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The Holy Spirit’s Role in the End Times: A Pneumatological View of Eschatology, by Bernie Townsend

These selections and commentaries, when studied in conjunction with the Biblical studies, emphasise that the Holy Spirit has a unique and definable role in the end times.  Each member of the Trinity has an identifiable part to play, which, together, helps bring about God’s eternal purposes for His people.

A practical application for ministry in the end times.

This research has shown that the Holy Spirit is the driving force behind God’s plan now and in the end times. Therefore, those who seek to be effective in ministry should actively seek the presence of the Holy Spirit, be filled with the Spirit, hear His Word, and respond in obedience to Him[30].  This is necessary regardless of whether Jesus returns within one’s lifetime. All ministries then, including missions, must have as their foundation hearing and obeying the words of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-8); listening to the Holy Spirit; meditating on God’s Word, being led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-17), and actively seeking to obey whatever the Holy Spirit reveals. Paul, advises the church of Thessalonica “do not quench the Spirit … test everything, hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess 5:19, 21).

If the work of the Holy Spirit is paramount in preparing God’s people for the end times, then it is necessary for His followers to understand how He works in their lives and learn to cooperate with Him. In his manual about the Holy Spirit, Rodney Francis shares some enlightenment on this process.

“One of the ‘keys’ to seeing the Spirit released is in our ability to recognise how and when He speaks to us – collectively and personally. This is vital to releasing Spirit (in) ministry. For if we do not recognise the Spirit’s voice to us, we will miss the opportunity to co-operate with Him in what He wants to do (in and) through us. The Spirit speaks to us of Jesus, revealing the will of Jesus to us. Our responsibility is to listen, to know how and when He is speaking to us, recognising what He wants to say and do – (and obeying).” [31]  In his equipping sessions, Francis discusses and demonstrates an extensive and creative range of methods, which the Holy Spirit employs to communicate with people. His basic premise is that would-be followers spend quality time in listening for the Holy Spirit and that they obey and act only when they are sure of His will.

To hear the “voice” of the Holy Spirit for ministry followers need to apply good biblical study principles. A Spirit-based Bible study methodology, then, entails reading, hearing and listening.  It might comprise a retro-active reading of scripture, an exegesis of relevant Bible passages along with  traditional and theological writings[32]; and recognition of the influence of personal experiences and attitudes[33]. Followers should allow the Holy Spirit to speak through the Scripture into the situation; examine the relevance of context; accept challenges to previous understanding which the Spirit might suggest, and seek input and ideas from within the faith community. Finally, it is advisable to ponder and reflect as the Spirit leads, remain open to further enrichment and expansion of understanding, and obey and act, once direction from the Holy Spirit is clear and unequivocal. It should be noted that a formula or performance oriented process is not being suggested here. The hermeneutic could take five hours, or five years, or even a lifetime to come to completion on a particular subject or issue.

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About the Author: Bernie Townsend, MTh (Laidlaw College, New Zealand), is a retired public servant with significant years of service in finance and financial systems. He is the author of The Life and Works of Octavius Hadfield, a Kapiti Missionary: From a Christian Perspective, a Basic Missiological Primer (2011).

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