New Life Course Study Four: The Holy Spirit

 

Study Four

 

THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

 

On the day of Pentecost, Peter told the convicted crowd to repent and be baptized, and he promised that they would receive the “gift of the Holy Spirit”.  Who is the Holy Spirit?  He is the third Person of the Godhead.  God exists in three Persons, yet is one God.  This is a mystery, yet the Bible does teach this truth which is called the doctrine of the Holy Trinity (see, for example, Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14 and Jude 20, 21).  God the Father is the Creator, but he created all things through the second Person of the Trinity, called the Son of God, or the Logos (Word, see Colossians 1:15, 16; John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:2).  The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead.  He is sometimes referred to as the “executive member of the Godhead” because he carries out what the Father decrees.  All three Holy Persons in the Godhead were involved in creation (Genesis 1:1-3).

The second Person of the Godhead, the Word, became flesh and was incarnate as Jesus Christ, the Messiah (John 1:14).  A simple way of expressing the work of redemption is to say that God the Father planned it, God the Son carried it out on the cross, and the Holy Spirit applies it to the believer. 

One of the amazing blessings of the Christian life is that the Holy Spirit comes to live in the believer.  The Lord Jesus Christ promised his followers that after he had gone back to heaven he would send the Holy Spirit to them (John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:7, 13, 14).  He is occasionally called ‘the Spirit of Jesus’ (Acts 16:7), and this is how Christ lives in his followers (Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

According to Acts 2:38, when we repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Consequently Romans 8:9 implies that all true believers have the Holy Spirit in them.  It is the Holy Spirit who regenerates us, planting the seed of new life in us (John 3:1-8), convicts us of sin (John 16:8, 9), gives us the gifts of repentance and faith (Acts 5:31; 11:18; Ephesians 2:8,9).  This fact of the Holy Spirit coming into the life of the believer is described in many ways (e.g. 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19; 2 Timothy 1:14).

The Bible does distinguish between having the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and being filled with the Holy Spirit.  (See Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 6:3; 7:55; Eph. 5:18).  A simple illustration may help.  You may invite someone into your home as a guest.  They may enter your sitting room, dining room, bathroom, and if they are staying overnight, a guest bedroom.  But the guest may become a very close friend or even a family member, and you can invite them to go anywhere they like in the house.  It is their home now.  No room is forbidden to them.  So it is when we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  As we are commended to go on being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) this implies that we should go on making every part of our lives available to Him.  To ensure that this is so we must feed on the Word of God (Colossians 3:16), pray regularly (Luke 11:13; Acts 4:31), be fully consecrated to God (Romans 12:1, 2), and be sure to obey His commands (Acts 5:32).

In addition to all of this, there are occasional and special enduements of the Holy Spirit for special purposes, such as revival.  These experiences are entirely under the sovereign disposition of God. With these truths as a background, now study the remainder of this lesson.

 ONE EXPERIENCE, MANY TERMS

 Read Acts 10:44-48. This describes the events in Cornelius’ home after Peter had preached there. What did Peter say was poured out on the Gentiles? (v.45)

 In Acts 11:1-17 Peter described his experience with Cornelius to the other apostles. Study this passage carefully. With what did Peter compare Cornelius’ experience? (v.15)

  What term is used to describe the experience in verse 16?

  So what happened to Cornelius and his household is the same as happened to the disciples on the day of Pentecost. List the different terms used in the following Scriptures to describe the same experience.

 A.   Luke 24:49

 B.   Acts 1:5

C.   Acts 1:8

 D.   Acts 2:38

 E.   Acts 8:15,16

 F.   Acts 9:17

 G.  Acts 10:44

H.   Acts 10:45

I.    Acts 10:47

 J.   Acts 11:15

K.   Acts 11:16

 L.   Acts 11:17

 So this experience of being provided with power is called by several different names.

II.          NOT BIRTH BUT BAPTISM

 Now this experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit must not be confused with the work of God in the heart which is called regeneration. Certainly it is the Holy Spirit who works in a man’s heart and regenerates him (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5). In that sense all Christians have the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). The disciples were born again before Pentecost (see John 20:19-23). But whereas regeneration happens once and for all, we need to go on being filled with the Holy Spirit.

 Note: The Greek word translated ‘breathed into’ or ‘breathed on’ in John 20:22 is found only in two other places in the Bible, both in the Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. These passages are Gen. 2:7, where God breathed into the inert clay and man became a living soul, and Ezek. 37:9 where the Spirit breathed into newly reconstituted corpses and they became a living army.

Also, the command, ‘Receive ye’ is a form of the Greek verb called an ‘Aorist Imperative’, which does not have a future meaning. ft implies ‘receive now’. Though the disciples had been taught much, had confessed Jesus as Messiah (Matt. 16:13ff) and had even performed miracles, this does not mean that they were born again (see Matt. 7:22, 23). The fact is that they were unbelieving (Matt. 16:21-23; 17:1 7ff, Mk. 16.14ff, Lk. 24:11,25), fearful (Lk. 24:36,37; Jn. 20:19), and did not understand what Jesus taught (Mk. 8:31-33; 9:31,32). But after they were born again when the risen Christ appeared to them, by Jesus breathing His Spirit into them, He opened their understanding (Lk.24:45f.), they were filled with joy (Lk. 24:52), were of one heart (Acts 1:14; 2:1), and no longer hid but worshipped openly in the temple (Lk. 24:53).

 But even though the Lord had opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, by breathing into them the life-giving Spirit, they needed to go on being filled with the Spirit. Because baptism is an initiatory experience, that is, it comes at the beginning of the Christian life and inaugurates the new experience, theologians link the term ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ with regeneration. In fact, according to Acts 2, the only conditions for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit are repentance (faith is implied) and baptism (Acts 2:38).

 III.         GOD’S ENABLING

 What did Jesus say the disciples needed? (Luke 24:49).

 What were they promised? (Acts 1:8).

N.B. The word ‘power’ may also be translated ‘ability’.

 With what did the apostles testify? (Acts 4:33).

 What was Stephen full of in Acts 6:5?

 and in verse 8?

 What was connected with the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, according to Peter in Acts 10:38?

 Write down what else you learn about God’s enabling from the following Scriptures:

 A.   John 14:26

B.   John 15:26,27

 C.   John 16:7,8

 D.   John 16:13,14

 IV.        THE SEAL OF GOD

In Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30 the gift of the Holy Spirit is described as a seal. What do you think speaking of the ‘seal of the Spirit’ signifies? What does a seal normally do?

  (cf. Matt. 27:66; II Cor. 1:22; II Tim. 2:19).

 V.         INTO ONE BODY

 John the Baptist baptized his followers ‘unto repentance’. Had they repented before they actually entered the water? (Matt. 3:6).

 Christian baptism is ‘into Christ’. Are believers ‘in Christ’ before they are actually immersed. (Gal. 3:7, 26).

 The answer in both cases is strictly ‘yes’. The act of baptism in water makes vivid and public the inward work of God. It seals it.

What are we baptized into by the Holy Spirit. (See I Cor. 12:12,13).

 We are ‘in Christ’ through repentance and faith, but just as baptism in water makes our conversion public and seals it, so the fullness of the Holy Spirit makes real, living and effective our membership in the Body of Christ.

 Now here are some questions to answer:

A.   What is the gift of the Holy Spirit?

 B.   Who may receive this gift? (Acts 2:38, 39; 5:32)

 C.   What is the normal order of experience?

 D.    What are the steps to receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit?

 Acts 2:38

 E.   List some of the results of the gift of the Spirit.

 1.   Acts 1:8

 2.   Acts 2:4, 11, 46, 47 (The special events and signs in Acts chapter two were unique. They were not repeated.)

 3.   Acts 4:32

  4.  Acts 2:42

  5.  I  Cor. 12:13

  6.  Eph. 5:18

 7.  Acts 4:31

 8.  Acts 8:1,4

 9.  John 15:8

  10.       John 15:16

  11.       Gal. 5:22,23

 List anything else you notice or any questions you would like to ask.

 

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