Receiving God’s Holy Spirit Today
1. What questions regarding God’s holy spirit now present themselves?
WHAT about the operation of God’s holy spirit today? Is it still possible for Christians to receive it? If so, how, and upon what conditions? And how does possession of it manifest itself? By being able to speak in tongues, to do “divine healing,” and in suchlike ways?
2. What are the first conditions for receiving God’s holy spirit?
2 The facts show that God does give his holy spirit to his people today. Jesus’ words still apply that ‘the Father in heaven will give holy spirit to those asking him.’ (Luke 11:13, NW) Not that it is merely a matter of asking God. That is only the first condition. Other scriptures show what else is required. We must have good hearts. If we are proud or delight in wickedness we cannot expect to receive holy spirit. God is near to the lowly and contrite ones, but the prayer of the wicked is disgusting to him.—Isa. 57:15; Prov. 28:9.
3-5. What provisions for understanding his Word did God make back there and in our day? and how might this be illustrated?
3 Before we can receive holy spirit we must also receive knowledge, and not only knowledge but also understanding, of God’s Word and purposes. That is why Christ “gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as missionaries, some as shepherds and teachers,” so that all Christians might “attain to the oneness in the faith and in the accurate knowledge of the Son of God.” (Eph. 4:11-13, NW) In apostolic times a governing body of Christians at Jerusalem directed the work and served as a channel to bring forth spiritual food. To gain an understanding of God’s Word and purposes back there one had to get in touch with this body or its representatives. And only those who did received God’s holy spirit.
4 Likewise today Jehovah has an organization channel through which he makes known his will and purposes and through which he directs the work of preaching the good news of his kingdom. Even as Jesus foretold, today we see a “faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics to give them their food at the proper time.” The facts show that this slave that God is using is not a single person but a composite individual, a group, an instrument, an organization, which uses as its legal instrument the Watch Tower Society.—Matt. 24:45-47, NW.
5 To revert to an illustration again: Just as we need a radio set, electricity and proper tuning of dials to get in touch with a certain radio station, so we need prayer, we need to have the right heart condition, we need knowledge and understanding, and we need association with and instruction from the channel Jehovah is using at this time to be able to receive his holy spirit.
6. What else is necessary to our receiving God’s holy spirit?
6 However, that is not all. We must also bring our lives in harmony with God’s purposes, for “faith without works is dead.” (Jas. 2:26, NW) As Paul showed when rebuking some for again trying to keep the Mosaic law: “Did you receive the spirit due to works of law or due to obedient hearing by faith?” There we have it, “obedient hearing by faith.” And that includes a great deal. It means repenting of our wrong course, accepting Jesus as our Ransomer, dedicating ourselves to the doing of God’s will and making confession of that dedication by water baptism. And it means following a course of righteousness and preaching the good news in favorable and in unfavorable season.—Gal. 3:2; 2 Tim. 4:2, NW.
NO GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT TODAY
7. According to what does God’s spirit operate, as shown by what examples?
7 Some claim to speak in tongues and to heal by God’s holy spirit. But it does not necessarily follow that because the early Christians could do such things we today should be able to do the same. Holy spirit gave Noah and his family wisdom to build, saving themselves as well as all kinds of land animals. Likewise God filled Bezalel with his spirit “in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge and in every kind of craftsmanship,” for the manufacture of the tabernacle and its beautiful furnishings. And down through the centuries, from Moses to the apostle John, God’s spirit enabled men to write prophecy and to record history accurately. God’s holy spirit equipped each servant of his to do the particular work God had assigned to him.—Ex. 31:3, NW.
8. Why did miracles accompany the giving of holy spirit in the days of Jesus and his apostles?
8 And so with the Christian congregation. At the time of its inception the holy spirit bestowed miraculous powers, gifts or signs so that its members could prove its divine origin to unbelievers and especially to the Jews. (1 Cor. 1:22) Had not Moses objected to Jehovah that his people would not believe that God had appeared to him, and did not Jehovah therefore empower Moses to establish his authenticity by performing a series of miracles? Certainly. (Ex. 4:1-9) And was not Jesus, the Son of God, given supernatural power for the same reason, not merely to relieve suffering, but to prove that he was indeed the long-looked-for Messiah? Yes, and so he could say: “Believe me . . . ; otherwise, believe on account of the works themselves.” And so we repeatedly read that as a result of certain miracles the people believed.—John 14:11, NW.
9. Why are such miracles no longer necessary?
9 But it was no longer necessary that these miracles continue once the authenticity of Christ and of the Christian congregation had been firmly established, even as the gift of inspiration was no longer necessary once the Scriptures had been completed. That is why Paul, at 1 Corinthians 13:8, states that gifts of prophecy, of tongues and of supernatural knowledge will pass away. And back there the miracles performed were of such a nature and so extensive that there could be no doubt about their having been due to the active force of Jehovah. The claimed miracles of today are so infrequent and of such a nature that they do not bear the slightest resemblance to those performed by Jesus and his apostles. Who today can instantaneously cure all who come to him, lepers, crippled, blind and whatnot, merely by their touching his clothes? Who has raised a person that was dead and buried for four days? Who can calm the stormy wind and sea? Or feed many thousands on a few loaves and fishes? Not one of all those who claim to heal and speak in tongues because of having received the holy spirit.
10. What shows that those claiming to perform miracles today do not have God’s holy spirit?
10 The fact is that those professing to do miracles by the power of the holy spirit give unmistakable evidence that they could not possibly have that holy spirit. The carryings on at the meetings of some are so noisy and confused that there can be no question about their not having God’s spirit, which is one “of soundness of mind.” Then, again, we find healers commercializing on their claimed gifts, and nothing could be farther removed from true Christianity than that. And further, we find those professing to heal teaching all manner of false doctrine and being in the dark as to why God has permitted wickedness and suffering, further clearly indicating that God’s spirit has not enlightened them.—2 Tim. 1:7, NW.
HOW MANIFESTED TODAY
11, 12. What shows that understanding of God’s Word depends upon having God’s holy spirit?
11 If not by the performance of signs, such as speaking in tongues and physical healing, just how does possession of the holy spirit manifest itself today? First of all, by enlightening God’s servants as to his will and purposes, even as the 120 disciples were enlightened at Pentecost. Before they received the holy spirit they read the Scriptures and heard Jesus preach but failed to understand. That is why they still looked for an earthly kingdom after Jesus was raised from the dead. That the holy spirit is imperative to such enlightenment can also be seen today in that millions read the Bible and yet are confused as to God’s will and purposes. With all their Bible study they continue to be divided racially, nationally and religiously and without any message of hope or any answer to the all-important question of why God permits evil.
12 However, today Joel 2:28, 29 is again having fulfillment on his faithful remnant, for Jehovah’s servants as young, energetic men are seeing visions of a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness is to dwell, all as a result of Jehovah’s pouring out some of his spirit upon them. They have had the ‘eyes of their heart enlightened’ so that they now understand who Jehovah is, what his purposes are, why he has permitted evil and how his Word, the Bible, is harmonious from beginning to end. Yes, they are ‘beholding wondrous things out of God’s Word.’ (Eph. 1:18, NW; Ps. 119:18) And they are prophesying or publicly preaching.
13, 14. What effect does holy spirit have upon the lives of those who receive it?
13 Since God’s spirit is holy, it has nothing in common with this corrupt old world. Proof of its possession would therefore be seen in keeping separate from the world. Today there is a New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses that is keeping separate from the old world’s corrupt politics, greedy commerce, selfish materialism and hypocritical religions that are contaminated by pagan beliefs and practices and based on tradition rather than on the Word of God. They are keeping themselves “without spot from the world.”—Jas. 1:27, NW.
14 Possession of the holy spirit also manifests itself by bringing forth the fruitage of the spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” Those belonging to the New World society have made over their minds, have put on new personalities and are bringing forth these fruits of the spirit. The reports appearing in the public press on their conventions, telling of their happiness, their zeal, their orderliness, their love for one another and the joy they get out of their religion, all give proof that those of the New World society do have the holy spirit.—Gal. 5:22, 23, NW.
15, 16. What is the most striking evidence that the members of the New World society do have God’s holy spirit?
15 The most striking evidence of all of their having the holy spirit today is their sharing in giving the witness to Jehovah’s name and kingdom. “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach.” Those words of Isaiah that Jesus applied to himself also apply to all his true followers. As he preached, so must they. And that Jehovah’s people, the members of the New World society, do have the holy spirit is therefore also seen by the fact that every one of them does preach.—Luke 4:18, NW.
16 Yes, God’s holy spirit upon his people is causing a world-wide educational campaign to be carried on. And although warring against the Devil and his demons, and although opposed by organized religion, big business and corrupt politics, and especially by totalitarian governments, their New World society is expanding phenomenally. They never compromise. Rather than let their preaching platforms and religious publications also serve Communist propaganda they go underground to preach. They take God’s Word literally and seriously, living by it regardless of what it requires of them. In view of their being surrounded by such a hostile world, there can be only one explanation for their prosperity, their zeal, their oneness, their purity of worship—that given by God’s Word: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith Jehovah.”—Zech. 4:6, AS.
17. How, in brief, can we hope to receive holy spirit today, and that in ever richer measure?
17 Appreciating that God’s holy spirit is not a third person of a trinity but God’s active force, do you, dear reader, wish to receive and enjoy the many blessings that come to those having the holy spirit? Then first of all pray to God for it, and keep on asking and it will be given to you. But not without your doing your part, by acting in harmony with your prayers. Your part is that of reading God’s Word, and not only reading it but studying it so as to understand it. Those who give evidence of having the holy spirit will be glad to assist you. Bring your life in accord with the righteous requirements set forth in that Word and tell to others the things you learn. Continuing in that course you will receive the holy spirit, and that in ever richer measure. And further, you can confidently hope for everlasting life in God’s new world in which the knowledge of Jehovah shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.—Isa. 11:9, AS.