Mark Zaveson sent me an e-mail this week that centered on a discussion concerning the Bible and the accuracy of the scriptures. The authorâ€™s intent was to review and promote a book whose author attacked the common historical revisionism that is around concerning Jesus specifically and the Bible in general.
We are told not to allow sin to dwell in us in any fashion, and we understand that it may in fact dwell within. But why is it that we do not understand that an indwelling of the Holy Spirit would likley not be in any different form than may be that indwelling of sin. We want one to have a clear form and substance and the other to have none at all.
We are told that one must dwell within us and that the other must not. I should then ask myself, can both the Spirit and sin dwell within us? Are they not mutually exclusive? But if the Spirit of God dwells within you literally and you sin (which according to the scriptures, you of course will do) is the Spirit then forced to take a holiday only to return when you have repented and are once again cleansed? Are we on a teeter-totter of salvation?
The Pentecostal will tell you that his faith is secured by an indwelling of the Holy Spirit and if you do not possess the same, it is your lack of faith which inhibits. Yet, why would the Holy Spirit chose one over another, does not God tell us he is no respecter of persons? Is one Christian to be chosen over another by presence of the Holy Spirit? Are we truly predestined? If a Christian sins and then sin dwells within him can he never cast it out?
Why is it that the Spirit should take some other form than the other things that must dwell in us (a short list includes God, the spirit of Christ, love and righteousness, etc)? We in fact may be filled with entirely different things dwelling within us, such as “…unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness…” How would these be “found” to dwell in any dissimilar fashion than would be the Holy Spirit? One is evil the other good, but would they not inhabit the territory similarly?
How exactly is the Spirit then to dwell within us? As the sage has said, is it all better felt than understood? Is God in fact the author of confusion?
How do the scriptures instruct that the outpouring of the Spirit was accomplished, and along with that, what was that outpouring and how is it that the powers given along with the pouring out of Spirit were granted and to whom were they given?
Pouring out the blessings and pouring out signs and wonders
The Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh that Pentecost day some seven weeks plus after the resurrection of Jesus just as Peter had noted. But that outpouring really had little to do with signs and wonders or with the dispensation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the twelve apostles.
The signs and wonders were applied to confirm what had taken place and to allow that the churches might be made aware of the working of God, to settle things within the instruction to the assemblies, and to denote the servants of God and to identify their particular work.
The principal point is that the portioning or outpouring of the Holy Spirit would preface availability to all who might seek Christ, the favor of God, and who would wish to enter into the Kingdom of God. The other portion, the part with the signs — was given to a few to confirm that the pouring out on all flesh was indeed taking place — that it was being accomplished and that it was, in fact, God’s purpose. So one part was for all and the other part was to a limited group to confirm the first, with both being the work of God. Each part had the same purpose but a different end of it in mind.
As you are aware, we have covered these things in detail in the last two essays noting that the apostles were the first recipients of this confirming portion just as Christ had said they would be. And it was through their hands that certain others: disciples, prophets and evangelists, received a portion of the Spirit to guide them (and thereby the churches), and to prove and approve their deeds and words. Perhaps you know the history of this.
In Acts 6 one of the requirements for deacons in the church was that they be “filled” with the Holy Spirit. What that directly implied is that Stephen (and the other six) had by that time been granted the indwelling of the Spirit through the apostles. This was the only way they could have received the spiritual gifts then. And the scriptures clearly state they possessed the working of signs. They had already laid hold of the Kingdom of Heaven as it had become available.
There was no general dispensation of an indwelling of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of working miracles that was ever mentioned as having taken place or having been made generally available in any other manner. No scripture exists that can suggest such a thing. So these others being filled with the Holy Spirit with attendant signs had to have come at the hands of the apostles.
These things were covered in detail in the essays on the conversions in the book of Acts and in other lessons on this site.
But to continue: at some point between the recording of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira and prior to the appointment of the deacons in Jerusalem, prior to the death of Stephen and the sending of Philip the Evangelist to the Samaritans, it becomes clear that the apostles, then in the history of proceedings as they were directed, began to transfer the particular gifts of performing healings and miraculous powers to other disciples. It is also clear that only the apostles could perform this duty, as the text expressly states exactly that, and any such transfer could only take place through their prayer and by the laying on of their hands in both a physical and spiritual transference.
As proof of these things we suggest you read the record of the conversion of Simon as recorded in Acts 8.
The point is — that the receiving of the Spirit for the working of signs and for the guidance of the assemblies had to come from the possessors of the Holy Spirit’s power and through that chosen avenue alone. There simply was no other path ever mentioned, no other example of any other means given, and there was no inference that such things had occurred, could occur, or ever did occur.
We have record in God’s book of servants having gifts and of some who misused or misapplied them. We have stories of some of the menservants and maidservants of God and the miraculous gifts and work they performed. We have the record of the apostles. We have mentioned Stephen and the other deacons at Jerusalem including Philip the Evangelist, while you may have read of his four daughters who were prophets (in Acts 21: 8 and 9). Agabus was also a prophet, as were others mentioned in the New Testament. Timothy served as an evangelist and worker.
We also have record in God’s Book of those menservants and maidservants who did not possess the powers often associated with these things. But even if it should be supposed that all of those in that day had use of these gifts, no one beyond that time could ever pass them on to others; and so that string had to have its end.
That there was a second baptism of the Spirit for the purpose of working signs, similar to but not exactly the same as the first is also proved in Acts chapter 10 and 11. This example was explored in two of those essays on conversions posted on the site.
The Spirit rested upon Cornelius and the converted members of his household, and his friends in the same manner as it had first set upon the apostles on Pentecost. This was done in order to convince the witnesses present there, including Peter, and later the rest of the apostles and others that would hear the report of these things. This pouring out was affected then to identify that God had now granted, as had long before been prophesied, salvation to be taught and pressed not to just the kindred of Abraham, but to all humankind.
There is nothing in the text that indicates that the signs and wonders given to those who were part of Cornelius’s household were in any part to the same level of those resulting from the first baptism of the Spirit that fell upon the twelve apostles.
There is nothing to indicate that the signs and the powers attendant with them stayed with them as it had been granted to the apostles. The text says only that the appearance of the Spirit came “in the same manner as it had fallen upon us,” — meaning it came upon them in the same visible and defined way in which it had come on the apostles. And it states that these Gentiles spoke at that time in unknown languages and had been given “the same gift as (the apostles).” So, the text clearly indicates that this baptism of the Spirit was for quite a different purpose and so it is recorded in Acts chapter 11 beginning with verse 15.
There is certainly no reason to believe that they (the recipient members in the house of Cornelius) could pass this gift on as could the apostles, as that would be contrary to what we have already established as found in the scriptures; and indeed there is no record of any such things ever having happened.
In time the apostle Paul received a greater measure of the Holy Spirit with powers, more than any disciple had, when he was anointed with the Spirit — but it is nowhere called a baptism of the Spirit and it does not need to be. You may rest assured that it is necessarily implied, in the fact that Paul was specifically chosen to his office by Christ, that the Spirit was indeed poured out on Paul exactly as it had been on the other apostles. He too was one of those hand chosen servants of God.
Paul’s receipt of the Spirit was used to identify him as the apostle Paul and the servant of God, the Apostle to the Gentiles; and the language used to describe his power and the signs performed by him was identical to that which had been used to describe the powers possessed by Peter. Case closed.
So how then is the Spirit to dwell in you “richly?” It certainly cannot be in person as that conflicts with what God has said. The Lord God Almighty said only that he would dwell among those who seek him (meaning Israel) but he never said he would dwell within each of them. Then it seems the chosen grantors and recipients of the physical gifts granted by God through the Holy Spirit are all long dead and the things they had set for them to complete have all been accomplished long ago.
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth?”