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The Holy Spirit
And the Holy Spirit Gifts
By Graham Pearce
God And His Spirit Operations
God Is Spirit
By our study of the Bible we have come to know that there is one God, supreme in power, wisdom, righteousness and goodness. He is a Person, for James says we are made in the image of God even the Father (James 3:9); and so not unreasonably we think of God in the form of ourselves. This real sense of God's person is supported by the words of Gabriel that he stands in the presence of God (Luke 1:19), and by the knowledge that the Lord Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. As it were, we measure the bodily form of God by these facts. He is a real Person, existing at the centre of His universe, attended by His angelic host.
Of God's being we have one simple, profound statement by Jesus: "God (is) Spirit" (John 4.24). It is a statement for us to believe, that God is essentially Spirit. We can only know something of what Spirit is by its manifestations.
Spirit Of God
Outflowing from God is Spirit power, as light from a source; this is the Spirit of God. By His Spirit all things are in His presence: "Whither shall I go from Thy presence? . . . . Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee but the night shineth as the day" (Ps. 139:7,12). By His Spirit all things exist: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light" (Gen. 1, 2, 3). By His Spirit all things are sustained: "lf He gather unto Himself His spirit and His breath; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again to His dust" (Job 34:14-15). "Thou sendest forth Thy spirit, they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth" (Ps. 104:30).
Distinct from the Spirit creating and sustaining the natural world, His Spirit also operates to fulfil His spiritual purpose in creation. John says this purpose was to bring life: the life of God in men, first morally, then physically. His Spirit operating to this end is called Holy Spirit. All divine activity advancing this purpose is by Holy Spirit: Spirit set apart, as it were, for this purpose; Spirit that is working towards sanctification.
The use and control of the Holy Spirit is in the hands of the angels. They themselves are Spirit, as the Psalmist says: "Who maketh His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire" (Psalm 104:4). They carry out His purpose, as the previous Psalm says: "Bless the Lord, ye His angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening to the voice of His word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye His hosts; ye ministers of His, that do His pleasure" (Ps. 103:20-21). The angels are now under the control of the Lord Jesus, directed by him in carrying out the Father's will in the earth. . . ."Jesus Christ; who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of the Father; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him" (1 Pet. 3:22). In the great work of bringing many sons unto glory, they are described as "sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Heb. 1:14). They use the Holy Spirit in the providential control of the lives of the saints; and of the world rulers, and the nations.
The Holy Spirit Gift
Having briefly considered what the Bible says about God, the Spirit of God, and the Holy Spirit, we now come to the Holy Spirit Gift. The Greek for "gift" is sometimes
chara, the word that is akin to charisma, grace; but not infrequently it is dorea meaning simply a gift. Dorea is used in Acts 2:38, and in all places throughout the Acts of the Apostles for the gift of the Holy Spirit. A gift is "that which is given; something transferred to another's possession, without price or any equivalent value being received in exchange." So with the Holy Spirit Gift the sense is of a direct transfer of something from God (via the angels) to man; a distinct entity given and received as a possession. This is the idea inherent in the word "gift." God has given, gifted, his Holy Spirit power at certain times to selected men, a gift which God's purpose with men required at the time. In the full span of God's unfolding purpose we can discern three epochs of the Holy Spirit given to men; one at the beginning of His work with His holy nation at its founding under Moses; the second in the ministration of the New Covenant by the apostles after Christ's resurrection; and the third in the future when the holy nation is regenerated and restored and enters the New Covenant. These are epochs when the needs of the time required a more direct control by God of faithful men who he had appointed.
(1) In the time of Moses
Take the first epoch under Moses. We read in Numbers 11 how Moses, despite his possession of Holy Spirit power in large measure, felt unable to carry the burden of a nation that so readily rebelled against divine law. So God took some of His Spirit and conferred it on seventy suitable men, elders of the people: "And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the Lord and gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease" (Num. 11:24-25).
We should note that it was quite apparent that they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit; "they prophesied and did not cease," and two others who had remained in the camp alarmed those near them by doing likewise.
When Moses passed off the scene, God transferred Holy Spirit of Joshua. "And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him" (Deut. 34:9). This is detailed in Numbers 27:18-23.
Another group of people also had the Holy Spirit Gift at this time for another special task. We read it in Exodus 35: 30-31. "The Lord hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and hath filled him with
the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge and in all manner of workmanship; .... to work in gold ... and in the cutting of stones, to set them .... And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he and Aholiab." The account goes on to speak of others in whom God put wisdom. The building and furnishing of the tabernacle was an extensive and intricate task, and it all had to be done "according to the pattern," because it must be a foreshadowing of Messiah. Sothere was a direct inworking of the Holy Spirit that the task might be accomplished.
We should note how closely parallel these events at the beginning of a new era under the "old covenant" are with the account of the guidance provided by the Holy Spirit in the midst of the first century ecclesias at their inception. In each case there was a Holy Spirit gift to meet the needs of the case and it was apparent that the power of God was manifest through his chosen men, in their wisdom and skill and teaching.
Outside this epoch of some two generations when the HoIy Spirit was poured out on a number of people for special purposes there was a more or less continuous gift of the Holy Spirit to, few men who gave God's communications to his people. These were the prophets, whether Enoch, Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah and the later prophets. As Peter says: "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:21) The prophets had their credentials from God; either by working miracles, as Elijah, or by short-term prophecies fulfilling, it was apparent that they had received Holy Spirit guidance and control from God. After the return from Babylon there was a long silence of the prophets: as Micah had predicted: "The sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them" (Micah 3:6).
The following diagram illustrates the manifestation of the Spirit of God.
The top line represents the Spirit of God operating in the
natural world, ever present, but with extra activity at Creation, at the Flood, and in the changes when Jesus returns; the desert blossoming as a rose, Jerusalem being lifted up, etc. The second line represents the Holy Spirit Gift to men: the thin line from the beginning representing the word of the prophets, with an increase at the time of Moses; the thin line is missing during the last 400 years B.C.
(2) In the time of Jesus and the Apostles
The second great epoch of the gift of the Holy Spirit was in the time of Jesus and the apostles: greater than in Moses' time, as befitted the appearing of the Son of God and the setting forth of the fulness of the gospel not only for Jew but also Gentile. See how the Holy Spirit was visibly given to men at this time. Jesus was begotten by the power of the Holy Spirit upon Mary; he received an inflowing of Spirit from His Father "without measure" when he became the "Messenger of the Covenant" to Israel, and he began his work with the quotation from Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me .... This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears" (Luke 4:18-21). Then the twelve received the Holy Spirit Gift for a period when sent out by their Master. Their preaching was supported by Spirit-power to heal and cast out demons. "Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick" (Luke 9:1-2). After the resurrection we come to the great outpouring of Spirit on the day of Pentecost and immediately thereafter. The character and extent of the outpouring were remarkable. It was initiated by a sudden rushing mighty wind and cloven tongues like as of fire, and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. The operation of the Holy Spirit was continually supported by signs and miracles of healing: the man lame from his mother's womb "leaping up stood and walked." "They brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one;" "And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women" (Acts 5:14-16).
The miracles were an integral part of the Holy Spirit manifestation, but as in the time of Moses the essential work of the Spirit was to provide teaching and wisdom for the needs of the time. The Spirit was necessary for the authoritative preaching of salvation through the New Covenant, superceding the Law of
Moses; and the miracles declared the goodness of God, and established the credentials of the apostles in the eyes of men and women who were devoted to the Word of God under the Mosaic covenant.
The Holy Spirit Gift was effective in at least four directions.
(a) The final witness against the Jewish State: This witness had already developed at the end of Jesus' ministry, as expressed in the long indictment of Matthew 23, and Jesus commissioned the apostles to complete this witness through the Holy Spirit: "But if I depart, I will send him (the Comforter) unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the (Jewish) world of sin, and righteousness and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness because I go to my Father and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world (the rulership of the Jewish world) is judged" or condemned (John 16:7-11).
As one reads the early chapters of the Acts one sees the apostles carrying out this witness against the rulers, and being persecuted for it. They fulfilled the words of Jesus: "And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, ... Take no thought what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you" (Matt. 10:18-20).
(b) The establishing of the new doctrine in Jesus Christ: The new teaching of forgiveness of sins through baptism into the name of Jesus Christ, and the recognition of Mosaic things as but shadows of good things to come, needed the authority and convincing power of the Spirit to satisfy the devout Jews. The Holy Spirit made the apostles infallible teachers: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have told you" (John 14:26).
The miracles they did gave adequate support to justify their teaching.
(c) The preaching of the true God amongst the Gentiles: The guidance given to Peter by the vision of the unclean beasts, and the outpouring of the Spirit on those assembled in the house of Cornelius as Peter started speaking, are well known. The preaching of Paul amongst the Gentiles is characteristically reported in Acts 14:3: "Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands."
When writing to the Corinthian believers Paul speaks of this
power among the Gentiles: Truly the signs of an apostle were necessary to bring the Truth of the God of Israel to the pagan world. In addition, when ecclesias were formed, the Holy Spirit Gift was granted for their guidance. A Spirit-aided eldership was formed in each ecclesia. So Paul says to the elders of the ecclesia of Ephesus: "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseer, to feed the flock of God" (Acts 20:28). We learn from 1 Corinthians 12 the details of this Holy Spirit gift. Selected men had each different functions by the Spirit, for the benefit of all. We will examine this later.
(d) An earnest of our inheritance: So Paul describes the Holy Spirit. It was a foretaste of the future. He puts this more clearly in Hebrews 6:4-6: "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come."
So the Holy Spirit gift introduced mortal men to the "powers of the world to come;" it was an earnest (an expression little used now, meaning a pledge or token) of more to come in divine nature and a Spirit governed world.
In these several ways the Holy Spirit Gift accomplished a unique work in the time of the apostles, as they brought into operation the New Covenant, and declared the Old Covenant, as decaying and ready to vanish away.
The Holy Spirit was needed for the start of this new dispensation, just as the Holy Spirit had been used similarly in the beginning of the Mosaic dispensation. Moses used Holy Spirit power to witness against the Egyptian rulers; Holy Spirit power wrought miracles continually amongst Israel in the wilderness, providing them with daily meat and drink; it clothed seventy elders with wisdom and the spirit of prophecy to help Moses in the government of the ecclesia in the wilderness; it gave wisdom and skill of hand to Bezaleel and Aholiab for the construction of the tabernacle and furniture; it provided them with an earnest of the powers to come. In both cases, in the times of Moses and Joshua, and the times of Jesus and the apostles, there was a definite and limited work to be done, and after the new order was established the Spirit power was not needed, and so ceased. After the first century there is no valid record of such Holy Spirit Gift poured out upon men. The New Covenant salvation having been inaugurated; the basis of the Gentiles becoming partakers of the Promises having been established; and the Last Message spanning the period to the second coming having been given to John, there was no further need in the wisdom of God for continuing direct Spirit Gift until the third great epoch.
(3) In the future
The third epoch of Spirit outpouring among men will be the greatest, as we have shown in our illustration. Just as the second epoch was greater than the first because of the wider aspect of the developed Jewish nation and the Gentile world, so in the future the work is still greater, in the restoring of the Holy nation from their long dispersion, and in the development of spiritual and temporal rule on a global scale. The prophets speak of this pouring out of the Spirit upon Israel in the future: "upon the land of my people shall come thorns and briers . . . . until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field . . . . Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field . . . . And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation . . ." (Is. 32:13-18). Likewise Ezekiel, after the saving of Israel out of the hand of the great Gogian confederacy: "Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God .... Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God" (Ezek. 39:28-29). In the apostolic writings we learn how the Spirit will operate in that future time. The Spirit will fill the resurrected saints, who in every sense will become the dwelling place of the Spirit. Through them the particular gospel of that time will be proclaimed (Rev. 14:6), no doubt supported by miracle as in the past. The New Covenant will be nationally inaugurated, and Gentile nations will also be allowed to join themselves to the Lord, the God of Israel (Zech. 2:11).
This work of enlightening the world by this Spirit energised community is beautifully portrayed in the symbolism of Zechariah (Ch. 3), in his vision of the two olive trees, two olive branches and a 7 branched lightstand in the midst, and the angel's cryptic interpretation: "This is the word unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
Our diagram shows this pouring out of the Holy Spirit Gift in the future by an appropriately greater space; indicating too that the whole millennial age will be a ministration of the Spirit.
We conclude this sketch of the Holy Spirit Gift, with the emphasis that the gift was (1) always something quite manifest; there was revealed power; (2) it was poured out to accomplish defined tasks of a limited duration; (3) it was a direct influence over the men who receive it; it was certainly not the same thing as the Spirit of God in every believer, whether before or after Christ. This we will now consider.
The Spirit Of God in the Believer
The purpose of God is to fill the earth with His glory by a generation of people who do His will and reflect His character, described by Paul when writing to the Ephesian brethren as a temple fitly framed together for a habitation of God through the Spirit, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone. The process is one of moral perfection, followed by physical perfection in the divine nature. As Peter says: "According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness .... given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet. 1, 3, 4). The whole work is the work of God, with the individual's co-operation. It is all a work of the Holy Spirit, through the power of the word and ministrations of angels. The character that is formed is called "the new man of the Spirit." The Spirit of God is in such a person.
This is a most wonderful concept, that a new man can be formed, that the natural mind can be transformed into a Spirit mind, a mind attuned to God's mind and ways. The reality of this idea is expressed in several similar expressions in the scriptures, all of them having the basic idea that the 'new man' is begotten of God. Ponder these five passages of scripture:
1. Born of God: "As many as received him, to them he gave power to become sons of God, even them that believe on his name: which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13).
2. The Father begat us by the word of truth: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth ... receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls" (James 1:18-21).
3. Quickened by the spirit -- the word: "It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).
4. God's seed remaineth in him: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his (God's) seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (1 John 3:9).
5. Born of incorruptible seed: "Being born again (from above), not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is grass .... but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Pet. 1:23-25).
All five passages declare that the spiritual life in us has come from God: He begat us, His seed is in us, He quickened us,
we are born of God. This is a wonderful happening, which we should continually ponder over.
By The Power Of The Word
The placing of these passages side by side plainly shows that the new man within us "which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:22), was begotten by the word of God. Peter says an incorruptible seed of God has brought about the new birth, and this has come in the word of the gospel; James says plainly, He begat us with the word of truth; and Jesus says the word is spirit and quickens. The begetting power was in the word of God; and by this means the spirit of God is in us. These scriptures are written for us to believe and accept.
Not only does the spirit-word beget us, but it is the means of continuing growth; for Peter follows on where we stopped our quotation: "Wherefore laying aside all malice and all guile . . as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby." So it is not a true idea that the HoIy Spirit Gift takes over at baptism and guides the individual in righteousness; no, his devotion to the word of God and its power is the source of growth. Surely that which initiates life, which brings light where there was darkness, is capable and suitable for sustaining life and growth.
But though the transforming power resides in the word of God, it only becomes effective in the believer by his application of this word to himself. As Bro. Roberts wrote in the preface to the Bible Companion: "Salvation depends upon the assimulation of the mind to the divine ideas, principles, and affection exhibited in the Scriptures. This process commences with a belief of the gospel, but is by no means completed thereby; it takes a life-time for its scope, and untiring diligence for its accomplishment. The mind is naturally alien from God and all His ideas (Rom. 8:7; 1 Cor. 2:14), and cannot be brought at once to the Divine likeness. This is a work of slow development and can only be achieved by the industrious application of the individual to the means which God has given for this purpose, viz., the expression of His mind in the Scriptures of Truth; Spiritualmindedness, or the state of mind in accordance with the mind of the Spirit as displayed in these writings can only grow within man by daily intercourse with that mind, there unfolded."
A man or woman cannot by their own efforts alone, achieve this spiritual- mindedness. There is also the good hand of God
overseeing the affairs of life, so that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose." Paul clearly defines this wonderful blessing of angelic care in the words: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Heb. 1:14). The angels behind the scenes, so shape the experiences of the life of the believer that the interworking of experience and the Word in the believer produces the desired character. This grows slowly, wonderfully, we know not how, just as the tree, carefully tended by the husbandman gradually unfolds into its mature shapely form beautiful with leaves, blossom and fruit. Bro. Roberts' book, The Ways of Providence, is a delightful and instructive account of providence in the lives of men of God of earlier time, with the implication that, if we can receive it, the same wonderful unseen hand will operate in our lives. Abraham said to his servant: "The Lord God of heaven, which took me from my father's house . . . . He shall send His angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from hence" (Gen. 24:7). And so it was, to the wonder of the servant, and Nahor's household. The angel guided his steps, and caused Rebekah to come to the well at just the right time. The angels are spirit beings linked directly with God by Spirit, and they exert their providential control by Spirit, designated Holy Spirit because it is exerted in the realm of salvation. Sometimes by the Holy Spirit they operate directly, physically, as when the record says: "For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife" (Gen. 20:18). Or as when Esau and Jacob were born, and Jacob's minute hand "took hold on Esau's heel." Sometimes it is no more than a prompting of the mind at the right time: Haman had caused the gallows to be made, and at that critical point, "On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles" from which he learnt of Mordecai's good deed (Esther 6:1-3). The all- powerful Lord Jesus, and his angelic host, see all our ways, and the pitfalls that lie ahead, and hear all our prayers. This is the powerful ministration of the Spirit, but not made known to us, other than by our looking back on experience, and feeling thankful that protection and blessing have been with us.
So the whole work of salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit, both in the power the word has to change our mind and disposition; and in the wonderful grace of God in influencing the lives of His children by the angels. As the mind of God in the believer has been created by the Holy Spirit, it may be described as the Holy Spirit in us, the Spirit of God in us, God in
us, Christ in us, Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, etc. As we have seen, this work of the Holy Spirit does not require the giving of the Holy Spirit Gift as on the day of Pentecost; nor does it support the belief of some brethren today that they have the Gift now, to mould and direct their lives.
The character formed is called the new man of the Spirit. It is a spirit in us in harmony with God's mind. Such a character is precious. It will be in God's mercy perpetuated for ever. It is not improper to call such a character spirit, for it has been developed by the Spirit. It is a reality. It is something built into a man's make-up; it is part of himself; it is not an entity which can be given or taken away, as the Holy Spirit Gift. The very conformation of the brain, and the facial reflection of this character are the physical expression of this spirit character. And this will be made permanent when this corruptible puts on incorruption.
The Spirit of God in the believer is shown on the diagram as a steady line from the beginning. This makes it plain that the work of the Holy Spirit was equally effective in the believer before as after Pentecost.
We have considered the Spirit of God in the believer in its present aspect of the growth of the new man of the Spirit. This is the first stage of the making of a son of God. There awaits a perfecting of the new man when Christ comes, and "this corruption puts on incorruption." Instead of the life being in the blood, the body is energised directly by Spirit -- it is a Spirit body. This change is described by Paul as a quickening, a start of life in a greater sense than at baptism. He says: "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Christ from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:11). Seen collectively, these Spirit beings, like to the angels, are described as "a building fitly framed together;" "an holy temple in the Lord, in whom ye are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22).
The Spirit Of Man
While dealing with the Spirit of God in the believer, it may be helpful to note the use of spirit as referring to the human spirit. Paul wrote: "Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:20). Man is body, soul and spirit, and the spirit of man distinguishes him
from the lower creation. The power of God's word can elevate his spirit into a godly spirit. It is necessary to keep in mind this use of spirit when studying the scriptures on the Spirit of God in us. A few quotations will sketch the way spirit is used of man. "Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile" (Ps. 32:2). The Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41). "The Lord saveth such as be of a contrite spirit" (Ps. 34:18). In the Proverbs we read of a faithful spirit, a humble spirit, a proud spirit.
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