Religion

Holy spirit, the father’s promise poured upon believers

The study of the Holy Spirit is called pneumatology in theology. Pneumatology is derived from Greek. The Holy Spirit is not only a New Testament (NT) occurrence. He manifested in varied forms in the Bible. In the Old Testament (OT), as well as in the NT, it appeared in seven ways.

As a dove (Genesis 8:8-12), fire (Exodus 3:2; Isaiah 6:1-13), oil (Exodus 30:17-33; Songs of Solomon 6:1-13), water (Exodus 40:1-33; Psalm 78:1-20), breath (Genesis 2:1-7; Ezekiel 37:-14), wind (Job 37:1-24; Isaiah 40:1-17; Jeremiah 49:28-39), and rain (Hosea 6:1-11; 1 King 8:22-36; 1 King 18:41-46). He is often called the silent or shy partner in the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit was promised to be poured upon men and women by God through the prophets of old. “Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (Psalm 130:7-8). Nevertheless, believers are asked to ‘wait’ till the time the Holy Spirit will be poured upon them. “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waited for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning; I say, more than they that watch for the morning” (Psalm 130:5-8).

This promise was succinctly prophesized by Joel, “And it shall come to pass afterward, ‘that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your daughter shall prophesy your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). This prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2); and will be further fulfilled during the tribulation (Acts 2:16-21) and during the Millennium (Isaiah 32:15; 44:3; Ezekiel 36:26-27; 39:29; Zechariah 12:10).

Jesus Christ himself promised his disciples the Holy Spirit. Unlike all the prophets of old, it was only upon Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit was poured out or poured upon in full measure, or in fullness (Isaiah 11:1-2; 42;1; 61:1; Matthew 3:16; 12:18; John 3:34).

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Therefore, all believers who desire the Holy Spirit and its power are entitled to receive it ‘unto full measure’ as manifested on the day of Pentecost. In the early Church, the acts of the Apostles were due to the empowerment and enablement given to them by the Holy Spirit’s power, All this happened at Pentecost; the day the Church was established by Christ Jesus.

Pentecost (Greek, Pentecostos means fiftieth) was held on the fiftieth day after the Passover Sabbath. Whit Sunday is the corresponding Christian Festival. A similar occurrence, the ‘rushing of a mighty wind’ and the appearance ‘unto them tongues parting asunder, like as fire; and it sat on each of them’ (Acts 2:2-3), also took place in 1 King 19:11-12.

The Holy Spirit is the power of the Church and the Christian faith. He made ‘mission’ possible. It was the drive that made the Apostles to witness for Jesus Christ boldly, especially the fact of His life and ministry (i.e. the Gospel) cum His Resurrection.

In spite of opposition by the Sadducees and High Priests, in the face of martyrdom, the Apostles remained resolute in discharging the Great Commission entrusted them by Jesus Christ. “But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6).

It made it possible to proclaim the universality of the Gospel and establish the ‘Catholic and Apostolic Church.’ With the Holy Spirit believers can “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) for Jesus Christ.

Importantly, the Holy Spirit made it possible for the Apostles to witness to the growing of the Church and Christianity exponentially. Accordingly, Rev F. Marshall, outlined the results of growth brought about by the Holy Spirit for the Church thus: (i) There were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:4); (ii) “And the Lord added to them day by day those that were being saved” (Acts 2:47);

(iii) Many of them that heard the word believed; the number of the men came to be above five thousand” (Act 4:4); (iv) “And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women” (Act 5:14); (v) “When the number of the disciples was multiplying …” (Acts 6:1); (vi) “And the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly; a great company of the priests was obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).

Consequently, the Holy Spirit brings about an ‘increase’, ‘adding’, and ‘multiplying’ of disciples and converts in the Church. Believers must therefore ‘wait’ to receive the ‘pouring upon’ or baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, take assurance of Jesus Christ’s promise to all believers, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I go, I will send him to you … when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak” (John 16:7-15).

Again, Jesus assures that: “And behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you, but stay (i.e. wait) in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). This promise was fulfilled and recorded in Acts 2:1ff, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place … And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The Holy Spirit is still with us. It is still for all who are ready to ‘wait’ and receive Him.

He is the power of all believers and the church of God. John Maxwell rightly notes, “Leaders can never empower anyone else until they are first supernaturally empowered themselves. The term ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ is used five times in Acts (2:4; 4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9). Whenever someone is filled with the Holy Spirit, something happens.

Empowered leaders express God’s power, then others.” Christians are empowered when they receive the promised Holy Spirit through Christ Jesus. Be blessed and Shalom!

  • The Rev’d Dr Karo Ogbinaka, an Anglican priest of the Diocese of Lagos West, lectures at the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos. He is a member of the editorial board of The Trumpet.

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