The gift of the Holy Spirit
May 31, 2014
In Luke 11:11-13 Jesus continues His teaching on prayer, saying,
11 Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
Once again, Jesus shows that God is our Abba who treats us as His beloved children. If earthly fathers are willing to give their children good gifts, how much more will our heavenly Father do so? Perhaps most interesting is that our heavenly Father is more than willing to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”
Many have been burdened, having prayed to receive the Holy Spirit, but yet they feel no change and see no outward manifestation. Some people certainly are able to see gifts of the Spirit manifesting as outward proof that they have received the Holy Spirit, but others see and feel nothing and must observe evidence over a longer period of time. In such cases Jesus’ words in Luke 11:13 must be their source of faith. They must believe the word, rather than their feelings. They must walk by faith, not by sight.
In the New Testament, the gift of tongues was the primary evidence of the Holy Spirit, and this was presumed to be the same a century ago when Pentecost was renewed in the Church. But there are many gifts of the Spirit, some more visible than others. A deeper study of Pentecost, including the patterns set forth in the law and witnessed by the prophets, shows that the central feature of Pentecost is not tongues but prophecy and hearing/obeying God’s voice.
For a fuller study from Moses and Isaiah about Pentecost, hearing God’s voice, tongues, and the gift of prophecy, see my study in Deuteronomy:
The bottom line is that God gives the Holy Spirit freely to those who ask, but if our expectations demand immediate evidence that He has done so, we may end up asking over and over again, not realizing that He has already given us our request. In such cases many people never develop their spiritual consciousness nor do they exercise their spiritual gifts, because they doubt Jesus’ promise.
If you have asked God to give you the Holy Spirit, then proceed as if you have already received Him. Learn to hear His voice, knowing that you already have ears to hear. It may take time to see the proof that you have indeed heard, but if you never make the attempt, you will never see the evidence later. If you are stuck at the starting blocks, you will never finish the race.
You may need help from a more experienced friend who can bear witness to the word that you receive. Write down all revelation that you believe you have received. There may be a space of time between the word and the proof, but this is normal. I received a word in 1985 that was not fulfilled until 1996. Until then, I had no proof or evidence that it was truly a word from God. I could only go by faith, which, in practical terms, means assuming that the word is true—and if not, then I will learn from my mistake.
The Holy Spirit indwells every true believer. A believer is one who keeps Passover in the place where He has chosen to place His name (Deuteronomy 16:2; Revelation 22:4). Such believers have faith in the blood of the Lamb, which they have applied to their “house” (body).
The Baptists are right. They have received the Holy Spirit when they were justified by faith in the blood of the Lamb.
When Israel left Egypt, they were led by the pillar of cloud from the first day of their journey (Exodus 13:21, 22). They received the presence of the Holy Spirit seven weeks before Pentecost (Sinai) and even before they were baptized at the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1, 2). Yet the pillar of fire did a special work of protection at the Red Sea, when it moved to Israel’s rear and stood between them and the Egyptian army.
The Church of Christ is right. The Holy Spirit does something practical when a person is baptized at his own “Red Sea.”
The fire on the Mount in Exodus 19:18 was a further development which, from that point on, was celebrated as the feast of Weeks, later called by the Greek name, Pentecost. This was designed to bring the Passover believers into a greater experience with the Holy Spirit. Overall, Pentecost was designed to begin Israel’s time of discipline, where they would hear and obey the voice of God, and be led by the Spirit to the final feast.
The Pentecostals and Charismatics are right. There is indeed a greater baptism of the Spirit that is distinct from Passover and the Red Sea.
These patterns in the law tend to overthrow many beliefs in the Church that tend to limit the Holy Spirit, but Israel’s example is there for all to observe.
True Pentecostals are known, not by their gift of tongues or even by prophecy, but by their obedience to the leading of the Spirit. There are many non-pentecostal Pentecostals in the world today. I have observed them in every denomination. Most of them do not even know that they are Pentecostal, because they were told that they must speak in tongues or join a Pentecostal or Charismatic denomination in order to be a biblical Pentecostal.
Any yet many of them are fully aware that the Holy Spirit works within their hearts, guiding them by His voice throughout their lives. They live their lives according to Jesus’ promise that their heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask, and they know that the Spirit of God is indeed within them.
An obedient Baptist is more Spirit-filled than a lawless Charismatic, regardless of their beliefs. Certainly, Jesus was unimpressed with miracle-workers who remained lawless (Matthew 7:22, 23). In the end, it is not about the gifts of the Spirit, but the fruit that is borne in their lives. The gifts are tools to produce fruit, and God rewards people for the fruit that they bear, not by the number of gifts that they have or use.
A tractor is a very useful tool on a farm. But if the farmers use their tractors only at the tractor races to see who has the greatest tractor, how can they produce fruit?
The Church is yet in the wilderness, and each believer is in a different encampment learning different lessons. Wherever you are, know that if you have asked for the Holy Spirit, then He has given you your request. Know also that there is more than one level of the Holy Spirit that is available to you. So let us press on into greater depths of experience with the Holy Spirit, learning to be led by His pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, until we arrive at the Promised Land.
This is part 10 of a series titled "The Lord's Prayer." To view all parts, click the link below.
This is part 56 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones