The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
By Ralph V. Reynolds
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13).
I have preached the gospel for many years and believe that the Lord could give me at least another ten years to preach this wonderful message of salvation. You who have listened to me in the past have never heard me speak of the Holy Spirit in the neuter pronoun “it”. You who \will be hearing me in the future will also never hear me referring to the Holy Spirit as “it”. In fact, if you do, I promise to take you to the best restaurant in town and buy you a steak dinner. Listen to me carefully and see if you can find an instance of this.
The reason I do not speak of the Holy Spirit in the neuter pronoun is simply because the Bible does not. Jesus speaks of the Holy Ghost in the personal pronoun “He”. In Chapters 14 and 16 of John’s gospel, Jesus spoke of the Holy Ghost some sixteen times and uses the third person personal pronoun “He”. When you receive the Holy Spirit, you do not receive it, you receive Him.
Then who is “He”? Is He the third person of the Trinity? Is He some unknown, mystical force or is He personal? It is very important to all of us to understand just who He is. Jesus, in speaking to His disciples, made the statement that He would pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter. This pronoun “another” has lead to much speculation regarding the identity of the Holy Spirit. In Chapter 7 of John’s gospel, Jesus promised that there would be rivers of living water flowing out of the belly of them that believe. In the context, it clearly states that this is speaking of the Holy Ghost who is not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified. Therefore, the giving of the Holy Spirit must come after Jesus’ glorification. Jesus had to be glorified before the Holy Ghost could be given.
Was there no Holy Ghost before the Day of Pentecost? In not, then who overshadowed Mary in the incarnation? Please tell me then, what did John the Baptist have? He was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb. Are there two Holy Spirits: one active before Calvary and the other since? No, certainly not! There is only one Spirit. However, the Holy Spirit took upon Himself a brand new ministry at Pentecost. The disciples in the Upper Room received the Holy Spirit. They did not receive some unknown force which could be spoken of as “it”. They received Him. The phenomena of Pentecost, the blessing of Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Ghost and the experience that anyone of us may receive when we come to the Lord
Jesus Christ all may be spoken of as “it”; however, we receive Him. The Bible is very clear on this. “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26, 27).
Jesus plainly said to His disciples that He would not leave them orphans but would come to them. “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (John 14:20).
Now it can clearly be understood regarding the identity of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. When you receive the Holy Spirit, you are receiving Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians stated, “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28). “Which is Christ in you” (verse 27) and “perfect in Christ Jesus” (verse 28). When we are born into the Spirit and baptized into the body of Christ, Jesus comes in and we are placed in Him. So it becomes a fact that we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us. In fact, it is impossible to be a Christian unless we are in Christ!
Now the meaning of the words of Jesus regarding the need for Him to go away and also the words in John 7:39 that He had to be first glorified become very clear. If He did not go, the Holy Ghost could not come. Jesus will not occupy two bodies at the same time upon this planet. When he was upon earth, He lived in the incarnate flesh that was born of the virgin Mary and now dwells within the church which is His body.
Every member of the church has received more than what John the Baptist received. “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11). Yet John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost from birth. This is more than can be said of any of us. How is it that the least among us can be greater than John the Baptist? It is simply because it could never be said of John the Baptist that Christ was in him, the hope of glory. This can be said of every member of the body of Christ. God has done more for us by placing us in the church and filling us with His presence than John the Baptist.
The coming of the Comforter in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost was prophesied in the Old Testament and also by John the Baptist. Jesus not only promised the Comforter, but He commanded His disciples in Acts 1:4 to tarry in Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Father. They had no choice in the matter but to tarry until the Day of Pentecost was fully come.
We can understand the importance of this when we understand that this is the birth of the Spirit. This is the moment when the penitent believer is placed in the body of Christ, becomes a member of the church and is born of the Spirit. God considered this so important that He gave the definite evidence of speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance as a sign to them when they were filled with the Holy Ghost.
Why tongues? Why did God choose this means? Undoubtedly because the tongue is the most unruly member of the body and the last member to fully submit to God. When the tongue is taken over by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is evidence that the entire body is being filled with God’s presence and God is having His way in the temple that He is occupying.
The fact that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence cannot be successfully refuted. In the Acts of the Apostles, there are five instances when they were being baptized with the Holy Spirit, four of these five spoke in tongues. The fifth instance was in Samaria in Acts chapter eight. It does not definitely say that they spoke in tongues; however, Simon the Sorcerer offered money to buy the gift that he witnessed when they did receive the Holy Spirit. Simon was dealing in the supernatural. If he had not seen or heard some supernatural evidence, he would never have offered money to try to buy it. The birth of the Spirit is both supernatural and miraculous. The phenomenon of Pentecost is miraculous. In the Upper Room, they felt, heard and saw something. In Pentecostal services today, you can still expect to see, hear and feel something! If God is moving by His Spirit, there will be evidence of the supernatural and miraculous power manifesting Himself.
Yes, definitely the evidence of the Holy Ghost baptism is speaking in tongues. All who are filled with the Holy Ghost speak in tongues, but that does not mean that all who speak in tongues have the Holy Ghost. In Jamaica, there was a religious cult there known as the Pocomanias who spoke in tongues. Here in America and Canada, there are many people who speak in tongues who do not know God and as their personal Saviour!
We should not emphasize tongues but rather the experience of praying through to a genuine experience with God. Those who do receive the Holy Spirit know it. The evidence of speaking in tongues is not an evidence to them, but to those to whom they are witnessing. When someone receives the Holy Ghost, it is not necessary to tell them they have the Holy Spirit; they will know it. If they do not have that witness of the Spirit within and are not satisfied with what God has done for them, then they should continue to pray until they are. In the past years very few times have I told seekers when they have received the Holy Ghost. If they did not know for themselves, I wanted them to continue to pray. I have seen penitent seekers at the altar calling out to God, with the power of God upon them. They would speak a few syllables and someone would tell them that they had the Holy Ghost. They would rise with a disappointed look upon their face, disillusioned and sometimes leave the church, never to return. This is not the experience God has promised. The birth of the Holy Spirit thrills and satisfies the new born convert. There will be many manifestations apart from speaking in tongues. If you receive the genuine Spirit of God, you will not walk away from that experience immediately.
You often hear much said about the essentiality of the Holy Ghost. Is the Holy Ghost essential? Absolutely! One cannot be saved without the Holy Ghost. But let us remember the Word of God is essential. The blood of Jesus Christ is essential. Water baptism is essential. Faith is essential. Holiness is essential. We dare not leave one of these out or say that one of these is less essential than the others. Every one of these essentials named have an important part in full New Testament salvation.
The work of the Holy Ghost is not just limited to the birth of the Spirit and the Pentecostal experience of being baptized with the Holy Spirit. Salvation is the work of the Holy Ghost from A to Z. The preaching of the Word must be anointed by the Spirit. Conviction, faith, repentance, regeneration and sanctification are all the works of the Holy Spirit in bringing a sinner to Jesus Christ and making of him a new creation in Christ Jesus. The new born child of God is kept by the power of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus comes, the saint of God will be raptured by the power of the Holy Ghost. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11).
Sometimes the question is asked if it is possible for a Trinitarian to receive the Holy Ghost. The answer to this is that the Holy Ghost is to save penitent sinners. It is impossible to get good enough to receive the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit will make us righteous. It is impossible to understand everything before we receive the Holy Ghost. His Spirit was given to us to guide us into all truth. We do not receive the Holy Ghost on the basis of what we know and understand. Clearly, we come to God completely ignorant of the teaching of God’s Word. About the only thing that we know at that time is that we are sinners, hell bound and in need of God. When we receive the Holy Ghost, the Spirit will teach us and bring the revelation of the truth to our hearts. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13).
If you believe that Trinitarians cannot receive the Holy Spirit, then we must never speak of the revival at Azuza Street in Los Angeles at the beginning of the twentieth century. We would be wholly inconsistent to talk about the revival at Azuza Street and at the same time claiming that only Apostolic people believing in one God may receive the Holy Ghost.
I recently listened to the tapes of Bro. Robert Sabin of St. Paul, Minnesota debating on the subject, “Who is Jesus?” I am going to quote from Bro. Sabin because I believe that he is one of the greatest theologians in our fellowship and speaks with authority. The following is a direct quote from the tape of his debate with Robert Bowman as follows: “To love him enough to accept without bitterness and hatred the rejection of our brethren of the Assemblies of God, … to know that we have the same spirit within us, the same mighty communion of the Holy Ghost, the same life changing force that millions would find, breathed new life into long dormant denominations and new love for Christ. We love the people of the Assemblies of God and the people of all denominations and that is the truth.” Thank you, Bro. Sabin for that statement.
We older ministers of the gospel have had associations in the past with people who did not have the full Apostolic truth and yet had an experience with God that we respected and recognized. Trinitarians need this truth and the writer is convinced that the Holy Spirit will reveal this truth to them. If they then reject the revelation that the Holy Spirit brings to them, it is another question entirely and we must leave them in the hands of a just judge.
In this chapter dealing with the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation, it is necessary to look briefly at a Scripture that is frequently quoted. “…Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). It is the opinion of the writer that we do injustice to the meaning of the Scriptures if we limit it to the initial experience of being born of the Spirit and speaking in tongues. The meaning here is far greater and much more meaningful.
Let us look at this as quoted in a modern version: “… And remember if anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ living in him, he is not a Christian at all” (Romans 8:9 The Living New Testament). To understand this, we must meditate on what is meant by the “Spirit of Christ”. Unfortunately, the writer must confess that he has known different ones who have claimed to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues and yet were in nature arrogant, contentious and even dishonest. James in his epistle wrote, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). We realize that this is speaking of the wisdom which is above, but is it not a good description of the Spirit of Christ. To be a Christian, we must be Christlike. We cannot be so if we do not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within. A description here in this verse where the Apostle James is speaking regarding the wisdom that is above: pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy, good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. In other words, the Apostle Paul in Romans simply stated that if we do not possess the Spirit of Christ, we are not a Christian. In order to be a Christian, a born again child of God, we must be filled with the Holy Ghost who will bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and cause us to be Christlike. We then can claim to be children of God and Christians.
The above article, “The Ministry of the Holy Spirit” was written by Ralph V. Reynolds. The article was excerpted from chapter twelve in Reynolds’ book Cry of the Unborn.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”