The Holy Spirit, not an inspirational speaker, preacher, or writer, is the One Who stirs up the hardened conscience (1 Corinthians 2:13). The Spirit is the one Who softens the heart to recognize the need for repentance and bear good fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). The Spirit illuminates the mind to desire the truth of God’s Word in faith concerning the hope and salvation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:6). It is not by the words, methods, cleverness, or intelligence of men. God has ordained one method only to change the heart of stone–the hearing of the Word of God by faith. (Romans 10:17; Galatians 3:2). In fact, the Church itself could not exist without the Holy Spirit, as John Owen writes,
In this promise he founded the Church itself, and by it he [built] it up. And this is the hinge on which the whole weight of it turns to this day. Take this away; suppose it to cease, as to actual accomplishment, and there is an end of the Church of Christ in this world. No dispensation of the Spirit, no Church. He that would utterly separate the Spirit from the word, had as good burn his Bible. The bare letter of the New Testament will no more produce faith and obedience in the souls of men, than the letter of the Old Testament does among the Jews, 2 Cor. 3:6, 8., p. 93, A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit
Owen here says that without the Holy Spirit there is no Church. In the letter to the Corinthians Paul teaches this when he writes, “…who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6 ESV). The Spirit is the One Who gives life through faith in God’s Word, not the outward methods of men. Owen writes,
The kingdom of Christ is spiritual, and in the animating principles of it, invisible. If we fix our minds only on outward order, we lose the rise and power of the whole. It is not an outward visible ordination by men (though that be necessary by rule and precept,) but Christ’s communication of his Spirit, that gives being, life, usefulness, and success to the ministry…, p. 109-110, A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit
And upon this act of faith, when the Holy Spirit gives this life by entering the new believer, He dwells within him permanently (1 Corinthians 6:19), supernaturally sealing him and sanctifying Him until the day of redemption when Christ returns (Ephesians 4:30), building Him up into greater and greater degrees of holiness in the peace of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).
How unbelievable a thing it is to imagine that the very Spirit of God might condescend to dwell within sinful flesh! But this is the overflowing generosity of God toward sinners, who otherwise seek a joy from from a source that gives no joy, a hope from a place that gives no hope, and a peace from a place that gives no peace. Without the work of the Spirit, a person knows only to seek happiness in serving himself and his interests. For all we like sheep have gone astray, says Isaiah. Each one has turned to his own way, but the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
But through the Lord Jesus, He sets us free by the Holy Spirit so that the believer no longer lives for himself, but rather for Jesus Christ Who lives even today (2 Corinthians 5:15), and although every day the believer will have struggles in the flesh both great and small, as he endures and perseveres through his trials, his joy will be greater than his struggles. All of this is possible only through the supernatural work of God the Spirit.