If you grew up outside of Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, then there is a good chance you were not taught much about the Holy Spirit in your church. Instead, the focus was probably on Jesus (rightfully so), but is Jesus apart from the Spirit very good news? Can we have Jesus without the Spirit? Jesus said to his disciples, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7) If Jesus thought that having the Spirit in your life was of more advantage than having himself physically present, then we would do well to better understand who this Spirit is.
Sinclair Ferguson argues that the Spirit is the only means by which we can be united to Jesus Christ. Apart from the Spirit’s work of regeneration and renewal, we can never experience the intimate relationship with Jesus that we so desperately need. Ferguson says in his book, The Holy Spirit,
“Having the Spirit is the equivalent, indeed the very mode, of having the incarnate, obedient, crucified, resurrected and exalted Christ indwelling us so that we are united to him as he is united to the Father.” (71)
The Spirit is the very mode in which we can be one with Christ. The Spirit’s primary role is to glorify Christ, by binding us to Him.
IVP recently sent me a copy of Ferguson’s, The Holy Spirit, and it was helpful as I prepared to teach on the Holy Spirit to the high school students at my church. Although this book is a number of years old now, I think he gives an insightful overview of who the Holy Spirit is and what He does. Ferguson covers a lot of ground in this book, so be prepared for a mental workout.
A couple of other books in the Contours of Christian Theology series include:
The Work of Christ by Robert Letham