Rick O'Connor
The Things Of The Kingdom And The Things Of The Name
The Bible: The Only Source Of Authority


God’s Spirit

God’s spirit is His power. It has no personality, but is rather the means through which His will is accomplished.

It sustains all life -

“All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils” (Job 27:3)

“If He set his heart upon man, if He gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust” (Job 34:14-15)

How the Bible Defines the Spirit of God

The Bible uses the word “SPIRIT” in a widely extended range of meanings, but all stem from its primary significance, as describing God Himself:

God’s Holy Spirit

The words “Holy Spirit” literally mean separate, or special power. They refer to God’s spirit power only when it is used for special work. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit as being associated with the work of redemption or salvation.

Whereas God’s spirit sustains all flesh, God’s Holy Spirit has never been upon all men (see Numbers 11:16-17,24-30).

As can be seen from the passage in Numbers, the possession of the ‘spirit of God’ in a special sense was evidenced by outward signs. It was the power which impelled men to write inspired and unerring Scriptural records (2 Peter 1:19-21).

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

In the New Testament the bestowal of the Holy Spirit was in the form of gifts - or empowering abilities. It is a much misunderstood subject. We will examine it under the following headings:

What were the Holy Spirit Gifts?

Read Acts 2:1-4. The disciples were gathered “with one accord” in the city of Jerusalem, and in fulfillment of the promise of Christ (Acts 1:8) they were anointed with the Holy Spirit.

The effect was instantaneous (v4).

It was said of Jesus Christ (v22) that the miracles were a sign that he was approved of God. Now it was true of his disciples (Hebrews 2:4).

1 Corinthians 12 gives us a list: tongues (i.e. a language not previously learnt), healing, wisdom knowledge, working of miracles, prophecy and discerning of spirits.

How were they given?

The modern world has become familiar with evangelists. Men, women and even children are among those claiming to possess miraculous gifts.

Some few years back a 10 year old child toured Australia from the U.S.A. claiming to have the gift of God and the power of miracles.

The Bible is quite specific as to the manner in which the gifts were bestowed. The first essential was understanding the Truth. The idea of a man teaching the immortality of the soul and possessing spirit gifts is quite foreign to the Word of God: people had to receive the Truth and then later the gift. Acts 2:38 cp. Acts 8:12-18.

From this latter passage in Acts it is evident that the apostles only had the power to confer the gift and this was done by the laying on of their hands (see also Acts 6:6; 19:6; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6).

Consequently, these Gifts could not endure more than a generation beyond the death of the last of the apostles.

Why were they given?

Because of the great responsibility of preaching Jesus in a vast pagan world and among hostile Jewry. One reason they were given was to give a clear and accurate rememberance of the life of Jesus that it might be recorded (see John 14:26; 16:13).

They were given for the “perfecting” (better understood as a ‘bringing to maturity’) of the saints (1 Corinthians 13:10 compare Ephesians 4:11-12). For other occurrences of the word see 1 Corinthians 2:6 - the idea is of being grown up spiritually, see 1 Corinthians 14:20.

One of the main reasons that they were given was so that the Scriptures may be made complete - it is these that mature the saints.

The Holy Spirit gifts were a Divine endowment of supernatural powers given to chosen members of the first century ecclesias with certain specific and limited objectives:

How, why and when were they withdrawn?

The fact that they were to be withdrawn is clearly shown in 1 Corinthians 13. They were aids to the infant ecclesia to assist it to grow up. Tongues, knowledge and gifts of prophecy would cease. Why? Because the job for which they were originally given had been completed (see Ephesians 4:11-12).

When did this occur? History shows that the gifts were not available or in fact to be found at all, beyond about the middle of the second century A.D. By this time the Jewish state had been overthrown (A.D. 70) and the gospel firmly entrenched in the pagan world. The word of God was then to be the entire source of authority. The gifts had served their function.

How did this occur? As 1 Corinthians 13 shows, a time would come when the gifts would be removed Acts 8:18 shows that only the Apostles could pass on the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands (even Philip the evangelist could not pass it on). When the last of the Apostles died around the end of the first century A.D. the ability to pass on the gift also ceased. This ability was not transferred to their ‘successors’ because it was not necessary that the gifts continue any longer. The result was that those who had received a gift, dwindle away in number to nothing during the second century.

Since the Holy Spirit Gifts were given for particular and limited purposes, God provided for the withdrawal of the Gifts when those purposes had been accomplished. The intended cessation of the gifts is announced in unambiguous terms:

1 Corinthians 13:

v8 “Whether (Gifts of - cf. 13:2) prophecies, they shall fail; whether tongues, they shall cease; whether knowledge, it shall vanish away

v10 “That which is in part shall be done away

v11 “When I became a man, I put away childish things”

The time for the cessation is when “THAT WHICH IS PERFECT IS COME”. PERFECT is contrasted with PART BY PART 13:9-10, as adult is with childish 13:11.

God has pledged that “When the PERFECT is come, then THAT FROM PARTS will be done away” - 1 Corinthians 13:10

This defines THE TIME for the cessation of the Gifts.

PERFECT means finished; cf. John 4:34; 5:36; 17:4; Acts 20:24

PERFECT means adult, full-grown; cf. Hebrews 5:14; 1 Corinthians 14:20

Are they available today?

The fact that there was such a gift as discerning of spirits is most significant. It shows that there were some claiming Holy Spirit power, and were probably supporting their claim with pseudo miracles e.g. healing see 1 John 4:1-3. The gift of discerning of spirits prevented the growth of charlatans and fakes. It restrained those who, possessing hypnotic power and being able to exert a magnetic influence on others, were deluded into imagining that what they did was by the Holy Spirit.

We do not deny the fact of modern ‘faith healing’ nor do we deny the power of prayer. But that is quite different from the gifts of the early Christian era. Most doctors acknowledge the need of ‘faith’ in effecting cures (e.g. the placebo).

Thus in the religious world there exists the spectacle of differing sects, antagonistic of each other, each accusing the other of being entirely erroneous (e.g. Catholics and Pentecostals), yet both claiming miraculous cures. God cannot be with both. Indeed, since none of them possess the Truth of the Scriptures, how could any of them possess the spirit gifts even if they were available?

What about the “miracles”? The answer is that they are not genuine miracles at all, but a phenomenon well known to science - mind over matter. For every claimed cure there are thousands of failures (naturally unrecorded). Natives can work their own ‘miracles’ e.g. voodoo and the Australian aborigines’ pointed bone. These are not miracles but psychosomatic.

We must discriminate between the true and false. How? By testing the doctrine, see Acts 19:13; 2 Timothy 3:8.

Holy Spirit in Your Life

The principles that apply:

  1. The Gospel believed is God’s power to salvation - Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Acts 20:24,32
  2. The Bible was written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit - 2 Peter 1:21; John 6:63
  3. Bible Truth is what sanctifies disciples of Christ - John 15:3;17:16; Psalm 119:9,11; Ephesians 5:26
  4. Our spirit, or mind and heart, is what the Truth sanctifies - Ephesians 4:23; 6:18; Romans 1:9; 2:29; 7:6; 8:5-6; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:34
  5. As a result, the Bible frequently uses the expression “a Holy Spirit” to describe our hearts when cleansed by the word of God - Jude 20; Romans 9:1; 14:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Acts 7:55,59; Titus 3:5.

When will they be re-issued?

The powers will return when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. In Ephesians 1:13-14 they are described as having been given in the first century as a deposit or down payment until Christ’s return. In Hebrews 6:4-7 they are described as ‘the powers of the age to come’. First century believers were merely given a foretaste of that which all saints would be given when the Kingdom is established on the earth.

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