The Spirit’s General Work (Post #8 on the Holy Spirit)

There is no question that the Holy Spirit was at work in the creation of the world – He hovered over the waters (Genesis 1:2). Likewise, there is no question that the Spirit is at work in providence – the maintenance of creation and the purpose of God in directing his creation. But if we look at the Bible one particular work of the Spirit comes up – the Holy Spirit gives life. In the natural world, all creatures get their life from him:

When you send forth your Spirit, they are created” (Psalm 104:30).

If he [God] should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust” (Job 34:14-15).

As Wayne Grudem has noted, this life-giving work of the Spirit in creation finds a parallel to his life-giving work in salvation.[1] It is the Spirit who regenerates, or brings life to, the human heart (Ezekiel 36:26-28; John 3:6-8). “The Spirit gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Titus 3:5). Furthermore, it is the Spirit who will give life to our resurrection bodies (Romans 8:11).

Therefore, I conclude that the general work of the Spirit is to give life. Does the Holy Spirit do other work than this? Yes of course – he inspired the Scriptures, he empowered Israel’s judges, he empowers us for holiness and service, he also gives assurance, guides, directs, teaches, and illuminates. But his general role in creation is to give life and it is in this regard that the general work of the Spirit and the special work of the Spirit are connected. The Spirit gives life to all, and spiritual, resurrection life to some, but ultimately at the end of all things physical and redemptive dimensions of life will harmonize as the life-giving work of the Spirit finds it’s consummation in the new creation.


[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994)

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