The primary works of the Holy Spirit in end times are to: (1) strengthen and comfort the church during persecution; and (2) recreate the material world, especially the resurrection of believers.
First, Jesus teaches that the closer we get to the end of time, the more persecution the church will endure (Matt. 10:3-13). During these times of trials and tribulation, the Holy Spirit will strengthen and comfort the church (John 14:15-16). Thankfully, not only does the Holy Spirit help the church to maintain a faithful witness to the truth of Christ and love of God, he also advances the Kingdom through the suffering of the church.
Second, the Holy Spirit recreates the material world in end times. There are two prongs to this. First, the Holy Spirit completes the redemptive work of Christ in the lives of believers through bodily resurrection (also known as “glorification”). Glorification takes salvation to full completion with the redemption of our physical bodies. The Holy Spirit glorified Jesus on the third day by raising him from the dead (Rom. 1:4). The Scriptures promise that those in Christ will also be raised from the dead. Paul writes, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” As Paul points out, those in Christ receive the promise of a resurrection (Lk. 20:34–40; Jn. 11:25; 1 Cor. 15:51–57; 2 Cor. 5:1–9). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ (1 Cor. 6:17; 12:13; 1 Jn. 4:13), making us members of Christ’s body. Being united with Christ includes union with his glorification. Bodily resurrection is the final vindication of those who are in Christ.
While the nature of the glorified body remains in large a mystery, we know that the glorified body will have the same form as our current bodies but be of a different substance. C.S. Lewis compared the glorified body to a river. The water flowing through a river today is different from that which flowed through that same place yesterday or even a year ago, but it’s the same river. In this case, the water is the substance, and the river is the form: different water, same river. As far as we can tell from the Gospel stories of Jesus’s glorified body, our bodies will be similar. Recognizable with the same form but with a different substance.
We receive our glorified bodies after the final judgment. When Jesus returns in triumph over his enemies, we will receive resurrected, glorified bodies. Once again, the Holy Spirit is the one who will recreate our bodies to be perfect, as God always intended.
The redemption of physical human bodies is part of God’s broader promise to redeem all of the creation. As promised in the New Testament, there will be a new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21). The current material world that has been corrupted by sin will be done away with and all of the creation will be as God intended it. Just as the Holy Spirit played an active part in the first creation account (Genesis 1:2), so he will play a part in creating the new heavens and the new earth. This is precisely why the historical creeds and councils give the Holy Spirit the honorific title of “Giver of Life.”
If you would like to learn more about the Holy Spirit, Matt Ayars’s new book The Holy Spirit: An Introduction. This readable systematic theology works through the person and work of the Spirit that offers a comprehensive overview not just of this doctrine but as a vision for the Spirit’s indispensable role in the victorious Christian life.
Readers will come away with the sound biblical and historic Christian basis for the divine personhood of the Holy Spirit and the optimism of living a Christian life that is free from the power of sin. This results from the graceful reality of the indwelling Spirit, who unites our lives with Christ. This book—The Holy Spirit: An Introduction—drives home our high privilege of having the Holy Spirit restore the image of God in individuals by uniting us to Jesus. It will serve as an indispensable resource for leaders, students, and anyone desiring to deepen their understanding of the Holy Spirit.