The Ministries of the Holy Spirit --Part 10

The Ministries of the Holy Spirit
Part 10

David Clifford

The Holy Spirit’s Sevenfold Endowment

Dr. David Clifford is currently engaged in international Bible lecturing and teaching, and presently makes his home in Plantation, Florida.

This study is a continuation of his extended series on the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has seven great ministries for the Christian and they all flow from the fact of His indwelling in the heart and life. The first six of them come to the believer spontaneously upon his regeneration, and the seventh may do so too, but if not, there is a command to seek this blessing.

The Gift of The Spirit

In fulfilment of our Lord’s promise, the Holy Spirit was given by the Father through the Son on the day of Pentecost: “Whom I will send to you from the Father” (John 15:26). He was then given to the Church and given to fulfill many functions; therefore, all those who through faith in Christ have been brought into the Church since that time have thereby become recipients of the gift.

Historically, the gift was given at Pentecost but in the experience of Christians He is given to them upon believing. “The Holy Spirit was given to us” (Romans 5:5). Note also the universality of the gift in this passage.

One of the key references to this subject is found in 2 Corinthians 1:21 and 22 where five of the seven blessings of the Spirit are mentioned in one breath, as it were: “God has anointed us … also sealed us, and gave us the Spirit in our hearts, a pledge.” There is no order in spiritual experience suggested here; the words are almost interchangeable. In any case, the blessings of the Spirit here stated —anointing, sealing, gift, earnest and indwelling, are given to all Christians, even to the immature type who were in the Corinthian Church.

When the Apostle Peter was accused for going to the Gentiles, he recorded (Acts 11:17) how God gave the same gift to those who were not at Pentecost, but became believers in Christ, even though they were Gentiles. Not a single person born of God could be excluded from this gift.“ We know…that He abides in us by the Spirit Whom He has given us” (1 John 3:24). “Your heavenly Father (will) give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” was a word given by our Lord before He sent him from the Father to every believer (Luke 11:13).

The Indwelling of The Holy Spirit

Imagine an architect designing and building me a house and I live in it in poverty and need, then the architect sees that need and sends his son to live with me and he brings with him all that I shall ever need. Even so, our Maker and Friend has come to dwell with us by the Spirit of His Son. It was a great blessing indeed for Old Testament saints to have the almighty Spirit come upon them for a time, but now “He will be in you” says our Lord and “Be with you for ever” (John 14:17 and 16).

“He who has not the Spirit of Christ is not a Christian,” as the NEB puts it (Romans 8:9), thus the body of the Christian becomes a temple because of that most holy Presence within (see 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20), something which the Corinthians (and many of us Christians today) need to learn. “God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts,” and it is from this gracious indwelling that the other blessings flow, as we shall see. The real Christian life, therefore, becomes indwelling, not imitation. It is not a fleshly effort at the imitation of Christ, but the mighty Christ by His indwelling Spirit, Who alone can make us and use us. “Not I, but Christ,” that is, by His Spirit within.

A study of the passage in Acts 19:1-6 will show that the term disciple is not synonymous with the term Christian. To be a disciple of John the Baptist was far removed from being saved through faith in Christ.

The apostle here seems to miss certain realities in these men — those that belong to the regenerated, and so he asked the question: “Upon believing did you receive the Holy Spirit?” They revealed in their answer their unsaved condition.

Paul turns their thoughts to Christ and having believed in Him they were baptized in His name.

The Seal of The Holy Spirit

This sealing of the Spirit is mentioned twice in the letter to the Ephesians (1:13 and 4:30), and it would be readily understood by the people of that city, because Ephesus was a timber port, and the merchants purchasing the timber would place their own personal seal on it before they went away. The seal, therefore, is indicative of ownership. By giving His Holy Spirit to indwell His own, God is showing to all and sundry that they are His property.

“Then on each He setteth
His own secret sign
‘They that have My Spirit,
These’ saith He ‘are Mine.”‘

—Children’s hymn

In the first reference it should be noted that the sealing by the Spirit is “until the day of redemption.” After the redemption of the believer’s body at the coming of Christ and the first resurrection, there will be no need for any manifestation that we belong to the Lord. We shall be in His presence.

God sees no label, no denominational tag on His own people at all, but He undoubtedly sees the Spirit within them, which is all that He wishes to see in or on those who belong to Him. It is not that the Spirit does something to or for us, to seal us. His indwelling is the seal.

The Earnest of The Spirit

Ephesians 1 speaks of our Lord’s inheritance in the saints, and also of the saints inheritance in the Lord (1:18 and 14). The apostle described the Holy Spirit of Promise here as the earnest (KJV) or down-payment, or better still the pledge of a wonderful inheritance in store. He Himself within the life of the Christian is the foretaste of the glory which awaits him. For him to acknowledge His presence within and depend upon His almightiness, must mean a demonstration in his experience now of the wonderful works and grace of God to be enjoyed forever in heaven. The believer possesses the Divine Spirit now, but he will possess all that is divine in a coming day.

The Anointing of The Spirit

There can be no fresh anointing for some special service for Christ, but there can and should be a fresh release of the anointing which every believer possesses. If we have the Spirit, we have the anointing. In the Old Testament the Spirit came upon prophets, priests, kings, and tabernacle builders as an anointing for their special service for God, but in this age we see the Spirit has not only come upon all His own but indwells them permanently. It might even be an expression of unbelief or maybe of ignorance as to what God has already done for His own to ask to be anointed again. The Greek word “chrisma,” which means anointing, is also translated “unction” and is only mentioned three times in relation to the believer. The context in the First Epistle of John (2:20 and 27) shows that the anointing abides continually and that believers can know by His omniscient indwelling and they can also do by His omnipotent indwelling. In the third reference the aorist tense should be noted, for the anointing is one act of God for all time.

The Baptism of The Spirit

There is no command in the Word of God to anyone to be baptized by or in the Holy Spirit. The sphere of this baptism is always seen in the context to be “the Body.” Historically, the baptism happened at Pentecost in fulfilment of our Saviour’s promise as seen in Acts 1:5 when all the believers were immersed by the Spirit at His coming into one body in the Lord. Experientially, the believer himself is baptized by the Spirit into the one body the moment he believes. The unspiritual Corinthian Christians were said to be baptized by the Spirit, and they were not at Pentecost and their lives were no spiritual example to anyone. But they were baptized by the Spirit. Note that the baptism of the Spirit was confirmed to the Gentiles who believed even though they were not at Pentecost either (see Acts 10). “There is one baptism,” we were reminded in Ephesians 4:5 and this must be the baptism of the Spirit. Water baptism by immersion is part of this one baptism. It is the outward sign and testimony to the fact that the person immersed has already been immersed by the Spirit into the body of Christ.

As W. Graham Scroggie points out in his booklet, “The Sevenfold Blessing of the Spirit,” this baptism is seen in the Scriptures in three ways:

1. Prophetically in the Old Testament and the Gospels looking forward.

2. Doctrinally in the epistles, looking backward.

3. Historically in the Acts, looking at Pentecost.

Looking at the doctrinal section, the references are as follows: 1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:5 and in all probability Romans 6:3-4 also, because we are not baptized into His death at our water baptism, but there we show that we have been baptized into death at regeneration. We are one with Christ in His death and resurrection, the moment we believe.

The body of Christ was formed on the day of Pentecost, and all believers constitute that Body (1 Cor. 12:12). There were believers before Pentecost, but there was no body before then. At Pentecost all believers were constituted a spiritual body by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. All believers are included and incorporated in this body of Christ from that time onwards.

It must always be remembered that the book of the Acts records unusual happenings in an entirely transistional period. It is wise to get our doctrine from the epistles, and there is never any suggestion there that the baptism of the Spirit is missing in the lives of some believers and should be sought after.

The baptism of the Spirit also stems from the fact of His indwelling in the child of God. The moment the Spirit makes His home in the heart (at conversion) the individual believer is made one with Christ and one with all those who belong to Christ. With every saint possessing the same Spirit, altogether, Christians become immersed or baptized into one body in the Lord.

The baptism of the Spirit is not synonymous with the filling of the Spirit. They are not interchangeable terms, as we shall see. The filling is the seventh blessing of the Spirit and, although it belongs to this study, we have, because of its importance, decided to deal with it more fully in the study which will follow.