The Work of the Holy Spirit
Jesus strongly emphasized in His teaching the work of the Holy Spirit in the beginning of the Christian life. It is conversion that is humanly speaking the beginning of the Christian life and it is regeneration that is Godly speaking the beginning of the Christian life. Conversion is when the believer turns away from sin to God in Jesus Christ; this is both a negative and a positive. Negatively speaking a person is convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit; and therefore, repents forsaking sin. Positively speaking a person puts their faith in the promises of God and the work of Jesus Christ completed at the cross. (Erickson, 795)
Regeneration is the point at which God acts on the individual as prophesied in Ezekiel 36:25-28; God sprinkles clean water on a person making them clean, He gives them a new heart and a new Spirit, He puts His Spirit in the person causing them to keep His commandments. Jesus spoke of this to Nicodemus. (cf. Jn.3:3, 5-6) In order for a person to be convicted of sin, repent and believe he must be regenerated by God. (Erickson, 795) Does regeneration precede conversion or do they occur simultaneously? God can do whatever He wills; therefore, if He wants to convert/regenerate a man He will. What amazes me is that this does not occur outside of the preaching/reading of the Word of God. Jesus said to His disciples, "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning." (Jn.15:26-27)
The work of the Spirit is not a once, over and done with act in a believer’s life; the Holy Spirit is always at work in the believer. My Pastor recently preached through the Revelation of Jesus Christ. One thing that he emphasized in every message was that the Christian life is repenting, believing, persevering and overcoming everyday. (Dancy 2017) Erickson said that the Spirit empowers the believer, illuminates the believer, prays for the believer, and sanctifies the believer. The intention by God is that the believer is led by the Spirit and gives gifts to the believer for the benefit of the church body. The specific offices of the church are listed in Ephesians 4:11; apostles, prophets, evangelist and pastors. The gifts of the Spirit are listed in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and 1 Peter 4:11. Note that these gifts are not for the benefit of the individual, but for the benefit of the church. (Erickson, 796-798)
Dancy, Phillip. "Revelation Review." Sylvania Church. August 20, 2017. https://www.sylvaniachurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/08.20.17-Sermon-Notes.pdf (accessed January 31, 2018).
Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 3rd. Chapter 40. The Work of the Holy Spirit. The Work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.