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Monday, December 7, 2020
In our first essay we discussed Holy Spirit baptism as received by the apostles (including the apostle Paul) and the household of Cornelius and the purpose of Holy Spirit baptism in those instances. In our second essay we discussed the impartation of the Holy Spirit to various members of the first century church by the laying on of the apostles’ hands and the purpose of these bestowals.
But what about today? Do Christians today have the Holy Spirit? If so, for what purpose(s)?
The Gift Of The Holy Spirit – In Acts 2:38 the apostle Peter said to inquiring sinners, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Some able Bible students take the view that the gift of the Holy Spirit promised in Acts 2:38 is that bestowed by the laying on of the apostles’ hands, as per the passages discussed in last week’s essay. This is certainly a plausible explanation and not beyond the realm of possibility. Yet, even if Acts 2:38 is talking about the Holy Spirit being received by the laying of the apostles’ hands, it can still be shown from numerous other passages that the Holy Spirit dwells in God’s people today, not to enable them to speak in tongues, perform miracles, etc., but for greater and nobler purposes.
Paul wrote: “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out ‘Abba, Father!’” It is important to note that the Spirit was not sent to make us sons (children) of God, but because we are sons (children) of God. In Romans 5:5 Paul affirmed: “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Ephesians 1:3-14 provides a panoramic “sweep” of God’s magnificent scheme of redemption. As Paul reaches the climax he affirms: “In Him (Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (vv. 13-14). In being saved from sin, one hears the word of truth (see Romans 10:17), believes in Christ (with all that is involved in genuine belief—John 3:36 [ASV]; Hebrews 5:8-9), and is then sealed with the Holy Spirit. This bestowal of the Holy Spirit also serves as the guarantee, deposit, or earnest of our eternal salvation.
To be sealed with the Spirit is to be marked or labeled as a child of God. This mark is not outward or physical, but inward and spiritual. Later Paul wrote: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). If one does not have the Spirit of Christ (another designation for the Holy Spirit), that person is none of His, i.e., he does not belong to Him (Romans 8:9b).
This bestowal of the Holy Spirit to all who obey the gospel in every age also serves as an earnest (as in earnest money in a real estate transaction), a deposit, or a guarantee of eternal life to the child of God who remains faithful to the Lord. After movingly speaking of our “building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Corinthians 5:1-4), Paul declared, “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a deposit” (v. 5; see again Ephesians 1:14).
During His personal ministry Jesus had promised, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” The inspired apostle John then explains: “But this He spoke concerning the Holy Spirit, whom those who believe in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:38-39). The passages we have cited above, along with numerous others (e.g., I Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 2:19-22; Titus 3:4-7), show the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to all those who become obedient believers in Him.
Christians need not fear believing and fully accepting what the word of God says about the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit in His children. Indeed, we should take great comfort in that promise because it serves as a part of the blessed assurance we have of our being the children of God and of our hope of everlasting life with Him. On the other hand, we must be wary of and reject the ill-informed and highly emotional views of the Holy Spirit espoused and taught by some who are more influenced by Calvinism and Pentecostalism than they are by the Bible.
The Scriptures affirm the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all of God’s children, but this indwelling is not of a miraculous nature, either in the manner of its bestowal or in its effects. It is important to understand that all teaching, instruction, guidance, and direction from the Lord come from His word (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:3), not by some supposed special “illumination” of the Holy Spirit. Additional divine revelation from the Lord has not been received by anyone since the close of the apostolic age (Jude 3).
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
BESTOWALS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
As was pointed out last week, a careful study of the New Testament reveals that the Holy Spirit was bestowed or imparted to different people, at different times, in different ways, for different purposes. We learned that the apostles (Jews) and the family of Cornelius (Gentiles) were baptized with the Holy Spirit. By implication, we concluded that the apostle Paul also received Holy Spirit baptism. These are the only instances of Holy Spirit baptism found in scripture. Holy Spirit baptism was neither commanded, nor could it be administered by a human being. But, there were others who received the Holy Spirit in other ways and for other reasons.
Laying On Of The Apostles’ Hands – In New Testament times, the Holy Spirit was sometimes imparted to others by the laying on of the apostles’ hands. Following the persecution and scattering of the church in Jerusalem, “Philip (not the apostle, but one of the seven who had been chosen to look after the Grecian widows in the Jerusalem church, Acts 6:1-7) went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them” (Acts 8:5). “When they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12). “When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John (apostles) to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He (the Holy Spirit) had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they (the apostles Peter and John) laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon (the former sorcerer, vv. 9-13) saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money” (Acts 8:14-18). In this instance, the Samaritans heard the gospel, believed what Philip preached, and were baptized in order to be saved, or, which is the same thing, to have the remission of their sins (see Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; I Peter 3:21; et al). Later, they received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of the apostles Peter and John.
In Acts 19 Paul found some disciples in Ephesus and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? They said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit’” (v. 2). Paul immediately deduced that there was something wrong with their baptism. He asked them, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism” (v. 3). Paul explained that John the Baptist’s baptism had been preparatory in nature, had served its purpose, and was no longer valid, having been replaced by the baptism authorized by Christ in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul (an apostle) had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (vv. 5-6).
There can be little doubt but that in New Testament times one of the purposes of bestowing the Holy Spirit to obedient believers by the laying on of the apostles’ hands was to impart miraculous gifts to the recipients. But the apostles of Christ are all long deceased. Therefore, no one today is receiving the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the apostles’ hands. No one today is performing bona fide miracles! The purpose of miracles was served and when it was they ceased.
In summation of last week’s and this week’s essays we observe that the apostles, who had been baptized with the Holy Spirit, were thereby enabled to receive and communicate divine truth without error and to confirm that truth by the performance of various miracles (see Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-4; Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 3:1-5; Mark 16:20; Acts 2:43; Acts 5:12; Hebrews 2:1-4). By the laying on of the apostles’ hands, miraculous gifts were imparted to various members of the first century church to aid the infant church in its development until the full revelation of the New Testament scriptures had been completed. When all divine truth (“the faith”) had been revealed (Jude 3), miracles ceased. In this connection one needs to study very carefully I Corinthians, chapters 12, 13, and 14. Before one takes exception to this conclusion, he should carefully read and study all the preceding passages of scripture. Emotions, feelings, wishful thinking, or what one wants to believe or think about these matters is not what determines the truth and reality about these matters.
But what about today? Do Christians today have the Holy Spirit? If so, for what purpose(s)? These questions will be addressed in next week’s essay.
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