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Rodman Williams: The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Purpose, Part 1

To return to the contemporary scene: one of the truly significant features is the widespread occurrence of prophetic utterance. First, this is the case in the proclamation of the gospel: there is no limit. These who are caught up in the high tide of the Spirit—whether young or old, male or female, master or servant (employer or employee!)—are speaking the word with extraordinary effectiveness. The words of Joel 2, affirmed in Acts 2, are again being fulfilled in our time. Youth, full of the Spirit and vision, are testifying on every hand and believing God for the transformation of the world. Older men are dreaming great things for God and regardless of advancing years are stepping out for God. Women (young and old) are not left behind as they find fresh ways and a new freedom to witness to the gospel in the power of the Spirit. Employers and employees with spiritual anointing are equally, and in multiple fashion, bearing witness to Jesus Christ. There is a fresh release of prophetic proclamation around the world among the spiritually renewed people of God.28

It is also a fact that prophetic utterance for community edification is freshly occurring wherever the spiritual renewal has spread. Indeed, one of the most distinctive features of the renewal is the way in which, wherever people gather together for worship and ministry, there is the expectation and occurrence of prophetic utterance.29  There is utterly no distinction between age, sex, socioeconomic levels— or otherwise. In some instances clergy and laity may be present, but prophecy springs from either or both; there may be priests and nuns, and either or both prophesying; there may be highly educated and semi-literate people together but prophecy is limited to neither; there may be professors and students, both prophesying as the Lord leads. As the Apostle Paul said, “You can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged” (1 Corinthians 14:31)—and this is precisely what is happening in our time.

The universalizing of prophetic utterance is one of extraordinary features of the contemporary renewal in the Spirit. Thereby the people of God in their entirety become spokesmen for God.

 

PR

Part Two of “Purpose” continues in the Spring 2003 issue.

 

Notes

1. See Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32. The Greek verb is katabainō—”come down.” Thus it parallels expressions before noted for the gift of the Spirit such as “coming upon,” “falling on,”etc.

2. In John 6:27 Jesus says that “on him [Jesus himself] has God the Father set his seal”—literally, “this one God the Father sealed” (touton ho patēr esphragisen ho theos). The idea of sealing here would seem clearly to refer to this anointing with power at the Jordan—”to dedicate, to consecrate …to endow with heavenly power” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. VII, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971], p. 949, fn. 83).

3. Thus when Pentecost occurred, in the words of Lindsay Dewar, “the members of the infant Church were by this momentous event lifted up to a new and supernatural level, the level of the Spirit-filled humanity of the Incarnate Lord” (The Holy Spirit and Modern Thought [New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959], p. 43.)

4. Recall our earlier discussion of this in Chapter 1.

5. It is significant to note that in the book of Acts, Luke says, “In the first book [the Gospel of Luke] …I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach … Thus the book of Acts will deal with what Jesus continued to do and teach, but now as the exalted Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit.

6. Accordingly, even as Jesus was anointed (Acts 10:38) with power and sealed (John 6:27), likewise are His disciples after Him. So does Paul write the Corinthians: “It is God who established us with you in Christ, and has commissioned [chrisas—”having anointed”] us; he has put his seal upon us …” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). To seal, in this context means to “‘endue with power from heaven'” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, article on “seal,” σψραγιξω, 2b).

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Category: Spirit, Winter 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).

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