Receive the Holy Spirit – Permanently
by KEN ALEXANDER
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Summary: When the Holy Spirit fell on Jesus at His baptism in its fullness it remained on Him throughout His ministry. When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples on the day of Pentecost it remained on them with all its power and authority. In this generation we are looking for the Holy Spirit to fall as described by Joel 2:28-29: “Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit”.
Receive the Holy Spirit – Permanently
When the Holy Spirit fell on Jesus and the disciples it fell with great power and authority enabling Jesus and the disciples to do wonders (miracles) and to present the Word of God with all power and authority with the result that thousands were converted in one day. You may say”I am a Christian and I have accepted the Holy Spirit at the time I was saved”. That is true but that was only the beginning of the Holy Spirit experience. Believers are looking for a baptism of the Holy Spirit that far exceeds an initial salvation experience. Isaiah said:”for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (v.11:9). The Holy Spirit will fall so powerfully that: “They shall not teach one another or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest” (Hebrews 8:11). These times are surely greater than the initial salvation experience.
Before the NT the Holy Spirit appeared and used men for specific purposes but did not permanently abide. When God told Ezekiel to stand, He also enabled him by the Holy Spirit to stand. In Old Testament times the Holy Spirit did not indwell all believers but indwelt selected persons temporarily for divine service (cf. Ex. 31:1–11; 1 Sam. 10:9–11; Ps. 51:11; Ezek. 3:24). The Bible teaches that the Spirit of God was active in the lives of people in the Old Testament, but no Scripture teaches that all believers in the Old Testament were indwelt by him. The Old Testament never mentions the possibility. Rather, it records David’s concern that the Holy Spirit might be taken from him (Ps. 51:11 “Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me”) something that seems impossible in the New Testament (Rom. 8:38–39). Jesus stressed that “He [the Holy Spirit] lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). The gift of the Spirit through faith in Christ fulfills, rather than contradicts, the Old Testament promises. Christ died so the blessings God has promised Israel might be given to the Gentiles, too. Moses (Num. 11:29–30) looks forward to a time all people would receive the Spirit as in Joel 2:28–32 (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1230). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).
In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit appeared in festivals such as the Passover and the Feasts of Tabernacles. The Holy Spirit moved to remove sin by animal sacrifice but did not abide permanently in the recipient (see Hebrews 9:1-10). The sacrifices had to be made continually with each new sin because there was no permanent abiding. Jesus was the first to have a permanently abiding Holy Spirit and he passed that along to the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
You could say the wilderness experience of the Israelites rescued from Egypt could be considered a permanent abiding. However even that experience ceased as Israel entered the Promised Land. And the Spirit did not abide in individuals. Even for Moses he had to enter the tent of meeting or climb Mt. Sinai for God to meet him. The evidence of those meetings shown on his face but that too dissipated.
There is a vast difference in receiving the Holy Spirit and having the Spirit come and abide in its full manifestation. For most Christians the Holy Spirit performs a different purpose throughout their walk with God. The Holy Spirit acts first as a seal or promise of what is to come. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is one of many works God performs on behalf of the believer to secure his salvation (cf. 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30). Second Corinthians 1:22 says God “sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” In Old Testament times a seal was used in various ways: a seal authenticated a document (e.g., a marriage contract); it authenticated a transfer of power from one ruler to another; it served as a lock to secure something, more by the authority it signified than by its intrinsic strength; it was used to verify a document such as a bill of divorce. The Holy Spirit is given to the person who believes in Christ as a seal, identifying the believer as belonging to God but this is not a pouring out of the Spirit as contemplated by Joel.
A key verse that indicates the unique ministry of the Holy Spirit in this age is John 14:16 where Jesus promised the Spirit would indwell believers and that the indwelling would be permanent. “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” This permanent indwelling would not be for a select few but for all believers. There are a number of indicators that affirm these facts.
The Holy Spirit is a gift given to all believers in Jesus without exception; no conditions are attached to the gift of the Spirit except faith in Christ (John 7:37–39). Many Scriptures speak of the Holy Spirit as being “given” to believers. The word” give” in these instances means “to bestow a gift” (cf. 2 Cor. 1:22; 1 Thess. 4:8; 1 John 4:13). Because the Holy Spirit is given as a gift, there is nothing the person can do to receive the gift apart from accepting it.
The Holy Spirit is given at salvation. This is the positive statement of which the negative is that the unbeliever does not possess the Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 indicates the Holy Spirit is given at the moment of salvation. The sealing (and indwelling) with the Spirit took place at the time of believing. Galatians 3:2 also emphasizes this same truth. A person not possessing the Holy Spirit is an unbeliever. Romans 8:9 emphasizes, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Jude 19 refers to unbelievers as “devoid of the Spirit.” As we’ve noted above the Spirit may be present in new believers but it does not reach the condition of being permanent in its full manifestation.
The Holy Spirit indwells carnal believers. The carnal Corinthian Christians, who were guilty of incest, lawsuits against fellow believers, and other sins, were nonetheless indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). If only a select group is indwelt by the Spirit then the Corinthians would not all have been indwelt. Romans 8:9 and 2 Corinthians 1:22 demand a conclusion that all believers, regardless of their spiritual condition, are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit indwells believers permanently. Not only does the Holy Spirit indwell all believers, but it is a permanent indwelling (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit is given to believers as a “down payment,” a verification of their future glorification (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 4:30)( Enns, P. P. (1989). The Moody handbook of theology (pp. 267–269). Chicago, IL: Moody Press).
The Holy Spirit is the earnest of our total salvation, a down payment so to speak on the fullness to come. “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the REDEMPTION of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:14). “And not only they, but ourselves also … waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). This final consummation of our redemption will be realized at our Lord’s Second Coming and before that in some believers.
The principal idea of sealing is that of ownership. The believer is sealed with the Spirit to identify the believer as belonging to God. Branding cattle would be a parallel; the rancher puts his brand on the steer as a sign that the steer belongs to him. God has put His seal, the Holy Spirit, within the believer to verify that the believer belongs to Him. Second Corinthians 1:22 indicates that the Holy Spirit Himself is the seal. The phrase “gave us the Spirit” explains the sealing, which is done to a believer; it is not something the believer does himself. Moreover, the sealing is permanent—with a view to the believer’s ultimate glorification (Eph. 4:30). Hence, the sealing not only emphasizes ownership but also security. The Holy Spirit verifies that the believer permanently belongs to God. The emphasis of all three of these passages is also that all believers are sealed. Despite their carnality, all the Corinthian Christians were sealed (2 Cor. 1:22); even those who were capable of grieving the Spirit were nonetheless sealed (Eph. 4:30). Furthermore, because there is no command to be sealed further indicates that all believers are sealed at the moment of conversion. But this sealing and the down payment are not the fullness of the Holy Spirit that we will experience upon maturity.
In the interim the Holy Spirit is our helper (Paraclete in Greek). He will help us by revealing the things of Christ to us. Remember, Christ had a limited ministry of 31/2 years on the earth and He ministered in an area not more than a short distance from Nazareth His home town. He had more to tell us while he was here, but at the current state of the disciple’s growth they could not bear such truths then. So He sent the Helper to guide believers into ALL the truth. It is when we know all the truth that the Spirit manifests in His fullness.
The Holy Spirit also came as the Parousia (Greek) which means: “the presence of God’. Suffice it to say that when we feel God's presence, receive a revelation of Him, exercise a gift of the Spirit as prophecy or worship in the Spirit, most of this is initiated and directed by the Holy Spirit. We can also have revelation directly from the Father. The Holy Spirit is one with the Father and Jesus Christ, but the Father has turned all things over to the Son and the Son is at His right hand. Christ went away, out of physical sight, so He could send the Helper, a manifestation of God, to guide us in our Christian walk.
When the disciples received the great commission to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth they were given the fullness of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this. The Spirit is God just as God is a spirit. The disciples did go to the ends of the earth as they were able through the enabling of the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost they were enabled to do this by the Spirit.
After receiving the fullness of the H.S. they were able to do things they were not able to do before. In one incident: “Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:1-8).
And further: “the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37).
The fullness of the Holy Spirit also brought judgment. “…A man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!” Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard of it. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things” (Acts 5:1-11).
As Jesus had said concerning the Holy Spirit: “And when He comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned” (John 16:8-11).
So we have seen that the Holy Spirit in all its limited manifestations (as a seal, as a helper, as the presence of God and as a promise (earnest) of the fullness to come). All of these functions are inferior to the Holy Spirit’s manifestation of fullness. There have been throughout Christian history “revivals” where the Holy Spirit was poured out on a group of believers. A Christian revival or revivalism is a specific period of increased spiritual interest or renewal in the life of a church congregation or many churches, either regionally or globally. This should be distinguished from the use of the term "revival" to refer to an evangelistic meeting or series of meetings (see Revival meeting). Revivals are seen as the restoration of the church itself to a vital and fervent relationship with God after a period of decline. Mass conversions of non-believers are viewed by church leaders as having positive moral effects. Historians have different numbering and dating systems. There were "Awakenings" around the years 1727, 1792, 1830, 1857, 1882 and 1904. More recent revivals include those of 1906 (Azusa Street Revival), 1930s (Balokole), 1970s (Jesus people) and 1909 Chile Revival which spread in the Americas, Africa, and Asia among Protestants and Catholics (Christian revival, Wikipedia).
However each of these revivals of the Holy Spirit was not permanent in that they died out in time. The Azusa Street Revival is an apt example. The revival produced miracles of healing and other miracles reminiscent of the moving of the Holy Spirit in the early church. Many were raised from the dead. However that revival was not permanent in that it died out in a few short years. The same if true of other great movings of God through the ages of Christianity. Believers today are looking for such revivals but are looking for them to last. Even the fervor of the early church faded as the years went on. Church leaders such as Luther, Calvin, John Wesley, Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, John Newton, William Wilberforce and others started great movements but when these men died so did their movements; or they degenerated into denominational churches without the fervor of the former revivals. Many denominational churches that had great leaders in the past have become lifeless after the leaders were gone i.e. Methodist, Quakers, Church of Christ and many others.
Believers today are looking for a great revival but one that lasts beyond the lifetime of a leader. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit, when it stays with the recipients thereof has the power to change the earth.
We contend for the fullness of the Holy Spirit to come and permanently rest upon the Body of Christ in this age. The great commission still looms large in our minds and only when the Spirit falls on us in its fullness will we be enabled to rid the earth of the god of this world Satan and preach the true Gospel to the ends of the world. The Lord told the original disciples to wait until they received power from on high and they waited in the upper room. Likewise we wait impatiently for the Holy Spirit to manifest fully in our lives. When He comes we will do the greater works. Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father” (John 14:12). Thus through the fully manifested Spirit the apostles, the church, and true believers today can do greater works than Jesus, not because they are greater works, but because of who we are—frail, sinful human instruments empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Author: ©Kenneth B. Alexander, JD
Scripture References: New American Standard Bible, 78/86 ed.
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