The gift of the holy spirit
“The Gift of the Holy Spirit,” grammatically, is open to two meanings – The Holy Spirit Himself as the gift and the gift from the Holy Spirit as the giver. But the Bible generally distinguishes the two by using plural for the latter. The Holy Spirit allocates gifts to people as He wills (1Cor. 12:11). They are called “the gifts of the Spirit” (1Cor. 12:1; 14:1). The Gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit that is received by the Christian.
When the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost Day, Peter proclaimed that the Holy Spirit is the promised gift from Jesus (Acts 2:33) and in his response to the people’s request for what to do at the end of the sermon, described what the disciples received and what the subsequent believers would also receive as “the gift of the Holy Spirit”. (Acts 2:38-39). The promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit is for all believers in all generations.
As a gift, the Holy Spirit is not deserved or earned. He is not given as a reward, perhaps for being good and faithful, or for achieving or attaining a high degree of holiness, but rather to empower or enable attainment of these.
However, the Holy Spirit, being a gift, means that He has to be accepted to be owned. He is not imposed on people. Neither is He grabbed. The Gift is accepted or received, by accepting or receiving Jesus Christ and being baptised in His name.
The Holy Spirit can only be received as a gift is received. Jesus said to His disciples, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:22). Receiving entails desire to have. The gift of the Holy Spirit is not imposed on people. They need to value and appreciate it, which can be expressed by asking for it. Jesus said, “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Lk 11:13). It is like thirsting for and having water. ‘…Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any one thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive…’ (John 7:37-39).
The Holy Spirit that the Christian receives, empowers and leads him to the life that God accepts, and also raises him to the status of God’s child and heir. The Holy Spirit is the power behind the rebirth of every Christian, and it cannot be overemphasised that no one is a Christian without this Gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Ven. Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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