Archive for the ‘Holy Spirit’ Category
Pentecost Sunday. The Church celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We rejoice that God has poured out His Spirit just as He promised He would through Joel the prophet (Joel 2:28-32). Peter the Apostle saw the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost as the fulfillment of that prophecy (see Acts 2:16). Just as the Father had promised the coming of the Spirit through the Old Testament Prophets so the Lord Jesus had promised His own disciples just ten days earlier that He would send the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4-5). The disciples obeyed the Lord Jesus and for ten days they prayed in the upper room waiting Jesus’ promise (Acts 1:14).
The day of Pentecost marked a transformation in the plan of God. The people of God would now be the people of the Spirit. All people could enjoy being the people of God through the ministry of the Spirit (John 10:16). The gift of the Spirit would not be given to only the Jews but to all people who would come and be saved through faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 2:21; Galatians 3:13-14). In fact, Paul the Apostle would later write in Romans 8:9 that if any person does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. The baptism by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ is essential to salvation (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
I rejoice that the Comforter has come. When my mother passed away last August, the Holy Spirit was a sweet friend to me. I rejoiced time and time again at the words of Jesus in John 14:26-27 (KJV):
26 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.
27 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.
The Comforter was a dear friend to me as I grieved the loss of my mama. I sensed His sweet presence. I sensed His praying (Romans 8:26-27). I sensed His security (Ephesians 1:13-14). I sensed His gentle loving hand upon me. He brought me through.
And He has done this other times as well. How often have I felt like giving up and felt like I didn’t want to pray anymore. Yet the gentle love of the Comforter has always been my strength to help me rise up and seek God. I rejoice that He is not just my Comforter but He also is my convictor (John 16:8). He gently deals with me about my sins. The Holy Spirit never condemns me but He gently and lovingly shows me my sins. He does not lead me to condemnation (Romans 8:1) but He gently leads me to forgiveness in Christ (1 John 1:9). What a precious friend He is.
This day, I rejoice in the Comforter. I rejoice that He has come. I rejoice that He has filled me. I rejoice that He abides with me both now and forevermore. I pray that I would not grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30). I pray that He would be my guide forever.
Just wanted to give a short post on the subject of receiving the Holy Spirit. Why does God give us the gift of the Holy Spirit when we repent (Acts 2:38)? Jesus promised His disciples in John 14:16-17 that He would send the promised Spirit. Jesus said that the Spirit of truth dwelt with them (in the person of Jesus; 14:6) and He would be in them. John 7:37-39 clearly shows that the Spirit was not in the disciples until after the cross. Many, like myself, believe that John 20:22 is when the Apostles received the Spirit.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would enable the disciples to be His witnesses. The Holy Spirit does this in two ways. He enables us to live godly lives for the glory of God (Galatians 5:16-17; Titus 2:11-14). Secondly, the Spirit of God empowers us to boldly preach the Lord Jesus Christ to the lost. We need the Holy Spirit to do effective witnesses for the glory of God. We are not effective witnesses merely because we can debate with an unbeliever. What we need is a godly life filled with the power of God to enable us to live for the Lord and to speak of Him.
Hebrews 12:14 says that without holiness no one will see the Lord (NIV). This is true both in the eternal sense and in the temporal. When we are living a holy life, it shows the salvation of the Lord. Sanctification begins at the new birth (Hebrews 10:10, 14) and yet we are to continue to die to self and to sin (Romans 6:11-23). Ephesians 4:22-24 says:
22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
This can only happen as we trust in the Holy Spirit. This is why we need the Holy Spirit. God does not give us the Spirit merely to give us an emotional experience but He gives us His Spirit to help us to be His witnesses and to glorify His name.
Many would be surprised to learn that the motif behind Arminianism is not free will. Free will plays a part in the debate but as Dr. Roger Olson states in his book, Against Calvinism, the main focus of the Arminian is upon the character of God. We believe that the character of God is such that He has shown that He is a loving, merciful God who delights in saving sinners by His grace and for His glory. He has demonstrated His character and His grace in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-20; 2:9). Jesus said in John 14:9 to Philip that if they had seen Him, they had seen the Father. Jesus did not say He was the Father but only that if they had seen Him, they had seen His Father in the sense that He was equal with God the Father (John 10:30) and He demonstrated what the Father was like.
In this sense, we Arminians hold that free will is merely a demonstration of true love. Because God wants a true loving relationship with His creatures, He created us with the ability to choose to love Him or reject Him. God gave humanity the gift of free will. Unlike the birds of the air who perfectly obey God or the flowers in the field who perfectly obey God, mankind was created with the gift of reason, with intellect, with the ability to create, with the ability to love or even to hate. No doubt the will of man was damaged in the Fall (Genesis 3:22), the free will of mankind remains intact but severely damaged. Arminius stated this about the free will,
In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” St. Augustine, after having diligently meditated upon each word in this passage, speaks thus: “Christ does not say, without me ye can do but Little; neither does He say, without me ye can do any Arduous Thing, nor without me ye can do it with difficulty. But he says, without me ye can do Nothing! Nor does he say, without me ye cannot complete any thing; but without me ye can do Nothing.” That this may be made more manifestly to appear, we will separately consider the mind, the affections or will, and the capability, as contra-distinguished from them, as well as the life itself of an unregenerate man.
Arminius states further about how the free will now operates apart from grace saying,
Exactly correspondent to this darkness of the mind, and perverseness of the heart, is the utter weakness of all the powers to perform that which is truly good, and to omit the perpetration of that which is evil, in a due mode and from a due end and cause. The subjoined sayings of Christ serve to describe this impotence. “A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.” (Matt. vii, 18.) “How can ye, being evil, speak good things?” (xii, 34.) The following relates to the good which is properly prescribed in the gospel: “No man can come to me, except the Father draw him.” (John vi, 44.) As do likewise the following words of the Apostle: “The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be;” (Rom. viii, 7;) therefore, that man over whom it has dominion, cannot perform what the law commands. The same Apostle says, “When we were in the flesh, the motions of sins wrought in us,” or flourished energetically. (vii, 5.) To the same purpose are all those passages in which the man existing in this state is said to be under the power of sin and Satan, reduced to the condition of a slave, and “taken captive by the Devil.” (Rom. vi, 20; 2 Tim. ii, 26.)
Arminius leaves no doubt that the free will of mankind has been subjected to sin and thus the will of man is perverse and wicked. Mankind, in this state, cannot just choose by themselves to come to God. We need the work of grace to be saved. John Wesley rightly saw this as prevenient grace. Adam Clarke wrote this about the work of the Spirit in bringing sinners to salvation:
So deep is the stain, so radicated the habits of sinning, so strong the propensity to do what is evil; that nothing less than the power by which the soul was created, can conquer these habits, eradicate these vices, and cause such a leper to change his spots, and such an Ethiopian his hue. The whole change which the soul undergoes in its conversion, is the effect of a divine energy within. This the gospel promises, when it promises to send forth the Holy Spirit. This mighty Spirit is given to enlighten, convince, strengthen, quicken, and save; and the change which is effected in the sinner’s soul, in his habits, and in his life, is such as no natural cause can produce; such as no art of man can effect; and such as no religious institutions, connected with the most serious and pointed moral advices, can ever bring about. It is wholly God’s work; and he performs it neither by might nor power, but by his own Spirit.
Mankind is lost in their sins and are in rebellion against God. Clarke wrote this as well about this state of sin:
The original mode of transgression is still continued, and the original sin in consequence. Here are the proofs:
1. Every human being is endeavoring to obtain knowledge by unlawful means, even while the lawful means and every available help are at hand. 2. They are endeavoring to be independent, and to live without God in the world; hence prayer, the language of dependence on God’s providence and grace, is neglected, I might say detested, by the great majority of men. Had I no other proof than this that man is a fallen creature, my soul would bow to this evidence. 3. Being destitute of the true knowledge of God, they seek privacy for their crimes, not considering that the eye of God is upon them, being only solicitous to hide them from the eye of man. The simple, plain, easy condition on which depended his immortality, man broke; and thus forfeited his life to the blessing with which he was naturally endowed; and thus corruption and decay, and a disorderly course of nature, were superinduced. The air that he breathed became unfriendly to the continual support of life; the seeds of dissolution were engendered in his constitution; and out of these various diseases sprang, which, by their repeated attacks, sapped the foundation of life, till at last the fruit of his dissolution verified the judgment of his Creator; for, after living a dying life, it was at last terminated by death.
We are at war with God. We hate and despise the true and living God. We have created idols, false gods, false religions, etc. all to appease our sinful conscience and to avoid the true God of the Bible. We would rather serve false gods or even no gods then to submit to Yahweh. What a wicked state we find ourselves in! Our only hope is the grace of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Arminius wrote this about the gracious work of God upon our free will:
But far different from this is the consideration of the free will of man, as constituted in the third state of Renewed Righteousness. For when a new light and knowledge of God and Christ, and of the Divine will, have been kindled in his mind; and when new affections, inclinations and motions agreeing with the law of God, have been excited in his heart, and new powers have been produced in him; it comes to pass, that, being liberated from the kingdom of darkness, and being now made “light in the Lord,” (Ephesians. v, 8,) he understands the true and saving good; that, after the hardness of his stony heart has been changed into the softness of flesh, and the law of God according to the covenant of grace has been inscribed on it, (Jer. 31, 32-35,) he loves and embraces that which is good, just, and holy; and that, being made capable in Christ, co-operating now with God, he prosecutes the good which he knows and loves, and he begins himself to perform it in deed. But this, whatever it may be of knowledge, holiness and power, is all begotten within him by the Holy Spirit; who is, on this account, called “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and the fear of Jehovah,” (Isa. xi, 2,) “the Spirit of grace,” (Zech. xii, 10,) “of faith,” (2 Cor. iv, 13,) “the Spirit of adoption” into sons, (Rom. viii, 16,) and “the Spirit of holiness;” and to whom the acts of illumination, regeneration, renovation, and confirmation, are attributed in the Scriptures.
The work of the Lord is that He sent forth His Son to die for our sins (Galatians 4:1-6) and the gospel of His grace goes forth by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). This gospel brings the truth of God to the lost (Matthew 28:19) and this gospel sets sinners free by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). This gospel gives light to all mankind (John 1:9) and this gospel enables us, by the free will assisted by the Spirit, to believe the gospel and be saved (John 1:12-13; Acts 16:30-34). Because we are dead in our sins, we need the regenerating work of the Spirit to be saved (John 3:1-7; Ephesians 2:1-3; Titus 3:5-7). The Spirit not only illuminates our minds to hear the gospel but He regenerates us when we repent of our sins and turn in saving faith to the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37-38). Arminius stated,
The matter or subject of vocation is mankind constituted in the animal life; men worldly, natural, animal, carnal, sinful, alienated from the life of God, and dead in sins; and therefore Unworthy to be called, and Unfit to answer to the call, unless by the gracious estimation of God they be accounted worthy, and by his powerful operation they be rendered Fit to comply with the vocation. (Matt. ix, 13; Tit. ii, 12; Ephes. ii, 11, 12; iv, 17, 18; v, 14; John v, 25; vi, 44; Matt. x, 11-13; Acts xvi, 14.)
The free will of mankind must then have the divine aid of the Spirit in order for us to be saved because of the nature of our sinful depravity before God.
Jesus said in John 16:7-11:
7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential for eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the One who regenerates us and He causes us to be born again (John 3:3-7). Paul the Apostle wrote in Titus 3:5-7:
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
The Spirit of God regenerates us. He brings us the life of God within us and He gives us eternal life that was purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23).
It is thus the necessity of the soul winner to depend upon the Holy Spirit in evangelism. People are not going to be saved because of a cute sermon or a powerful illustration or a rock concert. People will repent only when we preach the gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work. Salvation does not come through manipulation or by us arguing people into the kingdom but by the grace of God applied to the sinner’s heart through the Spirit of God. We should pray then for the Holy Spirit to be with us and upon us as we proclaim the Word of God. God has promised us in Isaiah 55:11 that His Word will go forth and not return to Him void until it accomplishes all that He sent it out to accomplish. When God speaks, things happen. God created the world and the entire universe by merely speaking it into existence from nothing (Hebrews 11:3). When God speaks to the sinner, He breaks through each and every time. His Word is able to convict and convert.
Yet this doesn’t come just because are accurate in our exegesis. It takes a total dependence upon the Holy Spirit. We need, as the old saints of God use to say, the unction of God. We need the unction, the anointing of the Spirit of God to see souls saved. I urge you saints of God to be active in preaching the gospel to the lost whether through gospel tracts or through open air preaching or prison ministries or any other ministry (Matthew 28:19) but never stop depending upon the Holy Spirit to do His work among us. Sinners will not cry out to Jesus because of your methods or your programs but they will cry out to Jesus for salvation when the Holy Spirit comes in power. Jesus promised in John 16:7-11 that the Spirit would convict the world. This is prevenient grace. This is the enabling grace of God, the Spirit of God, who draws sinners to the Savior (John 6:44) and He brings conviction of sin and He brings regeneration (Acts 16:14-15). We cannot be saved apart from the Spirit’s work. We must depend on the Spirit of God.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will be your comfort and also you would depend upon Him to reach people with the gospel (Mark 16:15; John 20:21). Jesus promised us power through the Spirit (Acts 1:8) and I pray that we would once again cry out to Jesus for souls to be saved for His glory.
We must remember that the true sign of maturity in the Lord is not in our theological understanding. I have known men who were astute in theology but their lives were full of sin. I have known men who would prepare sermons on Saturday night and then to reward themselves they would go down to the gas station and purchase pornography. To simply know theology is not to know God. To know facts about Christ is not the same as knowing Christ. To talk about prayer is not the same as praying. To talk about evangelism is not the same as actually talking to the lost about Jesus. I could go on and on.
Galatians 5:22-23 is the best measuring tool for someone who claims to be maturing in the Lord. Pride has a way of deceiving us and making us think that just because we know more than the “average” Christian (which is sadly not much) or because we read our Bibles today then we think we are doing pretty good. The reality is that we can do the motions of Christianity but miss Christ. To really grow in Christ is to be expressing the fruit of the Spirit as seen in Galatians 5:22-23. The passage reads:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Are these showing in your life child of God? You can quote from the Greek text all day long but if the fruit of the Spirit is not showing in your life, what is the point? The fruit of the Spirit shows that we are in the vine (John 15:1-11). Paul the Apostle wrote in Romans 11:16, “If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.” Our fruit flows from being grounded in the root of Christ.
Never confuse knowing with doing. Never confuse knowledge with a relationship with God. Never confuse knowledge with the fruit of the Spirit. As we abide in Christ by faith, the Spirit of God helps us bear the fruit but we must abide in Christ. Not in a book but in Christ. Not in the Greek text but in Christ.
How often have we felt as R.T. Kendall describes in this book, theologically sound but powerless. This book describes seeking God for the power of the Holy Spirit. The authors are not content to simply teach biblical truths or to be sound in their theology but they want to see the power of God manifested in His Church through healings, through signs and wonders, through the gifts of the Spirit. Like many others, they are tired of going through the motions of “church” and they want to see the living God.
My thoughts on the book are that the authors do give you a hunger for God. I agreed with them that our God is a living God. God is not dead. He didn’t give us the Bible and then abandon us. He didn’t heal people during the ministry of Jesus and the book of Acts only to leave us with the completion of the New Testament. I have read articles and books on the cessation of the manifestation gifts of the Spirit such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, or healing and while I agree that there can be abuses of these gifts, I find the arguments in favor of their cessation based on a philosophy more than a theology. I agreed with the authors that the Bible is given to us not to replace the supernatural but to correct abuses of it. This was a good point. The book focuses on the experiences of the authors and then allows the authors to write short chapters on seeking God and His power.
What are the weaknesses of the book? First, while I am not a full cessationist, I would call myself a “partial cessationist.” Why? Because I believe the healings of Jesus and the Apostles were unique to the work of God. The healings of Jesus, for example, showed He was the Messiah and verified that He was sent from God (John 3:2; 6:38; Acts 10:38). The Apostles likewise were able to perform miracles to demonstrate their validity (Acts 14:3). Few would claim to be able to do miracles as Jesus or the Apostles did and few (if any) would ever claim to be speaking on the same level as God spoke through Jesus or the Apostles. No doubt the Lord Jesus and the Apostles carried a unique authority from God to glorify His name. While I agree that all disciples of Jesus are now full of the Spirit (Acts 2:38), few if any would claim to be speaking on the same level as say Paul the Apostle or would claim to heal as Jesus healed (Matthew 4:23-25). I have never witnessed a special and unique healing such as raising the dead. While I believe God can raise the dead, I have never heard of a verified raising of the dead. I believe that since the completion of the New Testament, God is not speaking the same to us as He did through the Apostles. Few, other than cults, would disagree.
That said, the book does give me a hunger for more of God. I truly do believe that God answers prayer. I believe He is certainly able to do miracles. I believe He longs to hear our cries (John 14:13-14). I believe that prayer is powerful not because prayer itself has power but because of the intercessory work of Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews 4:14-16). Jesus is our faithful high priest (Hebrews 7:25) and because He is praying for us before the Father, we can pray and I believe God can do mighty things to exalt His name and His glory in the earth. I believe, as the authors do, that we should pray great and mighty prayers. While we do not know the will of God, we can know that God does desire to glorify His name (Ephesians 3:20-21). Faith in God can move mountains (Mark 11:22-24).
Overall, this book will generate a passion for the Lord Jesus and His presence. Critics won’t find much to wrestle with here except perhaps the experiences of the authors. The chapters are given not to theologically show our need for God and His power but to generate a hunger for God. I am hungry for God. I want Him to move in power in my life. I want to see souls saved for the glory of God and I want Jesus to be exalted in answering our cries. Truly He is a mighty God!