Understanding the Holy
This book is inspired from years of evangelism, both in the States and abroad, and the continual need of having to teach against the many false concepts that have entered into religious teachings concerning the Holy Spirit. There are synonymous questions that are asked repeatedly to me as I have traveled to regions of America and Africa. This book began as a letter to someone concerning questions she had concerning the various teachings on the Holy Spirit. From there, the information was expanded and turned into this book. This book has been a key resource in the ministry, including the African prison ministry, in helping many to understand the Holy Spirit. This book has been instrumental in bringing souls to Christ and empowering them to live new lives as a new creation in Christ Jesus.
The Multifaceted Holy Spirit
In order to understand the
Holy Spirit we must first see that the Holy Spirit is multifaceted. The Holy Spirit cannot be put into a singular
box as though He had only one dimension.
For one to understand the Holy Spirit, one needs to understand what a
spirit is and what the difference is between the soul and the spirit. If one can understand the difference between
the soul and the spirit, then one can understand the difference between God and
the Holy Spirit. The word soul in the
Hebrew is pronounced “nehfesh.” In the
Greek it is pronounced “psukhay.” The original meaning is “breath,” as in a
breath of air. It indicates that which
is living or has the breath of life. The
word for spirit in the Hebrew is pronounced, “ruakh.” In the Greek it is pronounced “pnumah.” The
original meaning of these words is current of air or wind. The spirit and soul
are like the air. There is life in the
air, as it is life to us when we have breath in us, but we cannot see air. That
is why the word is adapted to refer to our soul which we cannot see, but it is
the life in us. It is what makes us a
living being. The spirit is similar in
meaning, but rather than being the essence of the life itself it pictures a
movement or action that comes forth from the soul. It may be said of someone
that they have a spirit of kindness. The
reason for the saying is because of the action that has come forth. This action tells us the essence of the soul.
For example: A person can be alive and be a living soul, but he can be brain
dead. Even though the body is alive
there is no spirit or action coming forth from the soul that is still
living. God is a spiritual being whom we
cannot see, but He is life. He sends
forth His Spirit to carry out the action from Himself. In Genesis 1:1-2 we see
that God is referred to as being in the beginning and creating the heavens and
the earth. Reference is then made to the
Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters.
Let us consider Genesis
God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;
let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and
over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps
on the earth’”
(Genesis 1:26 NKJV).
In this verse we see the use of a plural
form in reference to God showing that God the Father was not working by
Himself. This is pictured clearly for us
in John 1:1-14 and Colossians 1:15-18:
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing
was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the
light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the
darkness did not comprehend it.
There was a man sent from
God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to
bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He
was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That
was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world
did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive
Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to
become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who
were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,
but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full
of grace and truth” (John1:1-14).
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all
creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven
and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or
principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And
He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn
from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Col.
We see that Christ was with
God from the beginning of creation but not in a form of flesh, since it was
later that He became flesh and dwelt among us.
He was Spirit before He came in the flesh. The Holy Spirit, who was sent forth from God
in the beginning and through whom all things were created, was the same Holy
Spirit who came to dwell in the flesh.
We must remember, however, that the difference between our spirit which
comes forth from us and the Spirit that comes forth from God is that His Spirit
is omnipresent. In other words His
Spirit can be everywhere doing multiple things at the same time. Even though the Spirit of God came forth in
the flesh, He was still moving in other ways.
We see Him descend upon Christ in a bodily form at His baptism, which was
only done as a sign for us. While He was
in the form of Christ, we see Him working in the performing of miracles through
the 70 who were sent out in Luke 10:1-20.
In considering the work of
the Holy Spirit in mankind we will look at the various manifestations of the
Spirit throughout the scriptures. The
first mention of the Holy Spirit working in men is in Genesis 41:38 when the
Pharaoh spoke of Joseph. This was in
reference to his being able to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh:
“And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find such
a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?’" (Gen.
In Exodus 35:30-35 we are told of how Bezalel
and Aholiab were filled with the Spirit of God in craftsmanship and the ability
to teach. Their ability in craftsmanship
was given to them by the Holy Spirit:
“And Moses said to the
children of Israel, "See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of
Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has
filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and
all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work
in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for
setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic
workmanship. And He has put in his heart the ability to teach, in
him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. He has
filled them with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the
designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread,
and fine linen, and of the weaver--those who do every work and those who design
artistic works” (Ex. 35:30-35).
In 1 Sam 10:1-13 we are told
the story of King Saul. The Spirit of
God came upon him, and he began to prophecy.
This story is similar to what happened on the Day of Pentecost:
“Then Samuel took a flask
of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: ‘Is it
not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance? When
you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel's tomb in the
territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, “The donkeys which
you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring
about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, ‘What shall I do about my
son?’“ Then you shall go on forward from there and come to the
terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet
you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread,
and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and
give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hands. After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine
garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city,
that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a
stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they
will be prophesying. Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon
you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. And
let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion
demands; for God is with you. You shall go down before
me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and
make sacrifices of peace offerings.Seven days you shall
wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.’
So it was, when he had
turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all
those signs came to pass that day. When they came there to
the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God
came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it happened,
when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the
prophets, that the people said to one another, ‘What is this that
has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?’ Then a man from there answered and said, ‘But who is their
father?’ Therefore it became a proverb: ‘Is Saul also among the
And when he had finished prophesying, he went to the high
place” (1 Sam. `10:1-13).
In 1 Kings 17: 17-24 we see
the power of the Holy Spirit raising the dead through Elijah:
“Now it happened after
these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick.
And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. So
she said to Elijah, ‘What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to
me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?’ And he
said to her, ‘Give me your son.’ So he took him out of her arms and carried him
to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. Then
he cried out to the LORD and said, ‘O LORD my God, have You also brought
tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?’ And
he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD
and said, ‘O LORD my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him.’ Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came
back to him, and he revived. And Elijah took the child and
brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his
mother. And Elijah said, ‘See, your son lives!’ Then the woman
said to Elijah, ‘Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and
that the word of the LORD in your mouth is
the truth’“(1 Kg. 17:17-24).
As we look into the New
Covenant we see more varying manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave the
power to cast out demons to His disciples in the aforementioned Luke
10:1-20. In John 20:22-23 we see where
Jesus breathed on the Apostles and said:
"Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive
the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained"(John 20:22b-23).
This manifestation of the
Holy Spirit was to give authority to the Apostles for giving the terms of
pardon or condemnation. In Acts chapter
2 and chapter 10, we see the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which was not truly a
new thing in the gifts that were given, but it was more dramatic and extensive
than had been seen in the past. This
manifestation of the Spirit involved the receiving of prophecy and revelation
from God. In Acts 4:31, Luke writes of
how they prayed, the earth was shaken, they were all filled with the Holy
Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness - which is what they
“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled
together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they
spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
Since those praying here
were already Christians who had already been baptized for the remission of sins
to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and some were Apostles who had received
the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we can see that this manifestation of the Holy
Spirit was for the purpose of giving them boldness and enthusiasm to
preach. What we see from this is that when
the Holy Spirit is spoken of or when the receiving of the Holy Spirit is spoken
of it could mean a number of different manifestations. We have seen the Holy
Spirit accredited with what we would define as miraculous signs. They also received gifts that we would
consider natural gifts, such as that of being a talented artisan or to have
boldness. We have seen that the giving
of the Holy Spirit was for the purpose of giving authority to the Apostles to
retain or remit the penalty of sin through their word. It is only through careful and unprejudiced
study of the context that one can determine which manifestation of the Holy
Spirit is being spoken of in that context.
The Greatest Manifestation of the Holy Spirit
There is one manifestation
of the Spirit that I have not yet spoken of.
It is the most important manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It was the purpose of Christ’s going to the
cross and dying for us. The
manifestations of the Spirit we have looked at in light of miracles, artistic
skill, and the inspiration of zeal and boldness, were all achievable under the
Old Covenant. In 1 Samuel chapter 10,
King Saul had the Holy Spirit fall on him, and he prophesied. In 1 Kings 17:17-24, Elijah was able to raise
the dead. In Numbers 22:28-30, God gave a donkey the gift of tongues. None of these manifestations of the Holy
Spirit required the sacrifice of Christ.
There is, however, one manifestation of the Holy Spirit that could not
occur until Christ had suffered, died, resurrected, and ascended to
heaven. Please, understand that Jesus
was born and lived under the Old Covenant.
The New Covenant did not come into effect until after the death of the
“For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be
the death of the testator” (Heb. 9:16).
The Holy Spirit was there
working in men’s lives already and was even given by Christ to the disciples to
perform miracles, yet John records this message for us in John 7:37-39:
“On the last
day, that great day of the
feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come
to Me and drink.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of
will flow rivers of living
water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those
believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet
glorified” (John 7:37-39).
this case John tells us that this is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit that
was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. The glorification of Jesus was completed
through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven:
controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed
on in the world, Received up in glory”(1
John recorded many things for us that were
spoken by our Lord concerning this manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Beginning
from John 14:15 he said:
“If you love
Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will
give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- the
Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor
knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I
will not leave you orphans;
I will come to you.
"A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but
you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that
day you will know that I am in
My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My
commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be
loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him”(John 14:15-21).
In this passage Jesus promises a
manifestation of the Holy Spirit who is now with them and would be in
them. The Holy Spirit was with them in
the body of Christ, but soon He would be in them. Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit in this
passage and others as the Helper. In
John 16:7 He tells them:
I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not
go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to
you” (John 16:7).
This passage reinforces what John was saying, in John
7:39. The Holy Spirit was not yet given,
because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Jesus had to go to the Father in glory before He could send the Helper
back. This is the manifestation of the
Spirit that was to give life. This was
the indwelling Spirit that is spoken of in Romans 8. Paul had begun his subject in Romans chapter
6 by explaining that the Christian was not to continue in sin. He proves that through one’s obedience to
baptism God works a great work in us by killing our old man and making us a new
creation who is no longer a slave to sin.
In chapter 7 he speaks in the first person of a man who is under the law
and cannot cease from sin. In chapter 8
he refers back to those who are not under the law but are in the Spirit. In this chapter we see the power of the indwelling
Holy Spirit to work in us to put to death the deeds of the flesh and to change
us but only in unison with our faith and commitment:
“There is therefore now no
condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the
flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit
of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For
what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the
likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh”(Romans 8:1-3).
In this passage Paul refers to the old law
as the law of sin and death, referring back to chapter 7. He shows that it was through Christ that God
completed what the law could not do, which was to change a man from the inside.
“So then, those
who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in
the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if
anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And
if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life
because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who
raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead
will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you”
Please, notice how the terms of the
Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of God are all used in a
synonymous way, thus showing them to all be the same Spirit. This passage also makes it clear that if one
does not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in him, he cannot be saved. If Christ is in us, then we are no longer in
the flesh, but we are in the Spirit. Paul then goes on to add:
brethren, we are debtors--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit
you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:12-13).
Here, Paul makes it clear again that it is
by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us that we are able to put to death the deeds
of the flesh. It was not possible for
the Holy Spirit to dwell in us in this manner until Christ had lived in the
flesh, suffered in the flesh, died for us, arisen from the dead, and had ascended
back to heaven. The reason for this is
that God, therefore the Holy Spirit, could not know the temptation of the flesh
since He was not flesh. Therefore, He
could not judge with empathy for humanity.
one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be
tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13).
In the Hebrew letter we see an explanation
of Christ having become our High Priest by suffering and being tempted in the
flesh. This gave Him the ability to be our judge and intercessor. He begins by saying:
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through
the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our
weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without
sin” (Hebrews 4:14-15).
He ends by saying:
“who, in the days of His
flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries
and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of
His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned
obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been
perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called
by God as High Priest ‘according to the order of Melchizedek’" (Heb.
By these scriptures we can see that Christ
was perfected as our High Priest through His suffering and obedience. The Spirit could not dwell in us as our high
priest, helper, and intercessor until He had done this because He could not
empathize with us in our trials and temptations, but now Christ our intercessor
and priest dwells in us. As it says in
the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray
for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning
which cannot be uttered”
Understanding these manifestations,
especially the most valued one of the Helper, will lead us to see the
misconceptions that rise up over the work of the Holy Spirit and to understand
the answers to the following questions:
1. Do people receive the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit
The question here is, “Does someone
receive the Holy Spirit?” rather than, “Can someone receive the Holy Spirit?” Those who ask this question are speaking of
the miraculous gifts manifestation of the Spirit. It is certain that God could give signs and
wonders to whomever He wishes. He did so
to the household of Cornelius in Acts 10.
As to whether He is doing this now, all of the evidence says no. We are instructed by John to test the spirits
to see if they are from God. (1 John 4:1)
As for the gift of tongues, what those of this day claim is tongues is
not what the Apostles received on the Day of Pentecost or what Cornelius
received or what the Apostles gave the churches through the laying on of their
hands. When the Apostles received the
baptism of the Holy Spirit there was a sound from heaven as a mighty rushing
wind. (Acts 2:2) Fire came and sat upon each of them. (Acts 2:3) They began to
speak in the tongues of those who were there:
“ And there
were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And
when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused,
because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they
were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these
who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each
in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and
Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining
Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and
Arabs--we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God’” (Acts 2:5-11).
The reference in verse 8 of saying, “…our
own language in which we were born,” indicates that the speaking by the
Apostles was as though they were native born in the language. This is what made it an amazing thing to the people. What we see today called “tongues” is not
amazing at all. We see people making
unintelligible noises with no fire from heaven and no miraculous sound of a
mighty wind. That is not a miracle. If we follow the pattern of the scriptures,
we see that those who spoke with tongues on the Day of Pentecost, prophesied,
and did miracles were the Apostles. Acts
2:14 tells us that Peter and the other eleven Apostles were the ones that had
received this manifestation of the Holy Spirit, as they were the ones who stood up to
make their defense to the people. Acts 2:43 also clarifies that it was the
Apostles who were continuing to work the miracles after many others were
baptized. We see, as time went on, that
the Apostles gave the gifts to others by the laying on of their hands. In Acts
8:14-19 Luke records:
“ Now when
the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of
God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come
down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For
as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name
of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they
received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the
laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them
money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I
lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit’" (Acts 8:14-19).
The language here indicates that the Holy
Spirit falling on someone was a known occurrence but that was no longer the
case. We see that the pattern that
became common was of one receiving the power of the Holy Spirit by an Apostle
laying hands on them. (Acts 19: 1-6, Romans 1:11) The
Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11 is an exception to this order for the purpose of
convincing the Jews that the Gentiles were acceptable to God. Even in this case, Peter shows that it was
not a common occurrence when he tells the story by saying:
“And as I began to speak, the
Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15).
The term, “…at the beginning,” references
the beginning of the church. However, no
matter whether the tongues were by the laying on of hands or by the baptism of
the Holy Spirit the gift was the same.
It was the gift of speaking languages fluently by the power of the Holy
Spirit. If we then follow the pattern
that the interpreters were those who were there and could understand the
language, this paradigm fits all the way through all of the
scriptures. It is evident in scriptures
that God gave some people the gift of interpretation of foreign languages, but
the interpreters on the Day of Pentecost were those who spoke the language
naturally. That is why Paul explained
that the gift of tongues was for the unbeliever. (1 Cor. 14:22) It was the
unbelieving foreigner whom tongues was aimed at. If we study the entire text of
1 Cor. 14, Paul makes it clear that if there is no one to interpret the
language, whether it is a foreigner or an interpreter to translate the message,
the one who had the revelation was to keep silent in the assembly of the church
and not utter a word. Even if there was
an interpreter to translate, there were only to be two or three people speak,
and they were to speak one at a time while one person interpreted. Paul taught:
“Therefore tongues are for a
sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for
unbelievers but for those who believe. Therefore if the
whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there
come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that
you are out of your mind? But if all prophesy, and an
unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is
convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed;
and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that
God is truly among you.
How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a
psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation.
Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a
tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and
let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep
silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let
two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything
is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For
you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For
God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches
of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:22-33).
As for the other signs of prophecy and
miracles, we again see that the miracles and prophecies of those today do not
hold up to the test of God’s word. Jesus
who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who
does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in
that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in
Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will
declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice
lawlessness!'” (Matt. 7:21-23).
In this passage we see that many signs and
wonders were being done, but they were not from the Holy Spirit. If someone
claims to be a miracle worker from God and confesses Christ as Lord but he is
not doing the will of the Father, he is not even known by Christ; therefore, he
could certainly not have the Holy Spirit.
Jesus goes on after this to explain that it is the one who hears His
sayings and does them who is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock,
and it is the one who hears His sayings and does not do them who is like a
foolish man who built his house upon the sand.
This shows us that the fruit of doing the will of the Father is to
listen to Jesus and do what He teaches.
Those today who proclaim to do miracles and to have prophecy are simply
not speaking the truth. I have not found
any of them to be preaching that a man must repent and be baptized for the
remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. I have never heard any of them preaching that
Jesus only began one church, and that the divisions created by men are
wrong. Their preaching is always about
materialism and giving to God in order to get material gains. The miracle workers of today live arrogant
lives consuming money from the poor and spending it on their
own lusts, which
Christ and his apostles condemned. They
do not have the Holy Spirit. While it is
possible for God to allow them to have the power of miracles from Satan in
order to test us, I do not even see that as what is happening today, as the so
called miracles they perform are too phony.
When Jesus and the Apostles healed people,
they healed those who were well known for
being lame from birth or blind from birth.
Lazarus was in the grave four days when Jesus raised him up. The so
called miracles of today are no more than theatrics, people falling down and
claiming to be healed of things that cannot be seen. If you can find someone who can speak
perfectly in foreign languages by miracle rather than study - if all that he
prophecies comes true - If he can heal those who have visible ailments that are
well documented - if he is preaching the truth about the church, baptism, and
the indwelling Holy Spirit - if he is a man of humility who is not preaching
materialism and money while living a meek and moderate to poor lifestyle, then
I would have to consider that God may have returned these signs to us. However, that is not the case. It seems clear from the pattern we see in the
scriptures that God allowed miracles to jump start the church, but His intent
was for us to be a church that grew to be based on love and not on miracles. In
Matthew 12:39 Jesus stated:
“An evil and adulterous
generation seeks after a sign…” (Matt. 12:39).
Those who are always seeking miracles are
still under the influence of their carnal mind and they have missed the
spiritual picture. Paul spoke about the
doing away of such gifts and coming to the greater gifts as the mature church:
never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there
are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will
vanish away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But
when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done
away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a
child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish
things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And
now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is
love” (1 Cor. 13:8-13).
A people who base their faith in miracles
have always been a people of shallow and weak faith. After the Israelites of old saw all of the
miracles that led them
out of Egypt, they turned from God to complaining and wanting to go back to
their slavery in Egypt in only a few days.
The church at Corinth had more miraculous gifts than all of the other
churches, yet they were the weakest spiritually in the true faith, hope, and
love of perfect Christianity. God has
shown us this so that we who are mature in the faith might see that miracles
and signs are not the answer to great faith.
It is necessary for us to be a people of
intelligence and wisdom in order not to be led astray by emotions of the
flesh. We are to be led to understanding
through the truth with the mind of discernment that God has given us to
use. In 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul said:
diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be
ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
When the last Apostle John
finished the Revelation the word was perfected (made complete). If prophets are still active today, we need
to add their words to the Bible as scripture.
There is a reason why there have not been any scriptures added beyond
the writings of John. No scriptures have been added since John passed from this
life because no one else has been given that power. Truly, the system of the completed word is
far better than that of the dependence upon incomplete prophecies. We do not have to guess and wonder if what is
being said is from God or if we are listening to a false prophet. We can rest assured that the scriptures are
true and complete; therefore, we have the message we need for our salvation in
2. What is the gift of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Acts
The gift in Acts 2:38 is the indwelling
Holy Spirit spoken of in Romans 8. As it
was pointed out previously, we cannot be saved without the Spirit of Christ
dwelling in us. The context of Romans 8 is
a continuation of the subject that he
began in Romans 6. There he points out
the act of our burial and resurrection by baptism. The message is that during baptism a
miraculous work was being done by God.
When someone is baptized, God crucifies the old man and he becomes a new
creation by the power of the Holy Spirit:
“What shall we
say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly
not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you
not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized
into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism
into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the
Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we
have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall
be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing
this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should
no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:1-6).
If one continues to follow the message,
one can see that in chapter 7 Paul regresses to show that the man who is under
the law is still enslaved to sin. He is
not free from the old man; but in chapter 8 he brings us back to the point that
the Christian who has died to the flesh and now lives in the Spirit is free
through the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
The subject matter of the baptism in Acts 2:38 is about attending to the
things that bring salvation. When the people
were convicted about their sins by the preaching in Acts 2, they asked Peter
and the apostles:
brethren, what must we do?”
and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the
remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Peter also goes on to confirm that this is a
promise to all people:
this promise is to you, to your children, to all who are afar off, as many as
the Lord our God will call”
It is made clear from Acts 2:43 that the
miracles were still being done through the Apostles and not through the 3000
who were baptized:
“Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through
the apostles”(Acts 2:43).
This shows us that the Holy Spirit given
to them was not the manifestation of miracles. The promise of the indwelling
Spirit is a promise to all people who repent and are then baptized with faith
in the promise.
3. How does one know if he has the Holy Spirit?
This question is usually asked as a means
of promoting the idea that if we do not have miracles we cannot know that we
have the Holy Spirit. Those who ask it
do not understand the scriptures or the very essence of faith. Faith is a belief in God and His promises to
us. I knew that I had the Holy Spirit
the day I was baptized, because God promised it to me. God gave His promise on the Day of Pentecost
that everyone who is baptized for the forgiveness of sins will receive the gift
of the Holy Spirit. We will again
consider Acts 2:38-39:
Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name
of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of
the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your
children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call’"(Acts 2:38-39).
For those who believe the scriptures this
promise is enough for one to know that he has the Holy Spirit. As time has passed I have come to see many other
factors that tell me my faith in His promise was not in vain. His Spirit has changed me into another
man. By the power of His Spirit I have
put to death the deeds of the flesh. The
things that once haunted my life and frustrated me, as Paul spoke of concerning
the carnal man in Romans 7, I have put to death by the Spirit who dwells in me,
as he promised in Romans 8:13:
you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to
death the deeds of the body, you will live”(Rom 8:13).
4. Isn’t the indwelling Spirit simply the word of God dwelling in
There are some who teach that the
indwelling Spirit is only the word of God dwelling in us through our study or
memorization of the word. This concept
is perpetuated from the scriptures that show us that the word of God is alive
and works in us, such as Hebrews 4:12:
“But the word of God is living and powerful,
and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of the soul
and the spirit, and the joints and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts
and the intents of the heart”(Heb.
While this concept may survive under the
scrutiny of some scriptures, it falls short in the light of all that is said
about the indwelling Holy Spirit. Peter stated in Acts 5:32 that God has given
the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him:
“And we are witnesses to these things, and so
also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him”(Acts 5:32).
Since not all believers had received
the gifts of miracles, this reference must be about the indwelling Holy Spirit
that is promised to all Christians. That
being the case, one can see that the notion that this reference is about the
word of God does not fit. Faith comes
because the word is given first. We do
not obey and then receive the word:
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the
word of God”(Rom. 10:17).
Since Peter makes reference to the Holy
Spirit being given as a result of an act of obedience, this reference fits
perfectly into His previous comment on the Day of Pentecost:
“Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in
the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the
gift of the Holy Spirit”(Acts 2:38).
We also have to consider the reference of
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our
weakness. For we do not know what we
should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us
with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26).
The context of Romans 8 had been entirely about
the indwelling Spirit to the point of this quote. Again, this example does not
support the idea of the indwelling Spirit simply being our memorization of
God’s word. We also have to consider the scripture of Hebrews 13:20-21:
the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great
Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make
you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well
pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever
and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20-21).
These scriptures together show that the
indwelling Holy Spirit is given by God through the individual’s obedience and
that He is working in us to change us and to pray on our behalf. It has been reported that Joseph Stalin,
the renowned “atheist” dictator, had memorized the entire Bible. If this
philosophy is true - that the amount of the Spirit in us is determined by the
amount of scripture we have memorized - it would mean that Joseph Stalin had
more Holy Spirit in him than any of the Christians I know. Trying to fit this philosophy into the
copulation of all the scriptures on this subject is like trying to force a square
peg into a round hole. The word of God is certainly a manifestation of the
Spirit of God, but that is not the entire picture.
5. Is the gift of the Holy Spirit different from the fruit of the
Holy Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is that which
grows from us when we have the Holy Spirit in us. As the Holy Spirit is perfected in us, we
grow to maturity in each of the attributes listed concerning the fruit of the
Spirit. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit at our baptism. Once the Holy Spirit enters into us, there is
a growing process that takes place.
In Galatians 4:19 Paul said:
“My little children, for whom I labor in birth
again until Christ is formed in you…” (Gal. 4:19).
Christ is being formed in the Christian. The fruit that he will bare is love, joy,
peace, and so on. It is the indwelling
Holy Spirit who is changing us into a new man.
The fruit here is the fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit and,
therefore, from us when we have matured to that point. We will again consider the prayer of the
writer in Hebrews 13:20-21:
the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great
Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make
you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well
pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever
and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20-21).
It is evident in this prayer that it is
God working in us that makes us complete.
He is perfecting us through the power of Christ in us. It is truly important for one to understand
that it is God’s power that is changing us through the Holy Spirit. If one believes that his being changed is
only a matter of his mind over the will of the flesh and that he is changing by
his own power and obedience, he is no different than the one who was under the
law and trying to change by his own power.
In 2 Corinthians 3 Paul was referring back
to the story of the Old Covenant where Moses had to cover his face after seeing
God because it glowed with the glory of God.
He did not want the people to look on the glory that was fading away. According to Paul’s analogy this is a picture
of the fading away of the Old Covenant Law.
He then brings about the teaching of the glory of the New Covenant,
which we now have through the Spirit of God:
to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless
when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord
is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is
liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror
the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to
glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:15-18)
As we continue to look steadfastly to
God with the Spirit of Christ in us, we are being transformed from glory to
glory by His Spirit into the image of Christ. It is the power of Christ in us
that is changing us. It is by His power
in us that we can overcome sin and be changed into the children of God. In order for this to happen, we must first
receive the Holy Spirit through our obedience to His promise; but we must then
truly believe that the power of Christ in us is greater than the power of
Satan. As John said in 1 John 4:4:
“You are of God, little children, and have
overcome them, (false prophets and the spirits of antichrist) because He who is
in you is greater than he who is in the world”(1John 4:4 – Parenthetic clause added).
The indwelling intercessor and helper is
truly the greatest manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and love is the greatest
manifestation of His fruit. I have often
heard from those who like to take a stoic philosophical approach that love is
not an emotion, it is a commitment.
While it is true that commitment is an outcome of love, love is certainly
something that is felt and it is a spiritual fruit. It is not just a rigid determination that is
to be acted upon. Paul wrote a chapter
on love in 1 Cor. 13. In the first three
verses he lists several acts of love that could be methodically done by and
individual, yet they can be done without love:
“Though I speak
with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become
sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift
of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I
have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am
nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me
nothing” (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
Love is certainly more than a commitment
of works. Love is a power within us that
produces the fruits of patience, kindness, unselfishness, commitment, and the
like; but, as Paul has shown us, we can act out those attributes without
love. I can attest that in my own life
God has truly shown me that there is nothing greater than coming to fully know
love as He has loved us. The love that I
have come to have for others is far greater than any other gift that could be
known. No miracles could even come close
to compare to the joy of knowing that love.
As we assess the life of Christ, we can ask ourselves which was greater
- was it the miracles that Christ did to heal diseases of the temporal bodies
during His life, or was it the love that compelled Him
to give His life on the cross? If God
wanted us to have perfect physical bodies, He would only need to say it and it
would be. God does not want us to have
perfect physical bodies, but He does want us to know the love of the perfect
Son of God and to be perfected in His love by the Holy Spirit. That is something that God cannot just say
and it will be. If love is not of
freewill then it is not love. The
infirmities of the flesh and its trials are part of the divine plan that leads
us to love God. Without the struggles
that lead us to look to a greater hope humans will forget about God, and they
will not seek Him. I will leave you with
the words of John:
has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of
judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no
fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.
But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him
because He first loved us. If someone says, "I love
God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his
brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And
this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his
brother also” (1 John 4:17-21).
I pray that all who read this will come to
believe in the power of the Holy Spirit; and I pray that the God of love will
perfect them in His perfect love through His eternal power.
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