The Sending of the Holy Spirit

June 1, 2018 at 10:39 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a 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.

Hindsight is 20/20

December 14, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | 3 Comments
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“Hindsight” means looking back, or looking at something after the fact. Often we get into a difficult spot and look back and wish we had known what was going to happen, thinking that, if we had known, we would have done things differently. I experience this quite often when I find myself sitting in a traffic jam. “If only I had taken that exit I flew past five miles ago!”

The expression “Hindsight is 20/20” refers to the way that our foresight is often severely limited or blurry, although we seem to have perfect vision when it comes to evaluating our actions once we have already seen the consequences. Attributing 20/20 hindsight is our way of resigning ourselves to our current situation while forlornly wishing we could have seen the future.

God, unlike us, has “foresight” that’s better than 20/20. He always knows what to expect.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Jeremiah 29:11

Many times the enemies of God will experience hindsight, and, if you think it’s frustrating for you, as a child of God, when you wish that your foresight had been as accurate as your hindsight, imagine how it’s going to be for those who didn’t believe the Word of God.

Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back.

Nahum 2:8

Nineveh repented under the preaching of Jonah, but after a while the Ninevites went back to their old ways, and when Nahum and the other prophets warned them, they prophesied that, when they were conquered, their commanders would order them to stand, but they would be like water draining out of a pool, and they would not “look back.” In other words their hindsight would be a reproach to them.

Spiritually speaking, we don’t have to wait for 20/20 hindsight to evaluate the outcome.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

When you get discouraged, when you don’t have peace, go ahead and cheat a little, and get out your hindsight ahead of time. We are in Christ, and He has overcome the world.

Sometimes we get a little discouraged because what we expect doesn’t happen. Even John the Baptist got a little discouraged. People heard him say, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” but they forgot what had to happen to a lamb for it to take away sin.

And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

Luke 7:19

Did you ever wonder why God doesn’t let us see everything that’s going to happen? Some people think it would take all the fun out of life if there were no surprises, but the reality is that God, for the most part, wants us looking forward, not looking back. A famous quote, often used at the commencement of new a venture undertaken on the foundation of an old establishment, says, “Hats off to the past, coats off to the future.”

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:59-62

A farmer trying to plough straight rows and looking back would do a terrible job. When we say, “Let’s get moving,” generally speaking, we are looking forward. It’s hard to grow in Christian maturity if you’re always looking back. Remember Lot’s wife. (A husband once said, “Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. My wife looked back and turned into a mailbox.”) Looking back is a sign that we’re still yearning for the things of the world, the things of the flesh. We’re not supposed to fondly remember those things anymore. As Christians, we’re looking ahead because we’re following what we love. We’re following Jesus.

Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

II Timothy 4:10

I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;

********************************
The world behind me, the cross before me;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

Attributed to S. Sundar Singh

Hindsight may be 20/20, but, as believers, we’re not worried about our hindsight. We’re too busy following… and looking back may lead to turning back.

God’s Will concerning Your Joy

October 5, 2015 at 11:36 am | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 1 Comment
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Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Colossians 2:23

The heresy in the church in Colossae was an early example of what would later become called Manichaeism. Manichaeism was started by an Iranian false prophet named Mani. It taught that the “spirit of the world” must be denied to the point where misery was a necessary ingredient of Christian service. Originally, its ideas competed with Christianity, but its principles appealed to some Christians, and the Gnostics attempted to sort of “adopt it into” Christianity, although it was quickly denounced as a heresy.

The truth is that God’s will for your life is not that He simply wants you to be miserable. However, in an attempt to counteract the false teachings of Manichaeism, it may be that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. The crisis in the modern Church is that we have a tendency to associate God’s will only with our temporal happiness. We fail to take into account the eternal weight of glory (Romans 8:18) which might be built, and we devalue perseverance and discipline as means of sanctification.

God does not get a kick out of you being unhappy in your marriage or on your job or from any physical or financial limitations you might have, but neither does He give carte blanche to be guided by your feelings. God is God of the decretive and He’s God of the absconditus, but He’s also God of the circumstances and the details.

As Christians, we are soldiers, so we have to train (unpleasant but necessary); we have to go to battle (excruciating but necessary); and we will eventually get to enjoy the spoils of victory (have a feast and ride in a parade), which is joyful while still being God-glorifying.

So, you may get the joy of helping people on a job you hate, and you may experience the ecstasy of “making up” (or the virtues of patience and contentment) after enduring mistreatment by your spouse. Either way, God’s will for your life is sanctification and joy in Him. Don’t get too caught up trying to demonstrate your “free will.” We are terrible judges of our own summum bonum. We are “settlors” when God wants us to be “overcomers.”

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

This reference to the spirit of “the world” includes Manichaeism (let’s hurt ourselves to prove our own will power) and Libertinism (let’s eat and drink for tomorrow we die).

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Romans 8:35-37 (emphasis added)

The Provision of Peace

December 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Do You Know the Way? | 2 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)
V. The Provision of Peace (John 14:27-31)

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. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

John 14:27-31

Remember how John Chapter 14 started off: “Let not your heart be troubled…” Jesus told His disciples this because their hearts were troubled – very troubled. So, in His discourse He gave them words of encouragement about: a prepared place (Heaven); a particular path (Himself); the power of prayer (in His name); and the promise of the Paraclete (the Holy Spirit). He now restates the reason that He has been telling them these things:

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

“Peace” is a popular idea these days. It has been a common theme in pop culture for years. When you see a hippie holding up two fingers, he is saying, “Peace, man.” Have you seen the bumper sticker that says, “Know Jesus, Know Peace / No Jesus, No Peace?” I saw one the other day that said, “Visualize World Peace.” We tend to like the idea of peace, but Jesus told His Disciples that “world peace” is way overrated.

The peace that Jesus gives is “not as the world giveth” – which is a good thing because worldly peace is a counterfeit peace. It is a peace that is entirely dependent on circumstances. It is at best a temporary, illusory peace. Jesus gives us a peace that is greater. He had already told the Disciples that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Now, in a sense, He is also telling them that, not only does He give them peace, but He Himself also is their peace.

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:13

This applies to the barrier between Jewish believers and gentile believers, but also to the barrier between holy God and sinful man.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Ephesians 2:14

Jesus gives us peace by giving us Himself. He is our peace.

Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Ephesians 2:15

The Bible is not speaking here about emotional, psychological peace. It is speaking about the peace that ends a war. Enmity is hatred with a cause. When it came to the enmity between God and man, Jesus abolished it. He ended it – not just by making a truce or a cease-fire – but by reconciling two otherwise irreconcilable enemies. He did not bring God and man into mere tolerance of each other. He brought them into loving fellowship and everlasting familial bonds.

And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Ephesians 2:16

Jesus killed the enmity between God and man for all those whom He saves. This is real peace, not the counterfeit peace which this “world’s system” advertises when it talks about “peace of mind.” It is no surprise that this world’s version of peace is a counterfeit peace, because it is controlled by the great counterfeiter, Satan.

Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

John 14:30

This world system is opposed to Christ largely because it is controlled by Satan, “the prince of the world,” (but not the Lord of all the Earth). Satan is a temporary usurper who has been granted a limited ability to exercise authority in order to maximize God’s glory. Jesus says that this temporary usurper “has nothing in Me,” meaning that Satan could never get a foothold in Jesus’s earthly life. Not one single solitary victory could Satan accomplish in the life of Christ. Jesus says to us that He is the provision of our peace, and Satan and this world will not rob us of the peace which He has won for us with God the Father.

But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

John 14:31

If you love the Father, your love for Him exists because Jesus has given it to you. Now, as the Father commanded Jesus to go, He commands us also to “arise” – to go. Worldly peace holds the false promise of the end of activity. “You are at peace, so you can rest. One day soon,” it says, “you can retire. You can move to the country, where you won’t have any pesky neighbors to bother you. You’ll have money to live on so you won’t have to go to work with a bunch of sinners. You can even order your groceries on the internet so you won’t have to go to the market and hear a bunch of cussing, and people blaspheming God’s name. You can just cultivate a small circle of Christian friends. You can come to church, but without getting too involved. You won’t have to get your hands dirty anymore, trying to minister to a bunch of filthy sinners. You will be able to putter around in your yard or in your workshop, and fish and hunt, or crochet and bake your way into the presence of King Jesus.” But Jesus says no! He says arise! It means get up and get moving! This peace is not physical rest. It’s spiritual rest. It’s the assurance that you are right with God and that Jesus is with you, not so you can escape from the world, but so you can overcome the world in Him!

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

Say no to world peace! Arise with the peace of God, and go make sure that this world either surrenders to Jesus or fights against Him, but never forgets that He is its rightful Lord.

The Addict (Signs of Addiction)

November 9, 2012 at 10:19 am | Posted in I Corinthians, Outcasts of Ministry | 2 Comments
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Outcasts of Ministry: The Addict, the Slave, and the Man Who Fell Out of Church

Last time we contrasted some of the characteristics of the worldly addict with those of the ministry addict.

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

I Corinthians 16:15 (emphasis added)

Now we will look at the signs of addiction:

1. A strong, almost overwhelming urge to engage in a certain behavior

But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing,

Galatians 4:18

It would certainly not be good to be zealous in your affections about crack cocaine. It’s not good to be zealous in your affections about your outward appearance. But it is good to be zealous in your affections about ministry – because ministry is a good basis for addiction. In the world, you are an outcast if you are addicted to the “wrong” thing, and you’re popular if you’re addicted to the “right” thing. But these views of “right” and “wrong” are fleeting and fickle. Sometimes sexual addiction is seen as titillating or a sign of virility – until it ruins someone’s life or someone’s marriage. You might remember the “heroin chic” phase, when the media glamorized the emaciated bodies and dark eyes of runway models who used drug addiction as a means to stay thin.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/head.jpg?w=270

Some addictions seem pretty cool until they go too far and make the addict an outcast. Likewise, an addiction to ministry might cause unbelievers to cast you out – but God won’t consider you an outcast for it.

2. Feelings of low self-esteem

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Philippians 2:3

A drug addict or a compulsive over-eater has low self-esteem because he doesn’t think he’s worth anything. A ministry addict has low self-esteem because he believes that serving Christ is worth everything. The message of the world is “believe in yourself,” but don’t you buy into that vain philosophy! In America we love to talk about our “rights” and entitlements – that we think we deserve as individuals. But that’s a false view of freedom. Real freedom comes when we become so addicted to ministry that we give up our “right” to be first, and esteem others better than ourselves.

3. Drawing away from the normal activities of daily life

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

II Timothy 2:4

One of the dangers of even seemingly-harmless worldly addictions (that favorite TV show that you just can’t miss, for example) is that we become too entangled with them to have time for ministry. Ask someone who is serving active military duty in a combat zone. A soldier ready for battle at any moment can’t say, “Hold off on the fighting for a couple of days – I just started fixing up my car.” He can’t say, “I just met this new girl and she’s all I can think about right now.” Soldiers have to be focused. They can’t afford to be addicted to “fun” things. A worldly addict may find himself dropping out of polite society because of devotion to his addiction, but a ministry addict is someone who is in the world (which is the battleground of spiritual warfare), but not of the world. Nothing should capture our affection, our adoration, or our attention more than the work of the Lord.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

4. A feeling of euphoria, or pleasure, while engaging in the addictive behavior

The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

Psalm 111:2

The worldly addict gets a physical “kick” out of his addiction. That’s one of the big problems with addiction. Addicts build an immunity and need more and more of the object of their addiction. Many scientists believe this phenomenon is caused by chemicals in the brain. The truth is, God understands our need for pleasure – for a good feeling or satisfaction in the works we do. But Christians are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. One of the quickest ways to grieve the Holy Spirit is by exposing His presence in our bodies to the false pleasure of sinfully carnal pursuits. The worldly addict can never be satisfied, but he can get brief pleasure from feeding the flesh with the object of his addiction. The ministry addict, however, surrenders to the Holy Ghost and takes pleasure in those things in which He takes pleasure.

What’s the one thing that the Holy Ghost really longs to do?

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

Glorifying the Lord Jesus is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. What can we do to be used by the Holy Spirit to do that?

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

I John 4:11-13

Stephanas ministered to the saints – to other believers. By so doing, he glorified Christ Jesus, and pleased the Holy Spirit of God. The worldly addict seeks a short-lived artificial high, and makes himself an outcast in pursuing it. The ministry addict seeks an eternal lasting pleasure – the pleasure of the Holy Ghost who dwells within him.

Discipleship Lesson 9: The Holy Spirit

May 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 31 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

Discipleship Lesson 4: The Bible

December 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 99 Comments
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We have the revealed WORD OF GOD. Therefore, as Christians, we must let its principles guide our lives.

I. What does the Bible do for a lost person?

It is active in his salvation.

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

I Peter 1:23

The Word of God is active in bringing about the new birth.

For by grace are ye saved through faith…

Ephesians 2:8

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

James 1:21

There is an emphasis on the Word of God in the Gospel:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

I Corinthians 15:1-4, emphasis added

Believing what the Bible says about the Gospel is necessary for salvation.

II. What does the Bible do for a saved person?

A. It is the Owner’s manual. If we don’t follow the Owner’s and the Manufacturer’s plans, we won’t “work” – we won’t be successful Christians.

NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

B. It equips us for service.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

II Timothy 3:16-17

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:17

C. It sustains us.

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Job 23:12

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

I Peter 2:2

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

Proverbs 7:2

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

Proverbs 25:11

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Luke 4:4

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Hebrews 5:12-14

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

I Corinthians 3:2

D. It cleans us.

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Ephesians 5:26

BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:9-11

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

John 15:3

E. It makes us pleasing to God.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Psalm 119:165

III. Is the Bible ever wrong?

No, it is a “more sure word,” even than the audible voice of God.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

II Peter 1:16-21

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11:3

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Psalm 138:2

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Psalm 12:6-7

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

Psalm 33:6

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:3

IV. What is the best way to study the Bible?

Compare Scripture with Scripture – not our own intellect or experiences.

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. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.

John 16:13-15

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 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. 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. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

I Corinthians 2:9-16

V. Questions

A. Was the Bible created by men or by God?

It was created by God. It contains 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New Testament. God used over 40 human instruments in writing it, but it fits together perfectly because the Holy Spirit is the real Author. It was written over a time span of 2000 years. It is totally accurate in history, prophecy, and life application. It contains no contradictions.

B. Is the Bible too hard for a Christian to understand?

No, it is not. However, there are difficult passages, and one of the key things for a Christian to remember is to live what you do understand, and God will reveal to you in His time what you do not yet understand.

C. Is there any value in memorizing Scriptures?

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

VI. Memory Verses

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

II Peter 1:21

BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Psalm 119:9

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

II Timothy 3:16

From Power to Proclamation to Prayer

June 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Acts | 16 Comments
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When God used Peter to heal the lame man in Acts Chapter 3, this man had a wonderful reaction.

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Acts 3:6-8

Note that the Scripture says he was praising God, not the Holy Spirit. God is triune. He is one God in three Persons. However, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to bring praise to Jesus, not to the Holy Ghost Himself. (See John 16:12-15.) There are probably some local churches today which place too little emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Ghost, but there is no doubt that there are many charismatic and Penteocostal local churches which unbiblically sing praises to the Holy Ghost to the exclusion of God the Father and Christ the Son.

There is a sense in which this leaping, praising man is a picture of all Christian believers. He was lame. All of us came into this world lacking the ability to walk in a way which was pleasing to God. When Adam sinned, we say he “fell.” When Adam fell, we all fell, and, like the lady in the medic alert commercial, we had fallen and “could not get up” under our own power.

This man was begging alms because he was poor. We were all poor in relation to our inability to pay the debt we owed God – the sin debt.

This man was seated near the temple, but he was outside the temple. All of us were born “outside.” We were outside of the righteousness of God. And no matter how close we came to believing the Gospel message, until we did in fact believe, we were still “outside.” Like the lame man, there was a period when some of us were “so near, yet so far.”

But when this lame man was healed, he was healed instantly. Salvation, the fact of being “born again,” happens in a moment. One moment, you are lost, a child of the devil, bound for hell – the next moment you become a child of God, indwelt by His Spirit, with a home in Heaven. Like the lame man, we should all publicly identify ourselves with God when this happens.

Note that Peter did not use this miraculous healing episode to start a “healing and deliverance conference” focused on curing diseases and healing infirmities. Instead, he used the occasion of God’s power exhibited toward this lame man to convict the hearers of their sin.

And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

Acts 3:17-18

These verses show God’s marvelous blending of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The rulers were accountable for crucifying Jesus, but God had ordained that the Crucifixion must come to pass, and had even foretold it in the Old Testament.

Our finite minds can not comprehend much about God’s divine sovereignty and the concept of human accountability. Both are taught clearly in Scripture. When Charles Spurgeon was asked how he reconciled the two, seemingly contradictory, ideas, he said that he never tried to reconcile good friends.

We get the impression that the first Christian church consisted of a very busy group of individuals. They had a passion for the Word of God, and they were empowered by the Holy Ghost. When these things concur among believers who are in strong unity, many miraculous things happen. It’s just a shame that they all had to share one Honda. (“And they, continuing daily with one “accord…” Acts 2:46) Okay, I know that’s corny, but I couldn’t resist. It’s Joke # 3 in the Official Preacher’s Joke Book. (Joke # 2 is telling everyone in the congregation to turn to “Hezekiah” Chapter 3.)

Acts Chapter 4 contains what might be my favorite Bible verse. It was one of the verses read at my ordination service:

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

The verse not only shows the power and exclusivity of Jesus’s name, but it highlights the absolute insanity of rejecting the only name in the universe that can truly help a lost person.

And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

Acts 4:14-17

There was the proof of the power of Jesus’s name standing right in front of them! But these Jewish leaders still did everything they could to deny it!

Facing persecution, the early Church members turned to prayer. This is the beginning of a prayer that is based on Psalm 2:

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Acts 4:24

It is a prayer that is remarkable for the way in which it seeks to glorify God, and for its unselfish nature. Notice that the Apostles did not ask God to change their circumstances.

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

Acts 4:29

Instead of asking God to change their circumstances, they asked Him to change their reaction to the circumstances. I love this submission to God’s power and providence. The Greek word translated as “Lord” in Acts 4:24 is despotes – what we would call a “despot” or “tyrant.” When is the last time you humbled yourself before Christ as your LORD, and not just as your mechanic, doctor, therapist, or ATM?

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

Professing Atheists Do Have Faith

March 11, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 1 Comment
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Christian: Professing atheists are people who know the truth, but choose to deny the truth because they are walking after their own lusts.

Professing Atheist: I find it quite strange that you claim to know what’s going on in other people’s minds.

Christian: I do not claim to know what’s going on in other people’s minds in the sense of having a private revelation. Romans Chapter 1 and I John 3:20 make it abundantly clear, however, that God knows what is going on in everyone’s mind, including professing atheists. They have access to the truth, yet hold that truth in unrighteousness.

Professing Atheist: Do you actually think that everyone in the whole world really believes that Christianity is correct, and willfully ignores that truth? Is non-belief so alien a concept to you that you refuse to consider that many people out there honestly and legitimately don’t believe the same things that you do?

Christian: Non-belief is not an alien concept. I don’t believe a great many things. Likewise, to you, faith is not an alien concept. You have faith. But your greatest need – and on some level you know this – is to transfer your faith to Christ Jesus. I am fully aware that I have no power to sway you. But the Holy Spirit of God does have the power. He not only reproves of sin, but also of righteousness, and of judgment. (John 16:8) He can use Scripture to do so. (Romans 10:14-17) Therefore, it is you, not me, who will get the real benefit if you open the Bible and read with an open mind and heart.


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