1. Preamble

The mention of the phrase ‘Holy Spirit’ suggests that there could be or there is actually some spirit which is not holy. The framing of the topic also suggests that every spirit, holy or evil, has its works, that is, the things that such a spirit does, or the ways the spirit manifests itself. This lesson is interested in the way or manner that the Holy Spirit manifests itself in the lives of Christians – those who have been called and are in obedience to God in Christ through the word of God.

The Holy Spirit is a subject which spans the entire Scripture, and the Bible reveals that the Scripture is written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3: 16).

In studying the Holy Spirit, our only source of information is the Bible. We should be willing and ready to lay aside our preconceived notions, feelings and superstitions in order to understand and appreciate what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit.

Much of the confusion and outright falsehoods about the Holy Spirit today are as a result of people’s ignorance about what the Scripture teaches on the Holy Spirit or the outright and intentional distortion of the Scripture to suit personal feelings and preconceived ideas. There are many distortions about the Holy Spirit, but one that sticks out the most is the manner or mode of the Spirit’s influence on the Christian today.

There is perhaps no contention on the influence of the Holy Spirit on the Christian of the first century. The contention, however, is on whether the Holy Spirit works directly on the heart of man independent of the word of God or whether the influence of the Holy Spirit is through the means of the word of truth.

The distortions on the Holy Spirit are heightened by the increasing less dependence of many Christians on the Bible. Many are becoming less Bible-oriented, hence are unable to allow the Bible to speak to them on the Holy Spirit.

The truth is that where we stand on the subject of the Holy Spirit is an indication of our general religious belief. The underlying principle of this lesson,therefore, is that the word of God alone must determine our understanding of the Holy Spirit. That is to say, we must allow the Spirit to speak for Himself as He reveals through the inspired word of God.

But we must also caution ourselves that try as we can, we would not understand everything about the Holy Spirit and His work. We would have to be God to have a complete understanding of God and His work.However, our level of understanding does not determine the level of work of the Spirit.

 

    2.Objectives of the Lesson

The lesson is to help us to:

  1. Understand the person of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Appreciate the way the Holy Spirit works in the Christian in this dispensation.
  3. Flee from wrong doctrines on the Holy Spirit.
  4. Understand the work of the Holy Spirit, andtherefore allow the Spirit to accomplish His work in us.
  5. Cast away our personal notions and accept the teaching of the Bible on the Holy Spirit.
  1. The Person of the Holy Spirit

By the person of the Holy Spirit, we mean the nature or identity of the Holy Spirit. In this wise, the Holy Spirit is a person in the Godhead. When God said in Gen. 1: 26, Let Us make man in our image…., the Us included the Holy Spirit! The Godhead comprises God the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Godhead means divine nature or divine being. It refers to the attributes, properties and nature of God. What is the primary nature of God? It is His plurality.

The word “Godhead” is used three times in the New Testament:

Acts  17: 29Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

 

Rom. 1: 20 – For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

Col. 2: 9 – For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

That there are three persons in the Godhead does not suggest three different natures in person or personality. The Godhead is precisely the same in nature and character but manifests itself as three. For example, 2 Cor. 13: 14 states: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

This manifestation of three was mentioned at the baptism of Jesus in Mt. 3: 16 – 17: And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lightening upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, this is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Jesus the Son was baptized in water on earth. The Holy Spirit descended on Him in the likeness of a dove and the Father spoke from heaven.

The same three manifest in Mt. 28: 19 as Jesus commands: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit want us to understand that God works as one but are three in function. What is beyond our understanding is that the one true God works and manifests as a plurality. It does not mean that there are three Gods. It simply means that God could manifest Himself in many different persons in order to carry out His function.

 

The Scripture teaches that there is one God; the one God can manifest in three different “places” in reference to this world. For example, on earth, Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit, but saw a vision of the Son at the right hand of the Father. (But the being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into the heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God – Acts 7: 55 – 56)

Matt. 12: 28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come upon you.

 

See John 15: 26 – But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeded from the Father, He shall testify of me.

The Holy Spirit therefore is a distinct entity of the eternal Godhead in the sense that He has a specific work. He is not distinct in a sense of being separate. He simply has a distinctive work.

 

  1. Personality of the Holy Spirit

Personality refers to things such as emotions and feelings. We define our personality by the way we respond to others. In this wise, the Holy Spirit can be:

  1. grieved – Eph. 4: 30

vexed – Isa. 63” 10

lied to – Acts 5: 3

resisted – Acts 7: 51; I Thess. 5: 19

despised – Acts 10: 29

blasphemed and sinned against – Mt. 12: 31 – 32; Mk 3: 28 – 29

He can:

speak – Acts 13: 2; 2 Sam. 23: 1 – 2; Acts 1: 16, Acts 28_ 25.

hear – John 16: 3

teach – John 14: 26

 

If the Holy Spirit were an impersonal entity, these human reactions against the Spirit would make no sense.

 

  1. Gender of the Spirit

Deity has no gender in the sense of male or female, but the masculine gender is used in the Bible to refer to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. For example, Jesus said in John 14: 26:He (the Holy Spirit) will teach you all things, in John 15: 26 – Hewill testify of me in John 16: 13 – He will speak and He will tell you all things.

Paul said:  He who searches the hearts.

He makes intercessions (Rom. 8: 27).

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force (having no personality); a mystic force (strange, obscure or occultic) flowing in the air. He is a person or personality in the masculine gender as the father.

 

  1. Eternal attributes of the Holy Spirit

All the nature or qualities we would attribute to the Father and the Son, we also attribute

to the Holy Spirit. That is to say, the Holy Spirit manifests the same characteristics as God, just like the Father and the Son.

The Holy Spirit is omniscient – all knowing – in that He searches all things (I Cor. 2:10).

He is omnipresent – in that one cannot escape His presence (Psalm 139:7-10).

The Spirit is mentioned in the presence of the eternal Father and the Son (Matt. 3:3-17; 28:19-20; 2 Cor. 13:14).

The Holy Spirit is God. In Acts 5:3, Ananias and Sapphira lied tothe Holy Spirit. In verse 4, it is said that they lied to God.

Verse 3 – But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of price of the land?

Verse 4 – …thou has not lied unto men, but unto God.

When one lies to the Spirit, he lies to God, and vice versa. The Holy Spirit is not a minor God who is inferior to the Father and the Son.

The Holy Spirit is of the eternal Godhead who existed before the creation of the material world (Gen. 1, 1, 26).

 

  1. The Intellectual Characteristics of the Holy Spirit

Intellect means ability to the think, and to think one must have a mind.

The Holy Spirit has a mind (Rom. 8:27):

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Because He has a mind, He has freedom of choice – that is why He divided the miraculous gifts among those in the church according to His will.

He has the power of searching (1Cor. 2:10)

He has the power of loving (Rom. 15: 30)

And He can witness ( John 15: 26).

 

The Holy Spirit and the Early Church

For us to properly understand the works of the Holy Spirit in present dispensation, it is necessary that we first understand the place of the Holy Spirit in the early church.

We need to understand that the written word of God did not exist in the first century when the church was established.

Copies of the Old Testament existed, but were confined to the synagogues of the Jews. The New Testament Scriptures did not come until the latter part of the first century.

It was God’s plan, therefore, to directly instruct and lead the early Christians by miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.

We understand the work of the Holy Spirit in the early church in the context of the miraculous gifts which were given to enhance the establishment and spread of the ministry of the saints.

Christ Promised the Miraculous Gifts in Mark 16:15-18.

V.16    He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

V.17    And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

V.18    They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

The above portion makes reference to the apostles and Christians in general but the portion does not assume that everyone in the group of Christians would work miracles. The passage only talks about the signs that would follow “those who believe”.

The passage does not also state how the group would be empowered to work miracles.

The promised was fulfilled in Acts 2: 1ff with the outpouring of the Spirit in what is usually known as “the baptism of the Holy Spirit”.

In Acts 2:38, Peter assured that those who repented and were baptized would receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit”.

The Holy Spirit operated directly in the early church. That is to say, God worked through the miraculous gifts.

 

Baptism with the Holy Spirit

Baptism with the Holy Spirit literary means to be immersed into the will of the Spirit.

The person would come under the complete direction of the Holy Spirit. Thus when the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit, their will was submerged in the will of the Spirit

The apostles had the baptism in Acts 2:1-4 and spoke in tongues. Cornelius and his household had the baptism and spoke in tongues too.

We are uncertain, though, if Cornelius and his household received the revelation of truth as the apostles did.

What transpires when the Spirit was poured forth was uncertain, but in both cases, the apostles and Cornelius spoke in languages they did not learn.

However, in neither case did the recipients lose control of their senses. No one lost control of emotions and rolled on the floor.

When the apostles spoke after baptism with the Holy Spirit, they were coherent, logical and rational.

When Cornelius received the outpouring, the Jews present heard them praising God in languages they could understand (Acts 10:46).

They spoke in languages but what was spoken could be understood by all who beheld them speak.

Baptism with the Holy Spirit occurred two (2) times history.

Things to note:

  1. The spirit has not come upon anyone today as it did upon the apostles and household of Cornelius in the first century.
  2. Jesus is the administrator of the baptism with the Holy Spirit – it was Jesus who baptized with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33).
  • Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a promise, not a command (Acts 1:8, Luke 24:49). It was a promise to be received. No one was ever commanded to be baptized in the spirit.
  1. Baptism was unexpected. Jesus had promised the apostles but they did not know when to expect. They did not even know what baptism in the spirit was. Even at Cornelius’ place, the apostles had no idea. Peter says, And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them (Acts 11:15). They were astonished (Acts 10:45).

Purpose of baptism with Holy Spirit

  1. To empower and inspire the apostles.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all through, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said unto you (John 14:26).

In John 16:13, Jesus said he would imbue them with power from on high: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you with all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.

The same statement is reflected in Acts 1:8 and Luke 12:12. This was fulfilled on Pentecost (Acts 2).

  1. To signify the beginning of the church promised in Matt. 6:18: “…Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church…”
  2. On the household of Cornelius (Acts 10:44), it was to signify that the Gentiles must be reached with the gospel (Acts 11:18).
  3. To bear witness to Jesus (John 15:26): But when the comforter is come… he shall testify of me.
  4. To bear witness to the truth, i.e. to confirm the truth (Heb. 2:4): God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will?
  5. To guide the apostle in ministering to the church (John 16:13).

Diversities of Gift

First Cor. 12:4-11 speaks of the diversities of the miraculous gifts upon those who were so empowered by the Holy Spirit:word of wisdom; word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits, diverse tongues and interpretation of tongues. All this was for the edification of the church (Eph. 4:11-12).

Cessation of God’s Direct Operation

The Holy Spirit was not to operate directly for eternity in the church, hence the miraculous gifts He gave were to cease. The gifts were to exist till all would come to the unity of the faith (Eph 4:13-14): Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man; unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

The miraculous gifts were to exist until “that which is perfect has come” (1Cor. 13:10). That which is perfect in 1 Cor. 13:10 is the “perfect law of liberty” in James 1:25.

That perfect law is the Scripture: All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for direction, for instruction in righteousness.

This perfect law was made available that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2Tim. 3:17).

In reference to the miraculous gifts in the church, Paul stated in 1 Cor 13: 8-9 that they would cease:

But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away”. The gifts were “in part”. The inspired word is complete (2Tim 3:16-17).

Historically, miracles ceased in the church when the New Testament had come into being.

As God willed, those who had the gifts were no more in the world.

Outside the apostles, the only other set of disciples to have the miraculous gifts were those who were empowered by the apostles. An example was Timothy who had the gift through the laying on of the hand of Paul an Apostle: (2Tim 1:6).Acts 8:14-19; 19:1-6 also carry the same message..

Thus, upon the death of the last apostle and upon the death of the last disciple on whom an apostle had laid his hands on, the direct operation of the Holy Spirit through miracles ceased.

This was so because such disciples as Timothy had no ability to transfer the gift to another person as the apostles did. The perfect law of liberty was now available to lead the church, and we are in that dispensation.

 

The Works of the Holy Spirit in the Christian Today

Unfortunately but not surprisingly, some people still claim three things about the Holy Spirit today:

  • Holy Spirit Baptism (ii) A continuous inspiration or revelations from the Holy Spirit (iii) Manifestations of the Holy Spirit in tongue-speaking, healings and miracles.

The above claims border on people’s assumption that the Holy Spirit works directly upon the heart of men. However, it is not so.

We should kick start this discussion by saying that the Holy Spirit is as active in the church today as He was in the first century.

That is to say, He is doing His work to achieve the will of God – to bring all believers into eternal kingdom rest with God in heaven.

The concern about the works of the Holy Spirit is not whether He works, but how He works.

But surely He works in the life of the Christian. Those who have obeyed the gospel by hearing, believing, repenting of their sins, confessing Christ as the Son of God and are baptized are entitled to the Holy Spirit “as a gift”, not as their right but as a privilege promised to believers in Acts 2: 38.

Gift of the Holy Spirit would include the blessings Christians enjoy in Christ in this dispensation.

When one is baptized, he receives all that the Spirit has to offer him that is applicable to him at the particular time in history when he is converted.

The Spirit has indwelling relationship with the Christian, and the relationship begins at the time when the obedient believer submits his will to the Lord in immersion. Paul says in 2Tim. 1:14 that the Holy Spirit dwells in us: That good thing that was committed to thee keep by the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us. In John 14:17 Jesus says, even the Spirit of truth…ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

We must not assume that when one receives the Spirit, he will subsequently receive the miraculous work of the Spirit.

The Spirit would certainly work in the life of the obedient believer, but would do so in a non miraculous manner.

Even in the early days of the church, not everyone that believed received the miraculous gifts. Only those that the apostles laid their hands on received the miraculous gift but could not transfer. Even in today’s world, you do not delegate an authority delegated to you.

If one affirms that Acts 2:38 promises only miraculous gifts, then he would exclude the person and presence of the Spirit in the life of the Christian and vice versa.

The indwelling of the Spirit does not require sensible evidence to support it. We accept the fact of it on the strength of what the Holy Spirit says about it, just as we do the fact that He has granted us remission of sins.

Some persons in their mischief argue that if the Holy Spirit dwells in a multiplicity of Christians at once, then the Spirit is fragmented because He is a person. The answer is that while the Spirit is a divine person, He cannot be thought of in terms of human existence. When Jesus said the Spirit would be “in” the apostles, He did say not the Spirit would be fragmented.

Omnipresence is a divine characteristic of the Spirit. (Psalm 139:7-12): Whether shall I go from thy spirit?

Today, the instrument of the Spirit is the word (Eph 6:17): And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.

 

We must note that contrary to popular opinion, God’s spirit is not given to sinners to convert them. Rather the Spirit is given to God’s children – the believers (Gal 4:6 – Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father). The Spirit comes, not to make us sons, but because we have become sons of God.

The Spirit through the inspired word works on the minds and hearts of sinners, convicting them: And when he (the Spirit) is come, he may reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment (John 16:8).

When a sinner believes the gospel message, repents and is baptized, he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). God’s Spirit is only given to those who in faith obey Christ. We receive the promise of the spirit through faith (Gal. 3:14).

God gives the Spirit as a gift to His children, and Jesus said this. Himself in Luke 11:13: If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

 

In John 7:38-39 Jesus says:

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive).

Peter tells us of the Holy Spirit God hath given to them that obey him (Acts 5:32).

The Spirit leads the believers on the path of righteousness:

For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14).

           

When we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism, the Holy Spirit becomes God’s seal or stamp of approval or ownership of us (2 Cor. 1:22).

Ephesians 1:13-14 takes the point further by saying that after we have heard the word of truth, even the gospel of our salvation, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest or assurance of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased.

 

Our possession of the spirit as evidence of our sonship: Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us his spirit (1 John 4:13). Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God (1 John3:1)  

 

The Spirit helps in our infirmities; He makes intercession for us in a way we do not understand:(Rom 8:26: Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercessions for us with groaning which cannot be uttered).

 

The Holy Spirit is a comfort to the children of God – when we work in the fear of the Lord  The churches in Judea and Galilee having walked in the fear of the Lord, were edified and had the comfort of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31).

The Spirit therefore helps us as children of God to put to death the things of the flesh i.e He helps us to overcome the powers of sin (Rom 8:13).

Led by the spirit, in the comfort of the Spirit, we enjoy the communion of the Spirit(2 Cor 13:14) and have fellowship of the Spirit(Phil 2:1).

The Holy Spirit Himself bears witness that we are children of God(Rom 8:16: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God).

 

Evidence of Indwelling Spirit

Those who have God’s spirit in their hearts will reflect such in attitude and conduct. They will love the Bible which the Spirit caused to be written ( I long after thy precepts – Psalm 119:40; I love thy precepts – Psalm 119:159).

The men filled with the Spirit will be led by the word of the Spirit(Rom. 8:14).They mind the things of the Spirit (Rom 8:6).

They will mortify or kill the desires of the flesh (Rom 8:13). Their lives will manifest the fruit of the Spirit as enumerated in Gal. 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, long-suffering etc.

 

The Holy Spirit and Salvation

The word of God which the Spirit inspired is able to save souls – James 1:21.

In all conversions recorded in Acts, souls were saved only after hearing the word of God and obeying the divine will (Acts 2:1-47). The Christian is saved through, baptism and the renewing of the Holy Spirit – Titus 3:5.

The Christian receives the Holy Spirit only after obeying the gospel.

The Spirit has given us conditions for salvation – He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.

 

Holy Spirit and Intuition

Many claim that the spirit whispers words into their ears or speaks to them. That is hard to ascertain but we know that the Spirit leaves us through the instruction of the scripture which he caused to be written (2 Pet. 1:21).

Intuition is a feeling one has; this feeling occurs within the bounds of nature. You may wake up and feel you should or should not do anything. The circumstances of the moment may encourage or discourage you. It may be the Spirit working in you but He does not whisper. That is why psychologists often want us to listen to our intuitions.

 

SOME THOUGHTS ON INDIRECT WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

  1. Does the Spirit being indwelling suggest that the Spirit is limited by the location of the Spirit in the Christian? The answer is No. Beyond the Christian where He dwells, the Spirit still works among nations of the world in order to bring about His purposes. That is why we always intercede for rulers and those who know not God to come into His knowledge for possible salvation.
  2. The Spirit works through His words and His natural laws allow man the choice of what he wants to do. The spirit does not compel man, but guards the free moral agency of man – whether to be good or bad, whether to serve God or not. He works through His inspired Book – the Bible.
  3. The Holy Spirit does not work in a mystical way. He does not work in a superstitious way. There is nothing mystic about God’s requirements that for men to have salvation, they must obey His words. The problem is that man seems not to be satisfied with this,and therefore attempts to attach some mystery to the Holy Spirit, such that only a select few would, by their own presumptions, access the Holy Spirit. In the process, man attempts to mystify Christianity through the establishment and enforcement of various groups and rules e.g 6th and 7thBooks of Moses, turning the Bible into a mystic book for the purposes of invocation and spiritism.

God’s ways are mysterious because we cannot understand His ways, but they are not mystic.

Mysticism – Doctrine of direct communication or spiritual intuition of divine truth.

 

IMPLICATIONS OF THE DIRECT OPERATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

 

For people to expect the Holy Spirit to still operate through miracles is an admission by such persons of their ignorance of the Scripture…particularly concerning the purpose of miracles and the expiration of them.

Secondly, if God operates directly on the heart of man, then God is directly responsible for the condition of the heart of the individual of any one time. That is to say, if a Christian falls and fails, then God must accept responsibility since He is assumed to operate directly on the heart of man. Man would have lost his free moral agency. He would attribute his failings to God.

Thirdly, if the Spirit works directly on the heart of man, it means that the Spirit would miraculously change the heart of man, and man would not have to hear the gospel, believe the gospel, repent, confess Christ and be baptized. But the truth is that the Spirit works on the moral character of man through His words. This ensures the free moral agency of man – he has the right to choose his path. That is why Solomon says in Eccl. 7:29 that God created man upright, but they have devised many schemes…his own schemes.

When God brushes aside His natural laws and lays bare the working of His hand, we see Him directly through His miraculous work. Any direct work of the Spirit in the physical world is miracle. For example, the creating the physical world was outside the natural, hence it was God working directly to change the physical environment.

This work is clearly evident in the powers, wonders and signs that Jesus worked and which the apostles achieved through the importation and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

We recall that through the baptism of the Holy Spirit the apostles and later by the early disciples were empowered to work miracles for the following reasons:

(i) To empower and inspire the apostles.

(ii) To signify the beginning of the church promised in Matt. 16:18

(iii) On the household of Cornelius (Acts 10:44), it was to signify that the Gentiles must    be and have been reached with the gospel (Acts 11:18).

(iv) To bear witness to Jesus (John 15:26), to bear witness to the truth, i.e. to confirm the truth (Heb. 2:4): God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will?

(v) To guide the apostle in ministering to the church (John 16:13).

The Holy Spirit was not to operate directly for eternity in the church, hence the miraculous gifts He gave were to cease. The gifts were to exist till all would come to the unity of the faith (Eph 4:13-14): Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man; unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

The miraculous gifts were to exist until “that which is perfect has come” (1Cor. 13:10). That which is perfect in 1 Cor. 13:10 is the “perfect law of liberty” in James 1:25.

In reference to the miraculous gifts in the church, Paul stated in 1 Cor 13: 8-9 that they would cease:

But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away”. The gifts were “in part”. The inspired word is complete (2Tim 3:16-17).

Historically, miracles ceased in the church when the New Testament had come into being.

 

Today, through the Spirit, the knowledge of what is expected of us by God has been revealed. It is up to man to decide how to act on this knowledge (2 Tim. 3:16):

All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

It is through the Spirit that all things have been granted us (2 Peter 1:3).

It is the Spirit who accomplishes His work in us as we work out our salvation (Phil 2: 12-13).

 

RECAP

There is perhaps no contention on the influence of the Holy Spirit on the Christian of the first century. The contention, however, is on whether the Holy Spirit works directly on the heart of man independent of the word of God or whether the influence of the Holy Spirit is through the means of the word of truth.

 

The distortions on the Holy Spirit are heightened by the increasing less dependence of many Christians on the Bible. Many are becoming less Bible-oriented, hence are unable to allow the Bible to speak to them on the Holy Spirit.

But we must also caution ourselves that try as we can, we would not understand everything about the Holy Spirit and His work. We would have to be God to have a complete understanding of God and His work. However, our level of understanding does not determine the level of work of the Spirit.

 

The Person of the Holy Spirit

 

By the person of the Holy Spirit, we mean the nature or identity of the Holy Spirit. In this wise, the Holy Spirit is a person in the Godhead. When God said in Gen. 1: 26, Let Us make man in our image…., the Us included the Holy Spirit! The Godhead comprises God the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

That there are three persons in the Godhead does not suggest three different natures in person or personality. The Godhead is precisely the same in nature and character but manifests itself as three. For example, 2 Cor. 13: 14 states: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit want us to understand that God works as one but are three in function. What is beyond our understanding is that the one true God works and manifests as a plurality. It does not mean that there are three Gods. It simply means that God could manifest Himself in many different persons in order to carry out His function.

Personality of the Holy Spirit

Personality refers to things such as emotions and feelings. We define our personality by the way we respond to others. In this wise, the Holy Spirit can be:

  1. grieved – Eph. 4: 30

lied to – Acts 5: 3

If the Holy Spirit were an impersonal entity, these human reactions against the Spirit would make no sense.

Gender of the Spirit

Deity has no gender in the sense of male or female, but the masculine gender is used in the Bible to refer to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. For example, Jesus said in John 14: 26: He (the Holy Spirit) will teach you all things, in John 15: 26 – Hewill testify of me in John 16: 13 – He will speak and He will tell you all things.

Eternal attributes of the Holy Spirit

All the nature or qualities we would attribute to the Father and the Son, we also attribute

to the Holy Spirit. That is to say, the Holy Spirit manifests the same characteristics as God, just like the Father and the Son.

The Holy Spirit is omniscient – all knowing – in that He searches all things (I Cor. 2:10).

He is omnipresent – in that one cannot escape His presence (Psalm 139:7-10).

The Spirit is mentioned in the presence of the eternal Father and the Son (Matt. 3:3-17; 28:19-20; 2 Cor. 13:14).

The Holy Spirit is God. In Acts 5:3, Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit. In verse 4, it is said that they lied to God.

Verse 3 – But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of price of the land?

Verse 4 – …thou has not lied unto men, but unto God.

When one lies to the Spirit, he lies to God, and vice versa. The Holy Spirit is not a minor God who is inferior to the Father and the Son.

 

The Holy Spirit and the Christian Today

When one is baptized, he receives all that the Spirit has to offer him that is applicable to him at the particular time in history when he is converted.

The Spirit has indwelling relationship with the Christian, and the relationship begins at the time when the obedient believer submits his will to the Lord in immersion.

Today, the instrument of the Spirit is the word (Eph. 6:17).

The Spirit leads the believers on the path of righteousness:

For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14).

           

When we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism, the Holy Spirit becomes God’s seal or stamp of approval or ownership of us (2 Cor. 1:22).

Ephesians 1:13-14 takes the point further by saying that after we have heard the word of truth, even the gospel of our salvation, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest or assurance of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased.

 

Our possession of the Spirit as evidence of our sonship.

 

The Spirit helps in our infirmities; He makes intercession for us in a way we do not understand

The Holy Spirit is a comfort to the children of God – when we work in the fear of the Lord.

The Spirit therefore helps us as children of God to put to death the things of the flesh i.e He helps us to overcome the powers of sin (Rom 8:13).

Led by the spirit, in the comfort of the Spirit, we enjoy the communion of the Spirit (2 Cor 13:14) and have fellowship of the Spirit (Phil 2:1).

The Holy Spirit Himself bears witness that we are children of God.

 

The lesson was to help us to:

  1. Understand the person of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Appreciate the way the Holy Spirit works in the Christian in this dispensation.
  3. Flee from wrong doctrines on the Holy Spirit.
  4. Understand the work of the Holy Spirit, and therefore allow the Spirit to accomplish His work in us.
  5. Cast away our personal notions and accept the teaching of the Bible on the Holy Spirit.

 

             Previous                                                                                                                   Next


UYO TOWN CHURCH OF CHRIST, 20 PAUL BASSEY STREET, UYO

SUNDAY SCHOOL FOR JULY, 2017 BY BROTHER (DR.) UWEM AKPAN.