The first part of chapter eight from Professor Williams’ book, The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today, about the greatest reality of our time.
Chapter Eight: Effects, Part 1
We come finally to a consideration of the effects or results of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our concern is not so much with long-range effects, though they are certainly not excluded, as with the immediate results of the Spirit being given. A number of these may be noted.
First of all, there is an extraordinary sense of the reality of God. As has been observed, the gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of God’s own presence. It is not something the Holy Spirit grants—such as life, power, wisdom—but it is the Spirit Himself who is given. Since the Holy Spirit is God in His essential being, the reception of this gift means the reception of God Himself. This then signifies the stupendous fact of the coming of God, the Holy Spirit, in fullness to lay claim to His creature, and to pervade the totality of human existence. In the action, God without ceasing to be wholly transcendent is also wholly immanent as He possesses the heights and depths of creaturely life. This extraordinary event of the divine self-giving is at the same time a divine self-disclosure, a revelation of the divine reality. The reality of God, His divine presence, is made known to man with compelling force.
Further, the God who comes through the gift of the Holy Spirit is the triune God. Hence, though it is the Spirit who is given—and thus not the same personally as Father or Son—nonetheless His very presence also makes real other persons of the Godhead. He constantly points to, glorifies, makes real the Son, the exalted Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit the exalted Lord constantly makes Himself known to His believing people. Jesus Christ, though now at the “right hand” of the Father and not bodily present, becomes spiritually present among those who believe in Him. Likewise, the Holy Spirit makes real God as Father, for it is through the Spirit’s indwelling and moving presence that the fatherhood of God takes on more intimate and personal meaning. By the Spirit we say “Abba! Father!” not as address to a distant deity but as the cry of the heart to one near at hand.1 To summarize: the reality of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is vividly disclosed through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
As we turn again to the books of Acts, it is apparent that the reality of God is the paramount fact in everything that occurs. When the Spirit is given at Pentecost, the company immediately begins to declare the marvelous works of God and thus to exult in His wonderful presence. It matters not that thousands are gathered around them, for so full are they of God’s Spirit that they go right on praising Him. The reality of God’s presence has gripped them as a community, as individuals, and in such fashion that in all that follows they sense God moving in their midst.