Q: In John 7, John says that the Holy Spirit will come to those who believe, but "the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified" (v.39) How does this differ from the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament? And does this indicate that the Spirit took a sabbatical prior to Jesus' arrival?
A: Ken, good question about the difference of the Holy Spirit’s interaction with people in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Of course the Holy Spirit doesn’t change but there is a big difference in how he operates in our lives. In the OT, we see the Holy Spirit “coming upon” people to power them to feats of strength and valor, or to allow them to speak prophetically. However, these occurrences on the whole seem situational and temporary. The OT prophets repeatedly speak of a time in the future when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on “all flesh” (e.g., Joel 2:28-29). A much more universal (among believers) and permanent relationship. Jesus’ teaching in John makes it clear that the Holy Spirit will indwell as well as empower believers to be and to do what Jesus has asked them to do.
Space prohibits my listing all that he does in and through Christians today, so I would suggest that you get a good theology book (Duffield & VanCleave, Grudem, Erickson, etc.) and do some focused reading on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. He is so important to the life of all Christians, and yet so often we just don’t understand who he is or what he does. I, or any of our pastors, would also be glad to speak to you personally on this subject.
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