Itself or Himself?

June 26, 2020 at 9:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Question: On the whiteboard left in our Sunday School classroom from children’s church someone had written out Romans 8:26, but over the word “itself” had written “Himself.” Does this mean that the Bible has the wrong word there?

Answer: Let me copy and paste the verse here, so we can see the context:

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.

Romans 8:26

The “itself” refers to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is a Person (which we often call “Him”) as opposed to an object or thing (which we usually refer to as an “it”), so I’m guessing that a children’s church teacher was trying to make the point that the Holy Spirit is the third “Person” of the Trinity, and, as such, is a personal being, not a force or an inanimate substance. But I’m just guessing. I don’t know who wrote it or why.

As to your question, though, my understanding is that the Greek word for “Spirit” in Romans 8:26 is pnuema, which in the Greek is a “neuter” noun (as opposed to a “masculine” or “feminine” noun). The word translated as “itself” is autos, and it is there not to determine the gender or personhood of the Holy Spirit, but to emphasize that the VERY SPIRIT OF GOD!, as opposed to something lesser, intercedes for us with God the Father in prayer. Sort of the way we would say, “I know that Louisiana mosquitoes really CAN ruin a picnic – I have seen it ‘MYSELF‘ with my own eyes!” “Myself” in that statement is not necessary for the sentence to make sense, but it’s there for emphasis.

So, I don’t think the KJV translators were denying, or were mistaken, about the personhood of the Holy Spirit. I think they were just matching up a neuter emphasis word (“itself”) with a neuter noun (pnuema). Most of the other translations translate it “Himself,” and I can’t fault them for being theologically accurate, but neither can I fault the KJV translators for trying to be grammatically accurate.

For comparison, look at John 4:22. Jesus said to the woman at the well: “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” Jesus knew that the true God is a “Who” and not a “what,” but He used a figure of speech as if to say, “You worship a you-don’t-know-what. At least the Jews worship a they-DO-know-what.” The Holy Spirit probably had the Apostle Paul use a similar technique in writing Romans 8 just to anticipate or overcome the objection that other intercessors might be available for us in prayer, when we already have the greatest intercessor possible in the Holy Spirit.

That’s probably more information than you wanted, but the “TL/DR” version is: Yes, the Holy Spirit is a “He” and not an “it,” but, no, the KJV translation of Romans 8:26 is not wrong.

The Double-Layered Meanings of Three Kinds of Reproof

April 29, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Posted in John | Leave a comment
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And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

John 16:8

The “He” in that verse is the Holy Spirit.

Of sin, because they believe not on me;

John 16:9

The secondary layer of meaning in this statement is that Jesus’s Crucifixion would prove the sinfulness of mankind, but the primary meaning is that the Holy Spirit will demonstrate objective morality and convict the world of moral relativism.

Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

John 16:10

The secondary layer of meaning in this statement is that Jesus’s Resurrection would prove that His life had fulfilled all righteousness. The primary meaning is that the Holy Spirit will convince people that they need Jesus’s alien righteousness.

Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

John 16:11

The secondary meaning is that Jesus’s Ascension would prove His victory over Satan and his worldly kingdom. The primary meaning is that the Holy Spirit will prove that God’s children can defeat Satan and overcome the world.

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. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

John 16:16-20

They say that in competitive sporting events every play makes somebody happy. A bad shot doesn’t make the shooter happy, but it makes his opponent happy. An error at second base grieves the second basemen, but it thrills the batter or the baserunner. The only time a play that goes against your team in a game doesn’t make you unhappy is when you are watching a replay of the game, already knowing the outcome, and knowing that all the bad plays that went against you were ultimately overcome. In that instance, EVERY play makes the winner happy. We are going to suffer in the Christian life. It’s just a fact. The world’s system is rigged against us, and we need set-backs, discouragements, trials, and tests to strengthen us and to conform us to the image of Christ. But, knowing that in Christ we WILL overcome the world allows us to find joy even in the setbacks and failures.

A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

John 6:21

For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

John 16:27-31

Did Jesus become indignant in Verse 31? “Oh, NOW you believe…” Or was He merely being reflective? “Do you? Do you really now believe? I wonder…” Perhaps He was just being literally inquisitive: “Are you sure you’ve got it now?” I vote for indignant, because of what comes after:

Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

John 16:32

Yet He leaves them with this encouragement before beginning to pray:

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

As Christians, we are not stoics, keeping a stiff upper lip of grim fatatlism. Nor are we hedonists, partying with gusto today, for tomorrow we die, believing that the present pleasures are all that matter. No, we have a real hope – a reasonable, logical basis for enduring suffering or difficulty or persecution for Christ.

Whom to Expect When You’re Expecting

April 17, 2020 at 10:51 am | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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John 15:25 says that Jesus was hated “without a cause,” which is translated from the Greek word dorean, and which is sometimes translated “freely” (Revelation 21:6, 22:17). The idea is that Jesus did absolutely nothing to earn or deserve the hatred, persecution, opposition, and betrayal He experienced at the hands of the people He came to love, serve, and save. This is one of those poignant parallels we sometimes see in Scripture: Jesus was crucified “without a cause,” yet He justifies the people He saves with the same liberality: “without a cause” – without anything in us or done by us that would warrant this tremendous, sacrificial, awe-inspiring act of grace.

Being justified FREELY [DOREAN] by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 3:24 (emphasis and bracketed word added)

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

John 15:26 (emphasis added)

Just as Jesus in His earthly ministry spoke for the Father, the Spirit shall speak for the Son.

And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

John 15:27

He would empower the Apostles (and us, as Christians today) to speak of, on behalf of, and about the Son.

In John Chapter 16 Jesus continued preparing His Disciples for some of the opposition they would face – if they continued to abide in Him – in a hostile world. Suffering is never something we look forward to, but, when it comes to serving Jesus, our suffering will ultimately result in a greater joy than we had known before. Imagine a mother going through several hours of very difficult labor pains, thinking that the pain was overwhelming. I certainly have nothing to compare it to, but they say the suffering is excruciating. However, when the pain finally ends, and a strong healthy baby is delivered, no mother ever says, “All that torture I went through, and all I got was this lousy baby!” No, quite the opposite. Mothers who are blessed with healthy newborn babies suddenly believe that it was all worth it (John 16:21).

These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

John 16:1 (emphasis added)

Here, to be offended means more than to feel outrage or embarrassment. The word translated as “offended” is skandalisthete or skandalizo. The biggest threat to Christianity would not be that persecution would take the lives of all the Christians, but that it would lead to apostasy. Jesus was concerned with disciples who expect kindness from a hostile world, and who stumble over the obstacles of ridicule and opposition, and who cease to abide in Him when things get tough. He wanted to prepare them for what was coming so that they would not be afraid. We must not shield new believers from the hostility they are bound to face when living faithfully for Christ in the world.

They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

John 16:2

Being put out of the synagogue was to be made a pariah, to be completely excluded from social life and anathematized as somebody that must be avoided. Of course, the irony of being put out of religious society for knowing and proclaiming the truth is apparent when the false worshippers label you (a true worshiper) as a heretic. They can take away your privileges, your freedoms, your property, your “rights,” even your life, and claim that they are doing it FOR God rather than in opposition to God. You will note a religious fervor among all secular humans who hunger for power in the world. Some of the worst historic persecution has come from professing Christians torturing and killing true Christians.

And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

John 16:3-4

Jesus shared these things with His friends so that they would not believe He had deserted them in the tough times to come, but He also knew that they were not fully prepared to really grasp the total impact of what He was explaining.

But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

John 16:5-6

In addition to the preparation that would hopefully reassure them in the future, He reminded them that they were not really being left without His presence, in a sense.

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.

John 16:7

Seeing, Touching, Hearing, Reading, and Believing

March 17, 2020 at 10:23 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, John | 2 Comments
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Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

John 20:19

Jesus’s Resurrection happened on the first day of the week, which is why Christians meet for assembled worship services on Sunday rather than Saturday. Regardless of what you believe about the New Testament Lord’s Day replacing the Old Testament Sabbath, it is clear that Jesus fulfilled the work of God and instituted a new covenant/pattern/dispensation. God finished the initial work of creation after six days and commemorated it with a special holy day of “rest.” Jesus finished the work of redemption after six hours on the Cross, and commemorated it with a special holy day of new life.

A week later, despite having information strongly indicating that Jesus had risen, the Disciples were still in hiding, but also meeting together on Sunday. The resurrected, glorified body of Jesus had the power to appear suddenly inside a room with locked doors. Of course, as God, Jesus could do what He wanted with time and space and material objects, but this is often taken as a sign that our glorified, resurrected bodies will share this ability to move freely through space and objects.

The greeting of “peace” is important, as we remember Jesus’s promise in John 14. He did not condemn their fear; He comforted them with His presence.

And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

John 20:20-21

This is John’s version of the Great Commission.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

John 20:22

Some Bible scholars see this as a temporary filling for ministry until the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Others see it as an object lesson or illustrated sermon, indicating that they should go forth with the God-breathed “inspired” Word and with the Holy Spirit once they were indwelt.

Ten Disciples had seen and touched Jesus personally after the Resurrection. Judas and Thomas had not been present to this point, and obviously Judas was no longer part of the team. Thomas needed definite confirmation before he would be convinced.

The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.

John 20:25-28

This is seen by many commentators as the climax of the Gospel of John. Thomas’s confession seems obvious to us today, but, remember, John was writing primarily for an audience he was hoping to convince of Jesus’s Deity.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

John 20:29

When we read about those who have not seen Jesus personally with our physical eyes, yet believe the Truth about Him, we can rejoice and say, “That’s us!”

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

John 20:30-31

The somewhat limited scope of John’s Gospel is revealed and clarified. Its purpose is to invoke belief, yes, but not mere academic conviction. It is the kind of belief that is the means of eternal life.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Illumination (Part 2)

July 19, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
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In a previous post I showed that, Biblically:

I. Illumination Indicts Iniquity
II. Illumination Initiates Interest
III. Illumination Implements Instruction

Now we will see that:

IV. Illumination Imparts Insight

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

Psalm 36:9-10

The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible and He teaches the principles and the precepts of the Bible to whose whom He indwells.

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

Psalm 119:105

The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

Psalm 119:130

The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. He leads us out of error. He teaches and reinforces correct doctrine.

V. Illumination Inspires Intimacy

O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.

Psalm 43:3-4

We draw close to God and get to know Him better by various means, but the main way we get to know – not just things about Him – but actually intimately know Him – is through the illumination of the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Colossians 1:12-13

We experience intimate fellowship, through the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination, not only with God, but with other believers.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

I John 1:7

Now that I have discussed what Biblical illumination IS, I want to point out:

VI. What Illumination Is Not

A. Illumination is not inspiration.

Illumination does not give us private revelation apart from Scripture – and especially not contrary to Scripture. It is not a synonym for imagination: Beware of these commonly espoused idioms: “God told me;” “God spoke to my heart;” “God wouldn’t let me do what I had been preparing to do.” Let’s be careful about our language. There is a great danger in saying “thus saith the Lord” when He hasn’t really saith anything of the sort.

B. Illumination is not inner enlightenment.

Illumination is not transcendental meditation. It is not the emptying out of your mind. It is not the achievement of knowing the self or emotional peace. It is not mysticism – or chanting or channeling or tantric yoga. It is not “blind” (dark) faith; it cooperates with rational, intelligent, logical learning, application, and wisdom.

C. Illumination is not immense intelligence.

Jesus and the Apostles were accused of ignorance or illiteracy, or lack of education or formal learning.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:26-27

Paul acknowledged the simplicity of human wisdom and how the true wisdom of God was counted as foolishness in the world.

Illumination in not merely academic. It is a supernatural impartation of understanding specifically related to Bible study. Plenty of classically trained and tremendously educated scholars have made a lifelong study of certain Biblical subjects without ever being converted, and therefore without ever having experienced true illumination.

The Insidious Appeal to Superficial Excitement

June 14, 2019 at 10:17 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Back in the hey-day of the so-called “seeker sensitive movement,” churches tried all sorts of embarrassing promotional methods to “reach people where they are.” Programs (disguised under the name “outreach” in many cases), modeled on successful business-growth strategies, were instituted to try to make church services as innocuous and “un-church-like” as possible, so that lost people would feel entertained or a least comfortable enough to attend. Numbers went up, but true conversions and sanctification did not.

This strategy has now been denounced by some of its key founders, but it has not died completely, and it has been adopted in surprisingly subtle and devious (and patently unbiblical) ways. One area where it has recently seen a resurgence is in so-called “survivor” or “recovery” start-up ministries. These ministries are often led by a charismatic individual with some type of character-scandal in his past that would disqualify him from leading a sound Biblical church. A good example of this is a man named “Pastor” Greg Locke, whose rants I often see posted on the social media accounts of otherwise discerning Christians. I used the scare quotes around “pastor” because I don’t believe he’s qualified to be an actual pastor, having left his wife for his church secretary. Locke has hit on a successful formula, though. Using what appears to be his cell phone, he often makes vain “selfie videos,” with his face close-up in the screen, touching on hot-button political or cultural issues like gender-neutral bathrooms or millennial kids who badmouth their own parents. He is absolutely fanatical in his devotion to President Trump, and thereby appeals to a group of people who love conservative politics as much as or more than Jesus.

Whereas the original seeker-sensitive methods targeted the “unchurched,” this new variation goes after other churches’ members. They will try to lure away an existing church’s assistant or associate pastor, looking for someone who’s disgruntled, overly proud and stubborn, and resistant to the senior pastor’s authority, but still weaselly enough to make it seem like he’s getting a raw deal as he pouts off to adopt some sort of “co-pastor” title under the stronger, more manipulative leader of the new recovery ministry.

Once that has been done, the members of the assistant pastor’s former church will be systemically targeted and lured away into this new ministry. The method for convincing church members that the grass is greener is to make it seem like the new start-up ministry is more “exciting,” more “alive” than where they are. As I mentioned in a previous post, it helps if the leaders can claim special private revelations from God authorizing their behavior. Next, they will pull out the old “dead religion” card. “Is your church boring? We will really hoot and holler in our services! Does your preacher just preach from the Bible, trusting the Word of God, rather than raw emotionalism, to change people’s lives? Not us! Our preacher will run around, waving his arms, and even stand on a chair [ignoring the fact that he does it so predictably every time he preaches that it’s obviously staged for effect]. Look, we’ve dropped our former denomination’s name from our ministry title, because it carries ‘baggage‘ in the minds of wishy-washy non-serving Christians! We don’t even use the word church in our name!”

This new ministry targets supposedly “hurting people in the pew” of other churches, so it has to really play up to the squishy “church-is-about-my-feelings” crowd. Sure, the terminology is dressed up in cliched Christianese, but it’s fairly easy to spot for anyone with Biblical discernment. Here are some examples:

1. “At our services, God will touch your heart.”
Number of times “touched my heart” is the Bible: 0

2. “At our services, the Lord will speak to your spirit.”
Number of times the Bible says that the Lord spoke to someone’s spirit: 0

3. “At our services the Holy Spirit will wrap his arms around you.”
Number of times in the Bible that the Holy Spirit wrapped His arms around anyone: 0

4. “At our services, the Holy Spirit shows up in a special way.”
Number of times the Bible describes the Holy Spirit in a post-Pentecost New Testament worship service as showing up in a special way: 0

5. “At our services the preacher gets a hold of God.”
Number of times the Bible describes a preacher getting a hold of God: 0
[What this really means is that the preacher starts his sermon by telling the congregation to open their Bibles to a Bible verse, but then goes on a long tirade or series of personal anecdotes without ever actually exegeteing the verse. He will also, for dramatic effect, claim that, “I’ve been working on a message for several days, but the Holy Spirit just won’t let me preach it. He just now gave me this instead…”]

 

 

 

It’s a formula that sadly works on many weaker church members, inducing them to leave a church with a high view of Scripture and the real transforming work of the Holy Spirit, for a fake sideshow of manufactured enthusiasm, featuring a carnival barker masquerading as a preacher, serving up heavy doses of people-pleasing pablum to folks who would rather be entertained than equipped to serve.

Prayers Answered with Pranks

April 22, 2019 at 11:18 am | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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Jesus continued teaching His disciples about the model for prayer with this concluding thought:

If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

Luke 11:11-12

What do we make of this strange illustration which sounds so foreign to our modern ears? Can you imagine a child asking his father, “Dad, may I have some bread?” and the father responding with some sort of cruel practical joke? “Okay, Son, I have some bread for you right here… [reaches behind his back]… Ha! JK! It’s really a rock! Did you break your tooth?”

Or the son asking, “Dad, what do you have there? Is that a fish? I wanna see…” and the father responding, “Sure, Son, here you go… Whoa, it’s a snake – look out!”

It sounds ridiculous, and it just gets worse: “Dad, I’m hungry, how about an egg?” Dad: “Hmmm… I dunno – try this instead!” [hurls a scorpion at him].

Maybe I’m just obtuse, but this seems like a really tough passage of Scripture. The disciples were trying to make sense of the correct model for prayer and Jesus started going on about this crazy dad terrorizing his son. And I’ve read several commentaries which go to some length to assert that maybe a loaf of bread can look like a stone, and maybe a fish can sort of look like a snake. After all, neither have arms or legs, they say, so Jesus must have been teaching about deception, warning against being deceptive in prayer. And I’m certainly no scholar, so that might be the correct interpretation, but an egg being confused for a scorpion? Seriously?

I tend to think that Jesus was being humorous here (albeit with a serious point), and that we just don’t “get” the ancient Near-Eastern connotations with our Western modern mindset. I draw this conclusion because the next verse reveals what I believe to be Jesus’s point:

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 11:13

God is “our Father,” but he is not like “A father.” In other words, earthly fathers are evil. (If you are a father who is reading this, that is probably not very affirming, but that’s what it says.) Jesus wants us to talk to God the way a child talks to his dad, and, while an earthly dad is not always competent, appropriate, or trustworthy, even a really sketchy earthly dad who loves his child wouldn’t give the kid a scorpion or a snake in response to a serious request for food. Based on this line of reasoning how much MORE will God (the perfect Father) give His Spirit to those who ask HIM?

It seems like Jesus was changing the subject when He brought up the Holy Spirit, but He really wasn’t. The Holy Spirit – to Old Covenant believers – was not a permanent indweller. Rather, He was given at specific times for specific ministries. When my kids ask for candy, I won’t give them a hand grenade, but I might give them an apple instead. I – despite being evil – WANT to give them good gifts, but I don’t always get it right when deciding what’s “good.” Our Heavenly Father, on the other hand, has given us the Holy Spirit, and He’s always good. The Bible says that He will guide us into all truth. We need to ask God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and we can be confident that He will help us.

The Sending of the Holy Spirit

June 1, 2018 at 10:39 am | Posted in John, Q&A | 3 Comments
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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.

How the Knows are Gifted

August 31, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 4 Comments
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Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

I Corinthians 12:1

This, to me, is the unifying theme of I Corinthians: The Holy Spirit, through Paul, did not want the Corinthian Christians to be ignorant. He wanted them to be “Knows,” not “Know-Nots.” Their single most identifying negative mark, as a church, was their squabbling and factionalism. Their single most identifying positive mark was their richness in spiritual gifts.

Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

I Corinthians 12:2

Here, “dumb” means unable to speak, rather than foolish. Formerly idol-worshipers – so deeply entrenched that they were still possibly weak in their consciences in this area – they had been miraculously delivered by divine revelation.

Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

I Corinthians 12:3

The Holy Spirit is identified as the Person of the Trinity that reveals to us that Jesus – despite His treatment as the vilest of criminals – is actually God incarnate.

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

I Corinthians 12:4

Among the Persons of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the One Who delivers the spiritual gifts and determines who gets which ones. There is diversity AND unity.

And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

I Corinthians 12:5

The gifts are given with the intent that they will be used to minister to the Lord Jesus. Again there is diversity AND unity.

And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

I Corinthians 12:6

God the Father empowers the gifts so that His power is working in us as we use the gifts. Once again, we see the principle of diversity AND unity. The gifts are given by the living God in the Person of the Holy Spirit because of the victory and Ascension of Jesus Christ.

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Ephesians 4:3-8

Of the New Testament churches (Ephesus, Galatia, Thessalonica, etc.), the church at Corinth was probably the most spiritually gifted of them all (I Corinthians 1:5-7). Of course, all true Christians, even today, have at least one spiritual gift. The Christians in Corinth were feuding and dividing over the uses and misuses of their spiritual gifts, so we must learn from their error, and use our gifts in the proper manner, with the proper motive, and for the proper ministries. How will you find out what your spiritual gift is? Some advocate a written spiritual gifts test, modeled on psychological personality types, but the Bible contains no such formatted multiple choice quizzes. Rather, the Biblical principle is that you and I get busy, serving faithfully in a local church fellowship, discovering our strengths and weaknesses in humility as the Lord providentially places us where He wants us to be, doing what He wants us to do (Romans 12:3-13).

Praying in Between

September 16, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Jesus told them to wait, but He also gave them a promise. Waiting on God’s promises to come to pass is not a waiting-to-see-IF; it’s a waiting-to-see-WHEN.

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

Acts 1:4

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Acts 1:14

In Verse 4 they had “assembled together” physically, and now they were waiting together (“with one accord”) spiritually.

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

During the interim period between the promise and the fulfillment, they spent their time in prayer and supplication. Why would we pray for God to bring to pass what He has already promised He will do? For one thing, God commands us to do it (Luke 18:1; I Thessalonians 5:17; Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18; Jeremiah 33:3). For another thing, God often uses prayer as the means of accomplishing His will (James 5:16).

Notice also that in Acts 1:14 and Acts 2:4 ALL of those to whom the promise was made were filled with the Holy Ghost. There were not some who were “Spirit-baptized” with some type of second-level anointing. All who were filled with the Spirit were filled with the same Spirit in the same way and at the same time.

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