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What is the

gift of the Holy Spirit”?


Most of us understand the following words in Acts 2:38:

  1. Repent

  2. Be baptized

  3. Every one of you

  4. In the name of Jesus Christ

  5. For the remission of sins

Very few us of have any concept of the meaning of the last phrase:

You shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

There are several points of discussion and debate here.

  1. Is this gift the Holy Spirit himself OR is it a gift that the Holy Spirit gives? If the Holy Spirit the gift or the giver of the gift?

  2. Does the Holy Spirit dwell in Christians personally or through the Word?

  3. Does the Holy Spirit do things for us, to us, in us, or through us?

  4. Does the Holy Spirit do special (miraculous) things?

Answering some questions quickly

  1. Does Deity dwell in us or are we to dwell in Deity?


Study the chart and scriptures below.


Dwells in us We dwell in Him
God 1 John 4:12, 16 1 John 3:4; 4:13
Jesus Colossians 1:27 2 Corinthians 5:17
Holy Spirit Romans 8:9 Galatians 5:16


  1. How does Deity dwell in us?


The following chart will help here.

Fact of Indwelling By Faith
God dwells in us 2 Corinthians 6:16 1 John 4:16
Christ dwells in us John 6:56 Ephesians 3:17
Holy Spirit dwells in us 2 Timothy 1:14 Galatians 3:2

It is my view that the Holy Spirit dwells in us, has power to work in us, for us and through us – to the extent of our faith. Great faith means He can do great and powerful things. Weak faith means He is limited in the work He can do to us, for us and through us. The power is in proportion to our faith. More faith means more power. Less faith means less power in our lives.

  1. Is the Holy Spirit the gift or the giver of the gift?


The Holy Spirit is associated with the power he exerts. When Jesus told the apostles they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, he told them they would be clothed with power. (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8) The Holy Spirit is the source of the power. The actual gift involves certain powers.

  1. Does the Holy Spirit dwell in Christians ONLY through the Word or does the Holy Spirit dwell in Christians separate and apart from the Word?


Much (but not all) that the Holy Spirit does is through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is the person. The Word of God is the tool, weapon, or agency used to accomplish the work.

When a hunter kills some game – we might ask did the hunter kill the game or did the gun kill the game? It is a useless argument. The gun would not function with the hunter. And the hunter could not accomplish the task without the gun. Each is dependant on the other. The Holy Spirit and the Word are not the same thing. But they work together (like a hunter and his gun) to accomplish the work. (See Ephesians 6:17)

  1. Does the Holy Spirit do special and miraculous things to us?


1 Corinthians 13 clearly teaches that the time of miracles through the agency of men was temporary. These “spiritual gifts” would cease. However, the Bible does not teach that God stopped answering prayer or working in a providential way for our good. God is still working to heal the sick, meet our needs, lead us in the way of righteousness, and provide for us.

Our problem with this question is 2-fold:

    1. What is a miracle? Do you mean any unusual event? If we mean, Can God, in His providence and in answer to prayer, work things out that we could not accomplish on our own, then the answer is in the affirmative. If you mean, Does the Holy Spirit direct us to do things contrary to the teachings of the Bible, then the answer is no.

    2. How does God work in providence? How does our God answer prayers?

The Holy Spirit will not contradict what He revealed in the Bible. He will not lead or direct us contrary to the teachings of Scripture.


What does the Holy Spirit do?


To answer most of the questions about the work of the Holy Spirit we need to study Romans chapter 8. Here is a list of the things mentioned in this chapter about the work of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Indwelling – 9

Deity lives with (dwells in) us. See the chart at question #2.

  1. Eternal Life – 10

If you died to sin (Romans 6:3-4) and were raised to walk in a new life, you have the promise of eternal life.

  1. Resurrection – 11

All (good and bad) will be raised from physical death. (John 5:28-29) I believe this resurrection is the resurrection to a new life. (See Romans 6:3-6)

  1. Overcome sin – 13

While we remain in our fleshly body, we will be at war. The flesh struggles against the spirit. We want to do right but sin pulls us away. All alone this struggle is a losing battle. When we become Christians the Holy Spirit steps in to win the battle against sin and temptation. (Galatians 5:16-26)

  1. Led – 14

Many go astray here. They believe that the Spirit will make every choice for them. No, we are still free moral agents. We can make wrong choices and suffer the consequences of those decisions.

We can pray for leading. We often ask God to “guard, guide and direct us” without thinking about how that happens.

Our real problem here is not being in tune with God when He leads us in a way we have already decided we do not want to go.

  1. Adopted – 15

When we become a Christian we are: added to the church (Acts 2:47); saved (1 Peter 3:21); forgiven of our sins (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16); and adopted into the family of God (Isaiah 56:5; 1 John 3:2).

  1. Witness with (Assurance) – 16

1 John 5:13 – Know that you have eternal life

Ephesians 1:13-14 – Sealed

NOTE: We are not witnessed TO. The Spirit witnesses WITH our spirit. When your life is in agreement with the Holy Spirit there is a “blessed assurance” that you have eternal life.

  1. Heirs – 17

Having the indwelling Spirit of God assures you that you are in the will of God. Not just that you are obedient, but that you inherit everything God owns.

  1. Endurance – 18

The Holy Spirit gives us the power to endure – persecution, hardship, illness, adversity, setbacks or anything else.

All humans suffer these things, not just Christians. The difference is not in our protection, but our ability to endure. Job was able to endure. (James 5:11) Jesus endured the cross. Paul endured hardship, shipwreck, prison, persecution, ridicule and execution. Study Hebrews 11:32-39 for a list of many who endured.

  1. Hope – 24

Hope is the combination of desire and expectation. The Holy Spirit gives us the hope of eternal life, the assurance of salvation, comfort and ability to endure. All of this adds up to a hope in which we can anchor our faith.

  1. Providence – 28

God can work things out for the best. This is providence. He worked things out for Joseph. He worked things out for Esther. He worked things out for Paul. He does the same for us.

This verse does not promise that all things will be rosy and wonderful with no hardships in life. This verse says that the Holy Spirit can take the worst of lemons and make lemonade. He can take the empty lot in our life and build a service station on it.

Providence means that God can provide the people, knowledge and situation which will help us.

  1. Purpose of God – 29-30

The Holy Spirit is not our slave to obey our every command. He is present in our life to serve the purpose and will of God.

  1. On our side – 31

The Holy Spirit is on our side. He makes a majority. He answers our prayers. He helps to work out the providence needed in our lives.

  1. Conqueror – 36-37

With the work and assistance of the Holy Spirit, we will win. We will overcome. We will live with God forever.



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