The Sending of the Holy Spirit

June 1, 2018 at 10:39 am | Posted in John, Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: If the Holy Spirit was already in the world in Old Testament times, why did Jesus say that if He (Jesus) didn’t go, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t come, in John 16:7?

Answer: The Holy Spirit (Who is also God) operated differently under the Old Covenant. In the Old Covenant, He would come upon specific individuals for specific reasons at specific times. You can see some examples in the lives of Moses, Samson, Saul, and David. That is what happened to John the Baptist and to Jesus, because they were still under the Old Covenant before Jesus’s Crucifixion. The Holy Spirit did not take up permanent residence inside human beings then. This changed when Jesus instituted the New Covenant. When He ascended into Heaven after His Resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit to all who put their trust in Jesus and were regenerated (born again). If you believe the truth about Jesus and put all your trust in Him, the Holy Spirit will live in you, too.

Why We Can, and Cannot, Have Nice Things

September 21, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Exodus | 9 Comments
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And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.

Exodus 31:1-5

One of the key differences between the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and the New Testament is that, under the Old Testament, certain people were periodically “anointed” or “filled” with the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit permanently indwells born-again believers from the moment of salvation.

Bezalel, who seems to have been in charge of the construction of the Tabernacle, had certain talents – which are gifts from God – but not necessarily the same as the New Testament “gifts of the Spirit,” such as administration or evangelism or preaching and teaching or mercy or giving. Basically, Bezalel got an “upgrade” to his talents for working with gold and silver and bronze and metals and stone and wood, so that the work of the Tabernacle and its furnishings would be excellent, and would have a supernatural level of beauty, durability, and function.

Exodus Chapter 32 features one of the climactic moments of the Book of Exodus, and possibly even the climax of the narrative that runs through the entire “Hexateuch” (Genesis – Joshua). The events recorded here constitute a key moment in redemptive history. The Old Covenant (which was then still a very new covenant) had just been given, confirmed, ratified, accepted, and sealed with blood. Moses had gone back up Mount Sinai to get the specifications for the Tabernacle and for Tabernacle worship. We know he was up there for 40 days, but, during that time, the people did not know how long he would be gone, and they were worried. They still lacked faith, despite everything they had experienced, seen, and heard.

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

Exodus 32:1

What if, while Moses was away, they came under attack like they had from the Amalekites? Had Moses abandoned them or died? Had Yahweh left them here? (His presence could not be seen in the pillars of fire and cloud anymore at this point, because He was with Moses on the mountain.) They still had manna and water, but who was going to lead them now?

Exodus 32:1 says that “the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron.” Aaron was supposed to be in charge while Moses was away, and it is possible they did this in order to oppose him or coerce him. It is also possible they simply plead or demanded, but, either way, Aaron still felt the pressure of the crowd. He was older than Moses, but had been with Moses, and was known as a priest, so it was natural that they would seek his leadership or his endorsement upon their desires. Besides, who doesn’t like a “leader” that can be controlled by his people, rather than one who answers only to God?

The people said to Aaron, “Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” What kind of “gods” have to be “made?” And it wasn’t, strictly speaking, “this Moses” who had brought them out of Egypt. It was really Moses’s God Who had done it. Maybe they wanted some help from the Egyptian gods, or maybe just something that they could see and touch to represent Yahweh for them. This was a definite violation of the 2nd Word, and probably the 1st, too.

And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Exodus 32:2-4

They asked for a “graving” tool, despite the specific language which warned them and forbade them from making “graven” images! The “calf” was supposed to be the image of a young bull, which was a cultic god in Egypt, but which also would have been representative of their idea of what a powerful god should be like – a god that could drive out their enemies in the promised land. When the people said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt,” this was an instance of either outright lying, self-deceit, or a syncretisitc attempt to remake Yahweh into the images of another religion. What tragic, rebellious, disobedient, shameful, and sinful thinking!

The Promise of the Paraclete

November 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Do You Know the Way?, John | 7 Comments
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Do You Know the Way? (John 14)

I. The Prepared Place (John 14:1-3)
II. The Particular Path (John 14:4-11)
III. The Power of Prayer (John 14:12-14)
IV. The Promise of the Paraclete (John 14:15-26)

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14:16

“Comforter” is translated from the Greek word Parakletos or “Paraclete,” meaning one who comes alongside to pick you up when you are hurt or weary, and to encourage you as he goes with you.

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

The promise of the Paraclete was a mysterious promise. In the Old Testament He was known, but He seemed to be poured out upon only select anointed individuals, and only for temporary time periods. Jesus promised that He would abide with believers forever, and the Holy Spirit is not second fiddle, so to speak, to Jesus. In fact, He reinforces and perfectly identifies with the ministry of Jesus.

He was there at the incarnation of Jesus in His conception.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Matthew 1:20

He was there at Jesus’s baptism to empower His earthly ministry.

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Luke 3:22

He was there as Jesus battled Satan and was tempted.

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

Luke 4:1

He was there at Jesus’s Ascension to take His place.

Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

Acts 1:2

He is here today, and if you will yield to Him you will experience the fulfillment of the promise of the Paraclete in your life.

Next time, we will see the provision of peace.

Teaching / Temptation

October 15, 2014 at 10:06 am | Posted in Biblical Teaching, John, Two Sides to Every Comfort | 3 Comments
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Teaching

In the first lesson in this series I explained the original meaning of the word comfort: “with strength.” Strength is imparted to us by God, but it pleases Him to use circumstances to do it. He has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us and to teach us through these circumstances.

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 (emphasis added)

The Greek word translated as Comforter is parakletos, and it means someone who comes alongside (para) and helps (kletos). One way to describe it is that a parakletos is like a soldier who helps his wounded comrade in battle – except instead of carrying him back to camp, he strengthens him to keep going forward – and he teaches him as he strengthens. The Holy Spirit teaches us the right way to think about our circumstances and the right things to say about our circumstances.

What a comforting thought to know that God has not left us alone to navigate our own sanctification! We could never do it on our own. But remember the comfort that comes from knowing that we have God’s Own Spirit as our teacher has a flip side. The other side of teaching is:

Temptation

God does not teach the way we teach.

Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.

Job 36:21

Job was told to be on the lookout for the temptation of iniquity. The “quick-fix” lie of Satan is that we can escape affliction by sinning.

Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?

Job 36:22

God has a very hands-on, trial-by-fire teaching method.

Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?

God is never the author of sin.

Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold. Every man may see it; man may behold [it] afar off.

Job 36:24-25

God allows temptation, but He also makes the way to escape, and when we emerge victorious over temptation, God gets the glory – and we learn a lesson.

Do you see the connection? We will be tempted, but we will not face it alone, and we will not be left without a comforter. When we fall, He will come along and help us up, and teach us – and we will get comfort.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:27

The peace that Christ gives is not like the counterfeit peace that the world offers, but it is true peace. It is the blessing and comfort of learning and knowing that God is orchestrating our lives.

Getting Full (Part 2)

October 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Posted in John, Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Have you ever attended a church service or a conference that turned out to be sort of a religious pep rally where the speaker did his best to get you all fired up to do something, but then stopped short of actually telling you how to do it? Last time I wrote about the importance of being “full” of the Holy Spirit. Now we will look at how to do that.

The first clue lies right there in the verse that commands us to do it:

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

Ephesians 5:18

How do you get drunk with wine? You drink it – lots of it!

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

I Corinthians 12:13

That Spirit referenced in I Corinthians 12:13 is the Holy Spirit, and you have access to Him if you are truly a Christian – just like every other Christian has access to Him. So how do you “drink of the Spirit?” You drink the Spirit by “minding the things of the Spirit.” In other words, since the Spirit is not really a liquid, and we are using a metaphor here, you have to set your mind and your affection on spiritual things. You have to focus on the things of God and get involved in doing them. If you wanted to drink a large amount of water you would go to where the water is. You would pick it up, and you would pour it down your throat.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

Romans 8:5

1. Initiate spiritual thoughts and actions.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:1-2

Think about that with which God would want you to be involved.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8

Get full of the Holy Spirit by thinking about – and doing – the types of things the Holy Spirit loves to do: things that help others; things that build up others; things that edify; things that bring praise and glory to God; things that magnify Christ Jesus – which brings us to the second way to get full of the Holy Spirit.

2. Imitate the Lord Jesus.

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

John 7:37-39

If you came to Jesus, repenting of your sins, believing the truth about Him, and calling upon Him to save you from the wrath of God that you and I deserve, then you “drank” of His Spirit, and, after that, rivers of this “living water” exist in you and flow out of you. Therefore, you “drink the Spirit” by living, loving, and leading like Jesus. You need to live a pure and holy life, because that’s how Jesus lived. You need to love the people around you – and especially the people who seem unlovable – because that’s what Jesus did. You need to lead people into a right relationship with God, because that’s what Jesus did.

3. Indoctrinate yourself with Bible principles.

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

John 6:53

You need to read and study and meditate on the teachings of Jesus. You need to go to church and Sunday School and learn about, put into practice, and live out the teachings of Jesus. You need to be a student of the records of what He said during His time on earth in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you are going to have to find out what the Bible teaches, both in the “red letter” words, and in the rest of the Bible, too, including the teachings of the Apostles.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

I Corinthians 2:12-13

If we will indoctrinate ourselves with the words of Jesus and with Apostolic teaching, we will be filled with the Holy Spirit.

4. Interact with the Holy Spirit Himself.

He is a person. He is not a source, a power, a mystical cloud, a thing, or an “it.” When you are dealing with a person, you must cultivate a real relationship.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

John 3:8

You can’t control the wind, but you can certainly interact with it. It is important – and perhaps this is the most important thing to know about how to be filled with the Holy Spirit – to pray for Him to fill you.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 11:3

Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit.

You have to want to be Spirit-filled for the right reasons. He can not be manipulated.

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

Acts 8:9-23

“Simony” is the purchasing of church offices, but Simon’s real fault was in thinking he could manipulate and control the Holy Spirit for his own profit. He was covetous (“in the gall of bitterness”) and he was being used by Satan (“in the bond of iniquity”). The wrong way to ask God for the Holy Spirit is with an ulterior motive of manipulation. The right way is with a heart that seeks to please God. Remember, when you are filled with the Spirit, here is what you will find yourself doing: praising the Lord; thanking the Lord, serving others humbly because of God.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:18-21

However, you can not have the Spirit at all – much less be filled – unless you have been born again.

Getting Full (Part 1)

September 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Galatians | 7 Comments
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Lord, thank You for the great gift of the Holy Spirit. He is our Helper, our Comforter, our Counselor. He gives us joy and hope and peace. May we never grieve You, Holy Spirit. May we never quench You. May You have free reign in every cavern of our hearts. May You lead us into all Truth. In the Name of the Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.

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

Ephesians 5:18

“Be not drunk” is a command, and it is an easy thing to learn from this verse, but it is not the primary principle being taught here. Here the subject of drunkenness is used for the purpose of contrast – in a way that is similar to the contrast which is highlighted when things that reflect light look very bright against darkness. Jewelers use this to their advantage when they show customers brilliant diamonds against a black cloth.

When the Holy Spirit says, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit,” He is not saying, “Go ahead and get drunk, but don’t do it by drinking wine.” He’s not saying that He will make you act like a drunk person. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is a set of character qualities or virtues that are the opposite of the way a drunk person acts.

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

Drunkards are not usually peaceful. In fact, they are often downright belligerent. They are not longsuffering (willing to put up with a great deal of offense). Actually, they tend to be very easily provoked and offended. They are not known for being gentle, nor meek. They are often loud, boastful, and boisterous. Temperance is sometimes used as an antonym for drunkenness.

No, Ephesians 5:18 is not offering a “clean way” to be loud, obnoxious, clumsy, and stupid. It’s saying drunk people are full of wine, but sober, kind, loving, wise, Christian people are filled with the Spirit.

So, which do you want to be? Do you want to think you’re ten feet tall and bullet-proof when you’re really basically incapacitated mentally – stumbling around like a fool? Do you want to be loud but with nothing intelligent to say? Do you want to be muttering and mumbling and grumbling and complaining and getting on everyone’s nerves because you feel like nothing ever goes your way? Or do you want to be wise – and kind – and loving – and respected – and useful for the Kingdom of God? If so, then you want option two: you want to be filled with the Spirit.

Next time, we’ll take a look at how to do that.

Throw Down

April 22, 2013 at 10:14 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Jeremiah | 7 Comments
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Lord, I pray that Your Holy Spirit would work in the lives of people and in their circumstances to bring them to a place of confrontation concerning their souls and their standing with You. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s time to ‘throw down?'”

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This a colloquial expression meaning that it is time to fight. Originally, it meant a challenge to a gun duel or some type of physical confrontation (“throw down the gauntlet”) but these days it can refer to any type of competition – even a barbeque cook-off.

You can find the expression several times in the Bible, but there it usually has a connotation of destroying pagan altars, places of worship, or positions of worldly power: Judges 2:2; 6:25; Jeremiah 1:10; Jeremiah 31:28; Ezekiel 16:39; Micah 5:11; Malachi 1:4.

Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Jeremiah 1:4-10 (emphasis added)

God knew Jeremiah before he was born. He not only formed him in his mother’s womb, but He already had a special job for him to do.

Jeremiah had objections to God’s command: “I am a child. I can’t speak. I am afraid.”

The Lord touched him, and put words in his mouth. Why? So he could build up a name for himself? So he could be Jeremiah the famous and well-liked prophet? So he could have a Holy Ghost conference and show off his power? So he could get wealthy? No. God set up Jeremiah to root out, to destroy, to “throw down.”

When God calls us to do something, we need to be obedient. Our answer should be “yes.” Not “no,” or even “why?” Jeremiah was humble, but he wasn’t disobedient. It is in our human nature to seek explanations, but it’s easy for us to allow “evaluation” to become an excuse for delay. I had a professor in law school who liked to call on us in class when we least expected it. The result was often a blank stare and an open mouth on the part of the students. He didn’t like that. He preferred a quick answer, even if it was an incorrect answer, to no answer at all. He often referred to a “fatally logical chicken” which starved to death when it found itself poised exactly equidistant between two equally appetizing pans of grain.

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All too often, as fallen sinners, we are all too ready to “throw down” for the wrong reasons: someone gets on our nerves; someone offends us; someone cheats us out of something we feel like we deserved. When God tells us to “throw down” we might need to throw our hands down, and throw ourselves down on our knees, and throw ourselves wholeheartedly into what God wants us to do.

The Grudge-Match of the Century: The Lion of God vs. Double-Wicked Cushan

July 7, 2009 at 9:30 am | Posted in Biblical Violence | 5 Comments
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In the land of Canaan, in the days of the Judges of Israel, God’s people often failed to act like God’s people. As their priests failed to instruct the people in the keeping of God’s law, and as a new generation of parents failed to hold their children accountable for their sins, the people of Israel began to intermarry with the pagan idol-worshippers around them. When this happened it wasn’t long before the Israelites began worshiping the false gods of their spouses, and began to “do evil in the sight of the Lord” (Judges 3:5-7), including sacrificing their own children.

Therefore, to chasten the people whom He loved, but whose sin He hated, the Lord God allowed the king of Mesopotamia to enslave them. This king’s name translates to the charming moniker, “Double-Wicked Cushan.”

God heard the cries of His people, however, and raised up Othniel to deliver them. It was the “Lion of God” versus “Ol’ Double-Evil.” How did Othniel win the victory and restore the freedom of God’s people for 40 years? Not by having the largest army or the sturdiest weapons. Rather, the key to Othniel’s success is found in Judges 3:10: “And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war…”

Othniel responded to the power of the Holy Spirit, and he had a willingness to fight for God. Most Christians today are not commanded to be in a military war, and we are forbidden from using carnal weapons. We are in a war, but it’s a spiritual war, and our main weapons are prayer, the Word of God, love, and, like Othniel, a willingness to serve. What a waste it would be to have the empowering gift of the Holy Spirit residing in the temple of your body, but to refuse to walk in His strength, and to be enslaved to the enemy’s strongholds.

Professing Atheists Pretend They Would Like God If He Could Be Controlled

April 28, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 7 Comments
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Professing Atheist: What about rape, murder, torture, pain, suffering? You are holding God to lower standards than everyone else, even though he is supposed to be good. That is bizarre. Good behavior should need no rationalization – it should be self evident.

Christian: It is always a mistake to believe that anyone holds God to any standard. He never violates the Truth of His own Word. People assume horrible atrocities go unpunished because they do not see what God sees. People will claim they want a God they can figure out (Romans 11:33-36), but that would be beyond bizarre – it would be horrific.

God cannot be held to the standards of sinful men, because He is perfect, and men are sinful. However, He is also holy – and this goes beyond our finite understanding of perfection. (I Samuel 2:2). He cannot be compared with us, because He is not “like us, only better.” He is not “like us, only wiser.” He is not “like us, only more powerful.” He is not like us at all.

We cannot truthfully determine the extent of God’s justice or the extent of His mercy. What we consider our righteousness is like filth to Him (Isaiah 64:6). Professing atheists pretend that they want a logical little god they can subject to their own tests and standards. But that is because they are spiritually, albeit willfully, blind (I Corinthians 2:14). That way they can please their pride, and tell themselves that they are not like the murderers and rapists – they are “only” liars or lustful or idolaters or blasphemers or covetous. God does not always deliver tidy explanations, but He does give dependable promises.

Professing Atheist: Spiritually blind? How do you do that? Do you have some special sense I don’t?

Christian: Christians don’t have a special sense that you don’t have. They have a special Person: the Holy Spirit. He acts like an antenna which allows them to discern the Truth, and filter out the false. “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.” John 16:13

Professing Atheist: It is important to realize that I’m not a deconvert – I never had a religion. So I can’t lie about God’s nonexistence – I know he doesn’t exist! Covetors are people who want something others have. You have nothing that I would ever want – your ideas are poison.

Christian: You have a basic understanding of the meaning of “covetous,” but you are confusing “covet” and “convert.” No argument, debate, or scientific test is going to convert you. That should let you relax. The Holy Spirit, however, CAN reprove you – that may be why you can NOT relax.

Professing Atheist: How do you know? If God doesn’t give tidy explanations why do you believe He will give dependable promises? If he has a separate standard, what is to stop Him from throwing Christians in Hell?

Christian: If God doesn’t give tidy explanations, how do I know He won’t throw true Christians in hell? “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” I John 5:13

The Power of the Resurrection and of the Holy Ghost

April 17, 2009 at 11:49 am | Posted in Acts, Resurrection | 19 Comments
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The period of time discussed in the Book of Acts was a time of great changes and transitions in the way the Gospel was to be proclaimed and spread throughout the world.

In Chapter One there is a focus on what, to Jesus’s Disciples and Apostles, had to be an earth-shaking and life-changing event: the Resurrection.

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

Acts 1:1-3 (Emphasis added.)

Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

Acts 1:22 (Emphasis added.)

The Apostles now understood something about the “Kingdom of God” that they did not fully understand before Jesus’s Resurrection: that the Kingdom was not a “political” Kingdom.

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

Acts 1:6-7

The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom where the King reigns over the hearts of believers.

Another truth which the apostles began to fully grasp in the Book of Acts was the fulfillment of the prophecy of John the Baptist.

John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

Luke 3:16 (Note that believers are baptized with the Holy Ghost AND fire – referring to purifying and sanctifying persecution – not with the Holy Ghost IN fire, as has become a common cliche’ in Pentecostalism.)

For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Acts 1:5

Since Luke is the human instrument which the Holy Ghost used to write both Luke and Acts, it seems as if they can be read as part one and part two of a two-volume set.

This new, living, breathing institution called the Church would receive its power from the Holy Ghost, and not from men. The power would be manifested in the act of becoming witnesses. “Witnesses” are people who tell what they have personally seen and heard – not their opinions.

The opinions of men have often become traditions, and have corrupted the transfer of Biblical truth. One example can be found in Acts 1:14: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Notice that Mary was there participating in the worship – not being worshiped. Roman Catholic tradition is full of the unbiblical worship of Mary.

Acts Chapter 2 begins to highlight the unity among believers that was a key element in the success of the Church.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

Acts 2:1 (Emphasis added.)

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Acts 2:46 (Emphasis added.)

The early Church was extremely successful even though it had none of the so-called advantages of churches today: no fancy buildings; no large donations of money; no political influence; and no real social standing.

There is also in Acts Chapter 2 an interesting comparison between the ceremonies of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

The Old was primarily Jewish. The New would be mostly rejected by the Jews, and would prosper among Gentiles. The Old had a Passover. The New had the Crucifixion. The Old brought death. The New brought life. The Old had a feast of first fruits. The New had the Resurrection. The Old had the day of Pentecost. The New had the giving of the Holy Spirit.

The giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost – TO THE JEWS – was a one-time non-repeatable event. It is part of salvific history – like the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. There will be no more Calvaries, and there will be no more Pentecosts.

There were signs of the Spirit coming upon a group of Jewish people. There was wind which was heard, but not felt. There were flames which were seen, and not felt.

The Bible calls them “tongues of fire.” These believers praised God in various languages. Note the symbolism of what happens in nature: Wind + fire = a mighty blaze.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

James 3:5-6

Our tongues can be set on fire by Heaven, or they can be set on fire of hell!

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:4

The “other tongues” were different languages – not speech that was unknown anywhere – not Heavenly speech. Here we see the reversal of what happened at the Tower of Babel in Genesis Chapter 11. There, people were divided by God because of rebellion against God. Here, people are united in praise of God.

These believers were accused of being drunk, but not because of a lack of self-control. In fact, Peter preached with great logic.

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 2:21

Holy Spirit-empowered sermons are still logical. Here is his logic: One, the Holy Ghost is here – in the world. Two, the same Spirit (not the same event) prophesied by Joel – the same Spirit that came upon Moses, Samson, David, the prophets – is here. Three, if He is here, God must have given Him. Four, Jesus promised this would happen (Luke 24:49). Five, if Jesus had died and not risen, He would still be dead, and could not have sent His Spirit.

THEREFORE, He is alive. He is risen!

Six, He is alive, but how could He have sent the Spirit from Heaven? Seven, He must have ascended to Heaven.

In Acts 2:23 the logical proof becomes an accusation: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:”

The power of the Holy Ghost empowered Peter, who had denied Jesus three times, to be able to accuse others of denying Him. Peter did not preach about how good a deal salvation was: “Jesus was perfect and He died for you – you give your life to Him and He’ll save you.” First, he told them they killed their own Messiah – the greatest crime in history – the most horrible crime in history. He told them that God sent His Son to save them, and they mocked Him, beat Him, spit on Him, and killed Him. THEN He explained WHY God allowed it to happen.

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Acts 2:36

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