Holy Spirit at Work Today
THE gifts of holy spirit that identified the first-century Christian congregation as God’s organization passed away. They are not needed to identify those through whom holy spirit is working today. What, then, are the identifying marks in our time? Examine some of them:
1. “HAVE LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER”
Genuine love is the most important charísma (gift) of the holy spirit today. (1 Corinthians 13:13) It is expressed in the genuine love for neighbor that a Christian must have. (Matthew 22:39) In this regard, Jesus declared: “If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35, Today’s English Version) Such love is not just a sticky, generalized love of all humanity. It is much more than emotional talk about love. It is accompanied by deeds that bring lasting benefits to others. It overcomes divisive boundaries of nationalism, race, politics and upbringing, so that, for example, those who have this gift in one country would never conceive of going to war and killing other Christians (or anyone else) in another land. Ask yourself, who today, throughout the world, displays such love?—1 John 3:10-12; 4:20, 21.
2. “NO PART OF THE WORLD”
In order for his disciples to remain in union with the Father and the Son and united with one another, Jesus taught them to be no part of the world with its racial, national, political and social divisions. Their allegiance was to the kingdom of God. (John 15:19; Matthew 6:9, 10) The book From the Old World to the New states: “They preferred the Kingdom of God to any kingdom that they might serve on earth.” And History of Christianity notes that first-century Christians “refused to take any active part in . . . the military defence of the [Roman] empire.” Who today maintain such neutrality?
3. “MAKE DISCIPLES”
Christian love is not passive. “My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.” (1 John 3:18, TEV) Jesus taught his disciples to talk to others about God’s kingdom and to do evangelizing worldwide. (Matthew 10:7; 24:14; 28:19, 20) But according to Christianity Today, only one third of charismatics see the need for “winning the world for Christ.” But how many of even these actually go out and “make disciples” by calling on people in their homes? On the other hand, do you not agree that, internationally, Jehovah’s Witnesses are widely known for their witnessing work? A pastor of a Pentecostal church once said to a Witness: “It makes me cry when I think that we have God’s spirit, but you people are doing the work!”
4. “LOVE JEHOVAH”
True worship that God backs by his spirit means that Jehovah must come first in all things. (Exodus 20:5) Jesus said: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.” (Matthew 22:37, 38) One way to do that is by making God’s name, Jehovah, known. Jesus did this, saying to God in prayer: “I have made your name known to them and will make it known.” (John 17:26) That is why Christians pray: “Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored.” (Matthew 6:9, TEV) Who today put Jehovah first in their lives and show it by their devotion to his Word, his laws, and by making his name known throughout the earth? With what international religious body is the name Jehovah associated?
Examining the “Gifts”
There is no doubt that God’s spirit is at work today. True Christians bear the identifying marks of that spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23) And it is moving them powerfully to accomplish his purpose.
For example, one former charismatic had the “experience” of speaking in tongues, but still felt something was wrong. He was confused by the disunity of about 10 tongue-speaking groups that disagreed with one another, some accusing others of “being demon-inspired and condemned.” Could demons have invaded these groups and performed the powerful signs to mislead? Later, he encountered a spiritist who ‘talked with spirits’ in his home. “I told him the only spirit I wanted to know was the holy spirit, and he said he never heard of that one. Yet, what amazed me was that his spirits also gave prophecies and enabled him to perform miraculous healings.” He knew now the danger in these things.
He had ‘tested the spirits’ to see if they were from God. (1 John 4:1) He found that they were not. He realized that the lives, conduct, practices and beliefs of charismatics did not display the fruits of the spirit mentioned at Galatians 5:22, 23. On the other hand, he could see that Jehovah’s Witnesses lived as Christians, stating: “They had a love that transcended national boundaries. A big factor was that they were preaching the good news of God’s kingdom earth wide as prophesied at Matthew 24:14. To do such things took courage that only God’s spirit can give.” Yes, indeed, holy spirit is working mightily today among such Christians!