May 18, 2012

The Spirit of Glory

1 Peter 4:14

“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

By confessing belief in the Holy Spirit when we recite the Apostles’ Creed, we are confessing more than just our conviction that He, like the Father and the Son, is fully God. We are confessing also that the Holy Spirit engages in specific works in behalf of the Lord’s elect. The Apostles’ Creed says as much implicitly through what it includes in the section of the creed on the Holy Spirit. For example, we confess belief in one holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic church in the same section of the creed. The Spirit produces this body by regenerating people of every nationality and uniting them to Christ (John 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:13), setting us apart and empowering us to resist sin (Gal. 5:16), and illumining the meaning of Scripture so that the church will remain faithful to the prophetic and Apostolic Word the Spirit inspired (Eph. 2:19–22; 2 Peter 1:21).

Question and answer 53 of the Heidelberg Catechism also tell us that the Spirit is given to us forever. First Peter 4:14 is one of the catechism’s proof texts for this statement, a verse wherein the Apostle Peter tells us that the Spirit of glory rests upon believers. We may also infer from this text that persecution for Christ’s sake is one indication that we possess the Holy Spirit and are citizens of the kingdom of God. Jesus tells us that the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit (John 14:17); thus, when unbelievers see evidence of the Spirit of glory in our lives, they will give us heat for it. Persecution and insults are actually a blessing, 1 Peter 4:14 explains, not because pain is good in itself but because suffering for Christ proves that the Spirit of glory is ours and will one day exalt us before the watching world. But note that only suffering for righteousness’ sake is proof that we have the Holy Spirit. If we suffer only because we are obnoxious, rabble-rousers, malcontents, or otherwise justly deserving of punishment, we should question the authenticity of our Christian profession.

We also see in question and answer 53 of the catechism that the Holy Spirit comforts us. As was true in the early church, the Holy Spirit reassures us individually and corporately that we belong to Jesus and are honoring His Word, giving us confidence for outreach and peace in the body of Christ (Acts 9:31).

Coram Deo

The work of the Holy Spirit is extensive, and we will explore further how we may walk in the Spirit next week. We should note today, however, that the Holy Spirit does not tend to make a fuss about Himself; rather, He continually points us to Christ. When we see people attempting to honor the biblical Christ, build His kingdom, and serve others in Jesus’ name, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is doing His work.

For Further Study