By Dennis C. Abernathy
I certainly do not profess to be a scholar when it comes to the subject of the Holy spirit. But there seems to be much discussion and writing on various aspects of the Holy Spirit and His work, of late. We see thoughts presented on the “gift” of the Spirit and the “indwelling” of the Spirit, in particular. It occurs to this writer, that many who address themselves to this subject fail to grasp one major point, which failure, leads them off on many of their arguments. That point being mainly this: “A failure to realize the time frame within which most passages in the New Testament concerning the Holy Spirit was written. That being a time when there was no completed written revelation.” The results of this failure is, it seems to me, to apply all the passages that had a miraculous application to an ordinary (non-miraculous) application today.
Foy Wallace, Jr. said in his commentary on Revelation: “The historians use the word anarchronism – meaning an error in the order of time. Taking an event out of the period to which it belongs and assigning it to a wrong period of time in an anachronism.” Of course, he had reference to the book of Revelation. But in thinking and studying the subject of the Holy Spirit (specifically the “gift” and the “indwelling”), it occurred to me that we may be guilty of the same thing when it comes to these subjects.
For instance, the “gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38. We feel that because the “gift” is connected to repentance, baptism, and remission of sins, that if one receives re . mission of sins, he of necessity must receive the “gift.” On the other hand, we know this “gift” is not miraculous; hence, we refer to it as the “ordinary gift of the Spirit.” Now your bible may read that way, but I have trouble with that phraseology. What then is the gift of the Holy spirit? Well, there have been a lot of answers given, which shows the question is not so easily answered.
I believe the “gift of the Spirit” in Acts 2:38 is miraculous and had its application in the age of miracles. I don’t believe that everyone who is baptized, receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. I believe this passage to be like Mark 16:16-17. There the Lord said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved . . . . and these signs shall follow them that believe.” It seems to me that the “gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38 is the equivalent of “these signs shall follow them that believe” in Mark 16. Now I suppose there are all kinds of objections to this view, but I believe it harmonizes.
We have the completed, perfect, all-sufficient Word of God today in written form. Everything the Holy Spirit did before mankind had this written revelation, in a direct, miraculous way, is accomplished now through this medium. If this is not the case brethren, then the Word of God is not all-sufficient. I know I will be accused of believing in the “Word only” and “leaving the Holy Spirit out altogether,” but such does not prove the case. If God can work through nature, His natural laws, without doing it miraculously, why can the Spirit not work through the Word without doing so miraculously? The truth is, then when we take the position that The spirit literally indwells, which is the “gift” in Acts 2:38, the inevitable, conclusion will be a direct working on the part of the Holy Spirit, even though most will deny that conclusion.
Well, this is enough. I would like to see some articles written on this subject. I certainly could be wrong on this, and if so stand to be corrected, but as of now, these are my observations.
Guardian of Truth XXIII: 2, p. 53
January 19, 1984