Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. – 1 Peter 1:10-12 ESV
What would we ever do without the Holy Spirit? Spiritually, we could do nothing. But the sad reality is that most of us do quite a lot without the Holy Spirit. That is what it means to live “according to the flesh” as Paul puts it. It is what happens when we give in to our old sin nature. But God provided the Holy Spirit so that man might know and experience the spiritual dimension of life, so that our souls might know Him in all His glory. And the Holy Spirit didn’t just show up at Pentecost. He has been active since the beginning of the world. In fact, He played a major role in the creation of the universe. He is called the Spirit of life for a reason. He helped give life to the universe. He helped give life to Jesus in the womb of Mary. He helped restore life to the crucified Jesus, resurrecting Him from the dead after three days in the tomb. And He helped the authors of the Scriptures by superintending their efforts, and empowering them to write the words of God, not the words of men. Even the prophets like Isaiah, who wrote concerning the coming of the future Messiah, did so under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Peter tells us these men who “prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Peter 1:10-11 ESV). In other words, the Spirit of God was the one working in them, providing them with the predictions regarding the coming Messiah. They didn’t make it up. It wasn’t the result of their imaginations. Peter makes this perfectly clear in his second letter. “…no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21 ESV). The Holy Spirit was there, ensuring that the very words these men wrote were accurate and reliable. They were penning the words of God, which is why their prophecies were fulfilled. The Holy Spirit was there to make sure that what was written was from God, so that we have proof that the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God and the Savior of the world were true.
When Jesus stood in the synagogue of His hometown of Nazareth and read from the scroll of Isaiah, He claimed to be the very fulfillment of what He read. “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor’” (Luke 4:17-19). Then Luke tells us that Jesus returned the scroll, sat down and when He had everyone’s attention, He said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21 ESV). He was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. The Holy Spirit had made sure those words were written by Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus appeared on the scene. Isaiah never got to see the Messiah about whom he wrote. But he knew and believed that the Spirit of God was giving him the words to write and he believed that God would fulfill His promise to send the Messiah to the world some day.
And Peter goes on to say that the very same Holy Spirit was the one behind the preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ that had led to the conversion of His readers. Peter, Paul and the other apostles, ministered under the power of the Holy Spirit. They had been indwelt by the Spirit and were operating under His influence, teaching truth He had revealed to them. Once again, they weren’t making this stuff up as they went along. They were being led by, taught by and empowered by the Holy Spirit. And that same Holy Spirit was working in the hearts of those to whom they apostles preached, playing an indispensable role in their salvation. Paul tells us, “The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV). The lost person is incapable of understanding the truth about Jesus without the Spirit’s help. Even the good news is no news at all to an unbeliever. It comes across as foolish and far-fetched. So the Spirit must open the eyes of the lost so that they are able to see and accept the gift being offered to them by God. In Paul’s letter to Titus, he tells him that God “saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5 ESV). J. I. Packer explains regeneration this way: “Regeneration is the spiritual change wrought in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit in which his/her inherently sinful nature is changed so that he/she can respond to God in faith, and live in accordance with His will. It extends to the whole nature of man, altering his governing disposition, illuminating his mind, freeing his will, and renewing his nature.” The Holy Spirit makes it possible for spiritually dead men and women to respond to God in faith. He is indispensable. He is irreplaceable. And living the Christian life is impossible without His help. The Holy Spirit is not optional equipment or an add-on for the believer. He is essential to our salvation, our sanctification and, ultimately, our future glorification. So rather than treat Him like the red-headed stepchild of the Trinity, let’s give Him the respect, honor and attention He deserves. He is truly indispensable.