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Rodman Williams: The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Effects, Part 1

Second, another effect of the gift of the Holy Spirit is fullness of joy. Wherever the Holy Spirit is received there is a great upsurge of joy. Sometimes the joy is so great as to be almost uncontainable. In the language of 1 Peter 1:8 it may be “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”7

It is apparent that on the Day of Pentecost there was great rejoicing in the Lord. As we have noted, the Spirit-filled disciples immediately began to speak forth the “mighty works of God,” and they did so in such fashion that many mockingly declared them to be “filled with new wine.” However, it was not fruit of the vine but fruit of the Spirit—not an artificial joy soon to fade but a genuine joy that was thereafter to penetrate their whole existence.

Indeed, this deep joy is further demonstrated in an entirely different setting where the apostles, having already been put in jail, are now beaten and charged by the Jewish high council not to speak further in the name of Jesus. “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41). Hence the joy that they, along with many others, had experienced on the Day of Pentecost was not only a joy related to favorable circumstances, but also one that continued in the midst of persecution and disrepute. It was the great rejoicing about which Jesus spoke when He told His disciples: “Blessed are you when men hate you and revile you …on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day and leap for joy …” (Luke 6:22-23). Truly this is fullness of joy!

This fullness of joy, as a promise to His disciples, was mentioned by Jesus in the Gospel of John several times on the night of His betrayal. The words are found first in 15:11: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”8  It is to be noted that the joy comes from Jesus—it is “my joy”9—and that the promise of being filled with joy. Looking ahead, it could be said that the Resurrection was the coming of joy,10 but only at Pentecost and thereafter did the disciples know the fullness of that joy.

Returning to the book of Acts we find several other accounts where joy, or rejoicing, is mentioned. First, just following the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch by Philip, the Scripture reads: “And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). Second, at Iconium, “The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52). Third, the Philippian jailer who had come to faith in the Lord Jesus and was baptized thereafter “rejoiced greatly,11 having believed in God with his whole household” (Acts 16:34 NASB). In all of these accounts, joy is closely connected with the Holy Spirit, quite possibly as an immediate effect of the gift of the Holy Spirit.12

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2004

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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