religion, christianity, articles
Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit's Work Truth or Fable

Gary Colley

religion, articles, christianity

Due to several requests, we deem it needful to engage in writing the results of our study over many years concerning the work of the Holy Spirit and how we believe the Scriptures teach his work is accomplished today. We do so without malice toward any other students of the Bible who have written or spoken in the past.

We believe this statement to be true: "If man is ever saved it will be by the power of the Holy Spirit." How the Holy Spirit exerts his power today has been the subject of much discussion. We fear that many come to the Bible and the subject with prejudice of forethought and a theory to prove, and therefore come to conclusions based on these human thoughts that are fable rather than Truth. Paul commanded Timothy to "Preach the Word" and warned of some who would leave the Word, turning to fables (2 Tim. 4:1­5). It is important that no text be removed out of context, or else it becomes a pretext. We need to study the work of the Holy Spirit in the world today, and learn all that the Bible has to say on the subject.

A Voice from the Past

Brother J. D. Tant, in his lesson on the "Witness of the Spirit," (The Gospel X­ray, p. 27) states:

If I desired to study this subject, I would begin at the first of Genesis and study all through the Bible. In every place where I found anything done in which the Spirit was associated with the doing of the thing, in which a miracle was performed, I would call that the miraculous power of the Spirit, and write it in book number one. I would notice all places where conversions were recorded in which the Spirit had anything to do with the conversion and I would call that the converting power of the Spirit, and write it in book number two. I would read all the places in the Bible where the Spirit was represented as a Comforter, and would call that the comforting influence of the Spirit, and call it book number three. Every place where the Spirit is recognized as a witness, I would call that the witnessing power of the Spirit, and write that in book number four. Everything done by the Spirit in all ages will come under one of these heads.

We might add one more book for our study of the subject in the light of today's needs, calling it the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.

Determining Truth

There is but one means, aside from what some might claim, by which we can determine Truth today and that is God's divine Word (Heb. 1:1­3; 2:1­4). The beloved apostle John wrote about how we today are to distinguish Truth from fable:

Beloved, believe not every spirit (or teacher), but try the spirits whether they be of God: because many false prophets (teachers) are gone out into the world.... They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We [the apostles] are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us, he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error (1 John 4:1, 5­6).

Making Some Comparisons

In acknowledging and rejoicing in the fact that the Scriptures teach that God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit all dwell in the Christian (2 Cor. 6:16; 1 John 4:15­16; Eph. 3:17; Col. 1:27; Gal. 3:2), we must not ignore nor become confused about the manner of their indwelling, according to the Scriptures (2 John 9­11: Eph. 3:16­19: Gal. 3:2).

Let us take our Bibles and make some comparisons of the inspired Scriptures for our study and understanding of the Holy Spirit's work. Jesus taught that we must abide in the truth of the Word (John 15:7). To go beyond what is written in the Word is to be without God (2 John 9­11). It is our responsibility to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:21). We must "not give heed to fables" (1 Tim. 1:4). We must distinguish between truth and fable.

Truth: The Holy Spirit today convicts, converts, and sanctifies sinners hearts, not by miraculous power, but by God's Word (John 17:17; Acts 2:37­41).

Fable: The Holy Spirit today operates directly in a better felt than told manner, or else we are limiting the Holy Spirit (no Scripture).

Truth: The Holy Spirit today draws people to salvation by the revealed Word (Rom. 1:16; John 6:4445; Acts 7:51­55).

Fable: The Holy Spirit today works in dreams, visions, urges, and feelings (no Scripture).

Truth: The Holy Spirit today causes Christians to grow by the study of the Word (1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18).

Fable: People today must "catch" the Spirit by being open to nudges and feelings (no Scripture).

Truth: Christians today are strengthened, comforted, and enabled by the Holy Spirit through the Word (Eph. 3:16; 1 Thess. 2:13).

Fable: The Holy Spirit today enables the Christian not to commit fornication by extra­biblical influence (no Scripture).

Truth: The "gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38) is called "the times of refreshing ... from the presence of the Lord" in Acts 3:19.

Fable: The Holy Spirit himself is given as a gift to the Christian to work personally and directly in his life (no Scripture).

Truth: The Holy Spirit crying, "Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6) is the spirit of sonship as explained in Romans 8:15.

Fable: The Holy Spirit is sent directly into the heart of the Christian to work conjunctively with the Word (no Scripture).

Truth: Paul explains that to "be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18) is the same as letting "the Word dwell in your richly" (Col. 3:16).

Fable: Christians today are both filled with the Spirit and the Word acting conjointly (no Scripture).

Truth: Being "led by the Spirit of God" today (Rom. 8:14), means we walk or live by the "law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1­2; John 6:63; 2 Tim. 3:16­17; 2 Peter 1:3).

Fable: The direct, personal indwelling Spirit conjoined with the Word leads the disciple today by giving feelings of approval or disapproval (no Scripture).

Truth: Christians today are sanctified by the Holy Spirit acting through the revealed Word John 17:17).

Fable: Christians today are sanctified by the Holy Spirit when the Spirit lives directly in them in conjunction with the Word (no Scripture).

Our Desire

It is our desire and prayer that we all may study the Bible and come to the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). The Holy Scriptures teach there is one Spirit, one Lord, and one faith (body of teaching) (Eph. 4:4­6). We cannot have the unity for which the Lord prayed unless we follow New Testament teaching. If each one does that which is right in his own eyes, fables will result because each one will be a law to himself. Let us abide in the teaching of Christ (2 John 1:9­11).

Published May 1997