Subscribe via RSS Feed

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

The wording is: “In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed21 in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” Unmistakably the Spirit promised22 is the same as that in Acts 2:39: “the promise is to you and to your children” and the same received by the Ephesians in Acts 19:6. Further, the word “sealing,” while not used as such in Acts, is contained in the idea of consecration, dedication, empowering23 that operates all through the book. Accordingly, Acts 19 and Ephesians 1 seem to be parallel accounts, and—the point of particular relevance here—each exhibits a reception of the Spirit after faith has begun. The Ephesians in both accounts receive the promised Holy Spirit upon the way of faith.

On the contemporary scene there are numerous parallels to the Ephesian narrative in Acts 19. Many persons today have long lived in a situation of quite limited faith. Their faith may have had a little more focus on Jesus than that of the Ephesians (maybe not); there may have been a little more knowledge about the Holy Spirit (maybe not), and they may have been viewed as disciples, or Christians, in some sense—but it was all rather nebulous. Many in looking back freely recognize how limited and inadequate their earlier faith had been. Then, much like Paul with the Ephesians, someone (or perhaps more than one) came along and led them into a faith focused clearly on Jesus, perhaps also water baptism and then through additional ministry into the reception of the Holy Spirit.24 Now that we have noted a number of accounts in Acts that depict the gift of the Spirit as occurring along the way of faith, one stands out particularly, bearing evidence of the Holy Spirit being given at the moment of initial faith. Hereby reference is made to the account of the Gentiles at Caesarea (Acts 10 and 11:1-18). The Apostle Peter comes to the house of the God-fearing centurion Cornelius and preaches the good news of Jesus Christ, to the effect that “every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” And “while Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (10:43-44). The Spirit was given coincidental with (“while”) the preaching of faith in Jesus Christ. The first moment of faith in Christ was also the very moment of their receiving the Holy Spirit. Incidentally, the fact that the Holy Spirit was given is recognized later as undeniable evidence that the Caesareans had believed.

For Peter, some days thereafter appearing before the apostles and brethren in Jerusalem, tells how the Holy Spirit “fell on them just as on us at the beginning.” This was what convinced Peter’s audience of the validity of the Gentiles’ faith and salvation. At first “they were silenced” but thereafter “they glorified God saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life'” (Acts 11:15-18).

The parallel to contemporary experience is unmistakable. Many persons attest that there was no separation whatever in time between their initial faith in Jesus Christ and their reception of the Holy Spirit.

Unlike others for whom their basic Christian experience occurred over a period of time, they simply came into it all at once.25 This does not mean there has not been growth and development since that first moment—for there has been—but the basis for all to occur later took place at the beginning.

Pin It
Page 5 of 8« First...34567...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?