Who has the Spirit, the Holy Spirit that is? This question has been a source of pride, envy debate, excommunication and division in the Body of Christ since the day Peter encountered greedy Simon the sorcerer to the Council of Constantinopleís rejection of the Montanist revival in 381A.D. clear through to our purpose driven day. The answers vary depending on who and how you ask. My intention is to fill in a bit and pack down for us between the sides of this divide.
Letís have a quick recap. Our Triune God plans the redemption of mankind through the shed blood of The Son., who ascends to send The Holy Spirit and intercede for us at the right hand of The Father, fulfilling the promise of the Father, empowering the restored believers to make disciples the world over. Amazingly wonderful! Divine Grace! Praise the Lord! So whatís the problem? Why do we have division over that which fulfilled the ultimate and loving intention of a Holy God towards fallen man? As with most trouble one encounters, the weak link tends to be with people.
All believers at conversion are sealed with and receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Scripturally it is more accurate to say you have the Holy Spirit in your heart than Christ Himself. Part of the Spirits ministry is to sanctify, refine and empower the believer towards Christ-likeness. He is the active inspiration of every writer in Scripture yet, all He speaks points and testifies to Jesus as the Christ, Son of the living God. Still sounds good, clear and worthy of praise you say? Well, hereís the rub: people, power, gifts and positions.
The first century church full of The Spirit led by the Apostles was well, Charismatic or Gift-functional. Divine gifts from The Father, Son and Holy Spirit were full and flowing. Tongues, prophecy, knowledge, healings as well as the positional gifts of the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher and many others were needed and in abundance. Signs and wonders followed the true and anointed servants of The Lord. Hands were laid, words were given and risks were taken in Faith and the power and purpose of God met them there at their bold, fresh point of Faith. The world of men was forever changed.
Then that first generation began to pass away. Gnostics and other wiley heretics and common con men saw opportunity for high profile and profit in being the Prophet. My how some things never change? I could launch from here into a mass of history, names, dates and movements. Let us just say it was at this point the Church started becoming more institutional, self protective and increasingly powerful by the worldly measure and sadly less powerful in the Spiritual measure. For a fine overview of the dates, places and people I have sacrificed to brevity I recommend 2000 Years of Spirit-Led Revival by Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt.
Todayís divisions fall along the lines of:
1. Those who insist that all the gifts and tongues have passed away except for the gifts they still use.
2. Those that insist all the gifts and tongues are still amongst us and very much for today,
3. Those that muddle in the middle debating 2nd. and 3rd. acts of Grace and other Theological points and ponderings.
4. Those that just want to be seen on Sunday mornings but home by 12:20pm and just do not care either way.
I caution all who may spend too much time debating and contesting their brotherís theology and doctrine and loose sight of the purpose and ministry of the Holy Spirit that indwells us all. All the gifts were given for the training and equipping of the Saints for the WORK of Service/Ministry. The encouragement, edification and building up of the brethren and the practical needs of the Body of Christ for functionality. The function is making disciples in every nation of the world. Remember?
By Grace through Faith we find salvation in Christ. All we receive from God we receive through like Faith. We need all we can get from God and should only limit what is possible in accordance with His Word and our point of Faith in it. One should never dismiss acts taken in Faith with a heart of service and humility on the basis of opinion or doctrinal preference. The men and women of God found in His book never suffered such handicaps on possibilities or outcomes.
For a very balanced perspective on the topics I have only thumb-nailed, I recommend Perspectives on Spirit Baptism edited by Chad Owen Brand. Brand is Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Associate Dean for Biblical and Theological studies at Boyce College. His book brings together esteemed theologians from Catholic, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Charismatic and Nazarene traditions and though written in a scholarís hand, maps out middle ground for the Separated Brethren to come together and continue the Great Commission in unity. To the Glory of the Father, in the Name of Jesus the Son, in the Power of the Holy Spirit.
I really enjoyed your article, thank you! I am not an expert on who has the Spirit but I know that the word has this to say. 1 John 4:13-By THIS we know that we abide in Him and He in us, BECAUSE HE HAS GIVEN US OF HIS SPIRIT. (14) And we have seen (In the word!) and testify that THE FATHER has SENT THE SON as SAVIOR OF THE WORLD. That would put us in line with the great commission. Blessings, Sharon