From the Comments: More Holy Spirit Questions (“Gift of the Holy Spirit”)

HolySpirit7A four-part answer to a four-part question from the comments:

Many passages of Scripture state that we have given the gift of the Holy Spirit, sealed with the Holy Spirit, we are temples of the Holy Spirit, God dwells in us by His Spirit, etc. I believe it all right. I just don’t understand it. So, when people here and the elders in our congregation (they believe in the indwelling “through the word”), say what they do, I get confused. Childish, right? Can you help me to understand in a simple manner (as to a child)?

Every passage you mention tells its own story. God teaches us, like children, through metaphor. We are not enough like God to understand things exactly. So God has to compare spiritual things to worldly things.

“Gift of the Holy Spirit” is from Acts 2:38. It’s a reference to —

(Acts 2:33 ESV) 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

In fact, the first half of Peter’s sermon is about the prophecy of Joel 2 coming true that the Spirit would be outpoured on “all flesh.”

(Acts 2:17-21 ESV) 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Read Peter’s entire sermon carefully, line by line, verse by verse. The first part is about the coming of the Spirit as promised by the prophets. The second part is the use of OT prophecy to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ) promised by the prophets, and therefore the “Lord” who must be believed in to be saved.

This is the “promise of the Spirit,” which, in context, is the “gift of the Spirit.” That is, the promise of the Spirit and the gift of the Spirit are both references to the Spirit himself — which was supposed to be poured on “all flesh” when the Kingdom dawns — so that salvation comes to all who call upon the name of the Lord.

Now, Joel does not directly address the indwelling question. But Joel 2 is just one of many OT prophecies that speak of the Spirit softening the hearts of its recipients, bringing obedience and salvation (we’ve already covered many of them). Joel 2 was adding to what was already revealed about the Spirit’s coming when the Messiah/Kingdom arrive.

An erroneous teaching commonly found in the Churches of Christ is that “gift of the Spirit” is salvation — but the sermon starts with a lesson about the coming of the Spirit himself. “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” Well, “all flesh” is not “120 disciples” but “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord.” And what Joel promises them — and Peter says is coming true RIGHT NOW — is the Spirit, as well as salvation.

Both are promised, and God keeps all of his promises.

Finally, notice —

(Acts 2:38-39 ESV) 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

We routinely ignore verse 39, but “the promise” is another reference to v. 33 — the “promise of the Holy Spirit.” Remember, Peter starts with Joel 2, which promises the Spirit himself and then salvation — BOTH. They go together and cannot be separated.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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19 Responses to From the Comments: More Holy Spirit Questions (“Gift of the Holy Spirit”)

  1. David Himes says:

    There is a great book that is relevant to this topic: Practicing the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence.

    The Practice of the Presence of God is a book of collected teachings of Brother Lawrence (born Nicholas Herman), a 17th-century Carmelite monk, compiled by Father Joseph de Beaufort. The compilation includes letters, as well as records of his conversations kept by Brother Lawrence’s interlocutors. The basic theme of the book is the development of an awareness of the presence of God.

    In essence, in theological terms it describes how God’s Spirit is present in the life of a believer.

  2. laymond says:

    (Acts 2:17-21 ESV) 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

    Jhn 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
    Jhn 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

    One of the ” 7spirits” Jesus received from God was the “spirit of knowledge” If Jesus is referring to knowledge as “living water” in Jhn 4:10 , when it was given it would be natural to refer to pouring it on all people . And it is natural that some who receive it will prophesy, ” even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”
    All who teach what Jesus taught can be said to “prophesy”.
    Actually we do receive the “holy spirit, from God” the holy spirit of knowledge.

    Seems to me anyway there would be no better way to pour the spirit of knowledge,(to all flesh) than through the bible, the written word. in many languages.

    I might add, when Jesus was baptized the bible says that God poured out his spirit on his son, Jesus, then Jesus spent the next three years pouring that wisdom on the apostles, and when he left he sent the apostles to pour it on the whole earth.

  3. laymond says:

    Jay said;
    “An erroneous teaching commonly found in the Churches of Christ is that “gift of the Spirit” is salvation”

    Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Jay, is this the “erroneous” teaching, you refer to.

    (Acts 2:38 ESV) 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Seems to me, that Rom 6:23 and Acts 2:38, say virtually the same thing.

    Unless you believe God and the Holy Spirit are two different persons, then it seemed right to me that the gift of God , and the gift of the Holy Spirit. are one and the same thing.

    Jesus said “God is a Spirit” Jesus also said there is only one who is Holy, and that is God. so I come to the conclusion, they are the same being.

    Jay said “We routinely ignore verse 39”
    39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

    This only bolsters the fact that “the promise’ is everlasting life.

  4. Ray Downen says:

    I realize I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the promise in Joel’s prophecy is fulfilled when God GIFTS every new Christian (not just in chapter two of Acts, but always and everywhere) with His Spirit as a result of their new birth INTO CHRIST. Baptism in the Spirit was only for the apostles. Jesus said they (the apostles) would be baptized in the Spirit, and made no such promise in relation to His great commission.

    The baptism He commands for PEOPLE (not apostles) is in water. The apostles promised that those who turned to JESUS as LORD and were baptized would receive the GIFT of the Spirit, not baptism IN or BY the Spirit. Since the prophecy is for all, it obviously is not Spirit-baptism on offer for everyone. But what is promised is that all who are saved by JESUS will receive both remission of sins and the GIFT of the Spirit. Anywhere. At all times and places.

    What the apostles offer is that repentant believers after they are baptized INTO CHRIST will receive the GIFT of God’s Spirit. Whoever they are. Wherever they are. Whenever they first turn to Jesus and resolve to follow HIM as their Lord and are baptized in water as He commands is to be done.

  5. Ray Downen says:

    I have to disagree with Laymond (my birth name is Raymond) that the Spirit of God is God Himself. We humans also have a spirit, and our spirits are not all there is of US. We also have a body. God is a real being and is more than ONLY spirit. He can sit on a throne. Spirits can’t sit on thrones. He can be seen, and as He warned Moses, to see HIM (not His Spirit) is to die, so He allowed Moses to glimpse only His back. Spirits have no bodies. Bodies have spirits, not vice versa.

    When the Bible speaks of the Spirit of God, it is not speaking of God Himself, but of His SPIRIT. The promise in Acts 2:38 is that EVERY person who turns to Jesus as LORD and is baptized will be gifted with God’s SPIRIT. That is not claiming that God will be walking around in millions of places in the world instead of being in Heaven. He lives in Heaven. He SENDS His Spirit. God is NOT His Spirit.

    If God were His Spirit and He was given to the first person who was baptized into Christ, the second and all later who were baptized couldn’t also receive God for He would be living in the one who was first baptized, it seems to me. But He can send His Spirit into any number of people at any time. But He remains in Heaven.

  6. laymond says:

    Ray said “I realize I could be wrong,” with as many renditions of this as there are, someone has to be wrong, I just get aggravated when I hear ” I was indwelled by God” and they are just as much a sinner as anybody else. I know the bible says be holy as God is holy, but I have never met anyone like that yet. And I believe I should have met at least one in the past seventy-five years if they existed. and, if God, or the spirit of God, lived in Ray Downen I believe I would be talking to a perfect being. but I doubt that Ray is perfect. forgive me if I am wrong and don’t come down on me with the wrath of Ray.
    When I see where Jesus said “God is A spirit” and not that God HAS a spirit, and that God desires those to worship him “in spirit and truth” I tend to believe what Jesus said.

    [DELETED BY JAY]

  7. I am in Christ. He is perfect; I am not. “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” Laymond does not understand the mystery of the nature of the relationship between a perfect God and a nowhere-near-perfect man. Neither do I, but the difference is that I accept it. Laymond, He is in you, whether you understand it or you don’t. That is the nature of the love and patience of our Father. I do like Laymond’s ongoing assumption that basically says of whatever he wishes to reject, “If it was true, surely I would know.” It makes me chuckle.

  8. David, The Practice of the Presence of God is one of my favorites. I have lost track of how many of those books I have given away over the years.

  9. laymond says:

    Charles, I see the work of God in all his creation, which gives me insight into his personality. He was so happy with his creation, until he was not. even God’s creation had flaws, but God himself does not have flaws. He placed more trust in his creation, than his creation placed in him that came by way of Gods leniency his trust was misplaced because of love for his creation , that is the reason he is compared to human parents some times we can’t see the flaws in our children because we are blinded by parental love. and when the love of our creation turns out to hate us it is difficult to return to the old ways. but the parent is most times willing if the child will make some kind of move to show he has changed. I believe this pretty much explains how I see God and his children. We see the creator in the child, but the parent is not physically indwelled in the child.
    We as repentant children carry within us the spiritual image of God, the love of God, even do the work of God, but the person of God does not indwell this body, the bible tells me this. God can not be contained within the universe, so what makes us think ( no matter how much we love god) that he can be contained in earthly temples. The bible tells me so.

  10. laymond says:

    Charles said; ” I do like Laymond’s ongoing assumption that basically says of whatever he wishes to reject, “If it was true, surely I would know.” It makes me chuckle.”

    Jesus said
    Jhn 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
    Jhn 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

    Charles , I believe in Jesus Christ I try to do as he commanded, why would I be left in the dark.
    I believe in Jesus as more than just a ticket puncher. I believe he is God’s son , and messenger, and does not lie.
    I am not saying that God never communicates with Christian believers, What I do say is Christians are not disciples of God, we are disciples of Jesus, we follow Jesus, Jesus taught us what God wanted taught. Jesus is not God. Jesus is an apostle, and disciple of God, we are disciples of Jesus.
    Why do I believe this ? because the bible tells me so.

  11. JES says:

    Isn’t this a form of Gnosticism?

  12. laymond says:

    JES asked, ” Isn’t this a form of Gnosticism?” couldn’t be farther from the truth. I am not the one saying Jesus created all things, but is still answerable to God.

    definition of Gnosticism
    a prominent heretical movement of the 2nd-century Christian Church, partly of pre-Christian origin. Gnostic doctrine taught that the world was created and ruled by a lesser divinity, the demiurge, and that Christ was an emissary of the remote supreme divine being, esoteric knowledge (gnosis) of whom enabled the redemption of the human spirit.

  13. laymond says:

    demiurge; a being responsible for the creation of the universe, in particular.
    •(in Platonic philosophy) the Maker or Creator of the world.

    •(in Gnosticism and other theological systems) a heavenly being, subordinate to the Supreme Being, that is considered to be the controller of the material world and antagonistic to all that is purely spiritual.

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Laymond,

    Yet again you attempt to inject your heterodox views on the Trinity into the discussion. Please stop. I really have neither time nor inclination to moderate comments, and if you push me into re-moderating you, it may trigger delays in posting your comments of several days.

    Readers,

    Please do not respond to Laymond’s comments challenging the orthodox view of Jesus as God the Son. I will delete both Laymond’s comments and the responses.

  15. laymond says:

    no more discussion of the trinity here it seems to upset Jay to much. if any one wants to discuss any subject, you can contact me at https://laymond.wordpress.com/

  16. Profile photo of Gil T Gil T says:

    The Holy Spirit, deity, dwells in the heart of the believer through the word. This says a lot as much as it says nothing if we do not understand these words anymore than when we parrot the biblical teaching that the Holy Spirit dwells in the believer.

    The saints have fled from this confident assertion towards the whimsical claims of warm, fuzzy emotional feelings when it comes to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. No, there is nothing wrong with the expression of feelings as in the demonstration of our love of God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength in life and in worship. Whatever this refuge in euphoric emotions may make for a great feeling 1) it cannot be sustained, and 2) it cannot be explained.

    The latter of these two places the Christian shoulder to shoulder with the existentialist who talks about having had an experience by which he has been authenticated, but which 1) he cannot explain, and 2) he cannot repeat the experience, that is, it is not a sustainable experience. The saints in Christ, unlike the existentialist, are able to explain with words their conversion experience and they are able to retell that conversion as they continue to live life in the Son.

    The answer to the question of how the Holy Spirit dwells in the believer is in Jesus. How did deity, the Father, dwell in Jesus? It is more than a curious matter that when Philip pleaded with Jesus to just show them the Father that the response of Jesus was to affirm that the Father was in Jesus and Jesus was in the Father. Even more significantly Jesus proceeds to be very specific with the proofs that he gives for this claim: the words and the works. Note the priority which Jesus place on the words before the works. The words are far more lasting than the works.

    Furthermore, as much as the saints rightly claim the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the fuller understanding of that is that it is deity which dwells in the believer. Again, this was Jesus message to the disciples that He and the Father would come and abide in those who keep his word. So, it is not just the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer, but it is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    If Jesus was clear, bold and confident to state that the words and the works are his proof that the Father dwells in him how is it that Christians have come to view words as insufficient? Mind you, these are not mere idle words, but they are the are the collective word of the written revelation of the will of God. We have forgotten that the scriptures do not attest that God pulled and pushed levers to create the world, but mere spoke “Let there be light” and it was so. He said, “Lazarus, come forth.” He spoke, “Your sins are forgiven.”

    The apostle Paul’s teaching in Ephesians and Colossians echo the same significance on words as Jesus who also said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” Again he said, “He that believes in me from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” The apostle John notes that Jesus said these things about the Holy Spirit.

    If the biblical teaching on words as being life, spirit and effectual seems baffling so as to reject it then the explicit commandment of baptism for the forgiveness of sins also stands in jeopardy of being rejected. (The truth is that is a reality among some disciples already.) I would encourage, as another example of the effectual power of words, a review of how God took some of the Spirit (to whom God refers to as “Him.”) and placed Him on the seventy elders and their officers. (Numbers 11) Note that there were two men who were part of that group, but had remained behind in the camp. The Spirit rest upon them too. There are no details as to just how God took from Moses and placed the Spirit on those other men. The evidence that the Spirit rested upon them is that they prophesied.

    Search: round rock ministry do you want the holy spirit

  17. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Gil wrote:
    The Holy Spirit, deity, dwells in the heart of the believer through the word. This says a lot as much as it says nothing if we do not understand these words anymore than when we parrot the biblical teaching that the Holy Spirit dwells in the believer.

    If the biblical teaching on words as being life, spirit and effectual seems baffling so as to reject it then the explicit commandment of baptism for the forgiveness of sins also stands in jeopardy of being rejected.

    Many, many highly respected CoC preachers and writers have believed in a literal indwelling, e.g. James Harding, Gus Nichols, Roy Deaver, et al.

    To contend that a belief in a literal indwelling somehow leads one to reject baptism for the forgiveness of sins just does not follow. In fact, this is how unity and fellowship are severed…’if you believe that then you are on the road to apostasy.’

  18. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gil T (Part 1),

    You make a category mistake.

    The latter of these two places the Christian shoulder to shoulder with the existentialist who talks about having had an experience by which he has been authenticated, but which 1) he cannot explain, and 2) he cannot repeat the experience, that is, it is not a sustainable experience. The saints in Christ, unlike the existentialist, are able to explain with words their conversion experience and they are able to retell that conversion as they continue to live life in the Son.

    CALVINISTS – very old school ones – insist on a purely subjective conversion experience. I’m not a Calvinist and I’m aware of no reader who insists on old-school Calvinist conversion experiences. You need to teach that lesson at another blog.

    EXISTENTIALISTS are pretty much limited to college campuses, if there are any left. Not an unfair point to compare old-school Calvinists with existentialists, but I don’t have any of either class here. And that’s not what I’m talking about regarding the Holy Spirit. I am talking about DIRECT OPERATION of the Spirit on the heart of the CHRISTIAN.

    Now, I’ve posted extensive arguments from the OT and NT on this very point, all of which you’ve ignored. I’ve read the old Church of Christ tracts. They are wrong for the reasons previously stated. If you disagree, please show why the arguments actually being made here are wrong.

  19. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gil T (Part 2),

    I appreciate your bringing up the Num 11 event. Let’s take a closer look.

    (Num. 11:24-30 ESV) 24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD. And he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tent. 25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it. 26 Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27 And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” 29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” 30 And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

    Notice that this language, very similar to what we read in Acts, speaks of a personal indwelling of the Spirit on the 70. This did not come from mere Bible study. It’s something God himself worked within these men to qualify them service before God as judges.

    Now, they continued to have the Spirit although the miraculous manifestations did not continue, showing that one may possess the Spirit without continuing to prophesy or do miracles.

    And notice Moses’ prophetic words: “Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would his Spirit on them!” Exactly! This is what happened at Pentecost — the promise continues today (see my replies to Jeff R).

    If we take Moses seriously, for all God’s people to possess the Spirit would be a good thing. But many in the Churches of Christ today act like Joshua, crying, “My lord Moses, stop them.” And he was rebuked for his impudence.

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