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Rodman Williams: The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Dimensions

What then is the overall significance of being “filled” or “full”? It would seem to point to that dimension of the Spirit’s bestowal that relates to interiority, that is to say, the whole community and/or person is inwardly pervaded by the Holy Spirit. Even as the sound of something like a mighty wind filled all the house—which signifies every room, nook and corner—so for all persons who are filled, this means every aspect of individual and communal life. The human situation is claimed in a total way by the Spirit of the living God.

In the spiritual renewal of our time there are countless numbers of persons who testify to the reality of being filled with the Holy Spirit. There may have been a sense of emptiness for some time, but now God has come in His fullness; there may have been an increasing yearning to glorify God in all that one is and does, and now God had flooded one’s being with His ineffable presence; there may have been a deep desire to be used more effectively in sharing the Good News of the grace received in Jesus Christ, and now God has filled one’s life and speech with fresh power. Such testimony to being filled with the Holy Spirit points to a profoundly internal experience of the Spirit of God moving throughout like wind, or fire, until all barriers are breached and the Holy Spirit pervades everything.37

This is totally of penetration with the Holy Spirit whereby, in a new way, all areas of one’s being—body, soul and spirit (the conscious and subconscious depths)—become sensitized to the divine presence and activity. Likewise, a community of people filled with the Holy Spirit find that not only their relationship to God but also to one another becomes suffused with a profound sense of God moving in and through whatever takes place. Further, the experience of being filled may occur afresh—by God’s sovereign action and in response to new situations. However, any renewed filling is against the background of the original breakthrough of God’s Spirit when the Spirit moved throughout and all barriers were broken down. For the Holy Spirit is free to move again and again—as all of life becomes redolent with the presence and wonder of Almighty God.

Finally, let us hear the exhortation which remains to all generations: “Be filled with the Spirit … (Ephesians 5:18). For it is the divine intention that God’s people should know the life of continuing spiritual fullness38  and thereby ever live to the praise and glory of God.



The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Response (Chapter 3)


1. It is unclear in this text whether the subject of the giving is the Father or the Son. In either case it is a divine giving. Incidentally, the King James Version adds “unto him” (in italics, signifying that the words are not found in the Greek) which, I believe, misses the important note that to whomever God gives the Spirit it is without measure.

2. Rather than “even” which appears in the Revised Standard Version. The Greek word kai may in this context be translated as “also” or “even.” I would judge that “also” (the translation given in King James and several modern versions) is preferable. It is true that Peter and those with him were surprised when the gift was poured out on the Gentiles; thus it could be: “even on the Gentiles.” However, I believe the more significant matter here is that the Gentiles were also receiving the gift of the Spirit.

3. Rather than “which” in King James (KJV) and Revised Standard Version (RSV). See New American Standard (NAS) and New International Version (NIV) for translation as “whom.” The Greek word is ou, which is either masculine or neuter; however, the masculine translation as “whom” seems more fitting in light of the personal reality of the Holy Spirit.

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Category: Spirit, Summer 2002

About the Author: J. Rodman Williams (1918-2008), Ph.D., is considered to be the father of renewal theology. He served as a chaplain in the Second World War, he was a church pastor, college professor, and key figure in the charismatic movement of the 1960s. Beginning in 1982, he taught theology at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and became Professor of Renewal Theology Emeritus there in 2002. Author of numerous books, he is perhaps best known for his three volume Renewal Theology (Zondervan, 1996).

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