Contemporary Issues in the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit Part V: Spiritual Power Today -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 131:521 (Jan 1974)
Article: Contemporary Issues in the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit Part V: Spiritual Power Today
Author: John F. Walvoord

Contemporary Issues in the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
Part V:
Spiritual Power Today

John F. Walvoord

[John F. Walvoord, President, Dallas Theological Seminary, Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra.]

[Editor’s Note: This series of articles is now available in book form: The Holy Spirit at Work Today (Chicago: Moody Press, 1973). $1.25.]

One of the greatest needs in the church today is the power of the Holy Spirit. Man in his natural ability is not able to serve God acceptably; and even if he has been renewed through salvation by the Spirit, this in itself does not assure him spiritual power in his life. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit a believer is not able to use effectively the gift of teaching, is not able to interpret God’s guidance to him, or in other ways to make effective the grace of God. It is for this reason the believer is commanded to “walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:16).

Learning to Walk by the Spirit

In exhorting the believer to walk by the Spirit, the concept is advanced that the Christian life can be accomplished only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Walking implies progress and direction. Each step is an incipient fall, as the body is supported by one limb and then the other. The verb “walk” in Galatians 5:16 is in the present tense and has the thought of “keep on walking” or continuously walking by the Holy Spirit. The Greek for “by the Spirit” is the dative, pneumati, best translated as “by the Spirit” instead of “in the Spirit,” as in the Authorized Version. While it is true that the believer is walking in the sphere of the Spirit, the thought is rather that it is by the Spirit’s enablement that the believer is able to accomplish the high standard of the Christian walk. As the

life of a Christian unfolds step by step, each foot of progress must be marked by the sustaining power and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Learning to walk by the Spirit is realized when one walks in dependence on and is supported by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Why Walk by the Spirit

In the light of the New Testament standards for the Christian life which are far beyond anything which the natural man could attain, it is obvious that only by the grace of God and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit can a measure of attainment be achieved in keeping with the will of God for the believer. Accordingly, the believer is exhorted to be as holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16), and to love as Christ loved (

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