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


The first part of chapter four from Professor Williams’ book, The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today, about the greatest reality of our time.

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

Chapter Four: Purpose

The central purpose for the gift of the Holy Spirit is power. The biblical term is dunamis—power, strength, might, force—and as the gift of the Holy Spirit, it represents an endowment of spiritual power.

We have earlier spoken of how the gift of the Holy Spirit signifies the coming of God’s Spirit in fullness so that a new divine-human immediacy is thereby established. God is now present in a total kind of way, and man is bathed in the reality of the divine presence. And, as noted, the human response is that of praise to God. Now we proceed to observe that this gift of the Spirit is the gift of spiritual—transcendent, supernatural—power.

Thus we come to the words of the risen Jesus: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). That this power is transcendent is emphasized in the similar words of Jesus: “But stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Hence spiritual—”from on high”—power is the intention of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The close connection between the gift of the Holy Spirit and power may also be seen in the example of Jesus’ own life and ministry. It is recorded in all the Gospels that at the baptism of Jesus the Holy Spirit “descended upon”1 Him; thereby He received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Afterward, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan … (Luke 4:1), and following his wilderness temptation, He “returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (Luke 4:14). Thus, clearly, the endowment of the Holy Spirit was one of power. In a summary of Jesus’ ministry by Peter we read “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power … (Acts 10:38). The close connection between the endowment of the Holy Spirit and power in Jesus’ ministry is unmistakable.2

It follows that it is the intention of Jesus that the same Spirit of power that rested upon Him should rest upon His disciples—hence, the words already quoted concerning their receiving power when the Holy Spirit would come upon them. Thereby the disciples would likewise be able to move in the power of the Spirit for the ministry that lay ahead3

More, however, needs to be said. It was not that they were simply to receive the Holy Spirit as He did, but the Spirit who was to come upon them was to be through Him. Ultimately the Spirit was from the Father, but it would be Jesus, the Son, who would mediate the Spirit’s coming.4  Thus by the Spirit’s coming the exalted Jesus would actually continue His ministry through them.5  They would carry on their work not only in the power of the Spirit as He did, but also with the Spirit of Jesus impelling them.6

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2003

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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