The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts
In the Bible, the term Holy Spirit may refer to the gifts of the Spirit or it may refer to the representative of Christ who dispenses the spiritual gifts. Christ said that He was going away, and He would send the Comforter, who He calls the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit).
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7).
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26).
Quite separate from the representative that Jesus would send in His place, the term Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) is also used to refer to something that Jesus is said to have inside of Him and that He can give us so that we can have it in us in measure.
“For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” (John 3:34).
“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1).
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22).
Holy Spirit Poured Out
As gifts, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers at Pentecost, in fulfilment of a promise that God made through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28, 29). Peter referred to this promise and its fulfilment in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost:
“But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17, 18);
Jesus says that we should ask the Father for the Holy Spirit:
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).
Early Rain and Latter Rain
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was like the early rain that gave a kick start to the newly germinated seeds. When the plants are mature, latter rain showers are needed to ripen the crop and prepare them for the harvest. Based on Joel’s prophecy there would be an Early Rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit and in the last days, a Latter Rain outpouring.
“Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.” (Joel 2:23).
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” (Joel 2:28-31).
The Latter Rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit is described as the work of a Mighty Angel who descends from heaven and causes the earth to be lightened with his glory.
“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Rev. 18:1, 2).
The Latter Rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit is given in the last days at a time when Babylon is taken over by demons and evil spirits. This final outpouring of the Holy Spirit will empower God’s true and faithful believers to overcome the Devil as Moses was able to overcome the magicians of Egypt.
Representative of Christ Dispenses Gifts
It is important that we do not confuse the spiritual gifts that we receive in us with the representative of Christ who dispenses the gifts. Whereas the Comforter dispensed the gifts at Pentecost as the Early Rain, the Mighty Angel of Revelation 18 will dispense the gifts in even greater measure as the Latter Rain.
The Comforter is not a third God-being like the Father and the Son. Like the Mighty Angel of Revelation 18, the Comforter was sent on a mission to dispense spiritual gifts and to comfort the disciples. He would not speak of himself but would speak only what he hears.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13).
If the Comforter who brought the Early Rain was a third God-being, then we have a situation where the Mighty Angel would be dispensing spiritual gifts more extensively in the Latter Rain than the third God-being was allowed to do in the Early Rain. Would that be signalling that the Mighty Angel is more powerful than this third member of the Godhead, or that he is a fourth member? Or rather, is it suggesting that the Comforter, like the Mighty Angel, is not a Divine Being to be worshipped, but rather, a messenger (angel) carrying out a similar mission? The latter suggestion is more consistent with scripture.
The Adventist Pioneers in their Statement of Fundamental Principles published in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1889 and onward until about 1930 described the Holy Spirit as Christ’s Representative. This is consistent with scripture.
The Holy Spirit is not a third God-being to be worshipped; neither is the Holy Spirit a being that takes up residence inside of us. The Spirit of Christ that dwells in us in measure are the spiritual gifts of Divine light, love and power, by which we reflect the character of Christ and are empowered to be His witnesses.
In conclusion, the term Holy Spirit may refer to the spiritual gifts that we receive and that remain in us or it may refer to Christ’s representative (or messenger – angel) who dispenses the gifts to us.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
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