The subject of the Holy Spirit is one of the most mis-understood of all religious topics. Many people claim to have the gift of the Holy Spirit, but don’t know in what measure they have it. Others say that it is impossible to get it all, and still others that only a select few can obtain it. And then there is disagreement about how one will react if he does have it. For that reason we propose to review it with you now.
I. The Common Gift of the Spirit
By the common gift, we mean the gift common to all who obey the gospel of Christ. This gift is mentioned in the following passages: Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” In Gal. 4:6 it reads, “And because ye are sons” God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father.” Also in Acts 5 :32, “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. “
It is evident that every obedient child of God receives the Holy Spirit. It is received at baptism. This common gift was not super-natural. It is the Spirit clothing put on at baptism, Rom. 8:9. In Eph. 1:13-14, we are told that this clothing is part payment in advance of the ultimate and ideal clothing of eternity. This then is what we mean by the common gift of the Spirit.
II. The Gift Through The Laying On Of Hands
This gift of the Spirit is entirely distinct from the one just noticed. The above gift always immediately followed baptism. The laying on of hands always imparted supernatural power; the gift just discussed never imparted supernatural power. Only Apostles could impart this gift of supernatural power. It was imparted through the laying on of the Apostle’s hands. There were nine such gifts. Please turn in your Bible and read I Cor 12:8-12. The nine gifts may be outlined as follows:
1. THE GIFT OF THE WORD OF WISDOM.
2. THE GIFT OF THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE.
3. THE GIFT OF SUPERNATURAL FAITH.
4. THE GIFT OF HEALING.
5. THE GIFT OF THE WORKING OF MIRACLES.
6. THE GIFT OF PROPHECY.
7. THE GIFT OF THE DISCERNING OF SPIRITS.
8. THE GIFT OF TONGUES.
9. THE GIFT OF THE INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES.
Let us now find an example of this type of gift of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. In Acts 8: 14-19 it reads,
“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was not fallen upon any of, them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid their hands. On them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the Apostle’s hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power thalt on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.”
This example of laying on the apostles laying hands on people and imparting the power of the Holy Spirit unto them. Realizing the possible gain from such, Simon wanted to buy the power. But of course he couldn’t. We need to emphasize the fact that nobody, other than the apostles, had this power of imparting these gifts.
III. Baptismal Measure of the Holy Spirit
Now we wish to study the highest form of spiritual gifts. This is the ultimate gift of the Spirit. It was never imparted through the laying on of the apostles hands to anybody at any time, but always came directly from God. It was never commanded of anyone, but was merely a promise to the apostles. Thus, those who claim that a reception of it is necessary to salvation, just do not understand the teaching of the Bible on this subject. There are only two cases of it in the entire Bible. Let us notice both of them carefully: Acts 2:1-5,
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”
This case of Holy Spirit baptism is given to the apostles only. It enabled them to preach and perform miracles in spreading the gospel of the kingdom. They also spoke in “other tongues” which happened to be other languages. However, this speaking in tongues was not some non-sense which could not be understood. It was not some jabber incoherent to both speaker and hearer. The next case of Holy Spirit baptism is in Acts 10:44-48 and takes place at the conversion of Cornelius and his household. The purpose is to show that God has accepted the Gentiles, and given them every right and privilege to obey the gospel of Christ, as given to the Jews. In fact, Cornelius was told by the angel, as referenced in Acts 10-11, to send for Peter “…who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” Notice Acts 10:44-48,
“While Peter yet space these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”
This covers the two examples of Holy Spirit Baptism in the New Testament. To confuse this gift of the Holy Spirit with the other two is a very serious mistake that is responsible for much of the confusion in the world today.
Since the apostles, and those in Acts 10, are the only ones who ever received Holy Spirit Baptism, we have no reason for supposing that it still exists today. No one, except the apostles, Was ever promised it. It never was a general promise to all people. Also, since the apostles were the only ones who could lay hands on a person and impart spiritual gifts, it logically follows then that when the last apostle died, this power ceased. When the last man died upon whom an apostle had laid hands, then there were no longer miraculous manifestations of the Spirit in existence. This leaves only the common gift of the Spirit in existence today. That gift which every obedient baptized believer receives. However, remember that even in the days of the apostles, this common gift carried no miraculous power with it. Thus, there is no reason to assume that it carries any with it today, regardless of the fact that some people claim to do miracles that are just an illus ional shadow of what Jesus and the apostles did.
In John 16:7-14, we have a list of things set forth that the Holy Spirit would do as a part of His work. The following things are mentioned: l)He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; 2)guide the apostles into all truth; 3)bring to the remembrance of the apostles all that Christ said; and 4)He will glorify Christ.
1. THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS NOT GIVEN TO MAKE PEOPLE BRAG or BOAST OF THEIR POWER.
Simon in Acts 8:9-12 is a case in point. This man was somewhat of a magician. He dazzled people with his works and power. He was, however, converted to Christ. As he followed the Apostles around he saw not only their miracles, but their power to lay hands on people, thus imparting to them the power to work miracles. Simon wanted that power so much that he offered the Apostles money in order to receive it. His motive was wrong. He was told, “Thy money perish with thee.” Today, we see and hear many who boast of their power to heal the sick, raise the dead, etc. Some even write books about their “Greatest Miracles.” The Holy Spirit doesn’t make people boast of their ability to work miracles. The Holy Spirit came to glorify Christ, not Himself (John 16:14).
2. THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS NOT GIVEN TO KEEP PEOPLE ALWAYS WELL.
The idea that God never allows His people to get sick and does not want them to seek medical help when they are sick, is against Bible teaching. Paul told Timothy to “drink …a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” – 1 Tim. 5:23. Paul did not say “just have faith” or “the Holy Spirit will heal you.” Notice also that Paul left Trophimus at Miletum sick (2 Tim. 4:20). Why didn’t Paul heal Timothy? The answer is simple, the power,of the Holy Spirit was never for the purpose of just making sick people well. Even Paul himself had infirmity of the flesh, according to Gal. 4:13. Why then does the Bible speak of people being physically healed by the power of God? The answer lies in the purpose behind miracles. Notice John 11:15, “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe.” The real motive was to produce faith. Today God’s Word produces faith according to Rom. 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We do not need miracles today to produce faith since we have the Bible. But, miracles also confirmed the truth. In Hebrews 2:3-4, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?” In short, the scripture says that miracles certified the message by authenticating the messenger. Thus, by means of miracles Jesus was shown to be “…a man approved of God unto you…” – Acts 2:22. We are told in 2 Cor. 12:12 that Paul’s miracles were the “sign of an apostle.” Those today, who claim to have power to make sick people well, fail to realize why the apostles healed people in the first century. It was not just for the purpose of making them well, but served to confirm the word of God and produce faith in people’s hearts, and then obedience.
3. THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL NOT CAUSE YOU TO FALL AND ROLL AROUND ON THE GROUND OR INJURE YOURSELF.
With many, excitement is the name of the game. They run, shout, jump church pews, roll on the ground, get dirty and often injure themselves. Some even teach that rolling on the ground and getting dirty shows submission to the Holy Spirit. Others claim that rolling and jumping are actually a sign that the Holy Spirit has come upon them. However, note the behavior of the Apostles when they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-46), there is no hint of this type of behavior. If we examine such behavior as it is given in scripture, we learn its true source. In Acts 19:13-16 and Mark 5:1-5 we find people hurting themselves and jumping on others. What caused them to act in such a way? The Bible says it was an “evil spirit”, not the Holy Spirit.
4. THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL NOT SAVE YOU SEPARATE AND APART FROM THE WORD OF GOD.
Some teach today that the Holy Spirit must work on you from within before you can be saved. They say, “It’s an experience better felt than told.” They claim that it is impossible for a man to come to God unless the Holy Spirit directly calls him. This teaching has led some to claim they have seen “bright lights,” or had “visions,” “heard voices in the night,” etc., all of which prove that the Holy Spirit has called them. However, in the matter of salvation, pardon comes from and takes place in the mind of God. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” – Isaiah 55:7. This being the case, any evidence of pardon must come from God and not from within ourselves. For me to say that “I have been saved because I saw a bright light”, means nothing since God has said nothing about such an experience being evidence of my pardon. Hence, the only way I can know that I have been pardoned is to comply with God’s laws that offer pardon.
5. THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL NOT PROTECT YOU FROM TEMPTATION, OR KEEP YOU FROM SINNING, WITHOUT YOUR HELP.
Some people claim to be immunized from temptation and sin by the Holy Spirit. And yet, many of us know people today who have, in time past, claimed the Holy Spirit’s leading and who are living in sin; some are even serving prison terms. We have Bible accounts of men like Peter and Barnabas, who received the Holy Spirit, who were tempted and sinned. However, this did not protect them from sinning. They, as we, have to cooperate with God by obeying His commands if we are to live above sin. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 9:27, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” There is no magical wand that the Holy Spirit waves over people to protect them from Satan. (See Gal.2:11-14 for reference.) To so teach is to mislead people and offer them hope that is false and unfounded.
6. THE HOLY SPIRIT DID NOT COME TO MAKE PEOPLE RICH.
There are some who teach “prosperity doctrines.” The idea is that God intends for none of his children to be poor. The promise of riches lures many of these men and their false doctrines. People who can ill-afford it often send in their last dollars, believing that their donation will somehow return making them rich. They are told to “plant a seed of faith.” This interprets into “send me some money.” The truth is that the only ones getting rich are the preachers of this false and misleading doctrine. They prey upon the innocent and unsuspecting. What a tragedy! Peter spoke of false teachers like these in 2 Peter 2:3, “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you…” These false teachers were motivated by personal gain. They used words artfully and skillfully forged for the occasion. Many are active in the same field today. The Holy Spirit did not come to earth to make people rich, and those who so claim misrepresent God’s Word.
May we all respect this third person of the Godhead. May we honor Him for revealing the blessed word of God, for the fact that He inspired the apostles and guided them into all truth. In fbl’wet these things and ascribe to Him things that were not a part of His work and mission is to do a great injustice to God, His word, and the Holy Spirit.