Promise of the Father
The Apostle Paul calls the Gift of the Spirit the “Promise of the Father” which he links to the Abrahamic covenant. The promises to Abraham and “his Seed” find their fulfillment in the New Covenant inaugurated by the death and resurrection of Jesus. The bestowal of the Spirit on his Assembly marked the start of the age of fulfillment, and Gentile believers now become heirs of the Patriarch and coheirs with Jesus along with believing Jews.
The Gift of the Spirit is an essential part of the Gospel, the “Good News.” Not only has God provided the means to reconcile me to Himself and one another, but also the power to walk in “newness of life” through the Spirit that now dwells in true believers.
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Paul identified the “Promise of the Spirit” with the “blessings of Abraham.” The original covenant always envisioned the inclusion of the nations, a point he used when arguing for the acceptance of Gentile believers in the covenant community without circumcision.
All men and women who belong to Jesus become “Abraham’s heirs according to promise.” The old distinctions between “Jew and Gentile” no longer apply in the Assembly of God, and the inclusion of the Gentiles was never an afterthought or later adjustment to the Abrahamic covenant - (Genesis 12:1-3, Galatians 3:1-14, 3:29):
- “In whom, you also are hearing the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also believing, were sealed with the Spirit of the promise, which is an earnest of OUR INHERITANCE, for the redemption of THE ACQUISITION, for his glorious praise” - (Ephesians 1:13-14).
The Gift of the Spirit is the “earnest,” the “down payment” that guarantees the disciple’s participation in the inheritance. The references in Ephesians to “inheritance” and “acquisition” allude to the territory promised by God to Abraham - “I will give to you and your seed all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession” - (Genesis 17:8).
Paul thusly connects the Gift of the Spirit to the original covenant, including its promise of territory. Likewise, Jesus labeled the Gift the “Promise of the Father.” Before his Ascension, he commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Spirit, then they would become his “witnesses to the uttermost parts of the Earth” by taking his Gospel to the nations under the guidance and empowerment of the Spirit - (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4).
In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared that the outpouring of the Spirit was according to the prophecy in the Book of Joel - “In the last days, God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh.” It demonstrated that the final period, the “Last Days,” was underway, an era that would continue until the return of Jesus at the end of the age - (Genesis 17:7-10, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:38-39).
The Gift of the Spirit is how men and women receive the “blessings of Abraham.” By the Spirit, men from every nation find themselves blessed with faithful Abraham, heirs of the promises and equal members of the covenant community - (Genesis 12:3, Acts 3:25, Romans 4:13).
The actualization of the promises began with the outpouring of the Spirit. Since then, everyone who receives the Gift becomes a “child of Abraham,” and therefore, the old boundaries between Jew and Gentile are wholly inappropriate in the one people of God - (Galatians 3:27-29).
The Mosaic legislation anticipated the need for something beyond the Law. The Torah could not complete what God began through Abraham. Inevitably, the nation of Israel violated the Covenant. However, after chastisement and repentance, the nation would “return to Yahweh and obey His voice,” and He would gather His people from all nations and “circumcise their hearts to love Him” - (Deuteronomy 30:1-6).
The themes of renewal and the circumcision of the heart were taken up centuries later by the prophet Jeremiah. God fully intended to “make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” one not like the covenant made at Mount Sinai. With the arrival of the Spirit, God began to write His laws on the hearts of His people, and the promised circumcision of the heart was and is being actualized in the Body of Christ - (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:6-13).
The Book of Ezekiel added the aspect of the Spirit to the coming “New Covenant.” When Yahweh gathered the children of Israel, He would put “a new spirit” in them, and thereby He would “cause them to walk in His statutes.”
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The Book of Ezekiel combines the promises of the Spirit, the circumcised heart, and the New Covenant, making the covenant promises dependent on the receipt of the Spirit by the people of God - (Ezekiel 36:16-28, 37:25-28, 2 Corinthians 3:1-6).
Consistently, the New Testament links the promise to Abraham with the Gift of the Spirit that is now granted freely to Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus, and it labels it the “Promise of the Father” and the “blessing of Abraham.”
The Gift of the Holy Spirit is the identifying mark of the people of God. The Spirit empowers believers to walk in the New Covenant, fulfill the “righteous requirements of the Law,” proclaim the Gospel to the “uttermost parts of the Earth,” and to do so until the moment Jesus arrives “on the clouds of Heaven.”
- Earnest of the Inheritance - (Believers are the heirs of Abraham, and the possession of their inheritance is secured and guaranteed by the Gift of the Spirit)
- The Life-Giving Spirit - (Jesus declared, The Spirit makes alive. The flesh profits nothing. The words which I have spoken to you, they are spirit, and they are life)
- The Blessing of Abraham - (The Gift of the Spirit is imparted by Jesus as part of God’s promise to bless all the nations in Abraham’s Seed, namely, Jesus)