The Holy Spirit’s characteristic work is not only an ordering of God’s historical-redemptive plan, but it also a moral ordering. This work begins with his acts of convicting sinners (John 16:8) and regenerating hearts (Titus 3:5), bring life and order to once dead and disordered lives. This re-ordering continues with his frequently mentioned work of sanctification (Rom 15:16, 1 Cor 6:11, 2 Thess 2:13, 1 Pet 1:2). He “circumcises the hearts” of believers (Rom 2:29) and strengthens their inner being (Eph 3:16), pouring love into their hearts (Rom 5:5) and leading them to fulfill “the righteous requirement of the law” (Rom 8:4). Of particular importance for this discussion is a careful focus on what Paul calls “the fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22–23, the results of such an ordering in the life of the Christian: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” None of these evidences of the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life resemble what a contemporary worshiper would describe as “extraordinary experience.” Rather, these are the result of the progressive work of the Spirit to sanctify a believer through the disciplines of his Word. Ferguson summarizes, through the whole of Scripture, “the ministry of the Spirit had in view the conforming of all things to God’s will and ultimately to his own character and glory.”
This concept of ordering also describes the purpose of the Spirit’s work of gifting, specifically, an ordering of the body of Christ. Paul states that “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7). He explicitly connects the Spirit’s giving of gifts to bringing order within the church, commanding, “Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Cor 14:12). The Holy Spirit’s gifting of individual Christians with a diversity of ministry abilities serves to build up the unity of the Church—many members of one body (1 Cor 12:12, Rom 12:5), with the goal that this body will “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13). It is in this context that Paul most clearly defines Spirit baptism—“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:13)—which, even if the Holy Spirit is the agent, involves an ordering such that the body of Christ is formed and unified. Or, to use another NT metaphor for the Church, by the Spirit, believers “are being built together into a dwelling place for God,” “a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph 2:21–22).