Dec 06 - The Holy Spirit Of God - Part 2

The Holy Spirit Of God - Part 2

December 6, 2015

 

THE HOLY SPIRIT – Part 2

December 6th, 2015

 

Last week, we had a look at the work of the HS in the OT, that is, under the old covenant, the covenant God made with the people of Israel at the time of Moses.   In that era, the Holy Spirit fell on people selectively, to empower them for a task, and often temporarily – at times being taken from the individuals he indwelt, such as Samson and King Saul.

 

We noted that the vast majority of the nation of Israel did not receive the Spirit … and that it was prone to fall away from God, particularly in two major ways:  by worshipping pagan gods and goddesses, and by oppressing and taking advantage of the needy and powerless for personal gain.

 

As a result, the nation experience what is called the “curse of the Law,” which was either oppression in the land by foreigners, or, actual exile from the land.[1] 

 

We also noted that there was a hope in the OT in a new era when the HS would fall on all of God’s people and would remain on them permanently, bringing about a reformation of the heart that resulted in obedience.  This in turn would lead to a permanent restoration of Israel in the land, what Deuteronomy calls “the blessing of the Law”.[2]

 

So what actually happened?

 

The Holy Spirit under the New Covenant (in the NT)

 

John the Baptist announced to the world that someone would come who would baptize in the Spirit and in fire, a reference to Jesus.   

 

John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”                     Luke 3:16[3]

 

Jesus himself was filled with and guided by the Spirit (full of the Spirit and of power – Acts 10:28).  And Jesus told his followers that they too would be filled and guided by the Spirit, because he would send the Spirit to them. 

 

Jesus stood and called out on the last day of the feast, the great day, “Whoever has thirst, let him come to me.  Whoever believes in me, let him drink.  As the Scriptures says,[4] ‘From his inner being will flow streams of living water’.”  With this Jesus meant the Spirit, whom all those who believe in him were to receive, for the Spirit had not been given yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified.                                                        John 7:37-39

 

The streams of living water were in reference to the Spirit.  He is the living water that would indwell and subsequently pour out of that person’s life in some way. 

 

I will ask the Father and he will give you another “Helper” to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  You know him because he dwells with you and will be in you.                 John 14:16-17

 

The Spirit is to indwell Jesus’ followers in order to assist them in some way (parakletos – someone who comes alongside).[5]  His title, (Spirit of truth) also seems to indicate that he will help those he indwells to know or discern the truth. 

 

The resurrected Jesus told the disciples:

 

I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.  But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.                                                                        Luke 24:49[6]

 

The Spirit is the fulfillment of the promises made by God through the prophets.  There is also some kind of power that will be given Jesus’ followers when they receive the Spirit. 

 

So when did this actually come about?

 

1. Initial Infilling

 

The first time that the Holy Spirit fell on Jesus’ followers was on the day of Pentecost (literally “the 50th”), so called by Greek speaking Jews in the first century because it is the 50th day of the celebration of Passover.  Pentecost is also the first day of the Jewish feast which marks the wheat harvest (Chag ha Shavuot = the feast of weeks).

 

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly, there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind and it filled the entire house in which they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as if they were of fire, which rested on each one of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in foreign languages [or: other tongues] as the Spirit enabled them.                                                                                                         Acts 2:1-4[7]

 

The resulting noise (Phone, sound) drew a crowd who wanted to see what the commotion was all about. 

 

It seems, that more than just the 12 apostles were present (Judas Iscariot having recently been replaced by Matthias), since a large number of Jews who were in Jerusalem for the festival, from Libya, Egypt, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Rome, the Arabian Peninsula, Persia, and many other places, all heard those filled with the Spirit speak in their particular native tongue.[8] 

 

In Peter’s sermon that followed, he calls the crowd to believe in Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of sins and tells them that when they believe and were baptized, they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the fulfillment of the OT promise in the book of Joel that there would come a time when the Holy Spirit would fall on all of God’s people indiscriminately (2:38-39).[9]

 

As Peter points out, the initial fulfillment of the promise of the new covenant was received at the point of conversion, which went hand in hand with baptism.

 

This was also the case when Peter and a group of Jewish Christians from Joppa, travelled together to Caesarea, where Peter spoke at the house of a Roman military officer (centurion) and those who heard his message believed in Jesus as the Messiah for the forgiveness of sins: 

 

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.[10]  And the Jewish believers who had come with Peter were amazed because the Holy Spirit was being poured out even on non-Jews.  For they heard them speak in languages [or: tongues] and praising God.                                                                       Acts 10:44-46

 

Subsequently, Peter baptized those who had been indwelt by the Spirit.  However, after Peter had returned to Jerusalem, he had to defend the fact that he had eaten with and baptized unclean non-Jews, something that devout Jews (and apparently devout Jewish Christians; Gal 2:11-13) simply did not do.  His defense for associating with and baptizing these non-Jews was based on the fact that they had received the HS:

 

As I spoke, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. …. God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                                              Acts 11:17

 

The point is that after Pentecost Jewish Christians and the non-Jewish Christians, received the Spirit at the point of conversion.  In other words, every Christian from that time onward would be indwelt by the HS. 

 

As a result, the apostle Paul could ask this rhetorical question of the Christians in the Roman province of Galatia (what today is central Turkey):

 

Let me ask you this:  Did you receive the Spirit when you followed the stipulations of the (Mosaic) law or when you heard and believed?                              Galatians 3:2

 

The point Paul was making was that the believers in Galatia received the Spirit when they heard the message about Jesus and believed it, not because they kept the OT Law.  Paul could therefore write to the believers in Rome:

 

You are … in the Spirit, if in fact, the Spirit of God dwells in you.  Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ, does not belong to him.                                      Romans 8:9

 

Paul uses the terms, Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ, interchangeably to make the point that every genuine believer has the Spirit and that those who are in the church who do not, in fact do not belong to him (Christ). 

 

Paul also admonishing the believers in Corinth to refrain from sexual immorality based on the fact that the Spirit indwells them:

 

Don’t you know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives within you and whom you have received from God?               1 Corinthians 6:19

 

The reason why they should live a sexually moral lifestyle: the Spirit is already living within the Corinthian believers, and as such, their bodies, not some building in Jerusalem, now constitute the dwelling place of God. 

 

So there is an initial infilling of the Spirit that everyone can receive at the point of belief, at the point of conversion. 

 

Is it therefore possible that a person is initially filled by the Spirit at the point when they believed and yet is not aware of it?  I think it is, especially when a person’s faith is not accompanied by some huge emotional experience or some overt sign.  We will get to the point of assurance of salvation and the infilling of the Spirit in a moment.

 

However, I wanted to point out first that there is another infilling, or better yet, further infillings, of the HS that believers can receive. 

 

 

2. Additional Infillings

 

When Peter and John were arrested and placed before the Jewish high court in Jerusalem, Peter was given an opportunity to say something to the court, in other words, to give a defense:

 

Then Peter, (being) filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them …                                                                 Acts 4:8

 

Peter had already been filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.  Yet he was again filled when he had to speak at this occasion.  The result was that he spoke eloquently, astonishing the members of the court who knew that Peter was an uneducated fishermen (Acts 4:13).

 

When Peter and John were released after being arrested and threatened, they prayed with a group of their Christians friends, all of whom had received the HS previously.

 

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.                                          Acts 4:31

 

The apostle Paul, writing to a group of believers, tells them:

 

… Be filled with the Holy Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, always giving thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.                    Ephesians 5:18-20

 

This can also be translated as, “continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit.”[11]  Apparently, Paul links these additional infillings with corporate worship and thankfulness – possibly because worship and thanks are a natural result of the Spirit’s presence.

 

Since Christians in the first century had additional infillings of the Holy Spirit, I do not think it wrong for believers today to have the same thing happen to them. 

 

I believe that we can experience a greater presence of the Holy Spirit at times, perhaps manifested in greater abilities to minister to others, greater joy or peace or contentment within, and greater obedience to God’s will.[12]

 

3. The Results of Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

 

Assurance of Salvation

 

The apostle Paul tells us that the infilling of the Spirit manifests itself in a way that we know that we truly are God’s children.

 

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.                                      Romans 8:16

           

Those who obey his [God or Jesus’] commands live in him and he in them.  This is how we know that he [God] lives in us: we know it by the Spirit he gave us.                                                                                                       1 John 3:24

 

God also set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment [of salvation], as a guarantee [of what is to come].            2 Corinthians 1:22

 

So the question is how we can be certain that the Holy Spirit lives within us?  How does the Spirit testify with our spirit that he is present within us? 

 

We have to discount the possibility that we are dealing here with emotions … the Spirit doesn’t simply make us “feel” that we’re saved.  Nor is it some form of adrenalin rush, an inner excitement, if you will.

 

So what could it be?  This is something that we will explore in much greater detail next week.  For today, I want to explore the notion that the Spirit’s presence and testimony have to do with the spiritual gifts, or outward abilities to serve, that are manifested when the Spirit is present.

 

[The result of being filled with the Spirit

Assurance of Salvation]

Special Abilities for Building Up Others

 

Everyone is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom and, by the same Spirit, another receives the word of knowledge.  One is given faith by the same Spirit, and by the same Spirit another receives the gifts of healing.  To one is given the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to discern between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individual as he determines.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

 

This is not an exclusive list of the so-called spiritual gifts – there are other lists that include other divinely empowered abilities as well: teaching, apostleship, administration, helping, (1 Cor 12:28), serving, encouragement or exhortation, giving ($), leading, mercy (Rom 12:7-8), evangelism, pastoring (Eph 4:11), and others.

 

Paul simply wanted the believers at Corinth to know that the Spirit can give various abilities to different people, all of which are to be used for the benefit of others.  He further encouraged the believers at Corinth to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, particularly the “higher” ones (1 Cor 12:31), and seek after them, particularly the gift of prophecy (1 Cor 14:1).[13] 

 

Passages like the one in 1 Cor 12 raise the question whether the initial or secondary infillings of the Spirit should always result in a demonstration of these spiritual abilities, in particular the speaking in tongues. 

 

Speaking in tongues today can manifest itself in corporate worship, often in song.  It is also found in a more private setting in what is called “praying in the Spirit.” 

 

Paul describes what was happening at Corinth as angelic languages (cf. 1 Cor 13:1), as “unintelligible speech” (1 Cor 14:9), and as the “uttering of mysteries” (1 Cor 14:2).  In other words, what was happening in Corinth was quite different from what had happened at Pentecost. 

 

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that he wants all of them to speak in tongues, and that he spoke in tongues more than any of them (1 Cor 14:5,18).  On the other hand, he writes that he’d rather speak 5 intelligible words at church instead of 10,000 words in a tongue (1 Cor 14:19), in other words, he doesn’t speak in tongues in public at all. 

 

Further, he tells them that if tongues are spoken in church at all, this should be done at most by 2 or 3 individuals, each speaking in turn, and then only if each time, the interpretation of what is said follows immediately (1 Cor 14:27-28).

 

Paul himself indicates that he limits his own tongue speaking to a private prayer and song language, which he used extensively (1 Cor 14:2,6,14-15). 

 

Some individuals insist that tongue speaking is the one and only indicator that someone is filled with the Holy Spirit.  If a person is not speaking in tongues even the genuineness of their faith is put into question.

 

To my mind, that is simply wrong, especially since Paul twice indicates in his letter, that tongues is in fact the least important of all gifts (1 Cor 12:28) because it least benefits others (1 Cor 14:2,4).  For another, I have seen individuals who lived dreadful lifestyles speaking in tongues all the time.

 

Because of this, even today in Charismatic Churches and denominations, speaking in tongues is becoming less and less predominant.

 

On the other hand, there are individuals who teach that speaking in tongues, is one of those spiritual gifts that has ceased with the apostolic church (1 Cor 13:8-12).[14]  If anyone does speak in tongues it either originates from themselves, a purely human attempt, or it finds its source in the demonic.  This too I find an extreme position not warranted from the Scriptures, even though I have been in some Baptist churches where this was actually taught.

 

I personally believe that all spiritual gifts are still functional.  However because of what Paul wrote, as a church we do not speak or sing in tongues during the worship service and encourage those who have the gift to use it either quietly or in private.

 

Some claim that the Spirit’s infillings, particularly secondary infillings, should result in the involuntary falling to the earth, either fully conscious or unconscious.  Today, this event is called, “being slain in the Spirit.” 

 

Back in the mid-1800’s in the southern US a group of Pentecostals were the first to be called “Holy Rollers” because they not only feel to the floor, they literally rolled on the floor when they were filled with the Spirit.

 

If you were around 20 years ago, you may have heard of or experienced yourself what was called the Toronto Blessing, because it began at the former Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. 

 

There were some unusual “manifestations” that were said to be the result of God’s Spirit falling on people:  Besides the speaking in tongues and being slain in the Spirit, people also ended up shaking wildly, laying in a fetal position on the ground, rolling on the ground, weeping or shaking uncontrollably, crawling around the ground or jumping wildly, laughing uncontrollably, growling, howling, barking, grunting or clucking. 

 

There are enough examples on YouTube for you to find out what it looked like.

 

Personally, I do not see much harm in someone being slain in the Spirit, although I would caution that there is no precedent for it in Scripture, and at times I find that a few of those who have the ability to slay in the Spirit are self-seeking charlatans.

 

However, I do think that the excesses found at the Toronto Airport church were not due to an infilling of the Holy Spirit, [psychological damage, Steve and his wife divorcing after going, etc.].  This are the reasons the Vineyard denomination distanced itself from this church.

 

After all, Paul tells the believers in Corinth that:

 

God is not a God of confusion but of peace. … So let all things be done decently and in order.

                                                1 Corinthians 14:33,40

 

Or, should the filling of the Spirit result in the ability to foretell the future or convey some other prophetic word from God? 

 

Prophecy in the early church may not have concerned itself so much with predicting future events, especially the distant future, as it had to do with the ability to hear and convey a message from God - beyond an exposition of a biblical passage.  As such, there may be some overlap between prophecy and the so called word of wisdom or the word of knowledge.    

 

However, as you can well imagine, it is quite possible for someone to give a message from God that originates only in his thoughts or desires, rather than from actually hearing God’s voice.  That is where the gift of discernment of spirits would come in handy – the ability to say, “yes, this is from God” or “no, this is not from God.” 

 

Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth that whenever someone prophesied in church, the rest should weigh or pass judgment on what is being said (1 Cor 14:29), ostensibly to discern the truth or falsehood of what is being said.  

 

And what about what has been termed “signs and wonders”, generally understood in terms of physical healings?

 

 

Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.

                                                                                    Acts 5:12

 

The expression, “signs and wonders”, is not from the list of spiritual gifts in 1 Cor 12.  Instead it is found in the description of the early church where the apostles were said to perform signs and wonders (particularly toward the beginning of the book of Acts).[15] 

 

We should keep in mind, that these works of power seem to evidence themselves when the Gospel was proclaimed by the apostles (the primary ministry of the apostles besides prayer - Acts 6:2,4). 

 

Quite apart from the original apostles, the apostle Paul also seems to speak of his own ability to do signs and wonders and mighty works in conjunction with his preaching.  These he calls the true signs of apostleship (Rom 15:19; 2 Cor 12:12).

 

He further points out that the through the Spirit, miracles and healings were still taking place in the church at Corinth (1 Cor 12:9-10,28; cf. Gal 3:5 where God is said to still work miracles among the people).

 

To my thinking, we pray for and anoint with oil, whether during a worship service, or at a small group meeting, or in the hospital, because we know and believe with our whole heart that God can in fact heal. 

 

When someone has the genuine spiritual gift of healing or miracles, then they are more effective at doing this.  However, keep in mind that it is highly unlikely that those with this spiritual gift (or any other gift) will use it in order to enrich themselves, or by making false claims (such as one who falsely claiming to cure terminal illnesses). 

 

So beware of Televangelists who give themselves titles such as “prophet” or “apostle” or “bishop”, as if that ensures that they are actually on the up and up as they try to fleece the gullible and desperate.  

 

Realize that the gifts of the Spirit are to be used in humility and self-sacrificial service, not self-aggrandizing and greed.   Jesus warned (Matt 24:11) that many false prophets will come and deceive many. 

 

And the apostle Paul noted in his letter that the most impressive spiritual gifts are nothing if they are not motivated by loving concern for others (1 Cor 13:1). 

 

So a person can have all the personal charisma in the world, be the most eloquent of orators, be apparently successful in praying for the sick, be able to speak in tongues, have great stage presence, … yet what he or she does is meaningless because the motive is self-seeking.

 

The Spirit gifts all believers with spiritual gifts … when he first indwells them, or at times during secondary infillings.  However, it would be a mistake to think that the Spirit HAS TO manifest himself in the same way to all believers.  Why?  Because the Spirit is the one who apportions the gifts as he determines (1 Cor 12:11).

 

So if you are a believer, the HS lives inside of you, even if you’re not overwhelmed with his presence.  The Spirit has given you at least one spiritual gift.  If you don’t know what it is, there are enough courses and questionnaires out there that you can use to at least give you some hint as to what it may be:

 

What am I good at (skills, abilities, talents)?

What do others say I’m good at?

How am I currently helping others?

Do I have compassion for a group of people?

What brings me great satisfaction?

Where do I want to get involved?

 

However, often we don’t need a questionnaire, we simply need to do something in service to others and see if we are effective and joyful in doing this.  Because most often the place where we are most effective, joyful, fulfilled, and talented is the very area that the Spirit is blessing us with his gifting.

 

DO I KNOW HOW THE SPIRT HAS GIFTED ME AND AM I USING THE GIFT IN SERVICE TO OTHERS?

 

Today we have seen some of the more outward manifestations of the Spirit.  Next week we will be looking at the more inward manifestations of the Spirit … and how those are more important in giving us assurance of salvation.

 

[1] Curses = Deut 28:15-68; 29:21-28.

[2] Blessings = Deut 28:1-14; permanent restoration = Deut 30:1-10.

[3] See also Matt 3:11; Acts 1:5; Mark 1:7-8 (does not mention “fire”)

[4] It is unclear what Scripture Jesus was referring to.  Zech 18:8-9 - On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.  The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.  Jeremiah describes YHWH as the fountain of living waters (cf. Jer 2:13; 17:13).  The poet describes his lover as a fountain of living water (cf. Song of Songs 4:15).  Neither the apocrypha nor the pseudepigrapha contain a verse similar to Jesus’ quote.

[5] For the use of the term Paraklete to refer to the Holy Spirit see also John 14:26, 15:26; 16:7.  Also: counselor, encourager, comforter, advocate.

[6] Similar in Acts 1:4 (the promise of the Father).  John has the Father sending the Spirit on Jesus’ behalf.  Luke has Jesus sending the Spirit who was promised by the Father.

[7] The normal Greek term for “wind” is Anemos (cf. Rev. 7:1).  Here Luke uses Pnoes (blowing, breath, by extension wind), which, similar to the word Pneuma (spirit, Spirit, breath, wind), can have a number of meanings, and may indicated that the noise (Echos) of the “violent blowing” can be identified with the presence of the Spirit.

[8] It is possible that only men, not women, spoke in tongues - Acts 2:15“These (outoi = m.pl.) are not drunk …”

[9] Already in Acts 1:4 Jesus refers to the coming of the Spirit as “the promise from the Father.”  See also Jesus’ prediction in Luke 24:49, “I am sending forth the promise of my Father upon you.”  Here Peter speaks of the Holy Spirit as a gift, the promise (from God).  See also Acts 11:17.

[10] According to Acts 10:27 a large number of people had assembled in Cornelius’ house when Peter and those with him entered.

[11] See also Luke 11:13 - If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

[12] Come back to the point that further indwelling of the HS is more likely when we do not quench his work through prayerlessness, etc.

[13] Paul considers gifts to have a descending order of importance, prophecy and teaching tobe among the top, healing and miracles to follow, and tongues to be the least important (1 Cor 12:28).

[14] According to Paul, tongues, prophecy and knowledge will pass away when the perfect comes.  It seems to me that this is not speaking of the age after the apostles, but of the time after Jesus returns.

[15] Acts 2:43, 3:1-10; 4:24-30; 5:1-11, 12-16; 6:8; 8:4-8, 13,40; 9:17-19, 32-43; 12:6-11; 13:6-12; 14:8-18; 16:16-18, 25-8; 19:11-20; 20:7-12