Volume. XXVI, No. 1
Sunday, 03 July 2011

Did All The Old Testament Believers Have The Holy Spirit?


There has been a long-standing difference of opinion among theologians on this issue. The differing opinions have been largely due to the presuppositions with which different theologians interpret the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit\'s ministry in the Old Testament differs from his ministry in the New Testament not so much in kind as in degree. We can think of this ministry under two major headings: salvation and gifting.


The Holy Spirit’s Work in Salvation in the Old Testament 

With regard to the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation in the Old Testament, it all begins with a presupposition. The Dispensationalist theologian begins with presuppositions about varying time periods called "dispensations," during which periods God is said to have operated in different manners for different purposes. Based on this presupposition, the Dispensational theologian usually concludes that the Old Testament believers did not have any of the "benefits" of regeneration, indwelling of the Holy Spirit and etc. that are the exclusive privilege of New Testament Christians. So in traditional Dispensational thought, there is a complete discontinuity, a total disconnection, of those in previous dispensations (eg. Dispensation of Law) from those in the so-called "dispensation of grace" or the "church age." Therefore, under this “age of grace,” the dispensationalists believe that the only New Testament believers are indwelled with the Holy Spirit but the indwelling of the Spirit in the Old Testament believers were selective and temporary.


Contrary to the aforementioned view, the Reformed or Covenant theologian begins with presuppositions about a singular covenantal basis of relationship between God and man — this is the position of Reformed Christians/Bible-Presbyterians. Based on this view, we believe that the Old Testament believers shared in the same covenant relationship with God as do New Testament Christians; they belonged to the same "church" and enjoyed the same saving "benefits," including the indwelling and sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Bear in mind that in the covenant theology, there is continuity of Old and New based on the singular covenant idea, the Covenant of Grace. Nevertheless, it can be confusing sometimes to think about the Holy Spirit permanently indwelling Old Testament believers because David seem to speak of the possibility of God taking away his Holy Spirit (Ps. 51:11). However, David was not speaking of the indwelling presence of God. Rather, he was speaking of God\'s anointing him as king. David did not want God to punish him for his sin by taking away the throne of Israel, as God had previously done to Saul. Others believe that David was simply praying that God would not take away the “joy of salvation,” not the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Ps. 51:12). At any rate, the reformed theologians believe that all saved Old Testament believers had had the Holy Spirit or were indwelled with the Holy Spirit, just as the New Testament believers are.


The dispensationalist would disagree with the Reformed presupposition. However, The Scripture is very plain that fallen creatures like us are born spiritually dead and incapable of coming to the light of truth (i.e. totally depraved, which is another area of theology they might disagree on). In order to be justified, which is part of the salvation process, we must have faith, and in order to have faith, a sinner who is dead in trespass and sin, must first be "regenerated" or "born again" – regeneration must precede faith/repentance. In regeneration, a fallen man’s spirit is made alive, or regenerated, only because he draws life from the Holy Spirit who indwells him (Rom 8:9-11). Since our spiritual life lasts only so long as we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, it is neither biblical nor logical to presuppose that an Old Testament believer’s Holy Spirit could be taken away. The Holy Sprit cannot selectively and temporarily indwell in some believers only. Therefore, as in the New Testament, salvation in the Old Testament was permanent and must be permanent, requiring the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit because they were saved, regenerated and justified the same way New Testament believers are today.


Gifting of the Holy Spirit

In terms of gifting, the Holy Spirit gifted believers for ministry and service in the Old Testament, but He did so in ways that were very limited compared to the way He gifted people in the New Testament. Predominantly, the Holy Spirit\'s special gifting was limited to believers such as prophets, priests and kings - especially to prophets. Joel foretold a day when God\'s Spirit would be poured out on all people, regardless of their office within the covenant community (Joel 2:28-29). This was precisely the passage that Peter quoted during his Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:17-18) in order to prove that Joel\'s prophecy had been fulfilled, the Holy Spirit had begun to gift every believer in the covenant community in incredible ways, empowering them in ways that had been limited to a select few in the Old Testament. Thus, Pentecost was the moment when the Holy Spirit began to give this superior gifting to every believer, not just a selected few. In other words, Pentecost event in Acts 2 should be regarded as outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s power in a whole new level, not the beginning of His ministry or inception of His indwelling in believers.



Although the Holy Spirit\'s gifting of gifts was different in the Old Testament, believers in the Old Testament were also indwelled by the Holy as it is now. The Holy Spirit had permanently indwelled in every Old Testament believer because they were sanctified the same way as the New Testament believers; otherwise, no Old Testament believer would have been sanctified. Just as in the New Testament, in the Old Testament sanctification was not earned, but it was graciously applied in response to man\'s submission to God! To God be the glory!


Ps Weng


More Lively Hope




1.      Preacher Hai Seng Lim is the speaker for our Vacation Bible School. He will be with us from Sat, 16 July, till Sat, 23 July. Meals needed to be provided for him. A Hospitality Roster for Preacher Hai Seng Lim has been prepared. If you can help with meals & fellowship please put your name on the roster on the notice board. God loveth a cheerful giver.

2.      A Thanksgiving Memorial Service for the life of the late Bro Winston Selvanayagam will be held at The Stone Mansion on Sat, 6 Aug, at 11 am. All are welcome to attend.

3.      Reminder: All church leaders to submit their annual reports for the ACM to the Clerk of Session, Dn Colin Gan, by 24 July.

4.      All members of Hope BPC are expected to attend the ACM on Sat, 27 Aug. Please keep this date in your diary.

5.      Israel Study Tour: 27 Nov - 8 Dec. Organised by Life BPC, Singapore. If interested to go please see Ps Weng for details.

6.      Kitchen Roster: Team Leader: Sis Grace Gan. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Phil Surman.

7.      Sparks4Christ & Senior Sunday School Sleepover on Fri 15 & Sat 16 July. Consent forms due on 10 July. Please see Dns Joyce Gong or Sis Lydia Fan for more information.

8.      Hope Bookstore - open 12:30-1:45pm every Sunday. Please come and browse.

9.      RPGs & Daily Manna for Jul-Sep QTR, & Bible Witness Nov 10 - Feb 11 available on the literature table.

10.   More announcements inside Lively Hope.

Looking Ahead

*Vacation Bible School, 18 - 22 July.

*Gospel Rally, 7:30 pm, 7 Aug

*Annual Congregation Meeting (ACM), Sat, 27 August.

*AFG Retreat, 1 - 3 Oct.

*Christmas Concert, Sat, 3 Dec.

Praise and Thanksgivings

1. Journey mercies:  Dns Purdee Yeo; Bros Charles & Simon Yeo (Melb/Adl); Bro Jason Teng (Syd/Adl); Sisters Natalie Cheng (S’pore), & Mary Ting (KK); others who arrived safely.

2. Church activities - over the past week.

3. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

4. God’s help during exams for our school & uni students.

Prayer Requests

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser;  Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Bro Elton Law; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Margaret Hooper, Myung Ki (Lond), Irena Kurek-Braden (NSW), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Lehia Paauwe (Per), & Susan Varadi; Mr Swee Liang Ng (Bro Raphael’s father); & others in affliction.

2. Cambodia Missions - Rev David Koo & Ministry; Life University (Sihanoukville); Bro Sun Sokha (Phnom Penh).

3. Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam & Ministry.

4. Batam Missions - Sis Ang Liang Phoa.

5. iSketch&Tell Studio - Pr H S Lim & ministry.

6. IBPFM (USA) - Rev K Coleman, Board & Missionaries around the world.

7. Ministry in New Life BPC, London - Ps & Sis Ki.

8. Presbyterian Missionary Union - Missionaries.

9. Ps & Sis  Weng - ministry in Hope BPC.

10. Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.

11. Journey mercies: Dn Wai Kin Wong (Rural Vic/Adl);  Sisters Michelle Jap (Indo), Michelle Lee (Melb), Suzane Lim (S’pore), Mary Ting (Adl) & Peng Ha Yeo (Overseas); & those who are travelling.

12. Hopefuls away: Dn Tony & Sis Sally Law (Canada); Bro John & Sis Josephine Wong & Stephen (Melb); Sis Miriam Atijatuporn & Jaden (Thailand); Sisters Marion Chan (Myazaki), Gillian Ong (Bris) & Serene Wong (S’pore).

13. Job - Sisters Clara Sim & Corinne Teng.

14.  Studying in Auckland, NZ - Bro Peter Koo

15. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin & Korean.

16. God’s comfort - Bro Phil & Sis Iris Surman; Bro Charles & Sis Peng Ha Yeo, Dns Purdee Yeo & Bro Simon Yeo.

17.  Street-Evangelism - Protection of participants & Salvation of those who received Gospel tracts.

18. Vacation Bible School - Speaker: Pr Hai Seng Lim; organisers & student



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041