The Spirit of God in the Mission of God: Introduction to “The Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit”

I wrote up a study of what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit’s role in the Mission of God that badly overshot the word limit. Editing it down to the required length alters it so much that it has practically become another study altogether.

The great thing about having a blog, though, is that there is no word limit! So, I’m going to post the study that was too long in a series of posts. If you decide that you don’t desire to read this in the installments in which it will be posted here, you can skip straight to the whole study. Otherwise, I plan to post the whole thing in little chunks day by day.

May we enjoy the power and presence of the Spirit as we seek to accomplish the mission the Lord has given to us!

The Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit

From Garden to glory the Spirit of God works in conjunction with the word of God to accomplish God’s purposes. The creation account describes the Spirit hovering over the waters as God spoke the world into being (Gen 1:2), and in response to the risen Lord’s announcement that he is coming soon (Rev 22:12), “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come’” (22:17). The thesis of this chapter is that the Bible teaches that the Spirit of God provides the presence and power of God, working with the word of God to accomplish God’s purposes. The Father speaks and the Spirit gives life (cf. Ezek 37:1–14), and the Spirit gives life through the word of Jesus (cf. John 6:63). This usually involves the Spirit enabling God’s people to believe God’s word and do what it says. The Bible nowhere indicates that the Spirit saves apart from God’s word.

We must base our understanding of the Spirit’s role in mission today on what the Bible says about the Spirit. To this end, we will examine what the Bible says about the Spirit by moving through the Old Testament[1] according to the tri-partite division of it into Law, Prophets, and Writings,[2] and then we will move similarly through the New Testament’s contents by considering the Gospels and Acts, the New Testament Letters, and Revelation.[3] Once we have surveyed what the Bible tells us about the Spirit, we will be able to describe the Spirit’s presence and power in mission today.

[1] Because this essay is intended for missionaries, my interaction with other literature on the subject here will be limited. For more extensive discussions, see my book, God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments, NACSBT (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2006), Graham A. Cole’s He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Foundations of Evangelical Theology (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), and Thomas R. Schreiner’s New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 431–506. For a chart that categorizes all 389 uses of the term ruach (s/Spirit) in the OT, see James M. Hamilton Jr., “God with Men in the Torah,” WTJ 65 (2003), 131–33 (113–33), available online at:

[2] This seems to be the way that Jesus viewed the contents of the OT (cf. Luke 24:44). In this grouping of the books of the OT, the Law refers to the Pentateuch, the Prophets fall into former prophets (Joshua through Kings) and latter prophets (Isaiah through Malachi), and the Writings consists of three groups of books, the Book of Truth (Psalms, Proverbs, Job), the Megilloth (i.e., small scrolls, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther), and the other Sacred Writings (Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles).

[3] For a study of the central theme of the Bible that follows this approach, see James M. Hamilton Jr., The Center of Biblical Theology: The Glory of God in Salvation through Judgment (Wheaton: Crossway, forthcoming).

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Dr. Hamilton:
    I noticed that alot of your formatting tags are commented off in some of your blogposts. It kind of makes it hard to read. If you need help fixing this, do let me know.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *