What is the quickening of the Holy Spirit?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture

Question:  I’m searching for info on the quickening of the Holy Spirit.  Most of the info I've found so far is confusing.  Is the quickening when we receive the HS or does the quickening (fluttering, stirring) occur after the indwelling?  Do we contribute to the quickening or is it totally the timing of the Holy Spirit (example when we submit our will to God`s will, etc.).  I’ve referenced I Corinthians 15:45; Isaiah 57:10?; Ezra 9:8; Romans 4:17; Leviticus 13:10; Leviticus 13:24; Ezra 9:9; Thank you.

Answer: I’m not surprised that you’ve found a lot of confusing information on the workings of God’s Holy Spirit because there are so many extra-biblical assertions made about him, so many churches that emphasize his workings, and so many people listening to some “inner voice.” These form an important category: People who have abandoned the counsel of God’s word to pursue the teachings-of-men. No wonder you sense confusion! God is not the author of confusion, but these teachers are. They are either not born-again at all (and therefore have no indwelling Holy Spirit to guide them), or they have indeed been born-again, but have abandoned prayerful Bible study. Either way confusion reigns and they simply invent doctrine.

The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit indwells all born-again believers in Jesus Christ.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” (Romans 8:14–16, ESV).

His primary job is to teach concerning Jesus.

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26, ESV)

This will largely be accomplished through the illumination of Scripture.

“these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.” (1 Corinthians 2:10–15, ESV).

No believer now receives any legitimate information that is separate from Scripture. The early believers, those Christians who did not possess a completed Scripture, were sometimes directly instructed by the Holy Spirit, but this is no longer the case. Today, God speaks to his mature Church through his completed Scripture. Nothing extra-biblical is ever truly “a word from God.”

The Holy Spirit also has the job of administering his gifts. These enable the Body of Christ (which is his Church and is comprised of all believers everywhere) to do the work of Christ while on this earth. (Romans 12:6) None of these works will be outside of God’s scriptural revelation, and any teachings that emphasize the activity of the Holy Spirit over the study of God’s word or the person of Jesus Christ are always suspect.

Yes, “the quickening” primarily refers to our “receiving the Holy Spirit”…but I’ll offer a caution here. We receive the Holy Spirit when we receive Christ. Those events are not separated as they were in the embryonic stage of the Church, nor as some Christians aver for today… that at some time after being saved we get some separate “filling” of the Holy Spirit — a phenomenon which is accompanied by a “sign gift,” usually tongues. No. When we receive Jesus Christ as Savior, we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit — as much as we’ll ever get — and more than we’ll ever use.

The word quicken merely means “to make alive” and usually refers to us believers who were formerly dead in our sins, but now have been made alive through Christ. This is particularly germane to your question. Quicken does not mean to energize something which is already alive. The Greeks had another term for that phenomenon: energeo. (You can see energize in that word.) So note the difference. One energizes that which is already alive. One quickens (bring to life) that which was dead. Once born-again, we are no longer dead, so quickening does not apply to Christians except at the moment of the new birth. Most of the verses that you listed show just that, the Leviticus verses graphically so, describing dead flesh which has become alive.

The quickening in 1 Corinthians 15:45 “Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” has nothing to do with a (what a Charismatic Christian might refer to as) a filling or moving of the Holy Spirit. The topic of the paragraph is the resurrection, not the quickening. He uses the term “quickening” here to refer to Christ, and not to Christians, and he uses it to compare Christ’s resurrected state with Adam’s bodily state. This verse in no way connects the Holy Spirit's action with the believer, except that, of course, we belong to Christ.

Concerning any “flutterings or stirrings” (or might I say holy promptings?) I would not presume upon either you or God to restrict your communications or to re-define any phenomena. But, if you are a born-again Christian who prays, who reads the Bible, and who fellowships with other believers, you are probably spiritually healthy enough to properly interpret any promptings from God. Can he use your feelings to prompt you? Certainly! Can your feelings use you? Oh, yes. So, proceed cautiously and test the spirits. God will never tell you to do anything contrary to his revealed will. He will not likely tell you to do anything that would squeeze out a more important thing, like, “Leave your husband and go into full-time service.” Such an idea, no matter how fluttery, would never be from God. So, such a prompting may or may not be from God, but it is not a quickening, since you as a believer are already alive, and a quickening is for the dead.

As a general principle, the more we conform to God’s will, that is, the more Christ-like we become, the more “qualified” we are for his service…or perhaps just more receptive to his prompts. But none of our love-born behaviors should ever be seen as cause-and-effect. God uses whom he will when he wills. (Would Samson make anyone’s preferred-servant list?) It boils down to love. God loves us. We love him. We hang around together. He calls us or not… but we’ve been sufficiently quickened for all service already.

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