The Holy Spirit and the Cross

There is a wonderful interrelationship between the Holy Spirit and Christ’s work on Calvary’s cross.

Dove & CrossJesus Christ’s example

This connection of the Spirit and Calvary is seen in Christ’s example. When the Lord Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, identifying Himself with fallen man, then the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (Matt. 3:13-17).

Jesus was always led and empowered by the Spirit (Matt. 4:1), and this included His sacrificial work on the Cross: ” … who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” (Heb. 9:14).

The believer’s experience

The Holy Spirit makes the Cross of Christ effectual in the believer. This is accomplished initially at salvation: “…no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

The Holy Spirit of God continues to unveil the fuller meaning of Christ’s Cross as the disciple “takes up his/her cross” (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 3:1-3; Lk. 9:23). Jesus promised that the Comforter would be sent after He went to the Cross: “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14). The Spirit’s ministry of illumination also includes the blessings of the believer’s position in Christ: “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20).

The apostle Paul counsels us, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die [wither spiritually]; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live [abundantly]. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Rom. 8:13-16).

Jessie Penn-Lewis described how the Holy Spirit applies the “not, but Christ” reality in the spiritual journey of the disciple of Christ.

“It is even thus with all who will follow His steps. Through surrender to God, and the acceptance of the Cross–typified by Jordan–the Holy Spirit gains possession of the citadel of the heart, and then He seeks to lead the believer into the real fellowship of the Cross, working in steady progression from within to without: from centre to circumference; dealing with new departments of the life; unveiling new needs, and revealing the Cross in aspect after aspect as the answer to those needs, by applying the death of Christ as the severing power from the old life, and ministering the life of the Risen Christ for the building up of the new creation … From faith to faith the Holy Spirit leads the trusting one, as he co-operates with Him, by a glad and ready ‘yes’ to all His dealings, until, at the appearing of the Lord from heaven, the body of humiliation itself is transformed, and made like unto His glorious body.[1]

May we yield to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives so that Calvary’s river of blessings will be a reality in our daily living.

Our Father, we thank you for sealing us with Your Holy Spirit when we received Christ as Lord and Savior. Apply the full sanctifying and liberating power of Calvary to our lives by the power of Your Spirit. In Christ’s name, amen.


[1] Jessie Penn-Lewis, The Cross of Calvary (Christian Literature Crusade), p.53.

Copyright 1998 by John B. Woodward. 3rd edition. Permission is granted to reprint his article for non-commercial use if credit is given to the author and Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (copyright by Thomas Nelson).

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