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Different Viewpoints on The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit

Denomination Teaching What Difference
Does it Make?
The Anglican Catechism says, "We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation" (Book of Common Prayer, p. 852). That is, you know the Spirit's presence not by looking to God's Word alone, but by looking to the harmony you might have with other people or within yourself. Some people try to achieve man-made harmony by seeking common emotional feelings. True Christian harmony comes by being one united in God's Word. "Conduct yourselves . . . with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel" (Phil. 1:27). You have true harmony not merely when you are in emotional harmony; but rather when the Holy Spirit leads you "to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God" (Eph. 4:13).
In his Institutes on the Christian Religion, John Calvin said, "Until our minds are intent on the Spirit, Christ is in a manner unemployed. . " (III, 1, 3). In other words, the Holy Spirit does not really teach you the things of Christ until your mind is focused on Him (the Spirit). Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will "bring to your remembrance all that I said to you" (Jn. 14:26) and "He will testify about Me" (Jn. 15:26). The Holy Spirit is working not when your mind is intent on Him, but when it is intent on Jesus Christ and His forgiveness of sins.
Baptists The Baptist Faith and Message (p. 41) says that when you surrender to the Holy Spirit, you "should get buoyancy and exhilaration" and "should have a permanent lift and glow." This directs you to look to your feelings to make sure the Holy Spirit is working in you. If you do not experience the buoyancy and exhilaration, the lift and glow, you could doubt that God loves you and saves you. But God says that no matter if you are up or down emotionally, nothing "will be able to separate [you] from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:39).
Methodists The Book of Discipline says, "'Life in the Spirit' involves diligent use of the means of grace such as praying, fasting, attending upon the sacraments, and inward searching in solitude." In other words, you can find the Holy Spirit working in you when you search your inner feelings and experiences. Jesus warns against trusting what is in your heart, because "out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries" (Matt. 15:19). Instead, God wants you to look to "the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15).
Pentecostals R. A. Torrey, a leader of the Pentecostal movement, said, "The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is an operation of the Holy Spirit distinct from and subsequent and additional to His regenerating work" (What the Bible Teaches, p. 271). In other words, Torrey says the Holy Spirit may make you a Christian, but you should look for an additional experience from Him apart from your water Baptism. St. Paul said, "There is one body and one Spirit one Lord, one faith, one Baptism" (Eph. 4:4-5), and Jesus said, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Jn. 3:5). Your water Baptism is your "washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit" (Tit. 3:5).
In the Smalcald Articles, Lutherans boldly say, "It must be firmly maintained that God gives no one His Spirit or grace apart from the external Word which goes before" (3, VIII, 3), and "We should and must insist that God does not want to deal with us human beings, except by means of his external Word and sacrament. Everything that boasts of being from the Spirit apart from such a Word and sacrament is of the devil" (3, VIII, 10). God does not want you to rely on your inner experiences or feelings, which are constantly changing. Instead, He wants you to be confident that the Holy Spirit works only through the Word of Christ "so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His Name" (Jn. 20:31).

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