Five Studies on the Holy Spirit (Part 2)
Ian McDowell, Epping, Australia
THE FULNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Human Experience of the Divine Indwelling. When the Holy Spirit comes into a Christian's life at conversion, an important change is effected, 2 Cor. 5. 17; Eph. 3. 19; Col. 2. 9-10; Titus 3. 4-5. This shows in certain ways, e.g. the appearance of the traits of godliness called "fruit", Gal. 5. 22-23; Eph. 5. 9, or the demonstration of spiritual power called "gifts", Rom. 12. 3-9; Eph. 4. 7-13. The final study deals with these. Study 4 is concerned with the precise New Testament use of the term "full of or "filled with the Holy Spirit". Note that the usual term is slightly misleading; there is no noun "fulness", but an adjective "full", and no definite article. The lack of the article may suggest that the human spirit and the Holy Spirit in the Christian are inseparable, and that both are manifested together.
Inward Manifestations of the "Fulness". The New Testament grammatical construction is consistent throughout all uses of the phrase "full of (or filled with) Holy Spirit", and is normally used of human emotion. Believers were full of faith, power and Holy Spirit, Acts 6. 5, 8, or full of joy, and of Holy Spirit, 13. 52. Others were full of envy or full of wrath, 13. 45; 19. 28. A person might show a "spirit of meekness" or a "spirit of timidity", Gal. 6. 1; 2 Tim. 1. 7 lit. If this is understood, we are ready to look at the key verses in Ephesians 5. 18-20 and Colossians 3. 16-17. A drunken man shows a certain lack of control, being influenced by another spirit. A Christian in whose spirit the Holy Spirit dwells and who lives by the Word of God, shows this by his consistent conscious concern with spiritual things in every department of life. This is the fulness of the Holy Spirit. It is not a "higher plane" of spiritual state attained by a single occasion of exercising faith, but the continuing condition of consciously trusting in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Outward Manifestations of the "Fulness". Whatever spirit characterizes a person interacts with others around him in some definite way. The preaching of our Lord Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit upon Him caused His rejection, Luke 4. 1; 18-20. When Peter and the early converts were "filled with the Holy Spirit" at Pentecost, their preaching brought tremendous response, Acts 2. 4; 4. 30-31. Stephen, "full of the Holy Spirit", both engaged and enraged his hearers, 7. 54-55. Barnabas, who was also "filled with the Holy Spirit", brought many people to our Lord Jesus Christ, 11. 24. Paul's power by the Holy Spirit blinded a sorcerer but won a Roman proconsul, 13. 9-12. The point is that the New Testament links the term "filled with the Holy Spirit" with these outward achievements. We must do the same if we are to understand it in the strict Biblical sense; the alternative is confusion.
How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit. This is simple, but not easy. Just choose to relate the circumstances of the present moment consciously to the fact of the Lordship of Christ, so that you may think and act in accordance with the teaching of Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Then you will make a godly response inwardly and have a corresponding spiritual impact upon others outwardly.
THE FRUIT AND THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Fruit of the Spirit. Godliness is seen when the Christian receives divine grace through belief of the truth, Eph. 2. 8i Col. 1.6, such that the traits of spirituality emerge in his life, Gal. 5. 22-23; Eph. 5. 9; 2 Pet. 1. 4-8. The New Testament calls these "the fruit of the Spirit", i.e. the result of the integration of the human spirit with the Holy Spirit.
The Gifts of the Spirit. These are the famous charismata, "gracings" or operations of divine grace through the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 12. 4, 11. They are given to believers to bring our Lord's blessings to others corporately, i.e. in the setting of the Church which is Christ's body; and they are to be used in love, i.e. in seeking our Lord's best for a fellow-believer at whatever cost to oneself and no matter how the other behaves. The main contexts are Romans 12. 3-8; 1 Corinthians 12. 4-11, 25-28; Ephesians 4. 7-16; 1 Peter 4. 10-11. It is to be expected that Christ, the Lord of His Church, will when numbers permit provide for a sufficiency of gifts in every local manifestation of it. If this is so, and we still need to bring in gifted people, it may be that some in the local church are not using what God has given, 1 Tim. 4. 14; 2 Tim. 1. 6.
The Nature of Charisma. Every believer is "charismatic" in the sense of Romans 5. 15; 6. 23; the charisma of God is eternal life. There is nothing mysterious about this. Personal wholeness is a charisma, 1 Cor. 12. 9, 28; 1 Thess. 5. 23, as is one's wife, husband or the ability to remain celibate, 1 Cor. 7. 7. We define spiritual gift as a God-given ability which, when used for our Lord, brings divine grace within the reach of others; see 1 Pet. 4. 10-11. About two dozen such abilities are named in the New Testament; the list is open-ended, and very many more are possible.
A Classification of Spiritual Gifts. Some of the nominated gifts are quite simple, and are used in the spiritual development of inter-personal relationships: helping, serving, caring, giving, and being hospitable, Rom. 12. 7-8; 1 Cor. 12. 10, 28-29; 1 Pet. 4. 10. These are accessible to every Christian, and an effective means of building bridges of friendship with others across which the truth of God's Word may pass. The counselling gift ("discernment of spirits") is in this category also. Shepherding, ruling, and governing are for local church elders and deacons, Rom. 12. 8; 1 Cor. 12. 28; Eph. 4. 11. Teaching and exhorting are public speaking gifts, Rom. 12. 7-8; 1 Cor. 12. 28; Eph. 4. 11; and no brother should take on either class of responsibility without wisdom, knowledge and faith, Rom. 12. 6; 1 Cor. 12. 8-9.
The Evangelistic Gifts. The worker invites failure who does not evangelize with the power (not "miracles"!) of God upon him, 1 Cor. 12. 10, 28; Eph. 4. 11. Not by methods, but by gifted men and women, the work of the Gospel is done.