The Holy Spirit and Salvation

By Jeffrey Gante

The Bible teaches that Jesus' sacrifice saves us, and that God both sent Jesus and accepted His sacrifice, thus providing the way of salvation. But what role does the Holy Spirit play?

The New Testament is clear — from both Jesus' own Words and the Scripture of the apostles — that we receive the Holy Spirit when we confess faith in Jesus Christ. We must believe in Jesus Christ to be saved and go to heaven. However, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are "a package deal," as the saying goes.

I'm sure you have heard the teachings of Jesus where He said:
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God....Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:3-6, NKJV
Jesus was preparing His disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit, which was to come after Jesus' ascension into heaven. Just before His ascension, He said it again in a different way:
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now....But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Acts 1:4-9, NKJV
When Jesus said that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, He was referring to the same experience as being "born again." In Peter's first evangelistic message after the coming of the Holy Spirit into the world, He also expressed how faith in Jesus Christ would result in receiving the Holy Spirit into one's life:
Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38, NKJV
Paul also taught about the indwelling Holy Spirit being an essential part of having faith in Christ:
...that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:12-14, NKJV
As soon as a person has personally trusted Christ as their Savior, they are born again by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit seals them and guarantees their inheritance in the kingdom of God. The next set of verses teach that if we don't have the Holy Spirit, we don't belong to God:
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors — not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:9-17, NKJV
In other words, if a person is a Christian, he or she has the Holy Spirit living inside of them (from the moment they believed in Jesus Christ). We either have both Christ and the Holy Spirit in our lives, or we have neither.

The following terms are synonymous with regards to becoming a Christian and having the Holy Spirit:
born again
baptized in/with/by the Holy Ghost/Spirit
receiving the gift or promise of the Holy Spirit
sealed by the Holy Spirit

There are differences of opinion with regards to the baptism of the Holy Spirit as being an "extra" power of the Holy Spirit, granting believers gifts such as tongues, healing, prophecy, for example. While I don't personally disagree in the modern day application of every spiritual gift taught by the apostles, I don't believe any gift is the result of an extra baptism in the Holy Spirit. Once born again by the Holy Spirit, He is there with all the power of God and distributes whatever gifts in our lives that He chooses (I Corinthians 12:4-11).

Image Credit: PierreC; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Salvation  | Biblical-Truth  | Theological-Beliefs

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Published 10-24-16