The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Twentieth Century
To understand the role of the Holy Spirit in the twentieth century, at least in terms that enable us as humans to approach the subject, let us put the matter into perspective. A computer search of the American Standard Bible shows that "Spirit," "Holy Spirit," "God's Spirit," or "My Spirit" (God speaking) occurs 231 times or 2% of all mentionings of Diety in the scriptures. By contrast in viewing the pie chart please notice that "Jehovah" or "God" occurs 9,832 times (87%), 836 before the end of Exodus, 2,166 times before the end of Deuteronomy, and 8,539 times in the Old Testament. "Jesus" by the names of "Jesus," "Christ," "Messiah," or "Immanuel" occurs 1,288 times (11%). So before we stop offering prayers to God through Jesus the Son and start praying for the Spirit to come down and perform miracles directly among us let us put this into perspective.
The Holy Spirit is a person, a divine being. He is part of the Eloihim of Genesis1:1 and was the active ingredient in Genesis 1:2. The Holy Spirit in all 231 cases of mention in the Bible is always spoken of as "he," never "she." Test the following idea as we look at the following passages: The Holy Spirit has always worked somewhat behind the scenes, though many times in very powerful ways. And try this on for size: drawing near to the Holy Spirit occurs somewhat indirectly, as a result of drawing near to God through His son, Jesus Christ.
Idea #1: Drawing near to the Holy Spirit occurs rather indirectly, and as a result of drawing near to God through his Son. James 4: 7-8. We are to draw near to God. John 14: 6-11 We are to draw near to God by going through the Son. Plainly, there is no other way to draw near to God. We are not told to draw near to the Holy Spirit in the direct sense that if we would just do that, we could by-pass God the Father and God the son.
Question: Would a unified Trinity allow some way to develop so men who did not want to recognize one of them could still become part of this divine fellowship? Does not scripture itself teach that a house divided against itself can not stand (Luke 11: 14-23)? It is not the role of the Holy Spirit in our century to supplant Christ's authority and leadership so man can have some other way to get close to the Godhead. Next passage needed, if man can draw near to the Holy Spirit directly, instead of through the Son. Write its location here: _______________________
The silence of the scriptures must be respected. There IS NO passage that tells us how to draw near to the Holy Spirit directly while bypassing the rest of the Godhead. And that is what many modern-day spiritualists and Pentecostal follks are doing. Some pray directly to the Holy Spirit. But what does scripture, authored by the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:21), say about prayer and the Godhead? (II Peter 1:21) Also see John 14: 13, 14 John 16: 23, 24 Romans 8: 26, 27
What DOES scripture say about living a spiritual life? The nearest thing to what we are talking about here is in Galatians 5: 16-26. Let's look at it; what is called for in order to live a Spirit-filled life is some rather ordinary self-discipline and some faith in Jesus our Savior; people who are looking for something spectacular don't like this passage. Living a spiritual life boils down to any every Living a spiritual life boils down to an everyday determination to put Christ first in one's life, not the presence of speaking in tongues or performing miracles of healing.
Jesus said that the working of a spirit was like the passage of wind. See Jesus' visit with Cornelius in John 3: 4-8.
Question: Aren't people told to be baptized in the Holy Spirit only? Answer: Where? Where was anyone told to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and where was anyone told HOW to do this? Listen to the silence of the scripture.
Idea #2: The Holy Spirit works in ways that to us as humans seems indirect and behind the scenes. Jesus said that the working of a spirit was like the passage of wind. See Jesus' visit with Cornelius in John 3: 4-8. Look at the first mention of the Spirit in the Bible. From Genesis 1: 2 it is obvious that the Spirit is there, but what is He doing? Not obvious to us humans. Look at the first recorded counsel of the Holy Spirit with God the Father in Genesis 1: 26. This is the "us" of the passage. As a counselor He was there, but exactly what was He doing? We don't know.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Let's look at where this was mentioned. Luke 24:49; Acts 1: 3-5; Acts 2: 1-4. Jesus told the apostles that they would be clothed with power from on high. It appears that they were baptized (one definition of baptism is that of being overwhelmed with something), but we read no commandment given to them about what they had to do to receive this. This again is the Spirit operating in the background. No one in the New testament was ever told how to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. But commandments abound about how to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the remission of sins (Matthew 28: 19, 20; Acts 2: 38; Acts 8: 26-39; Acts 10: 47-48; Acts 16: 31-34; Galatians 3: 27).
Let's make sure that we do what we have been told how to do and not start inventing commandments where we have not been instructed to do so.
Question: Don't we have to perform miracles in order to prove that we have really been saved? Look at the first recorded counsel of the Holy Spirit with God the Father in Genesis 1: 26. This is the "us" of the passage. As a counselor He was there, but exactly what was He doing? We don't know. And after man's sin the Spirit was part of the "us" of Genesis 3: 22-24 that expelled man from the garden.
Idea #3: We have companionship with the Spirit as a result of becoming Christians, but this is not the same companionship as the miraculous indwelling the apostles had.
Question: Don't we have to perform miracles in order to prove that we have really been saved? NO! Notice the trend of miracles in the book of Acts and from there on in the rest of the New Testament. Many miracles were done when the word was first being preached. After the first few years of this miracles became fewer and fewer and a new importance on teaching emerged (Romans 10: 14-17; I Corinthians 14; Galatians 1: 6-9; II Timothy 4: 1-5; the churches that we "at-risk" in Revelation got that way mostly due to false teaching or no teaching). And teaching is the part we can do today. If we are to perform miracles don't you think there would be some passages showing us how? Contrast the premium placed on performing miracles by some today with what Jesus said in Matthew 24: 23-28. If you do see a miracle being performed in the twentieth century it would be a good idea to run not walk in the opposite direction! Miracles in the instantaneous sense ceased when those who had had the apostles hands laid on them died.
Miracles in the sense of suspending the laws of nature do not happen today. The miracles of earlier times existed to confirm the word that was being spoken as God's word. Our prayers today are for God to choose between two or more possible futures in a way we believe favors us. When miracles did happen back in the first century and before , miracles were always used to highlight God or Jesus and their message--not to glorify the human agent who appeared to be performing them. This is very different from the motive of today's "faith healers."
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