The Holy Spirit of God

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption"
(Ephesians 4:30).

  1. Introduction
  2. Nature and characteristics of the Holy Spirit
  3. God's Spirit is the source of life and takes part in creation
  4. The power of the Holy Spirit
  5. The Holy Spirit and prophecy
  6. The Holy Spirit and the sacred writings
  7. The Holy Spirit in the life of Christ
  8. The dispensation of the Spirit
  9. The baptism with the Holy Spirit
  10. The Holy Spirit and the Apostles
  11. Signs and wonders through the Holy Spirit
  12. The Holy Spirit and the Christian
©1996, Roy Davison, Alken, Belgium. This material may be copied for personal study only.
It may not be distributed or published in any form whatever without the copyright owner's written permission.
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I. Introduction

On the first page of the Bible we read: "And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2). On the last page of the Bible we find: "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!'" (Revelation 22:17). From beginning to end the Scriptures recount the activity of God's Spirit.

Christians are baptized "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). Yet, many Christians have a much less clear understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit than of the Father and the Son. Through the centuries there has been much controversy over the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and the church.

Humility is required as we study the Holy Spirit. It is only with a profound sense of inadequacy that human beings can undertake a study of the Spirit of God. "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counsellor?" (Romans 11:34). "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8-9).

We must be satisfied with what God has revealed. "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Often we are like the four year old child, whose curiosity far exceeds his ability to understand. Most of the mistakes regarding the Spirit are made when people try to answer questions God has not answered. On the other hand, God holds us responsible for believing and obeying what He has made known.

This study must be quite limited in scope. The entire Scriptures could be studied in connection with the Holy Spirit, since the word is the sword of the Spirit. But we shall limit ourselves in general to passages which make specific mention of the Holy Spirit.

The Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments dealing with the Holy Spirit will be classified according to various main topics. These passages will then be presented in such a way as to give an overall view of Biblical teaching regarding the Holy Spirit.

What is the definition of the words 'holy' and 'spirit'?

The word 'holy' can mean: (1) set apart to the service of God, sacred; (2) spiritually pure, Godly; (3) completely good, pure and righteous and therefore commanding absolute adoration and reverence.

In the Scriptures the word has three main uses. In connection with objects, it means that they are dedicated to the service of God. In connection with persons, it means that they are dedicated to the service of God and also that they participate to a certain extent in the characteristics of God. In connection with God, it means that He is absolutely good, pure, righteous and just, and therefore is worthy of worship, adoration and reverence.

The word 'spirit' refers to a supernatural immaterial rational being or personality.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the immaterial supernatural Being who is the essence of God.

Any definition of God or of His Spirit is by the nature of the case extremely inadequate. The more exact Biblical meaning of these words will become clearer as we study the various passages where the words are used.

II. Nature and characteristics of the Holy Spirit

The Scriptures refer to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as one and yet also as separate. Possibly because of an attempt to understand more than has been revealed, these statements of Scriptures have occasioned much controversy. In this study we are dealing specifically with what the Scriptures teach about the Holy Spirit and we cannot go into great detail about questions regarding the relationship among the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit except to the extent that they relate directly to the Holy Spirit.

"God is Spirit" (John 4:24). "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17). In the first part of this verse we find the same equivalence of the Lord and the Spirit as is found in John 1:1 relating to the Word and God: "the Word was with God, and the Word was God". The second statement, however, "the Spirit of the Lord," shows that, as in the case of the Word and God, there is also a distinction.

The Holy Spirit is personal. Christ refers to the coming Spirit as a Counsellor or Helper. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit has characteristics of a person. He has a mind. We read of "the mind of the Spirit" in Romans 8:27. He has a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). He can speak (1 Timothy 4:1). He refers to himself as 'Me' and 'I' in Acts 13:2. (See also John 15:26; Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13.)

There is one Spirit. There is one body and one Spirit" (Ephesians 4:4). "For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father" (Ephesians 2:18). "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ are the same Spirit. "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (Romans 8:9).

The Holy Spirit is omnipresent. "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?" (Psalm 139:7).

The Holy Spirit is all-knowing. "Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counsellor has taught Him?" (Isaiah 40:13). "For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). These passages indicate that the Spirit knows all that God knows.

The Spirit is eternal. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:14).

The Spirit is the truth. "And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth" (1 John 5:6). He is called "the Spirit of truth" in John 14:17.

The Spirit proceeds from the Father and is sent by God and Christ. "And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit have sent Me" (Isaiah 48:16). "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me" (John 15:26).

From these passages we have learned that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. The Holy Spirit is personal. There is one Spirit. He is omnipresent. He is all-knowing. He is eternal. The Spirit is the truth. The Spirit proceeds from the Father and is sent by God and Christ.

III. God's Spirit is the source of life and takes part in creation

The Spirit was active during creation: "And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2). The root meaning of the word used for Spirit here is "wind" or "breath". God's Spirit is compared to the wind blowing across the waters. The Spirit of God was present in an active way.

All creatures receive their life from the Spirit. "You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth" (Psalm 104:29,30).

Man's life and spirit come from, and depend on, the Spirit of God. "Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him" (Zechariah 12:1). "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Elihu believed that he had been made by God's Spirit. "The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life" (Job 33:4). "If He should set His heart on it, if He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust" (Job 34:14,15).

Spiritual life comes from God's Spirit as well. In Ezekiel's vision in chapter 37 we see the Spirit's power to give life both physically and spiritually. (It will help you understand the play on words if you realize that the same Hebrew word is used in this passage for "breath," "wind" and "Spirit".)

"The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' So I answered, 'O Lord God, You know.' Again He said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, "O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.' " ' So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, 'Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, "Thus says the Lord God: 'Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.' " ' So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then He said to me, 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, "Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!" Therefore prophesy and say to them, "Thus says the Lord God: 'Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,' says the Lord." ' " (Ezekiel 37:1-14).

God foretells the time when He will put His Spirit in His people that they might live. Here we see that the Spirit has power to give life physically and spiritually.

Jesus is a life-giving spirit. "And so it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being.' The last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (1 Corinthians 15:45).

A Christian has new life through the Spirit. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).

God's Spirit is the source of life and takes part in creation. All creatures receive their life from the Spirit of God, who is the source of man's life, both physical and spiritual.

IV. The power of the Holy Spirit

Worldly might is insignificant compared with the power of God's Spirit. "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). Zerubbabel was not to be concerned that his own strength was small. God's Spirit would enable him to finish building the temple.

Christ came in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This was foretold in the Old Testament. "There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:1,2).

God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power. "The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ -- He is Lord of all -- that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:36-38).

Jesus began His ministry in the power of the Spirit, after the Spirit descended on Him and He was tempted for forty days: "Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee" (Luke 4:14).

Jesus was designated Son of God in power according to the Holy Spirit. Paul speaks of the good news God promised beforehand "concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:3,4).

The Apostles of Christ also received power from the Holy Spirit.

Just before His ascension, Jesus promised them this: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

This prophesy and promise is referring to the Apostles and not to Christians in general. As is clear from the context in verses 1 through 8, Jesus is speaking to the Apostles. The Apostles were to receive special power from the Holy Spirit to enable them to serve as powerful witnesses to the resurrection of Christ in all the world and for all times.

The power of the Spirit worked through the Apostle Paul.

He won obedience from the Gentiles through the power of the Holy Spirit. "For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient -- in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ" (Romans 15:18,19).

Paul's preaching demonstrated the Spirit and power. "And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:4,5).

According to 1 Thessalonians 1:5, Paul preached the gospel not only in word, "but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit."

Thus we see that the Holy Spirit was the source of power in the work of the Apostles.

Christians are aided by the power of the Spirit.

They can abound in hope through His power. "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).

Christians are strengthened with power in the inner man through God's Spirit. "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:14-16).

The Christian has received a spirit of power through the Holy Spirit. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

Thus, worldly might is insignificant compared with the power of God's Spirit. Christ came in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles received power from the Spirit to be witnesses to the resurrection of Christ. And Christians receive power through the Holy Spirit.

V. The Holy Spirit and prophecy

What is prophecy?

The common meaning of the English word, the foretelling of future events, is not the usual meaning of the word in the bible. To prophesy is to proclaim a message from God while under direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit speaks through the prophets.

Sometimes a direct quotation was given to the prophet to be repeated. Here are some examples: "Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them, 'Thus says God: "Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you"'" (2 Chron. 24:20).

Notice that Zechariah gives a direct quotation of words God speaks to the people. They didn't like the message, so they complained to the king, and Zechariah was stoned to death in the temple court. "And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul's belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, 'Thus says the Holy Spirit, "So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles"'" (Acts 21:10,11). Agabus gives a direct quotation from the Holy Spirit.

More often, however, the prophet himself is the medium through which the Spirit speaks. "Yet for many years You had patience with them, And testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen" (Nehemiah 9:30). "Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus" (Acts 1:16).

Peter says the Holy Spirit spoke by the mouth of David. The quotation comes from Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8, messianic prophesies referring to David and to Christ. In both cases David is speaking. It is not a direct quotation from God or from the Holy Spirit. Yet the Holy Spirit is speaking by the mouth of David. Thus even when the prophet is speaking himself, it is actually the Holy Spirit speaking through him. [See also Acts 4:25 in connection with Psalm 2:1,2.]

The Spirit spoke through the Apostles. Jesus gave them these instructions: "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak, for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you" (Mat. 10:19,20). "But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit" (Mark 13:11). It was not the Apostles who spoke; but the Holy Spirit was speaking through them. "For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10).

Prophecy comes from God, not from man. "We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:19-21).

The words used to impart the message are taught by the Spirit. "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.' But God has revealed them to us through His spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:9-13).

Although the Spirit speaks through the prophet, he retains control over his own spirit. "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (1 Corinthians 14:32).

God used the prophet, his person, and his ability, as a completely accurate and dependable instrument for the proclamation of His word. This was done in such a way as not to destroy the personality or the independence of the prophet. How this was done or how it is possible, we are not told.

Revelations were sometimes made to prophets through dreams and visions.

Pharaoh realized that Joseph had been able to interpret his dream through the power of God's Spirit: "And Pharaoh said to his servants, 'Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?'" (Genesis 41:38).

Ezekiel saw visions of far-off things through the power of the Spirit (Ez. 8:3; 11:24).

Nebuchadnezzar realized that Daniel's ability to interpret dreams was given by the Spirit of God: "But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying: 'Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation'" (Dan. 4:8,9). [See also Dan. 5:1-14.]

One characteristic of the coming messianic age was to be a widespread ability to see visions and dream dreams through the Spirit. Peter said this was fulfilled on Pentecost: "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams'" (Acts 2:16,17).

Stephen saw a vision in the Spirit just before his death: "But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, 'Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!'" (Acts 7:55,56).

John saw visions through the Spirit in Revelation. "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold; a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne" (Rev. 4:2). "So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns" (Rev. 17:3). "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God" (Rev. 21:10).

Prophets had the Spirit within them, and false prophets claimed to have the Spirit.

In Hosea 9:7 a prophet is called a "man of the Spirit".

Old Testament prophets had the Spirit of Christ within them: "Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven -- things which angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:10-12).

John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit from birth: "But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb'" (Luke 1:13-15). [See also Luke 1:80.]

The false prophet, Zedekiah, claimed to have a monopoly on the Spirit: "Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near and struck Micaiah on the cheek, and said, 'Which way did the spirit from the Lord go from me to speak to you?'" (1 Kings 22:24). [See also 2 Chron. 18:23.]

False prophets do not really have the Spirit of God, however, and they can be distinguished by testing their spirits. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).

True prophets recognize the authority of Scripture. "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14:37)."'The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?' says the Lord. 'Is not My word like a fire?' says the Lord, 'And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,' says the Lord, 'who steal My words everyone from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets,' says the Lord, 'who use their tongues and say, "He says." Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,' says the Lord, 'and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,' says the Lord" (Jer. 23:28-32).

Various purposes of prophecy

Sometimes prophecy was mainly a sign, with little emphasis being given to what was actually said. A sign in this usage refers to a miracle that gives proof or evidence of something.

The seventy who took over part of Moses' responsibility for leadership prophesied as a sign that they had the Spirit: "Then the Lord came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again" (Num. 11:25 - see also 26-29).

God caused Saul to prophesy as a proof that he would some day be king as Samuel had said (1 Sam. 10:5,6,9,10). Later, after Saul had rebelled against God, he and his messengers prophesied (contrary to their own intention) as a sign of Samuel's position as a prophet of God (1 Sam. 19:20-24). When used as a sign it was not required that the one prophesying be a prophet.

Amasai prophesied as a sign to David that they were his friends: (1 Chronicles 12:17,18). Prophecy was often given, as here, in poetic form.

Elizabeth prophesied to Mary as a sign of the importance of the coming child (Luke 1:41,42).

Zechariah prophesied as a sign of John the Baptist's future work and its importance (Luke 1:67-69).

The principle purpose of prophesy, however, was to reveal God's will to man.

Prophets in the Old Testament, such as Azariah, warned the people of their responsibility to God: "Now the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Obed. And he went out to meet Asa, and said to him: "Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you" (2 Chronicles 15:1,2).

Through prophesy, God reveals things to man that would not be known otherwise: "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.' But God has revealed them to us through His spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:9,10a).

The purpose of prophesy in the early church was for edification and instruction: "Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification" (1 Corinthians 14:1-5 - see also verses 21,22,26-33).

The mystery of Christ was revealed to the apostles and prophets by the Spirit: "if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I wrote before in a few words, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets" (Ephesians 3:2-5).

One purpose of prophecy was to give instruction and guidance.

The Holy Spirit instructed Israel in the wilderness: "You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst" (Nehemiah 9:20).

The Spirit told Ezekiel to go and shut himself up in his house (Ez. 3:24). The Spirit told Philip to join the Ethiopian's chariot (Acts 8:29). The Holy Spirit instructed the church at Antioch to dedicate Barnabas and Saul for a special work (Acts 14:2,4). The Holy Spirit indicated what instructions should be given in the Gentile controversy in Acts 15:28,29. The Holy Spirit forbad Paul to preach in Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-8). Through the Spirit the disciples at Tyre told Paul not to go to Jerusalem (Acts 21:3,4).

Another purpose of prophecy was to provide information about the future, sometimes as a sign, sometimes for practical reasons. Jahaziel told King Johoshaphat and his people that they need not be afraid because God would fight the battle for them (2 Chron. 20:14,15). The Spirit had told Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Messiah (Luke 2:25,26). Agabus foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine (Acts 11:27-30). The Spirit told Paul that imprisonment awaited him at Jerusalem (Acts 20:22,23; 21:10,11). The Spirit foretold the apostasy (1 Timothy 4:1). The Old Testament prophets predicted the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 1:10-12). Peter reminds Christians to remember the predictions of the prophets (2 Peter 3:1,2).

Summary: The Holy Spirit and prophecy

To prophesy is to proclaim a message from God while directly inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit speaks through the prophet. The Spirit sometimes made revelations by means of dreams and visions. The prophets had God's Spirit within them. The Spirit inspired prophecy for numerous purposes: as a sign, to reveal God's will to man, to give instruction and guidance, and to foretell the future.

VI. The Holy Spirit and the sacred writings

Introduction

Referring to the Old Testament writings, Paul said that the Jews had been entrusted with the oracles of God (Rom. 3:2). An oracle is the pronouncement of a deity.

The statement "it is written" in the New Testament is the equivalent of saying "it is decreed or declared by divine authority." The written word is a permanent record of prophecy God wanted passed on to subsequent generations.

The Spirit speaks through the Scriptures

The Spirit speaks through the writings of David. "Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel: 'The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue'" (2 Sam. 23:1,2). We even have the statement that the Spirit spoke Scripture by the mouth of David. "And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, 'Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus...'" (Acts 1:15,16). See also Mat. 22:43; Mark 12:35,36; Acts 4:25.

Holy Scripture is called the book of the Lord: "Search from the book of the Lord, and read: Not one of these shall fail" (Isaiah 34:16).

Israel was to hear the word of God sent by God's Spirit through the former prophets: "Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 7:12).

The Spirit continues to speak now through Scripture written in the past. Notice the present tense in the following passages.

"Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: 'Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness'" (Heb. 3:7,8). This is a quotation from Psalm 95:7-11.

"Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing" (Heb. 9:6-8). Here the Holy Spirit indicates a truth through a symbolic situation recorded in Scripture.

"And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 'This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,' then He adds, 'Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more'" (Heb. 10:15-17). This quotation is from Jeremiah 31:33,34. The Holy Spirit bears witness to us through the written word.

Scripture comes via men who were moved by the Spirit: "We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" ( 2 Peter 1:19-21).

The Spirit speaks through the Scriptures to all who will hear: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 2:7). These messages were written to specific churches. Yet, they were intended for all who are of a mind to hear the Spirit.

The New Testament writings are inspired by the Holy Spirit

In many theological books and commentaries it is suggested that the writers of the New Testament did not realize that they were writing Holy Scripture. These words of Christ could well be applied to such theologians: "Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?" (Mark 12:24).

God command that the New Testament Scriptures be written: "Now to Him who is able toestablish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith -- to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen" (Rom. 16:25-27).

It is often claimed that this text refers exclusively to the Old Testament writings. But it is in the New Testament that the mystery is made known to all nations, and this is according to the commandment of God.

Paul insisted that his writings were commands of God: "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14:37). By reading Paul's letter, the Ephesians could understand his insight into the mystery of Christ: "how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I wrote before in a few words, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets" (Ephesians 3:3-5). The Thessalonians were to abide by what they had been taught in Paul's letters: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle" (2 Thes. 2:15). Paul told Timothy that his words were to be followed as a pattern and that Timothy was to guard the truth he had received from the Holy Spirit: "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us" (2 Timothy 2:13,14).

The words used to impart the message are taught by the Spirit. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:12,13).

The main theme of Peter's second letter is to encourage Christians to pay attention to the sacred writings because in this way they could remain in the truth after his death.

"Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease" (2 Peter 1:12-15). Peter writes to remind them of truths they have already heard and also, so this reminder will still be available even after his death which he expects to occur shortly.

He then goes on to verify the validity of the message. He wrote as an eyewitness: "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain" (2 Peter 1:16-18).

Not only were they eyewitnesses, they were also inspired by the Holy Spirit: "We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:19-21).

In chapter two Peter warns against false prophets. Then in chapter three he explains further why he is writing: "Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour" (2 Peter 3:1,2).

And finally he mentions the writings of Paul as Holy Scripture: "and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation -- as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:15,16).

Summary: The Holy Spirit and the sacred writings

The Scriptures consist of prophecy that God wanted preserved permanently. The Holy Spirit speaks through the Scriptures. Both the Old and the New Testament writings are inspired by the Holy Spirit.

VII. The Holy Spirit in the life of Christ

It was prophesied that the Messiah would possess the Spirit of God

"There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:1,2).

"Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles" (Isaiah 42:1).

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified" (Isaiah 61:1-3).

These prophecies were fulfilled in the life of Jesus of Nazareth

"And He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 'Behold My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets, a bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory'" (Matthew 12:16-20).

"So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.' Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing'" (Luke 4:16-21).

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit

"Then Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I do not know a man?' And the angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God'" (Luke 1:34,35).

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit'" (Matthew 1:18-20).

After His baptism, the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus and remained with Him

"Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, 'You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased'" (Luke 3:21,22). [See also Mat. 3:16,17 and Mark 1:9-11.]

"And John bore witness, saying, 'I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, "Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit"'" (John 1:32,33).

"Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness" (Luke 4:1). [See also Mat. 4:1 and Mark 1:12.]

Christ fulfilled His ministry in the power of the Spirit

"Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region" (Luke 4:14).

God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power."The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ -- He is Lord of all -- that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:36-38).

Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit (Luke 10:21).

The words of Christ are confirmed by the Spirit being given without measure. "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for He gives the Spirit without measure" (John 3:34 tr. R.D.).

Christ gave Himself as an offer through the Spirit. "For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:13,14).

Christ was justified in the Spirit. "And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory" (1 Timothy 3:16).

Jesus was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:14).

After being exalted, Christ received the promise of the Holy Spirit

"This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear" (Acts 2:32,33).

Summary: The Holy Spirit in the Life of Christ

It was prophesied that the Messiah wold possess the Spirit of God. These prophecies were fulfilled in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. At His baptism the Holy Spirit came upon Him and remained with Him. Christ fulfilled His ministry in the power of the Spirit. After being exalted at the right hand of God, He received the promise of the Holy Spirit, and poured out the Spirit on His disciples.

VIII. The dispensation of the Spirit

The covenant of Christ is the dispensation of the Spirit.

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?" (2 Corinthians 3:5-8).

Here 'ministry' is used with the meaning of 'an administration'. The word is translated quite effectively as 'dispensation' in the Revised Standard Version. The new covenant is the ministry or dispensation of the Spirit.

The giving of the Spirit foretold

It was foretold in the Old Testament that God would one day give His Spirit to His people in a special way.

"Because the palaces will be forsaken, the bustling city will be deserted. The forts and towers will become lairs forever, a joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks -- until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field, the work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever" (Isaiah 32:14-17).

"Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you: 'Fear not, O Jacob My servant; and you, Jeshurun ['righteous one'], whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring'" (Isaiah 44:2,3).

"'The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,' says the Lord. 'As for Me,' says the Lord, 'this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendant's descendants,' says the Lord, 'from this time and forevermore'" (Isaiah 59:20,21).

"Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord God: "I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel."' And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God" (Ezekiel 11:17-20).

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" (Ezekiel 36:26,27).

"'When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their own land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord God" (Ezekiel 39:27-29).

"And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days" (Joel 2:28,29).

The promised Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost

The above prophesies were fulfilled when the Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost after the ascension of Christ.

"(1) Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. (3) Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (5) Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. (6) And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. (7) Then they were all amazed and marvelled, saying to one another, 'Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? (8) And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? (9) Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, (10) Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, (11) Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.' (12) So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, 'Whatever could this mean?' (13) Others mocking said, 'They are full of new wine.' (14) But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. (15) For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. (16) But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: (17) "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh"'" (Acts 2:1-17).

Since Pentecost the Holy Spirit is available to all through Christ

Peter referred to this great promise on the Day of Pentecost when he said: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38,39).

"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (Luke 11:10-13).

"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (Romans 8:9).

Summary: The dispensation of the Spirit

There is much misunderstanding, confusion and false teaching about what happened on the Day of Pentecost and what it means to have the Spirit of God within us. This will be discussed in greater detail in following sections.

Here we have seen that the new covenant of Christ is the dispensation of the Spirit. It was foretold in the Old Testament that God would give His Spirit to His people in a special way. This promise was fulfilled when the Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost.

IX. The baptism with the Holy Spirit

The baptism with the Holy Spirit was administered by Christ

God had told John the Baptist how he would recognize the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

"And John bore witness, saying, 'I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, "Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit"'" (John 1:32,33).

"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Mat. 3:11). [See also Mark 1:7,8.]

"John answered, saying to them all, 'I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.'" (Luke 3:16,17).

From these passages we learn that Christ was the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit would separate the grain from the chaff.

The apostles were told to wait for the baptism with the Holy Spirit

After His resurrection and before his ascension, Christ told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

"The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, 'which,' He said, 'you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now'" (Acts 1:1-5).

The apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost

"Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4).

This passage describes the coming of the Spirit to the apostles. The apostles are mentioned in the last verse of chapter one. Thus, the word 'they' most reasonably refers to them. Also, all those who spoke in languages were Galileans according to verse seven. And Peter stood up with the eleven in verse fourteen.

This baptism with the Spirit served as a sign to the people that the apostles were messengers of God. This baptism with the Spirit also gave the apostles the power they would need to perform their task of witnessing Christ to the whole world.

The household of Cornelius were baptized with the Holy Spirit when the gospel was first preached to the Gentiles

Peter gave this report of what had happened: "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God" (Acts 11:15-17).

Peter's statement "as upon us at the beginning" indicates that this was not a normal occurrence in connection with conversion.

The purpose of baptism with the Holy Spirit in this case was to prove to the Jews that the Gentiles were also admitted to the kingdom of God, as is clear from the response of the Jewish Christians who heard Peter's account of what had happened: "When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, 'Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life'" (Acts 11:18). Notice that they understood that what had happened was not limited to the house of Cornelius, but had significance for all Gentiles, indicating that they could become Christians.

This special occurrence when the gospel was first preached to the Gentiles was also referred to by Peter later: "And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up an said to them: 'Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So, God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:7-9).

No other examples of baptism with the Holy Spirit are found in the New Testament.

The baptism with the Holy Spirit served to usher in the kingdom of God, first for the Jews and then for the Gentiles. In the first case it was a sign to indicate that the apostles were messengers of God and they were provided with the power they would need to be the Witnesses of Christ. In the second case proof was given that the Gentiles were also included in the kingdom of God with "no distinction."

What happened on the Day of Pentecost?

Under the old covenant, although certain people were filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit was not yet available for every believer. Even during the ministry of Jesus on earth the Spirit had not yet come: "'He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:38,39).

The Spirit could not be given until Jesus was glorified. That is why Peter said on the Day of Pentecost: "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear" (Acts 2:33).

On Pentecost the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit. But this is not all that happened. The Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh" (Acts 2:17).

What does this mean? Did all people on earth receive the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? Assuredly not. But after Pentecost the Holy Spirit of God is available for all people on earth. Since that day the water of life can be obtained by all: "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17). In this sense the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh on the Day of Pentecost.

Although he did not fully understand it himself, Peter proclaimed on the Day of Pentecost that the promise of God's Spirit was also for the Gentiles: "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:39). From other passages, such as Isaiah 57:19 and Ephesians 2:11,17, we know that those "who are afar off" refers to the Gentiles.

But this was difficult for the Jews to accept, even for Peter. Thus God confirmed it by pouring out the Holy Spirit on the first Gentile converts in exactly the same way as on the Day of Pentecost (Acts. 11:15-17; 15:7-9). Since the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, on the Day of Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit has been available for all flesh. Since the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the household of Cornelius, it has been confirmed that the gift of the Holy Spirit is also available for all Gentiles. As we read in Acts 11:18 - "When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, 'Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.'"

Since the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit is with us, as Jesus promised: "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:16,17).

This is why we do not read anywhere in the New Testament that after the conversion of Cornelius the Holy Spirit was poured out again as on the Day of Pentecost. He had already come, and for ever, according to John 14:16!

When some people now in our time pray to God and ask Him to pour out the Holy Spirit as on the Day of Pentecost, it is as though they were praying that God would raise Christ from the dead! He is already risen, He has already ascended to the Father, and He has already poured out the Holy Spirit on all flesh!

How do we receive the promise?

Since Pentecost the Spirit has come and is available to all. But how do I receive the Spirit? How can the Spirit come to dwell within my heart?

When the hearers on Pentecost asked Peter what they should do, he did not say: Pray to God until He pours out the Spirit for you as he poured it out on us apostles!

"Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38,39).

It is so simple, although many people want to make it so difficult. Nor do we read that the 3000 baptized on the Day of Pentecost spoke in tongues or did signs and wonders. To the contrary. It is clearly stated that the signs and wonders were done by the apostles (Acts 2:43; 5:12). But the 3000 did receive the gift of the Holy Spirit when they repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins!

How the Spirit is poured into our hearts is also told in Titus 3:4-6 - "But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour."

"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13).

When we hear the good news of salvation through Christ, when we believe in Him as the risen Son of God, when we repent of our sins, and when we are baptized into the body of Christ, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Summary: The baptism with the Holy Spirit

The baptism with the Holy Spirit was administered by Christ from heaven on the Day of Pentecost and when the first Gentiles became Christians. No other cases of baptism with the Holy Spirit are recorded in the New Testament because these were one-time events with eternal consequences. Now the gift of the Holy Spirit is available to all who believe in Christ and are baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.

X. The Holy Spirit and the Apostles

Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles

At the Last Supper, after Judas had left, Jesus told his Apostles: "If you love me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:15-17).

"These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:25,26).

"But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning" (John 15:26,27).

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:7-15).

Christ gave the Apostles the Holy Spirit, as He had promised

He charged them to receive the Spirit on the day of His resurrection: "Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' Now when he had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Then Jesus said to them again, 'Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.' And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained'" (John 20:19-23).

Just before His ascension He told them to wait in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit: "And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, 'which,' He said, 'you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.' Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, 'Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' And He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth'" (Acts 1:4-8)

The Spirit came upon the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost after the ascension of Christ: "Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4).

The Apostles were given power to perform signs and wonders

"Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles" (Acts 2:43).

"And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's Porch" (Acts 5:12).

In defending his apostleship, Paul referred to signs: "Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds" (2 Corinthians 12:12). [See also Rom. 15:18,19.] Paul himself had received the Holy Spirit in a special way when he was called to be an Apostle: "And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 9:17).

The Apostles received guidance and help from the Holy Spirit

When before the Jewish council, Peter was guided in his speech by the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8). The Spirit told Peter to visit Cornelius (Acts 10:19,20; 11:12).

The Spirit sent Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journey: "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus" (Acts 13:2-4).

Paul resolved in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem and to Rome (Acts 19:21).

The Spirit revealed the message of Christ through His Apostles and prophets

Jesus had told the Apostles that the Spirit would speak through them:"But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak, for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you" (Mat. 10:19,20). [See also Mark 13:11.]

The mystery which had been hidden for many ages was revealed to the Apostles and prophets of Christ: "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles -- if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I wrote before in a few words, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets" (Ephesians 3:1-5).

Peter was chosen by the Spirit to first preach the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 15:7-9).

Paul's message was confirmed by the Spirit: "And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:4,5).

The words the Apostles used to proclaim the message were taught by the Spirit: "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.' But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:9-13).

The Apostles and prophets of Christ are the foundation of the spiritual temple of God: "For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:18-22).

The gospel was preached through the Holy Spirit. Referring to the Old Testament prophets, Peter explains: "To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven -- things which angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:12).

The Lord's commandments were given through the Apostles: "Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour" (2 Peter 3:1,2).

The Apostles had the power to give the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands

"Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, 'Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.' But Peter said to him, 'Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God'" (Acts 8:14-21).

This reception of the Holy Spirit was different from the gift of the Spirit received through baptism in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38,39).

By the laying on of the hands of the Apostles, special miraculous gifts of the Spirit were given to certain individual Christians. No mention is made of any other than the Apostles performing such signs until after the Apostles laid their hands on the seven servants as recorded in Acts 6:3-6. Then we read of signs being performed by Stephen and Philip, who were among the seven. Although Philip did great signs and wonders at Samaria (Acts 8:6), he was not able to extend this ability to others. For that, Apostles had to come from Jerusalem, as we already read.

The result of Paul laying his hands on the disciples of John at Ephesus was that they spoke in tongues and prophesied: "And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?' And they said to him, 'We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.' And he said to them, 'Into what then were you baptized?' So they said, 'Into John's baptism.' Then Paul said, 'John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.' When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied" (Acts 19:1-6).

Timothy had been given a special gift through the laying on of Paul's hands: "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands" (2 Timothy 1:6). In Paul's first letter to Timothy, we learn that the elders also laid their hands on him: "Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery" (1 Timothy 4:12).

Summary: The Holy Spirit and the Apostles

Jesus told the Apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit as a Counsellor to guide them into all the truth. After His ascension, Christ gave the Apostles the Holy Spirit as He had promised. The Apostles received guidance and help from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit revealed the message of Christ through His Apostles and prophets. Only the Apostles had the power to give the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands.

XI. Signs and Wonders through the Holy Spirit

God confirmed the Word through signs and wonders

Both in the Old and New Testament, signs and wonders were used to verify the message of prophets.

God gave Moses power to work signs and wonders so the people would believe that he had been sent by God: "Then Moses answered and said, 'But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, "The Lord has not appeared to you."' So the Lord said to him, 'What is that in your hand?' And he said, 'A rod.' And He said, 'Cast it on the ground.' So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Reach out your hand and take it by the tail' (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), 'that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.' Furthermore the Lord said to him, 'Now put your hand in your bosom.' And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. And He said, 'Put your hand in your bosom again.' So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh. 'Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign. 'And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. And the water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land'" (Exodus 4:1-9).

The signs of Moses were exceptional because he was ushering in a new age for God's people: "But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel" (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).

The signs and wonders Christ performed, proved that He was the Son of God: "And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me'" (Matthew 11:2-6).

When Jesus returned to the Father and told his Apostles to preach in the whole world, he said the message would be confirmed by signs and wonders: "'And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.' So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen" (Mark 16:17-20).

When the Apostles were persecuted for preaching the gospel they prayed for God's help in this way: "'Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus'" (Acts 4:29,30).

This is also expressed in the letter to the Hebrews: "For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?" (Hebrews 2:2-4).

Thus we see that signs, wonders, powers and gifts of the Holy Spirit were intended to confirm God's revelation to man.

Signs and wonders proved that the Apostles were sent from God

The signs connected with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost caused the people to listen to the Apostles (Acts 2:1-8).

Signs and wonders in the early church were performed through the hands of the Apostles: "Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles" (Acts 2:43); "And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people" (Acts 5:12).

The Lord confirmed Paul's preaching by signs and wonders: "Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands" (Acts 14:3); "Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them" (Acts 19:11,12).

Signs were necessary credentials of an Apostle. When Paul's apostleship was called in questions by some at Corinth he replied: "Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds" (2 Corinthians 12:12).

From these passages we see that God's confirmation of the message through signs and wonders was related to the work of the Apostles. The signs and wonders were done through their hands.

Others, on whom the Apostles laid their hands, also performed signs and wonders

Not only did signs and wonders occur through the hands of the apostles directly, but the Apostles also had the power to lay their hands on others that they might receive the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts (see former section). Indirectly, these signs and wonders were also done through the hands of the Apostles.

Stephen and Philip, two of the seven on whom the Apostles had laid their hands, are the first ones reported to perform miracles other than the Apostles: "And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people" (Acts 6:8). When Philip went to Samaria, the signs he performed caused many people to believe (Acts 8:5-13).

For later generations, the signs and wonders recorded in the Scriptures are sufficient

Once the Old Testament Scriptures were completed, they were sufficient to bring about faith. Once a message has been confirmed it does not have to be re-confirmed. We learn this from the account of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man wanted someone to be sent from the dead to warn his brothers: "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'" (Luke 16:27-31).

The same principle is also taught with regard to the New Testament. When the New Testament had not yet been written, signs and wonders were needed to confirm the message of Christ and his Apostles. But once the gospel was put to writing, the written testimony of the message, and of the signs that attended it, was sufficient to produce faith.

As John wrote: "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, whichare not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:30,31).

Paul also made clear that the gospel was to be believed in the whole world on the basis of the written word: "Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith -- to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen" (Romans 16:25-27).

Miraculous gifts were temporary and of secondary importance

The brethren at Corinth had received special gifts of the Spirit. Yet, Paul says that they were carnal! "And I, Brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal" (1 Corinthians 3:1,2).

They were unspiritual even though they had spiritual gifts! They were even using those special gifts to glorify themselves and to exalt themselves above others! Contrary to what certain false teachers say today, even in the time of the Apostles, one did not have to speak in tongues, for example, to be a Christian. Nor did the possession of these special gifts ensure that one was spiritual! In reprimanding them for their misuse of the special gifts Paul asks: "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way" (1 Corinthians 12:29-31).

In chapter thirteen he goes on to show that spiritual gifts are worthless without love. He also makes clear that the spiritual gifts were temporary: "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide in faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:8-13).

The spiritual gifts given through the laying on of the Apostles' hands in the first century had their function in confirming the message. But those gifts were temporary. Faith, hope and love are the things that remain.

As Jesus told the people of his time, a desire for signs and wonders indicates spiritual weakness: "Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, 'Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.' But He answered and said to them, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah'" (Matthew 12:38,39). Their desire for a sign was an expression of unbelief. Jesus referred them to Scripture.

The sacred writings and the signs recorded therein are sufficient for those who are willing to accept God's testimony and believe. As Jesus told Thomas: "Thomas because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

In the latter times, signs and wonders are performed by false prophets

Jesus warned: "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you, depart from Me you who practice lawlessness'" (Matthew 7:22,23); "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Mark 13:22).

Paul gave the same warning: "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (2 Thessalonians 2:9,10).

Let us not be deceived by lying wonders, but go to the confirmed Word of God to learn and believe the truth.

Summary: Signs and Wonders through the Holy Spirit

God confirmed the Word through signs and wonders. Signs and wonders proved that Jesus was the Christ and that the Apostles were sent from God. Others, on whom the Apostles laid their hands, also performed signs and wonders. For later generations, the signs and wonders recorded in the Scriptures are sufficient to produce faith. Miraculous gifts were temporary and of secondary importance. In the latter times, signs and wonders are performed by false prophets.

XII. The Holy Spirit and the Christian

Christians are given the Holy Spirit by God

"And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (Luke 11:9-13).

Paul also relates this giving of the Spirit to God's paternal relationship with His children: "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Galatians 4:6).

The Holy Spirit, God gives to His children, is the water of life: "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39). Here we also learn that the ascension of Christ to the right hand of God would have to take place before the Spirit would be given.

Peter refers back to this event in Acts 5:31,32. "Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."

God gives the Spirit on the basis of faith, not on the basis of legalistic works: "Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3:5). Notice that the supplying of the Spirit and the working of miracles are mentioned as two separate things. The two must be properly distinguished, and much confusion results from a failure to do so.

We are set free from the curse of the law by the sacrifice of Christ and thereby enabled to receive the promise of the Spirit. "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:13,14).

By the giving of the Spirit, we have been consecrated to God: "For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 4:7,8).

This giving of the Spirit gives us assurance. "Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us" (1 John 3:24). "By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit" (1 John 4:13).

The Spirit is given at baptism: "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call'" (Acts 2:38,39).

This giving of the Spirit was prefigured when God saved His people from Egypt

In the Old Testament it is stated that God put His Spirit within His people when he lead them out of Egypt, which prefigured our salvation from sin at baptism: "But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; so He turned Himself against them as an enemy, and He fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying: 'Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them, who led them by the right hand of Moses, with His glorious arm, dividing the water before them to make for Himself an everlasting name, who led them through the deep, as a horse in the wilderness, that they might not stumble?'" (Isaiah 63:10-13).

In Haggai, God refers back to this event: "According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!" (Haggai 2:5).

The Spirit dwells within Christians

Paul admonished Timothy: "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us" (2 Timothy 1:13,14).

Christians are the temple in which God's Spirit dwells. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16). "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19).

"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habituation of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22).

If Christ's Spirit does not dwell within us, we are not Christians: "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (Romans 8:9).

Christians are to be filled with the Spirit

Early Christians were filled with the Spirit. Of Barnabas it is said: "For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith" (Acts 11:24). "And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 13:52).

Christians are told to be filled with the Spirit: "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18).

Men who are filled with the Spirit should be chosen for leadership in the church. "Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business" (Acts 6:3). Unfortunately, when leaders are chosen today, this point is sometimes given less consideration than business or educational success.

God's Spirit rests on Christians: "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you" (1 Peter 4:14).

Christians have the fellowship of the Spirit. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Corinthians 13:14). "Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind" (Philippians 2:1,2).

The Christian has new life from the Spirit

To enter the kingdom of God, one must be born of the Spirit: "Jesus answered and said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God'" (John 3:3-5). This birth of the Spirit takes place at baptism, which is the washing of regeneration, and brings about renewal: "But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:5-7).

Christians are born according to the Spirit: "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now" (Galatians 4:28,29).

The Spirit gives life: "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3:5,6).

The Christian is sanctified by the Spirit

"But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

After speaking of various sins, Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Peter addresses his first letter to the pilgrims of the Dispersion "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:2).

And to the Romans Paul writes: "Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:15,16).

The Holy Spirit is God's seal, a deposit in the heart of a Christian

"Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a deposit" (2 Corinthians 1:21,22).

"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee" (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).

"In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:13,14).

The Holy Spirit helps Christians in countless ways

The church is comforted by the Holy Spirit: "Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied" (Acts 9:31).

Christians are strengthened by the Spirit: "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:14-16).

The Spirit gives the Christian his sword for spiritual battle: "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).

The Spirit intercedes for the Christian in prayer: "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26,27).

The Christian is led by the Spirit

The Christian has life in the Spirit if he walks according to the Spirit: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1). In verse five Paul points out that those who live according to the Spirit, set their minds on the things of the Spirit. After discussing what happens if one sets his mind on the flesh, he goes on to say: "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:9-11).

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Romans 8:14-17).

Paul admonishes the Galatians: "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law" (Galatians 5:16-18).

A Christian bears the fruit of the Spirit

Avoiding the works of the flesh and walking in the Spirit, the Christian bears the fruit of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:23-25).

Other passages also mention various fruits of the Spirit in our lives.

The Spirit gives us hope: "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13). "For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith" (Galatians 5:5).

The Spirit pours love into our hearts: "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:5). See also Romans 15:30 and Colossians 1:7,8.

The Holy Spirit gives us peace and joy: "for the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). "And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

The Spirit makes us free: "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Unity is of the Spirit: "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3).

To sum it all up, we enjoy the firstfruits of the Spirit as we wait for eternal life: "For we know that the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now. And not only they, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:22,23).

The Christian must be careful not to resist the Spirit

In 1 Thessalonians 5:19 were are told: "Do not quench the Spirit."

We are not to grieve the Spirit by sinning with our mouths: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).

Stephen said that Israel had continually resisted the Spirit: "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you" (Acts 7:51).

A worse punishment than theirs awaits Christians if we insult the Spirit: "Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:28,29).

If one falls away after partaking of the Holy Spirit, he cannot be restored to repentance: "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame" (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit has no forgiveness: "'Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation' -- because they said, 'He has an unclean spirit'" (Mark 3:28-30). [See Matthew 24-32 and Mark 3:22-30.]

Ananias and Sapphira died because they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-10).

Division is caused by men devoid of the Spirit: "But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit" (Jude 17-19).

Summary: The Holy Spirit and the Christian

Christians are given the Holy Spirit by God. This giving of the Spirit was prefigured when God saved His people from Egypt. The Spirit dwells within Christians and they are to be filled with the Spirit. The Christian has new life from the Spirit and is sanctified by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God's seal, a deposit in the heart of a Christian. The Spirit helps Christians in countless ways. They are led by the Spirit and bear the fruit of the Spirit. The Christian must be careful not to resist the Spirit.

Roy Davison

©1996, Roy Davison, Alken, Belgium. This material may be copied for personal study only.
It may not be distributed or published in any form whatever without the copyright owner's written permission.
This copyright notice must be included on all copies made.

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers. Permission for reference use has been granted.


Published in The Old Paths Archive (http://www.oldpaths.com)