1689 Confession Outline—Chapter 8
Second London Confession
The Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Christ
“The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united to the divine, in the person of the Son, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure, having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell…” [LBC 8:3, emphasis added]1
In the Gospel of John 3:22–36, several features are revealed about Christ to which we should give closer attention for the edification of the body of Christ:
- Christ is the dispenser of saving illumination (v. 27–29)
- Christ is the preeminent One—He must constantly increase and
His ministers must constantly decrease (v. 30)
- Christ is above all (v. 31–32)
- Christ speaks the Word of God as God’s appointed Prophet (v. 34a)
- Christ possesses the Spirit without measure (v. 34b)
- Christ is the chief delight of the Father (v. 35a)
- Christ has all things placed into His hand (singular) (v. 35b)
- Christ is the center of all saving belief (v. 36a)
- Christ is the litmus test of life and death (v. 36b)
Of particular interest is verse 34b (“…for God does not give [Him] the Spirit by measure”), which leads to the Confession’s statement above. All believers have the Holy Spirit to a measured degree; no one possesses all the graces and gifts of the Spirit. Christ, however, possessed the Holy Spirit fully, without measure.
The relationship between Christ and the Holy Spirit necessarily is defined by the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ. Leo I (c. 449) of Rome wrote a magnificent treatise, balancing the exegetical truths of the Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Ephesus. It is known historically as Leo’s Tome and became the biblical and foundational teaching on the person of Christ at the Council of Chalcedon (451) and in the Western Catholic and Protestant churches of today. Notable is his uncommon precision in the beautiful balancing of truth:
He who became man in the form of a servant is He who in the form of God created man…Thus, in the whole and perfect nature of true manhood true God was born—complete in what belonged to Him, complete in what belonged to us…one and the same mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, should be able both to die in respect of the one and not to die in respect to the other…Each form accomplishes in concert with the other what is appropriate to it, the Word performing what belongs to the Word, and the flesh carrying out what belongs to the flesh. The one is resplendent with miracles, the other succumbs to injuries. …by reason of this unity of person to be understood in both natures, the Son of Man is said to have come down from heaven when the Son of God took flesh from the Virgin from whom He was born; and again the Son of God is said to have been crucified and buried, though He suffered those things not in the Godhead itself, wherein the Only Begotten is coeternal and consubstantial with the Father, but in the weakness of human nature.
The Definition of Chalcedon (AD 451) contains the creedal conclusion:
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.
NOTE: The Council of Chalcedon sought to delineate biblically the relationship between Christ’s humanity and His deity. It must be carefully noted that the connection of the Holy Spirit being given to Christ “without measure” pertains to His full humanity!
The fundamental idea connected with the MESSIAH, [was] that He SHOULD BE ANOINTED WITH THE SPIRIT,…The title CHRIST or MESSIAH was given to the Redeemer from the peculiar unction of the Spirit conferred on Him, which was unique in nature and in degree. The different servants of God, who were filled with the Spirit, but in a far other way, illustrate this remark by contrast … But with Christ it was wholly different. The infinite fullness of the Spirit which was given to Him was constant and uninterrupted, and the result of the hypostatic union—that is, was the effect of humanity being assumed into personal union by the only-begotten Son. (George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, p. 45)
I. What Is the Trinitarian Connection Between Christ & the Holy Spirit?
NOTE: There are ten events where the Holy Spirit is connected with the Person and Work of Christ:
A. His birth (Matthew 1:18–20)
“The incarnation is the profoundest of all mysteries and the miracle in which all other miracles are hid…” (J. Stuart Holden, The Price of Power, 49)
- It was by the conception of the Holy Spirit that the eternal Son of God became the Son of Man; and
- it is clear that the virgin birth brought about by the Holy Spirit was necessary to preserve the Messiah from every taint of sin;
- the virgin birth did not create a person, but a body and a human nature;
- this human nature was of the substance of Mary, unique and supernatural, consisting of all the elements of our own human nature;
- Christ’s human nature underwent the exact developmental process of physical growth, rational growth, and moral growth just like any other human being;
- God incarnated was formed by the Holy Spirit.
B. His baptism (Matthew 3:13–17)
- Christ’s baptism was a unique event in redemptive history;
- in it Christ was identifying Himself with John’s ministry;
- He was identifying Himself with Israel and the nation’s need to repent;
- He was identifying Himself with us, as we needed to repent;
- furthermore, in the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed;
- with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ (in the form of a dove), the anointing for His threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King is signified;
- this anointing was also His ordination into His threefold work of Prophet, Priest, and King.
C. His temptation (Matthew 4:1 “led”; Mark 1:12 “drove”; Luke 4:1 “filled and led”)
- Immediately after His baptism, Jesus is driven and led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan for forty days;
- He entered the temptation as the second Adam;
- the first Adam had an ideal setting—a garden and the second Adam had a hostile setting—a desert;
- in every way that the first Adam failed the second Adam triumphed;
- His overcoming temptation, which was real and intense, was not in the energy of His essential deity, but with the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit upon His humanity.
D. His commencement of gospel ministry (Luke 4:14–21, “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee…”)
- After the forty days of temptation in the wilderness, Luke poignantly informs us that Jesus “returned [not in Himself but] in the power of the Spirit;”
- Jesus then goes to worship in His hometown synagogue at Nazareth;
- when He stands to read Holy Scripture (being a rabbi), Jesus disrupts the normal Sabbath day reading schedule by deliberately turning to Isaiah 61:1–3, the prophetic passage, which informs that Messiah would be anointed with the Spirit of the LORD;
- upon completion of the reading, Jesus hands the scroll back to the attendant and announces, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
- Messiah commences His ministry under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which is confirmed by Luke in Acts 10:38: “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
E. His casting out demons (Matthew 12:22–28)
- One mark of Messiah was that He would loose captivities and those bound;
- as He drove out demons, the blinded Pharisees, ignorant of their own Scriptures, accused Jesus of casting out demons by the prince of demons;
- Christ reasoned with the religious leaders regarding their irrationality;
- He then declared that He cast out demons “by the Spirit of God;”
- Could He, in the essence of His deity, not cast out demons with His own divine power? Yes, without a doubt.
- Why then did He not utilize His native, essential deity instead of the Spirit of God?
- The short answer is that Jesus wanted to assert that the kingdom of God had come into their midst.
F. His rejoicing (Luke 10:21, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit…”)
- We often think of Jesus as “the Man of sorrows,” which He was most assuredly;
- however, there is another side of Jesus that is vital to His messianic obedience. He was a man of joy.
- when the Seventy returned from their successful mission, Jesus stated that He saw Satan fall like lightning;
- it is then that Luke (only) records that Jesus “rejoiced in the Spirit;”
- also, as Jesus prepares for His “exodus,” with His apostles in the upper room, He speaks of “(My) joy remaining in them” (John 15:11);
- furthermore, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that the Son was “anointed with the oil of gladness” (1:9), and there was a “joy set before him” (12:2) as He made His way to the cross;
- thus, the “man of sorrows” was also a man of joy and He was such in the Holy Spirit!
G. His atonement (Hebrews 9:13–14, “who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God”)
- Atonement can only be understood by three NT words: redemption, reconciliation, propitiation;
- it is in the third (propitiation) that the full impact of sin is realized as God’s wrath is poured out;
- How could Christ Jesus’ body endure the unmitigated fury and thermos of the cup of wrath of God Almighty?
- His body, which was prepared by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, was a real body just like ours:
- He was supported in His agony and sustained in His body by the Holy Spirit from being consumed by God’s wrath;
- thus, it was through the divine enablement of the Spirit that Jesus offered Himself without spot to God.
“Now all these things being wrought in the human nature of Christ by the Holy Ghost, He is said to offer Himself to God through the eternal Spirit.” (John Owen, Works, vol. 4, pp. 391 ff.)
H. His resurrection (Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you …”)
- Who raised Jesus from the dead?
- God the Father is said to have raised Jesus (Acts 17:30–31);
- Jesus claimed that He would raise Himself from the dead by the authority given by the Father (John 10:17–18);
- and here we are taught the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead;
- there is a triadic involvement;
- of particular importance is that Paul emphatically states that it was the Spirit of God, who superintended Christ’s entombment and brought Him from the grave.
I. His final orders and commission to the Apostles (Acts 1:1–2, “…after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen…”)
- Gathered with His apostles at Bethany, the risen Christ gave His finals orders to be carried out in His absence (Luke 24:50);
- known as the Great Commission, Jesus bids them to go into all nations, into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Matthew 2418–20, Luke 24:46–49, Acts 1:8);
- Jesus’ great promise preceding the commission is that “all authority is given to Him in heaven and earth” and this is the authority by which they were to complete their task;
- what Luke saliently points out is that Christ gave this final commission not just through His own native and essential deity, but through the authority and power of the Holy Spirit.
J. His giving/sending the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4–5)
- The first official act of Christ Jesus, upon His enthronement, was to send forth “the Promise of the Father,” the Holy Spirit (in all His fullness) on the Day of Pentecost;
- part of this activity was the sovereign distribution of spiritual gifts among men (for Christ’s church) by the Holy Spirit;
- thus, through the donation of “heaven’s throne gift” to His church, Christ will either baptize a person with the Holy Spirit (i.e., regeneration) or fire (i.e., eternal destruction in the Lake of Fire);
- Jesus ascended into heaven and (along with the Father) sent the Holy Spirit back to earth effectually to apply His accomplished work as Mediator (see LBC, 10:1–2). 5) The connection between Christ and the Holy Spirit, from birth to ascension, is now complete.
The Messiah, according to the Baptist, was to baptize with the Spirit and with fire (Matt. 3:11), which places Him in a different category from the Old Testament judges and prophets. The authority to give the Spirit was the culminating point of Christ’s exaltation … that He should pour out the Spirit of grace and supplication (Zech. 12:10). (Smeaton, p. 46)
II. Why Was the Holy Spirit Necessary in the Person & Work of Christ?
QUESTION: Since Jesus was God incarnated, God manifested in the flesh, why was it necessary for Him to be “sanctified and anointed,” filled, and endued with the Holy Spirit and His power?
A. To teach the intra-connection and essential equality of the ontological Trinity.
B. To display the Trinitarian outworking of the Covenant of Redemption.
NOTE: The Father was the Planner, the Son was the Accomplisher, but the Holy Spirit was the divine Administrator of the Covenant of Redemption through the Covenant of Grace!
C. To demonstrate that He was one of and in the succession of the OT prophets.
D. To fulfill Scripture (Isaiah 61:1 ff., cf. Luke 4:14–21).
E. To show the necessary and requisite signs that would accompany Messiah—Matthew 11:2–6.
F. To exhibit that Christ (the anointed one) was one of us, one among us, and most importantly, one for us.
G. To enable Christ, in His humanity, to “be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of mediator and surety” (LBC, 8:3).
Our Lord needed the Spirit as a real equipment of His human nature for the execution of His Messianic task. (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 321)
H. To keep us dependent upon this sovereign Holy Spirit in our lives and labors.
This was the anointing for His future work, the anointing of the Prophet, the Priest, and the King, of which all the ceremonial anointing of Levitical ordinance was but a type. Thus He entered upon His threefold ministry, and if it was necessary for Him so to be endued ere He commenced the work committed to Him, how much more so is it necessary for His disciples? (Holden, p. 51)
Our Baptist forefathers, following the teachings of Holy Scripture, bequeathed a body of divinity to their children. In Chapter 8, “Of Christ the Mediator,” they model a Christocentrism that is desperately needed today. And a much overlooked point is this: if God incarnate, in His humanity, needed the Holy Spirit in His life and ministry, how much more so do we?
VIII. OF CHRIST THE MEDIATOR
8:1 It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both, to be the mediator between God and man; [a] the prophet, [b] priest, [c] and king; [d] head and Savior of His church, [e] the heir of all things, [f] and judge of the world; [g] unto whom He did from all eternity give a people to be His seed and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified [h].
[a] Isaiah 42:1; 1 Peter 1:19,20 [b] Acts 3:22 [c] Hebrews 5:5,6 [d] Psalm 2:6; Luke 1:33 [e] Ephesians 1:22,23 [f] Hebrews 1:2 [g] Acts 17:31 [h] Isaiah 53:10; John 17:6; Romans 8:30
8:2 The Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, the brightness of the Father’s glory, of one substance and equal with Him who made the world, who upholds and governs all things He has made, did, when the fullness of time was complete, take upon Him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, [i] yet without sin; [k] being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her: and the power of the Most High overshadowing her; and so was made of a woman of the tribe of Judah, of the seed of Abraham and David according to the Scriptures; [l] so that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion; which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between God and man [m].
[i] John 1:14; Galatians 4:4 [k] Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:14–17, 4:15 [l] Matthew 1:22,23; Luke 1:27,31,35 [m] Romans 9:5; 1 Timothy 2:5
8:3 The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united to the divine, in the person of the Son, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure, [n] having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; [o] in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, [p] to the end that being holy, harmless, undefiled, [q] and full of grace and truth, [r] He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of mediator and surety; [s] which office He took not upon Himself, but was thereunto called by His Father; [t] who also put all power and judgment in His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same [u].
[n] Psalm 45:7; Acts 10:38; John 3:34 [o] Colossians 2:3 [p] Colossians 1:19 [q] Hebrews 7:26 [r] John 1:14 [s] Hebrews 7:22 [t] Hebrews 5:5 [u] John 5:22,27; Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:36
8:4 This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, [x] which that He might discharge He was made under the law, [y] and did perfectly fulfill it, and underwent the punishment due to us, which we should have born and suffered, [z] being made sin and a curse for us; [a] enduring most grievous sorrows in His soul, and most painful sufferings in His body; [b] was crucified, and died, and remained in the state of the dead, yet saw no corruption: [c] on the third day He arose from the dead [d] with the same body in which He suffered, [e] with which He also ascended into heaven, [f] and there sits at the right hand of His Father making intercession, [g] and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world [h].
[x] Psalm 40:7,8; Hebrews 10:5–10; John 10:18 [y] Galatians 4:4; Matthew 3:15 [z] Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 3:18 [a] 2 Corinthians 5:21 [b] Matthew 26:37,38; Luke 22:44; Matthew 27:46 [c] Acts 13:37 [d] 1 Corinthians 15:3,4 [e] John 20:25,27 [f] Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9–11 [g] Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24 [h] Acts 10:42; Romans 14:9,10; Acts 1:11; 2 Peter 2:4
8:5 The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit once offered up to God, has fully satisfied the justice of God, [i] procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father has given unto Him [k].
[i] Hebrews 9:14, 10:14; Romans 3:25,26 [k] John 17:2; Hebrews 9:15
8:6 Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ until after His incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated to the elect in all ages, successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices wherein He was revealed, and signified to be the seed which should bruise the serpent’s head; [l] and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, [m] being the same yesterday, and today and forever [n].
[l] 1 Corinthians 4:10; Hebrews 4:2; 1 Peter 1:10,11 [m] Revelation 13:8 [n] Hebrews 13:8
8:7 Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture, attributed to the person denominated by the other nature [o].
[o] John 3:13; Acts 20:28
8:8 To all those for whom Christ has obtained eternal redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them; [p] uniting them to Himself by His Spirit, revealing to them, in and by His Word, the mystery of salvation, persuading them to believe and obey, [q] governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit, [r] and overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, [s] in such manner and ways as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation; and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it [t].
[p] John 6:37, 10:15,16, 17:9; Romans 5:10 [q] John 17:6; Ephesians 1:9; 1 John 5:20 [r] Romans 8:9,14 [s] Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25,26 [t] John 3:8; Ephesians 1:8
8:9 This office of mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, who is the prophet, priest, and king of the church of God; and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof, transferred from Him to any other [u].
[u] 1 Timothy 2:5
8:10 This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of His prophetical office; [x] and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need His priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God; [y] and in respect to our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need His kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom [z].
[x] John 1:18 [y] Colossians 1:21; Galatians 5:17 [z] John 16:8; Psalm 110:3; Luke 1:74,75
1 For preaching purposes, I simply refer the hearer to Samuel E. Waldron’s excellent work A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Evangelical Press: Darlington, England; 2005). Along with an exposition, Waldron gives a concise outline and summary of Chapter 8 “Of Christ the mediator” (pp. 123–137).