28. The Holy Spirit

Introduction

One of the most complex of all Bible topics is that of the Holy Spirit. It is vital that the student approach the subject with care since so many have gone astray at this point.

The expressions Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit are interchangeable. The first is usually used in the King James Version, the latter in most other translations.

HIS NATURE

The Holy Spirit is variously designated as the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit, and the Comforter.

He is a divine personality in the sense that the Father and Son are. His personality is seen in that He possesses a mind, knowledge, affections and will, and is described as capable of speaking, testifying, teaching, guiding and searching.

We know that He is divine (equal with the Father and Son, in the Godhead) because He is eternal, all-knowing, and all-powerful.

In this lesson we will determine how the Holy Spirit operates. We shall discover that the Holy Spirit is the means or agency through which God works.

To illustrate, in giving us the Scriptures God has worked through His Holy Spirit who inspired he Biblical writers in their messages, 2 Peter 1:21.

HIS INDWELLING

The Holy Spirit dwells within the child of God, 1 Corinthians 3:16 / 1 Corinthians 6:19 / Romans 8:9 / Romans 8:11. He takes up His abode within the Christian at his baptism, Acts 2:38-39.

None of these passages teaches that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit gives any miraculous power. It should not be confused with the baptism of the Holy Spirit or spiritual gifts.

It is not easy to say how the Holy Spirit dwells within the Christian. In Ephesians 6:17 we are told that the word of God is the sword of the spirit. Hence, we conclude that He dwells within God’s children in connection with the word of God.

However, we do know what He does in the lives of disciples of Christ. He strengthens, sanctifies, leads, comforts, and intercedes for Christians. Furthermore, He produces the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ in their lives, Galatians 5:22-23.

BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is specifically mentioned only six times in the New Testament, four times as a promise given by John the Baptist, Matthew 3:11-12 / Mark 1:8 / Luke 3:16 / John 1:33.

Just before His ascension into heaven, Jesus told His apostles, ‘but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit,’ Acts 1:5.

The fulfilment of this promise (and the first instance of Holy Spirit baptism) occurred on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell on the apostles, Acts 2:2-4.

Thus, the baptism of the Holy Spirit brought 1. the sound as of a rushing mighty wind, 2. tongues as of fire sitting on the apostles, and 3. ability to speak in other languages. It was a direct outpouring of power from heaven.

Some claim that Holy Spirit baptism occurred at the conversion of the household of Cornelius. We must ask ourselves the question, to whom was the baptism of the Holy Spirit promised and why was it promised?

1. It was personally promised by the Lord to His apostles and never promised to anyone else. John 16:7.

2. Those to whom it was promised were instructed to wait to receive it. Acts 1:4-5.

3. When they received the baptism, it would guide them into all truth, they would receive new revelations, and they would be granted total recall of all that they had been taught by the Lord. John 14:26 / John 16:13-14.

4. Their baptism in the Spirit would endow them with power and bestow on them the authority to become His witnesses. Acts 1:8-9.

On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord’s promise was fulfilled, Acts 2:33. The Holy Spirit fell on the apostles, not on the listening Jews, nor on the 3000 who obeyed the Gospel. But, in contrast, in the house of Cornelius the Spirit fell upon the listening Gentiles.

The two events are obviously quite different, and the only point of similarity is the fact on the Day of Pentecost, in the house of Cornelius the Holy Spirit signalled His presence and approval by enabling these seeking Gentiles to speak in languages they had not learned

And 1. They received the forgiveness of their sins, Acts 2:38 and 2. They received the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s own gift to those who obey Him. Acts 5:32.

Since there is only one example of Holy Spirit baptism, there is no reason for Christians to expect such today.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS

Some confuse Spirit baptism with the spiritual gifts possessed by many early Christians. These gifts are described in 1 Corinthians 12-14.

They are listed as the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith (of a miraculous nature), healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.

Generally, they were intended to 1. reveal the truth of God, 2. impart that truth to those who had not heard it, and 3. confirm the truth which had been taught.

The New Testament was then being written and until its completion the divine guidance of spiritual gifts was necessary. These gifts, however, were temporary.

Paul predicted, ‘Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge (miraculous) it shall vanish away … But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.’ 1 Corinthians 13:8 1 Corinthians 13:10.

Spiritual gifts were given only by the laying on of hands. When Philip baptised many in Samaria, the apostles Peter and John found it necessary to go there to bestow these gifts because Philip evidently did not possess this power, Acts 8:14-17. Paul, by the laying on of his hands, gave such gifts to the Ephesians, Acts 19:6, and to Timothy, 2 Timothy 1:6.

Since the Roman Christians had not yet received these gifts Paul wrote to them, ‘I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong,’ Romans 1:11.

Spiritual gifts ended in accordance with Paul’s prophecy when those who possessed the power to give them by the imposition of their hands had died. Therefore, none has these powers today.

THE HOLY SPIRIT AND CONVERSION

The Holy Spirit plays a part in every conversion. However, the Holy Spirit has never saved men directly, but has always worked through others. Thus, the Ethiopian was converted by Philip who was, in turn, led to him by the Holy Spirit, Acts 8:26-39.

The Holy Spirit sent Peter to Cornelius. Cornelius was saved, not by a direct revelation from heaven, but by words spoken by the preacher, Acts 11:14.

Christ appeared to Saul of Tarsus, but did not save him then. Instead, Ananias was sent to tell him what to do to be saved, Acts 22:12-16.

Sinners are converted today when they come into contact with the word of God which has been inspired by the Holy Spirit. This they may do by hearing it preached or by reading the divine words from the New Testament. The Holy Spirit saves men indirectly through the word.


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