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The Holy Spirit's Role in the Christian's Life

by Bobby Bruno  
4/19/2014 / Bible Studies

In his book "Theology for Disciples", Gilbert W. Stafford describes six states of the sanctifying works of the Holy Spirit.

The first is Foundational Sanctification (pg. 352). This dimension of sanctification states that the Holy Spirit is the only one we can bring about salvation in a person's life. Because all have fallen short of the glory of God, no human can save him/herself. Only a sinless, perfect person who would willingly shed his blood could do that, and that was Jesus. The Holy Spirit takes our faith in Christ and grows it into the faith of Christ over the period of our entire lives.

The next is Edifying Sanctification (pgs 353-354). This dimension states that, after bringing salvation into a person's life, the Spirit continues teaching and building up the individual and the church together. Through His indwelling in the believer's Spirit, the Holy Spirit is constantly telling us that we are Children of God, that Jesus is our Lord, and that we will be glorified at the resurrection and redemption of our bodies.

The next is called Effusive Sanctification (pgs. 355-356). In this dimension, the Holy Spirit pours out His divine power continually into the believer's life, so we may be a continual witness for Jesus. Without this power, believers could not know Jesus as Lord, and would then be unable to tell others. On our own, we can't know the truth about Jesus and His works of salvation. Only the Holy Spirit can impart to us the whole truth of scripture and make it possible for us to be edified and built up so that we may tell others how they, too, can be set free.

The next is Developmental Sanctification (pgs 357-358). This dimension states that the Holy Spirit realigns our lives to be more in line with His mission in and outside the church, and in the lives of individual believers. The Holy Spirit has to get us on His side, and to get us to think more like Him when it comes to what Jesus is trying to achieve in everyone's lives.

Another one is Anticipatory Sanctification (pgs. 370-372). Through His own witness in us, and the Word of God, the Holy Spirit grows us from glory to glory, as He shapes our lives to become more like Jesus. This dimension of sanctification will continue until God brings an end to the Church Age. God does not change us all the way at the moment of salvation. If He did then we wouldn't learn how faithful He is to bring us through the struggles we face as not just believers, but as human beings as well.

The last dimension is called Entire Sanctification (pgs. 373-374). Our complete sanctification will happen in the future. It is still being debated whether this dimension of sanctification will occur before we die, at our actual time of death, or when Jesus comes back to take us with Him to heaven. Whenever that time is, we as believers will finally see Jesus as He sees us and our glory will finally be fulfilled and seen by all who inhabit heaven.

Also in His book mentioned above, Stafford gives us six issues that are being debated for their truth and/or accuracy concerning the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The first issue of debate concerns the baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit (pgs 359-360). As believer's, we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit when we respond in faith to the Spirit's call to come. We are then baptized in the Spirit when we open ourselves up to His leading and His purposes for our lives. The debate includes whether tongues is a real sign of the Spirit's baptism upon the believer, and if this is true then why do not all who are baptized by the Holy Spirit go about to speak in tongues immediately upon being baptized.

Another issue debated is: Is Spirit-Baptism optional (pg. 361)? All believers should want all of the Spirit, both His outpouring and Hid infilling, and not just the benefits of being indwelled. We need to realize that we can grieve the Holy Spirit when we don't believe in all that He has to offer us.

The next issue is about the location of the Spirit in regards to His indwelling and infilling, which are two separate aspects of being given God's Spirit at the time of salvation. Why would the Spirit, who indwells us, also need to fill us? The Spirit indwells us upon our confession of faith in Jesus Christ, but, as we grow in maturity in Christ, we need to be continually filled by the Spirit so that we may do the works that He sets upon us to do.

The fourth issue of debate deals with the different words which are used to speak of the Spirit's coming (pgs. 362-363). The Spirit's coming into believers is described as a felling, a filling, a baptism, and as having fallen. All of these terms speak of a continual action on the part of the Spirit that proceeds throughout a believer's life.

This next debate speaks of the timing of the Holy Spirit's work (pgs. 363-364). The Disciples had to wait for the indwelling of the Spirit. Because they had to wait for Jesus to take His place with God in Heaven, they couldn't take the Gospel to the masses. We, today, do not have to wait for the Holy Spirit because He has already come to the church at Pentecost. We are never to wait, but are to be filled with the Spirit always.

The last issue of debate is the issue of the evidence of the Holy Spirit work in the believer's life (pgs. 365-366). Are tongues the only evidence of the baptism of the Spirit? Could not love, peace, and patience in one's life where there once was none also be evidence that a change has occurred within a person's heart? Is this not evidence enough that the Spirit has taken up residence in that person's life?


Stafford, Gerald W. (1989, 1996). Theology for disciples: systematic considerations about the life of Christian faith. Warner Press.

Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.

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