The second volume of “Great Doctrines of the Bible” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (MLJ) focuses on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Today, we’ll look at chapter 5, “The Work of the Holy Spirit in General.”
The Holy Spirit and the Incarnation
MLJ begins by looking at the Spirit’s work during the life of Christ. The Holy Spirit is involved in the birth of Christ as Joseph is told “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20). Peter refers to Jesus’ ministry as Spirit-anointed: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power” (Acts 10:37-38). The Spirit descended upon Christ like a dove after his baptism (Luke 3:22), and then led him into the wilderness to be tempted (Matt. 4:1). Christ was crucified and raised by the power of the Spirit (Heb. 9:14; Romans 1:4).
The Holy Spirit and the General Call
The very coming of the Holy Spirit is a general work that affects all mankind. John 16:8-11, “And when he is come [referring to the Spirit], he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement…” This is a work the Spirit does in the world and not just to the redeemed (we’ll see his work specifically to the redeemed in the following chapters). The general work of the Spirit that does not lead to salvation, it brings conviction but does not lead to being convinced: “concerning sin, because they do not believe in me” (John 16:9). This is sometimes referred to as the ‘external’ call of the gospel…a general call that is for all people (50).
Because of this work of the Spirit, we are called to preach the gospel to all people: God “commands all people everywhere to repent…” (Acts 17:30). The gospel is a “universal proclamation” (51).
The Holy Spirit’s Purpose
The role of the Holy Spirit is to point to Christ, and that is the goal even as he brings about conviction of sin. “He does not stop at sin. He does not teach about Himself or call attention to Himself or glorify Himself. He is all along calling attention to the Lord…His one function…is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ” (45).
The Holy Spirit’s Method
“The Holy Spirit always works through the word of God” (51). MLJ argues against those who viewed the Bible as unnecessary if one had the Holy Spirit, and this is sometimes seen as more “spiritual.” However, the Holy Spirit is the one who inspired the word and it is his primary means of communication. He wrote the word, he reveals the word, and he uses believers to proclaim the word.
Next time, we’ll look at the Holy Spirit’s particular role in redemption.