All Christians agree that the Holy Spirit is given to all humans who place their trust in Jesus and are born again believers. Furthermore, all Christians agree that the Holy Spirit is a teacher and a counselor, and that the indwelling Spirit is essential to following God.
The disagreement arises in the understanding of which methods the Holy Spirit uses to accomplish His work. Many Christians believe that the Holy Spirit only speaks to Christians through the spoken or written word of God. Thus, if someone is teaching or preaching the good news of Jesus then the Holy Spirit can anoint the word and the person listening can directly hear God internally. Likewise, if a person is reading the written word of God then that person may hear God directly through the word. However, these Christians would deny that a person can hear God directly by His Spirit independent of the Word.
On the other hand, many Christians believe that the Holy Spirit can and does speak to Christians, directly and internally, independently of the Word. In the Protestant Church world the Pentecostal and Charismatic teaching is that God speaks to His people through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the Catholic Church many monastic people have seen visions, experienced locutions, and have had intimate internal fellowship through the Holy Spirit in contemplative prayer.
The position of New Day Monks is that the Holy Spirit does indeed speak directly to Christians independently, and beyond, the spoken and written Word. That is, a person can hear God even when they are not hearing a sermon or reading the Bible. We are sensitive though to the need to preserve doctrinal truth, to avoid private mystical experiences such as those advocated by Gnosticism, and to remain grounded in the Word as the revealed truth of God. For further discussion of these issues see the essay entitled inner revelation of doctrinal truth.
Furthermore, the New Day Monk position is that those Christians who deny the ability to hear God independently of the Word are still a valuable part of the Universal Church and should be respected for their convictions. Nevertheless, since the ability to hear God does (in our view) go beyond the Spirit speaking through the Word, we now turn our attention to those Protestant and Catholic teachings that advocate personal inward direct revelation from the Holy Spirit. These teachings fall under the category of “fire” because the Protestant teachings stem from the experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Catholic teachings stem from the Purification by Fire that God uses to bring His people to union with Himself.
The Holy Spirit is a person. He is revealed in the Bible as God. Thus we have the concept of the Trinity, with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit presented as three separate persons, all of them eternal and all of them divine, yet all one and of one substance. Clearly this concept is beyond us in many details and must be embraced, first and foremost, because God has declared it so. Many studies of the role of each of persons of God have been written. The various roles of each member of the Trinity have been studied and attempts have been made to separate the work of God into the different role of each of the 3 persons. In this encyclopedia we will not attempt anything so vast but we do need to look at the Holy Spirit as a separate person and at least begin to identify His role in our walk. This is especially important when it comes to “hearing God” since the Holy Spirit is revealed in the Bible as a person who speaks directly to humans.
The Biblical revelation of the roles of the Holy Spirit is complex and in many ways vague and confusing and has caused a great deal of controversy in the Church. The main reason for this confusion is that the Holy Spirit is mentioned in several contexts throughout the New Testament and these contexts are not easy to synthesize into one concept called “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit”, “The Indwelling Spirit” or any other single phrase. This variety of contexts has allowed different individuals and groups to attach their experience to one or two aspects of the Holy Spirit and ignore other aspects. It seems prudent then to review the various references to the Holy Spirit found in the Bible and see if some clarity can be obtained. This is a practical matter, since “hearing God” will very much depend on what we believe about the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, in this encyclopedia, we will proceed by looking at 3 main themes on the Holy Spirit that are mixed in the Bible but have been emphasized in varying degrees by different Christian groups. The first role of the Holy Spirit and one that all Christians agree on is His indwelling presence in all real believers. In order to discuss the other 2 roles of the Holy Spirit we must next examine the claims of those Christians that they have had subsequent experiences (after already having His indwelling presence through conversion) with the Holy Spirit that are available to all Christians but that only some Christians obtain.
There are 2 basic types of subsequent experiences with the Holy Spirit: first, the Pentecostal/Charismatic view of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, and second, the purification of fire described in the monastic system of contemplation as a means of reaching union with God. We will start with The Pentecostal/Charismatic teachings on the Holy Spirit and Fire.