Lucia's Blog: THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: THE GIFT - PART FOUR
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, July 24, 2014

THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: THE GIFT - PART FOUR

"Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"
Acts 2:38


There is great joy when we give gifts to those whom we love.  It demands time and a lot of thought to find just the perfect gift for that someone special in our life.  We want to make sure we give them the right gift so that they may be able to put it to the best use.  Of course, we want a gift that they will value and will benefit from.  Just imagine how disappointing it would be to give the wrong gift and find no pleasure or joy in the faces of those to whom you gave the gift.

This is how our God must feel when many of His Children don't have a clue about what is meant regarding the "gift of the Holy Spirit."  I wonder how our God feels when His Children tell Him this "gift of the Holy Spirit" is something other than what He intended?  

Acts 2:38 is one of the most controversial texts in the Bible.  The promise of the  "gift of the Holy Spirit" is by nature just ambiguous enough to be controversial in meaning and application.  Do we know for a fact what "the gift of the Holy Spirit" is and to whom it was promised?

There is a wide variety of differences on this subject among brethren. I will be considering some common interpretations.  Along with each presentation of the facts, I will be offering some criticism.  You, therefore, will be the judge when this lesson is over, which position is in harmony with the Scriptures or the TRUTH.

Let us consider a few interpretations or views examining the text along with its context.  We will examine what other passages say on this subject allowing ONLY the Bible to explain Scripture:


FIRST INTERPRETATION


I.  THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT HIMSELF:

Let us first consider the view that the gift is the Holy Spirit Himself:  That at Baptism we receive the bodily indwelling of the Spirit.  In this view, the "gift of the Holy Spirit," along with the forgiveness of sins, was not confined to the first-century Jews on the day of Pentecost.  The promise was "For you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself," Acts 2:39. The "gift" of the Holy Spirit is a present reality.  He is received when one is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  Let us look at a number of passages that would support this view:

  1. Romans 8:9-11:  "However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him… But if the Spirit … dwells in you, … through His Spirit who indwells you."
  2. I Corinthians 6:19:  "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"
  3. 2 Corinthians 1:22:  "Who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge."

    It is clear that in some sense, the Holy Spirit dwells in those who are Christians.  There is some disagreement over the sense in which the Holy Spirit dwells in us.
      • One position is that the Holy Spirit is present in some physical way.  There are two positions that grow out of that interpretation:
        1. One is that the Holy Spirit is present but does not do anything supernatural either to the will or to the understanding apart from the hearing of the Word of God.  
        2. The other position is that the presence of the Holy Spirit carries with it supernatural effects either to the regeneration of the sin damaged heart or to the working of miracles of healing and gift of tongues. 
      • Finally there is the position that the presence of the Holy Spirit in us is the influence of His teachings as found in the Bible.  The "indwelling" according to this last position would be the fellowship which the Christians have with the Holy Spirit and through Him also with the Father and the Son.

        SECOND INTERPRETATION


        II.  THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE:

        This second interpretation says that the "gift" is eternal life.  It is similar to the last of the above positions. Grammatically, it would interpret the "gift" as something that the Holy Spirit gives.  Sometimes this "gift" is described as the promises of God, as described in Acts 2:39; 13:32; Galatians 3:29.

        The difference between this second view and the first view is that the "gift" is not the Holy Spirit Himself, but rather the seal of the Holy Spirit pledging the promises of God.  The following are texts used to support this view:  
        1. John 4:10:  "Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”  In this particular case Jesus was the "gift" as the One who had come to give His life.
        2. Ephesians 4:7:  "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift."  Paul here is speaking of the gifts our Lord and Savior gives.  The language of the above texts is similar to Acts 2:38.  Let us look at three comparisons regarding this:
          • John 4:10:  "The gift of God"  (A gift from God)
          • Ephesians 4:7:  "The gift of Christ"  (A gift from Christ)
          • Acts 2:38:  "The gift of the Holy Spirit"  (A gift from the Holy Spirit)

        Notice that in these 3 examples the promised "gift" is not the person Himself.  Instead, this "gift" is given by the person.  Let us consider the following texts:
          • Acts 2:38:   "Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
          • Acts 3:19:  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."

        Notice that there are similarities between these two texts.  Both speak of repentance, having sins forgiven or wiped away.  The word "return" in Acts 3:19, is related to Baptism; both are speaking or receiving something.  So based on these two similarities it has been concluded that the gift of the Holy Spirit and the times of refreshing are the same exact thing.  This view or interpretation seems to have more Biblical and grammatical support that the first view.  I strongly agree with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit only through the INSPIRED WORD.  The following would be my texts to support this:  


        HOLY SPIRIT
        THROUGH MEANS
        OF
        THE WORD
        John 3:5
        Born again
        I Peter 1:23
        2 Cor. 3:6
        Begets
        James 1:18
        Nehemiah. 9:30
        Instructs
        2 Tim. 3:16-17
        John 16:8
        Convicts
        Titus 1:9
        Titus 3:5
        Saves
        James 1:21
        I Cor. 6:11
        Sanctifies
        John 17:17
        I Cor. 6:11
        Cleanses, purifies
        John 15:3
        I Cor. 6:11
        Washes
        Eph. 5:26
        Gal. 5:16-18
        Walk
        Psalm 119:9-10
        Rom. 8:14
        Leads
        Psalm 119:105
        Acts 9:31
        Comforts
        Romans 15:4
        John 6:63
        Makes alive
        Psalm 119:50, 93
        Psalm 119:50, 93
        Edifies, builds
        Acts 20:32
        John 6:44-45
        Draws
        2 Thes.. 2:14
        Rom. 8:9
        Dwells
        Col. 3:16

        Now getting back to this second view the following are texts that speak to us of the "seal" of the Holy Spirit:
        1. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22:  "For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.  Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge." 
        2. Ephesians 1:13-14:  "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory."  
        According to the ancient use of  "seals," kings and great men who wanted to send a written message by courier would roll the document into a tight roll and melt wax onto it.  They would press a uniquely configured signet ring into the soft wax leaving a unique impression.  In some cases they would use wet clay in place of the wax and perhaps press a specially configured cylinder leaving the mark of the owner as a sort of signature.  The seal would identify the document as belonging to the owner of the signet ring or cylinder because it had the unique markings of the owner.  The nature of this figure highlights the effects of the Holy Spirit on the Christians, who are taught by the Words of the Holy Spirit.  The Words will leave their effect only if one listens to and obeys those Words.  Some argue that the effect of the Holy Spirit is wholly miraculous and that the seal indicates the miraculous change of the will or a miraculous power to heal and speak in tongues.  This brings us then to the third view.


        THIRD INTERPRETATION


        III.  THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS THE MIRACULOUS GIFTS 
                OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:

        1.  The Biblical and historical context:
        "Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  Acts 2:38.
        These argue that the miraculous "gift"of the Holy Spirit was only given to believers by the laying of the apostles hands.  Hence each one would need an apostle to lay his hands on him. Notice that in Acts 2:43; 4:33; 5:12, we are told repeatedly that the miracles were performed only by the apostles.  In Acts 6:6, the apostles laid their hands on the seven servants and prayed for them and they began to work miracles as well, verse 8.  Since not every new believer received this "gift" on the day of Pentecost and since there are no apostles today, there is no way any believer is able to receive this "gift" today.

        2.  Acts 2:17-18 is used as a historical argument:  
        "And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; 18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy."' 

        They use Peter's words of  Acts 2:17-18 to support a historical argument. According to this interpretation, the phrase "in the last days" refers to the last days of the Old Testament as found in I Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 1:2; 8:13; 9:26; James 5:1-3; I Peter 1:20; 2 Peter 3:3-4.  They would argue that in the last days the promise of the Spirit being poured out was for all mankind in the sense that both Jews and Gentiles would receive the "gift," but only in the last days(the first century).  These were the last days of the Old Testament.  Therefore they would deny that the "gift" of the Holy Spirit is for us today since according to them this historical period is long gone.  Hence making it unreasonable  for anyone today to expect this kind of work of visions, dreams and prophecy performed by the Holy Spirit through believing men and women.  They argue that with the death of the apostles this "gift" of the Holy Spirit to perform miracles or distribute the miraculous gifts also died.

        Let us consider the Scriptures that are used to support this interpretation:  

          "But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!"  Acts 8:20

        The "gift" of God here is the Holy Spirit which has to do with the authority to impart miraculous gifts that were given only through the laying on of the hands by the apostles.
         "All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also."  Acts 10:45

        The Holy Spirit was given to the Gentiles as a miraculous sign prior to their obedience to the Gospel.  The power was given to be a "sign" that the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, as we read in Acts 11:17:  "Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?"

        Some argue that the "gift" of the Holy Spirit was illustrated in Acts 10:44-48 when Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit.  However when Peter described the event in the next chapter (Acts 11:15-18), he implied that the phenomenon had not happened since the beginning when the Holy Spirit fell on the apostles on Pentecost.  Peter treats that "gift" of the Holy Spirit as a special sign given by God to take away all doubt that God would accept the Gentiles by Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ just like he did the Jews. Nothing about this incident suggests that it ordinarily happened to Christians when they were baptized into Christ during the time between Acts 2 and Acts 10.  If all Christians were promised the "gift" of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38, then it was a different "gift" than that of Acts 10.

        Let us do a side by side comparison of the text used in this argument:

        Mark 16:16-17 Acts 2:38
        "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who have believed:  in My tame they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink and deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."  "And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.'"

        They would use similarities from these two texts to support their view:

        Mark 16:16-17
        Acts 2:38
        Believed
        Repent
        Baptized
        Baptized
        Saved
        Forgiven
        Signs
        Gift of the Holy Spirit

        They do not disagree regarding what we must to do to be saved.  However, they would say that Mark 16:17 is speaking of the "signs" that were confined to the first century only therefore making the "gift" inactive today.

        CONCLUSION

        With all these three views or interpretations considered, I find that the second view is the most consistent with the inspired WORD.  I disagree with the view that the "gift" of the Holy Spirit was the miraculous power given by the Holy Spirit only in the first century.  All humanity had two pressing needs as they cried out to Peter in Acts 2:37:

        1)  The forgiveness of the past sins and 2)  victory over the threat of sins in the future life that a forgiven Christian must face on this earth.  Thegift of the Holy Spiritwas the promise that God would be there to help us and the result would be that He would leave His seal of our lives, His mark of ownership as described in Ephesians 1:13-14.
        "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory."

         Let us look at some texts that express some parallel sentiments:

        I.  Comparison of "gift of the Holy Spirit" texts:

        Remember what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman who was drawing water in John 4:10,  "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."'   On the other hand in Ephesians 4:7 Paul said, "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift."  In Acts 2:38 we read, "And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  Notice that in all of these previously mentioned passages we have what God(Father), Christ(the Son) and the Holy Spirit would give.  God(Father) was not the "giftbut rather the "giver;" by the same token Christ(the Son) was not the "gift" but rather the "giver;" and likewise, the Holy Spirit was not the "gift"either, but rather the "giver."  Don't you think that a gift implies having a giver?  One cannot receive a "gift" without having a "giver" and a "receiver." So my question is then, If the Holy Spirit is the "gift" then who is the giver?  The idea of the Holy Spirit being the gift and not the giver makes the so called "gift" ONE and the SAME.  But, my question again is, How can that be possible?  Well, the answer is simple since the "gift" of God was not the Holy Spirit, but rather "living water" that He would give or offer.  Likewise, the "gift" of Christ was not Christ, but rather the "gifts" named in the text.

        II.  "Gift of the Holy Spirit" as the immediate context:

        The text of Peter's first sermon given on the day of Pentecost was this:  "And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32.  Peter explains the reason why they must call on Him and how they were to do it.  In this text, "whosoever" is equivalent to "all nations" in similar texts.  The apostle Paul made it clear that there was no distinction between Jew and Gentile.  He also stated that  "The same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for 'Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."'  Romans 10:12-13.  Therefore, Paul was clearly indicating that the Prophet Joel was saying that both Jew and Gentile would have the same right to invoke God's blessing by doing His will.  Notice well what Peter says, "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." Acts 2:39.  What promise is the apostle Peter talking about?  He is referring to the "promise" spoken of in Acts 2:21 which includes "whosoever" as in the case of both Jew and Gentile, Romans 10:12-13. So my question is, Who are the receivers of the "promise" given in Acts 2:39?  Notice that it says the "promise" is to you(Jews) and to your children(Jews) and to "all" that are far off(The Gentiles),
        "But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."  Eph. 2:13.  Salvation is promised in Acts 2:21 to both Jews and Gentiles.  "And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

        The promise of inheritance that we read of  in Galatians 3:7-14 given through Abraham is parallel to the salvation of Joel 2:32.  Notice that in Galatians 3:15, "In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."  This "inheritance" is said to be the "promise of the Holy Spirit" or that which the Holy Spirit promised through Abraham in the Old Testament.

        III.  Let us consider the immediate context, Acts 2:33:

        In Acts 2:33, Peter declares that Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God, and received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit.  This indicates that He did not receive the Holy Spirit Himself but that He received that which the Holy Spirit had promised.  So my question is then, What was the promise of the Holy Spirit?  Well, the "promise" was that He was going to sit on David's throne, Acts 2:34-35.  Notice that this statement was made in Acts 2:38.  Hence, the "promise" of the Holy Spirit is what obviously the Holy Spirit had promised.  And the "gift" of the Holy Spirit is what the Holy Spirit gave.

        IV.  Let us consider another remote context, Acts 26:16-18:

        Remember what Jesus said to Paul in Acts 26:16-18?  He said, "But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;  rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,  to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me."   

        This inheritance was promised by the Holy Spirit.

        V.  Let us consider the context of Salvation being the "gift"of the Holy Spirit

        In I Peter 1:3-5, he wrote to those who are the elect of God saying, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."  Notice that these brethren were called "children of obedience" in I Peter 1:14, "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance."  These "obedient children" had been redeemed by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus (verse 19).  They had purified their souls by obeying the Truth (verse 22).  They had been born again to a living hope by the Word of God that lives and endures forever (verse 23).  I cannot fathom any other description given regarding the "gift" of the Holy Spirit.  Being born again only by the Word of God becoming obedient children, having a living hope mainly based on a living Savior and being promised an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and that would not fade away.  Being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  Such beautiful and great promises!

        Again, Peter states in I Peter 1:10-12, "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look."

        Let us consider the work of the Holy Spirit enabling men to prophesy concerning this salvation, "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,  for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."  II Peter 1:20-21.  It is obvious when we read this that the Holy Spirit enabled men to preach this message of salvation, "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look."  I Peter 1:12.  The Holy Spirit was able to validate the message of this great salvation by signs and wonders, "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.  For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,  God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."  Hebrews 2:1-4.  

        Let us acknowledge that Salvation was prophesied by means of the Holy Spirit.  Likewise, Salvation was declared by those who proclaimed the Gospel by means of the Holy Spirit.  Their message of SALVATION was confirmed by the Holy Spirit.  The promise of the "gift" of the Holy Spirit that we read of in Acts 2:38 was not given just to those present in the early century but rather to "all" who would truly and sincerely repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.  And to "everyone" who would obey and observe these conditions mentioned in Acts 2:38, would receive the "gift" of the Holy Spirit and that "gift" is indeed SALVATION.

        Those who were being baptized here in the name of Jesus observed all the conditions of Acts 2:38 and were able then to receive the "gift" of the Holy Spirit.  I heartily believe after reading, discerning and understanding that the "gift" of the Holy Spirit is SALVATION which embraces all of God's provisions that SAVE US.  I also believe that  to receive this "gift" of the Holy Spirit does not necessarily imply to receive the Holy Spirit Himself but that which the Holy Spirit gives.

        In my next study I want to consider the ramifications of the "indwelling" of the Holy Spirit.


        Luci