Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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The Life-Giving Spirit

Rev. Cornelius Hanko (28 May, 1944)


But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you (Rom. 8:11).

Pentecost is the crowning point, for on Pentecost Christ returns to us to dwell and abide with us forever, and to bestow all His blessings upon us, which He merited for us in the flesh.

That is the remarkable beauty of the words of our text. This whole eighth chapter of Romans may well be considered a classic passage of Scripture on the work of the Holy Spirit in the believers. But this eleventh verse stands out among all the other passages, as summing up all the blessings of the Spirit as it were in a nutshell. The Spirit is called here the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the Dead. That Spirit is said to dwell in the believers. And the personal assurance is given that if that Spirit dwells in us, He will also quicken our mortal bodies in that last day when the dead shall be raised.

Thus it all hinges on that one if. If we have not the Spirit of Christ, so the apostle said in verse 8, we are none of His. We have no share with Christ, we are still in our sins, we still mind the things of the flesh, which is contrary to the law of God and is, therefore, death. But, on the other hand, that Spirit who raised up Jesus dwells in us, we have the assurance that that same life-giving Spirit will give life to our bodies in the last day. He gave life to Christ, He gives life in our hearts, and He will give life to our resurrected body in glory in that new day.

We do well to meditate together on

The Life-Giving Spirit
I. Who He Is
II. His Indwelling in Us
III. The Surety for the Future


I. Who He Is

There can be no doubt, of course, but that the Sprit who is meant here is the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.

He is called by inference the Spirit of God. At least, the apostle could mean no one else but God when he speaks of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead. Who else but God could possibly have raised Jesus from the dead? All Scripture always testifies of the fact that it was God who raised up Jesus.

And when Scripture speaks of the Spirit of God it means no one and nothing less than the Third Person of the divine trinity. God’s Spirit is God Himself, the Person of the Divine Spirit who is one and co-eternal with the Father and the Son. That Spirit is just as really God as the Father is God and the Son is God.

I’m sure I need only remind you, yet it is important to remind you, that this Holy Spirit is the breathed forth One, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

In distinction from the Son, who is generated, the Holy Spirit is breathed forth. The Son, because He is the Son, is generated, begotten of the Father as the express image of His likeness. But the word for Spirit in Scripture means wind or breath, because the Spirit proceeds as Spirit from the Father and from the Son. Sometimes He is referred to as the Spirit of the Father and sometimes as the Spirit of the Son, because He proceeds from both the Father and the Son.

This all may sound like just a lot of cold, abstract doctrine. Some of us may even ask what is the sense of knowing all that? But it certainly is significant. It is in the Spirit that the Father and the Son meet each other. The Spirit brings the two together in covenant fellowship and friendship of love, causing God to live a blessed covenant life within Himself. And it is in that same Spirit that God comes to us to unite us unto Himself in the friendship of love. The Spirit knits us to God in the bond of love.

Paul speaks of this Spirit in his own peculiar way. He calls Him the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead. Just because He is God, co-eternal with the Father and with the Son, He is the life-giving Spirit. God is life. He is the sole life, the fullness of all life. Even as God is light, and all that is outside of Him is darkness, so He is life and all that is outside of Him is death. He is the source, the fountain of life, out of whom the streams of living waters flow unto all eternity.

God lives His life in the Spirit, but He is also the source of life in the Spirit. When God created the world it was through the Spirit who brooded upon the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2). "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6). It is by the same Spirit that all things are upheld and kept alive. It is the life-giving Spirit who gives life continuously to all things. In this present creation it is the Spirit who gives life to all things—the life-giving Spirit.

But this is no less true in the new creation. It was God in the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. God in the Spirit was present in the grave of Joseph of Arimathea bringing to life the corpse of our Lord.

It was true, of course, that Jesus already tasted death on the cross. Spiritually all the agonies of death were then upon Him which He bore in the Spirit, forsaken of God. Even then it was through the Spirit that He cried, "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). And it was through the Spirit that He came up out of the bonds of hell.

But for Him followed also the physical death. He died very really, and His dead body was laid away in the tomb of Joseph. It was there that God raised Him up in the Spirit. Even when we say that the Son of God arose, He arose through the life-giving Spirit.

The man Jesus, who came in the likeness of our sinful flesh, who suffered on the cross, died and was buried, was raised up by the Spirit. To Him was given the heavenly life of eternal salvation and glory. His body was raised an immortal, glorious, spiritual, heavenly body. The Spirit of God raised Jesus from among the dead and clothed Him with immortality, for He is the Spirit of life, the life-giving spirit.

This, we must not fail to notice, is the Spirit referred to in our text. He is very definitely called, not merely the Spirit of God, but the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead. The Spirit of God, in whom is all life, has been powerfully revealed from heaven as the life-giving Spirit. Thus God has made Himself known to us in the Spirit. In Him is fullness of life forevermore.


II. His Indwelling in Us.

It is that Spirit who dwells within the church. Particularly we are reminded of that on Pentecost. The Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus is the Spirit who exalted Him with a name above all names in glory. And this same Spirit He received as Lord of glory, which He pours out on the church on Pentecost. As Spirit of the risen and glorified Christ, the Holy Spirit now dwells in the church.

But even so, it must not escape us, He is the life-giving Spirit. Before that Spirit could ever dwell in any one of us, He had to quicken us by His power. It can never be emphasised too strongly that we are by nature dead in trespasses and sins.

Conceived and born in sin, we are altogether corrupt. All have departed from the way. There is none that doeth good, no, no one. For that reason the Baptism Form is so entirely correct when it says that this life is nothing but a continual death. Or, as Paul says, we die every day. Not merely dying, but are killed all the day long and are counted as sheep for the slaughter (Rom. 8:36). How true it is! We all the day long by Thy wrath are consumed, defeated and helpless to death we are doomed. We must therefore always experience anew that to live apart from God is the death of hell.

Therefore, the very first work of the Spirit, when He comes to dwell in the heart of the lost and depraved sinner, is to quicken Him by his power. That quickening, Scripture calls regeneration, a being born again with the life from above.

It consists of the implanting of the life of Christ Jesus within us, so that we become new creatures. The power of sin is broken and the Spirit begins to rule in our hearts, destroying the works of the body. We live, yet no more we, for Christ lives in us. And the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus frees us from the law of sin and death.

That life-giving Spirit dwells in us. This means nothing less than that He makes His home in our hearts. The place where a person dwells is the place that he calls his home. There he freely moves about, nests, enjoys the fellowship and friendship of his own. There he lives in our life, freely and abundantly, according to the inmost desire of his heart. For only so is his house his home.

This is no less true of the Holy Spirit who makes His dwelling-place in our hearts. He carries in our hearts all the blessings of Christ Jesus. He furnishes and adorns His new home with the heavenly blessings of grace, which God has prepared for us in the Beloved. And making His home there, He causes the light of God’s life, the glory of His grace to shine forth within us. The light of His countenance shines upon us, filling us with grace and truth. We become friends of God, sons by adoption, heirs of salvation, beneficiaries of all His blessings. Anyone who has the Spirit dwelling within him becomes a conscious partaker of all the blessings of God’s grace. The home of the Spirit is His temple, showing forth praise of God.

And even as that Spirit dwells in us, so He abides in us forever. The Spirit never takes up a mere temporary residence within us. But once having entered our heart, He abides with us always. How can it be otherwise? For whom God did foreknow, them He also predestinated, called, justified and glorified. Christ died for us; what is more, He is risen, is gone into glory, where He sits at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us, from whence He sends us the life-giving Spirit.

That Spirit never forsakes or leaves us, but always works life within us. He makes us conscious of our sins and delivers us from them. He makes us conscious partakers of Christ and all His benefits. He prays for us—in us—with groanings that cannot be uttered. And He who searches the heart knows the mind of the Spirit. Finally, at death He takes us to Christ in glory.

The indwelling Spirit of Pentecost gives us all the spiritual blessings of eternal salvation. We have all in the Spirit who is in us.


III. The Surety for the Future

Only one question remains: what about this earthly body?

We cannot help but be conscious of this earthly body in which we still live. The more so, because this earthly, carnal body stands in conflict with that new life of the life-giving Spirit within us. Paul calls it, the vile body, or, the body of our humiliation. It is earthly. It is weak. It is subject to suffering and pain. It is sinful. In this body we continue always to live the life of sin which is in with the life of the Spirit.

What about this body? What happens to that?

Pentecost may have ever so much comfort concerning our spiritual benefit in Christ? But has Pentecost nothing to say in regard to this body, for both body and spirit, for time and eternity? The Spirit dwelling in us is a life-giving Spirit all the way.

"If," says Paul, "the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:11).

This is a three-fold argument. In the first place, the Spirit raised up the man Jesus from the dead. He can do it. In the second place, this Jesus is the Christ, the head of His church, that is, of all those given Him by the Father. Finally, this same Spirit now dwells in you. Already your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. You are not your own for you are bought with a price.

That Spirit will quicken your mortal bodies. Quicken means more than raise. Quicken means to make alive, fill with life. He will fill us with all the life of blessedness with Christ in glory. Although worms shall destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God! In the body glorified with Christ by the life-giving Spirit on the last day!

He who has this hope sanctifies himself. Beloved, we are debtors, but not to the flesh. We owe the flesh nothing—remember that. We are debtors to the Spirit, who has raised us from the dead spiritually and will raise us from the dead physically. Le us live in this hope! May God grant us grace. Amen.

The life of Rev. Cornelius Hanko, the author of these devotional sermons on Romans 8, is covered in his memoirs, Less Than the Least.