What Other Ways Does the Holy Spirit Work Through Believers?

Though I linked in my previous post to a much earlier one which explored the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, I didn’t repeat any of its Biblical references. Which I possibly should have, because there are several ways that the Holy Spirit worked through believers in God in those days – some of which are not repeated in the New Testament.

Probably the first man in the Bible to be identified with the Holy Spirit was Joseph (Genesis 41:38), and the one who recognized Him in Joseph was – of all people – Pharaoh. The reason Pharaoh credited Joseph with the Spirit’s guidance was undoubtedly that Joseph accurately interpreted his strange dreams – and predicted the famine which was to engulf Egypt and her neighbor nations. So I believe it’s justifiable to conclude that at least Pharaoh linked a gift of interpretation of dreams and prophecy as a gift of the Holy Spirit. (Suffice it to say that Joseph also displayed gifts of leadership and administration, at the very least.)

I missed that one in my post of five years ago, and it’s an unintentional omission. I won’t repeat the others; you can read them yourself there. But you will find many other gifts, talents and abilities linked to the Holy Spirit in the eras of the Old Testament: leadership, great physical strength, even success in battle.

I cannot defend an opinion one way or another about whether those old covenant gifts are still given through the Spirit of God today. Some of them – such as dreaming dreams and seeing visions (which I’ve already discussed as promised in Joel 2:28 and as fulfilled in Acts 2:17) are actually exemplified in passages like Acts 10:1-23Acts 11:1-18 and Acts 16:6-10. So it’s foolish to conclude that all gifts or abilities associated with the Spirit in the Old Testament belong only to its eras.

And I think it’s fair to ask questions like:

  • Are we living under the same covenant as those in the New Testament?
  • Are the same promises which were made to those believers also made to believers now, under that same New Covenant?
  • Did the Spirit inspire scripture writers only for Old Testament works, or also for the New?
  • Is there anything in scripture which says only they – or only the apostles and/or only those on whom the apostles placed their hands – would receive the Spirit Himself and the gifts God chooses to distribute through Him?
  • Does scripture make a distinction between certain gifts that would persist and others that would perish?
  • Does scripture say that some already have been withdrawn?

The only Biblical response I can find to give to these questions is:

  • First of all, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are distinct from the Holy Spirit Himself. The gift of the Holy Spirit himself is given to all believers and forever.
  • Secondly, any need for gifts to be given or withdrawn is sufficiently described by the summation of the listing of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:11 … “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” The phrasing seems to be independent of era; the Spirit gives as He determines.

Some people simply cannot be trusted with certain gifts of the Holy Spirit, no matter how much they ask or desire – see Acts 8:9-25. It is quite possible that Ananias and his wife Sapphira were given the gift of generosity (Romans 12:8), yet silently lied to the Holy Spirit about the size of their gift (Acts 5:1-11). It would not have mattered what era they lived in; their hearts were corrupted by self-interest.

Those incidents – and the miracle Paul spoke against Elymas Bar-Jesus at Paphos (Acts 13:4-12) indicate a darker side to the miraculous gifts apportioned by the Spirit – not unlike the Spirit-given ability (Judges 14-15) that Samson had to vanquish enemies or bring down the temple of Dagon around himself (Judges 16:23-31), or – less violently – to change Saul into a different person (1 Samuel 10), perhaps to prepare him spiritually to become the kind of king he ought to have been over a people who ought to have accepted God as their King.

On the other hand, the more constructive gifts given to those under the old covenant would likely have been just as useful under the new. (I won’t quibble about Bezalel, whose gift of designing for the tabernacle might well have been less useful in an era in which the temple was to fall forever. Or just as useful. Who knows?)

Perhaps the more important question is whether God could put to use such a gift in proclaiming His gospel today, in this graphic-art-saturated society.

What seems – to me, at least – the determining factor in whether the Spirit gives a gift to one who asks or needs or through whom it might even be used unawares is whether that gift will help those who have never encountered God’s grace SEE and HEAR it proclaimed and lived out in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Whether God still gives gifts to those whom He chooses through His Spirit, I leave to your discretion. Whether He gives it only to those who ask, who are baptized, who realize that they have it … I will let you work out on your own. I know what I believe.

And I submit as evidence to support it this video, recorded December 26, 2010 at my home church, of nine-year-old Davis, who read his passages in The Daily Bible along with the rest of his church family last year, and shared with us (from memory) his summation of it:

Most of us will agree that this young man is extraordinarily gifted.

I believe I know by Whom.

35 thoughts on “What Other Ways Does the Holy Spirit Work Through Believers?

  1. Davis – Great job, Great job!

    I’m enjoying your thoughts on this topic. The Holy Spirit is very interesting to me – maybe because we never really talked about it when I was growing up.

  2. “I continue to point that you favor the opinions of men over scripture itself AND IT DOESN’T SEEM TO AFFECT YOU. So must assume that, absent your denial of it, that must be true.”

    Because of that, I don’t see that we have common ground for discussion.

    I’m done here.

    Mat 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
    Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

    What was it Jesus said we must live by? “the word of God”

    Mat 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
    Mat 4:9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
    Mat 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
    Who was it Jesus said we must worship and serve? God.
    And how were we to know this. by the WRITTED WORD.

    Keith who is it here that prefers the word of man over that of God.
    Not Jesus, and assuredly not me. Every creed you follow is man made,
    The man made “trinity doctrine, the Jesus is God doctrine, the indwelled spirt doctrine, all man made, and none explainable, through scripture.

    Keith Satan does not care who you worship, as long as it is not “GOD”

  3. I see where you guys get together and brag about your assumed victories, with name calling. Good Christian living, I don’t know how anyone could doubt your sincerity.

    Keith Brenton Says:
    January 3rd, 2011 at 4:08 pm
    Patrick, I feel bad. I just ran out of patience with the multiplr launcher at my blog.

    I feel bad. But not for me.

    I hope God does not run out of patience with you people. If you are uncomfortable by the truth I comment on your blog. all you had to do was ask me not to comment.

  4. I feel badly for anyone who writes off scripture when it doesn’t agree with what he/she wants to believe, brother. Come on back when you’ve settled on your canon. I need to know which writers of scripture you accept before we can have a basis for discussion.

  5. KB, The little boy in the video, believes God speaks to us through the bible. Has this boy been taught from God’s word, or are you saying, he has never been taught and the H.S. gave this “gift” of knowledge to him, miraculously? Don’t we all have the ability to learn? Paul told the Ephesians in 3:3f ” How that by revelation, He made known unto me the mystery, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit”. They in turn revealed the mystery to mankind.

  6. Jeff, you said:

    The little boy in the video, believes God speaks to us through the bible. Has this boy been taught from God’s word, or are you saying, he has never been taught and the H.S. gave this “gift” of knowledge to him, miraculously?

    It’s not an either-or, Jeff. I’ve explained this before. The Spirit clearly works in concert with the Word, not apart from it or in opposition to it.

    Not all of the ways that He works through us are what we would consider spectacularly miraculous. I hope to post more on that soon, but I can’t today; I have a killer migraine and would be happy to be miraculously relieved from this thorn in the flesh, but I keep getting the same answer to that prayer that Paul did.

    So I accept that grace with gratitude.

    • KB, I hope you are better soon, I believe it is a either or matter. If the H.S. is going to lead me “personally”, “directly” why should I study to show myself approved? Why don’t I just wait for the Spirit to tell me what to do? What about my free will? All those things you listed,except the miraculous, can be accomplished or gained by abiding in His word. We first have to hear what we need to do and then we have to work at it, its not just given to us. It takes effort on our part. To pray for wisdom, we still need to do our part, we won’t just wake up one day and find ourselves with more wisdom. Even the apostle Paul said he had not yet “attained” meaning he didn’t feel like he was everything he needed to be. Yet he continued to strive, abiding in what he had been taught.

      • Jeff, you asked:

        If the H.S. is going to lead me “personally”, “directly” why should I study to show myself approved? Why don’t I just wait for the Spirit to tell me what to do?

        Short answer: You’d have to show me in scripture where the Holy Spirit works apart from the word or as a replacement for it in order for those questions to be valid. His gifts are not given as we will, but as God wills. (Romans 12:11).

      • KB, I have been saying, that the Spirit works through the word only, not apart, What you are saying is that we can be alluminated by either the Spirit or the written word. Scripture tells us to study to show ourselves approved. What you are saying is we can be “approved” by the Spirit only without the written word. If your saying they work in concert together, one of them is not needed. If I were to say we are to test the “spirits”=teachers, the only way to do that would be to use God’s written word. Scripture also tells us to “prove all things” the only way to prove spiritual matters is by God’s written word. Other wise they are only doctrines of men.

      • I am, in fact, saying that the Holy Spirit works in concert with the word. I have been saying that all along.

        I cannot agree with you that “If your saying they work in concert together, one of them is not needed.” I do not find that in scripture. Point me to it.

        Instead, I find the opposite. When Jesus told the apostles, “… the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you,” they already had scripture, Old Testament scripture. By the time Peter wrote 2 Peter 3:16, they had some New Testament scripture written by Paul. Had the Spirit left Peter because he already had scripture? Of course not; Peter was writing by His inspiration! Peter even hints why the Spirit is necessary to help guide believers into all truth and help them remember what Christ has said: “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”

        Just as you have distorted what I’ve said into “What you are saying is that we can be alluminated by either the Spirit or the written word” and “What you are saying is we can be “approved” by the Spirit only without the written word.” No! The Spirit helps illuminate us WITH the word.

        Surely you don’t do that with scripture, do you, Jeff?

        The good news is, if you do – even unintentionally or in the clearest conscience – there is help available for the asking.

        Do you believe that God will turn you down if you ask for wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:11ff; Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 1:9; James 1:5)?

        Would you turn Him down if He offered it only through His Spirit because you believed the word and your logic and your understanding was enough?

        I believe that’s where so much of Christianity has gone wrong – leaning on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), insisting that life is found in scripture alone and not in Jesus through His Spirit (John 5:39-40) – but we refuse to come to Him, ask for His help (Luke 11:13).

        Jeff, my logic can be as faulty as the next guy’s. I ask for help. When I post; when I comment, I usually remember to say a prayer before blogging, because I believe God answers prayer.

        Even through His Holy Spirit, when He chooses.

    • Once again Laymond, we haven’t been discussing a question of whether the Spirit instructed the apostles – that’s a “given” – but whether His instructions extend only as far as the apostles.

    • KB, So, if the H.S. and the word are working together in concert, then we need both to be approved, so then I could not be approved by the word only? Even though the word says, “study” to show thy self approved, and the word is that which will judge us all. I say the Spirit alluminates us by the word. You said, insisting that life is found in scripture alone and not in Jesus through his Spirit, is leaning on our own understanding.” I believe you just made God’s word fallible, Jesus said, “Abide in My words.” He has provided them for us. You are still seperating the two when they are the same thing. “Thy word is truth.” This ignorant and unstable person will continue to study to show myself approved by God’s word, while I wait for the Spirit to come to me and enlighten me further.

      • Jeff, are you the same as your comments? Are they all you are, or do? Should people call what you have written “him,” as if they were you?

        You still haven’t pointed me to anything in scripture that says the written word, the Bible, and the Spirit are the same.

        I’ve pointed out many which say otherwise – yet you ignore them. Why?

      • Yes KB, what I say reflects who I am, what I believe, the way I act. I can not be seperated from what I say. Unless I speak out of both sides of my mouth. Jesus promised the Apostles that He would send them a helper, to guide them into all truth. Jesus said in John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.” The teachings of Christ were in part. The Spirit delivered all truth which comes from Christ to mankind. The Spirit guided them into all truth, He guides us into all truth, “thy word is truth.” They can not be seperated.

      • I didn’t ask if you were seperable from what you say. I asked if you were the same as what you say … if that’s all you are? You’re avoiding the question, and rather transparently.

        Don’t just wait for the Spirit to enlighten you further; ask. But as, believing (Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24).

  7. Keith, I am not a doctor, but I have gone to many for different ailments. I don’t know your medical history, so I will give you some of mine. I was pestered by migraine headaches for many years, so bad I would get sick and could not see.
    I had a heart attack and was found to have three arteries 90% clogged, I had bypass surgery and I haven’t had a migraine since. Now I am not suggesting you have bypass surgery, but I do believe oxygen deficiency to the brain, could be a cause of migraines. If you have clinical oxygen available, try it, it can’t hurt. People I know said it worked on them. Like I said this is not advice from a doctor, but from a former patient. God bless If I ever thought of leaving this planet behind it was during a migraine.

    • I appreciate it, brother. Most of the time, I can keep mine under control with diet – no aged cheeses, peanuts, caffeine. Stress and air pressure are also triggers for me … and I can’t always control those.

    • KB, If I can’t be seperated from what I say, then what I say and who I am would be the same. People would be able to read what I write and say, thats Jeff.

      • “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ, not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth wittness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the word (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.” 1 John 5: 6,7 They can not be seperated.”Sanctify them by thy truth, thy word is truth.” John 17:17 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets. hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.” Heb 1:1,2 The word is Christ, His teachings spoken by Him and then all truth miraculously delivered to man throught the the H.S. to the Apostles who spoke it to mankind. We are fortunate to have it in written form. The word of God is powerful, wether its spoken or read, once its believed and applied wonderful things happen to a person. I would answer your last post #21, but it makes no sense.

      • If you are the same as your comments, they should be able to send out gifts to people, as the Holy Spirit did. That’s all I meant.

        The Bible – the Word of God – is powerful; it has the power of the Spirit’s inspiration and confirmation behind it. Remove the power of His confirmation, and yiu might just as well deny His inspiration. Why do you have trouble with one and not the other?

        If the Word is still inspired by Him, doesn’t stand to reason that it is still confirmed by Him?

      • (I am careful about quoting 1 John 5:6-7 as you have; there is little evidence that it was originally written that way – no appearance of that phrasing before the 1300s. I’m sure Laymond would be quick to point that out to you. I agree that the Father, Son and Spirit are one, but Galatians 4:6, Matthew 28:9 and Romans 8:14-17 are sufficient to persuade me.)

        But the apostles alone are not established by scripture as the only ones through whom the Word or the Spirit were transmitted. The Spirit came upon Cornelius and his household without any recorded touch of Peter or other apostles (Acts 10). Paul preached and performed miracles without any recorded teaching or touch by other apostles, just touched by Ananias (Acts 9).

  8. Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    Jhn 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

    Rom 5:16 And not as [it was] by one that sinned, [so is] the gift: for the judgment [was] by one to condemnation, but the free gift [is] of many offences unto justification.

    Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Keith, I began this to write a long list of scripture which denies your belief in so many things that are not in the bible.(such as “the trinity, Jesus is God,and the endwelled spirit” Then I realized that is not through ignorance that you believe what you do,if it were you have recieved enough proof through our reading the scriptures “together” to have become knowledgeable, It has to be something else that dwells within you that makes you believe that God is not who he said ne was, that something, is for you to come to grips with, and rid yourself of, no one can do that for you. There are certain paths we must walk alone. as Roy Rogers used to say “Happy trails, until we meet again”

    • laymond: Did you say that claiming Jesus is God is “man-made” and “not in the bible?” Where do I begin?

      I actually have this ready to post on my blog, but as Robert Letham writes in “Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology, and Worship” as evidence… from the Bible mind you…

      -start quoting-

      In John 5:16-47, Jesus’ enemies try to kill him for breaking the Sabbath and for calling God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God. Jesus denies the charge of blasphemy, citing in his support the plurality of witnesses required by Jewish law – John the Baptist, the works given to Jesus by the Father, the Father himself, and the Scriptures all testify to the truth of his testimony. His claim to be equal with God is true, not false. He then turns the tables on his accusers, charging them with failure to believe Moses’ testimony concerning him (vv. 45-47).”

      Later, they charge him with blasphemy for identifying himself with God, when he says that both he and the Father grant eternal life and preserve his disciples from perishing, for he and the Father are one (John 10:25-39). His opponents threaten to exact the penalty for blasphemy, death by stoning. However, Jesus denies that he is blaspheming, not by withdrawing his claim as false, but by reinforcing it as true (vv. 34-39).”

      In keeping with this, in John 14:1 Jesus coordinates himself with God as the object of faith – “Believe in God; believe also in me.” … Jesus regards himself as equal with God as the proper object of his disciples’ faith. Keep in mind, Jesus and those he was speaking to were monotheists.

      -end quoting-

      This is just a snippet of biblical testimony. Jesus is also written as Creator (John’s prologue, Col 1:15-20, Heb 1:1-4) and Judge (John 5:22-30, Matthew 25:31-46 with Daniel 7:14, Mark 8:38, 1 Thess 3:13, 5:23, 2 Thess 1:7-10, 2 Cor 5:10) which are prerogatives ONLY preserved for YHWH.

      There is much more, as He is pronounced as being preexistence and also worshiped and prayed to by monotheists in the early church. It is important to repeat (a third time) that these are monotheists.

      Jesus is God, laymond. Worship Him. His disciples, Paul, and the earliest Christians did… why not you?

      Grace be with you –

    • Laymond, I am agree that the word “Trinity” is not in the bible, We call everything by bible names ” Not by our preferences” the biblical word if ” Godhead” The term Godhead if found three times in the KJV of the bible (Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:20; Col. 2:9) There are 3 diferrent greek words translated “Godhead” in these occurrences. They are theios, theiotes and theotes. Theios means “divine,deity” (1) Thayer says Godhead (theiotes) means “divinity, divine nature.”(2) Vine distinguish between theiotes and theotes as follow:” Theiotes, the attributes of God, His divine nature and properties: theotes indicates the Divine essence of Godhood, the personality of God”(3) Summarizing the Godhead, then, is divinity, divine nature, and the essence of God.

      (1) Joseph Henry Thayer, Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI Zondervan Publishing House, 1975),p. 285.
      (2) Ibid.
      (3) W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament words (Old Tapan, NJ:Fleming H. Revell company, 19966), p.329.

  9. KB, I don’t have a problem with the inspiration of the the Spirit, He inspires me dailey. He just does not do it directly, he does so indirectly. There is power in the message (word). It has the power to change lives, if only we will let it. And again, there was a time of the miraculous, but that time has come to an end. God now speaks to us in these latter days by His Son (the word). Thank God we have it in written form, so we can test all things and prove all things.

  10. KB, Miraculous is anything that occurs outside of God’s natural laws. People today call many things a miracle that are not. Giving birth for example, this is not a miracle, this falls into God’s natural law. Being healed of cancer is not a miracle, many people are cured of cancer by natural means, by doctors and medicine. If a car went over a cliff and the driver escaped without injury, some would say that this is a miracle, I would say no because under God’s natural laws this happens often. A miracle would be the same car goes over a cliff and stops, three feet from crashing, and the driver gets out unharmed. For over 30 years I have been in the funeral business and not once have I seen anyone raised from the dead, nor have I seen anyone even try. The miracles we see in scripture of people being healed, they were healed immediatly, don’t see that any more. So my point is, the Godhead communicates to man today by nonmiraclous means, the written word. For the Godhead to do so directly would be a miraculous manefestation.

  11. I might define “miraculous” a little differently, as I did in another recent post, Does The Holy Spirit Only Work Miraculously?: “visible, audible, tangible manifestations of supernatural power.” I make the distinction because Jesus several times (John 10:25, 38; 14:11; 15:24, etc.) begs people to believe because of the miracles, and they would have had to have seen, heard or somehow experienced them in order to believe.

    But, as I point out in that post, the Holy Spirit operates (according to scriptures) in a number of ways that are not immediately audible, visible, or tangible to anyone. I drew that conclusion from the list I compiled in an earlier post, How Does the Holy Spirit Work Through Believers?.

  12. I am so thankful that I just found the “unsubscribe” button for comments to this post. Y’all are wearing me out with the arguments!

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