Since the Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth, his operations in sanctification in the new covenant are more powerful and thorough than before the coming of Christ, for the shadows and types now are fulfilled and made clear by His appearing. The explanation of the person and work of Christ by the inspiration of the Spirit may now have full effect in securing for Christ a people of his own possession zealous of good works (Titus 2:11-14).
In John 7: 37-39, Jesus claimed that through coming to him one would receive the “living water” synonymous with the presence of the Holy Spirit. By the work of Jesus, the Spirit will come in fullness and power to mark out the people of God by evidence of true belief. In John 4, Jesus had said that this water would “become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” This is a fulfillment of Isaiah. 44:1-5 and we find the image reiterated in Revelation 22:17. This ever-flowing stream of living water brings both the present reality and the sure future inheritance of eternal life.
Has any ever received eternal life without this living water? Here in John 7 Jesus speaks of the Spirit’s coming in the fulfillment of the New Covenant, creating a people as a community, not by circumcision but by the new birth, creating a fellowship whose common trait is forgiveness of sins and the sanctifying operations of the Spirit. Israel was not that community, for they were marked off by ceremonies, particularly the ceremony of circumcision of males, not by the moral and spiritual perceptions peculiarly the mark of those called and sanctified by the Spirit.
The Spirit had not yet been given in that way, as the creator of the community, but he had been given to individuals among the remnant of Israel and even to those elect among other peoples. All of those that had the persevering faith leading to eternal life could not have been void of the Spirit of God. Both faith and faithfulness are the fruit of the Spirit’s operations; both of these necessarily existed in those people of faith in Hebrews 11. The affections described there could not have existed without the operation of the Spirit of God. Noah’s “reverent fear” was a manifestation of the presence of the Spirit in his life; Abraham’s “looking forward to the city that has foundations” was evidence of the abiding presence of the Spirit; Moses’ “choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” and his consideration of “the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt” show the secret but continual presence of the Spirit’s gracious work.