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


The first chapter 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: Preface

The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Introduction

Chapter One: Background

It is important at the outset to reflect upon the background for the gift of the Holy Spirit. For what took place in first-generation Christianity, as recorded in the book of Acts, happened against the background of certain objective factors preparing the way for the giving of the Holy Spirit

A. The Divine Promise Most immediately apparent is the fact that the gift of the Holy Spirit is a direct fulfillment of the promise of God. It is grounded in God’s intention and purpose and therefore has behind it the divine integrity. As a promise of God, like all divine promises, it is dependable and sure.

We may begin by noting on the Day of Pentecost that Peter, speaking for the disciples in Jerusalem who have just received the gift of the Holy Spirit, says: “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh …'” (Acts 2:16-17). In other words, the gift of the Spirit that has been received is in fulfillment of God’s promise through the Old Testament prophet. Similar Old Testament promises are found elsewhere: “Thus says the Lord …I will pour my Spirit upon your descendants and my blessing on your offspring” (Isaiah 44:2-3): “I will not hide my face any more from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, says the Lord God” (Ezekial 39:29). Though Isaiah and Ezekial speak specifically of Israel, and Joel universally (“all flesh”), the divine promise contained in all three books may be viewed as being initially fulfilled in Acts, since the Spirit was first poured out upon Israel (Acts 2, and thereafter upon the Gentiles (Acts 10 and elsewhere), thus “all flesh.”

Next, moving closer to the actual giving of the Spirit as recorded in Acts, we find more immediate references to the divine promise as “the promise of the Father.” First, there are the final words of Jesus: “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you” (Luke 24:49). Next we read: “And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me'” (Acts 1:4). Then we have the words of Peter: “And having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he [Jesus] has poured out this which you see and hear” (Acts 2:33). Thus it is the promise of God the Father which stands as immediate background for the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2002

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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