Subscribe via RSS Feed

Rodman Williams: The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Reception

Peter speaks at Caesarea to the centurion and his household, beginning with words in general about God, how He “shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35). From there on Peter proclaims Jesus Christ: His life, death and resurrection, and then focuses on the need for faith in Him to receive forgiveness: “To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (10:43).

Then it was that the Holy Spirit “fell on all who heard the word” (10:44), the word which set forth Christ and called for faith in Him. It was to those believing in Jesus, and receiving forgiveness through Him, that the Holy Spirit was given.

Philip at Samaria “proclaimed to them the Christ” (Acts 8:5). Doubtless in this message he gave them the Good News about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. As a result, the Samaritans came to faith, and were baptized: “When they believed Philip as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (8:12). Later Peter and John come from Jerusalem to communicate the Holy Spirit (8:14-17). The crucial background undoubtedly was the Samaritans’ faith3 which put them in a position to receive the Holy Spirit. Believing in Christ, the Samaritans were ready for the Holy Spirit to be given.

Before the Ephesians received the gift of the Holy Spirit Paul proclaimed Jesus Christ. He reminded them that “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is Jesus” (Acts 19:4). Thereafter, “on hearing this” (19:5) the Ephesians were baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Paul laid his hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Unmistakably, the critical matter was the Ephesians believing in Jesus: it was the hearing of faith, as is further evidenced personally by their baptism in Jesus’ name. Thus firm in their faith, the Ephesians were ready to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.4 Thus it is apparent that the Holy Spirit is given only to those who believe in Jesus Christ. Believing in Him—not an idea or a doctrine, but in His reality as the living Lord—is shown to be the critical and indispensable matter. It is not a belief directed to the Holy Spirit5 but to Jesus Christ in whom is forgiveness of sins. So did the disciples at Pentecost believe, and likewise did Saul of Tarsus. The focus is Christ, who makes possible the gift of the Holy Spirit.6 We now turn, secondly, to the dynamics of that faith in Christ wherein the Holy Spirit is received. It is important to recognize at the outset that faith is a dynamic, moving reality. Though its object, Jesus Christ, is the fixed and focal point, faith may well be in process. It is not a static, once-for-all thing, but may develop or increase under the impact of Jesus Christ. Indeed, all who believe are called upon to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18), and thus faith may all the more be strengthened.7 This does not mean that the first moment of faith lacks genuineness or significance. Quite the contrary, for initial faith directed to Jesus is the moment of realizing the marvel of forgiveness of sins and new life in His name. Hence, entrance upon the way of faith is far more important than anything that may happen thereafter. This cannot be overemphasized.

Now we may proceed to speak of faith in movement, faith in process. This may be a matter of a deepening of faith through further repentance and commitment wherein God’s resources of grace are all the more experienced. This may also lead to a point of spiritual breakthrough into fuller Christian life and witness.

Such an understanding of the dynamics of faith is essential to proper consideration of the reception of the Holy Spirit. There is a certain moment in faith—whether at the outset or somewhere along the way—when the Holy Spirit may be received. This moment may or may not coincide with the moment of receiving forgiveness of sins. It may happen shortly thereafter or days, months, even years later. Whatever the case, faith in Jesus Christ is and remains the essential matter whenever the Holy Spirit is given.

Pin It
Page 2 of 812345...Last »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Spirit, Summer 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).

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Invitation: Stories about transformation

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Studies in Acts

    Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but h...

    Will I Still Be Me After Death?