Reformed theologian Sinclair Ferguson says in an interview with the Desiring God ministry that while the Holy Spirit is one of the church’s greatest sources of controversy, Christians could think of Him as “the closest companion of the Lord Jesus.”
“The best way to think about the Holy Spirit is to think of him as the closest companion of the Lord Jesus,” Ferguson tells David Mathis, executive editor at desiringGod.org, in an interview that is part of the ministry’s Theology Refresh series.
The Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, was there with the Father and Son at creation, was there overshadowing Jesus’ conception, and there at his baptism and temptation, says Ferguson, professor of Systematic Theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas.
When Jesus’ closest earthly companions betrayed Him, denied Him, and scattered, the Spirit walked with Him all the way into the jaws of death, empowering Him to offer Himself freely, Ferguson explains. And the Spirit was there to raise Him in power, he adds.
Hebrews 9:14 says, “… How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Romans 1:4 says, “… And was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Jesus performed His miracles also through the power of the Spirit, the theologian points out.
Ferguson, a council member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, says Christians should give attention, and glory, to the Spirit. “Just because he draws attention to Jesus, doesn’t mean we should ignore him.”
John 15:26 says, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” And John 16:14 states, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
The persons of the Godhead are indivisible in their working, but there is a sense in which one person leaves fingerprints on particular actions, Ferguson states. “He’s the one who puts the finishing touches to things.”
The Spirit’s work accompanies the Word incarnate and the work spoken, Ferguson says. We should not think about the work of the word without the work of the Spirit, and vice versa. “The Spirit will use the word, and the word will be used by the Spirit.”
To understand who the Spirit is, Ferguson says, his mind first goes to Jesus’s “Farewell Discourse” in the Gospel of John, chapters 14–17. He quotes Calvin as saying that if the other Gospels show us Jesus’s body, it is John’s Gospel that shows us His soul.