The Holy Spirit- Early Pentecostal Pneumatology
Many people fail to understand who the Holy Spirit is. When Jesus rose from the dead, he promised his followers that He will not leave them as orphans but he will bring a helper that will be with them forever. Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit in John 14:16 (Every Student, 2018). The Holy Spirit represents God. Whoever Believes in God would be filled with the Holy Spirit and Portray God’s character in his life. Oort (2011) refers to the Holy Spirit as God’s given gift and also as a God’s being mode. It is a gift to the church from God the Father through His son Jesus Christ (Oort, 2011).
The Holy Spirit is further considered as the third member of God’s head, when referring to Gods the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In Christians’ lives, the Holy Spirit represents God in many ways. He tells the truth of Jesus and acts as a teacher for Christians, as we can see in John 14:26 Jesus tells His disciples, “But the counselor, 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”. He reveals God’s will in Christians’ lives and shows people the right path to righteousness (Every Student, 2018). Not only does the whole spirit dwell in Christ’s believers but also the nonbelievers. It reminds people about God’s truth and Mercy and that He can forgive sins and make them new.
The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
Some individuals do not believe in empty words, empty promises of the Holy Spirit. God illustrates the work of the Holy Spirit using symbols. This enhances the understanding of the doctrine as opposed to using empty words. The symbols are;
• Fire- it is compared to fire because the holy spirit is bold, it spreads and purifies like fire, Isaiah 4:4
• Wind-this symbolizes the mysterious work of the holy spirit, john 3:8
• Water – from the scriptures in John 7:38, “whoever believes in me as the scriptures has said, streams of the living water will flow from within him.” The fountain of the living water is compared to the Holy Spirit because of its purity, water restores cleanliness.
• A seal- a seal is a symbol of belonging, once the Holy Spirit dwells in a person you are Gods property Eph 1:13
• Oil – oil is compared to the Holy Spirit because it lubricates heals and soothes the skin. This is the most commonly used symbol of the Holy Spirit Even in today’s church.
• The Dove – a dove is pure, lovely innocent, and patient. These character traits best describe the Holy Spirit Gen 1:2.
The Holy Spirit has been present from the early days of the Old Testament. God gave to Adam the gift of the Holy Spirit before it was withdrawn from him after he sinned (McMahon, 2011). The role of the Holy Spirit throughout the time has been to portray the glory of God. It worked in different ways, but most of all it manifested itself through the people who believed in God and passed messages to the nonbelievers or to strengthen the believer’s faith. The prophets from the Old Testament greatly depended on the Holy Spirit to fulfill their duties and to poses the wisdom in writing the scriptures (McMahon, 2011). According to Pearlman, the Holy Spirit has several titles and one of them is the Spirit of truth. To understand Jesus Christ more we need the Holy Spirit to interpret to us through the prophets such as Elijah from the Old Testament (Pearlman, 1937). Other prophets such as Hosea, Isaiah, Joel, Ezekiel, among others were being controlled by the divine power of the Holy Spirit and demonstrated supernatural ways of doing their work (McMahon, 2011).
The Holy Spirit can also be characterized by the breath. In genesis 2:7, when Adam was created he was given the breath of life and he became a living being. This shows that it is the Holy Spirit that sustains a man whether he serves God or not (Pearlman, 1937). This characteristic of the Holy Spirit is categorized as the Creative Spirit in the Old Testament (Pearlman, 1937). Another category is the Dynamic spirit. This is when the Holy Spirit manifest through the speakers of God and who receive messages from God to the people. The third category is the regenerative spirit, this means that in the Old Testament the work of the Holy Spirit was recorded and his presence felt but it was not emphasized. The Holy Spirit was being viewed as a preparation for the coming of the Messiah.
The work of the Holy Spirit was vividly seen through Jesus Christ whose coming was foreseen and announced by John the Baptist (McMahon 2011, Pearlman 1937). Jesus was always associated with the Holy Spirit throughout his life on earth; from his birth to his baptism, his ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and his ascension. Through the spirit, Jesus was omnipresent (Pearlman, 1937).
The Holy Spirit as a Person
According to Walvoord (2008), the Holy Spirit is a person because it is one of the three Godhead members. The first one, The Father is a person, the Second one a son is a person so definitely the Holy Spirit as the third member is a person. He goes ahead and explains that the Holy Spirit is a person through the attributes of intelligence, knowledge, and its normal functions. The Holy Spirit fulfills God’s will through people and according to Torey (2005), whether there is a body or not, any being that feels and wills is a person. The Holy Spirit is considered knowledgeable because it knows about God and passes that information to man. In Romans 8:2, it confirms that the Spirit has life according to a human level, life and personality work together; personality cannot exist without the possession of life (Walvoord, 2008).
The personality of the Holy Spirit can also be affirmed by its doing. We have learned earlier that the Holy Spirit is a teacher, gives guidance makes people aware of the sin. All these work can only be connected to a personality. These doings of the Holy Spirit are supported by the scripture. When we look at John 16:13; it talks about the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Walvoord, 2008). In 1 Cor 12:11, it explains that it is God’s will through the Holy Spirit that is done in our lives. This means that the Holy Spirit uses us according to his will, also proves that only a person can take ownership of a property, we God’s property through the holy spirit.
The apostolic epistles acknowledge the person in the Holy Spirit as seen in Romans 8:11. They do refer to him as the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead. Apostle John also refers to the spirit as “the spirit of truth, the one who abides in us” (McMahon, 2011). Romans 8:27 shows that the Holy Spirit has a mind, so it thoughtful, full of ideas, and intelligent (Torrey, 2005). Walvoord (2008), points out that another assurance that the Holy Spirit is a person is seen in the use of personal pronouns in the scripture such as him.
The Holy Spirit and the Pentecostal Theology
Clerk (2000) explains that during the 19th century the believers did not have a theological understanding of the scriptures, they interpreted it according to their own explanations by asking the Lord to fill them with the Holy Spirit. They related their experiences in Christianity and the scriptures. Their theology was more spirit led. In their experiences of speaking in tongues, the occurrences in the Bethel Bible institute was linked to the scriptures. This was a Pentecostal revival (Clerk, 2000). Their connection between the scriptures and their experiences also manifested when they could pray for the sick by faith and received healing. These actions strengthened their faith and increased their zeal to seek the Lord tirelessly in prayers.
From Clifton’s (2017) analysis of biblical theology, he describes it as a task that that involves the translation of the scriptures according to Christian tradition to provide common understanding among the Pentecostals when communicating the bible message. He goes ahead and suggests that the Pentecostals should seek other methods of doing theology from different traditions to reach a wider population. However, the Pentecostals hold their belief that human knowledge is not deliberate but is guided by the Holy Spirit through worship that transforms a believer’s emotional desire (Clifton, 2017).
The Pentecostals understood the scripture with the help of the Holy Spirit. Clifton’s (2017) article identifies this as pneumatology theology. This study of the Holy Spirit can be clear without contradiction be associated with the Pentecostal movement because they relied heavily on the Holy Spirit to have its way in their lives. Understanding the Holy Spirit empowers people and breaks any present barrier such as culture and gender and gives us the ability to speak and listen in the tongue. The Holy Spirit also helps people to understand the work of the Lord and that its presence signifies the presence of the Lord and understands that the work of the Holy Spirit is different from the work of man (Clifton, 2017).
Apart from the experiences they had as a result of being filled by the Holy Spirit, their main goal was to take the gospel to every part of the world before the end comes (Clerk, 2000). The Pentecostal movement challenged the traditional Christian church believes and culture, this resulted in rejection from all the denominations hence it largely grew up in isolation. In the following years however the Pentecostals embraced the study of the principles and methods of interpreting the bible and also interacted with the Christian groups.
They borrowed their methods of study from evangelical Christianity because as Pentecostals they did not initially concentrate on theology. During the early years of assimilating into theology, the Pentecostals did not have a systematic theological structure. They relied on the Christian groups for the provision of materials for bible school students and pastors. It is currently evident that the Pentecostal movement has largely grown numerically. However, the struggle in theological stability is putting more stress on the Pentecostal churches (Clerk, 2000).
The Split of the Early Church
The first split of the early church happened during the 18th century. The reason behind it was the political and corrupt nature among the members. The Pentecostal church underwent reforms and as a result, the movement spread all over the world. The Pentecostal movement has a variety of denominations and independent churches all over (Rowland, 2018). In the 20th century after World War II, there was a religious movement that believed in baptism with the Holy Spirit. The movement was known as Pentecostalism which gave rise to several protestant churches. The establishment of these churches continued spreading to several countries globally during the 20th century (Melton, 2014). Speaking in an unknown language also known as Glossalalia was believed by the Pentecostals to be a gift of the Holy Spirit after baptism. They believed to receive supernatural abilities such as being able to prophesy and the power to heal (Kay, 2013). During the early years of Pentecostalism, the people who believed in the baptism of the Holy Spirit were being viewed as psychopaths and they were being studied to how possible this was.
The doctrine of baptism led to a second major fallout of the Pentecostal church from 1901 to 1916. They disagreed on the formula to be used during Baptism, some were for the in the name of “Jesus Christ formula” while others were for the Trinitarian way. This led to a formation of a group of churches known as ‘Jesus Name’ (World Council of Churches, 2018).
The doctrine of the Holy Spirit gives a clear description of who the Holy Spirit is and how his effect to the church. The Holy Spirit has been present from the beginning because he represents God and God is the beginning. During the Old Testament as we have seen in the research, the Holy Spirit was present and functional but his doings were not emphasized. A clear indication of the work of the Holy Spirit is seen in the New Testament through Jesus Christ and His ministry. The Holy Spirit will continue to live amongst us because he was sent by Jesus to be our helper and comforter.
Clark, Matthew. “Frontiers in Theology: Issues at the Close of the First Pentecostal Century” Australasian Pentecostal Studies [Online], Number — (1 March 2000)
Clifton, Shane. “Editorial: Identity and the Shape of Pentecostal Theology” Australasian Pentecostal Studies[Online], Volume 19(15 June 2017)
Every factor that affects student outcomes. College Student. 2018. “Who Is The Holy Spirit?”. Everystudent.Com. https://www.everystudent.com/forum/hspirit.html.
Kay, William K. “3. The Dynamics of the Growth of Pentecostal Churches: Evidence from Key Asian Centres” Australasian Pentecostal Studies [Online], Number — (31 January 2013)
McMahon, Matthew. 2011. “A Summary Of The Doctrine Of The Holy Spirit – By Dr. C. Matthew Mcmahon | A Puritan’s Mind”. Apuritansmind.Com. http://www.apuritansmind.com/the-christian-walk/a-summary-of-the-doctrine-of-the-holy-spirit-by-dr-c-matthew-mcmahon/.
Melton, J.Gordon. “Pentecostalism”. Encyclopedia Britannica. Last modified 2014. Accessed May 14, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Pentecostalism.
Pearlman, Myer. 1937. Knowing The Doctrines Of The Bible. Springfield, MO: Gospel Pub. House.
Rowland, Margaret. 2018. “The Early Church”. United Church Of Christ. http://www.ucc.org/about-us_short-course_the-early-church.
Torrey, R. A. 2005. “The Personality Of The Holy Spirit”. Wholesomewords.Org. https://www.wholesomewords.org/etexts/torrey/hspirit.pdf.
Van Oort, Johannes. 2011. “The Holy Spirit And The Early Church: Doctrine &Amp; Confession”. Scielo.Org.Za.
Walvoord, John. 2008. “1. The Person Of The Holy Spirit”. Bible.Org. https://bible.org/seriespage/1-person-holy-spirit.
World Council of Churches. 2018. “Pentecostal Churches — World Council Of Churches”. Oikoumene.Org. https://www.oikoumene.org/en/church-families/pentecostal-churches.