How Many Spirits?

Discuss topics related to the nature, character, and work of the Holy Spirit, including related topics of miracles, signs, and inspiration. Also included are apostles, because of their miraculous deeds.

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How Many Spirits?

Post by churchmouse » Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:35 pm

I've been reading through the discussions about the Holy Spirit on this forum, but none seem to thoroughly address my question.

In the church I now go to, people claim that the Spirit we all receive is not the same Spirit received by the apostles. They acknowledge the existence of "One Spirit" spoken of in Ephesians 4:4, but say that the apostles received two spirits and one of those is the "one" spirit that everyone receives. That doctrine doesn't make sense to me.

Jesus said in John 4:24 that "God is Spirit." He did not say that God is spirits. John did say to "test the spirits to see whether they are from God..." (1 John 4:1), but in speaking of a plurality of spirits he was including evil spirits. Jesus said that an unclean (evil) spirit leaving a man returns from whence it came with "seven other spirits more wicked than itself" (Matthew 12:43-45). So, there are many evil spirits, or spirits of error, but only one Spirit of Truth and John's point is that we must discern the Spirit of Truth from among the spirits of error.

After delivering a sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter told those in the crowd, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). The gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:44). Peter noted that the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit just as they, the apostles, had at the beginning (Acts 10:47; 11:15). It did not appear to have the same effect, since there is no indication that the Gentiles could perform miracles. Paul said, "there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:4) and "one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills" (1 Corinthians 12:11).

If the apostles received a different Spirit because it was manifested differently in them, then did they also receive a different Spirit than Jesus did? After Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God descended upon him "as a dove" (Matthew 3:16). That is a very different manifestation of the Holy Spirit from the tongues of fire resting upon the apostles and their subsequent speaking in foreign languages (Acts 2:3-4). Jesus told his disciples, "he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to the Father" (John 14:12). Did the apostles receive a different Spirit than Jesus did because they were empowered to do greater works than he had done? Jesus informed the apostles that they would receive help from the Holy Spirit, whom the Father would send in his name (John 14:26).

Jesus also told his disciples, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him (John 14:23). To me, the scriptures in John 14 suggest that the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the Word are all one. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is one and cannot be divided. It can be given, however, in different measures and be manifested in various ways but with the same purpose. Before Elijah ascended into heaven, Elisha requested (and was granted) a double portion of his spirit (2 Kings 2:9).

There are many more scriptures I could use, but I hope this is sufficient to explain why I don't believe that multiple spirits can be of God. Just as the Holy Spirit enabled the apostles to remember the words Jesus spoke to them, the same Spirit reminds us of God's word when we receive it into our hearts.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

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One Spirit - Ephesians 4:4

Post by m273p15c » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:36 am

Hi churchmouse,

I believe there is some truth and error in what you have heard. You are correct. There is only one Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:4). And, virtually every positive reception of a "spirit" in the New Testament is a reference to receiving the Holy Spirit. (The only exception would be an openness to receiving an attitude or disposition, which is a variant meaning of "spirit" - II Corinthians 4:13; Romans 8:15; I Peter 3:4).

However, there are indeed different "manifestations" or "measures" given by the One Spirit:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote:There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. ... But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (I Corinthians 12:1 NKJV)
John, an apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote:"For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. (John 3:34 NKJV)
Jesus did not receive a limited measure of the Holy Spirit, but all other first century Christians did. They received various manifestations. Only the apostles seemed to have multiple miraculous gifts.

Nevertheless, these miraculous gifts were only distributed over a limited time. Paul spoke of a time, when revelation would be complete, which would end the primary need for miraculous gifts - to confirm the revealed Word (I Corinthians 13:8-13; Hebrews 2:3-4; Mark 16:20; John 10:25, 37-38; 14:10-11). Furthermore, except for the apostles themselves and possibly Cornelius, miraculous gifts could only be bestowed by the laying on of apostles' hands (Acts 8:14-19; 19:1-6; II Timothy 1:6). Once the apostles all died, the New Testament mechanism for transferring miraculous abilities died with them. Therefore, both the primary purpose and mechanism for receiving miraculous gifts ceased in the first century.

Therefore, the measure or manifestation of the one Holy Spirit was different between the apostles and us in that they could work miracles and we cannot, but it is the same Holy Spirit, who lives in the Word that He inspired them to write by which "when we read, we can understand" (Ephesians 3:3-5; II Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12). I think your friends may have been on the right track to the right conclusion but their explanation is not Biblical.

I pray this helps. :)
May God help us to love truth sincerely and supremely (II Thessalonians 2:11-12)

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