The Holy Spirit And Eschatology

The Holy Spirit And Eschatology

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THE HOLY SPIRIT AND ESCHATOLOGY

by

J. Rodman

Williams

This article on “The

Holy Spirit

and

Eschatology”

was written

by Melodyland

School of Theology

just following

the last session of a sem- inar on

eschatology.

For almost three months some dozen

graduate students had been

meeting

twice a week to

study

and reflect

upon

the whole

range

of matters

having

to do with

eschatology,

or the “last things.”

As their leader I told them at our final

meeting

of my intention to write an article on “The

Holy Spirit

and

Eschatology,”

and asked them for their

suggestions.

The seminar had not

really

focused on the Holy Spirit

as such: it was much more on such matters as Jesus Christ our “blessed

hope,”

the

Kingdom,

eternal life and so on.

However,

the seminar was

quick

to

express

a number of ideas

concerning

the

Holy Spirit

and

eschatology.

So I shall summarize some of these,

along

with a few additional reflections. For

brevity

these will be listed under several headings.

J. Rodman Williams, (Ph.D., Columbia University, New York City), is on the faculty of Melodyland School of Theology, Anaheim, California. He is the author of several books, including

“The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today,” published by Logos Press, 1980.

– 54-

1

of eschatology

adequate

The whole area comprehension.

about

things yet

to come. This

intended

adherence to the from one another.

only

culties in

apprehending is

apparent

schools

Scriptures, they frequently The Word

accordingly those who

earnestly genuine progress

matter of

determined

1. The

Holy Spirit leads

us. irtto

understanding.

is one of the most difficult for

Despite

the Bible

being

the infallible Word of God there are

many

diffi-

its

teachings

from the fact that there are a

large

number of different

of

interpretation and, despite

differ

quite radically

needs the

Spirit

for

comprehension-and

seek the illumination of the

Holy Spirit

can make

in understanding. Too often

eschatology

has become a

words

alone-arguments

from selected biblical

texts, pre-

theological positions-with

urgent

need for the

guidance

of the

Holy Spirit

It should be recalled

that Jesus

said,

“When the

Spirit

of truth, the

Holy Spirit, comes,

He will

guide you

into all the truth”

(John 16:13).

Without Him

constantly

the Word

profits nothing.

2. The

Holy Spirit intensifies The New Testament

brightened

the

Spirit

of

Jesus-making in

glory.

It

out

continually,

little or no attention

to the

our

yearning for

the Lord to return

desiring’

the

coming

of the

is

vastly is none other than

Christian above others cries

speaks

of “awaiting our blessed

hope,

the

appear- ing

of the

glory

of our

great

God and Savior Jesus Christ”

(Titus 2:13), and

“waiting

for and

hastening

or ‘earnestly

day

of God”

(II

Peter

3:12).

This has continued to be the stance of true believers in Christ who,

grateful

for the salvation He has

wrought, look forward to His return in

glory.

This

very anticipation

by

the

promise

of the

Holy Spirit-who

us all the more

eager

to behold our Lord

is not because Jesus is

absent

now that we

yearn

for His coming (or

that Satan is Lord-Jesus is

Lord!)

but

just

because he Is so fully

present

in the

Spirit

that we

yearn

all the more to behold Him in His

glorious body.

The

Spirit-filled

“Come,

Lord Jesus!”

3. The

Holy Spirit’s outpouring signalizes

the

ushering

in of the “last days. ”

The “last

days” began

almost

first

poured

out The

apostle

Peter announced

to the 120 who were “filled with the

Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4)

was the fulfillment of the ancient

prophecy

that “in the last

days

… I will pour out

my Spirit upon

all flesh”

(Acts 2:17,

c.f. Joel

this was

only

the

beginning

when the

Holy Spirit

was that what had

happened

2:28). However,

outpouring

was limited to Jerusalem this soon

spread beyond

Jerusalem

2000

years ago

at Pentecost

of

fulfillment,

for the and Jews

dwelling

there. Of course and the Jewish

people (e.g.

Acts

8,

10,

and

19). However,

at no time in the

history

of the church has there

been such a universal

outpouring as is evidenced by the worldwide

– 55-

of the

Holy Spirit

as in our time- Pentecostal/charismatic movement.

2

In a sense far

beyond

the

original

Pentecost this

outpouring

may

well herald the

culminating

all

flesh,”

and therefore

in the final advent of Jesus Christ.

of the

Gospel

is

“upon of the

ages

4. The

Holy Spirit

alone can make

effective

the

proclamation of the

Gospel

to all nations.

According

to our Lord Jesus it is this

preaching

that

precedes

His final

coming:

“This

gospel

of the kingdom

will be

preached throughout

will come”

(Matthew

portant

to realize that the chief mission of the church as it contemplates

of

bearing testimony

to the whole world

all

nations,

and then the end

the end-time should be that about Christ-that

is,

to

complete programs,

of increasing secularism.

the whole

world,

as a testimony to

24:14).

It is im-

the

missionary

task.

Strategies,

especially

in this time

human devices are all

insufficient,

Only

the

power

of the

Holy Spirit

can

energize the witness in such a fashion as to break

through

the

huge

barriers. As perhaps

never before in the

history

of the

church,

is it

quite

so neces-

sary

for the believer to be

“baptized

for

only

that

supernatural power

is sufficient

lessness of the world.

ness to stand firm in witnessing

Regardless

of persecution Christ

Further,

with the

Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5);

to deal with the

god-

was bold-

(Acts 4:31). to

preach

about Jesus as the

5. The

Holy Spirit gives

the Christian in the “end times” the

courage and wisdom to endure whatever

persecution may

conle. In the book of Acts it is clear that one of the results of

being Spirit-filled

the

gospel: “They

were all filled with the

Holy Spirit

and

spoke

the Word of God with boldness”

they

continued

Jesus Himself had said that to the

very

end all who followed Him would endure

persecution,

you

to trial and deliver

you up,

do not be anxious beforehand what

you are to say; but

say

whatever is given

you

in that

hour,

for it is not

you

who

(Mark 13:11).

This

persecution

speak

but the

Holy Spirit” tensify just

before the Lord

returns,

nevertheless “when

they bring

and the believer

trusting

will in- in his

regardless

that none can stand

against

own wisdom is sure to faiL But he who relies on the

Holy Spirit-

of what

may

come at the end-will find wisdom and

courage

to

Scripture, heed to deceitful

(I Timothy 4:1). they

are off God”

6. The

Holy Spirit

is the

power of

God that alone can

cope

with demonic

spirits

that

multiply

their

activity

in the last

days. According

“in later times some will

depart

from the faith

by giving

spirits

and doctrines of demons”

Hence,

we are to “test the

spirits

to see whether

(I John 4:1).

As the time of the end rushes to its climax and “the

Spirit

(I

John

4:3)

more and more

emerges,

reliance on the

Holy Spirit

to

perceive

and not to be carried

away by

its vain

pretenses-is

of antichrist”

– 56-

the believers and combat the false

spirit-

all the more

imper-

3

ative. The devil,

knowing

his time is

short,

is

today multiplying

activity, and, being

a counterfeit,

Satan

worship, the

Holy Spirit

his

is

having

his own

counter-Pentecost,

pouring

out his evil

spirits (witness

the rise of the

occult, witchcraft,

and so on).

Therefore,

without the

promise

and

power

of

the Christian cannot

possibly

stand

against

all this wicked

onslaught,

But in that

power

the believer can discern the vicious dimensions of evil, rebuke and overcome it in the name of Jesus

Christ, and win the victory! Praise the name of the Lord!

7. The

Holy Spirit

is the

sanctifier

the

coming of

the Lord The true believer in Jesus Christ

constantly looks forward to the Lord’s return in

glory,

and in so

anticipating

return he wants to be

prepared.

who

prepares

the believer

for

that So does Paul

pray: “May

the God

Christ”

(I Thessalonians

the

coming

of the

Lord,

the

“rapture,” but who

unfortunately

paredness.

of peace Himself

sanctify you wholly;

and

may your spirit

and soul and body

be

kept

sound and blameless at the

coming

of our Lord Jesus

5:23).

There are those who are

very

keen about

to

righteousness,

and other

eschatological

events,

us,

seldom seem to think about their state of

pre-

The

apostle

John

urges

that we “abide in Him, so that when He

appears

we

may

have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His

coming” (I

John

2:28).

It is the

Holy Spirit

who

prepares purifies us,

molds

us,

enables us more and more to die to sin and live

and to be like Jesus at His

coming.

We

need,

in the power

of the

Holy Spirit,

to “strive … for the holiness without which

will see the Lord”

(Hebrews 12:14).

Are we

really

concerned

in holiness,

being

more like Jesus so that when He

appears

no one

about

growth

we shall not be ashamed?

facts of the Christian

becomes

the

(Galatians

crying

‘Abba! Father!’ ”

to

8. The

Holy Spirit

enlivens our mortal bodies so that with the

coming of the Lord we shall

be raised

from

the dead One of the

great empirical

life is that

every

true believer is indwelt

by

God’s Spirit.

When we become children of God

by

faith the

Holy Spirit

inner

reality

of our

being-“because you

are

sons,

God sent the

Spirit

of His Son into our

hearts,

4:6).

It is this same

indwelling Spirit

that will some

day move

upon

these mortal remains of ours and

bring

life immortal them. As the

apostle

Paul

says,

“If the

Spirit

of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Jesus from the dead will give

life to

your

mortal bodies also

through

in you”

(Romans 8:11).

So when the Lord comes back and the summons goes

forth for the dead in Christ to be

raised,

the

great

event will occur by the inward power

of the

Holy Spirit.

Thus will the natural or physical body

become a spiritual

body (a body

transformed

the

perishable

become

imperishable,

57

His

Spirit

which dwells

by

the

Holy Spirit), and the mortal

put

on immortality.

4

Praise be to God for the victory forever and ever! Amen.

A final word: The Holy

Spirit up

to the

very

end is ever

seeking to bring

people

into life eternal Thus the beautiful words of invitation in the last few verses of the Bible, “The Spirit and the Bride

say,

‘Come.’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let him who is athirst

come, let him who desires take the water of life without

price” (Revelation 22:17).

The

Holy Spirit unceasingly

invites

people

to new life in Christ. He,

will be

sending

forth that invitation until the

day

Jesus returns.

– 58-

5

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