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The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today

Unfortunately, these various views—which may be called, in turn, the mystical, the sacramental, and the evangelical—often stand in the way of a genuine apprehension and reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps sufficient answer to the first two views has been given in prior pages, but a word might be added about the last. Christianity, to be sure, is at heart the Good News about salvation—a new life in Christ. This gospel is to be pro­claimed to the ends of the earth: that God has graciously gone all the way to bring man back to himself, and through the blood of His Son there is redemption, even the forgiveness of sins. Nothing should ever be said to detract one iota from the wonder of the gospel, for without God’s work in salvation there would be no hope for anyone in all creation. And it comes as a gift—the gift of eternal life (e.g., Rom. 6:23—“the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”). But the all-important point is that the gift of eternal life is not the gift of the Holy Spirit, though the latter presupposes the former and both are mediated through Jesus Christ. Thus Christ continues to be all-sufficient. One never goes past Him: for in Him is every spiritual blessing. The crucial question is: have we caught up with Him? If we have experienced through Him the life-changing wonder of forgiveness of sins and eternal life, have we also received the empowering miracle of the gift of the Holy Spirit?

Perhaps the greatest mistake in this area is to presuppose the gift of the Holy Spirit. The mystic may presuppose the gift of the Spirit in his meditation, the sacramentalist may presuppose the same gift in the occurrence of baptism and/or confirmation, the evangelical may likewise presuppose the gift of the Spirit in the experience of forgiveness and salvation. Each, in different manner, by the very presupposition,1 bars his own way to the reception of the gift. However, if the presupposition can be removed, there may be a new readiness for and openness to the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In this connection one purpose of the book has been to set forth biblically and theologically the whole area of the gift of the Holy Spirit. By doing this it is hoped that certain commonly held views may have been brought under question and a fresh look taken. By the very description of such matters as the back­ground, dimensions, purpose and effects of the gift it is likewise hoped that many may have been challenged to raise the question: “Have I really—whatever my former attitude and experience—received this gift?”

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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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