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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Do you want the Holy Spirit?

Do you want the Holy Spirit? The question can be intended or taken as much as a test of someone’s spirituality or a boast of one’s own. It can also have the effect, even if unintended, of casting the immature of faith into doubt as to the indwelling of deity in them. Where is the Holy Spirit whom you want? What does it mean to ask for the Holy Spirit?


Should a believer expect his/her request for a miraculous gift such as the ability to speak in a tongue/language to be granted?


After all, Jesus said how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? As if these words of Jesus were not enough there is always this one: The Holy Spirit can do whatever he wants to do. It’s a slogan which may play well and silence many, but it says nothing about one’s understanding as to what the scriptures reveal about the work of the Holy Spirit. It seems a foregone conclusion that the Holy Spirit by that very designation of himself as Spirit is subject to all manner of distractions and imaginations since he is, after all, spirit.


(note: Some believers attempt to create, as evidence of the Spirit in them, a distinction between tongues such as what the apostles spoke on Pentecost (Acts 2) and tongues such as in First Corinthians 14 with special emphasis on unknown tongues or tongues of angels versus [according to them]mere human language, but this is futile. Both words, tongues and languages as these appear in the English text in these chapters are taken from the same Greek word. Furthermore, I would add, that an understanding which is centered on the study or emphasis of single words in isolation is suspect.)


This article is about the pursuit of some saints who ask for the Holy Spirit. The disciples in Jerusalem and the disciples in Samaria are the focus of this article. As praiseworthy as asking for the Holy Spirit may sound, and it has nothing to do with being in submission and obedience to the Holy Spirit, it is mistaken. The reason it is mistaken is because of what Jesus revealed concerning himself and the Father, namely, that the misunderstanding, or understanding of one extends to the other. The Holy Spirit, since He is as much deity as the Father and Son, is subject to the same misunderstanding and is to be understood by the disciples just as they understand the Father and Son.


to want the Father


The testimony of the scriptures reveals how the disciples who saw with their own eyes, heard with their own ears and touched with their own hands could not avoid fostering misunderstandings of their own. Specifically, to the degree that they misunderstood Jesus, they misunderstood the Father, and a little later, that same misunderstanding could possibly extend to the Holy Spirit in the first century and the twenty first century. Is the reason some saints ask for the Holy Spirit because they do not know Him?
There is an instance in the gospel of John (14) when Philip insisted that Jesus  just show them the Father. Philip’s confusion may have been prompted by Jesus’ prior words: If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on, you know him, and have seen him. Imagine his surprise when he heard this simple, but profound, reply from Jesus:


Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ 10  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?


Philip’s befuddlement seems much like the saints in Christ who ask for the Spirit. His request to want to see the Father revealed that He did not know whom it was that he heard and saw day after day. So, if the disciples who lived, walked and talked with Jesus struggled to know and to understand him; there is at least as much of a challenge for those who want the Holy Spirit, but even more for those who want to know Him.


The Jerusalem disciples: you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit


Those who heard the gospel message proclaimed by Peter did not ask for the Holy Spirit, (Acts 2) at least, not in the same sense as some brothers and sisters mistakenly ask today. They were told by Peter they would receive the Holy Spirit according to promise. Who made this promise? Initially, Yahweh through his servant, the prophet Joel, many years before the day of Pentecost. This promise had been refreshed by Jesus in the presence of his disciples in his last hours with them as recounted in the gospel of John.


Jesus had told them the Holy Spirit who was with them would be in them.


So, how did the Jerusalem disciples receive the Holy Spirit at Peter’s preaching? They received Him in the same manner as they received his word; being baptized in response to the words they had heard. Denial or rejection of that baptism or that gift is as well as to deny both. These two, baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit, were not regarded or presented by Peter as two separate matters for the believers. Peter’s listeners’ had no more known the Holy Spirit than they knew Jesus. This was the fulfillment of what Jesus had spoken, your heavenly Father give(s) the Holy Spirit to those who ask him because surely their cry to Peter as to what they were to do ascended to the throne of our Heavenly Father who was ready and willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who believed in his Son.


Their request as to what they were to do resulted in them receiving the Holy Spirit. They were not believers in Christ who asked for the Holy Spirit like believers in Christ who ask for the Spirit, today. The request was from nonbelievers on the threshold of belief.


The power of this word which they heard and to which they responded was nothing less than the same proof and assurance, think about it, which Jesus gave to Philip when Jesus called on Philip to believe his words. Even more, Jesus effectively gave prominence to the words he spoke over his physical presence and the works which he performed when he asserted that the Father dwelled in him.


Notice in Acts 2 that the reaction of Peter’s listeners reveals it was the apostles whom they heard who were speaking in the language of the people. Notice also, that Luke states many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. This seems to suggest that, at least on the day of Pentecost, these wonders and signs were limited to the apostles. The modern pursuit of the Holy Spirit in the form of miraculous gifts was not so among the apostles and the saints in Christ in Jerusalem in the first century. They were knowledgeable and confident of the indwelling of deity in them and the notion of asking for the Holy Spirit was not something which occupied their walk of faith in Jesus.


The Samaria disciples: that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16 for as yet he had fallen on none of them


Whatever the time lapse might have been between that initial limitation and Luke’s account of someone other than the apostles performing signs it was Stephen who was the first non-apostle to perform miracles. It bears worth noting that Stephen and the other six men did not ask to receive the Holy Spirit.


Specifically, that reception of the Spirit by the seven was not a reference to the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every believer (which all seven received at that earlier time when they obeyed the gospel of Jesus), rather it is a reference to what they received through the laying on of the apostles’ hands.


About the same time as Stephen, Philip, who was one of the seven, went out to preach to the people of Samaria. Luke states that the Holy Spirit had fallen on none of them, (Acts 8:16) that is, those who had believed the message of Philip. This expression in reference to the miraculous phenomenon appears as, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word (Acts 10:44) the Holy Spirit fell on them (Acts 11:15) None of these expressions or anything similar appears in Acts 2 to the response of those who heard Peter.


Furthermore, Luke notes that Simon, one of our brothers who had responded in obedience to the preaching of Philip, saw with his eyes how this miraculous endowment of the Holy Spirit was given and received by the believers. What he saw was that it was through the laying on the apostles hands.


(note concerning Cornelius: There is much speculation and discussion as to whether Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, was saved before or after the Holy Spirit fell (which preceded his baptism) upon him. This seems like a moot point because when Peter recounted that eventful day he quoted Cornelius as to what Cornelius said to Peter about sending for Peter, who will speak to you words by which you will be saved. The salvation of Cornelius, according to Peter, was not contingent on the Holy Spirit falling on Cornelius (which probably never entered Peter’s mind) or speaking in tongues, but in the words which Cornelius was to hear from Peter.)


conclusion


A good part of clearing up the confusion and misunderstanding concerning our brothers and sisters in Samaria who received the word of God is to go back to what became known and established on Pentecost through the preaching of the apostles. The facts that we know as they were established are about as plain as Philip being with and seeing Jesus:


  1. All believers have received the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit since Pentecost,
  2. The first miraculous manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit was through the apostles, initially.
  3. The manifestation of miraculous signs through some believer, besides the apostles, is evident in the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the scriptures.

Our Heavenly Father gives good gifts. He sends to both the good and the evil the sun and the rain. What’s more He gives these without request or partiality. However, there is one request which must be made and it is granted to whom God determines to give it. It is granted to those who come to the Father through Jesus. It is they who receive the Holy Spirit according to promise to dwell in them forever. A confidence which is grounded in the understanding of what the scriptures testify concerning the indwelling of the Spirit in the believer is not shaken by pressure from some for the believer to "just ask God to give you the Holy Spirit" who dwells in them already. peace to all.

2 comments:

  1. SO nice when the Lord first will save the peoples from sin ad later give more of the HOly Spirit that fild us and be quard of him in darkness and in to be light and our life may too speak voie of Christ and calling the sinners to repent, for God wil that no one enter into the fire of hell ,but to be saved in Christ,thanks and bless,keijo sweden

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment, Keijo.
      I encourage to read the scriptures for a better understanding of the Holy Spirit. Read Acts 2. One which seems quite clear is that those who believed and obeyed the gospel as preached by also received the Holy Spirit, not later, but at that moment. This is true of ALL believers.
      I have attempted in my article to dismiss the mistaken notions which some saints have about asking the Holy Spirit to come into when HE IS ALREADY IN THEM.
      Again, thank you for comment.

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