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Rodman Williams: The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Purpose, Part 2


What we have observed in this chapter is that the purpose of the gift of the Holy Spirit is power. This is enabling power to carry forward the ministry of Christ in word and in deed. There is the mighty witness in word leading to healing and deliver­ance. Verily, by the gift of the Holy Spirit to the believing community, the exalted Lord continues His work among men.



Chapter Five, “Reception,” continues in the Summer 2003 issue.



30 The combination of “wonders and signs” (terata and sēmeia) points to deeds that are miraculous (a miracle being a “wonder”) and as such are expressive of God’s super­natural activity (hence are “signs”). These “wonders and signs,” or miracles, are partic­ularly attestations of the gospel.

31 In addition to Acts 2:43, supra, see 5:12—“Now many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles”; 14:3—regarding Paul and Barnabas: “So they remained for a long time [at Iconium], speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands”; 15:12—“Barnabas and Paul … related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.” Compare also Romans 15:18-19 where Paul says: “For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has wrought through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit. …” Paul also says: “The signs of a true apostle [literally, “truly the signs of the apostle”—ta men sēmeia tou apostolou] were performed among you in all patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works [or, ‘powerful deeds’—dunamesin]” (2 Cor. 12:12). This latter statement, incidentally, while again affirming that through Paul miracles took place, does not speak of them as apostolic certifications (hence, limited to apostles). The “signs of a true apostle”—which Paul does not describe in this text—were performed with “all patience”; such “signs” (even certifications) were accompanied by “signs and wonders and mighty works.”

32 dunameismegalas

33 It is true that many ancient manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark do not include chapter 16, verses 9-20. However, even if these verses are a later addition, the very fact that signs are ascribed to believers in general—“those who believe”—shows an early recognition that miracles are not limited to apostles, or apostles and deacons, such as Stephen and Philip.

34 Even the raising of the physically dead (to which reference is made several times in the Scriptures) is less a “wonder” than the raising of the spiritually dead by the proclama­tion of the Good News. For the raising of the physically dead in Acts, see the accounts of Peter raising Tabitha (9:36-42) and Paul restoring Eutychus to life (20:9-12).

35 E.g., see Nine O’Clock in the Morning, by Dennis Bennett, chapter 6, “More to the Package.” Shortly after Bennett’s baptism in the Spirit, he found miracles of many kinds beginning to happen. At the fellowship meeting, he said: “Sometimes nearly everyone in the room had some kind of a report to give: not what God did years ago, or even last year, but what He did last week, yesterday, today!” (p. 47). One further, and beautiful, statement by Dorothy Ranaghan, in As the Spirit Leads Us, might be added: “The victorious life of Christ becomes known in the now. Healing, discernment, miracles, prophecy—all these signs, manifestations or demonstrations of the Spirit cry out to men as they did in the New Testament times: ‘Jesus is alive! Jesus works wonders! Jesus is the Lord!’” (p. 14).

36A vivid illustration of this is cited in the book by J. Herbert Kane, Understanding Christian Missions (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974), about the preaching of French evan­gelist Jacques Girard in the Ivory Coast soccer stadium: “Morning and evening for six weeks thirty to thirty-five thousand people crowded into the stadium. During the first part of the crusade the evangelist emphasized the power of Christ to heal. Hundreds were healed, including some high government officials and their relatives. … During the second part of the crusade Mr. Girard emphasized the power of Christ to save. Hav­ing already witnessed the healing of the body, the people responded in droves” (p. 424).

37 “Extraordinary miracles” in the Greek—dunameis ou tas tuchousas—“powers not the ordinary.” “Dunameis”—“powers”—is often best translated as “miracles.”

38 The Greek word is prosechō, to turn one’s mind to, notice, give heed to, pay attention, follow.

39 E.g., Matthew 14:14; Luke 4:40, 6:19 (“. . . power came forth from him and healed them all”).

40 Kathryn Kuhlman and Oral Roberts have been recognized leaders. See, e.g., Kuhlman’s I Believe in Miracles (Old Tappan, NJ: Spire Books, 1962) and Roberts’ The Call: An Autobiography (Old Tappan, NJ: Spire Books, 1971). Roberts’ ministry has increasingly moved in the direction of higher education. Mention should also be made of Francis MacNutt whose teaching on healing is found in the book, Healing (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1974).

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Category: Spirit, Spring 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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