Monday, March 27, 2017

Holy Spirit and Wisdom

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous (envious) and there is selfish ambition (rivalry, contention, competitiveness) in your heart, do not cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and selfish ambition (rivalry, contention, competitiveness), there you will find disorder (confusion, disharmony) and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:13-18 (NLT)

The New Testament book of James has much to say about God’s wisdom (e.g., see James 1:5, 17; James 3:13-18). Anyone can receive God’s wisdom and discernment for any situation by asking and seeking God for His divine wisdom, and God will give all His divine wisdom generously (James 1:5; see also 1 Kings 3:9-10; Proverbs 2:3-6; Matthew 7:7).

God’s Holy Spirit activates divine wisdom, understanding, good judgment, insight, and common sense in His faithful people (James 1:5, 17; e.g. see also Exodus 28:3; Exodus 31:3-5; Exodus 35:30-35; Deuteronomy 34:9; Proverbs 1:2-3; Daniel 5:11, 14). The Holy Spirit of God is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation (see Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 1:9), and the Holy Spirit directs and guides God’s people in the wisest paths as we obey God’s Holy Scriptures and pray (e.g. see Mark 13:11; Galatians 5:16;). The Holy Scriptures teaches that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Holy Trinity, also known as the Godhead. The Holy Trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son-Jesus, and God the Spirit (e.g., see Genesis 1:1-3; 26-27; Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:16, 26; 1 John 4:2, 13-14; Jude 20-21).

God graciously gives His divine wisdom and Holy Spirit to all who wholeheartedly repents, turn from sin, and believe in His Son Jesus as Lord and Savior – Jesus is Lord (see Acts 2:38-40; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 2:4, 13; 1 Corinthians 12:3, 7-8). The Holy Scriptures declare that Jesus is the ultimate source all divine wisdom because Jesus is the wisdom of God (see 1 Corinthians 1:24, 30). Through our repentance and faith in Jesus (God’s Son), believers not only receive salvation, justification (declared righteous), and holiness but also spiritual wisdom (e.g. see Luke 11:13; Acts 2:38-39; Romans 5:1-5; 1 Corinthians 1:30). The first step toward true wisdom is the receiving of Jesus as your Lord and Savior. He was the unique bearer of the Holy Spirit (see Mark 1:10; Luke 4:18-19). Jesus has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge as the fullness of God (see Colossians 2:2-3, 9).

Divine wisdom is not just acquired information but practical insight and discernment with spiritual implications that comes directly from God (James 1:5, 17). The purpose of wisdom is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives and also to instruct them to do what is right, just, and fair (see Proverbs 1:2-3; Proverbs 2:6). The respect, trust, and reverence of the LORD are the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (see Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10-12).

Amazingly, the book of James’ teaching on divine wisdom is very similar to the Apostle Paul’s teachings on the evil fruits of our sinful nature (flesh) and the good fruits of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:13-26). Similar to the Apostle Paul’s teaching, the book of James deals with godly behavior and good character of God’s faithful people (see also Ephesians 2:10). The book of James teaches that true faith, religion, and divine wisdom means walking by the Holy Spirit and not of our sinful nature, the flesh (see James 1:19-27; James 214-26). The book of James shows God’s true spiritual wisdom and Christlike living are inseparable (e.g., see James 2:18-20). For both James and the Apostle Paul, wisdom is not merely intellectual but also behavioral. Anyone who obeys God’s divine wisdom produces good fruit of righteousness and peace, not sin and wickedness.

According to the book of James, wise people live a life of goodness and humility (James 3:13-14; see also Matthew 5:5, 13-16; 1 Peter 2:12). Jealousy, bitter envy, greed, competitiveness, and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom as such evil deeds are earthly, unspiritual, inspired by the Evil One (James 3:15; see also Galatians 5:19-21). Wherever there is jealousy or selfishness, there will be disorder, discord, chaotic frenzy, disharmony, and every other kind of evil and wickedness (James 3:16). Such self-seeking behavior only creates rivalry and division in the church, which God hates (see Proverbs 6:16-19). Bitter envy, discord, and selfish ambition are inspired by the devil.

Most importantly, James teaches that God’s wisdom is pure and true, full of quiet gentleness, peace-loving, merciful, courteous, sincere, full of good deeds and good fruit (James 3:17; see also Matthew 5:5-9; Luke 6:36; Romans 12:9-21; Galatians 5:22-23). God loves peacemakers (Matthew 5:9; see also Romans 14:19; 1 Timothy 22-24; Hebrews 12:14). Moreover, God’s wisdom allows discussion and a willingness to yield to others (James 3:17). James teaches believers of Jesus that these peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness (James 3:18; see also Proverbs 3:13; Philippians 1:11).

Amplified Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987).
Life Essentials Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2011).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary –New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Holy Spirit and Other Spirits

13 For you have been called to live in freedom (liberty), my brothers and sisters. But do not use your freedom (liberty) to satisfy your sinful nature (flesh, selfish human nature without God). Instead, use your freedom (liberty) to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law (considering human relationships) can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another (in partisan strife), watch out! Beware of destroying one another. 16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit (continually) guide your lives. Then you will not be doing what your sinful nature (flesh) craves. 17 The sinful nature (flesh, selfish human nature without God) wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature (flesh) desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed (guided) by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the Law of Moses. 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature (flesh), the results are very clear: sexual immorality (adultery, fornication), impurity, lustful pleasures (indecency), 20 idolatry, sorcery (witchcraft), hostility (enmity), quarreling (strife), jealousy, outbursts of anger (ill temper), selfish ambition (selfishness), dissension, division (factions, sects with peculiar opinions), 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 22 But the Holy Spirit (God’s inward Presence) produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance, longsuffering), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23 gentleness (humility, meekness), and self-control (self-restraint). There is no law against these things! 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus (Messiah) have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature (flesh, selfish human nature without God) to His Cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke (irritating) one another, or be jealous (envious) of one another. Galatians 5:13-26 (NLT)

There are many spirits in our world. The Evil One sends his evil or unclean spirits (e.g., see 1 Samuel 16:14-16; 1 Samuel 19:9; Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 9:25; Ephesians 2:2-3) while the Holy One (God) sends His Holy Spirit to His faithful people (e.g., see Acts 10:44-47; Acts 15:7-9; Acts 11:17-18). The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Holy Trinity, also known as the Godhead. The Trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son-Jesus, and God the Spirit (e.g., see Genesis 1:1-3; 26-27; Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:16, 26; John 16:13-15; John 20:21-22; Romans 15:16, 30; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 4:4-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 1 John 4:2, 13-14; Jude 20-21).

Through the Holy Spirit, the true and living God discloses His personal Presence and power in the world, especially in the church. The Holy Scriptures most often present the Holy Spirit as present to do God’s works and will in the world through His faithful people such as the apostles and the prophets (e.g., see 2 Peter 1:21). After Jesus ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit is now the primary manifestation of the power and presence of God (see Acts 2).

Everyone can freely receive God’s Holy Spirit when one genuinely repents (ask God for forgiveness), turn from sin, and turn to God in Jesus with wholehearted trusts and obedience (e.g. see, John 3:5-8; John 7:38-39; Acts 2:38-40; Acts 11:15-17). With our genuine repentance and faith, God graciously regenerates believers (by which God imparts a new life to us), justifies believers (by which God graciously gives us right legal standing before Him and declares us righteous), and brings adoption (in which God makes believers members of His family) (e.g. see, John 1:12-13; John 3:15-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21; Galatians 3:26-29). God through His Holy Spirit comes to live within a believer’s heart reminding believers of God’s continual love and presence (e.g., see Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19). All of these blessings occur at our salvation when we trust God’s Son Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Jesus is the fullness and likeness of God (e.g., see 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:1-4).  

With all the blessings that come by faith, the next step is sanctification. Sanctification is a progressive work that continues throughout our Christian lives. With sanctification, God and believers cooperate, unite, and work together to continually turn believers away from sin and give believers God’s character and Jesus’ likeness in their thoughts as well as their words, and deeds (e.g. see 2 Corinthians 3:17-18). Justification (salvation, born again) is ENTIRELY God’s work through faith in God’s Son, Jesus (e.g. see, Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus, God saves no one by good works but God does save us for continual good works and deeds (see Ephesians 2:8-10). Once we have been born again by God’s Holy Spirit, a believer cannot continue to sin as a habit or pattern of life (e.g. see, 1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:18).

In Galatians 5, the Apostle Paul instructs believers in Jesus to follow wholeheartedly the ways of the Holy Spirit and not our previous selfish natures. Through our faith and obedience in God’s Son Jesus, God the Father has made us free from sin, declared us righteous, and bring His Holy Spirit to live inwardly within our hearts (Galatians 5:1, 5, 11; see also John 8:31-32; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5:1-5, 9). Now, the Apostle Paul encourages all believers of Jesus to use our freedom and grace to love and help one another (Galatians 5:6, 8; see also Matthew 22:34-40; Ephesians 2:10; James 2:18-22). The true and living God has not given believers freedom and His grace to do wrong and evil but freedom to love and serve each other (see Galatians 5:13). The Apostle Paul remains the early church that the whole Law can be summed up in this one command: “Love others as you love yourself” (Galatians 5:14; see also e.g., Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:43-48; John 13:34-35; John 15:17; Galatians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 9:19). Thus, the Apostle Paul teaches the church to show genuine love and kindness towards others and not to be critical and judgmental and such behavior hurt one another (see Galatians 5:15).

Moreover, the Apostle Paul encouraged the church to make an effort to obey and follow the Holy Spirit’s instructions (see Galatians 5:16). According to the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit, which is the very Presence of God, will lead and guide all believers of Jesus in the ways of God and away from evil and sin (Galatians 5:16-17, 25; see also Romans 8:5-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 5:11). The Apostle Paul warned the church to actively turn away from evil and selfishness because evil and darkness always produce the following evil deeds and fruit:

“. . . being sexually unfaithful (fornication), not being pure, taking part in sexual sins, worshiping gods (idolatry), doing witchcraft (sorcery and magic), hating, making trouble, being jealous, being angry, being selfish, making people angry with each other, causing divisions among people, feeling envy, being drunk, having wild and wasteful parties, and doing other things like these. . . .” Galatians 5:19-21 (NCV)

Then, these Apostle Paul warned the church that those who do such evil and selfish deeds will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21; see also e.g., Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Revelation 21:8, 27; Revelation 22:15).

Next, the Apostle Paul encouraged the church to follow God’s ways and live with our whole hearts and minds by God’s Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22; see also Matthew 7:15-20; Romans 8:5). God’s Holy Spirit will lead to faithful believers of Jesus to produce the following good deeds and fruit:

“. . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . . .” Galatians 5:22-23 (NCV).

The Apostle Paul reminds the church that there is no law that says these good deeds and actions are wrong (Galatians 5:23; see also Colossians 3:12-17). Everyone who genuinely loves and obeys Jesus actively turns from evil and selfishness and actively turn to God found in Jesus by God’s Holy Spirit inwardly working inside one’s hearts and minds (Galatians 5:24; see also John 14:15; Romans 6:6-7; Romans 8:3-5, 8-9; 12-13; Romans 13:14). The Apostle Paul wants ALL believers of Jesus to focus their hearts and minds on God by obeying and following God’s ways and not evil and evil deeds (Galatians 5:25; see also Romans 13:14;  Philippians 4:8-9). Evil leads to death, depression, and destruction but following God’s ways lead to life (see Galatians 6:8).

Finally, the Apostle Paul encouraged believers in Jesus NOT to become prideful troublemakers filled with jealous and envy (Galatians 5:26; see also Philippians 2:1-4). The Apostle Paul taught that Jesus, being in very nature God, humbled Himself and also walked in loving obedience to God ( see Philippians 2:6-11). As believers of Jesus, we have a new life from God’s Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25). So, we must follow God’s Holy Spirit and produce good fruit and good deeds because such goodness brings glory to God (Matthew 5:3-16; Luke 6:23; see also Psalm 34:11-14; 1 Corinthians 10:31)! Every believer can produce good fruit living by the Holy Spirit’s power and wholeheartedly seeking God in Jesus (see Romans 8:2-4, 12-17).

Amplified Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987).
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994).

Friday, March 10, 2017

Holy Spirit and the Old Testament

1 Have mercy on me (David), O God, because of Your unfailing love. Because of Your great compassion (mercy), blot out the stain of my sins. 2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. . . . . 6 You desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. 7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Oh, give me back my joy again; You have broken me— now let me rejoice. 9 Do not keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal (right) spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. Psalm 51:1-2, 6-12 (NLT)

The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Holy Trinity, also known as the Godhead (God the Father, God the Son-Jesus, and God the Spirit). Through the Holy Spirit, the true and living God acts, reveals His divine will, cleanses and purifies our sins, empowers His faithful people, and discloses His personal Presence in the world, especially in the church. The Holy Scriptures most often present the Holy Spirit as present to do God’s works and will in the world. After Jesus ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit is now the primary manifestation of the power and presence of the Holy Trinity. In the Holy Scriptures, the Holy Spirit is also called the “Holy Ghost,” the “Spirit of God,” the “Paraclete,” the “Comforter,” the “Advocate,” the “Helper,” our “Ally”, our “Supporter,” “Truth,” “Teacher,” and the “Presence of God” (see e.g., Genesis 1:2; Psalm 51:11, Psalm 139:7, 11; Isaiah 63:10-11; John 14:16-17, 26; John 15:26-27; John 16:7-15; 1 John 2:20-27).

The Holy Spirit is not just a New Testament notion with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (see Acts 2). The Old Testament has abundant references to the Spirit of God. By God’s Spirit in the Old Testament, the true and living God

·         Created the heavens and earth (see Genesis 1:2; Psalm 33:6)
·         Manifested the glory of God (see e.g., Exodus 40:34-38; 1 Kings 8:10-11)
·         Gives life to humanity and creatures (see e.g., Genesis 2:7; Job 33:4; Job 34:14-15; Psalm 104:29-30; Ezekiel 37:1-14)
·         Brings about redemption and new life (regeneration) (see e.g., Isaiah 44:1-3; Isaiah 63:11, 14; Joel 2:28-32; Haggai 2:5; John 3:5-8)
·         Empowered and equipped God’s faithful servants for their divine work (see e.g., Exodus 31:3; Numbers 11:29; Judge 3:10; 1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Samuel 16:13; Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 42:1)
·         Inspired and directed the holy prophets’ words, prophecy, and service (see e.g., 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Nehemiah 9:30; Isaiah 48:16; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 61:1; Ezekiel 2:2; Ezekiel 3:14; Ezekiel 11:5; Micah 3:8; Zechariah 7:12; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
·         Brings a “new heart and a new spirit” to live by God’s purpose and will (see e.g., Jeremiah 24:7; Jeremiah 32:39; Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 18:31; Ezekiel 36:26-27).
·         Omniscient (all knowing and all seeing) (see e.g., 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 139:1-6; 1 Chronicles 28:9)
·         Omnipresent (ever-present) (see e.g., Psalm 139:7-12; Jeremiah 23:24)
·         Omnipotent (all-powerful, Almighty, and unstoppable) (see e.g., Job 42:2; Psalm 139:13-18)
·         Transcendent (greatness and mighty) (see e.g., 1 Kings 8:27; Isaiah 40:12-26; Isaiah 66:1; Daniel 4:34-35)
·         Cleanses from sin and evil (see e.g., Psalm 51:2, 7; Ezekiel 36:25-27)
·         Teaches wisdom (see e.g., Psalm 51:6, 13; Psalm 143:10)
·         Defeats our enemies (see e.g., 1 Samuel 19:20-24; Isaiah 63:11-12; Haggai 2:5)
·         Brings joy and gladness (see e.g., Psalm 51:8, 12; Galatians 5:22-23)
·         Creates a pure and clean heart (see e.g., 1 Samuel 10:9; Psalm 51:10)
·         Brings the Presence of God (see e.g., Psalm 51:11)

In particular, King David from the Old Testament was keenly aware of the God’s Spirit power and presence (see e.g., 1 Samuel 16:1, 12-14; 2 Samuel 7:15). For instance, Psalm 139 reveal David’s wholehearted devotion and reliance on God as David acknowledged God’s Spirit and Presence (see also 2 Samuel 23:2; Acts 13:22). After David’s sin against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah (see 2 Samuel 11:1-27), David prayed and pleaded for God not to take away His Spirit (see Psalm 51). By God’s Holy Spirit, God had equipped and empowered David for his office as God’s anointed king (see 1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 23:1-2). Moreover, David acknowledged that his personal power came because of God’s Holy Spirit equipping and empowering him (see e.g., 1 Samuel 17:34-37, 45-47; 2 Samuel 23:2; Psalm 89:19-29). Even more, David personally witnessed the Holy Spirit’s departure from Saul, Israel’s first king, because of Saul’s continual disobedience, rebellion, and sinfulness toward God (see e.g., 1 Samuel 10:1, 6, 10; 1 Samuel 13:1-15; 1 Samuel 15:1-35; see also Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30). Because of Saul’s disobedience, God replaced His Holy Spirit in Saul with an evil and tormenting spirit (see 1 Samuel 16:1, 14-15, 23; 1 Samuel 18:10-11; 1 Samuel 19:9; see also Judges 16:20). Thus, David knew the departure of the Holy Spirit because of disobedience and sin remove the blessings of God from a person (see also Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30).

From the Old Testament, God anointed priests and kings for His service to Him. Anointing symbolized spiritual endowment, empowerment, or divine equipping for serving God (see e.g., Exodus 29:7; Exodus 40:12-15; 1 Samuel 10:1, 6; Isaiah 61:1; Zechariah 4:6, 14). The Holy Spirit empowered Joshua with leadership skills and wisdom (see Numbers 27:18; Deuteronomy 34:9) as well as Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 2:3; Ezekiel 3:24), Daniel (see Daniel 4:8-9, 18; Daniel 5:11), and Micah (see Micah 3:8) just to name a few. Likewise, Israel (Psalm 89:38), and even Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1) were called God’s anointed because of God’s inner working through Israel and Cyrus for His divine task. Moreover, the Spirit equipped the heroes of the ancient Israelites with extraordinary strength (e.g., see Judges 3:10; Judges 6:34; Judges 13:25; Judges 14:6; Judges 15:14). The Holy Spirit endowed and empowered Bezalel and Oholiab with artistic skills for the construction of the Tabernacle and its equipment (see Exodus 31:1-6; Exodus 35:30-35; see also Proverbs 1:2). Sometimes, the Spirit came upon individuals mightily to alter their normal behavior (see e.g., 1 Samuel 10:16; 1 Samuel 19:23-24). The Prophet Zechariah announced the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” Zechariah 4:6, NIV2011). The Holy Spirit is the ultimate origin of all mental and spiritual gifts, as the Spirit is the underlying inspiration and wisdom (see e.g., Exodus 31:1-6; Numbers 11:16-17; Isaiah 11:1-4; Job 4:15; Job 32:8). Most important, Jesus is God’s Anointed One empowered with God’s Spirit (see Psalm 2:2; Isaiah 11:1-5; Isaiah 42:1-7; Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 63:1-6; Acts 10:38). Essentially, both the Old Testament and the New Testament employ anointing as representative of God’s presence and power.

In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God is depicted as a mighty wind, breath, and spirit (see e.g., Numbers 11:31-32; Ezekiel 37:9-10, 14). The clearest example of God’s Spirit at work came during the ancient Israelite’s exodus (redemption) from Egyptian slavery and their wilderness wandering (see e.g., Numbers 11:17; Nehemiah 9:19-20; Isaiah 63:10-14; Acts 13:16-19). During the time of the Exodus, God deployed His wind to part the Red Sea thus enabling the ancient Israelites to pass safely through the Red Sea and to escape Pharaoh and his Egyptian army (see Exodus 14:21-22). Moreover, the Spirit of God exercised control over the chaotic waters at the beginning of creation and brought life (see Genesis 1:2; Genesis 2:7; Genesis 8:1; see also Psalm 33:6; Job 26:13). God is a God of order and peace and not confusion and chaos (see e.g., 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). Moreover, the Holy Scriptures reveal the Spirit as wind and cloud able to transport God on its wings to the outer limits of the earth (see e.g., 2 Samuel 22:11-12; Psalm 18:9-10; Psalm 104:3-4; Nahum 1:3).

The Old Testament prophets anticipated a time when the true and living God would pour out His abundant Holy Spirit on all men and women in greater fullness (see e.g., Isaiah 32:14-18; Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Ezekiel 37:14; Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28-32). This Old Testament prophetic foreshadowing looked forward to a time when the Spirit of God would regenerate His chosen people, empower the Messiah (Jesus), and empower God’s faithful people through repentance and faith in the coming Messiah (see e.g., Isaiah 11:1-4; Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 63:10-11; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 18:31; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Joel 2:28-32). Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy and baptize everyone with the Holy Spirit who believed and obeyed Him (see e.g., Matthew 3:11-12; Mark 1:8; John 1:33; John 3:5-8; Acts 1:5; Acts 2:14; Acts 11:16-17; Acts 19:4-6). Since the coming of the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the Gospel message declares that God has given the Holy Spirit to all faithful believers who repent, trust and obey Jesus, God’s only begotten Son (see Acts 2:38-40). Faithful believers in Jesus are anointed by God for good and service (see e.g., 1 Corinthians 12:1-14:25; 2 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:27).

Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Holman Bible Dictionary
Green, Joel B. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013.
J.I. Packer. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1993).

Friday, March 3, 2017

Who Is God?

4 Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God. 5 There may be so-called gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship many gods and many lords. 6 But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for Him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life. 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 (NLT)

The God of the Holy Bible is the one and only true God of the universe (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; see also Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; Psalm 86:8-10; John 17:3; Acts 17:24-31; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Timothy 2:5). He is living and exists eternally as one God in three Persons, known as the Trinity or the Godhead – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Scriptures reference the Trinity at various locations (see e.g., Genesis 1:1-3; 26-27; Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:16, 26; John 16:13-15; John 20:21-22; Romans 15:16, 30; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 4:4-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 1 John 4:2, 13-14; Jude 20-21). The clearest image of the Trinity was revealed with Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist where Jesus, God the Son, was anointed for His public ministry by God the Spirit, descending as a dove, with God the Father’s declaration from heaven, “This is My beloved Son, which whom I am well pleased” (see Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). Jesus, also known as the Word of God and the Christ (Messiah), is the most definitive revelation of the Godhead because the fullness of God lived in Jesus (see e.g., John 1:1-5, 14; John 20:28, 31; Acts 2:36; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Colossians 1:15-20; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:1-4). Moreover, the Apostle John and Apostle Paul have provided the church good teaching on the Trinity at John chapters 14 through 16 and Romans chapter 8.

God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit (also known as the Holy Ghost) are equal in nature but different in role, duties, and relationship. The Holy Spirit receives direction and instructions from both God the Father and God the Son and the Holy Spirit carries out the unified will of both the Father and the Son. The distinctive roles typically have God the Father willing, Jesus the Son completing, and the Holy Spirit applying the work of the Son (see e.g., Genesis 1:1-3, 9-10; Roman 8). Yet, there is a Oneness with Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit (see e.g., Deuteronomy 6:4; Nehemiah 9:6). Even more, God is a God of truth. In the Holy Scriptures, all three Persons of the Trinity are related to truth (see e.g., Exodus 34:6; Deuteronomy 32:4; John 1:14; John 14:6; John 15:26; John 16:13).

The Holy Spirit is a fully and completely divine Person who possesses all of the divine features and powers of God (see e.g., John 4:24; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; Revelation 1:4-5). Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is not a New Testament concept with His coming at Pentecost (see Acts 2). In the beginning of creation, the Spirit of God was “hovering over the face of the waters” (see Genesis 1:2) and the Holy Spirit runs throughout the entire Holy Scriptures (see e.g., 2 Samuel 23:2; Psalm 104:30; Job 33:4; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Acts 1:16). The Holy Spirit was God’s power in the Old Testament that empowered prophecy to proclaim God’s word and carried out God’s mighty deed (see e.g., Numbers 11:17; Judges 14:6-20; 1 Samuel 11:6; Ezekiel 2:2; Micah 3:8). The Holy Spirit is the living water, the breath, and Giver of new life (see e.g., Genesis 2:7; Psalm 51:11; Isaiah 63-10-11, 14; John 4:10-14; John 7:38-39; John 6:63; John 20:22; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Romans 8:2, 10). The Greek word pneuma and the Hebrew word ruah are similar for Holy Spirit, stemming from association with breath and wind (see Genesis 2:7; Ezekiel 1:4; John 3:8; Acts 2:1-2).

The personal and comforting nature of the Holy Spirit is evident in His title “Comforter,” “Advocate,” or “Helper” (see John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7). The Holy Spirit is advises, teaches, encourages, convicts, comforts, strengthens, and intercedes for God’s faithful people (see John 14:16-17, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7-11; John 16:13-15). Before His sacrificial death on Calvary’s Cross, Jesus promised He would send the Holy Spirit to His disciples (John 14:15-18; John 16:7; see also Luke 24:49; John 20:22; Acts 1:4-5, 8) and Jesus’ promise was fulfilled at Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2).  

The Holy Spirit is clearly at work in key events throughout God’s redemptive history:

·         Creation (see Genesis 1:1-3)
·         Jesus’ miraculous birth (incarnation) (see Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35)
·         Jesus’ baptism (see Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:21-22;
John 1:32-33)
·         Jesus’ public ministry of good (see Luke 4:14, 18-19; Acts 10:38)
·         Jesus’ resurrection (see Romans 8:11; 1 Peter 3:18)
·         Human regeneration (rebirth, salvation) (see John 3:5-8)
·         Teaches all truth (see John 14:17, 26; John 16:13)
·         Tells believers we are loved by God (see Romans 5:5)
·         Convicts of sin and righteousness (John 16:8)
·         Divine Author of the Holy Scriptures through inspiration and understanding (illumination) of (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
·         Believer’s sanctification (see Galatians 5:16-18; 22-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2)
·         Jesus’ empowerment against evil (see Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13)
·         Searches the deep things of God and knows God’s thoughts (see 1 Corinthians 2:10-16)
·         Distributes spiritual gifts for the churches’ good and encouragement (see 1 Corinthians 12:1-11)
·         Interprets and brings human prayer before the Throne of the Father (see Romans 8:26-27; Jude 20-21)
·         Assures believers of adoption into God’s family (see Romans 8:14-16)
·         Bears witness to and glorify Jesus (see John 15:26; John 16:14).
·         Seals and confirms believers’ salvation in Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14
·         Giver of life (see John 3:5-8, 16, 36; John 6:63; Romans 8:2, 10; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 5:7)
·         Eternal (see Psalm 90:2; Hebrews 9:14)
·         Omnipresent (see Psalm 139:7-10)
·         Omniscient – all knowing (see 1 Corinthians 2:10-11; 1 John 3:20)
·         Omnipotent – all powerful (see Luke 1:35-37)
·         Holy (see Romans 1:4)

The acts of the Holy Spirit through Jesus’ first apostles are the focal point of the New Testament Book of Acts. The Holy Spirit empowered and enabled the early apostles of Jesus to spread the Gospel message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (see Luke 24:45-49; John 20:21-22; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Even today, the Holy Spirit works to advance the work God the Father and His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit empowers and anoints God’s faithful people to continue the work of God the Father and His Son Jesus for God’s glory (see e.g., Luke 24:27, 44-48; Acts 1:8; Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2). When the Holy Spirit works, God’s people can boldly proclaim the Gospel message and God’s Kingdom.

Moreover, the power of the Holy Spirit is the power of spiritual transformation at work, saving everyone who repents and believes in Jesus and His Gospel message (see Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Titus 3:5). The Holy Spirit is the One who works within God’s faithful people to transform, sanctify, and give believers greater holiness and “good fruit” in life (see Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2). Through the Holy Spirit, God empowers our Bible reading and mediation, prayer life, church attendance, worship, witnessing, Christian fellowship, and moral living. The Holy Spirit guarantees believers that they have passed from death into eternal life as the Holy Spirit’s work transforms our whole life and seals the life and character of believers in a definitive way (see 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13). In other words, the Holy Spirit enables and empowers God’s people to live like and imitate the true and living God as we faithfully obey God (see Exodus 34:6-7; Galatians 5:16-18, 22-23; Ephesians 5:1-2).

The true and living God is pleased when His people walk in the Holy Spirit and imitate His ways (see Exodus 34:5-7; Galatians 5:22-25). To walk and live according to the Holy Spirit is to live and imitate the true and living God (see Exodus 34:5-7; Galatians 5:22-25). In fact, a God honoring, unified Christian community is possible only when believers walk and follow the Holy Spirit (see e.g., Ephesians 4:1-3). The Holy Spirit glorifies God and His Son Jesus and transforms people into the likeness and image of Jesus for God’s glory (see John 16:13-14; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 3:8). 

The ultimate goal of all of life is to know and love God, make Him known, and thereby glorify Him (see e.g., Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 22:37 1 Corinthians 10:31). This goal is accomplished primarily through the work of the Holy
Spirit. Reading the Bible, going to church, Christian fellowship, spiritual disciplines, service, and worship are merely playing at religion if all of these activities are not empowered, guided, and filled by the Holy Spirit (see Zechariah 4:6). If the Holy Spirit is not present, even these good things are fleshly, empty, offensive, and unacceptable to God. A life pleasing to God involves daily dependence on the precious Holy Spirit. Jesus often drew on the same Holy Spirit during His public ministry that is also available to all believers (see e.g., Luke 4:18).

How can one receive the Holy Spirit? The Apostle Peter repeats to the listeners the same teaching of Jesus on how anyone can receive the Holy Spirit (see John 7:39). To receive the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Peter declared:

38 “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles (non-Jews)—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” Acts 2:38-40 (NLT)

None of these wonderful benefits of the Holy Spirit can come into a person’s life without true salvation. True salvation (rebirth) comes when we genuinely turn from our sins, believe in God’s Son (Jesus), and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to God by seeking, believing, and obeying God’s ways (see Mark 1:14-15; John 14:15; Acts 20:21). Once a person repents and believes in the Name of Jesus Christ, a believer becomes one with God and the Holy Spirit comes to live within that believer as God’s child (see John 1:12-13; John 17:21-23; Romans 8:14-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:17, 19; Galatians 3:26; Colossians 2:6). God the Father and His Son Jesus send the Holy Spirit to be with His faithful people and bring about a spiritual change in a believer’s heart (see Jeremiah 24:7; Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 14:16; John 16:7; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

This change, also known as sanctification, results in a transformed heart that leads to a transformed character that produces a transformed life. Jesus taught that regeneration (rebirth, revival, and restoration) is the work of Holy Spirit:

5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So do not be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you cannot explain how people are born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8 (NLT)


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Grudem, Wayne. Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005).