|Topical Bible Study||June 1961|
The Holy Spirit Series—Lesson V
The Witness of the Spirit
ONE of the functions of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s children during the Gospel Age is to testify to them that they are truly the sons of God. (Rom. 8:16; I John 3:1) This “witness” of the Spirit comes to us through the written Word of God, by virtue of its explanations of what is involved in following in the footsteps of the Master, and what experiences we should expect to have. This is the Spirit’s witness because it was the Holy Spirit that inspired and directed the writing of the Bible for our admonition.—Rom. 15:4; I Pet. 1:12; II Pet. 1:21; II Tim. 3:15-17
The fact that we have been drawn to the Father through Christ is in itself one of the witnesses of the Spirit that we have been accepted into his family. (John 6:44) We also have the testimony of Jesus, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, that all who are drawn by the Father will be accepted by him. (John 6:37,45) If, then, we have repented of our sins, and through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ have presented ourselves in full consecration to do God’s will, we can be assured of our acceptance as sons of God.
Another witness of the Spirit, and a very important one, is the privilege we have of suffering with Christ. (Rom. 8:16,17; Acts 14:22) The reason this is so directly a witness of the Spirit is that the prophets, who wrote as they were moved by the Spirit, foretold that The Christ company would all suffer for righteousness’ sake. (I Pet. 1:11; 4:12,13) If we are in this position then we may know that we are children of God.
This does not imply imprisonment, or beheading, or being burned at the stake. Jesus was opposed by the religious rulers of his day, but no physical suffering was imposed upon him until the very end of his ministry. If we are loyal to the Lord and the truth we will experience the ostracism of the world. If we are faithful in the service of the Lord we will bring upon ourselves a degree of weariness and consequent pain, in which we should rejoice.
If we are being led by the Spirit of God we have another of its witnesses that we are the children of God. (Rom. 8:14) In Jesus we have a perfect example of what it means to be led by the Holy Spirit, and the testimony of the Bible is that he was led in a way of sacrifice even unto death. (Isa. 53:7) If we are following the Spirit’s leadings in the same way of sacrifice, then we can be assured that the Father’s name is written in our forehead, our intellect.*—Rev. 14:1,4
* “The Time is at Hand,” page 169.
Not all of the ways in which the Spirit witnesses to us are associated with sacrifice and suffering. Much joy should be experienced by those who walk in the narrow way. (John 15:10,11; 16:24) Here, also, faithfulness on our part is essential if we are to experience these joys of the Christian life which come through fellowship with the Father and with his Son, and with one another.
We should also enjoy the peace of God that results from full assurance of faith in his promises. (John 14:27; Phil. 4:6,7) This stabilizing peace through all the experiences of life is one of the blessed witnesses of the Spirit that we are the children of God. May we continue to enjoy it!
How much can we know about the witness of the Spirit? To know the answers to these questions is very important in this connection.
Is the witness of the Spirit a matter of feelings, or emotions, or does it come to us through the Word of God?
In what sense is the fact that we have been drawn to the Father through Jesus a witness of the Spirit?
Why is Christian suffering such a vital witness of the Spirit?
Does suffering with Christ necessarily imply physical pain inflicted by our enemies?
How can we bring a measure of suffering upon ourselves?
Are our joys in the narrow way also a witness of the Spirit?
What is the peace of God, and why should it be considered a witness of the Spirit?
“The Atonement Between God and Man,” pages 226-241.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
The witness of the Spirit is not based upon emotions. It is the testimony of God through. his holy prophets, Jesus, and his apostles.