The Hard Work of Encouragement

May 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical farming, Hebrews | 6 Comments
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Hebrews Chapter 6 is a good reminder to Christians to “grow up.” It’s natural to start off life as a child, and it’s natural for new believers to start off their Christian life as spiritual children. But there should come a point in time when every believer begins to mature. And, even beyond that, there should come a time when mature believers are actually aiding immature believers in the growth process.

Proper growth comes about from:

1. Feeding (on the Word of God)
2. Exercise (getting involved in Christian ministry or service)
3. Instruction (heeding warnings to stay away from what is dangerous)

I believe God is pleased when we show love and encouragement to new believers. First of all, it is the right thing to do. Second, it stimulates growth.

In order to encourage others to grow, we need to make sure we’re growing ourselves.

Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

Romans 2:21

If the people you are ministering to start to outgrow you spiritually, that is not the ideal situation. One solution for this is staying grounded in the Word of God. When you encourage someone, encourage them from the Word. Experiences can be good, but the standard by which we judge our experiences is the Bible. Study your Bible.

When you minister to immature believers it is also important to find out where their interests lie. If possible, find out what’s going on at their homes. This is especially true with children.

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.

Proverbs 20:11-12

God gave us eyes and ears not just to entertain ourselves, but so we can observe who needs to be encouraged, and then do it.

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;

Proverbs 24:30

The “slothful” is like a farmer who is too lazy to work the field God has given him. He is purposely ignorant, willfully ignoring the vineyard.

And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.

Proverbs 24:31

The vines are not growing like they are supposed to because of all the useless weeds that have come up and stolen the nutrients that should be causing good fruit to grow. The wall around the vineyard is no longer in a condition to stop wild animals or vandals from coming in and destroying the crop.

Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

Proverbs 24:32-33

The farmer says that he will get around to it after he’s a little more rested – after his schedule clears up.

So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

Proverbs 24:34

The lazy farmer will be robbed of his opportunity.

If you have been a Christian for a while, God has put you in a position to encourage someone. You have an opportunity to build someone up – to keep the fences of protection mended, to stimulate growth in someone, to feed someone, to pull out the weeds and thorns, to get in on the job of raising up mature Christians.

We’re not going to be able to do that if we don’t encourage them. And we won’t be able to do it by just checking in with them for one hour on Sundays. We’re going to have to call, to send cards, to invite them to activities, to visit them when they’re sick. Immature Christians tend to, for good or ill, base what they think about the Lord on what they think about other Christians. If I’m always late for church, I’m sending a message to someone that church is just not all that important to me. If I don’t know some basic truths from the Bible, I’m sending a message that preparing to live out God’s Word is not that important to me. If I only speak to my Christian friends on Sunday morning at church, I’m sending the message that I am only pretending to care about them.

Let’s strive to encourage other Christians, especially new ones.

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A Major Milestone

May 25, 2011 at 9:13 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons, Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Yesterday “The Deep End” surpassed a major milestone for number of views all time. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to drop by and read a post here and there, and especially to everyone who has checked in regularly and faithfully. In honor of the occasion, I’m going to re-post a popular series of lessons.

These discipleship lessons are intended for Christian believers: those who have been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ His Son. They contain the bare basics for understanding some of the major doctrines of the Christian faith. They are not intended as a substitute for going through God’s Word, precept by precept, in diligent and prayerful study. These lessons will help you grasp enough of Christianity to be able to converse intelligently on the topics outlined, but it should be every Christian’s goal to spend his or her lifetime learning more and more about the Lord of the Bible.

While these lessons are really designed for believers, my prayer is that you will still share them with your lost friends, family members, co-workers, and acquaintances. When the Lord Jesus recruited disciples, He did so with this command: “Follow me…” (Matthew 4:19; Luke 5:27) In this command we have both a path (follow), and a Person (Me). If you are to walk the path of eternal life, you must go the way of Jesus Christ. He is infinitely worthy to be studied, worshiped, adored, emulated, obeyed, and followed.

Lesson 1: Salvation
Lesson 2: Everlasting Security
Lesson 3: Baptism
Lesson 4: The Bible
Lesson 5: Prayer
Lesson 6: The Local Church
Lesson 7: Sin
Lesson 8: The World
Lesson 9: The Holy Spirit

Leading Instead of Watching

May 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Selected Psalms | 7 Comments
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Psalm 105 is remarkable in the way it extols the wondrous works God had done among and for His people without really making much mention of the failures of His people. As Christians it would be a mistake to completely ignore our past failures, but the focus of our praise should be on God, not on us.

You may have heard Christian testimonies which go to one of two extremes. On the one hand some Christians almost seem to be bragging when they talk about how “bad” or how “tough” or how “lecherous” they were before they were saved. They seem almost nostalgic as they go into too much detail about what prolific and skillful sinners they were. Sometimes this is defended by the testifier as necessary so that his or her lost listeners can better “identify” with the testimony, and so that they won’t feel like the person giving the testimony is trying to be “holier than thou” now that he is saved. The other extreme, of course, are the testimonies which overly minimize the pre-salvation sin of the Christian – possibly out of shame for past behavior and possibly out of a failure to recognize the true “sinfulness” of sin.

I have probably been as guilty as others of leaning toward one or another or these extremes myself at times. When I try to give a sober analysis of my state before Christ redeemed me, I am forced to admit that I was indeed a rebellious sinner, but there was nothing noble about my rebellion when I was lost. I was not like Robin Hood – robbing from the rich to give to the poor. I sinned because I liked to sin. When I was able to ignore my conscience, sin felt good to me, and I loved me more than God, and I wanted me to feel good, and I was able to rationalize it in my own eyes by saying it didn’t seem all that bad to me. The fact is, I was a degenerate – a filthy worm – but another fact is, that such a statement is probably not worth a lot of my breath. The Bible says that those of us who have breath should praise the Lord! We should talk more about how great He is than about how bad we were.

Psalm 106, though, is sort of an alternative view to Psalm 105. In order to extol God’s longsuffering and enduring mercies, the psalmist shows the magnitude of the people’s sins.

We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.

Psalm 106:6 (emphasis added)

We, as 21st Century American Christians, have to stop blaming our parents for our situation. Yes, they (their generation) sinned, but we are responsible when we repeat those sins.

The most serious kinds of heart surgery are not easy to perform. The skin has to be slit open; the rib cage cracked apart; the organs sorted through. But sometimes that’s the only way to fix the problem. Spiritual heart surgery can be daunting and messy as well. We should spend more time looking within us for the source of our own sin, than looking around us or at the past.

Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.

Psalm 106:7

People who have been rescued and set free sometimes fear the responsibility of freedom. They want the old security of bondage. Bondage does not require faith. There were times when the Israelites wouldn’t follow God, but at least they would follow Moses. Are you a Moses or an Israelite? In other words, when it comes to walking by faith, are you a leader or a looker?

He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:

Psalm 106:9-13

Are you leading by faith or are you just a spectator of God’s miracles? Vance Havner used to say that, in Christian ministry, we are not running a show boat; we are running a life boat. If you have been in church long enough, you have probably heard some preacher somewhere say the trouble is that too many folks are singing “Standing on the Promises,” while in reality they are just sitting on the premises!

We have developed into a generation of onlookers and spectators. You go into a department store, and when the clerk comes up and asks, “What do you want?” you say, “Just looking.” In the same way, all over our nation, there are television viewers sitting there in their living rooms “just looking.” There are children sitting in front of the internet “just looking.” People come to church, and someone asks them, “Did you come here to do business with God?” If many of these people were to tell the truth, they’d say, “No thank you, just looking!”

R.C. Sproul Discusses the Times in which We S.W.I.M.

May 20, 2011 at 9:02 am | Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment
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The Christian solution to the problem of sin is a radical departure from what other religions provide, for it is centered in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Through His perfect sacrifice, which has the efficacy of blotting out believers’ sins, we have become righteous in God’s eyes. However, that righteousness does not give us the license to do as we please. We must still seek to do God’s preceptive will, especially as we swim through the perilous waters of the moral, ethical, and social dilemmas of our age.

R.C. Sproul, “Can I Know God’s Will?”

Swallowed up with the Word

May 18, 2011 at 9:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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The illustration in the children’s picture Bible seemed so accurate then. I have to laugh, though, when I think back on it now. There’s Jonah, the prophet, wearing a long robe, with his long hair and serious expression. He’s sitting on a wooden bench, with only a candle for light, intently reading his Bible, surrounded by huge white ribs and shadowy internal organs. The caption beneath the illustration proclaims that he’s in the belly of the whale.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/whalejpg.jpg?w=300

When I read the Book of Jonah today I find that the swallower is not even called a whale (although Jesus referred to it as a “whale” in Matthew 12:40). In Jonah the swallower is called a “prepared fish” (prepared by the Lord.) I prefer to think it was a Megalodon shark, but what do I know?

https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSwXAvZ5M4cJ-miAYavR7NoZGpdaequcDnZpPgyleFi9unosS-H

The point is, it is not likely that Jonah sat calmly on a bench reading by candlelight during his three days and three nights in the fish’s belly.

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 1:17

In fact, Jonah was probably squeezed in there, alone in the dark, like a man buried alive in a submarine coffin.

Thankfully, though, this did not keep Jonah from reciting the Word of God. Jonah 2:9 (“But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”) shows that Jonah had memorized Psalms 3:8 and 37:39.

There are many good reasons for memorizing Scripture (showing off is not one of them), but one of the best reasons for doing it is so that we can call out the promises of God in times of great peril. I pray that you will never find yourself in the belly of a great fish, but if you do find yourself alone and trapped and in the dark, you will be thankful if you have been long in the habit of spending time alone with God, letting Him sear upon your heart the light of His Word.

More Strange Weapons: A Stone (narrative)

May 16, 2011 at 11:04 am | Posted in Strange Weapons | 3 Comments
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Strange Weapons (Series 1): A Prod, a Peg, and a Pitcher

Part One: The Prod (Judges 3:31)
A prod is used in provoking.
A prod is used in plowing.
A prod is used in purifying.

Part Two: The Peg (Judges 4:22)
A peg is a hidden weapon (like prayer).
A peg is a honed weapon (like the Bible).
A peg is a handy weapon (like love).

Part Three: The Pitcher (Judges 7:20)
Pitchers can contain.
Pitchers can conceal.
Pitchers can crumble.

Now we start series 2:

More Strange Weapons: A Stone and a Bone

The Stone (Judges 9:53)

Gideon had been used by God to defeat the Midianites. To his credit, he had no interest in being a king. But to his shame, during the “mopping-up” operations, he stopped honoring the Lord. He gathered a large fortune, and had 70 sons. When he failed to set a good example for the nation, the people fell back into sin. Judges 9 is the account of one of the sons he had with a slave. This son’s name was Abimelech.

Gideon did not want to be a king, but Abimelech did. His name meant “son of the king.” Abimelech started a political campaign to become king of both the Israelites and the Shechemites. By covetous scheming, by accepting money from Baal-worshipers (thereby promoting idolatry), and finally by murder, Abimelech sought a dual throne.

And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him. And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.

Judges 9:4-5

This is the first mention of a stone in the story of Abimelech, but it won’t be the last. Abimelech appeared to be successful for three years, but his whole plan fell apart in three days.

He had a falling-out with the Shechemites, instigated by a man named Gaal. After putting down the challenge of Gaal and punishing the Shechemites, Abimelech moved on to the city of Thebez, which had sided with the Shechemites.

Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower. And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire. And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place. Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren:

Judges 9:50-56

Next time, I will make three comparisons between the weapon of the millstone hurled down onto Abimelech, and God’s sovereign will. God’s will is not really a “weapon” per se, but it is an important part of the warfare of the victorious Christian life.

The Castaways

May 11, 2011 at 9:27 am | Posted in Romans | 3 Comments
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God gave Israel three chances to accept salvation by grace through faith.

1. They fell.

I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

Romans 11:11 (emphasis added)

2. They were diminished.

Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

Romans 11:12 (emphasis addded)

3. They were cast away.

For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

Romans 11:15 (emphasis added)

I remember watching a television show called “Gilligan’s Island,” which was about a group of “castaways.”

Gilligan's Island

These castaways hoped to be rescued from the desert island where they had landed, but they kept trying to accomplish their rescue on their own. Did other people stop taking cruises until Gilligan and his friends could be found? No. God protected them while they were on the island, but He still blessed others while the castaways were hidden – they were kept safe, but secreted away. In a similar way, the gentiles received the opportunity for salvation partly because Israel fell, became diminished, and became castaways.

The idea from Romans 10 that the gentiles were to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy is reiterated in Romans 11:11. As a Christian, is your life provoking anyone to jealousy?

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

Romans 11:13-14

Many mistake the teaching of the Holy Spirit through Paul to mean that saved people should sin with the sinners in order to develop a relationship with them that will open the door to present the Gospel. That is not what these Verses are teaching. The Apostle Paul “magnified his office.” He openly proclaimed to the gentiles, while he was among them, that he was an Apostle to them. But he also hoped his fellow-Jews were watching. Some of the gentile customs would have been personally offensive to Paul, but if the Jews could see the lengths he was going to in order to bring them the Gospel, they might become jealous and get interested in the message of the Cross, too.

And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:

Romans 11:9

The Jewish “table,” which should have been a place of spiritual nourishment, had become a trap or a snare. The Jewish leaders added to the rituals and the traditions, but they did not add in the nourishment of the Word of God.

Romans 11:16-24 contains the allegory of the olive tree. The gentiles have been “grafted into” God’s tree of salvation, but the gentiles have no grounds for boasting, and they must not forget the importance of Israel in God’s plans.

Pining Away

May 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Ezekiel | 1 Comment
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The expression “pine away” can be found in Ezekiel 33:10 (also Ezekiel 24:23, Leviticus 26:39, and Lamentations 4:9).

Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?

Ezekiel 33:9-10

The English word “pine,” as it is used in these Verses, is from the Latin word for “penalty” or “pain:” “poena” – like “subpoena.” Some translations use “waste away” or “rotting,” instead of “pine” away, but “pine” does a better job of capturing the connotation of the emotional pain described in these Verses.

Outside of the Bible, the expression “pine away” is used to describe the feeling of a separated lover, who feels not only physical pain, but emotional pain as well. It is a feeling akin to “remorse.”

God told Ezekiel to preach to the nation of Israel as a whole. Israel wanted to accuse God of being unfair, and of having dishonestly “fixed” scales. The Israelites blamed God for placing them under a “generational curse.”

God didn’t want their remorse – He wanted their repentance. Repentance is painful, but, when the burden of sin is lifted off, life becomes bearable again. An earthly lover may pine away for a lost sweetheart, but we never have to pine away for Jesus. He’s not far away – He’s as close as repentance. He’s as close as the Word of God. There is no reason not to spend time with Him every day.

The Real “First Thanksgiving:” The Pilgrims Meet the Egyptians

May 6, 2011 at 10:27 am | Posted in Genesis | 15 Comments
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It’s fairly easy to pick up on the soteriological symbolism behind the true historical events of God calling His people out of the land of Egypt and into the promised land of Canaan, as they are recorded in the Bible. In the book of Exodus God uses Moses to get his people out of Egypt. Egypt is a picture of the “world.” During the first “Passover,” the people – by the application of blood – are set free from the bondage of the world, and come out of it. This is a picture of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ. Then, God’s people pass through the Red Sea. This is a picture of baptism, God’s first step of obedience for every believer. Then comes the book of Leviticus, which is full of rules for helping God’s people stay clean in their freedom. In Exodus, God gets His people out of Egypt. In Leviticus, God gets Egypt out of His people.

As we approach the end of a series of posts on Genesis, it is interesting to see how God’s people – the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – end up in Egypt in the first place. The answer lies in the adventures of Jacob’s son, Joseph. His brothers sold him into slavery, and he wound up a ruler in Egypt. Through God’s providence, he was able to relocate his family there in a time of famine, so that they would survive.

There are many metaphors for life: a contest; a war; a game; a race; a battle; a trap; a puzzle. You were probably taught in school that the first Thanksgiving occurred when the Pilgrims met the Indians. But when Joseph brought his father, Jacob, to meet the Pharaoh of Egypt, Jacob explained that he saw life as a pilgrimage.

And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

Genesis 47:9

Christians truly are pilgrims in this life, for our ultimate home is not in this world. We are just passing through it on our way to our real home in Heaven. Vagabonds have no home. Fugitives are running away from home. Strangers are visiting someone else’s home. Pilgrims are on their way home. Are you living the pilgrim life today?

Discipleship Lesson 9: The Holy Spirit

May 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 26 Comments
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I. Where is the Holy Spirit?

He dwells in the temple of your body if you are a Christian, having taken up permanent residence at the moment of salvation.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14:16-17

Only Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:5-6

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

II. How does the Holy Spirit work?

A. He “reproves.”

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

John 16:7-8

He reproves of sin, righteousness, and judgment. “Reprove” is a better description of what He does than “convict” or “convince,” although the meanings of both of those words are included in it. “Reprove” (as in “a reproving look”) contains the idea of both anger and sadness (grief), and the idea of the bringing to light of guilt or shame. The Greek Word is elegcho (from the same root word as “elegy,” which is a song or poem of lament.) To “reprove of sin” means to show that something is wrong, to show that it is to be rejected, and to show that it is to be condemned.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

That’s a good Scriptural example of “reproof” – which includes convincing and convicting.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Revelation 12:10

The devil accuses with an eye toward condemnation, but he is not the only one who makes Christians feel bad about sin. The difference is that his condemnation drives you away from God. God’s reproof brings you back to God – and He does this reproving in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

B. He is involved in creation.

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 upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

Job 33:4

C. He is active in regeneration.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:5

D. He seals Christians as children of God.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

I know I am going to Heaven because of my new-birth experience, and because of the Scriptures, but also because God’s Spirit dwells in me permanently. One day He is going to Heaven to be with God forever. Therefore, I must go with Him.

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14

E. He bears witness of the salvation of Christians.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Romans 8:16

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

I John 4:13

F. He teaches the Bible to Christians.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

G. He intercedes for Christians in prayer.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

Neither saints who have died and gone to Heaven (including Jesus’s mother, Mary), nor angels intercede for us in prayer.

For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Ephesians 2:18

H. He is our Comforter in times of need.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:16-18

The Greek word for “Comforter” in this verse is Parakletos. It means “a helper who comes alongside and an advocate who stands beside you and speaks on your behalf.”

I. He empowers Christians to serve God.

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

Ephesians 3:16

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

Zechariah 4:6

J. He gives Christians discernment in decision-making.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I Corinthians 2:14

In one sense, the Holy Spirit acts as an antenna or receiver: He helps Christians stay attuned to the Truth of God and filter out the false.

III. What does the Holy Spirit do?

He produces spiritual fruit to the glory of God.

The Christian’s job is to bear fruit. The Holy Spirit’s job is to produce fruit. God has graciously given us responsibility, but He keeps ultimate control. Spiritual fruit has seeds within it. It brings joy when shared. It brings glory to the Gardener.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

The Holy Spirit’s job is not to glorify the Holy Spirit. His job is to glorify God in what God has said, and to glorify the Person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, our job primarily is not to glorify the Holy Spirit in worship, but to glorify God and magnify Jesus Christ.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-25

Spiritual fruit is “singular.” These character qualities are part of the same process and fruit.

IV. Questions

A. What are the nine character qualities which are called the fruit of the Spirit?

The first three are “inward:”

1. Love: We must love God in order to truly love others.
2. Joy: Our joy must be in Christ or else the best we can hope for is only a circumstances-dependent temporary happiness.
3. Peace: We can’t have peace with others without peace in our own souls – and we can’t have either one of those without first being at peace with God.

The next three are “outward:”

1. Longsuffering: This involves bearing patiently the issues of dealing with others.
2. Gentleness: This involves dealing with those issues tenderly.
3. Goodness: This involves choosing to deal with others the right, instead of the wrong, way.

The last three are “upward” (toward God):

1. Faith: This involves believing that God is Who He says He is, and that He will do what He has said He will do.
2. Meekness: This involves understanding that God is everything, and I am nothing apart from Him.
3. Temperance: This involves being yielded in our attitudes – being even-keeled (being a thermostat, not a thermometer).

B. Can a person be a Christian without the Holy Spirit?

No.

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Ephesians 4:4-5

C. What is more important for a Christian:

1. You getting more of the Holy Spirit?
2. The Holy Spirit getting more of you?

Answer: 2

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ephesians 5:18

Being filled with the Spirit is not a matter of finding where the Spirit is and hoping to be filled with Him. It is a matter of emptying out of self, vanity, and worldly, fleshly junk – so that He fills every room of your heart.

V. Memory Verses
A.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

B.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

C.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16


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