institutes, 945.
Augustine is clear that there is an ongoing ministry of the Spirit to the righteous men of old, as well as the new. Calvin quotes Augustine extensively and holds the same position as to indwelling and salvation to the Old Testament saints.
Additionally, Calvin brings an interesting passage to light from the New Testament, Ephesians 1:3–4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”24 While Paul is not advocating that every blessing was available to the Old Testament believer, nor is Old Testament indwelling the point of the argument, this passage seems to show that just like election, “every spiritual blessing” was determined for all believers before the foundation of the world. This is not a strong argument for indwelling by any means, but it does show forth that all believers have a foreordained destiny in Christ and the Spirit, that includes spiritual blessings.
Ferguson espouses a novel way of interpreting the events of Pentecost that counters the discontinuous challenge of John 7:39: “Jesus explains the significance of the coming of the 15
Spirit as follows: ‘On that day [i.e., the Day when the Father will give them another Counselor = the day of Pentecost] you will realize that a) I am in my Father, and b) you are in me, and c) I am in you.’ The Trinitarian union and communion of Father and Son and Spirit is the analogy for the union and communion between Christ and his people…Now, as the bond of union to God, the Spirit indwells all who believe as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ.”25 In other words, what is happening at Pentecost is the new administration of the Spirit as the Spirit of Christ and His ministry, as opposed to the Spirit of the Father up to that time. Now, the believer has the fully realized Spirit “who proceedeth from the Father and the Son.” This is the “epochal” development26 of Pentecost, not a giving of the Spirit who was never indwelt in the believer before then. What the believer has now is the fully revealed testimony of Christ Jesus and His power and will in and for the believer’s benefit.
25 Ferguson, Holy Spirit, 71.
27 Arthur W. Pink, The Holy Spirit (2013, reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1970), 26.
28 Ibid., 26.
29 Hamilton, Indwelling Presence, 15.
Arthur Pink, in his The Holy Spirit, states that “the Old Testament saints had far more in common with the New Testament saints than is generally understood.”27 He also focuses on the locus of John 7:39 as the sore point with those who do not believe the Old Testament saint was indwelled. He goes on to say “the words ‘was not yet given’ can no more be understood absolutely than ‘Enoch was not’; they simply mean that the Spirit had not yet been given in His full administrative authority. He was not yet publicly manifested here on earth. All believers, in every age, had been sanctified and comforted by Him, but the ‘ministration of the Spirit’ was not at that time fully introduced.”28
James Hamilton, introduced above, is the one of the latest voices for John 7:39 as a discontinuous event, referencing it over fifty times in his work on the Spirit. One aspect Hamilton continues to stress is the idea of quality over quantity (or scope).29 This is designed to 16
emphasize the discontinuous nature of Pentecost by using the discriminator “quality,” which implies a fundamental difference in substance, versus “quantity (or scope)” which emphasizes a degree of the same substance. He does not find the arguments for continuity persuasive,30 so his terminology reflects this bias. However, the evidence seems to fall on the full revelation, or scope, of the Spirit’s ministry, not a qualitatively different ministry. Owen states that, “this grace is a quality or spiritual habit, permanent and abiding in the soul.”31 In other words, the indwelling of the Spirit is the quality of ministry, not the quantity or scope. The gifts of the Spirit are much the same as the ones granted in the Old Testament, yet they are now even more universal in scope, as the Spirit now brings forth the augmented indwelling of the risen Christ. These gifts are designed to reach all nations (not just prophetic words, but prophetic words in all languages), and to confirm the truth of the testimony of Christ (not just turning rods into snakes or fiery hail from the sky, or speaking from a burning bush, but works of healing, casting out demons, and raising people from the dead). The works done through Moses and Elijah/Elisha are of the same type and source as the works done by Peter, John, and Paul, only the former were to the benefit of God’s name in Israel and the latter to God’s name everywhere under heaven, as Japheth returns to the tents of Shem.
30 Hamilton, Indwelling Presence, 12.
31 Owen, Works, vol. 3, 107.
32 Hamilton, Indwelling Presence, 131.
Elsewhere Hamilton affirms that the Spirit has regenerated the believer in the Old Testament, and affirms the extraordinary applications of the Spirit to specially anointed and indwelt leaders, prophets, kings, etc., but does not affirm a general indwelling of the Spirit to all believers. His argument continues later in his work as to the distinction between regeneration and indwelling, the center of the disputation here. While he is correct that regeneration and indwelling are distinct aspects of conversion, it is not correct that they are separate and that the latter is not necessary for true conversion. In discussing the visit of Nicodemus in John 3, he mentions in an aside, “some have suggested that indwelling is in view in vv. 5 and 6,”32 and this 17
writer would add verse 8 as well, and agree that these do speak of indwelling, as John will grant later in his Gospel. It is almost as if Hamilton’s modus operandi is that if it is not explicitly stated, then it is not there at all. This writer will grant that Scripture must be the authority for all doctrinal statements of faith, however, much is not explicitly stated, including the Trinity for example, which require that by “good and necessary consequence [‘the whole counsel of God’] may be deduced.”33 The shadowy character of indwelling in the Old Testament does not diminish its character in spiritual reality for the Old Testament believer.
33 Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. I, P. vi.
34 Michael A. G. Haykin, The Empire of the Holy Spirit: Reflecting on Biblical and Historical Patterns of Life in the Spirit (Mountain Home, AR: Borderstone Press, LLC, 2010).
35 Ibid., 26-27.
36 Haykin references Hamilton, Indwelling Presence, 163. Note: Hamilton’s infusion of John 20:22 to further his argument seems too cloud the issue with an even more controversial locus of disputation and this writer will leave it on the sideline in this work as it does not persuade this writer that it is directly relevant to this disputation.
Other writers in this camp include Michael Haykin, who also stresses a discontinuity of the indwelling of the Spirit. In His work, The Empire of the Holy Spirit,34 Haykin states that “the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost…ushered in a radical new age…there is a distinct, qualitative difference between his ministry before Pentecost and that after Pentecost,”35 and he also references John 7:39. While this argument adheres his theology to Hamilton’s, what follows in Haykin’s argument, is a reference to John 14:17b, which he cross-references to Hamilton’s work for a more complete treatment.36 First, however, is the point that the language both Haykin and Hamilton use regarding the Spirit being “with” believers versus “in” believers in the verse just mentioned, needs clarification. If the weight of verse 17b hinges on the word “with” (par’ from para) which means to be in “close proximity to or amongst in a plural setting,” (using a close study of Zodhiates’ Word Study Dictionary) versus “in” (en), which means “in, at, on, by, near, with, equivalent to pará” does not seem to provide a solid foundation for such a significant juxtaposition of key words. Further, even if the nuance is granted, then verse 16 just before should also be included, which states: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another 18
Helper, that He may be with you forever.” Here, the word for “with” is meta, which means “together with… where one is said to be, go, remain, sit, or stand with someone, in his company,”37 and is used to describe the Spirit’s work forever, i.e., after Pentecost and for all eternity, yet the Spirit is only to be “with” the believer?
37 Zodhiates, Spiros. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000, (Entries for para, en, meta).
38 Haykin, Empire, 27.
39 Hamilton, Indwelling Presence, 163.
40 Reymond, Systematic Theology, 527.
Haykin also alludes to an earlier argument on the continuity of the body of Christ later in the same paragraph as above, when he states that, “God’s dwelling place among his people in the pre-Pentecost era, the Old Testament consistently affirms to be the Temple. On the other hand, central to the new covenant is the promise that the Spirit would indwell all individuals who are among the people of God.”38 In this, he aligns himself with Hamilton in the belief that the “place” of God’s communion with His people in the Old Testament is in a building, the Temple, and now the believer himself is the “place” of God’s communion.39 What is missing from this argument is the continuous nature of God’s elect from before the foundation of the world. The body of the elect has always been the invisible church of Christ universal, and God has always abided in His elect, though often obscured in the visible church, by the indwelling of the Spirit. Is the argument above that in the Old Testament the church is a mere building, God inhabited or no? Robert Reymond in his Systematic Theology, references James speech in Acts 15:16-18, in which quotes Amos: “‘After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’ says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.”40 Here, Reymond argues that Amos in the Old Testament gives prophecy concerning the Temple building, which was destroyed in his day, which was to be rebuilt later by God’s provision, and re-consecrated in 516 19
BC; yet James quotes this concerning the fallen tabernacle or Temple of David. In other words, the fallen Temple spoken of by Amos was restored after his day, but James is speaking to the greater Temple of Christ, which is being rebuilt in Christ by the Spirit via living stones today, so in effect, the new body of Christ is the rebuilt, fallen Temple of David being realized in the Spirit. The emphasis is on the continuity of the Temple, just rebuilt in its fully revealed state, which confirms the argument that God, through the Spirit, progressively revealed to the people of God, as they matured and were made ready for the Temple made up of living stones; one without walls, without a veil, without the crushing weight of the ceremonial law and its endless sacrifices.
In the final analysis, the question may be asked in the negative: What are the implications of the Spirit not indwelling the Old Testament believer? What Hamilton, et al, have promulgated is an Old Testament believer very different from this writer’s experience, and apparently from them as well. If there is no continuity, or even more discontinuity than continuity, how did an Old Testament believer keep the faith? Surely not in the endless lines of Judges, Kings, and Prophets, who came and went with their special indwelling, continually falling and leading the people astray. What hope did they have in the seed to come? Without the Spirit’s indwelling ministry to the heart, mind, and soul, how did the Old Testament believer grow in his faith and keep it until the Messiah would come?
The answer is that the Holy Spirit did indeed indwell God’s people, and He did it as a “secret watering,” often hidden in analogy and metaphor, but nonetheless in a powerful and sanctifying way, that was the hidden reality behind the outward ceremony and physical dwelling of God. Man is as incapable of sanctifying himself as he is of saving himself. The promise of salvation and regeneration are empty without the earnest of the Holy Spirit indwelling the Old Testament believer, and the new for that matter. 20
What provides the continuous ministry argument legs is the work of Sinclair Ferguson, who posited the new integration of Trinitarian spiritual presence as the western world knows it today in its creed: The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. This ties all of the seemingly discontinuous elements of John’s Gospel into a fuller revelation of Word and Spirit in the life of the believer, and shows, in Reymond’s words that “The Holy Spirit would apply Christ’s accomplished redemptive benefits to elect sinners…and anticipatively to elect sinners of the Old Testament age [as]…the necessary first condition to the consummation of the original determined end.”
This work has shown that to the contrary, the Old Testament Scriptures do speak of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all believers, albeit at times hidden or in shadows. Further, that a framework of continuity does not ignore, rather it embraces Scripture, even in the face of strong arguments to the contrary, and posits a spirituality that transcends the face or literal reading of Scripture to reveal that the Holy Spirit must reveal the hidden meaning of God’s Word; not in a Gnostic or Medieval quadriga sense, but because not all Scripture is alike clear.
This work has also shown that there is an underlying and foundational continuity to the people of God, or the body of Christ revealed. That there is a continuous and general indwelling of God’s people from Adam unto the last of the elect. And finally, that the indwelling of the Spirit is a quality of all believers in all times, and that the only change is a quantitative one with the final and full revelation of the risen Christ in the post-Pentecost ministry of the Spirit.
Hamilton’s work brings much scholarship and research to bear on this difficult area of disputation, and while this writer finds his argument less than persuasive, his book is an excellent status quaestionis and a formidable argument demanding a full-orbed defense of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. This work cannot be that full-orbed defense in that its scope precludes answering each point with the same level of scholarship and research; however, this writer believes that Hamilton’s fundamental weakness is in a literal approach to his survey of Scripture, and a bias toward the discontinuous aspect of redemptive history, which frankly, in regard to bias, this work is no exception. 21
But as a last word, God is a God of immutability and discontinuity seems to this writer to imply mutability and, in some way, a repentance of sorts as to His grand plan. If God knew from all eternity that His people needed the indwelling of the Spirit in the way the discontinuous camp implies, then there must have been a deficient element in the Old Testament dispensation, something that needed to be corrected or amended. Were the chosen people of Israel a mistake that God needed a new church for His new people that now had all of the tools to please Him? All God created was very good and His providential hand will not leave His people until all has been consummated, through the effective and continuous ministry of the Trinity, until Christ comes again. 22
Augustine of Hippo. “A Treatise Against Two Letters of the Pelagians,” A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series: Saint Augustin: Anti-Pelagian Writings, vol. 5, ed. Philip Schaff. New York: Christian Literature Company, 1887.
Calvin, John. The Institutes of the Christian Faith, vol. 2. 1960, reprint; Louisville, KY: The Westminster Press, 2006.
______ and William Pringle. Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010.
Ferguson, Sinclair B. The Holy Spirit, Contours of Christian Theology Series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.
Hamilton, James M., Jr. God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old & New Testaments, NAC Studies in Bible & Theology Series. Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2006.
Haykin, Michael A. G. The Empire of the Holy Spirit: Reflecting on Biblical and Historical Patterns of Life in the Spirit. Mountain Home, AR: Borderstone Press, LLC, 2010.
Lange, John Peter, Philip Schaff, Tayler Lewis, Otto Zöckler, and L. J. Evans. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Job. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.
Owen, John. The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 3. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1862.
Pink, Arthur W. The Holy Spirit. 2013, reprint; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1970.
Reymond, Robert L. A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd ed. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1998.
SBTS Press Release, Nov. 7, 2013, Southern Baptists Need “Table Manners” When Discussing Calvinists, accessed electronically, 11/16/13 (iPhone).
Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, Ch. 11, P. vi. http://www.1689.com/confession.
html#Ch. 11, accessed 11/16/13 at 16:08.
Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. I, P. vi. http://www.pcaac.org/resources/wcf, accessed 11/16/13 at 14:15.
Zodhiates, Spiros. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000.