Saturday, April 29, 2017

Spirit of Truth

Jesus:  5 “But now I am going away to the One who sent Me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. 6 Instead, you grieve (sorrow) because of what I have told you. 7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I do not, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will not come. If I do go away, then I will send Him to you. 8 And when He (Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9 The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in Me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no more. 11 Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. 12 There is so much more I want to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 13 When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own but will tell you what He has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He will bring Me glory by telling you whatever He receives from Me. 15 All that belongs to the Father is Mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever He receives from Me.’” John 16:5-15 (NLT)

There is an old saying, “let truth be your guide.” God is truth, and He can never lie (e.g., see Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). In fact, truth links all three Persons of the Holy Trinity (Godhead). First, God the Father is truth (see Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 65:16; John 4:24). Moreover, God the Son Jesus is truth (see John 1:14; John 14:6). Finally, God the Spirit is truth (see John 14:17; John 15:26; John 16:13). In essence and action, truth characterizes God. All faithful followers of God should live by truth in essence and action and not deception and falsehood (e.g., see Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19:11; Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:9-10). If believers follow God, the living God will lead and guide His people into all truth and goodness (see John 16:13). Truth leads to godly lives (see Titus 1:1). However, the unholy trinity (Satan the dragon, the beast (antichrist), and the false prophet) are liars and deception, falsehood, and lies characterize their lives (e.g., see Genesis 3:1, 4; John 8:44).

Just before Jesus’ Passion (sacrificial and atoning suffering, crucifixion, and death), Jesus taught and prayed for His disciples in the Upper Room (see John 13:1-17:26). Also in the Upper Room, Jesus informed His disciples that He was returning to His Father, the living God (John 16:5, 10, 17, 28; see also John 7:33-34). God had graciously sent His Son Jesus into the world to save the world (e.g., see Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:10-11; John 1:14; John 3:16-17). For three years, Jesus had been with His disciple; but now He was about to leave them (see John 13:33).

Jesus informed His disciples not to be sorrowful and sadden because of His departure (John 16:6-7). He promised He would not leave His disciples as orphans (see John 14:16-18). In fact, Jesus told His listening disciples that it was profitable and advantageous for Him to return to God because He and His Father would send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7; see also John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; Acts 2:33). In His last moments with His disciples, Jesus assured His disciples that He and His Father would send the Holy Spirit to be in close union and fellowship with them (see John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7). The Holy Spirit became available to Jesus’ faithful followers after His sacrificial and saving death, resurrection, and exaltation (see also John 7:38-39; John 20:22). Both God the Father and God the Son sent the Holy Spirit into the world in new covenant fullness and power at Pentecost (see Acts 2:1-33). Jesus’ sacrificial death, resurrection, and exaltation inaugurated His spiritual union with His disciples. In essence, Jesus’ disciples would never be alone. Also upon returning to His Father, Jesus would intercede and advocated for His disciples at the heavenly throne of grace (see Romans 8:34). As the book of Acts shows, only after Jesus’ departure that His faithful disciples fully understand Jesus’ death and resurrection and began to proclaim Jesus joyfully to the world.

Jesus repeated used the Greek word “Paraclete” to describe the Holy Spirit as another Advocate, Comforter, Helper, Encourager, and Counselor. The Holy Spirit would come alongside Jesus’ disciples to encourage, teach, guide, defend, comfort, help, protect, empower, and strengthen His faithful disciples once He returned to His Father, the living God (John 14:16-17, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7, 13). The Holy Spirit maintains God and Jesus’ presence in the world, and the Holy Spirit duplicates and sustains Jesus’ work. In effect, the Holy Spirit would be Jesus’ very presence indwelling in close union with Jesus’ disciples to comfort, counsel and teach them (e.g., see John 14:16-17, 26; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Spirit was a good gift awaiting Jesus’ departure and glorification (see John 7:37-39; John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; John 16:12-14). The Holy Spirit now continues the work of Jesus and Jesus’ presence in the life of Jesus’ faithful followers (disciples or believers) by advising, defending, and protecting believers (see John 14:16-24). The living God freely gives His good gifts – the Holy Spirit – to everyone who asks (see Luke 11:13; John 4:10; Acts 2:38).

Next, Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit comes, the Spirit will bring many benefits. First, the Holy Spirit would expose and prove to the people of the world the truth about sin and the need for repentance (John 16:8; see also Acts 2:38). One of the Holy Spirit’s primary roles is to convict and convince the world concerning sin (see John 16:8). The Holy Spirit reveals to the people of the world the truth about sin, about being right with God, and about judgment (John 16:8). The world’s greatest sin is refusing to believe and accept Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) and the Son of the living God (John 16:9; see also Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:29; John 20:31). Second, the Holy Spirit would teach the standards and availability of God’s goodness and righteousness (John 16:8). Upon Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection, God’s righteousness, peace, and grace are available to everyone through faith in His Son, Jesus (e.g., see John 14:27; Romans 1:16-17; Romans 3:22, 26; Romans 5:1). Third, the Holy Spirit will warn everyone of God’s judgment (John 16:8). God’s judgment of sinners has already begun because God has already judged and defeated the ruler of this world, Satan (John 16:11; see also John 12:31). At Calvary’ Cross, the living God and Jesus defeated and triumphed over Satan, serving notice on unbelievers of their coming judgment.

Moreover, Jesus told His disciples that when the Holy Spirit arrives, the Holy Spirit will guide His disciples into all truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit empowers and teaches Jesus’ disciples with all truth directly from God the Father and His Son, Jesus (John 16:13-15). It is essential that believers know that the Spirit of God is never separated from the living God, His Son Jesus, or the Holy Word (see also John 15:26). The Holy Spirit will never lead people to do things different and contrary to the living God, the example of Jesus or Word of God! The Spirit of God does not ignore either God the Father or God the Son. The Father, Son, and the Spirit work harmoniously and in unity. The Holy Spirit is truth giving, and He guides into all Truth. In fact, the Holy Spirit gives the movements of believers, and He comes alongside believers to guide and direct their daily lives (e.g., see Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12; Acts 8:39; Acts 10:19-20). It is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of God indwelling, empowering, and guiding believers’ lives to discern right from wrong.

Finally, the Holy Spirit would bring continual honor, praise, and glory to Jesus (John 16:14-15). The Spirit of God reveals Jesus and in this way glorifies Him (see John 16:14-15). In fact, the Holy Spirit draws no attention to Himself but promotes the glory of Jesus. As God’s only begotten Son, God the Father has given Jesus all His glory (John 16:15).

The helping Presence of the Father, Son, and Spirit works in perfect unity and oneness (e.g., John 10:30; John 16:15; John 17:11, 21-22). Though we cannot see God, our all-powerful God is ALWAYS present and will help us through our darkest night and pain (e.g., see John 14:15-24). God walks and is present with His people through all of life. In moments of doubt and despair, God will never leave you, and He is always in control. NEVER STOP TRUSTING AND BELIEVING IN THE LIVING GOD!

NLT Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008).
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary –New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Holy Spirit Is For Everyone

34 Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35 In every nation, He (God) accepts those who fear (honor, reverence) Him and do what is right (righteousness). 36 This is the message of Good News (Gospel) for the people of Israel—that there is peace (reconciliation) with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, after John began preaching his message of baptism. 38 And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we apostles are witnesses of all He did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put Him (Jesus) to death by hanging Him on a Cross, 40 but God raised Him to life on the third day. Then God allowed Him to appear, 41 not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be His witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. 42 And He ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the One appointed by God to be the Judge of all—the living and the dead. 43 He is the One all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His Name.”

44 Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. 45 The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter asked, 47 “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” 48 So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days. Acts 10:34-48 (NLT)

God loves all people – Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) (e.g., see John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4; 1 John 4:9-10). Acts 10 reveals God’s love and care for everyone who seeks and honors Him. God knows and searches everyone’s heart and nothing is hidden from Him (e.g., see Acts 1:24; Acts 15:8). Everyone who seeks goodness and not evil and diligently trust and calls on the Name of the LORD receive His blessings, life, and salvation (e.g., see Isaiah 1:16-17; Joel 2:32; Amos 5:4, 6, 14-15; Micah 6:6-8; Romans 10:10-13). There is only one true God, the Father, who created everything, and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life (see Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:6). Even more, Acts 10 reveals the Holy Trinity (Godhead) – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Spirit. Acts 10 interweaves God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Spirit to bring about salvation to Gentiles.

Acts 10 begins with Luke, the author of the book of Acts, telling the story of a Gentile Roman officer named Cornelius (Acts 10:1). Cornelius was devout, righteous, and God-fearing Gentile from Caesarea, as was everyone in his household (Acts 10:2, 22). He was respected by all the Jewish people (Acts 10:22). Cornelius gave generously and liberally to the poor and prayed regularly to the true and living God (Acts 10:2; see also Matthew 7:7-11). Luke notes four significant aspects of Cornelius’s character: (1) he actively sought God, (2) he honored God, (3) he gave generously in meeting other people’s needs, and (4) he prayed to God regularly. Amazingly, these are significant character traits of Jesus – honoring God, praying regularly, giving and helping others (e.g., Matthew 9:35-36; Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12). Cornelius is an example that God “rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (see 1 Chronicles 28:9; Hebrews 11:6). Those who sincerely and actively seek God will find Him!

One afternoon while praying, Cornelius had a vision in which he saw an angel of God (Acts 10:3, 30). The holy angel told Cornelius that God had received his continual prayers and gifts to the poor as a memorial offering to Him (Acts 10:4, 31). Next, the holy angel told Cornelius to send for Simon Peter, a close disciple and eyewitness of Jesus’s public ministry (Acts 10:5, 32; see also Matthew 4:18-20). Cornelius obeyed the holy angel’s instruction and sent for Simon Peter now living in Joppa (Acts 10:5-7, 33).

On the next day as Cornelius’ associates were traveling to Joppa, Simon Peter fell into a trance and had a vision while he was praying (Acts 10:9-10, 16; see also Acts 11:4-5). Peter saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet came down with all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds (Acts 10:11-12; see also Acts 11:5-6). Then, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ announced to Peter, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them” (Acts 10:13, NIV; see also Acts 11:7). Peter declared to Jesus, “Surely not, Lord! . . . I have never eaten anything impure or unclean” (Acts 10:14, NIV; see also Acts 11:8). As a Jew, Simon Peter knew the Mosaic Law prohibited the eating of certain unclean and impure animals (see Leviticus 11:2-47; Leviticus 20:25-26; Deuteronomy 14:4-20). However, Jesus was teaching Peter a lesson about people (see Acts 10:28). Then, Jesus announced to Peter again a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15, NIV; e.g. see also Matthew 15:11; Mark 7:14-15, 19; Acts 11:9; Romans 14:2, 14-20; 1 Timothy 4:4-5). Peter had this same vision repeated three times and then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven (Acts 10:16; see also Acts 11:10).

After the vision, Peter was confused and perplexed as to the meaning of the vision (Acts 10:17, 19). Just then, the men sent by Cornelius found Peter’s house where he was staying (Acts 10:18; see also Acts 11:11). As Peter was puzzling over the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them” (Acts 10:19-20, ESV; see also Acts 11:12). So, Simon Peter went down and informed the three men, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” (Acts 10:21, ESV). The three men informed Peter that a holy angel instructed Cornelius, a Gentile Roman officer, to call Peter to his house so that he can hear Peter’s message of salvation (Acts 10:22; see also Acts 11:13-14). So, Peter invited the three men to stay for the night and the next day Peter went with the men to Cornelius’s house (Acts 10:23).

Upon arriving at Cornelius’s house, Cornelius had called together a large gathering of other Gentile relatives and close friends to meet Peter and receive a message from the Lord (Acts 10:24, 27, 33). Cornelius greeted Peter by falling fell at Peter’s feet to worship him, but Peter informed Cornelius that he was a fellow man like him (Acts 10:25-26). At first, Peter informed Cornelius that his Jewish customs prevented a Jewish man to associate with Gentiles (Acts 10:28). However, Jesus had shown Peter that he must no longer think of anyone as common, impure, nor unclean (Acts 10:28; see also Acts 10:14-15; Acts 15:8-9). The true and living God, who knows the heart, welcomes and saves all people through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 15:8-11). Through faith in Christ Jesus, we are all children of God (see John 1:12-13; Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 3:26). There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female for we are all one in Christ Jesus (see John 17:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:11-22; Colossians 3:11).

Then beginning with verse 34, the Apostle Peter gave Cornelius and the listening Gentiles a concise summary of Jesus’ ministry and the Gospel message (Acts 10:34-43; see also 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). In Acts 10:34-43, the Apostle Peter gave the essentials of the Gospel: Jesus’ sinless life of service for others; obedience to God, His sacrificial death on the Cross; His resurrection from complete death, personally eyewitnesses by many; Jesus’ fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures; and the necessity of personal faith in Him.

Next, the Apostle Peter explained to Cornelius and everyone listening that God welcomes and loves all people of every nation who honors Him, does good deeds, and does righteousness (Acts 10:34-35; see also Acts 15:9). Both Old Testament and the New Testament clearly state God wants all people living honest, virtuous, and good lives and not doers of evil and unrighteousness. Moreover, the true and living shows no favoritism, prejudice, nor partiality because He the true and living God of all people (Acts 10:34; e.g., see also Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Romans 2:11; Romans 3:29; Ephesians 6:9). For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who honor and call on Him in faith (e.g., see Samuel 2:30; Psalm 91:14-15; Proverbs 8:17; John 14:21; Romans 10:12).

Then, the Apostle Peter gave the Good News—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all (Acts 10:36; see also Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:36; Romans 5:1-5). The Good News of peace has spread throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached (Acts 10:37; see also Mark 1:14-15). John the Baptist came preaching repentance and bearing good fruit (see Matthew 3:2, 8; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3, 8), and Jesus continued John’s message of repentance and bearing of good deeds (see Matthew 4:17; Matthew 5:13-16; Mark 1:14-15). The apostles continued Jesus’ message throughout all Judea, and to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by their good deeds (fruit) (see Acts 2:38; Acts 14:15; Acts 26:20; Galatians 5:22-23).

Next, the Apostle Peter informed Cornelius and everyone listening that Jesus of Nazareth was anointed and consecrated by God with the Holy Spirit and with strength, power, and ability (Acts 10:38; see also Isaiah 61:1-3; Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 4:18-19; Luke 6:19; John 1:32-34; Acts 2:22). Jesus went around doing good with compassion and healing all who were oppressed by evil for God was with Him (Acts 10:38; e.g., see also; Matthew 14:14; Luke 4:18-21; John 10:32). The New Testament Gospels are filled with Jesus’ healing and restoration of people suffering with diseases, severe pain, and seizures caused by disabling evil spirits (e.g., see Matthew 4:24; Matthew 9:35-36; Mark 1:32-34; Mark 9:25-26). For example, Jesus gave healing and restoration to a woman suffering with severe back pain caused by a disabling evil spirit (see Luke 13:10-13). Even more, the simple statement, “He went around doing good and healing,” is a profound summary of Jesus’s life, and an ideal to which all Christians would do well to aspire (Acts 10:38; see also Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 11:29).

At that moment, the Apostle Peter informed Cornelius and the listening crowd that he and the other apostles were personal eyewitnesses to Jesus’s good works throughout Israel and in Jerusalem until the Jewish and Roman officials murdered Him on a Cross (Acts 10:39; see also Acts 5:30). However, the true and living God resurrected and freed Jesus from complete death on the third day because it was impossible for death to hold Jesus (Acts 10:40; see also Matthew 16:21; Luke 9:22; Luke 24:7; Acts 2:24). God caused the resurrected Jesus to be seen by certain witnesses God had selected but not to the public (Acts 10:40-41; see also 1 Corinthians 15:5-11). The Holy Scriptures teaches that the following faithful disciples witnessed and interacted with the resurrected Jesus: 

·         Mary Magdalene and other women (Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18; Matthew 28:8-10; Mark 16:9-10);
·         Apostle Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5);
·         Eleven apostles in the upper room (John 20:19-29; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43);
·         Seven disciples beside the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-24)
·         Two men on Emmaus Road (Mark 16:12-14; Luke 24:13-35);
·         Apostle Paul (Acts 9:3-6, 17; Acts 22:6-11; Acts 26:12-18);
·         Over 500 brothers and sisters including James, the Lord Jesus’s half-brother (1 Corinthians 15:5-7); and
·         Those who witnessed Jesus’s ascension into the glory-cloud (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-12).

Then, the Apostle Peter instructed Cornelius and the listening crowd that the resurrected Jesus commissioned and commanded His disciples to preach the Good News everywhere and to testify that Jesus is God’s ordained Judge of all — the living and dead (Acts 10:42; see also Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:1; Romans 14:9-10). Even more, the Apostle Peter announced that all the Old Testament prophets have written about Jesus, saying that everyone who believes in Jesus and calls upon His Name will have their sins forgiven and be saved (Acts 10:43; e.g., see also Isaiah 53:11; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Luke 24:25-27, 44-49; John 3:15-16; Acts 13:38; Romans 10:9-13).

Importantly as the Apostle Peter was explaining the Good News, the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and all those listening to Peter’s message about Jesus (Acts 10:44; see also Acts 11:15-18). All the Jews that accompanied Apostle Peter were amazed that God had given His free gift of the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and the other listening Gentiles who believed in His Son, Jesus (Acts 10:45, 47; see also Acts 11:15-18; Acts 15:8). Cornelius and the other Gentiles had come to saving faith in Jesus and had received the new covenant power and fullness of the Holy Spirit as the Jews. All this demonstrated, especially to the Jews that accompanied the Apostle Peter, that God accepts and blesses Jews and Gentiles equally with the Holy Spirit who believe and accept His Son, Jesus Christ (Acts 10:43). John baptized with water, but Christ Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Acts 11:16). The true and living God cleanses, saves, and works in everyone’s hearts by faith in His Son, Jesus (Acts 15:9-11; see also Acts 16:30-31; Romans 3:22-24; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 2:5, 8-9; Ephesians 3:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Next, the Apostle Peter heard Cornelius and the other Gentiles speaking in tongues and praising God (Acts 10:46; see also Deuteronomy 10:21). So, the Apostle Peter baptized Cornelius and the other listening Gentiles since they received the Holy Spirit of God just as the Jewish disciples of Jesus (Acts 10:47). Baptizing these people would be an outward sign of an inward work of God in their hearts and their personal commitment to Jesus (see Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38). So the Apostle Peter baptized Cornelius and the other Gentile believers in the Name of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) (Acts 10:48; see also Acts 2:38).

Soon the news reached the other Jewish apostles and believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God (see Acts 11:1). Many believing Jews accepted that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life through faith in His Son, Jesus (see Acts 11:18). In the books of Acts, God was making it clear that the Good News of Christ is for all people!

ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Life Application Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005).
Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1995).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Holy Spirit and the Resurrection

1 So now there is no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who belong to Christ Jesus (who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit). 2 And because you belong to Him (Christ Jesus) the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The Law of Moses was unable (powerless) to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature (flesh). So God did what the Law could not do. He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us (humans) by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins (sin offering). 4 He (God) did this so that the just (righteous) requirement of the Law would be fully satisfied in us, who no longer follow (live) our sinful nature (flesh) but instead follow the Spirit.

5 Those who are dominated (controlled, live) by the sinful nature (flesh) think about sinful things (flesh), but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature (flesh) control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature (flesh) is always hostile (enmity) to God. It never did obey God’s Laws, and it never will. 8 That is why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature (flesh) can never please God. 9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature (flesh). You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all. 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your (natural) body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature (flesh) urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates (sinful nature, flesh), you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. . . . 26 And the Holy Spirit helps (aids) us in our weakness (infirmities). For example, we do not know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. Romans 8:1-17, 26-27 (NLT)

Romans 8 is one of the great chapters in the Holy Scriptures. The theme of Romans 8 centers on the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the power of God (e.g., see Zechariah 4:6; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul gives the church his most concentrated teaching on the Holy Spirit that brings new life and defeats the forces of evil. The Apostle Paul celebrates in Romans 8 the new and victorious life of the Spirit that believers enjoy because of their trust in Christ Jesus’s sacrificial death and resurrection. There is victory, power, and peace that come to those who wholeheartedly trust Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior (e.g., see Romans 1:16-17; Romans 5:1-5)! Even more, Romans 8 provides excellent teaching on the Holy Trinity (Godhead) – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Spirit. The Apostle Paul interweaves God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Spirit throughout Romans 8 to bring about Christ Jesus’ resurrection and believers’ salvation.

Romans 8 begin with reminding all believers in Christ Jesus that there is now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the sin but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1, 34; see also Galatians 5:22-23). By His grace and mercy, Christ Jesus have forgiven our sins and taken away our guilt and shame through our repentance and faith in His sacrificial death (e.g., see Romans 3:25; Acts 2:38; Acts 5:31; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:38-39, 46; Acts 26:18). For the power of the life-giving Holy Spirit has freed all faithful believers from the vicious circle of sin that leads to destruction, depression, and death through their faith in Christ Jesus (Roman 8:2; see also John 3:5-8, 16; John 8:32, 36; 1 Corinthians 15:45). Now, those who belong to Christ Jesus live and walk not after the commands of their selfish sinful nature and minds but after the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1; see also John 3:18; Galatians 5:16). Jesus commands believers to go and sin no more (see John 5:14; John 8:11).

The Apostle Paul acknowledges that no one is saved from sin’s grasp by knowing the Law of Moses because no one can keep the Law in their weaken flesh (Romans 8:3; see also John 7:19). Thus, God put into effect a different plan to save humanity from sin’s destruction. God the Father graciously sent His only begotten Son Christ Jesus in a human body like ours (incarnate) yet without sin (sinless) and destroyed (broke) sin’s control over humanity by giving Himself as a final sacrifice for our sins (Romans 8:3; see also Matthew 1:21-23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 5:24; Hebrews 7:26). The word “like” or “likeness” is crucial for it indicates that Christ Jesus was God but became fully Man but not a sinful man, the God-Man (see also John 1:1-5, 14; Philippians 2:6-8; Hebrews 2:14, 17; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 Peter 2:21-22). As God, Christ Jesus graciously bore our sins in His body on Calvary’s Cross (see Acts 2:22-25; Romans 3:25). Through our faith in Christ Jesus, believers live a righteous and blameless life, not in the power of the Law, but in the power of the life-giving Holy Spirit of God (Romans 8:4; see also Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:30).

Through faith in Jesus, the indwelling Holy Spirit enables and empowers believers to walk in obedience to God's will and ways. The Holy Spirit is the power of God (Greek word “dynamis” for power) to save us and remove our sins from the inside out through faith in Christ Jesus (see Romans 1:16-17). When anyone wholeheartedly turns from their sins (repent) and believes in God’s Son Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside a believer’s hearts – indwelling of the Holy Spirit (e.g., see Acts 2:33, 38-40; Acts 10:36; Romans 5:5; Galatians 4:6-7). The Apostle Paul makes it clear that that the Spirit of God lives in every true believer (see Romans 8:9). Christ Jesus lives in all faithful believers by His Spirit, and we share His life. Believers become the Temple of the Holy Spirit where the true and living God (Father, Son, and Spirit) dwells inwardly within (see 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 11, 17, 19-20; Ephesians 2:21-22).

Amazingly, the righteousness that God demands in His Law is fulfilled in us through the Holy Spirit’s enabling power as we follow and obey the Holy Spirit leading and not obey our old sinful nature (flesh) (see Jeremiah 31:31-34; Acts 5:32; Galatians 5:22-23, 25). “For it is God who works (empower) in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13, NIV). Sadly, legalists try to obey God in their own strength. However, the power of the life-giving Spirit leads believers to experience the sanctifying and empowering work of the Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Through faith in Christ Jesus, we are saved from our sins and sin’s control over us because God destroyed sin’s control over us by giving His Son Jesus and His Spirit.

Next, the Apostle Paul teaches that those who let themselves be controlled by their selfish sinful nature live and think only to please themselves – selfishness (Romans 8:5; see also Galatians 5:19-21). Such selfish sinful thinking and living lead to hostility with God as well as death, depression, and destruction (see Romans 8:6, 13; see also Isaiah 63:10; Romans 6:23; Galatians 6:8; James 4:5). However, everyone who follows and obeys the life-giving Holy Spirit find oneself doing and thinking those things that please God (Romans 8:5; see also Galatians 5:22-23, 25). Following after the Holy Spirit leads to life, peace, and God’s eternal blessings (see Romans 8:6).

Sadly, our sinful nature within us and our sinful mind are hostile against God and can never obey and submit to God’s will and ways (see Romans 8:7). Essentially, those controlled by their sinful nature and flesh behave like the Evil One and can never please God. That is why those who have rejected Christ Jesus follow the ways of selfishness and evil that lead to eternal death (Romans 8:8; see also John 8:23-24). However, those who accept and obey Christ Jesus are controlled by a new nature - God’s life-giving Spirit (Romans 8:9, 11; see also 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Thus, if Christ Jesus lives in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Holy Spirit brings the believer new life and freedom (Romans 8:10; see also John 8:31-32, 51). The same life-giving power who resurrected Christ Jesus from complete death lives in you (Romans 8:11 see also John 14:17; Acts 2:24; 1 John 4:13-14). The true and living God will raise believers from the dead by His life-giving Spirit, just as He raised our Lord Christ Jesus from the dead (1 Corinthians 6:14; see also 2 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:14). The Holy Spirit brings life (see 2 Corinthians 3:6). Through faith in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit has sealed each believer with eternal life (see John 3:15-16; John 20:31; Ephesians 1:13-14).

Therefore, the Apostle Paul warns believers of Christ to actively turn away from sin and selfishness (old nature) (Romans 8:12; see also Romans 6:1-2; Colossians 3:5). God and believers each have a role in sanctification: the Holy Spirit’s power and believers turning away from sin. Everyone who uses their lives to continually obey and follow after sin and wickedness are lost and will perish both physically and spiritually (see Romans 8:13). However, the Apostle Paul reminds believers to rely on the Holy Spirit’s help to actively follows the ways of God that lead to true life (Romans 8:13; see also 1 John 3:24). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, believers can crush evil and any evil deeds and be transformed into the likeness of Christ Jesus (Romans 8:13, 29; see also 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:21). Because the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Life,” the Holy Spirit empowers believers to obey Christ Jesus, convicts us of sin, and enable us to abundant lives (see John 16:8-9; Ephesians 3:16-17).

For everyone who is led by the Holy Spirit are children of God looking to our loving Heavenly Father in humble dependence, allegiance, and trust (Romans 8:14; see also Matthew 6:9-10, 25-27; Matthew 18:3-4). Our loving Heavenly Father knows how to give good gifts to those who love, obey, and seek Him (see Matthew 7:7-8, 11; Luke 11:13). Therefore, the Apostle Paul reminds believers they are no longer fearful slaves (see John 8:34-36). Instead, believers must behave like God’s very own children, adopted into the bosom of His family, and calling to Him, “Father, Father” (Romans 8:15; see also John 1:12-13). The Holy Spirit speaks to believers’ hearts affirming us that we really are God’s children through our faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:16, 19, 23; see also Galatians 4:5-7; Ephesians 1:5). Since believers are God’s children, we share God’s abundant spiritual treasures, wealth, and glory. For all God gives to His Son Christ Jesus is now ours too as His children – coheirs with Jesus (Romans 8:17, 23; see also Galatians 3:26-29). That is why Jesus tells everyone to seek God the Father first and seek Him for our daily needs (Matthew 6:33-34; see also Amos 5:4, 6). God cares and loves His faithful children.

One day, the true and living God will give believers their full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us (Romans 8:23; see also 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 21:1-22:5). Believers’ possession of the Holy Spirit is not only evidence of our present salvation but also a pledge of our future inheritance and redemption (Romans 8:14, 16, 23; see also 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14). The ultimate glory that believers will receive is so glorious that the suffering of this present time are insignificant in comparison (Romans 8:18; see also

Even in suffering, weakness, and trials, the Apostle Paul reminds all believers to trust God patiently and confidently (see Romans 8:23-25). Believers have dual intercessions or dual representations before God’s Throne that keep them secure and safe – the Holy Spirit intercedes (see Romans 8:26-27), and Christ Jesus intercedes with God the Father (Romans 8:34; see also Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 1:9-2:2). God sends the Holy Spirit to help believers in our weakness, troubles, and infirmities (Romans 8:26; see also John 14:17, 26). The Holy Spirit shares our burdens. Even more, Christ Jesus has overcome the world, and nothing can separate us from God’s love demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when He graciously died for us (see John 14:1, 27; John 16:33; Romans 8:35-39). Thus, believers never need faint in times of suffering and trial because we know that God is at work in the world and we are secure in Christ’s love (see Romans 8:28). So great is the unending faithfulness and love of God for those who seek Him (see Psalm 130:7; Lamentations 3:22-25).

Finally, believers can continually rejoice because “overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (Romans 8:37, NLT). “So what should we say about this? If God is with us, no one can defeat us” (Romans 8:31, NCV). We are victorious!

Amplified Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987).
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Morris, Leon. The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2012).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary –New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Holy Spirit and Holiness

1 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. 2 They must not slander (speak evil of) anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. 3 Once we, too, were foolish (thoughtless) and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. 4 But—When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, 5 He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His (tender) mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth (regeneration) and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously (richly) poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of His grace, He declared us righteous (justified) and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone. Titus 3:1-8 (NLT)

In the book of Titus, Apostle Paul gives the church essential elements of the Gospel. The book of Titus has a practical yet instructive tone. In Titus, the Apostle Paul gives all believers outstanding teaching on the Gospel message of God’s grace (see Titus 1:1-4; Titus 2:11-14; Titus 3:4-7). Specifically, the Apostle Paul repeatedly urges believers of Jesus to maintain good works (see Titus 2:14; Titus 3:1, 8, 14).

The Holy Scriptures are clear that no one can achieve salvation by human effort or merit. Salvation only comes through God’s mercy and grace alone through faith in His Son Jesus as Lord and Savior (e.g., see Romans 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:8-9). Titus 3:5 makes clear that good works do not earn anyone acceptance by God. Salvation comes by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus (see John 3:5-8). This washing is a spiritual cleansing! Nevertheless, a believer’s good works are a natural response from everyone who has experienced God’s grace, forgiveness, and love. Good works and love for one another are always marks of genuine believers (Titus 2:14; Titus 3:1, 8, 14; see also John 13:34-35).

The Apostle Paul makes clear that one purpose of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death was to make His people holy and purify us from sin, evil, and wickedness (e.g., see Titus 2:14; Hebrews 1:3; 1 John 1:7). Similarly, the true and living God graciously redeemed and saved the ancient Israelites from Egyptian bondage and slavery for holy living (see Exodus 19:5-6). God has always tied His gracious redemption and salvation to our holy living. The true and living God is holy and pure (e.g., see Leviticus 11:44-45; Psalm 99:9; Isaiah 6:3), and He calls His faithful people to also actively seek and pursue holiness (e.g., see 1 John 1:5-2:1; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Hebrews 12:10-17; 1 Peter 1:15-16). Both the Old Testament and New Testament teach our holiness and purity pleases God and brings us closer to Him in fellowship and union (e.g. see Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Ephesians 4:17-5:14; 1 Peter 1:13-22).

Therefore, there is no room for claiming to be redeemed and saved while providing no evidence of practical transformation (see James 2:14-26). In fact, the Apostle Paul repeatedly taught that profession of faith in Jesus Christ be accompanied by godly living (e.g., see Titus 2:1-2, 4-5, 10-14; Titus 3:8). The same grace that saved us from sin and wrath also instructs faithful believers that our salvation should produce good works. God’s grace WILL ALWAYS produce an ethical and practical change in a believer’s life. Our good works and good fruit of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience is true Gospel living (e.g., see Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:12-17; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 2:9-10). Our Gospel living brings God glory (see Matthew 5:3-16).

The good news is that God the Father and God the Son (Jesus) have sent believers God the Spirit as their Helper, Comforter, and Advocated to live holy and righteous (John 14:16-17, 26; John 15:26-27; John 16:7; Romans 5:5). One of the primary activities of the Holy Spirit is to cleanse God’s believers of their sins and transform the hearts, minds, and character of God’s people to be holy in conduct and character (see Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). The Holy Spirit is living water that renews, strengthens, and transforms believers into God likeness for His glory (e.g. see Psalm 1:1-3, 6; John 4:10; John 7:38-39; Ephesians 2:10). The Holy Spirit performs an initial cleansing work in all new believers at the point of salvation causing believers to make a decisive break from a life of sin and wickedness (see 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5). This cleansing, healing, and purifying work of the Holy Spirit is apparently what is symbolized by John the Baptist’s declaration that Jesus will baptize people “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (see Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16; John 1:33).

The true and living God graciously gives His Holy Spirit as a gift to everyone through repentance of our sins and wholehearted faith in His Son, Jesus – who is Lord of all (e.g., see Acts 2:14-21; Acts 10:45; Acts 11:15-17). When anyone wholeheartedly turns from their sins (repent) and believes in God’s Son Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside a believer’s hearts – indwelling of the Holy Spirit (e.g., see Acts 2:33, 38-40; Acts 10:36; Romans 5:5; Galatians 4:6-7). Believers become the Temple of the Holy Spirit where the true and living God – Father, Son, and Spirit – dwells inwardly within (see 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 11, 17, 19-20; Ephesians 2:21-22). The Holy Spirit gives that believer a new life, holiness, and purpose (e.g., see John 3:5-8, 16-18; John 17:19; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

With repentance, obedience, and acceptance of Jesus as Lord, the Holy Spirit also produces in all believers’ growth in holiness of life – sanctification. The Holy Spirit brings about inwardly His good fruit and outward working of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23; see also John 15:5-8). As God’s Temple, these good fruits of the Holy Spirit reflect the character of God the Father and His Son Jesus (e.g., see Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 86:15; Matthew 9:35-38; Acts 10:38; James 5:11). As we fellowship and study God’s Holy Scriptures, the Holy Spirit continually transforms and sanctifies God’s faithful people by His truth, which is the Word of God (see Psalm 1:1; John 17:17). This transformed and holy life leads to God’s blessings, peace, and happiness (see Matthew 5:3-11; Romans 8:37-40; 1 John 4:4). So, be of good cheer and joy (see John 16:33).

The Holy Spirit continually transforms faithful believers into the likeness of God from one degree of glory to another (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). Sanctification (holiness or purity) comes by the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit. By Holy Spirit’s help and power dwelling inside, faithful believers are able to “put to death the deeds of the body” and grow in holiness (e.g. see Romans 8:4, 13, 15-16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; Philippians 1:19). True salvation – repentance, obedience, and faith in Jesus – will always result in lasting good fruit that bear in people lives (e.g., see Psalm 1:3; Matthew 7:15-20; 1 Corinthians 14:12, 26).

ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Book House Company, 2001).
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994).