God's Word For You is a free Bible Study site committed to bringing you studies firmly grounded in the Bible – the Word of God. Holding a reformed, conservative, evangelical perspective this site affirms that God has provided in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, a way of salvation in which we can live in his presence guilt free, acquitted and at peace.



© Rosemary Bardsley 2023

The Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit has an essential, indispensable role in our salvation. Without the operation of God the Holy Spirit in and on the individual human being not one person would benefit either from the love of God the Father in sending his Son or from the sacrifice of God the Son. We are saved by the united purpose and action of the Father, the Son and the Spirit. God in his sheer goodness by his Holy Spirit connects us to Jesus Christ.


Without the Holy Spirit we would not know God:

The Holy Spirit is responsible for the inspiration of the biblical writers and the accurate recording of the written Word of God – 1Peter 1:10 – 12; 2Peter 1:20, 21.

The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds so that we can personally understand God’s truth.

The Holy Spirit actively confronts us with the truth about Jesus Christ, convicting us of guilt in respect to sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:7 – 11), making us aware of our need for God to save us.

The Holy Spirit works in unison with the words of Jesus Christ to reveal the Father – John 14:26; 16:12 – 15.

Each of these operations of the Holy Spirit is essential for our salvation. Without his action we would not and could not understand either who God is or what he requires of us; without his action we would not and could not understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We would still be trapped in the darkness of ignorance and misunderstanding unless the Spirit had come and set us free from that darkness.

What do Paul and Peter teach here about the essential liberating work of the Holy Spirit by which he reveals the truth about God to us and convinces us of its truth?
1Corinthians 2:6 - 16

1Corinthians 12:2-3

2Corinthians 3:13-17

1Thessalonians 1:5

1Peter 1:12



Individual people become Christians by being born again. This is called regeneration, and is the action of God, specifically, the action of the Holy Spirit:

Describe the regenerating action of the Spirit in bringing us out of the spiritual death of separation from God into the spiritual life of reunion with God.
John 1:12-13

John 3:5-8

John 6:63

Romans 8:2

Titus 3:5

1Peter 1:3, 23

The foundational teaching on regeneration is John 3:1-8 where Jesus confronted Nicodemus with the necessity of being born ‘again’ – where the Greek anothen means ‘from above’, or, as Jesus pointed out, being born ‘of the Spirit’. Without this regeneration Nicodemus, and we ourselves, are nothing more than ‘flesh’ and can be nothing more than ‘flesh’ [John 3:6] – ‘flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit’. It is thus essential to be ‘born of the Spirit’ [3:8] – to be regenerated by the unseen, but effective, work of the Spirit of God. Without this regeneration we are spiritually ‘dead’ [Ephesians 2:1,5], totally unable either to see or to enter the kingdom of God.



There are two distinct but intimately connected synergistic truths:

C.1 Jesus Christ baptizes us in/with/by the Spirit
The Greek en is the only preposition used in relation to being baptized in, with or by the Spirit. Where our English translations use these three prepositions which we understand quite differently from each other, the Greek uses only en. Its primary reference is to position [location]; only its secondary reference is to instrumentality.

This baptism by Christ in/with/by the Spirit is also termed ‘the gift of the Spirit’ and ‘receiving the Spirit’. It happens to all genuine believers as an essential part of their salvation. It is an aspect of the complete spiritual blessedness which is given to us at the time of our conversion (Ephesians 1:13).

This is the baptism referred to by John the Baptist when he said: ‘I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit’ [Mark 1:8]. And by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:13b: ‘… we were all given the one Spirit to drink.’

From the very nature of its description in the New Testament this baptism by Christ in/with/by the Spirit is something that happens to every believer without distinction or difference when they first truly believe in Christ. It is part of the blessedness of the comprehensive and complete salvation given by sheer grace to those who believe. Here the Spirit of God comes to us and makes us his dwelling place. This indwelling Spirit is Christ in us (John 14:23).

C.2 The Holy Spirit baptizes us into Christ and into his body
In addition, every person who truly believes in the Lord Jesus Christ is, simultaneously with the above regeneration, at the point of conversion, baptised in/with/by the Spirit into Christ and into the church, the body of Christ.

We are baptized by [en] the Spirit into [eis] Christ, and into his body. This refers to us in Christ.

1Corinthians 12:13a: ‘For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free …’

Galatians 3:26-28: ‘You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’

This aspect of Holy Spirit baptism unites us with Jesus Christ, and therefore unites us with every spiritual blessing that Jesus Christ obtained for us through his life, death and resurrection. By this Holy Spirit baptism we are united to and identified with the death of Christ. By this Holy Spirit baptism his death becomes our death. Without this baptism into Christ by the Spirit, which includes being baptized into Christ’s death, we would not and could not be saved; we would not possess any aspect of the salvation which Christ obtained for us. Without this baptism into Christ by the Spirit we would be standing before God still exposed in all of our sin and guilt, still exposed to his wrath. This baptism into Christ by the Spirit occurs simultaneously and synergistically with Christ baptising in/with/by the Spirit.

This baptism by the Spirit into Christ also incorporates us into ‘the body of Christ’, the church, and annuls all flesh based distinctions between believers. Paul clearly teaches ‘For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body …’. There is no biblical support for any teaching that distinguishes between believers on the basis of Holy Spirit baptism. On the contrary the Bible teaches that this Holy Spirit baptism into Christ renders all human distinctions irrelevant.



From the New Testament we learn that at the point of conversion, and from that point on, we possess new life. When the Holy Spirit brings us to new birth [regeneration] and baptizes us into Christ [baptism in/with/by the Spirit], and when Jesus Christ simultaneously baptizes us with the Spirit, our relationship with God is permanently changed:

D.1 By the Holy Spirit we are marked and sealed as God’s
The Holy Spirit is God’s mark upon believers, identifying us as belonging to him and sealing us for our final redemption. The Holy Spirit is thus God’s guarantee of our salvation both now and in the future. The word firstfruits - ‘deposit’ or ‘down payment’ - is used here in reference to the Spirit. The indwelling Spirit is God’s ‘down payment’ anticipating the day when we shall be ‘forever with the Lord’. [For the connection with the Old Testament firstfruits festival see Section C in this study. ]

How is the Holy Spirit and his confirmatory work described in these verses?
Romans 8:23

2Corinthians 1:21, 22

2Corinthians 5:5

Ephesians 1:13,14

Ephesians 4:30

D.2 By the Holy Spirit we are identified and confirmed as God’s children
As well as guaranteeing our eternal salvation the Holy Spirit confirms our identity as the children of God, assuring us that we have the right of sons to call God ‘Abba, Father’.

Check these verses which talk about this:
Romans 8:15,16

Galatians 4:6

D.3 By the Holy Spirit we are set apart for God
The New Testament refers to the Holy Spirit as the one who sets us apart for God. The word used is ‘sanctified’ – which means to be set apart by God for God – for God’s special possession, use and purpose. In each of these verses this is clearly a saving action that happens at the point of our conversion, distinct from on-going sanctification.

What do these verses teach about the action of the Holy Spirit whereby we are set apart for God?
Romans 15:16

1Corinthians 6:11

2Thessalonians 2:13

1Peter 1:2

D.4 By the Holy Spirit we are ‘washed’
The New Testament also teaches a connection between the Christian being ‘purified’, ‘washed’ or ‘cleansed’ and the Holy Spirit. The context of each of the verses below indicates that this cleansing is part of the grace-based salvation obtained in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, and has nothing to do with our personal spiritual performance.

What do these verses teach about this cleansing action of the Holy Spirit?
Acts 15:8-9

1Corinthians 6:11

Titus 3:5



In Romans 8:1-14 Paul seeks to confront us with the same flesh/Spirit contrast with which Jesus Christ confronted Nicodemus [John 3] and the Samaritan woman [John 4].

Left to ourselves [that is, in our natural, flesh-only, state]:

We are under ‘the law of sin and death’ and are, by that law, condemned [8:1-4]

We live for our own human agenda [8:5]

Our mindset is death [8:6]

We are hostile to God and neither willing nor able to submit to God’s law [8:7]

We cannot please God [8:8]

We are controlled by our flesh [8:9]

The Spirit of God does not live in us [8:9]

We do not belong to God [8:10]

We [by inference] are in a state of ‘death’ [8:10-11]

In clear distinction from this, those in and upon whom the Spirit has done his saving work:

Have been set free from the law of sin and death by the life-giving work of the Spirit [8:1-2]

Have been removed forever from condemnation [8:1]

Have been credited with the perfect righteousness of Christ [8:3-4]

Are identified with the agenda of the Spirit [8:5]

Have the mindset of life and peace [8:6]

Are [by inference] reconciled to God and please God [8:7-8]

Are controlled by the Spirit [8:9]

Are indwelt by the Spirit [8:9] and thereby identified as belonging to Christ

Are identified with the sin-bearing death and life-giving resurrection of Christ [8:10-11]

All of this amazing change is attributed to the saving work of the Holy Spirit.

Further, it is only ‘by the Spirit’ that we have abandoned our ego-centric, flesh-based belief that we have the ability to gain and maintain God’s acceptance on the basis of our human performance; it is only by the Spirit that we have been led to recognize and accept the grace-driven salvation provided by God in Christ [8:12-14]. By the Spirit we have thus ‘put to death’ the deeds of ‘the flesh’, counting them, as Paul did in Philippians 3, as less than nothing.

Thus it is the Spirit of God who breaks through and demolishes our sinful confidence in our own ability, and in doing so, does for us what we ourselves could never do – sets us free from all condemnation through the death and resurrection of Christ, and brings us safe into the family of God where there is life and peace.

SUMMARY: The New Testament clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit has an essential and indispensable role in our salvation. The Holy Spirit is not an add-on to the Gospel, nor a second or higher step to which we ascend beyond the Gospel and in addition to Christ; rather the Holy Spirit works in unity of will and purpose with the Father and Son to bring us to salvation. Just as salvation is not possible apart from Christ so salvation is not possible apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. So great is the goodness of God, so strongly does he want to save us, that he himself, by his Spirit, convicts, teaches, regenerates and unites us to Jesus Christ and the salvation that is in him.

REVIEW: How does this saving work of the Spirit help you to know that God is good?