The Ministry of the Holy Spirit at Salvation

By Ron Jones

©Titus Institute 2009 Updated August 2022

The Holy Spirit has been given by our gracious God to every believer. Why he was given and what he does in our lives is revealed in the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit is God, the third person of the Trinity. He is a person in exactly the same way as the Father and Son. As a person, he has an intellect, a will, and emotions just like God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit has a very important ministry in our lives as believers. This ministry can be divided into two categories, the Holy Spirit's work at salvation and the Holy Spirit's work in our daily lives. At salvation, Jesus Christ baptizes and regenerates us by his Holy Spirit and sends his Spirit to indwell us. From that day on, the Holy Spirit leads us into obedience and righteousness every day.

First, Jesus baptizes us by the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. It is, in fact, part of the salvation process. In Mark 1:8, John the Baptist, who was sent by God to identify the Messiah for Israel, proclaimed, "I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." John came baptizing in water which is a physical act, but he said that Jesus was going to baptize people with the Holy Spirit. At the moment people accept Jesus Christ as Savior, they are baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit. This is Christ's spiritual act of spiritually joining the believer to himself and the body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is not water baptism, but Spirit Baptism and it occurs at the moment of salvation for all believers. Water baptism and Spirit baptism are two different acts which occur at two different times for two different reasons.

The result of Spirit baptism is two-fold. We are spiritually united to Jesus Christ and we are spiritually united to his body of believers. Galatians 3:26-27 states, "For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. These two verses are packed with truth about what happened to us at salvation. Paul tells us that in union with Christ Jesus we are all sons of God through our faith in Christ. At salvation we all become children of God. He then says that as many as those who were baptized in Christ, which is all of us who trusted Christ, have "put on Christ." "Putting on Christ" is a figurative expression that means we have spiritually received Christ and his righteousness and are united to him. Paul then says that we are all united in Christ through Spirit baptism. So, Jesus unites us together in him and we have this spiritual unity with him and with each other forever.

Second, Jesus regenerates us by the Holy Spirit making us alive in Christ and giving us eternal life. This happens at the moment of salvation along with the baptism of the Spirit. Paul writes of this in Titus 3:5, "He 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." Jesus saved us not because we did works of righteousness which is impossible when we were unbelievers, but according to his incredible mercy toward us. We were saved "by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit."

Regeneration means the same thing as being "born again" or "being made alive in Christ" or "receiving eternal life." They all describe the same blessing from our Lord. The Holy Spirit came into our lives and washed away or cleansed us spiritually from all our sins so that we might be born again spiritually into eternal life. Jesus talked of this in John 3:3, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Then Jesus explained that being "born again" means being born of the Spirit. In v.7 he declared, "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." He tells Nicodemus not to be surprised that being born again is something that cannot be seen, it is like the wind. People cannot see the wind, but they hear it and know it is there. People cannot physically see someone "born again" or "born of the Spirit" but it is real nonetheless.

In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul says that we were made alive in Christ, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved." Before we turned to Christ, we were spiritually dead in our trespasses (sins), but at the moment of salvation, God "made us alive together with Christ." How? It was by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. "Being made alive" means that we have come into a relationship with God and received eternal life.

The third work of the Holy Spirit at salvation is his indwelling us. At the moment a person accepts Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within the Christian and indwells him or her permanently. The Holy Spirit indwells or lives within every believer always. Paul makes this very clear in Romans 8:9, "You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." Someone "in the flesh" is a non-Christian. Someone "in the Spirit" is a Christian. Paul is saying that every Christian has the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him or her. Paul further proclaims in 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own."

Wherever we are and whatever we are doing or whatever we are facing, we can sure that the Holy Spirit is indwelling us to work in, through and around us for God's glory and our blessing. So, Jesus, at the moment of salvation, baptizes us (uniting us to Christ) and regenerates us (makes us spiritually alive in Christ) by his Holy Spirit and sends the Spirit to indwell us permanently. This is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."