MOST IMPORTANT PERSON CHRISTIANS IGNORE
ARCHBISHOP ELKANAH HANSON
Elkanah Hanson is the Convener of the SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. He has an extensive evangelism exposure across the world. His work with churches has made him realise that many congregations don’t understand the person and work of the Holy Spirit, hence, he hosts regular training programmes and conferences to avail his numerous audiences on the Holy Spirit. In this interview with IMA NKANTA, he lets readers into who the Holy Spirit is and how churches will become more effective and mission-oriented on earth if they allow the presence of the Holy Spirit in their folds.
There appears to be a widespread ignorance about the person of the Holy Spirit. Many refer to the Holy Spirit as the fire or dove. But is the Holy Spirit a thing?
According to the little information available to me, the Hebrew and the Greek languages were used to write the Holy Scriptures originally. When you take these two languages side by side to our English language, there are so many words in the Hebrew and the Greek you cannot find their equivalent in the English language. We don’t have their equivalent in most Nigerian languages also. So when the translators were translating from Hebrew or Greek to English language, they had some difficulties, and one of them was the use of the pronouns; he, she and it. Some of them translated the Holy Spirit to be a non-person, and instead the word Holy Spirit, some used the phrase Holy Ghost. But when you look at the totality of the Holy Spirit, He is a living person. He’s not an it. The right pronoun of the Holy Spirit is He, because all the attributes of a living person is present in the Holy Spirit.
According to physiologists, for anything to be described as a living thing, there are certain inherent qualities and habits that being must possess. That being must have an independent mind, capable independent thought, capable of verbal expression understandably as human language. That means you must be able to create. That being must not be robotic, if you don’t press a button, you don’t move and you won’t function. You cannot call a robot a human being because a robot must be programmed and reprogrammed, you must push a button before a robot will act, but a human being does not need a button to be pushed before he or she could act.
That being also must possess wisdom, knowledge and able to articulate knowledge. And so when you look at the person of the Holy Spirit, every attribute of a person is present in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a HE. He’s a living being because He speaks, the Holy Spirit gives, the Holy Spirit has power, the Holy Spirit has influence, the Holy Spirit is being capable of His own thoughts or creating. If you look at Genesis, “In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth, and the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep and the Spirit of God moved…” That word moved in the original Greek means to brood, to incubate, to take in and to keep in a favourable condition. The Holy Spirit did the work of incubation and God said, “Let there be light,” and light came up.
In Jesus commissioning the disciples in Matthew 26, He was baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And if you come to the 2Corinthians 13:14 which says: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit…” Love is attributable to God, grace to our Lord Jesus Christ and the communion which is fellowship, attributable to the Holy Spirit. If you look again in the Matthew, Mark and Luke; the water baptism of Jesus Christ by John, He said Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, living amongst us, whose name is Emmanuel, God with us and right there in River Jordan, He saw John the Baptist and He was baptized in water and that Jesus was praying and John dipped Him in water. And that word dipped in Greek is the word bapto, to put under, to submerge or bury under.
The Bible says when He came out of the water, the heaven opened and the Spirit of God descended in a bodily shape like a dove and rested on Him and then a voice from heaven came and said, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased…” You can see three different personalities; Jesus Christ was being dipped and the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon Him, and God the Father spoke. So the Holy Spirit is not an it, He is a living person. This is what every Christian must have to learn and know. Using the word Holy Ghost by the English interpreter was not very correct, He is the Holy Spirit; He is a living person.
I have observed that from the period when Catholicism wielded great influence to the present time, the gap of misinformation still exists; what has been the problem?
Jesus died to establish the Church, He laid the foundation, but the Church wasn’t established until the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. Those apostles knew and accepted the fact that without the Holy Spirit, they would not achieve anything. Hence, after Jesus left, they waited until the Holy Spirit came. At the baptism of Jesus Christ, He (Holy Spirit) took the shape of a dove, but on the day of Pentecost, He came as a wind; not just ordinary wind, but forceful wind. The age of the law and human rituals was coming to an end and a new age, a new dispensation of grace was now to be birthed. Remember, when the Holy Spirit came as a mighty rushing wind and He rested on them, cloven tongues as of fire and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, those apostles knew that without the Holy Spirit, they cannot do anything. So they embraced Him with totality and completeness. I like to say here that the apostles forged a water-tight partnership, die-hard partnership with the Holy Spirit for the word of the Kingdom and the Church began and continued in the power of the Holy Spirit.
But with the passage of time, human reasoning, human thoughts and all of that started coming in and people brought in organizations, methods and developed various religious thoughts, and it got to the point where the Holy Spirit was kicked out of the Church. It got so bad up to the time when Emperor Constantine brought the church into an unholy marriage with the state. You’ll read this in the church history, but down the road, Martin Luther started the protestant movement to restore the work of the Holy Spirit. And his message was the just shall live by faith and that salvation was the first work of the Holy Spirit to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ. That was how the restoration process began.
But one problem of the Church is that any restoration that God brings, human beings would build a denominational wall around it. When the just shall live by faith came through Martin Luther, a wall was built around it. When God brought something new, the people would say no, this is what we know. And those that received the new revelation that apart from Salvation, that’s being born again, there is the Holy Spirit, the people would say; We don’t want it.
When the baptism of the Holy Spirit was restored, there were many people that opposed it, people physically fought, hated one another because of what God was doing in another generation that was not in the first generation. So these have been the problem, but the truth need to be told, the devil, the enemy of God, man and the church, knows that if the Church opens her door, the doors of her heart and the doors of her fellowship to the Holy Spirit to come and be the CEO of the church, he is in trouble. This is why he is engaging all these confusions to block the move of the Holy Spirit.
But I always say to the believers, look at the life of Jesus Christ, he was conceived of the Holy Spirit through Mary and now, that same Jesus grew and before ministering, He had to encounter the Holy Spirit, through the ministry of John the Baptist.
Jesus in Luke Chapter 4 said: This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your eyes… What was that Scripture? He was quoting Isaiah 61: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me…, Everything that Jesus did, it was the Holy Spirit that appointed Him and equipped Him to do so. He had the anointing and the leading of the Holy Spirit and without it, Jesus wouldn’t have done anything.
These things are true. The theologians are aware, so why would the church not open the door for the Holy Spirit to work?
Well, a man is given the power of choice by God, the will is the power of choice, so people can choose to work with the Holy Spirit and they can also choose to say no to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not force Himself upon any human being.
Sir, don’t you think the person of the Holy Spirit, and not materialism, is what the church need?
First, I always say to the media and to the public in general, that when it comes to the subject of the church and material prosperity, there must be a balance. I was born in the 50s; I went through the primary school in the 60s, secondary in the 70s, because of the obstruction of the Nigerian Civil War. In the generations of the 50, 60 and the 70s, it was in the mid-80s and getting into the 90s that the church started opening up and embracing the message of prosperity. The message of material wealth and prosperity is relatively new to the Church in Nigeria. The western world had long embraced it and experienced it. Now, the other balance I want to bring is this: the primary emphasis should not be on materialism, it should be on salvation of souls.
Now, one thing that the Holy Spirit does is this: He empowers the church and the believers. If you look at the work of the Holy Spirit from the Old Testament down to the New Testament, one aspect of His assignment is material prosperity, spiritual prosperity and mental prosperity. With the Holy Spirit, its prosperity all-round; it’s one of the assignments given to the Holy Spirit to carry out and that is why Deuteronomy 8:18 talks about power to get wealth: that power is the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ also promised His disciples power, and if you take a look at the miracle of five loaves and two fishes, it was the power of the Holy Spirit that multiplied it to feed five thousand people.
If you look at Peter’s encounter with Jesus and his word; ‘we have toiled all night and have taken nothing…’ Jesus said to him launch into the deep; they launched and found much; that was the power of the Holy Spirit empowering Peter economically. However, some dubious pastors in the name of prosperity defraud their members through dubious methods which are unscriptural. But for true prosperity, it is God that ordained it for man created in His image and after His likeness.
How do you now discern between the counterfeit and the real prosperity message?
It is very simple, if you look at the word of God, the Holy Spirit does not work contrary to Christ. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth, He does not operate by lies, so anyone operating the other way, then you can say this isn’t the Spirit of God. Lies are of the Devil.
About the School of the Holy Spirit; who and who needs to attend?
Everybody; the Church, the sinners, the saints, the world. Who is the Holy Spirit? Because the Holy Spirit is the person whom God and Jesus agreed and sent him to be with us in the now of our existence, leading the unsaved to God and the saved back to God and Jesus more and more. The Spirit of the devil, including the devil is here in the world, but God doesn’t want us to work and operate by the Spirit of the devil, He wants us to lead and operate by His Spirit who is called the Holy Spirit.