The Reformation Herald Online Edition

At the Brink of Eternity

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019
A Prophecy and a Promise
Alwin Vedhasingh
The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead. In Acts 5:3, 4, we read that the apostle Peter said, “Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whilst it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men but unto God.” Here the Holy Spirit, to whom Ananias had lied, is referred to as God.

The Holy Spirit is eternal. “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13, 14). [Emphasis added.]

The Holy Spirit is omnipresent. In Psalm 139:7–10, King David reveals that God’s Spirit is everywhere. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

The Holy Spirit is omniscient. “As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9–11).

The Holy Spirit is omnipotent. “And the angel answered and said unto [Mary], The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall over shadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

The prophecy and the promise of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament era

In the time of the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was active in individual human beings chosen by God for specific purposes. The Holy Spirit came upon people to enable them to accomplish God-given tasks. Hence the prophets used the words, “Thus saith the Lord” to attest to the divine thoughts on which their proclamation of both judgment and salvation were based.

In Genesis 20:7, Moses revealed that Abraham was a prophet. Prophets were men of the Spirit. They were spokesmen, for “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).

It is evident that the Holy Spirit has been at work throughout both the history and redemption of mankind. The Holy Spirit is active in every instance of creation, as Psalm 104:30 points out: “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.” Genesis 1:2 states that the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters at the time of creation.

When mankind sinned, the human race was cut off from fellowship with God. But in mercy, God’s Spirit continued to deal with humanity after the fall. This is brought out in Genesis 6:3 where “the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”

Joseph and Daniel were men of prayer and faith. They devoted their lives to God. When Joseph interpreted the dream to Pharaoh in Genesis 41:37–40, the monarch observed plainly that Joseph had the Spirit of God and there was no one as discerning and wise as Joseph. When Daniel was able to interpret the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, that king said that he knew that the Spirit of the holy gods was in Daniel (Daniel 4:9). Joseph and Daniel prospered in foreign lands after interpreting dreams for their rulers and both of them were elevated to high office as a result of their faithfulness to God.

In Psalm 51:11, King David prays to God, “take not thy holy spirit from me” indicating that he, too, had the Holy Spirit. In 1 Samuel 16:13, the Spirit of the Lord came upon David when the prophet Samuel anointed him in the midst of his brethren. This was not only an anointing with power but an anointing also of wisdom and grace, enabling him to live a true life.

King Saul was anointed as king by the prophet Samuel. In 1 Samuel 10:11, when he was in the company of the sons of the prophets, the Spirit of prophecy came upon Saul virtually unsought and apparently without any spiritual preparation. It was the Spirit of God given for service, power to prophesy, to conquer and to rule.

Samson was a man filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. God had a purpose for his life—to use this human to bring deliverance to the people of Israel. In Judges 13:25 we read that the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon Samson. The key to his victories over the Philistines may be found in a single phrase: “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him.”

The success of the ministry of the prophet Elijah was not due to any inherited qualities he possessed, but to his submission to the Holy Spirit, which was given to him as it will be given to all who exercise living faith in God. The prophet Elisha received a double portion of the Spirit that had rested on Elijah. In him, the power of Elijah’s spirit was united with the gentleness, mercy, and tender compassion of the Spirit of Christ (2 Kings 2:9).

In Judges 6:33, 34, we find that Gideon had been appointed by God as the judge who was to deliver Israel. He was empowered by the Holy Spirit for the task of driving out the Midianites.

The Holy Spirit led the prophet Nehemiah to weep, pray and fast for the needs of his people (Nehemiah 1:4). The Holy Spirit led Nehemiah to praise God amidst great difficulties (Verse 5). The Holy Spirit led him to confess personal and national sins (Verses 6, 7). The Holy Spirit led him to remind God and his people of the Lord’s promises, perspectives and plans (Verses 10, 11).

The prophecy of the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28, 29) about the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. In Isaiah 44:3–5, God promised to pour out His Spirit upon Israel’s descendants. The promise of the Spirit will be poured out upon him who is thirsty. In Isaiah 32:15–17, the result of the outpouring of the Spirit is justice, righteousness and peace.

In Ezekiel 36:26, 27, God promises to put His Spirit “within you.” It will then cause one to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments.

In Ezekiel 39:29, the Lord God promised that He will not hide His face from Israel, for He had poured out His Spirit upon their nation.

In Zechariah 12:10 the Spirit of grace and supplication was to be poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, prompting people to look upon Jesus whom they have pierced and to mourn because of Him.

The prophecy and promise of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament era

The New Testament, like the Old Testament, was written under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist baptized people by submersing them in the river Jordan to symbolize their repentance for sin. He told them that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire, (Matthew 3:11).

Jesus told the disciples, “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). The Spirit would be given as “living water” to all who would thirst and come to Him in faith (John 7:37–39). Jesus promised His disciples the “Spirit of truth” who would be a helper and would abide with them (John 14:16, 17). The Lord told His apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they would receive the “promise of the Father” (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4). This He clearly connects to the baptism of the Spirit spoken of by John the Baptist, through which they would receive power and be eyewitnesses (Acts 1:5, 8). The Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus as a dove is a sign of His divine anointing (Matthew 3:16, 17). The visible descent of the Spirit upon Jesus served as the God-given sign by which the Baptist would know that this was the long-awaited coming One (John 1:32–34).

The apostle Peter, baptized by the Holy Spirit, suddenly had supernatural boldness and authority beyond himself when he stood and lifted up his voice, addressing the crowd on the day of Pentecost, explaining that they were not drunk but were experiencing a fulfillment of that which had been uttered by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:14–17). In the course of his sermon, Peter spoke of the outpouring of the Spirit as a promise Jesus had received from the Father (Acts 2:33). The gift of the Spirit is for all who repent and are baptized (Acts 2:38). The promise was received by Christ and now poured out by Christ (Acts 2:33).

The apostle Stephen reproached the Jewish authorities as stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears because they always resisted the Holy Ghost as their fathers did (Acts 7:51). Note that they not only resisted Jesus while He was on earth but they also resisted the Holy Spirit.

The apostle Paul spoke of the blessing that the Holy Spirit “might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14).

The apostle James exhorted the fellow believer to be patient until he receives the early and the latter rain (James 5:7).

The apostle Jude advised the believer to have holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20).

John the Revelator continued his relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We read that he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:9–10).

The role of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit plays a vital role in God’s plan of redemption, from creation to eternity. As mentioned, in Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God, that is the Holy Spirit, moved upon the face of the waters, when the earth was without form and void. In the last chapter of Revelation, the Holy Spirit invites humanity to partake in God’s redemption (Revelation 22:17).

In Matthew 1:20 an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to explain that his betrothed wife had conceived through the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit dwells in the believer and causes our body to become the temple of God

(1 Corinthians 3:16). The Holy Spirit grieves with our actions and language (Ephesians 4:30). He intercedes for us with groanings, prompting us to pray (Romans 8:26). He searches our hearts (Verse 27) and He talks to us (Acts 13:2; 16:6, 7; Revelation 2:7). He teaches all things and reminds us of scriptures (John 14:26).

God has revealed Himself to us through His Spirit, who spoke through the prophets. The Holy Spirit reveals light to us and leads us so that we can understand the Word.

The Holy Spirit has a twofold part in redemption; first the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, then leads us to repentance for sin. Therefore, we rely on God’s righteousness and mercy and are led to redemption. We can have victory over the flesh because of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit gives the power to accomplish the Lord’s work beyond our abilities if we yield to His power. The Holy Spirit also gives each of us our own gifts (1 Corinthians 12:3–5). He gives us the power to accomplish His will (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, guiding us into all truth (John 14:26). He gives us joy and peace (Galatians 5:22, 23). He gives power (Ephesians 3:16), including power to live godly lives (Ezekiel 36:27). He helps us to pray (Ephesians 6:18). He gives wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17, 18). He gives boldness to witness (1 Timothy 3:13). God the Father speaks through us by the Spirit (Matthew 10:20).

The Holy Spirit in the last days

“Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).

“It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The same work, only in greater degree, must be done now. Then the human agent had only to ask for the blessing, and wait for the Lord to perfect the work concerning him. It is God who began the work, and He will finish His work, making man complete in Jesus Christ. But there must be no neglect of the grace represented by the former rain. Only those who are living up to the light they have will receive greater light.”1

God’s promise is sure. He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh with enlightening and soul-winning results of great magnitude (Joel 2:28).

“Near the close of the earth’s harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the falling of latter rain.”2

Without God’s Spirit we are blind to Jesus. Personal pride and glory prevent the seeker from finding Christ. But through His Holy Spirit, we can gain power over our flesh if we repent and are baptized. When we receive and cherish the word of God in our hearts, this Holy Spirit acts as the indwelling Guest of the church and the Christian life will be our portion.

“When trials overshadow the soul, remember the words of Christ, remember that He is an unseen presence in the person of the Holy Spirit.”3 “The promise of the Holy Spirit is not limited to any age or to any race. Christ declared that the divine influence of HIS Spirit was to be with His followers unto the end. From the day of Pentecost to the present time, the Comforter has been sent to all who have yielded themselves fully to the Lord and to His service.”4

“Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.”5

Receiving the Spirit is an indication that we are the children of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14–17). Through obedience to the word of God and faithful prayer, we will be led by the Spirit to produce His fruit in our lives. To grow spiritually, we need to submit our lives to the words of the Spirit which is the word of God.

We must play an active role in seeing God’s prophetic word manifest in our lives. While believing the word of the Lord will come to pass in our lives, we must allow the promises of God to give us hope and stability. Do not allow the enemy to sow seeds of discouragement while waiting for the fulfillment. The same Jesus who promises us the fullness of the Holy Spirit is also able to preserve our whole spirit, soul and body blameless until His coming. “Jesus comes to you as the Spirit of truth; study the mind of the Spirit, consult your Lord, follow His way.”6

References
1 The Review and Herald, March 2, 1897.
2 The Acts of the Apostles, p. 55.
3 Daughters of God, p. 185.
4 The Acts of the Apostles, p. 49. [Emphasis added.]
5 Testimonies to Ministers, p .507.
6 Manuscript Releases, vol. 2, p. 337.