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Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Indwelling of Deity in the Believer

(I wrote this curriculum and I am excited and looking forward to the opportunity of going through this with the saints in Christ some time next year, God willing. gt)

The Indwelling of Deity in the Believer
(a thirteen week study series)

Purpose: To encourage the saints in Christ and build up their confidence through their understanding of the Holy Spirit who lives in their hearts.

Approach: A primary focus on the gospel of John involving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Goal: That the saints in Christ may be equipped and ready to restore the fallen and strengthen the weak and that through their speech the unbelieving and the unlearned will declare that Immanuel is among them in the assembly of the saints.

1  Introduction

2  The power of the word of God

3  The prophets, David, Elizabeth & Zacharias

4  How did deity dwell in Jesus?

5  Is the Spirit with you or in you?

6  Does the Spirit dwell in you or fill you?

7  Does speaking in the Spirit or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit make you spiritual?

8  How does the Holy Spirit dwell in the believer?

9  The marks of a spiritual brother and sister in Christ

10 Teaching & remembrance: the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

11 Teaching & remembrance: the sons of Sceva and Ananias and Sapphira

12 & 13 Questions & Discussion

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the disciple

How do the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the deity who dwell in the believer, reveal their presence in the believer?


the LORD is one


The faith that is in Christ Jesus with its roots in Israel, the law of Moses, the Tanakh (Old Testament) and Abraham unabashedly asserts an equal faith and obedience to the plural entities of the Father, faith in the Son as well as faith in the Holy Spirit. All are equally presented and regarded as deity. Of course, the inability of some saints to understand or much less explain their convictions with confidence to those who inquire about their faith in Father, Son and Holy Spirit often results in the response of confusion, ridicule, mockery and rejection by Jews, Muslims and others who stumble over what they can only misunderstand as polytheism.


The lack of understanding and a less than substantive response to the plural form references to God in the Shema seems well underscored by one rabbi. The Shema, which is taken from Deuteronomy 6:4 is the Jewish prayer call to heed God: 4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! After acknowledging that the Jews are well aware of that plural form the rabbi states, “We just ignore it.” Unbelievable, and that, from a teacher of Israel. Is it any wonder that Israel had no better understanding concerning Jesus who claimed, as the Jews understood quite well, that he was God in the flesh?


What Jews and Muslims have misunderstood is that the Shema is that the reference of "one" to God is not a numeric quantitative reference. The Christian failure to grasp what we profess seems even more dismal given our monotheistic claims while claiming faith in the deity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


The Shema is a prophetic statement to the fact that God is one, namely, that everything which God said, everything which Moses said that God said, everything which the prophets said that God said, everything which Jesus said that the Father said, everything which the apostles said as being what the Holy Spirit said and everything which the saints in Christ declare from the written word of God is one.


It is all one in harmony with the same will of God as revealed at various times through many different servants of God.


manifestations of the God who is one: human form


God manifested his form and his will in different ways throughout the history of Israel. Whether it was in the call of Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, in a burning bush to Moses, dwelling in the ark of the covenant or a bronze serpent Israel had many opportunities to gain insight and understanding into how God can and does manifest himself and his will in different forms. Whatever and whenever Israel did gain some insight it was short-lived. It is little wonder that the idea of God taking on human form should be so incomprehensible to Israel.


Yet, Jesus made it clear to his Jewish listeners that the Father had sent him. Furthermore, he added that he and the Father were one. (John 10:30) Some have tried to dilute the direct meaning of these words of Jesus by explaining that Jesus was speaking of the common Jewish practice of meditation to be one with God. However, if this were what Jesus meant his audience would not have reacted with such hostility. They understood that Jesus was declaring to them that he was God.


the work of the indwelling of deity in Jesus and the believer


Jesus not only asserted that the Father had sent him, but that Jesus dwelt in the Father and the Father dwelt in Jesus. He spoke these things on the matter of the indwelling of deity in him in the context of informing his disciples that He would shortly ask the Father to send the Comforter. The Holy Spirit was to bring to their remembrance all things which Jesus had taught them and lead them into all truth. If Jesus revealed how deity indwelt him we, the saints in Christ ought just as well be able to understand and take courage as to, not only how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwell in us, but what is the work of their indwelling in the believer, also. The apostle Paul gives us more than a subtle clue in Ephesians 1.


Yes, the Father did draw up the master plan before the foundation of the world. The Son, for his part in that master plan, was to fulfill it through his redemptive death on the cross for all who believe in him. Yes, the Holy Spirit was, per that master plan, to affirm who are the elect by putting his seal on the redeemed.


So, what does the indwelling of Father, Son and Holy Spirit look like in the believer?


As usual, if we set our eyes on what Jesus stated about the indwelling of deity in him and what Paul spells out as to what Father, Son and Holy Spirit have done in their relationship with man, then we may possibly be able to understand, appreciate and rejoice in what they do in the daily life of the disciple.


Father


3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.


The Father did his work of choosing us for himself before foundation of the world. This was what he purposed to do, but the Father himself did not carry out the fulfillment of what He purposed.


Son


5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us.


It was the action by the Son (the capitalized form of Son in the New Testament is strictly the arbitrary decision of the translators. It is not necessarily malicious or deceptive. It was merely to denote this son was from the Father and sent by the Father.) to redeem us through the blood of his own death which fulfilled the will of the Father according to what the Father had purposed.


Holy Spirit


13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation -having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.


What the Holy Spirit continues to accomplish in the ongoing fulfillment of the will of the Father to redeem through his Son a people for his own possession is to affirm the believer by sealing the believer through His indwelling according to promise.


conclusion


God has always been true in the revelation of his will whether it was through Moses, his prophets, Jesus or the apostles. This is the God who is one; everything that God and his servants have spoken is one and in harmony with God.


This same harmony, according to the testimony of Jesus, was present in the will of the Father which was also Jesus’ entire mission; to do the will of the Father, and the work of the Holy Spirit to seal, that is, to affirm the redeemed through the indwelling of deity according to promise. The Father purposed all this before the foundation of the world. The Son fulfilled it when he did the will of the Father. The Holy Spirit affirmed it.

This is the manner by which the believer can take courage and be confident that deity dwells in him. Whenever the believer purposes to do anything for the glory of the Father. Whenever the believer fulfills what he/she purposed to do. Whenever the believer can confidently testify and readily affirm that what he purposed to do and which he did this is the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in him/her. peace to all

recommended reading: the gospel according to John

Monday, November 3, 2014

What is truth?

an angst filled moment


During the final hours of his life on earth Jesus was shuttled from one Jewish authority to another. Then, from one Roman official to another before finally standing to hear false accusations against him in a mock trial. One of those officials was Pontius Pilate, the governor. The night before Pilate’s wife had experienced a dream concerning Jesus. When she saw Jesus before her husband she went and urged Pilate not to have anything to do with Jesus and informed him that she had suffered in a dream which involved Jesus.


Pilate found himself in a predicament. If he released Jesus Pilate feared being falsely accused by the Jews before Caesar of abetting the imposter king, Jesus. It was in this angst filled moment that Pilate, perhaps in a bit of hair-pulling exasperation, fired back this question in response to Jesus’ words:


What is truth?


What Pilate did not realize was that Jesus had just answered Pilate’s question before he asked it.


Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I have been born, and for this reason I have come into the world, that I should testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”


perspective: a clue for Pilate


Jesus presented Pilate with a contrast to the falsehoods made by the Jews to Pilate against Jesus. Truth is, unlike falsehoods, to be listened to if one is to know the truth. It does not appear, at least from the text, that Pilate grasped the clues or meaning of Jesus’ words. If Pilate did not grasp the overt message of Jesus it was not because it was too complex or convoluted. Rather, it was more likely because he allowed himself to be distracted by the falsehoods:


“Don’t you hear how many things they testify against you?”


Jesus gave Pilate a small but significant clue, namely, that truth is a perspective. Those words spoken to Pilate are intended just as much for our understanding, too. If we profess truth is relevant and that it is important to us shouldn’t we have an understanding beyond mere platitudes and slogans? How does your understanding of truth impact our decisions and actions in our proclaiming of Jesus as Lord and Savior, our relationships with co-workers, our significant other, our husband or wife on involving morality, justice, etc.?

platitudes and slogans
Here are some of those platitudes and slogans parroted as much by theists as by atheists. Truth is subjective. Truth is relative. Truth is objective. Truth is experiential and perhaps, or as some tout as the trump card of them all; truth is absolute. All these, like so many slogans and catchy phrases make for great sound bites, but they do not reveal or convey an understanding about or of the truth.


the truth that frees


Truth is a message which reverberates throughout the gospel of John. It was to the Jews whom Jesus made this well known declaration:


You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.


But John also relates numerous instances when  Jesus defined truth over and over and those who listened; heard it. This is not mere philosophic table coffee talk.


The past: Jesus declared that he came from the Father.
As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous; because I don’t seek my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me. (5:30)
the very works that I do, testify about me, that the Father has sent me. (5:36)
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. (6:38)
I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me. (7:29)
If God were your father, you would love me, for I came out and have come from God. For I haven’t come of myself, but he sent me. (8:42)
The present: Jesus declared why he was in the world.
As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous; because I don’t seek my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me. (5:30)
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. (6:38)
The future: Jesus declared where he was going.
Then what if you would see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? (6:62)
Then Jesus said, “I will be with you a little while longer, then I go to him who sent me. (7:33)
Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. (14:12)


What emerges from these few sample passages from the gospel of John is that truth is not so much objective, subjective, experiential or absolute as much as it is a perspective. Jesus did not merely expound a lexicon definition of truth as much as he graphically demonstrated and exemplified truth through his life.


The single, brief clue which Jesus declared to Pilate, for this reason I have come into the world, was to call Pilate’s attention to the past from where Jesus claimed as his place of origin. The purpose, Pilate was informed, of Jesus’ life was determined and lived out openly and publicly long before the falsehoods which Pilate heard against Jesus. It was that, I should testify to the truth in this present life, in this present world. These two clues on the perspective of truth were to suffice for the unbelieving Pilate. He was not to hear the testimony from Jesus that He had come from the Father or that he was going back to the Father. (future) Even later when Pilate became afraid when heard the Jews declare that Jesus had made himself the Son of God John relates that Pilate asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.


those who listen to the truth


What is this truth which Jesus declared makes free those who know? It is when one can look at their past, present and future with the full acknowledgment and acceptance of their deeds, both good and bad, and cease to be enslavement to those things any longer. Why is that such knowledge of truth has such power to make one free? It is because while none of us remember our birth in the past and are alive today; death is the appointment every one of has in the future. It is nothing more than our response to the evil we committed in the past or are doing in the present which is cause either for our confidence and joy or our misery and hopelessness.


Those who listen to the truth and understand the claims of Jesus concerning himself will whether in a moment of angst pose the same question to themselves: where did I come from? why am I here? where am I going?


conclusion

Many years ago I used to hear a radio program in the San Francisco Bay area which opened with this statement. Perspective: The relationship of parts to one another. Jesus declared that truth can make one free. Life without the strangulating grip of our past, present and future is to be free. Those who ponder and can relate without fear to all the parts of their lives from their past, present and future are free.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. 7  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on, you know him, and have seen him.”

peace to all.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Do you want the Holy Spirit?

Do you want the Holy Spirit? The question can be intended or taken as much as a test of someone’s spirituality or a boast of one’s own. It can also have the effect, even if unintended, of casting the immature of faith into doubt as to the indwelling of deity in them. Where is the Holy Spirit whom you want? What does it mean to ask for the Holy Spirit?


Should a believer expect his/her request for a miraculous gift such as the ability to speak in a tongue/language to be granted?


After all, Jesus said how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? As if these words of Jesus were not enough there is always this one: The Holy Spirit can do whatever he wants to do. It’s a slogan which may play well and silence many, but it says nothing about one’s understanding as to what the scriptures reveal about the work of the Holy Spirit. It seems a foregone conclusion that the Holy Spirit by that very designation of himself as Spirit is subject to all manner of distractions and imaginations since he is, after all, spirit.


(note: Some believers attempt to create, as evidence of the Spirit in them, a distinction between tongues such as what the apostles spoke on Pentecost (Acts 2) and tongues such as in First Corinthians 14 with special emphasis on unknown tongues or tongues of angels versus [according to them]mere human language, but this is futile. Both words, tongues and languages as these appear in the English text in these chapters are taken from the same Greek word. Furthermore, I would add, that an understanding which is centered on the study or emphasis of single words in isolation is suspect.)


This article is about the pursuit of some saints who ask for the Holy Spirit. The disciples in Jerusalem and the disciples in Samaria are the focus of this article. As praiseworthy as asking for the Holy Spirit may sound, and it has nothing to do with being in submission and obedience to the Holy Spirit, it is mistaken. The reason it is mistaken is because of what Jesus revealed concerning himself and the Father, namely, that the misunderstanding, or understanding of one extends to the other. The Holy Spirit, since He is as much deity as the Father and Son, is subject to the same misunderstanding and is to be understood by the disciples just as they understand the Father and Son.


to want the Father


The testimony of the scriptures reveals how the disciples who saw with their own eyes, heard with their own ears and touched with their own hands could not avoid fostering misunderstandings of their own. Specifically, to the degree that they misunderstood Jesus, they misunderstood the Father, and a little later, that same misunderstanding could possibly extend to the Holy Spirit in the first century and the twenty first century. Is the reason some saints ask for the Holy Spirit because they do not know Him?
There is an instance in the gospel of John (14) when Philip insisted that Jesus  just show them the Father. Philip’s confusion may have been prompted by Jesus’ prior words: If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on, you know him, and have seen him. Imagine his surprise when he heard this simple, but profound, reply from Jesus:


Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ 10  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?


Philip’s befuddlement seems much like the saints in Christ who ask for the Spirit. His request to want to see the Father revealed that He did not know whom it was that he heard and saw day after day. So, if the disciples who lived, walked and talked with Jesus struggled to know and to understand him; there is at least as much of a challenge for those who want the Holy Spirit, but even more for those who want to know Him.


The Jerusalem disciples: you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit


Those who heard the gospel message proclaimed by Peter did not ask for the Holy Spirit, (Acts 2) at least, not in the same sense as some brothers and sisters mistakenly ask today. They were told by Peter they would receive the Holy Spirit according to promise. Who made this promise? Initially, Yahweh through his servant, the prophet Joel, many years before the day of Pentecost. This promise had been refreshed by Jesus in the presence of his disciples in his last hours with them as recounted in the gospel of John.


Jesus had told them the Holy Spirit who was with them would be in them.


So, how did the Jerusalem disciples receive the Holy Spirit at Peter’s preaching? They received Him in the same manner as they received his word; being baptized in response to the words they had heard. Denial or rejection of that baptism or that gift is as well as to deny both. These two, baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit, were not regarded or presented by Peter as two separate matters for the believers. Peter’s listeners’ had no more known the Holy Spirit than they knew Jesus. This was the fulfillment of what Jesus had spoken, your heavenly Father give(s) the Holy Spirit to those who ask him because surely their cry to Peter as to what they were to do ascended to the throne of our Heavenly Father who was ready and willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who believed in his Son.


Their request as to what they were to do resulted in them receiving the Holy Spirit. They were not believers in Christ who asked for the Holy Spirit like believers in Christ who ask for the Spirit, today. The request was from nonbelievers on the threshold of belief.


The power of this word which they heard and to which they responded was nothing less than the same proof and assurance, think about it, which Jesus gave to Philip when Jesus called on Philip to believe his words. Even more, Jesus effectively gave prominence to the words he spoke over his physical presence and the works which he performed when he asserted that the Father dwelled in him.


Notice in Acts 2 that the reaction of Peter’s listeners reveals it was the apostles whom they heard who were speaking in the language of the people. Notice also, that Luke states many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. This seems to suggest that, at least on the day of Pentecost, these wonders and signs were limited to the apostles. The modern pursuit of the Holy Spirit in the form of miraculous gifts was not so among the apostles and the saints in Christ in Jerusalem in the first century. They were knowledgeable and confident of the indwelling of deity in them and the notion of asking for the Holy Spirit was not something which occupied their walk of faith in Jesus.


The Samaria disciples: that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16 for as yet he had fallen on none of them


Whatever the time lapse might have been between that initial limitation and Luke’s account of someone other than the apostles performing signs it was Stephen who was the first non-apostle to perform miracles. It bears worth noting that Stephen and the other six men did not ask to receive the Holy Spirit.


Specifically, that reception of the Spirit by the seven was not a reference to the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every believer (which all seven received at that earlier time when they obeyed the gospel of Jesus), rather it is a reference to what they received through the laying on of the apostles’ hands.


About the same time as Stephen, Philip, who was one of the seven, went out to preach to the people of Samaria. Luke states that the Holy Spirit had fallen on none of them, (Acts 8:16) that is, those who had believed the message of Philip. This expression in reference to the miraculous phenomenon appears as, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word (Acts 10:44) the Holy Spirit fell on them (Acts 11:15) None of these expressions or anything similar appears in Acts 2 to the response of those who heard Peter.


Furthermore, Luke notes that Simon, one of our brothers who had responded in obedience to the preaching of Philip, saw with his eyes how this miraculous endowment of the Holy Spirit was given and received by the believers. What he saw was that it was through the laying on the apostles hands.


(note concerning Cornelius: There is much speculation and discussion as to whether Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, was saved before or after the Holy Spirit fell (which preceded his baptism) upon him. This seems like a moot point because when Peter recounted that eventful day he quoted Cornelius as to what Cornelius said to Peter about sending for Peter, who will speak to you words by which you will be saved. The salvation of Cornelius, according to Peter, was not contingent on the Holy Spirit falling on Cornelius (which probably never entered Peter’s mind) or speaking in tongues, but in the words which Cornelius was to hear from Peter.)


conclusion


A good part of clearing up the confusion and misunderstanding concerning our brothers and sisters in Samaria who received the word of God is to go back to what became known and established on Pentecost through the preaching of the apostles. The facts that we know as they were established are about as plain as Philip being with and seeing Jesus:


  1. All believers have received the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit since Pentecost,
  2. The first miraculous manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit was through the apostles, initially.
  3. The manifestation of miraculous signs through some believer, besides the apostles, is evident in the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the scriptures.

Our Heavenly Father gives good gifts. He sends to both the good and the evil the sun and the rain. What’s more He gives these without request or partiality. However, there is one request which must be made and it is granted to whom God determines to give it. It is granted to those who come to the Father through Jesus. It is they who receive the Holy Spirit according to promise to dwell in them forever. A confidence which is grounded in the understanding of what the scriptures testify concerning the indwelling of the Spirit in the believer is not shaken by pressure from some to ask for the Spirit. peace to all.