The Holy Spirit

Bible Questions and Answers – Holy Spirit or the Word?

“Dear Editors: A preacher claimed that you people at GOSPEL MINUTES do not believe the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian separate and apart from the word of God. Please reply.

– S.G., PA”

If this preacher read our paper carefully, he would not have been so quick to point out what we believe, nor be as wrong in his conclusion. I don’t like that phrase, “Separate and apart from the word,” for it means different things to different people. How about this instead, “Do you believe that the Holy Spirit actually dwells in Christians?” I have no hesitancy in answering with a resounding, “Yes!”

Let me show you the problem with the phrase, “Separate and apart from the word.” If someone asked you, “Do you believe Christ saves people today, separate and apart from the word of God”, how would you answer? If you answer “Yes” that would be a denial of what God said in Romans 1:16, “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.” But if you answer “No” that implies that Jesus Christ is not really involved in saving people today. That same basic problem is found with that phrase when used with regard to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Christian. The question comes, “How does the Holy Spirit dwell in Christians?” And the truth is I have yet to find the man who understands how his own spirit dwells in him! So, let’s forget the catchphrase and just look at the Bible.

I firmly believe the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian, for the Bible says so: “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him” (Acts 3:38-39). Compare that with Acts 5:32, “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” Or, again: “And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6). These texts show that when people become Christians, God gives them the Holy Spirit. Now add Acts 2:41, “They then that received his word were baptized; and there added (unto them) in that day about three thousand souls.” Notice the order: Only those who believed and repented were baptized, and only those who were baptized received the Holy Spirit. They received the word, they were baptized, they then received the Holy Spirit. Thus, the reception of the word and reception of the Holy Spirit were two different things. (more…)

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Spirit-Minded or Spiritually-Minded?

Spirit-minded and spiritually-minded are not always the same (Romans 8:13-17, Colossians 2:18-23).

Spiritual people are ready to consume whatever feel-good flavor of the day gets served.

The Spirit-minded individual is ready to consume the food that sustained God’s people for millennia through blessings, hardships, heartaches and celebrations (Nehemiah 9:20, John 6:53-63).

Spiritual people look for worship services that swoon, sway and sweep them off of their feet with a better felt than told, helium filled hands moment, material riches are coming message and an expect a miracle spiritual experience.

The Thinking ManThe Spirit-minded individual is looking for worship services that are guided by the Spirit so He may cut, correct and comfort hearts; draw us out of the world and near to God; culminating in our edification, sanctification, and devotion, and the exultation of God (John 4:23-24).

Spiritual people are seeking a life path that can be trail blazed in whatever fashion that fits them. They believe in life after death, but most often one’s lifestyle has no effect on eternal conditions.

The Spirit-minded individual looks to avoid grieving the Spirit of God by living for Heaven while here on the Earth being fully aware that the old man of sin can present a great danger to the new man created in Christ (Ephesians 4:17-32).

Biblical spirituality is real (Galatians 6:1), but it comes from being Spirit-minded and not necessarily from being spiritually-minded (Romans 12:1-2). EA

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-16)

Renovated by God

Renovations done the right way are hard work! Planning, moving out the furniture, tearing out the old, putting up the new and bringing the furniture back in can be exhausting – but when it’s needed it’s worth it! This is important to remember because it’s easy to get disillusioned in mid-renovation, but the motivation to continue can from remembering the goal, looking at how far you’ve come and by finding a little help along the way. Come to think of it, a renovation is a lot like Christianity.

When someone believes in the gospel of Christ and they are baptized into Jesus, the Spirit of God begins renovating our soul. Paul said this much when he told Titus that our salvation came, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). We are washed, justified and sanctified from our old life by the work of Jesus upon the cross and work of the Spirit in our soul (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Once God begins this renovation we have to remember to make room for the improvements that he has in mind. A refusal to let go of the old can halt a renovation fast! God is patient with us, and he will even help us with the heavy lifting, but God will not provide new doors by kicking down the old ones! Just remember what Revelation 3:20 says. We have to keep our heart and mind open as God completes his renewal or the old will become ugly in a whole new way (Matthew 12:43-45). When we keep the goal in sight we can find the energy, finances and encouragement we need to get spiritually renovated. EA

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavensTherefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

(2 Corinthians 5:1, 17)

Does Our Doctrine Make A Difference?

When a word appears 49 times in 15 out of the 27 books of the New Testament that may be a “clue” to its importance.  And these “clues” lead to the importance of following, believing and teaching proper doctrine.

The word doctrine itself comes from the Greek word “didache” meaning, “that which is taught; doctrine, teaching concerning something; the act of teaching and instruction particularly in Christian religious assemblies.” So basically “doctrine” means what a person teaches concerning religious issues specific to the God of the Bible and His will for our life.

Now, although there are many different doctrines taught in the religious world today (which is actually against the doctrine of God taught in the Bible to begin with – John 17:20-22) I want to quickly whittle down all of these doctrines to two different kinds:

There is “sound” doctrine: “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9)

and

There is “strange” doctrine: “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.” (Hebrews 13:9)

The word “sound literally means “to be well and in good health” and “having an understanding and teaching free from any mixture of error.”

The word “strange” (which represents any other doctrine other than sound ones) means “without knowledge of” or “unheard of; new.”

So you can see how any lesson, sermon, or opinion, etc. religiously speaking can fall into these two categories.

Now, in light of these two very plain definitions and scriptures shown above, some people today still insist that it doesn’t matter what a person’s “doctrine” is. In other words they believe that a person can teach just about anything they want as long as they are sincere in their belief, but how does the Holy Spirit feel about that particular doctrine?

Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, told Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:3-7 to “…charge some that they teach no other doctrine….” He also told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3 that “…the time will come when [people] will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers.

John said when a person abandons the doctrine of Jesus the Christ, in reality they abandon God: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” (2 John 1:9-11)

Jesus Himself warned about and condemned any doctrine other than God’s when he said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:8-9) And as a matter of fact in Revelation 2:15 Jesus told the compromising church of Pergamos that He hated the doctrine of the Nicolatians that they were allowing to be taught.

So according to Jesus the Son of God, the Holy Spirit of God, and John and Paul the apostles of God, does our doctrine matter? Can our doctrine make a difference in our  relationship with God? The answer is a resounding YES.

But before I finish I must ask, can we know and teach “sound doctrine?” Again the answer is a resounding YES. How does this happen? How can we do this? By listening to the Spirit of God through God’s word and God’s word alone found in the Bible and by teaching doctrines that do not contradict God’s written and revealed will for our lives (Matthew 7:24-29).

2 John 1:9 teaches the importance of staying within the boundaries of the New Testament, and that means we must study God’s word to know the sound doctrine that comes from God. And if you’re not convinced yet, read 2 Timothy 2:14-18 and then try to tell me with a straight face that the Bible doesn’t say our doctrine makes a difference. Think about it. EA

How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 6:11-13)

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Jesus Believed the Scriptures Were Infallible and So Can You!

Confidence in the scriptures of the Bible is vital to a proper relationship with God. The world tries to shake a believer’s confidence with name calling, attempts to take verses out of context and by ignoring the fact that there are times when people have made bad translations that ignore the original languages and manuscripts that tie our modern English Bible with the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek languages of the past.

When moments of sarcastic remarks or “intellectual” ignorance are blasted at the scriptures, one person that I keep in mind to settle the issue is Jesus. Despite His contemporary naysayers who abused the scriptures through tradition, erroneous translations and plain old unbelief, Jesus taught that the scriptures held a common theme and that they were infallible. Jesus taught that the scriptures provided the necessary guidance for the hearts and minds of man because the Holy Scriptures written by the hands of men came from the mind of God (2 Peter 1:16-21).

Jesus settled controversial issues with the stability of the scriptures:

Marriage and divorce? What do the scriptures say? (Matthew 19:1-9)

Life after death? What do the scriptures say? (Matthew 22:23-40)

Was it possible for Jesus, the son of David, to be greater than king David? What do the scriptures say? (Matthew 22:41-46)

Was Jesus really the Messiah? What do the scriptures say? (John 5:36-42)

It was after the resurrection that the disciples believed because they remembered the scriptures and the words of Jesus (John 2:18-22).

A person can get a concordance and find many more times when Jesus settled issues with the true and infallible standard from God. After all, the only way we can know that Jesus was a perfect sacrifice is because He perfectly fulfilled the scriptures.

On the road to Emmaus Jesus gave one of His greatest unrecorded sermons that we know about. It is in the New Testament scriptures that we learn about a couple of Jesus’ disciples whose hearts were hurting as they walked on the road to Emmaus because of the death of Jesus and because of the empty tomb. These disciples just so happened to meet a “stranger” in town who believed the scriptures were invaluable because they infallibly and joyously pointed to very tomb that troubled them. The “stranger” told them:

…“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

At times Jesus challenged and questioned the hearts of men and women but He never questioned the authority of the scriptures (John 10:35). If Jesus believed the Old Testament scriptures were infallibly and completely inspired of God’s Spirit then we can have the same confidence in the same Spirit of God when it comes to accomplishing His mission with the scriptures of the New Testament that we can hold in our hands today. EA

You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst.” (Nehemiah 9:20)

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:7-15)

Should We Only Listen To The Words in Red???

Are the “words in red” the only words we must be concerned with when it comes to the commands of Christ found in the Bible? Some are under the opinion that the other epistles (letters) which make up the New Testament do not have as much authority as the ones that go by the title “the gospel of Jesus Christ according to….” Such an opinion concerning the scriptures is wrong, and it is a dangerous opinion to have.

For one, it undermines the heavenly authority of Jesus’ apostles and prophets and the foundation upon which the church itself is built upon. Consider the following scriptures:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,” (2 Peter 3:1-2)

If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 14:37)

Without the written knowledge that the Holy Spirit has made known to the church through the apostles and the prophets, the church today would not have a steady foundation of truth to follow or be built upon, much less teach (1 Timothy 3:14-15).

I have a full assurance in the Holy Spirit and His ability to complete the mission He had in reminding, revealing, reinforcing and regulating the doctrine of Christ to the apostles and prophets of the church (John 14:26, 15:26, & 16:7-14). He accomplished it with the Old Covenant and He has accomplished it with the New Covenant as well.

If we refuse to listen to the Holy Spirit inspired men and the “words written in black” which have been preserved through the providence of God, then in reality we are refusing to listen to the “words written in red” that promised it would happen! EA

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Bible Questions and Answers – Blaspheme the Holy Spirit

“Dear brother Thurman: In a moment of weakness I was tempted to curse the Holy Spirit. Now, based on Matthew 12:32 I am afraid I will lose my soul. Have I sinned in such a way I cannot be forgiven? – C.S., CO”

He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:30-32). Jesus is speaking to people who are rejecting Him as Messiah. He tells them that they can reject Him but they better not reject the Spirit. Why? Because the Spirit was giving ample evidence Who Jesus was. The miracles, the healings, the powerful demonstration of God’s presence with Jesus should convince them He is the Christ. If they reject that evidence, they have blasphemed against the Spirit and cannot be saved. They are not beyond redemption. But as long as they reject the evidence concerning Jesus they cannot be saved.

This is still true. If we reject Who Jesus is, we will not be saved. When we ignore the clear evidences of the Spirit as to the nature of the Son of God, we will not be saved by the Son of God. But, if we embrace that evidence and trust it, we can always be saved. So, a moment of weakness in which you considered saying something hateful about God or Jesus or the Spirit, is not beyond forgiveness. The only ones beyond forgiveness are those who reject the only path to forgiveness, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. – David Thurman

Excerpted from Volume 61, Number 19 of Gospel Minutes. Gospel Minutes is a publication originating from Forth Worth, Texas; Clem Thurman, Editor, David Thurman, Associate Editor.