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Saturday, November 22, 2014


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The Contrast -- Between the Holy Spirit Gift at Penetcost and the Alleged Gift Today





A Great Work Of God

As we read the Acts of the apostles and then their epistles to the ecclesias, we find that there was some change in the manifestation of the Spirit as time went on. At the first the Holy Spirit was conferred on the apostles that they might establish salvation in the name of Jesus Christ, and declare the ending of the Mosaic system of worship, and this was supported by a widespread pouring out of Spirit upon believers. Later, as ecclesias were formed, especially among the Gentile believers, the Spirit was present for the orderly functioning of ecclesial life. This is explained by Paul in 1 Cor. 12 where he explained the 'spiritual gifts.' Our concern is to decide whether any of this activity of the Spirit has continued down to our time; or has been revived in our time; or whether the case is that the Holy Spirit Gift ceased after a defined work had been accomplished. Take the Holy Spirit Gift first poured out upon the apostles and the other disciples -- probably about 120 of them (Acts 1:15; 2:1). It gave power and authority to the apostles so that they could continue the work the Lord had started; they


were to act in his stead, as he had appointed them in John 16. They had "the keys of the kingdom of heaven," so that "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:13). The Holy Spirit, their "advocate," "led them into all truth" (John 16:19), so that their preaching was "by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven" (1 Peter 1: 12). Their obvious power and authority is apparent in the record of the Acts, and is illustrated by the following quotations: "And great fear came upon all the ecclesia, and upon as many as heard these things." "Of the rest durst no man join himself unto them: but the people magnified them;" "Behold ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood on us;" "and with great power gave the apostles witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all;" "and the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly: and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith" (Acts 5:13; 5:28; 4:33; 6:7).

From Jerusalem the same superhuman advocacy of God's salvation extended outwards to the ends of the earth, even as Jesus had promised: "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). The record in the Acts shows it was so. The twelve were joined by Paul, and the power of the Holy Spirit in them caused the light of the Truth to shine in Pagan darkness. It guided their steps, as with Paul and his companions: "they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not;" it released Paul and Silas from the prison at the midnight hour; it caused them to speak boldly in the synagogues "disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God;" disease, evil spirits, even death itself was overcome by their power: no wonder the record says: "So mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed" (Acts 19:8; 12:20).

This was a manifest work of God by His Holy Spirit, acting directly on the men He was using. The essence of the matter was an authoritative work of teaching: preaching the gospel and witnessing to the Truth of God's work. Some brethren today are claiming that the real meaning of the Holy Spirit Gift was the conferring of an inner grace on the believer for the guidance of his life. The reader may be reminded of a quotation in our first chapter: "God bore witness to His gift of the Spirit in the first century by miraculous signs, and by these it was recognised. But the primary purpose of the gift for believers as a whole was


to help them live lives acceptable to Him, and therefore this reality persisted even when the signs ceased; and was of the essence of the matter even when the signs were there." This surely is not a correct presentation of what we read in the Acts of the Apostles. The picture there is of a wide-sweeping work, authorised, guided, managed by the Holy Spirit, in which certain men were the agents for the action of the Spirit. It was not a matter of an essential inner grace, and some outward signs thrown in. It was a work-of preaching authoritatively revealing God's mind to Jew and then to Gentile. Nothing like the picture in the Acts exists today.

The Holy Spirit was Power: Where is the Power Today?

The proposition that the visible miraculous part of the Gift has ceased, and an inner grace has continued is a false idea; a false idea prevelant in the churches. As the inner grace that it is claimed has continued to our times is something not obvious, or outward, the claim can be made without having to demonstrate it really exists. This may seem to some a convenient way of avoiding proof of the existence of the Holy Spirit Gift today. But the proposition will not stand up to the light of scripture. As we look through the Bible, we find that where men had the Spirit, it was always apparent that they had it. And so it would be today. As soon as the Spirit was given to the seventy elders to help Moses in the overseeing of Israel, it was quite obvious they had it: "When the Spirit rested on them they prophesied, and did not cease" (Num. 11:26). Two who remained in the camp did likewise to the surprise of the onlookers (vs. 26-28). It was manifest that Saul had the Spirit (1 Sam, 10: 6-7); likewise David (1 Sam. 17:34-35). So with John the Baptist: "John did no miracle," but his speech, his authoritative words, had obviously more than human power, as is apparent from reading Matthew 3. Jesus said of him: "He was a burning and a shining light." Throughout the Acts of the Apostles, ignoring the miracles that were done, the speech and wisdom of the Apostles had obvious power, that was seen by friend and foe alike: "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled" (Acts 4:13). The power of the Holy Spirit was manifest in what they said, quite apart from working miracles. If brethren today had the Spirit, it would be similarly apparent.

The Spirit Gift at Pentecost was described as power, whatever form it took in different individuals. Jesus said: "Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). Peter, on the day of Pentecost, said that believers


would share in this Holy Spirit outpouring; and brethren today are claiming that this promise comes down to us. So if we receive the Holy Spirit, it is receiving power. Power is something manifest. If brethren have the Holy Spirit they would reveal its power in some form. But they do not.

Paul in Corinthians also shows that the presence of the Holy Spirit was a power. He uses the word 'manifestation.' He describes all aspects of the Holy Spirit Gift as a manifestation of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7-11). It was something manifest, not hidden. So it would be today. If these brethren have the Spirit leading them into Truth, it will be manifest that they have the Spirit; and no doubt God would, as of old, support them with "signs following." The absence of visible proof that they have the Spirit, is evidence that they have not got the Spirit.

CONTENTS | CHAPTER 5: The Spirit Gifts in the First Century Ecclesias