Glorious Spirit (Part Three)

By Andy Reeves

Romans 8:14-17

This passage establishes another pillar supporting the Father’s glorification of the Holy Spirit. In this passage, there is an important chain of events that points to the Father glorifying the Holy Spirit. In this passage we see one of the most important works of the Spirit; adoption as God’s children. First, the passage tells us that those “who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”[1] The Spirit leads people to trust in Christ, thereby making them sons of God. Second, “the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”[2] Not only does the Spirit lead people, he also assures them of their faith in Christ and their status as God’s children. Third, the passage tells us that those who are children of God are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”[3] The final step in the process is that the Spirit’s presence in our lives, coupled with suffering for Christ, results in believers being “glorified with him.”[4]

The Spirit enters the lives of people, convicts them of sin, and causes them to believe in Christ. In this act of regeneration and belief, the Spirit applies the work of Christ to believers, and the work of Christ removes the hostility between God and man. The Spirit now indwells believers leading them and assuring them that they are God’s children. Because they are God’s children they are heirs with Christ and will inherit all the riches of God’s love. Finally, since they are also heirs with Christ they will be glorified with Him.[5]

This process is known as adoption. Galatians tells us that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”[6] The process of adoption involves both Christ and the Holy Spirit. In this passage in Galatians, we see the work of Christ. God sent Christ to live under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that believers may be adopted into God’s family. The passage in Romans 8:14-17 shows the Holy Spirit’s work in this regard. The Holy Spirit applies the work of Christ, by leading us to trust in Christ, and by assuring us that we are God’s children. “Such adoption was secured for us by Christ, as Galatians makes clear; here it has been made effective in the life of the believer through the work of the Spirit.”[7] Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance.[8] This joint work of adoption will result in believer’s being glorified with Christ.

Now, on the basis of the previous verses, we see that both Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit play a significant role in our adoption as God’s children. Scripture is explicit that the Father glorified Jesus because of his work on the cross. Hebrews 1:9 tells us that “we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death.”[9] The Father exalted and glorified Jesus Christ because of his work on the cross and obedience to the Father’s will. “The Father rewarded him with rule over all because he was the obedient Son, because he never strayed from doing God’s will.”[10] The Father also glorifies Jesus by glorifying those for whom Christ died. If the Father glorifies the Son in his work of making adoption possible, and glorifies the adoptees who are recipients of the work of the Son, then it must be concluded that the Father also glorifies the Holy Spirit in applying the work of Christ. The application of the work of Christ causes adoption to take place and is the down payment of full inheritance with the Son.

Romans 8:14-17 shows us the work of the Spirit. If we are led by the Spirit, we are children of God. As children of God, we are heirs with Christ. Since we are heirs with Christ, we will be glorified with Him. If the work of the Son in causing us to be adopted is glorified, then we must conclude that the work of the Holy Spirit in applying the work of Christ is glorified as well. Ephesians 1 comes the closest in making this conclusion explicit, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”[11] In this passage, we see that those who hope in Christ are to the praise of his glory. “The recipients of these wide-ranging blessings of salvation, along with Paul, have been stimulated by this recital of God’s mighty acts in his Son to express their gratitude and praise.”[12] And those who are sealed with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of the coming inheritance are to the praise of his glory. All glory goes to God, and we see that the Son and Holy Spirit are included in this glory because they carry out the work of redemption in believer’s lives. Therefore, we can conclude that the Father glorifies the Holy Spirit for His work in applying the work of Christ causing adoption to take place.

[1] Romans 8:14.

[2] Romans 8:16.

[3] Romans 8:17.

[4] Romans 8:17.

[5] John 16:8-11; Colossians 2:8-15; 2 Timothy 1:14; Romans 8:14-17; Ephesians 1:11 Romans 8:17.

[6] Galatians 4:4-5.

[7] Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, Reprint edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 566.

[8] 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:14.

[9] Hebrews 1:9.

[10] Thomas R. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2015), 73.

[11] Ephesians 1:11-14.

[12] Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 123.


Andrew Reeves is married to Hannah, an Arkansas native, and a student at SBTS.

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