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The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today

The final installment 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: Effects, Part 1 (Chapter 8)

Epilogue & Bibliography

This book has been written with excitement and hope. If it is true that many people today are freshly experiencing the gift of the Holy Spirit, there is much to be excited about. For in this gift there is fullness of God’s presence and power—and entrance into a whole new dimension of praise, witness and action. Also there is much to be hoped for: that people everywhere will become alert to the possibility of this gift, respond to God’s offer of its availability and thereby receive it from the exalted Lord.

Perhaps these pages will have come as a surprise to some readers. For it is a fact that despite the high significance of the gift of the Holy Spirit, many persons have little knowledge or understanding of it. Such a question as Paul’s, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2), may seem totally irrelevant and meaningless to many. They may never really have thought about the matter, and perhaps they have not so much as heard about it.

Others in reading may have felt disturbed. First, there may be some who have long thought of the gift of the Holy Spirit in terms of a kind of divine immanence experienced in a mystical moment. With or without the mediation of Jesus Christ it is assumed that the spirit of a person may enter into union with the divine Spirit. Accordingly, there is already a given—hence gift-like—unity of the divine and human spirit which only needs to be realized through meditation and stripping away artificial barriers. Thus to read all this about the work of Jesus Christ in redemption and forgiveness of sins as necessary to the reception of the Spirit may seem strange and unwarranted. Second, there may be other readers who have long viewed this gift as so inseparably attached to the sacramental life of the church that all persons who receive the proper sacramental action (baptism, confirmation) invariably become recipients of this gift. Accord­ingly, there is no point in getting excited about or looking forward to the gift. For if one has been properly baptized (or confirmed, as the case may be), the gift presumably has been received. Third, there may be still other readers who view the gift of the Holy Spirit as identical with the gift of salvation; thus there is no gift to be considered beyond the new life in Christ. Indeed, some might say, does not the very idea of an additional gift detract from the all-sufficiency of Christ?

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Category: Fall 2004, Spirit

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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