The Role of the Holy Spirit After the Ascension

Candy Spilman By Candy Spilman, 14th Jan 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Religion

The Holy Spirit is one of the least understood persons of the Trinity, yet His role is necessary in the lives of Jesus' followers.

The disciples' confusion

Two thousand years ago, a distressed and baffled group of Jews struggled to understand what was happening in their world. They met in secret places to discuss the Man they had come to know as Lord, and the events that had led to His death, followed by His remarkable resurrection and ascension into Heaven.

During the three years He had been in their presence, He had foretold these very things, but they had not been able to comprehend His words. This man, Jesus of Nazareth, fit all the qualifications to be their Messiah; their deliverer. Finally, the Jewish nation would be free of Roman rule, and worship Yahweh, bowing to no other king. Yet something had gone terribly wrong – Messiah had been put to death; dying as a common criminal, although no one could prove any wrong He had done. Who would save Israel now?

New hope

Three days after the crucifixion, His followers began reporting unbelievable episodes – claiming they had seen Jesus alive. Indeed, He spent forty days walking among them, revealing Himself to those closest to Him. They began to hope once again, asking Him whether this was the time that the kingdom would be restored to Israel (Acts 1:6). His response to them was that they did not need to know the times or the seasons. Rather, He told them to focus on the power, or might, that would come upon them after they received the Holy Ghost. This power was to be used to enable them to bear witness of Jesus throughout the entire earth (v. 8). After so instructing the disciples, Jesus was taken back up to Heaven, before their very eyes.

On the day of Pentecost, as the group sat gathered together to worship and debate among themselves what all this meant, the promise was fulfilled. Acts 2: 2-3 says, “And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them”.

The Holy Spirit today

Although the experience of receiving the Holy Spirit is no longer a dramatic event, this gift is given to every believer who claims Jesus Christ as Savior. says, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His”. I John 2:20 refers to an “unction”, or “endowment” given to the believer by God. The “earnest” of the Spirit is spoken of in II Corinthians 5:5. One of the definitions for the word “earnest” in the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is: A token of what is to come: pledge.

One day, believers will spend eternity in God’s very presence; until that day, He puts a part of His presence inside each sanctified heart. Indeed, without the Holy Spirit, no one could truly fellowship with Him while in mortal form. John 4:24 says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”. Another reference to the need for the indwelling Spirit is found in John 3:5-7.

To comfort, teach and guide

Jesus Himself foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit in John 16:7-11, and explained several of the reasons for this provision. In this passage, the Spirit is referred to as the Comforter. God knew that the disciples’ hearts would be broken when their beloved Master was no longer with them. He promised that the Spirit would bring relief from their pain and fear. “I will not leave you comfortless:I will come to you,” He said, in John 14:18. Other promises regarding comfort are found in John 14:16-17;16:6-7; and Acts 9:31.

Another function of the Holy Spirit is to teach the believer. Examples of divine instruction are found in Luke 12:12 and I Corinthians 2:10-13.

The Holy Spirit also plays the role of guide in the Christian’s life. The Bible says, “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.” This is found in John 16:13. Examples of disciples who were guided by the Spirit are found in Acts 8:29, 11:12 and 13:2.

Power and reassurance

As previously mentioned, another important aspect of the Holy Spirit was the power His presence would give the believer to do God’s work. In Ephesians 3:16, Paul’s prayer for his fellow Christians was, “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man;”. Those were dark times for the apostles – many of them were called to be martyrs or to suffer persecution for their faith and witness. The Holy Spirit made sure they were equipped to follow through with His work.

Every believer has experienced doubt at one time or another. It’s natural for human beings to focus on the problems of the moment, and not be able to feel God’s presence. During those times, the Holy Spirit offers assurance. When Christians forget the promise of Romans 8:1, the Spirit is there to remind them, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:15-16). There are many more Biblical references to this assurance, including I John 3:24, 4:13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13; II Corinthians 1:22 and 5:5.

Blessings of the Spirit

The Holy Spirit was also meant to distribute gifts for the believers’ use to do God’s work. I Corinthians 12 outlines various gifts given by the Spirit, as does Ephesians 4:7-13. The “fruits of the Spirit” are listed in Galatians 5:22-23, and include love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.

The Holy Spirit ministers to the believer. Often, people are hurting or in turmoil and honestly don’t know what they need, or what to pray for. But Christians are assured, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God”. This is found in Romans 8:26-27. A believer struggling with temptation is also assured of God’s ability to provide help through the Spirit in Galatians 5:16. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”.

Finally, the Holy Spirit provides freedom for believers. Before salvation, Christians were slaves to sin, and destined to die. However, as a result of Christ’s sinless life, and His willingness to identify with those who would believe on Him, the old Law has now been fulfilled. Christians are not obligated to obey it in order to be saved, although it should naturally follow that those who have been redeemed would want to glorify their Savior by living a life that is pleasing to Him. This is explained somewhat in Romans 8:1-4.

Another reference to freedom brought about by the Holy Spirit is found in II Corinthians 3:17-18, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”.

Without the presence of the Holy Spirit, this world would indeed be a bleak place for Jesus’ followers.


Ascension, Christ, Christianity, Disciples, Followers, Guidance, Holy Spirit, Jesus

Meet the author

author avatar Candy Spilman
Former journalist turned freelancer. I'm a mom and grandma and love to write about family or Christian topics.

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