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

Beyond Acts we may also observe, first, how Paul writes the Thessalonians that they “received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). That the Thessalonians had received the gift of the Holy Spirit is apparent from Paul’s prior words: “Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Hence, the “joy inspired by the Holy Spirit” came out of the fullness of their experience of the Holy Spirit—a joy that even amid “much affliction” broke forth. The result, Paul adds: “you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achais” (1 Thessalonians 1:7). Second, Paul writes the Romans, praying: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13). “All joy” comes out of God’s “filling,” out of “the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The fullness of joy expressed by these various Scriptures is being exemplified across the world in the contemporary outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Many who have received the gift of the Spirit attest that one of the immediate effects is an intensity of joy. Often the experience is that of an inner movement of the Holy Spirit wherein the whole being is flooded with joy.13  There is about this joy something quite different, or other, than ordinary joy or happiness: it is the joy of the Lord. In one popular chorus, based on 1 Peter 1:8, the wording goes: “It is joy unspeakable and full of glory, and the half has never yet been told!”

Further, this is a joy which thereafter may have its ups and downs, but regardless of what occurs in the life of faith it continues as a wellspring ever bubbling up and overflowing. Jesus also said about the joy which He promised His disciples that “no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). So it is: since this joy is fulfilled through the gift of the Holy Spirit, and this joy is the Lord’s own joy, nothing can take it away. It is joy everlasting. Surely the words of Isaiah are appropriate: “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads” (Isaiah 51:11).



Part Two of “Effects” continues in the Summer 2004 issue.



1. See below for fuller discussion.

2. E.g. Acts 19:21: “Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem.” Acts 20:22-23: “I am going to Jerusalem bound in the Spirit …the Holy Spirit testifies to me that imprisonment and afflictions await me.”

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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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