A SCRIPTURAL OUTLINE FOR
LIFE IN THE SPIRIT FOR
FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST
1) Exhortation of Witnesses
1Cor 11:1, 4:16, 1Peter 2:21, 1John 2:6, John 13:15
(cf. Heb 12:2, Php 2:5, Php 2:7, 8, Php 3:17 2Ti 3:10 Ep 5:1-2 2Th 3:7-9 1Ti 4:12 Titus 2:7-8 Heb 6:12, 13:7 1Pe 5:3 3Jn11, John 10:4-5 )
2) Emptying by Jesus of His Divine Prerogatives
3) Example of Jesus' the Perfect Man
Baptism (Anointing) - Mt 3:16-17, Lk 3:22-23,
Spirit remained - John 1:32, cp Isa 11:1-5, Acts 10:37-38
Leading, Filling, Empowering - Mt 4:1, Lk 4:1, 14-15, Acts 1:2, Acts 10:37-38
Anointing - Lk 4:18-20 (Isa 61:1-2), Acts 10:37-38
Joy - Luke 10:21 (cp Acts 13:15, Ro 15:13, Gal 5:22)
Casting out demons - Mt 12:28
4) Equipping of the Disciples
Jn 14:12, Jn 14:16, 17, 18, 26 (cp Jn 6:63, Jn 7:37-39, Lk 24:49
Jn 15:26, 27
Jn 16:7-11, 13-14
5) Experience of the Disciples
Acts 1:5, Acts 1:8 (cp Acts 4:31),
Acts 2:1-4, Acts 1:4-5, Acts 2:33, 38 (cp Jn 14:16, Lk 24:49)
Acts 4:8, 31, (boldness)
Acts 13:52 (joy)
Acts 6:3, 5, 8, 10,
Acts 7:55-56, 59,
Acts 8:29 & Acts 10:19, 11:12, Acts 11:28, Acts 13:2, 15:28, Acts 20:23, 21:4,11, 28:25 (cp Acts 4:25)
Acts 16:7 (Spirit of Jesus)
Acts 9:17, Acts 13:9, 52
6) Epistles of Paul
Gal 5:16, 18, 25,
Eph 5:18ff compared to Col 3:16ff,
Negative Commands (see below): Eph 4:30, 1Th 5:19
7) "Enemies" of the Spirit
Acts 5:3 (lie)
Acts 5:9 (test)
Acts 7:51 (resist)
Eph 4:30 (grieve)
1Th 5:19 (quench)
Mt 12:32 (speak a word against),
Mk 3:29 (blaspheme)
The Holy Spirit at Work Today by Dr John Walvoord.
- Chapter 1 The Spirit at Work in Revealing Truth
- Chapter 2 The Spirit at Work in Spiritual Renewal
- Chapter 3 The Spirit at Work in the Life of Holiness
- Chapter 4 The Spirit at Work in Spiritual Gifts
- Chapter 5 The Spirit at Work in the Spirit-filled Life
The Person of The Holy Spirit by Dr John Walvoord.
- The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 1: The Person of the Holy Spirit
- The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 2: The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
- The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 3: The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
- The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 4: The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Person & Work of Christ
- The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 5: The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Unsaved World
- The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 6: The Work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation
- The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 7: The Work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation
- The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 8: The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Believer
- The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 9: The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Believer
- The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 10: The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Believer
- The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 11: The Eschatology of the Holy Spirit
The Christian life has been referred to as - the Victorious live, the Abundant life, the Exchanged life, the Spirit filled life, "life on a higher plane," "the radical life," etc. Are these not all descriptions of the supernatural life in Christ as opposed to our "natural" life in Adam (1Cor 15:22)? Even the name "Christian" implies it is not the believer per se who lives this life but it is Christ in us the hope of glory (Col 1:27-note). Paul later exhorts the saints at Colossae "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord (past tense salvation), so walk (command calling for continual conduct) in Him (present tense salvation = progressive sanctification, growth in Christlikeness, daily becoming holy as He is holy)." (Col 2:6-note) If we take "Christ" out of "Christian" (cp Acts 11:26), I fear we have a description of how many believers (especially in America) are living their "Christian" life! How many of the followers (disciples) of Christ are truly living "life on a higher plane?" To ask it another way, how are believers enabled or empowered to live (notice I did not say "helped" which implies one has some intrinsic strength, which we do not for apart from Christ we can do absolutely nothing - Jn 15:5!) such a God glorifying supernatural life? Does the Bible give us any clues, any pattern? Of course this question is rhetorical, for what God commands, He always enables us to accomplish. In fact the definition of the Greek Word for power is dunamis which simply means the inherent ability to accomplish a task. Although we do not have the "inherent ability" in ourselves, God has given us His Holy Spirit Who provides power or dunamis and He is the "secret" Who enables us to live life on a higher plane!
So after taking it to the Lord in prayer, let us look at "three witnesses" (Two were sufficient in the Old Testament! Dt 17:6), three apostles, Paul, Peter and John, and see if their testimonies help us understand how we might be able to live our Christian life "on a higher plane!"
Lord, we beg You to open the eyes of our heart, so that we may know beyond the "shadow of a doubt" what is the hope (Your absolute assurance of future good) of Your calling, what are the riches of the glory of Your inheritance in Your saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of Your power (dunamis - discussed below) toward us who believe in Christ, our Lord and our Life. Amen (Ephesians 1:18,19-note)
Consider singing the following song as unto the Lord, as a prayer to Him, but be sure to soberly, sincerely ponder the words before you sing, especially the phrase "wholly devoted." (Study [consider memorizing] Romans 12:1-note, Romans 12:2-note for Paul's pattern of "wholly devoted") Is that really the cry of your heart? "Wholly devoted" to Jesus as your Master (Study Mt 6:24-note, James 1:5, 6-note, compare - 1John 2:15-note, 1John 2:16-note, 1John 2:17-note, James 4:4-note)? Please do not answer this question too quickly. The writer of Second Chronicles tells us that "the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely (wholly) His." (2Chronicles 16:9-note). Do you really want the Almighty God's strong support, His power for His glory not yours? Then your heart must be wholly His! Now do not let this thought of a heart wholly His put you under a "guilt trip." A heart wholly His is not characterized by perfection (that awaits "Glory"!), but does speak of the general direction of one's life - towards the eternal heaven, not towards this passing world and eventually eternal separation from God. Now sing prayerfully to the Lord God Almighty…
Teach me Your holy ways O Lord.
Make me wholly devoted to You.
Make me wholly devoted to You.
It is the cry of my heart…
It is the cry of my heart…
It is the cry of my heart to follow You
It is the cry of my heart to be close to You
It is the cry of my heart to follow
All of the days of my life. x2
Teach me Your Holy Ways O Lord,
So I can walk in Your Truth
Teach me Your Holy Ways O Lord.
Make me wholly devoted to You.
Open my eyes so I can see
The wonderful things that You do.
Open my heart up more and more
And make me wholly devoted to You.
It is the cry of my heart to follow You
It is the cry of my heart to be close to You.
It is the cry of my heart to follow
All of the days of my life.
All of the days of my life.
All of the days of my life.
It is the cry of my heart
It is the cry of my heart
All of the days of my life.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.
Teach me Thy way, O LORD
I will walk in Thy truth;
Unite my heart
To fear Thy name.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23, 24-note
May the following old Puritan prayer be the cry of our heart…
MOVE, I BEG YOU, UPON MY DISORDERED HEART
O Holy Spirit,
Move, I beg You, upon my disordered heart.
Take away my unruly desires and hateful lusts.
Lift the mists and darkness of unbelief.
Brighten my soul with the pure light of truth.
Make it …
fragrant as the garden of paradise,
rich with every goodly fruit,
beautiful with heavenly grace,
radiant with rays of divine light.
Be my …
Take of the things of Christ and
Show them to my soul.
Through You may I daily learn more of His …
Lead me to the Cross and show me …
the hateful nature of evil,
the power of Satan.
May I there see my sins as …
the nails which transfixed Him,
the cords which bound Him,
the thorns which tore Him,
the sword which pierced Him.
Help me to find in His death—
the reality and immensity of His love.
Open for me the wondrous volumes of truth in His death.
Increase my faith in the clear knowledge of …
guilt done away,
my debt paid,
my sins forgiven,
my soul saved,
eternity made mine.
O Holy Spirit, deepen in me these saving lessons.
Write them upon my heart, that my walk be …
Now that our heart is prayerfully prepared for the Word of Truth and Life, study the exhortations of four reliable witnesses, as we seek to understand how we as followers of Jesus Christ can live "life on a higher plane."
(i) 1Cor 4:16, 17 - I exhort you therefore (term of conclusion = forces us to look back at the previous passages ~ a great aid to enable us to practice the powerful discipline of Biblical [not mystical] Meditation. At the very least we can always ask "What's it there for?" Paul had just explained that he was their spiritual "father" through the Gospel - 1Cor 4:15), be (ginomai more literally means "become" and the present imperative is a command to "continually become") imitators (mimetes = one who follows someone else's behavior, miming their behavior so to speak. One who copies another person's actions.) of me.
(16) For this reason (term of explanation - always begs a question "For what reason?" Always stop, look [ask] and listen [to your Teacher, the Spirit's answer]) I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ (Whose Spirit would enable them to faithfully imitate Paul), just as I teach everywhere in every church, just as I teach everywhere in every church. (Ed: Implication? Paul imitated the "ways" of Christ! And so must we beloved!)
Comment: Be aware that we cannot "be" (or become) imitators in our own fleshly strength. We can become imitators only as we submit and surrender to the enabling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who continually works in us, giving us the desire (the "want to" - because in our old nature the truth is we "don't want to!") and the power to do what pleases" the Father (Php 2:13NLT-note). So in this case the Spirit enables us to fulfill the command to "be imitators" (which is one way we daily "work out [present imperative] our salvation in fear and trembling" = Php 2:12-note). Note also that Paul's command for the Corinthians to imitate him was based on the assumption that they knew that he was an imitator of Christ (see 1Cor 11:1 below). It is interesting to note that one dictionary definition for "imitate" is "to counterfeit." Believers are NOT to be counterfeits! The world needs to see AUTHENTIC Christianity, SUPERNATURAL (not superficial) Christians, Spirit filled men and women who are like Paul, who are like Christ! (cp Mt 5:16-note, Phil 2:14-15).
Webster's 1828 Dictionary (highly recommended!) gives this "Bibliocentric" definition of imitate - "To follow in manners; to copy in form, color or quality. We imitate another in dress or manners; we imitate a statue, a painting, a sound, an action, when we make or do that which resembles it. We should seek the best models to imitate, and in morals and piety, it is our duty to imitate the example of our Savior."
John MacArthur makes an excellent point on 1Cor 4:17: "He (Timothy) had been so faithfully discipled by Paul (Ed: In short, Timothy had become an imitator of Paul and by extension an imitator of Christ!) that he could be sent in the great apostle’s place with confidence that he would perfectly represent him. Cf. 2Ti 2:2-note; 2Ti 3:10-14-note."
Comment: This begs an important question, one that the modern church has unfortunately largely ignored and abnegated (relinquished) to her own detriment! Have you "reproduced" a "Timothy," a man or a woman who you could confidently send to someone so that they might follow your example by witnessing the life of your "Timothy?" Are you as convicted as I am writing this question? Or to ask it another way [just as convicting to me] "Are you a teacher, a spiritual parent or a real parent (if the latter, you have "built-in" disciples!)?"
Addendum (2011): Since I originally penned these words several months ago, God has sent me [age 66] a Timothy, a faithful man (age 34), who I have the privilege to disciple. Praise the Lord! Pray for us!
Follow-up of 2011 request to "pray for us": 4 years later (Fall, 2015) God has answered your prayer - he is now a pastor of a church plant!
Second Addendum (2015): I am revising these notes at age 70 and have begun discipling a group of 11 young Timothys, all 40ish, with the goal that they will go out and in turn disciple 2-3 faithful men. Pray for us!
God is willing and able to do the same for you if you ask Him to send you a "Timothy." (better yet 2-3 Timothys!) Let me ask a sobering question: How will we feel at Christ Bema Seat (2Cor 5:10-note) when He asks us "Who have you discipled, fulfilling my last and greatest commandment to "Make disciples (matheteuo in the aorist imperative = a command not a suggestion = It conveys a sense of urgency! Do this now is the idea!)" (Mt 28:19)?
Disciple Study Bible: A part of Timothy's curriculum, as he taught the Corinthians, would be drawn directly from the life of Paul. How many Christian teachers would dare say, "My life is the book from which I want you to learn?'' How many can say, "My life agrees with my teaching''? (Woe!)
Not just… "DO AS I SAY"
But also… "DO AS I DO!"
John MacArthur: Often the hardest place to disciple is in the home. When we disciple those outside our families, they often see us only in ideal situations, where it is easy to act spiritual and mature. But our children see us in all of our moods, in all of our attitudes and actions. They know firsthand if we are living up to what we are trying to teach them. If we are not, most of our instruction and admonition will fall on deaf ears. Even if we sincerely love them, our children are more likely to follow what we do than what we say. Having godly children is required of an elder (1Ti 3:4–5) in part, at least, because that is good evidence that he himself is godly. Discipling is more than teaching right principles; it is also living those principles before the ones being discipled (cf. 1Ti 4:12). (MacArthur, J: 1Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press)
ILLUSTRATION: A minister was called to the bedside of a dying girl, who had lived for the sinful pleasures of a Christ-rejecting world. The faithful minister did his best to lead her to the Saviour, pleading, praying, and quoting Scripture. Seemingly he could make no impression on her. As a final effort, he called in her mother, who with heartbreaking sorrow also pled with the girl to receive Christ as her Saviour. The girl listened stonily, then said, "Mother, you can't talk to me now. You haven't lived the life before me!" (In commanding the saints to imitate him, Paul) didn't want to set himself up as some sort of moral or spiritual hero on whom everyone should mechanically pattern his actions. Nor did he consider Christ in that light. To him, Christ was not merely the Jesus of history to be copied, but the heavenly Visitor Who becomes the possessor of our spirits. Only as God the Son indwells us, can we do the acts that He performed when He was here on earth. To live as Christ lived, we must have Christ in us. And, if we are to be imitators of Paul, the Spirit of Christ (Ro 8:9-note) that prompted him to live as he did must live in (More accurately "live THROUGH us" - cp Jn 7:38-39) us also. (1Corinthians Commentary)
TO LIVE AS CHRIST
HIS SPIRIT MUST LIVE THROUGH US!
Gordon Fee: They (Ed: The saints at Corinth, and by way of application you and I) are to be "like father, like children." The immediate context for this exhortation is the tribulation list of 1Cor 4:11-13, in which Paul describes his own life and ministry in terms consonant with the Gospel of a crucified Messiah. It therefore functions as one more item in the long argument of 1Cor 1:10-4:13 that appeals to the servant nature of discipleship over against their "boasting" and worldly wisdom. However, by implication, especially from what is said further in 1Cor 4:17, the concern is now also being raised to the much broader level of their behavior in general, as it is reflected throughout the rest of the letter.
(ii). 1Cor 11:1 - Be (literally "keep on becoming", not a suggestion a present imperative = a command to continually keep on becoming - this is a lifelong "project," a process not an arrival!) imitators (mimetes) of me (Paul), just as (term of comparison) I also am of Christ. (1Cor 11:1)
Comment: Followers of Christ, are called to a continual, lifelong imitation of their Master. There is no point of "arrival" regarding Christ-likeness in this present life. Our growth in grace is progressive, always "becoming" an imitator of Christ. Clearly this calls for our continual dependence on the Spirit of Christ in order to continually be becoming like Christ!
Gordon Fee: This final imperative has suffered from one of the more unfortunate chapter divisions in the NT. The language and argument are such that it seems clearly to conclude the parenesis of 1Cor 10:23-33. It is not enough for Paul that he appeal to his own example. They are to follow ("imitate") that example, in the same way that he has "imitated" Christ… The emphasis here is certainly on the example of Christ, which for Paul finds its primary focus in His sacrifice on the Cross (Ed: Cp "death to self" is Christ's "definition" of one who "follows" [cp imitates] Him = see Mk 8:34, 35). Thus, as in 1Corinthians 1-4, the antidote to their behavior predicated on wisdom and knowledge is Christ crucified. Lying behind Christ's "saving work" is not only the event of His death but also a life lived for others, as well as His teaching. Even though Paul has not here specifically referred to any single teaching of Jesus, the parenesis (exhortation) itself is permeated by the spirit of that teaching, even if not by the language.
Comment: The Greek translation of Phil 3:17YLT more literally reads "Become (ginomai in present imperative = command to continually become - only possible as we yield to the Spirit) followers together of me, brethren, and observe those thus walking, according as ye have us—a pattern."
Comment: "Followers together" is the noun summimetes (from sun/syn = together with, speaks of intimate association + mimetes = an imitator) which means literally fellow imitator. So Paul commands the saints to "continuously be becoming co-imitators of me" or "keep on becoming fellow imitators of me." Just as Paul mimics Christ (1Cor 11:1), so the saints at Philippi (and all saints) should mimic imitate him. It is interesting that the art of "mime" emphasizes the actions (the "mime" does not use words), so let your righteous, godly actions speak louder than your words and as children of the Living God bring glory to God the Father (Mt 5:16-note).
Here is a quote worth pondering as we consider what it means to imitate Christ - "We unconsciously imitate what pleases us and approximate to the characters we most admire." (Christian Nestell Bovee) Comment: We fix our gaze on what pleases us, do we not? May the Spirit of Christ enable us obey the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews to "fix (our) eyes (present tense = continually fix our gaze) on Jesus the Author and Perfector of the faith." (Heb 12:2-note) The New Living Translation has an interesting paraphrase of Hebrews 12:2 - "We do this (run the race in Heb 12:1) by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Champion Who initiates and perfects our faith."
Charles Spurgeon once said that "A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ… We should be pictures of Christ… Oh! My brethren, there is nothing that can so advantage you, nothing can so prosper you, so assist you, so make you walk towards heaven rapidly, so keep your head upwards towards the sky, and your eyes radiant with glory, like the imitation of Jesus Christ."
Spurgeon is not saying we should strive in self effort to be a "striking likeness of Jesus Christ". No, the only way to bear a "striking likeness" is by depending on His Spirit to enable us to bear that likeness, transforming us from glory to glory as we behold Christ's glory (2Cor 3:18-note).
John MacArthur commenting on "Be filled with the Spirit" in Ephesians 5:18 writes that "Apart from the truth in Eph 5:18, which is the heart of Paul’s message, the book of Ephesians would appear to be legalistic. Every exhortation he gives would have to be fulfilled through the power of the flesh. Believers would need to rely on their own resources and strength to follow the great road map of the Christian life that the apostle presents in Ephesians 4–6—and would, of course, find themselves completely deficient. Christians cannot walk in humility, unity, separation, light, love, and wisdom apart from the energizing of the Holy Spirit. To walk without the Spirit is to walk unwisely and foolishly (see Eph 5:15–17-note). We can “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph 5:1-note) only as we are filled with the Spirit (cf. John 15:5)." (Ephesians: The MacArthur NT Commentary)
1Peter 2:21-note - For (term of explanation) you have been called for this purpose (What purpose? see 1Pe 2:20), since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.
Comment: While the context calls us to suffer for Jesus (1Pe 2:20-note), the principle is clear that we are to "follow in His steps." Where His Spirit leads us, we are to follow (cf "leading" by His Spirit in Gal 5:18-note, Gal 5:25-note, Ro 8:14-note) Peter expands on this exhortation in 1Peter 2:24 writing "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." In other words, we are able to follow in His steps because of His death on the Cross, a death to sin which we also died with Him so that we are not even able to walk in righteousness as He Himself walked.
1John 2:6-note - The one who says he abides (present tense = continually) in Him ought (opheilo = "owes a debt" or has a strong obligation, where present tense speaks of our continual obligation - not out of guilt or legalism but motivated by love!) himself to walk (peripateo in the present tense = continually behave, live, daily conduct one's self) in the same manner as He walked.
Comment: Even though this passage does not mention the Holy Spirit, how else can we ever hope to walk as Jesus walked? There is only one way to walk like Jesus and that is to daily surrender to the indwelling Spirit Who alone can enable us to walk as Jesus walked. Jesus walked supernaturally in the power of the Spirit, and so too must we dear child of the Living God. Notice also in this passage that John is saying we should "validate" our profession that we are believer in Christ by the demonstration of possession of a life lived for Christ. Like the old saying goes, our actions speak louder than our words. Jesus made this clear in the Sermon on the Mount when He declared "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' (WORDS) will enter the kingdom of heaven (He is saying they are not born again, not regenerated by the Spirit); but he who does (poieo in the present tense = habitually = speaks not of perfection, but of general direction of one's life) (ACTIONS) the will of My Father who is in heaven." (Mt 7:21-note) Jesus goes on to say that the group He refers to as "not everyone" are in fact the "many" who have fallen into the trap of "religious self deception" (Mt 7:22-note)
Steven Cole - Christ left an example for us to follow in His steps (1Pe 2:21). The word example is literally, “underwriting.” It was a school word. Teachers would lightly trace the letters of the alphabet so that students could write over them to learn how to write. Or, as in our day, teachers would put examples of the alphabet up in the room for students to look at to copy as they formed their letters. Christ is that kind of example for us. If we follow how He lived, we will form our lives correctly. Following “in His steps” pictures a child who steps in his father’s footprints in the snow. Where the father goes, the child goes, because he puts his feet in those same footprints. In like manner, we are to follow our Savior. Peter says that we are called to the same purpose as Christ was (1Pe 2:21). If our Master’s footprints led to the cross where He suffered unjustly, so we can expect to die to self (Mk 8:34-35, Lk 9:23) and suffer unjustly. If we respond as He did, people will see our Savior in us. Many people will never read the Bible, but they do read our lives. (cp Jn 12:24) They should see Christlikeness there, not a defiant spirit of self-will that characterizes those who are living for themselves and the things of this world. (1 Peter 2:18-23 What To Do When Your Boss Isn't Fair)
And finally the greatest Witness of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, said in John 13:15 "For (term of explanation = explaining Jn 13:14) I gave you an example (hupodeigma = first in Greek sentence for emphasis) that (terms of purpose or result) you also should do (present tense = habitually) as I did to you."
Comment: Indeed, "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) While we cannot follow His example of being a ransom, we can follow in His footsteps as a servant to others. And we can daily die to self and take up His cross (Lk 9:23, Mk 8:34-35)
Christ emptied Himself.
Behold our Pattern!
Paul also commanded the predominantly Gentile believers in Ephesus to…
Be (present imperative = keep becoming) imitators of God, as beloved children (teknon = from tikto = to give birth to, to be born), and walk (present imperative) in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Eph 5:1,2-note)
Comment: Again, we cannot "be" or "walk" in our natural ability or power. It is the Spirit Who gives us the desire and power to fulfill these commands. The NLT paraphrase emphasizes Christ as our perfect example…
Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, Who loved you and gave Himself (as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to Him.
Zodhiates: This (Eph 5:1) is the only place in Scripture where "imitation" is applied to man's relation to God. Imitation is natural to a child. So it is to the child of God. This indicates that by His indwelling Spirit we have the capacity to act as God acts, to show forth to the world what God is. Of course, we do not acquire full maturity immediately on being born of God. As the child imitates the father at various stages of growth, so we imitate God more faithfully as we grow in our spiritual lives. God made us for no other end than to be like Him. But how can we imitate God? In Christ, we have the Father represented to us in the infinite Son incarnated in finite human form. Looking at Him, we behold as in a mirror the glories of the invisible God reflected in the person of Jesus Christ; and contemplating these glories we "are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of God" (2 Cor. 3:18). One of the causes of defective holiness among us is the neglect of the careful study of God's character, as revealed in Christ… A true imitation begins within, in the condition of the spirit, rather than outwardly, in conduct; though the lessons that the inner spirit learns will surely express themselves in outward actions. (Ibid)
F B Meyer: Children mostly resemble their father. There is often an unmistakable family likeness, which compels the most casual observer to exclaim, "The very image of his father." Oh that in each of us there might be that which would make men think of God! (Our Daily Homily)
SUMMARY OF EXHORTATIONS: The Scripture is clear that in order to live a "Christ"-ian life, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2-note). Paul, Peter, John and Jesus Himself exhort believers to imitate Christ, to walk in His steps, to walk as He walked and to do as He did. But you are probably saying something like "That's not possible because Jesus was God and I am not!" Paul addresses that objection in the next section.
What is Jesus' example? How did He walk in His three and one half year ministry as a God-Man? First, recall that He "emptied" Himself of His "divine prerogatives", taking the form of a bondservant and humbling Himself in Phil 2:5-8-note, and even in this passage He gives us an example of how to follow in His steps. Those who would seek to follow His example, should by grace through faith pursue genuine humility and a willingness to daily die to self (Mk 8:34-35, Lk 9:23). So if Jesus "emptied" Himself of His "divine prerogatives" how was He able to walk? "What was the example He left that we might be follow?" "How was Jesus' empowered for ministry?", etc. Since the Gospels deal primarily with Jesus' 3.5 year ministry, that is where we will look to answer this question. My premise, based on a study of the Gospels and Acts is that Jesus' walked by the Spirit, that Jesus gave us the example of submission to and dependence upon the the leading of the Holy Spirit, continually relying on the power of the Spirit for His incredible ministry.
THE PREPARATION OF
THE PERFECT EXAMPLE
Jesus "emptied" Himself of His divine prerogatives in His incarnation. This truth is mysterious, for Jesus was and is and always will be FULLY GOD, even in His incarnation when He became FULLY MAN (See more on this below). The truth of His Humanity is important to keep in mind to help us understand the role of the Spirit. In other words, the practical import of Jesus "emptying" Himself of His divine prerogatives, sets the stage for Jesus as the PERFECT MAN living out His life on earth in perfect dependence upon the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. In so doing Jesus has provided every believer the PERFECT EXAMPLE to follow in His steps, living life in power of the Spirit just as He did.
As alluded to earlier, the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race that is set before us. Then the writer makes it clear how we are to run. He explains that we are to run by continually "fixing (our) eyes on Jesus the Author (He began the "race" as the perfect Man running in the power of the Spirit as discussed below) and Finisher (He finished in the power of the Spirit!) of the faith (the content of what is believed, not the act of believing.) (Heb 12:1-note, Heb 12:2-note).
In short, while we may not ever fully understand how Jesus Who is forever fully God became the PERFECT MAN, the point is that that in His "emptying" He became the PERFECT EXAMPLE for our Christian walk in this life! That is why in the next section we will "fix our eyes on Jesus", paying close attention to how He walked, to how He ran the race set before Him! As we pursue His pattern we will begin to experience the fruit of the the "Spirit Filled Life," the "Abundant Life", the "Victorious Christian Life!" Beloved, you can mark it down -- The example of Jesus is "Plan A" and there is no "Plan B!"
So let's review the somewhat mysterious truth of what happened when Jesus became a Man by focusing on the key passage in Philippians in which Paul exhorts the saints to…
Have this attitude in yourselves (present imperative = command to make this one's continual attitude! All the time! As your lifestyle! Just try to do this in your own "natural" strength! The truth is that we must continually depend wholly on the Holy Spirit for the desire and the power to manifest this selfless attitude! See Php 2:13NLT-note which alludes to the Spirit Who indwells every believer!) which was also in Christ Jesus (Note that here we see Jesus' example, His attitude of how to we are to walk, an attitude which Paul "amplifies" by giving three specific manifestations!), Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant (doulos), (Jesus' example #1) and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He (voluntarily, of His own volition) humbled (tapeinoo) Himself (Jesus example #2) by becoming obedient (hupekoos) to the point of death (Jesus example #3), even death on a cross. (Phil 2:5-8-note)
Comment: Notice that the "attitude" of Jesus is not optional for those who claim to follow Him, but is a command in the present tense, calling for this to be the disciple's continual mindset. Specifically Paul calls on all believers…
(1) to manifest the attitude of a bondservant, a doulos, a person who is no longer their own "possession" (1Cor 6:19-note, 1Cor 6:20-note, 1Peter 2:9-note, Titus 2:14-note) but is possessed by another and whose will is wholly surrendered to the will of their master (Master), in wholehearted devotion, even to the disregard of one's own interest;
(2) to be humble - "not proud" (especially not proud of our "humility!") As Archibald Alexander put it "Humility is to the Christian what ballast is to the ship; it keeps him in his proper position and regulates all his thoughts and feelings." John Flavel rightly said that "They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud." Spurgeon added "Humility is to make a right assessment of oneself… The higher a man is in grace, the lower he will be in his own esteem.";
(3) to obey (even to the point of death). For Jesus of course this refers to His "one of a kind" death on the Cross, but how does this apply to the life of believers today? If we are genuine believers in one sense we have already died with Christ on the Cross for Paul teaches we "have been baptized into His death" (Ro 6:3-note; Col 2:20-note), "we have been buried with Him through baptism into death" (Ro 6:4-note), "we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death" (Ro 6:5-note) and "our old man was crucified with Him" (Ro 6:6-note). This describes ever believer's past history, for when we first believed in Christ, we died with Christ, were buried with Christ and were resurrected with Christ so that we "might walk in newness of life." (Ro 6:4-note) In short, positionally our death has occurred on the Cross, so that when He died, we died. In our daily experience, God providentially provides many "opportunities" for us to die to self, to sacrifice our desires for the betterment of another person (See Mk 8:34, 35, Mt 16:25, Lk 9:24 cp Php 2:3-4).
The following comment by Elmer Towns provides a good segue way into the next section which discusses Jesus' example…
When Bible teachers seek to explain how Jesus became a Man, they use the word kenosis to describe the self-emptying of Jesus in taking on Human Flesh (Php 2:7-note). This emptying includes submitting to the limitations of humanity. Although Jesus never ceased to be God during His life on earth, He was nevertheless dependent upon the Third Person of the Trinity to accomplish much of the work of God. Although not denying the deity of Jesus, this truth illustrates His humanity. (The Names of the Holy Spirit)
In summary, in His incarnation, Jesus was fully God, but voluntarily relinquished His rights as God so that He might give us an example of One Who was fully Man. The first Adam failed. The "Second Adam" succeeded in giving us a perfect example of how to live a supernatural life that is pleasing to the Father.
Several years ago there was a popular saying "WWJD?", which stands for "What Would Jesus Do?". While this is a reasonable question, in the context of our study, a better question is to ask "HDJD?" or "How Did Jesus Do" what He did? As discussed, Jesus was fully God, but He voluntarily choose to fulfill his supernatural ministry as a Man, thus leaving His followers an example. Let's study the "Jesus Way," and givin special attention to the role of the Holy Spirit.
As Dr John Walvoord emphasizes "The matter of greatest importance in the study of the Holy Spirit in the Gospels is the consideration of HIS MINISTRY TO CHRIST. (The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Person and Work of Christ)
Warren Wiersbe - For His sermon in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus read this text: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19, quoted from Isa. 61:1–2). When our Lord lived on earth, all that He did was directed by the Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit, whom the Father gave to Jesus “without limit” (John 3:34; Acts 4:27). “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power,” said Peter, “and he went around doing good and healing” (Acts 10:38).While ministering on earth, Jesus lived and served just as we His followers must live and serve today: directed by the Word of God, energized by the Holy Spirit, and depending wholly on prayer. He did not use His divine attributes independent of the Father. If we hope to succeed in life and service, no matter what God has called us to do, we must follow that example: prayer, the Word, and the Holy Spirit’s power (Acts 6:4 and Acts 1:8). Each member of God’s family has the gift of the Holy Spirit and gifts from the Spirit to be used for service (1Cor. 12:1–11; Eph. 4:1–16). The Spirit has anointed us (2Cor. 1:21) and the Spirit teaches us the truth so that we can understand the Word and detect the lies of the enemy (1John 2:20, 27; 4:1–6). We may ask God for wisdom, and He will give it to us (James 1:5). Our privilege is to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25) and depend on His power as He fills us and enables us to glorify Christ. By God’s grace, we possess the anointing. Don’t leave home without Him in control. (C is for Christmas)
HIS SACRIFICIAL DEATH
HIS EXEMPLARY LIFE
The Pulpit Commentary adds that
Christ not only died as a Sacrifice, but lived as an Example. He is the great Example Whom we must imitate, the Pattern of the new creation, the Original of which all believers are copies. Especially we must imitate Him in His patient endurance of suffering. The Cross is ever the Christian's motto. (Ed: Again the caveat is "do not attempt this supernatural behavior relying on your old natural strengths!" You will inevitably fail!)
Before we continue to look at the role of the Spirit in the ministry of Jesus, let us first review the role of the Spirit in Jesus birth and growth into Manhood…
While our goal is to focus on the relationship of Jesus and the Holy Spirit during the last 3.5 years of Jesus' life and ministry, we would be remiss in not briefly mentioning the role of the Spirit in Jesus' birth and boyhood.
THE HOLY SPIRIT AS THE
AGENT IN JESUS' CONCEPTION
Matthew records the role of the Spirit in the incarnation of Jesus…
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph ("engaged" but among the Jews of that day as binding as formal marriage [note that even Mt 1:19 refers to Joseph as Mary's "husband"] the engagement period lasting one year!), before they came together (Euphemism for intimate physical relation) she was found to be with child by (more literally out of or from) the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. (Mt 1:18-20-The Virgin Birth - John MacArthur)
Comment: Conceived is the verb gennao which means to beget or to procreate and in normal secular use describes a male causing conception of a fetus in the mother's womb. In short, Matthew describes the Holy Spirit's somewhat mysterious but very real role in the virgin birth of the Man (Baby) Jesus Christ.
Luke's record is even more specific
And the angel answered and said to her (Mary), "The Holy Spirit will come upon (eperchomai = same verb used in Acts 1:8-note of Spirit coming upon the disciples) you, and the power (dunamis = inherent ability to accomplish = also used in Acts 1:8 to describe the power associated with the presence of the Holy Spirit) of the Most High will overshadow you and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)
Comment: It is notable that the Holy Spirit is clearly associated with the manifestation of power (dunamis) in Jesus' birth and in His powerful three and one-half year ministry (discussed below). For more on the role of Mary the mother of Christ and the nature of the conception of Christ see Dr Walvoord's discussion.
THE HOLY SPIRIT DURING
Luke alludes to the Spirit's work in the maturation of Jesus recording that…
the Child continued to grow and become strong, being filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him… And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers… And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:40, 47, 52)
In other words as the perfect Man, Jesus' physical, intellectual, moral and, spiritual development was perfect or as Plummer says "At each stage he was perfect for that stage."
Although the Holy Spirit is not specifically mentioned in Jesus' boyhood, comparison of Luke 2:40, 47, 52 with other texts leaves little doubt that the Spirit was active in His matriculation into Manhood. For example, Isaiah prophesied that
the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him (Jesus), the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2)
Comment: Ultimately this was fulfilled at Jesus' Baptism when the Spirit descended upon Him, but He obviously played a role in Jesus' manifest great wisdom and understanding described in Luke 2:40, 47, 52.
Luke uses the same phrase "grace of God" in his description of Barnabas (Acts 11:23) who he then describes as "full of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 11:24). A similar phrase "abundant grace" (Acts 4:33) was used to describe the disciples who "were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Word of God with boldness." In both these passages, we see the association of the Holy Spirit with the grace of God, supporting the premise that Luke 2:40 is describing a manifestation of the Spirit in the boyhood life of Jesus.
Henry Morris comments that…
As a little child, Jesus already was… "filled with wisdom." Though not specifically stated, this surely implies that He, like John the Baptist (Lk 1:15), was filled with the Holy Spirit from His mother's womb… Jesus is God (Jn 1:1) and God is omniscient, so how could He "increase in wisdom?" This question points up the mystery of His divine/human nature. He was fully God, yet fully Man (apart from sin), and this mystery is simply beyond human comprehension. We are told that Christ "emptied Himself" (the essence of the Greek term translated "made Himself of no reputation" in Php 2:6), thereby implying a voluntary setting aside of His "omni" attributes in order to take "the form of a servant." In the records of His life and teachings, there is abundant evidence of His deity, including His own claims (John 8:12; 11:26). At the same time, there is abundant evidence of His true humanity, including the fact that He "increased in wisdom" as He also grew in stature. (See also Hebrews 5:8-note)
In summary, there is little question that the Holy Spirit was actively involved not only the birth of Jesus, but also the boyhood maturation of Jesus. As we will see below, from birth to death as a Man, Jesus gave up His divine rights and surrendered to the enabling ministry of the Holy Spirit and in so doing gave every disciple a clear example to follow in His steps.
Before we look more specifically at the role of the Holy Spirit in the earthly ministry of Jesus, we need to address the tendency some might have to shy away from any teaching which seems to emphasize the Spirit at the expense of emphasizing Jesus. We have been taught that it is the Name of Jesus which is to be exalted, and while this is indeed true, this truth should not discourage us from studying the role of the Spirit in the ministry of Jesus. And Scripture certainly supports this approach for their are several names of the Spirit which are integrally associated with Jesus.
The Spirit was sent by Jesus to be His Helper to carry out His work during the "Church Age". Recall from the previous diagram that when Jesus ascended physically, He did not leave the disciples to minister in their power. Peter's triple denial of Jesus clearly shows how effective ministry is when we rely on our own power! As we will see, Jesus relied on the Holy Spirit's power to carry out supernatural ministry and we can do no less! The apostle John had written about "the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him (Jesus) were to receive, for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:39) Later John recorded Jesus' explanation to the disciples "is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." (John 16:7) And so clearly Jesus departure "cleared the way" for the coming of His Spirit, Who would enable His disciples to accomplish Jesus' incredible promise…
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. (John 14:12)
Comment: While the meaning of this passage is not absolutely clear, from the remainder of the New Testament and the experience of church throughout the last 2000 years, the works Jesus' described would not necessarily be greater in quality (feeding 5000, raising Lazarus from the dead, etc) but would be greater in scope. In other words, Jesus never left Palestine, whereas His disciples have traversed the entire globe, even reaching hidden people groups who had heretofore never heard the Gospel of Jesus!
William MacDonald agrees: In the book of Acts, we read of the apostles performing miracles of bodily healing, similar to those of the Savior. But we also read of greater miracles—such as the conversion of three thousand on the day of Pentecost. Doubtless it was to the world-wide proclamation of the gospel, the salvation of so many souls, and the building of the church that the Lord referred to by the expression greater works. It is greater to save souls than to heal bodies. When the Lord returned to heaven, He was glorified, and the Holy Spirit was sent to earth. It was through the Spirit’s power that the apostles performed these greater miracles.
In summary, when Jesus left, He did not leave His disciples alone, but sent them His Spirit as His "Representative" so to speak. As James Dunn writes, "the ascension from one standpoint brings to an end the story of Jesus, and from another begins the age of the Spirit (Acts 2:33)." (Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-examination of the New Testament Teaching).
The following five passages demonstrate that many of the names of the Holy Spirit clearly identify Him as the "Representative" of Jesus…
(1) As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, 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. (1Pe 1:10-11-note)
Comment: The Spirit's dwelling within the prophets in the Old Covenant was temporary, in contrast to His permanent indwelling of believers in the New Covenant age.
(2) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" (Gal 4:6)
Comment: Observe that the Spirit in us gives us assurance of salvation and motivates us to relate to our Heavenly Father intimately and even boldly to the point that our heart cry is the Aramaic term of endearment "Abba" which means something like "Daddy". As an aside note that a repeated "effect" of the Spirit's supernaturally energizing believers is to enable us to speak with boldness and confidence.
H B Swete comments that "The purpose of the Son’s mission was to give (procure) the rights of sonship. The purpose of the Spirit’s mission (is) to give the power of using them ("the rights" or privileges Jesus earned for the sons of God).
(3) 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. (Ro 8:9-note)
Comment: Observe that Paul is teaching that every genuine believer has the Spirit. Anyone who does not have the Spirit is not a believer. "He who has the Spirit, has Christ; he who has Christ, has God… We in God, God in us." (Bengel)
(4) For (term of explanation = What is he explaining in context? Php 1:18-note) I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, (Phil 1:19-note)
(5) And when they had come to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them (Acts 16:7)
Constable comments: This unusual title of the Holy Spirit highlights Jesus’ leadership in the mission.
John Owen helps us understand the major role of the Holy Spirit in the "Church Age" writing that…
Everything God does He does as the triune God. Each Person of the Trinity is involved in every action of God. Yet at the same time each Person has a special role to fulfill in that work… There is no good that we receive from God but it is brought to us and wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. Nor is there in us any good towards God, any faith, love, obedience to His will, but what we are enabled to do so by the Holy Spirit.
THE HOLY SPIRIT'S ROLE IN
THE LIFE OF JESUS THE MAN
However before we look at specific Scriptures describing the Spirit's role in the adult life of Jesus, we need to re-emphasize that although Jesus was fully God, in His incarnation He became fully Man and was fully Human in all aspects (except that He was sinless - see Isa 53:9; Jn 8:46; 2Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:26; 1Pe 1:19; 2:22; 1Jn 3:5). And so we read Jesus had a flesh and blood body (Heb 2:14), a soul (Mt 26:38; Mk 14:34; Jn 12:27; Acts 2:27) and a spirit (Mk 2:8; 8:12; Lk 23:46; Jn 11:33; 13:21). It is beyond the scope of this study to discuss Jesus' Humanity in greater detail, but the interested reader is directed to Charles Hodge's discussions - "He is Truly Man"; "The Hypostatic Union".
John Walvoord summarizes Jesus' Humanity this way…
The Scriptures make it clear, then, that Christ did not take to Himself in the incarnation a human body which was indwelt by deity, but that rather He took to Himself a human nature and body.
He did not simply possess a human body,
but He possessed a human nature.
Yet, in the incarnation, Christ did not take possession of a human person, else He would have had dual personality. As Charles Hodges says, “The Son of God did not unite Himself with a human person, but with a human nature. The proof of this is that Christ is but one person.” It may be concluded that the Scriptures demand that the humanity of Christ be complete, and any other viewpoint is a serious departure from revealed truth… While guarded from every taint of sin, the Human Nature of Christ partook of the limitations true of humanity… The body of Christ had all the normal feelings and emotions which are natural to humanity except those arising in a sin nature… The human nature of Christ was very similar to that of Adam’s before the fall, the great difference being found in its union with the divine nature (see Hypostatic Union). (The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Person and Work of Christ)
And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Mt 3:16-17)
Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased.” And when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Eli, (Luke 3:21-23, cp Mark 1:10-11)
Comment: God's voice from heaven tells us that we have just witnessed the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise that He would anoint His Servant/Son with His Spirit (e.g., see Isaiah 11:1-2, 42:1, 48:16, 59:21, 61:1-2). The anointing with the Spirit signals the beginning of Jesus' 3.5 year ministry (Luke 3:23, cp Acts 10:37 and Acts 1:22 which both identify ) — especially the prophetic portion. In the context of Isa 42:1, this prophetic ministry has a specific focus: “He will bring justice to the nations” (Isa 42:1d). Luke emphasizes that his genealogy is that of “a man of the nations” (Luke 3:23-38). Jesus' anointing with the Spirit equips Him with power which enables His victory over Satan's strong temptations (Luke 4:1-13). The Anointed One has passed the "test" and is ready to begin His prophetic ministry as the Redeemer of mankind!
And so we see that Jesus' ministry was inaugurated by His baptism with the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel of John adds that…
John (the Baptist) bore witness saying, "I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon Whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One Who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.' (John 1:32, 33)
Comment: John states that the Spirit "remained upon" Jesus, implying that the Spirit was intimately involved with Jesus' entire earthly ministry. In fact in the prophecy of Isaiah describing the coming reign of Jesus as King of kings, the prophet states that "the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him" (See Isaiah 11:1-5).
Mark emphasized that
immediately the Spirit impelled (ekballo - literally to throw out) Him to go out into the wilderness." (Mark 1:11)
Jesus' baptism with the Holy Spirit marked the beginning of His ministry. Notice how Luke associates the baptism with the inauguration of ministry (Lk 3:22, 23). Luke again associates Jesus' baptism with the beginning of His ministry in Acts, writing…
you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power (dunamis), and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. (Acts 10:37-38)
Here Luke associates the baptism of Jesus with His anointing, both being associated with the Holy Spirit. Although this will be discussed more below, note that the Spirit's anointing was associated with power, which is the Greek word dunamis, which simply means the ability to accomplish a task. In the context of the New Testament uses, dunamis most often refers to supernatural power and in fact is translated "miracle" (about 22 times in the NAS) in some contexts. Notice in Acts 10:38 that "power" to do (or accomplish) preceded doing ("went about doing good"). Notice also the term of explanation "for" in the phrase "for God was with Him." What is Luke "explaining?" Recall that Jesus had "emptied" Himself of His reliance upon His divinity, so that He might be the example of the perfect Man. And thus the "for" explains how Jesus was able to do good. God was with Him in the form of the Holy Spirit, Who provided the power for ministry. Remembering that believers are called to be imitators of Jesus' model for ministry, it is clear that a prerequisite for all supernatural ministry is reliance upon the supernatural power supplied by the Spirit.
A J Gordon (The Ministry of the Spirit) - Let us observe that Christ, who is our example in this as in all things, did not enter upon his ministry till he had received the Holy Ghost. Not only so, but we see that all his service from his baptism to his ascension was wrought in the Spirit. Ask concerning his miracles, and we hear him saying: "I by the Spirit of God cast out devils." (Matt. 12:28). Ask concerning that decease which he accomplished at Jerusalem, and we read "that he through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot unto God." (Heb. 9:14). Ask concerning the giving of the great commission, and we read that he was received up after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles." (Acts 1:2). Thus, though he was the Son of God, he acted ever in supreme reliance upon him who has been called the "Executive of the Godhead." Plainly we see how Christ was our pattern and exemplar in his relation to the Holy Spirit. He had been begotten of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin, and had lived that holy and obedient life which this divine nativity would imply. But when he would enter upon his public ministry, he waited for the Spirit to come upon him, as he had hitherto been in him. For this anointing we find him praying: "Jesus also being baptized and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him." (Luke 3:22). Had he any "promise of the Father" to plead, as he now asked the anointing of the Spirit, if as we may believe this was the subject of his prayer? Yes; it had been written in the prophets concerning the rod out of the stem of Jesse: "And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." (Isa. 11:2). "The promise of the seven-fold Spirit," the Jewish commentators call it. Certainly it was literally fulfilled upon the Son of God at the Jordan, when God gave him the Spirit without measure. For he who was now baptized was in turn to be baptizer. "Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." (John 1:33). "I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I … he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and in fire." (Matt. 3:11, R. V.).
After Jesus' baptism with the Spirit, Matthew records…
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Mt 4:1)
Comment: Notice the time phrase "then" which marks sequence of events. In this case "then" marks the beginning of Jesus' ministry after being baptized by the Holy Spirit.
In a parallel passage Luke adds that after His baptism…
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness (Luke 4:1)
HOW TO EXPERIENCE
VICTORY OVER TEMPTATION
So what do we learn about Jesus' example from these passages? First, we note that both accounts record Jesus being led by the Spirit (Mark adds "impelled by the Spirit"). What is the implication of the phrase "led by the Spirit?" Clearly, in order to be led, Jesus had to surrender or submit His will, His rights, His ideas for effective ministry, etc. In short, Jesus' submission to the leading of the Spirit, left each of us as His disciples the perfect example to follow in His steps. We too must continually be led by the Spirit, by being willing to yield to Him. In addition, Jesus submitted His will to the Father's will (Read Jn 5:19, 30, Jn 8:28, etc) In short, during His 3.5 year ministry, Jesus yielding Himself to God the Father and God the Spirit. This is the example Paul followed (1Cor 11:1) and the path we too should follow in our daily life and ministry.
Luke also describes Jesus as full of or filled with the Spirit. The point is that what fills a person is what controls them. Jesus was controlled by the Spirit and we should strive to follow in His steps that we too might experience a supernatural life and ministry!
As an aside Luke's description (Luke 4:1-13) of Jesus' victory over the Devil's strong temptations (testings), provides us as disciples of Jesus with the basic foundation for victory over the strong temptations in our lives. Jesus in the will of His Father, was "Spirit filled" and "Spirit led" and He was "Word filled" so to speak, in that He relied on the Word of God to defuse and demolish the Devil's temptations. Spirit filled, Word filled believers are much more likely to experience victory in times of temptation. Notice that Jesus was filled with both BEFORE the temptation. Once the temptation comes, it's often too late for us to experience victory. We must follow Jesus' example in order to experience victory.
After the Temptation of Jesus, Luke described these first days of Jesus' ministry…
And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power (dunamis - supernatural, enabling power) of the Spirit; and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. (Luke 4:14-15)
Comment: Remember that Jesus' had "emptied" Himself of His divine prerogatives (Php 2:5-8) and in His incarnation placed Himself under the will of God the Father (cp Jn 5:19, 30, Jn 8:28) and the enabling power of God the Spirit. In so doing, Jesus was providing an example which all true believers might be able to imitate (cp 1Cor 11:1, 1Pe 2:21, 1Jn 2:6, et al). Don't miss Luke's next statement that Jesus "began teaching" for the context shows us that He was enabled to teach empowered by the Spirit. If that is true, how much more dependent ought every teacher of God's Word be on the enabling ministry of the Spirit. Teachers of the Word need to jettison self reliance and surrender to Spirit reliance, Spirit enabling power (dunamis)!
As an aside, most commentators agree that between the temptation described in Luke 4:1-13 and the beginning of His Galilean ministry in Luke 4:14 there is a period of about one year in which Jesus ministered primarily in Judea as described by John (See Jn 2:12 through John 4:1-3 = "He left Judea and departed again into Galilee.")
Luke goes on to describe Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath reading from the book of Isaiah 61:1-2a (See Lk 4:16, 17)
THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN, 19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.” 20 And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:18-22)
Peter speaking before the Gentile Cornelius declared…
you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him.
Comment: When was Jesus "anointed to preach the Gospel?" Jesus was anointed at His Baptism by John, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form" (cf. Lk 3:21-23) This event marked the inauguration of Jesus' 3.5 year ministry. Note that the Spirit's coming on Jesus was associated with power (dunamis) and that this supernatural power enabled Him to going "about doing good and healing." Dearly beloved, recalling that Jesus the perfect God-Man was giving us His example. His did not rely on His intrinsic power for ministry, but upon the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power that we have access to today! I would qualify this statement with the caveat that I do not believe we can reproduce all of Jesus' miracles (feeding 5000, etc).
As an aside, the Spirit's descent upon Jesus at His Baptism, in no way suggests that the Spirit was not active in the prior 30 years of His life, because He clearly was active (see Lk 1:35, Lk 2:40 where the phrase the "grace of God was upon Him" is surely synonymous with the enabling power of the "Spirit of grace" [Heb 10:29]; See also Lk 2:52)
Do not miss the main point - When Jesus began His public ministry, He did so under the control of the Holy Spirit. Jesus' example provides a perfect pattern we should continually strive to follow! This truth begs the question - In whose power am I ministering (all believers are involved in ministry of some sort) - my natural strength or the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit of Jesus? Or to use Jesus' metaphor, am I abiding in the Vine? (Jn 15:5)
Tom Constable comments…
Luke again drew his readers’ attention to the fact that Jesus was under the control of the Holy Spirit as He began His public ministry (cf. Luke 1:35; 3:22; 4:1). The Spirit empowered and enabled Jesus in His words and deeds. Luke would stress His teaching ministry. Luke attributed Jesus’ success to His orientation to the Spirit, not His essential deity. Consequently He was a model that all believers can and should copy. Luke continued to stress the Holy Spirit’s ministry in Acts. Everyone who had contact with Jesus praised Him, not just the Jews. This was the initial popular response to Him, and it is the normal initial response that Spirit-directed believers experience.
SPIRIT'S COMING INAUGURATES…
THE CHURCH AGE
THE AGE OF THE SPIRIT
THE NEW COVENANT AGE
Take a moment to review the simple diagram below (click to enlarge). Note what transpired when Jesus ascended to the right hand of His Father. Who "descended" on Pentecost and what entity came into existence? Obviously when the Spirit descended, the Church was born, marking the beginning of the so called "Church Age," an age which could just as accurately be designated as the "Age of the Holy Spirit" or as the "New Covenant Age", for even in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was promised as a gift of the New Covenant…
I (Jehovah) will give you (addressing Israel) a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:26, 27)
Ezekiel is describing conversion in NT terms. While the word "New Covenant" is not used, comparing Ezekiel's prophecy with Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34) makes it is clear that the promise of the indwelling Spirit marks the beginning of a brand new way of relating to God and of working for God.
And if the Body of Christ, the Church, came into being by the Spirit, what does this truth teach us regarding how His Body should be ministering today? In short, what began by the Spirit, surely must continue to minister by the same Spirit. How many churches and individual believers have neglected their need for total, absolute dependence upon the Holy Spirit! (See Gal 3:2,3)