An etymologist is a wordsmith. Or, put more plainly, it is a person who studies the origin of words and their usage. Scholars of language have enhanced our understanding of some Bible words. For instance, our English word “spirit” is derived from the Latin word “spiritus” which means “breath”. We fnd the appearance of this word in several words we frequently employ in conversation: aspire, perspire, expire, and conspire, to name but a few.
The Sacred Scriptures are said to have been inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) - “God breathed.” In Latin it’s “Deo spiritus;” in Greek “theopneustos.” In the creation account, God breathed into the first man the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). But it is not without signifcance that the church of the Mystery is referred to as the “new man”, the spiritual man, the “new creation.”
This new man is called “the Body of Christ,” a phrase that is used metaphorically by the apostle to the Gentiles (I Cor. 12:27). As God’s agent of the Mystery, Paul reminds his listeners that believers are baptised by the Spirit into Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). The tiny word “in” is used more than 200 times in Paul’s epistles in relation to believers being in Christ. For example, in Christ we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). This baptism by the Spirit identifes us with Christ our Lord. As a former Pentecostal pastor, I understand the misuse and abuse of the so called “second experience” of the Spirit that is so prevalent in “faith” churches across the globe. The vast majority of confessing Christians in the “experiential movements” are encouraged to receive a subsequent salvation experience labelled the Spirit baptism.
My spiritual odyssey in the Pentecostal movement was interrupted when I became a theological seminary lecturer of pneumatology (Doctrine of the Holy Spirit). My research exposed me to the transitional nature of the Book of Acts in terms of the Kingdom hope to Israel being postponed and the spiritual awakening of Saul of Tarsus and his revelation of the Mystery from the ascended Christ. It took me many years of struggle as I grappled with the truth of Scripture and the relevance of my personal experiences that I had ignorantly accredited to the Holy Spirit. The Dispensational application of Bible interpretation and exegesis that I adopted, ignited an unquenchable zeal to study the Word Rightly Divided. The following thoughts may be helpful to Grace believers who are confronted with questions about our position in terms of the Holy Spirit.
I found subjective human experience to be unreliable because it is a variable that is not consistent. I learned to trust objective truth as a constant instead. The objective approach to Bible truth espoused by the Berean Bible Society brings stability to believers. Consistency silences the critics, and those of us on the foreign mission felds have found so much comfort in the ministry of BBS and the Berean Searchlight. BBS’s consistent and loyal commitment to correct Bible observation, interpretation and application is so refreshing.
There are four signifcant verbs that Paul the Apostle used in connection with our relation to the Holy Spirit. We have been (past tense) baptised by the Spirit at the moment of our conversion. We were also sealed, indwelt and born anew. The actions expressed by these four verbs happened simultaneously when we believed. There is no subsequent experience that is required to become more spiritual. When I offciate at a wedding ceremony and declare the couple married, Miss Jones becomes Mrs Brown. She loses her single identity and takes on her husband’s family name. The very moment I pronounce them husband and wife her status changes. If she owned property before the nuptials, according to the laws of South Africa where I minister, she cannot sell the land without her husband’s consent once she is married. There are four changes that occur to Miss Jones simultaneously. Her name, status, responsibility and destiny change forever. In the same manner, these four changes occur simultaneously in the believer when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the human citadel. Spirituality has to do with recognizing the identity in Christ that the Spirit gave us when we believed, not in any subsequent action of the Spirit. It is the residing presence of God’s Spirit within us that seals our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14), and we received all of the Spirit we will ever need the moment we believed.
According to Vines Greek Dictionary the term “earnest of our inheritance” is “arrabon” and the modern Greek word “arrabona” is “engagement ring.” The engagement ring is a promise of marriage. The Holy Spirit is given to us as a promise of our eternal inheritance in Christ. And you don’t have to be an etymologist to rejoice in that!
This article was published in the January edition of the Berean Searchlight that is distributed internationally.