50 Things the Holy Spirit Does

In some denominations and movements, the Holy Spirit is overemphasized, leading to a Christless Pentecost — putting the Spirit exclusively on the throne and losing Jesus in the temple. In other denominations and movements, the Spirit is but a footnote, an afterthought, even a stranger. What follows are 50 things the Holy Spirit does according to the New Testament. If you find this list helpful, share it on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

1.      The Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).

2.      The Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13).

3.      The Spirit regenerates us (John 3:5-8; Titus 3:5).

4.      The Spirit glorifies and testifies of Christ (John 15:26; 16:14).

5.      The Spirit reveals Christ to us and in us (John 16:14-15).

6.      The Spirit leads us (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18; Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:1).

7.      The Spirit sanctifies us (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 5:16).

8.      The Spirit empowers us (Luke 4:14; 24:49; Rom. 15:19; Acts 1:8).

9.      The Spirit fills us (Eph. 5:18; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 9:17).

10.    The Spirit teaches us to pray (Rom. 8:26-27; Jude 1:20).

11.    The Spirit bears witness in us that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16).

12.    The Spirit produces in us the fruit or evidence of His work and presence (Gal. 5:22-23).

13.    The Spirit distributes spiritual gifts and manifestations (the outshining) of His presence to and through the body (1 Cor.     12:4, 8-10; Heb. 2:4).

14.    The Spirit anoints us for ministry (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38).

15.    The Spirit washes and renews us (Titus 3:5).

16.    The Spirit brings unity and oneness to the body (Eph. 4:3; 2:14-18). Here the Spirit plays the same role that He plays in the Godhead. The Spirit is the life that unites Father and Son. The Spirit plays the same role in the church. When the Spirit is operating in a group of people, He unites them in love. Therefore, a sure evidence of the Holy Spirit working in a group is Love and Unity. Not signs and wonders (those are seasonal and can be counterfeited).

17.    The Spirit is our guarantee and deposit of the future resurrection (2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5).

18.    The Spirit seals us unto the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).

19.    The Spirit sets us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2).

20.    The Spirit quickens our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11).

21.    The Spirit reveals the deep things of God to us (1 Cor. 2:10).

22.    The Spirit reveals what has been given to us from God (1 Cor. 2:12).

23.    The Spirit dwells in us (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:14; John 14:17).

24.    The Spirit speaks to, in, and through us (1 Cor. 12:3; 1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:11; Heb 3:7; Matt. 10:20; Acts 2:4; 8:29; 10:19; 11:12, 28; 13:2; 16:6,7; 21:4,11).

25.    The Spirit is the agent by which we are baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).

26.    The Spirit brings liberty (2 Cor. 3:17).

27.    The Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).

28.    The Spirit cries in our hearts, “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6).

29.    The Spirit enables us to wait (Gal. 5:5).

30.    The Spirit supplies us with Christ (Phil. 1:19, KJV).

31.    The Spirit grants everlasting life (Gal. 6:8).

32.    The Spirit gives us access to God the Father (Eph. 2:18).

33.    The Spirit makes us (corporately) God’s habitation (Eph. 2:22).

34.    The Spirit reveals the mystery of God to us (Eph. 3:5).

35.    The Spirit strengthens our spirits (Eph. 3:16).

36.    The Spirit enables us to obey the truth (1 Pet. 1:22).

37.    The Spirit enables us to know that Jesus abides in us (1 John 3:24; 4:13).

38.    The Spirit confesses that Jesus came in the flesh (1 John 4:2).

39.    The Spirit says “Come, Lord Jesus” along with the bride (Rev. 22:17).

40.    The Spirit dispenses God’s love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

41.    The Spirit bears witness to the truth in our conscience (Rom. 9:1).

42.    The Spirit teaches us (1 Cor. 2:13; John 14:26).

43.    The Spirit gives us joy (1 Thess. 1:6).

44.    The Spirit enables some to preach the gospel (1 Pet. 1:12).

45.    The Spirit moves us (2 Pet. 1:21).

46.    The Spirit knows the things of God (1 Cor. 2:11).

47.    The Spirit casts out demons (Matt. 12:28).

48.    The Spirit brings things to our remembrance (John 14:26).

49.    The Spirit comforts us (Acts 9:31).

50.    The Spirit makes some overseers in the church and sends some out to the work of church planting [through the body] (Acts 20:28; 13:2).

Summary: The Holy Spirit unites us to Jesus Christ and to His body. The Spirit reveals Christ to us, gives us His life, and makes Christ alive in us. The Spirit takes the experiences of Jesus . . . His incarnation, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension . . . and brings them into our own experience. Because of the Holy Spirit, the history of Jesus Christ becomes our story and experience (see Jesus Manifesto for details). Unfortunately, some movements have become known for their excesses in regard to the Holy Spirit’s work. See Revise Us Again for details on this point.

See also 20 Things the Blood of Jesus Does

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  • http://gospelmuse.wordpress.com Matthew Morizio

    Frank – Thank you for maintaining the focus upon Christ…all things being subject to him. Appreciate this blog post!

  • Frank Viola

    I address this question in “Revise Us Again” . . . too involved for a blog comment. http://frankviola.com/publications

  • Daniel Eng

    I guess here’s a question for Frank, since we believe in a triune God, how do you see the relationship between the three? I know their different roles but should one be exalted before the other ? Or do they all get exalted in different ways for different purposes

  • Daniel Eng

    Hey guys, thanks for a good healthy debate on the Holy Spirit within the church. As mentioned in the article one thing that the Spirit does is to bring unity within the body. So, at times instead of finding a one true balanced church, our eyes should be looking for what is the Spirit doing in a particular church/s, many different church/s reveals different parts of God’s character and frankly Jesus and the Spirit bring them closer to each other. Frank, this is a good list :) thanks for sharing !!!

  • Frank Viola

    Yes, different experiences and vantage point accounts for some of it, but different callings account for a good deal as well. No, my message is not “a plague on all your houses” but rather that “Jesus Christ is larger than any of our streams, systems, and movements; so let’s not settle or think we have HIM in our pockets (as we are all tempted to do), but press in for more of HIM for He’s beyond what any of us have imagined.” That stress comes through in all of my books and it’s resonating with a certain population in the Christian world. I’d encourage you to read a book entitled “Prophetic Ministry” by T. Austin-Sparks. It made my top 100 best books list: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola/bestbooks – Sparks’ lived in England so you should like him. ;-) It’s the best book on prophetic ministry ever written and gives a different version of it than what’s typically taught in any camp. If you read it, I think you’ll better understand my ministry and will be able to put some things into perspective. God bless you and your ministry.

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  • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

    Neither you nor I sit in typical camps. But the way we choose to be between them is different. You it seems are somewhere in the middle not quite in any camp…or at least not any traditional ones, anyway! I on the other hand am not trying to find some balance point. I want it all! So from what I know of you I am both more charismatic than you (at least in the classical sense, anyway) and more reformed than you (or at least I think so!). I try to straddle both camps, you at least to an extent say “a plague on all your houses!” Interesting analogy I know but I **think** it makes sense!

  • Frank Viola

    I appreciate Gruden for the same reasons. When he came to defend Wimber, that meant a lot to me. I think this all has to do with different callings. You are a unique charismatic who has (I perceive, anyway) caught a lot of flack for your views on the Spirit, often wrongly ascribed. So I think (if I may) that there may be some oversensitivity from that. I, on the other hand, have been in a place to bring balance between extremes on both sides of the issue when it comes to the Spirit, as one who grew up in the Pentecostal/charismatic world and still has many positive associations there. I believe it’s a calling, but not a popular one. So it bleeds through in my comments. Unfortunately, when someone takes a position that’s neither on one side or the other, a few in both camps get upset. Though I rarely get flack over this issue. I get far more flack from people on the Left *and* Right when it comes to politics and theology. Taking a transcendent or “central” position is very difficult. You get hit from both sides. Even so, my intent is never to offend. Love and appreciate you much, bro. Keep pressing on in HIM!

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

    Frank, I just think throwing around comments like that every time u mention the Spirit isn’t necessary. I loved the rest of the post and have linked to it on my blog. It’s just I find such comments about pentecostals offensive and it seems odd that you, a self-avowed charismatic (albeit of the third-wave variety) would see the need to say things that are calculated to upset certain people. I just don’t think its needed thats all. Anyway, I wont let it stand in the way of our friendship, because friends don’t always have to agree on everything.

    I do think that the line between robust disagreement and being impolite is a hard one to discern at times. Maybe I was a bit oversensitive here, but if so it is a product of years of being rejected for believing what I do! In the past being a reformed charismatic wasn’t cool with either the reformed folks or the charismatics so me and my other Newfrontiers brothers were used to being seen as odd by others.

    When Wayne Grudem came along and published his Systematic Theology we were so thrilled that somebody outside of our circles believed most of what we did (I know he doesn’t believe in apostles today or baptism with the Spirit as I would understand it, but the rest is pretty identical with our views). In fact Grudem’s book sold almost its entire first UK print run in one of our Bible Weeks. The publishers came to the conference to figure out why hundreds and hundreds of us were buying a book that many thought would at first would only be read by seminary students!

    God bless my friend!

    May our Lord guide us both in how we interact with each other and others in the future.

  • Frank Viola

    I beg your pardon, but I don’t get your statement “sad that you didn’t think to look for the Holy Spirit in the Hebrew Scriptures.” I find it sad that you’d assume that I didn’t “think” to look there. My study was specifically of the NT. I never said a word about the Spirit in the OT. He is certainly present in both shadow and reference there, but everything revealed about Him in the OT that I’m aware of us covered in the NT references. If you want to see my main treatment of the Spirit in the OT, I’d done so in both “From Eternity to Here” and “Jesus: A Theography” which are commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures in light of New Testament revelation. But compiling a list of OT references of the Spirit isn’t something I feel called to do. If you feel such a list should exist, go for it and create one yourself. I’d be happy to look at it. Thanks.

  • Frank Viola

    Thx. Nitoy. I appreciate your kind reaction.

  • Frank Viola

    Adrian. With all due respect, there isn’t a single word in my opening paragraph that “takes cheap shots at Pentecostals and cessationists.” I’m simply pointing out a reality in *some* movements and denominations. There’s nothing that said “all” or even “most.”

    Just because you may be unaware of that reality doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And I for one am not going to pretend it doesn’t exist.

    For documentation, see David Wilkerson’s article A CHRISTLESS PENTECOST. http://www.tscpulpitseries.org/english/1980s/ts820001.html

    I had frequent contact with the Wilkerson family in my youth and the issue of putting the Spirit above Jesus and falling into various excesses was something David and his mother addressed often. In the article, David quotes Frank Bartleman who makes the same point. Bartleman was one of the pioneers of Pentecostalism. What I’ve said in this article is expanded in their piece. If you had trouble with my brief comment, then you should have major problems with them both. I can also add people like John Wimber and Francis Frangipane, both of whom were very vocal about the excesses and overemphasis of the Spirit in the circles in which they ministered. And both John and Francis, like me, believe in all the gifts of the Spirit operating today.

    Regarding my comment about *some* cessationist groups, read John MacArthur’s book CHARISMATIC CHAOS, which I critiqued when it came out. That book effected many people who were afraid of the Spirit and made Him a footnote or afterthought. I know because I was part of several churches that did this very thing and found myself in debates with the pastors, where I argued that the Spirit still operates like He did in the first century. I was also part of several groups that made the Spirit everything, and the people in them barely talked about Jesus.

    In short, you appear to either be over-sensitive about certain elements of the christian world which has been critiqued by Pentecostals themselves (e.g., David Wilkerson, Frank Bartleman, John Wimber, Francis Frangipane to name a few). Or you’re unaware that these extremes exist in *some* groups and movements.

    Note: I know several people who felt you were unfair in your debates with Rob Bell and Rachel Held Evans, using worse terminology than “cheap shots.” And I’ve risen to your defense each time. Let’s be careful not to read things into people’s statements that aren’t there. Oh, and I sure hope you wrote Mr. Chan a letter telling him he was taking a “cheap shot” at certain movements and denominations for putting out a book called “The Forgotten God” in which he makes far stronger statements about “neglecting the Holy Spirit” than I’ve ever made in this piece. :-)

    All told: I’m sorry you didn’t appear to find anything worthy in this piece but rather zeroed in on the short opening with critical remarks. The vast majority of the piece extols the work of the Spirit today — in 50 ways. It’s there, trust me. ;-)

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

    Frank, why do you feel the need to make cheap shots at both Pentecostals and cessationists in the opening paragraph? It almost put me off reading the rest! Honestly, you seem to have a blind spot about how offensive you are towards pentecostals sometimes! I love you my friend, but please there is no need to take pot shots with comments like, “In some denominations and movements, the Holy Spirit is overemphasized, leading to a Christless Pentecost.” Which denominations are you talking about? Do you really think that your comment is true and applicable? I find that very very hard to believe as the Spirit always glorifies Jesus, and Pentecost is HIM sending the Spirit to us because of his death and resurrection. I think even the reverse comment about cessationists ignoring the Spirit is overstating as well.

    To be honest to say that people who emphasize the Spirit forget Jesus is as ludicrous as if people started to say to you that because you talk so much about Jesus you know longer worship the Father God!

  • http://delightinggrace.wordpress.com Nitoy Gonzales

    amen…thanks for the list….

  • http://42.blogs.warnock.me.uk/ Dave Warnock

    Hi,

    Sad that you didn’t think to look for the Holy Spirit in the Hebrew Scriptures there are many powerful examples of the Holy Spirit there. I recommend Moltman “The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation” for many reasons including the chapters on the Holy Spirit in the Hebrew Scriptures. Would have added some great items to your list.

  • Frank Viola

    I don’t see anyone painting “all Charismatic and Pentecostal churches with a broad brush.” If someone did that, I guess I missed it. And I agree with your assessment. Thx. for your comment.

  • Margie H.

    I’m a Charismatic/Pentecostal Christian. I love Jesus. I’ve never been to a Charismatic or Pentecostal church that didn’t emphasize Jesus and his ministry. I rarely no any churches in the Pentecostal tradition that just focus on the Spirit and not on the one who sent the Spirit. Christ is the center of Pentecostal worship. The Spirit leads to Christ. The Spirit guides a person to Christ. Please don’t paint all Charismatic and Pentecostal churches with such a broad brush to say that Christ is not the center of our worship. He’s our God, Savior, Lord, Messiah. He’s the one that gives salvation through His blood.

  • Frank Viola

    I’ve addressed this problem in detail in “Revise Us Again,” but in short, the Spirit and the Scriptures are authored by the same God. Thus they will never be in contradiction. Regarding how to interpret the Bible, see my post “Reading the Bible in 3D.”

  • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

    The first point, many people use this to counter having to worry about certain Biblical passages that would require behaviour they aren’t in favour of. Is that reasonable? Basically it comes down to, “well the Spirit hasn’t compelled me to see this as [wrong/right] therefore it isn’t, because if it was, then the Spirit should have convinced me. Again, is that reasonable? Does scripture hold sway, or should people just worry about their own conscience?

  • Bob Freeman

    Wonderful list. Thanks a lot for posting this. Indeed the Holy Spirit draws me close to God and makes my heart cry out Abba, Father”. The Holy Spirit is what drives me to seek out the things of Gid. To persist in that search until I have uncovered another truth about Him, his Kingdom and his plan for mankind. The Holy Spirit is what gives me boldness and clarity to witness about the things of Christ to people I encounter. The Holy Spirit always speaks “peace” to me, even in the midst of the storms of life. Thank God for his great wisdom and eternal love in that He did not leave us alone on this earth after our Lord Jesus had resurrected and ascended into Heaven.

    The Holy Spirit is what brings me to conviction when I have sinned and causes me to come close to the Mercy Seat of God through Jesus Christ where I ask and find forgiveness and peace is restored to my spiritual life.

    A sad lot we would be as christians were it not for the conviction, cleansing, love and peace the Holy Spirit brings to us.

  • http://www.IanDexterPalmer.com Ian Palmer

    Wow! This is a long list! Made me think. Thank you. I think the Holy Spirit imbues us with insight and wisdom, and would like to know if you think these are covered under your bullets 2. and 6. I discussed this in a blog entitled “Insights from God in regard to puppies, watches, and technical problems” (about 10 blogs down from the latest).


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