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The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit / Week 47 – November 14th
“Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in
the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on
Definition of terms
The Bible teaches that there is a work of the Holy Spirit upon the repentant sinner’s life whereby he or she is regenerated and receives the gift of eternal life. The nature of this saving work of the Holy Spirit is described by Paul in Titus 3:5-6:
“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.”
The Bible teaches that there is a work of the Holy Spirit upon the believer whereby he or she receives power to witness and serve Christ in the world. This work is called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The nature of this work of the Holy Spirit is described by Jesus Himself in the Gospel of Luke chapter twenty four and verse forty-nine.
In Ephesians 1:13 Paul clearly states that after they believed and were saved they were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Once again the wording is similar to that of Jesus in that Paul refers to the, “Holy Spirit of promise.” This promise they received after they had accepted the Gospel and had believed. Jesus, in John’s Gospel, gave a similar understanding of the twofold work of the Holy Spirit as defined above in John seven and verses thirty-seven to thirty-nine. That is, those believing, meaning the saved Disciples would receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The Disciples were not saved or regenerated by the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost! They were in fact saved when Jesus called them and that’s when they were “born again”
Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus in John three illustrates this as He rebukes Nicodemus for not being born again even though he is a “teacher in Israel.” This life giving born again experience is imparted, according to Jesus, by the Holy Spirit who comes to the repentant person like the wind. (John 3:8) It is important to note that it would not be right of Jesus, or even rational, to rebuke Nicodemus for something that he could not experience until the resurrection of Jesus. Nicodemus and the Disciples were all saved and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Without this life giving work in their hearts they could not go out as Jesus commanded them to teach and heal! The unsaved or unregenerate cannot heal the sick, cast out devils and even preach.
The Day of Pentecost, as confirmed by Jesus’ own words, was the reception of power by the Holy Spirit by which the disciples could go out into the world and be Jesus’ powerful witnesses. It is important to note that this remains the exclusive context of Jesus’ admonition to the Disciples in terms of being baptized with the Holy Spirit. This is certainly undeniable! Note: Acts1:8.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has
come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in
Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the end
of the earth.”
The position put forth above is borne out by the historical record of the preaching of the Disciples as we find it recorded in Acts.
1. The believers were baptized with power on the day of Pentecost (Acts2:1-4)
2. The people in Samaria received the message of the Gospel and when the Disciples in Jerusalem heard of it they went down to them to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17) So this demonstrates that they were not baptized in the Holy Spirit when they first yielded their lives to Christ; they were instead regenerated or “born again” by the Spirit. In fact, they were even baptized in water as a public confession of their faith but had not received the Holy Spirit in power. If they needed to be saved this is indeed strange terminology and practice because it means that people baptized in water were not actually saved! Unsaved people need to be led through repentance and the reception of Christ. These were not unsaved people; they were saved and had already been baptized in water!
3. Acts 19:1-6 is a very clear example of this twofold work of the Holy Spirit in that there were believers at Ephesus who had become such through the powerful preaching of Apollos. The context makes this very clear. Paul found them and asked if they had received the Holy Spirit when they came to faith. In one way, of course they did but they didn’t know it because they had received Christ into their hearts by the Holy Spirit. They were just not baptized with the Spirit and thus after baptizing them in water Paul laid hands on them and they were filled with Spirit.
4. The early Disciples were baptized in the Spirit on the day of Pentecost but thereafter they were filled time and again with the Spirit (Acts 4:31). This is precisely why Paul exhorts all believers to be constantly filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18) This is not a reference to the losing of their regenerated life in Christ but to the fact that we allow things to creep into our lives that weaken our power in Jesus to serve Him effectively in the world. We must receive the command to be filled with the Spirit as by doing this we will keep our lives clean before God since He gives his Holy Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).
There are those who reject the position I have outlined above and instead assert that believers in Jesus get everything the Holy Spirit can give them, including the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, when they repent, receive Jesus and are saved. The problem with this theory is that the church groups that teach it have no manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their congregational life. That is, if you attend their meetings you will never hear tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy and singing in the Spirit! The churches that do embrace what I have written above do.
This leaves the “nay sayers” in a dilemma in that they have to do one of three things:
1. Humble themselves accept that they are wrong and change their theology and practice.
2. Reject the reality of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a separate experience and thus, 3. Assert that what Pentecostal churches experience is fake! In some cases, they even claim that it is demonic!
Most will not humble themselves in this respect, as many of us had to, and so they reject the teaching of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with its manifestations of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and instead claim that these are indeed fake as they ceased 2000 years ago. To support this notion, they invariably quote 1 Corinthians 13:10 out of context. Paul is here speaking about the perfection of eternity and is in no way claiming that the gifts of the Holy Spirit passed away with apostolic period.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are the tools that God in Christ gives us in order to impact the world with the love of Jesus. The disciples needed them before going out into the world and so do we. They will only come to our lives when we are Baptized with the Holy Spirit and clothed with power from on high. It is no coincidence then that the fastest growing part of the Church of Jesus Christ today is the Pentecostal one or is it all fake?