The Holy Spirit is described in the Old Testament as falling upon various individuals, and Moses expressed his wish that the Spirit would fall on all the Lord’s people (Nu. 11:29). In the New Testament we see the Holy Spirit in action throughout: in the virgin birth of Jesus (Matt. 1:18;Luke 1:35); in Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:22); in Jesus’ resistance of Satan (Luke 4:1); in the exorcism of demons (Matt. 12:28); in the evangelism and establishment of churches as described in the book of Acts and the Epistles (Acts 2; Rom. 5:50).
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was named as the only unforgivable sin (Matt. 12:31-32). The increased ministry of the Holy Spirit in the world depended upon Jesus’ departure; and then the Holy Spirit would come as a paraclete, an advocate and comforter for the people (John 14:26; 16:7-15).
As previously mentioned, Jesus told his disciples that they would be embued with power from on high: that they were to evangelize, baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, have the ability to cast out demons, heal the sick, speak with new tongues, and be protected from poisonous substances (Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:17-18; Lk. 24:47; Acts 1:8). These “signs following” (Mk. 16:17) are seen in the book of Acts in the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in a dramatic way, and in the exercise of spiritual gifts by various people. The principle is that a person may open himself or herself to receive the Holy Spirit, but may also put a damper on the operation of the Holy Spirit in his or her life. Paul says “Be not drunk with wine, . . . but be filled with the Spirit”; and again, “Quench not the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18; I Thess. 5:19). The “spiritual gifts” are designated in the epistles and are declared to be a potential of every believer. “Now, there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:4). The categories of gifts are set out in Romans 12:6-13; I Cor. 12-14; Eph. 4:11):
Prophets and prophecy
Ruling and governing
Word of wisdom
Word of knowledge
Discerning of spirits
Interpretation of tongues
The purpose of spiritual gifts is to serve God, help and edify others, and strengthen believers who collectively comprise the “body of Christ” (Rom. 12:11-13; I Cor. 12:25-26; Eph. 4:12-13; I Peter 1:12; I Peter 4:8-10). These gifts are a means for the exercising the greatest gift the love which never fails (I Cor. 13:1-13).