The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
By Ron Crisp
Chapter 1 - An Introduction to the Study of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 2 - The Deity of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 3 - The Personality of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 4 - The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
Chapter 5 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in Relation to Christ
Chapter 6 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Inspiration of Scripture
Chapter 7 - Types of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 8 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in Common Grace – Part I
Chapter 9 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in Common Grace – Part II
Chapter 10 - The Preparatory Work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation
Chapter 11 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in Regeneration
Chapter 12 - The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 13 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in Assurance
Chapter 14 - The Comforter
Chapter 15 - The Holy Spirit of Promise
Chapter 16 - The Holy Spirit as a Teacher
Chapter 17 - The Filling of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 18 - The Fruit of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 19 – The Sins Against the Holy Spirit
Chapter 20 - The Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Chapter 21 - The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 22 - The Temporary Gifts
Chapter 23 - Health and Gift of Healing
Chapter 24 - The Gift of Tongues
Chapter 1 - An Introduction to the Study of the Holy Spirit
As we begin our studies on the person and work of the Holy Spirit it is important that we maintain proper attitudes. If we would truly profit from God's Word let us remember to:
1. Pray that the Holy Spirit will teach us. John 14:26, Corinthians 2:11-13.
2. Submit to the Scriptures as our only rule of faith and practice. Especially in the study of the Holy Spirit's work many have endeavored to make their experience the final authority. Still others claim to receive extra-Biblical revelations in the name of the Spirit of God. II Timothy 3:16-17, Isaiah 8:19-20, Matthew 15:9.
3. Believe that God intended for us to understand the doctrines of His Word. The existence of contradictory teachings in religious circles should never be interpreted to mean that the Bible is too obscure to be accurately interpreted. Our Saviour promised that the Spirit would guide us into all truth. II Timothy 2:15, Acts 17:11-12, John 16:13.
4. Remember to begin the study of God's Word with humility. The Bible does not contain everything we want to know, but everything we need to know. Some truths revealed (such as the interrelationships of the Trinity) are intended to be believed yet incapable of being fully understood by mortal man. Deuteronomy 29:29, Job 11:7, II Peter 3:15-16.
5. Desire to grow spiritually as you learn. Knowledge alone will only produce pride. How sad the thought that some can study about the Holy Spirit who fail to be Spirit-filled or yield the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. I Peter 2:2, I Corinthians 8:1, James 1:22.
I. THE OBJECT OF OUR STUDY
The object of our study is the third person of the Triune God. It may help us to begin by looking at some of the titles of this Divine Person.
A. The Spirit - Romans 8:23. The word "spirit" is a translation in the Old Testament of the Hebrew word ruach and in the New Testament of the Greek word pneuma. The same words are also translated "wind" (Psalms 1:4, John 3:8). These words can also refer to the human spirit (I Thessalonians 5:23), angels (Hebrews 1:7), or the nature of God (John 4:24). The general idea is that of unseen power. The Holy Spirit, however, is a Divine Person and must never be viewed as a created spirit (which is to deny His deity), or as the mere presence or power of God (which is to deny His personality).
B. The Holy Spirit - Luke 11:13. He is called the Holy Spirit because:
1. His nature is eternally and essentially holy.
2. He is the author of all holiness in man.
C. The Holy Ghost - Matthew 1:20.
The word "ghost" is a translation of pneuma and has the same meaning as "spirit."
The word "spirit" is of Latin origin, while the word "ghost" is of Saxon origin.
Illustration - Some of the old English writers spoke of God as our "Ghostly" (Spiritual) Father.
D. The Comforter - John 14:16.
E. Titles which reveal His relationship to the Father: Spirit of God (Matthew 3:16), Spirit of the Lord (Luke 4:18), Spirit of Jehovah (Judges 3:10), and Spirit of your Father (Matthew 10:20).
F. Titles which reveal His relationship to His Son: Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:19), and Spirit of His Son (Galatians 4:6).
G. Titles which reveal His attributes: Eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14), Spirit of Holiness (Romans 1:4), The Seven Spirits (Revelation 3:1), [This implies His perfection].
H. Titles which reveal His work: Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), Spirit of Life (Romans 8:2), Spirit of Grace (Hebrews 10:29), and Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8:15).
There are about fifty titles given to the Holy Spirit in the Bible and each one reveals to us an aspect of His person or work.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR STUDY
The study of God's Spirit is important because of Who He is, what He has done and will do.
A. His person - the Holy Spirit is God, and a true knowledge of God is the foundation of religion.
B. His work - While the world seems only to associate the Holy Spirit with religious fanaticism, yet He is active in all areas of life. He is the Creator, as well as working in providence, nature, politics, human endowment, salvation, and spiritual growth. He inspired the Bible and now illuminates our minds to grasp it.
His coming into the world was as necessary for our salvation as the coming of Christ. Without the Spirit, our religion is an empty shell, and we have no proof of our salvation (Romans 8:9). The Holy Spirit gives us physical, spiritual, and resurrection life (Job 33:4, John 3:5, Romans 8:11). He is the author of everything good and pleasant in our existence (Galatians 5:19-23).
Conclusion - How precious the Spirit of God is to the Christian. May we with the authors of the Nicene Creed say "And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeded from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and Son together, is worshipped and glorified."
Chapter 2 - The Deity of the Holy Spirit
In approaching the study of the Holy Spirit's deity we are confronted with the modern tendency to down-play the importance of doctrine. Nowhere is this doctrinal apathy more dangerous than when it concerns the knowledge of God. To err on the truth concerning any Person of the Godhead is to pervert the doctrine of the Trinity, and thus depart from the knowledge of the true God. There is no salvation or service where the knowledge of God is not possessed (Jeremiah 9:23-24, John 17:3, Daniel 11:32, Hosea 6:6).
The study of God is the most beneficial pursuit that the Lord' s people can engage in (Philippians 3:8). Nothing else will expand our mind and yet humble us in the same way. To learn of God strengthens our fellowship with God, and fills our hearts with tranquility (Job 22:21). What a joy and ground of confidence it is to know that we are indwelt by the Person of the Holy Spirit Who is Himself God. This thought should encourage our faith (I John 4:4), and cause us to shun sin (I Corinthians 6:l8-19). May God this lesson to confirm us in this great truth of the Holy Spirit's deity.
I. THE TRINITY.
The Bible teaches that while there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), yet there are three Persons in the Godhead (Matthew 28:19, I John 5:7). In our study of the Holy Spirit's deity it will help us to review the relationship of the Persons of the Triune God.
A. God the Holy Spirit - In theology we speak of the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity Who proceeds from the Father and the Son (John 15:26, Psalms 104:30, Galatians 4:6, Philippians 1 :19). "Eternal Procession" is the phrase used to describe the Spirit's relationship to the Father and the Son.
B. God the Son - Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. He has always been the Son of the Father (Galatians 4:4, John 3:16, Isaiah 9:6). "Eternal Generation" is the phrase used to describe Christ's relationship to the Father. In theology we speak of Christ as the Second Person of the Trinity.
C. God the Father - The Father neither "proceeds" from, nor is "generated" by any, and thus we speak of Him as the First Person of the Trinity. We must remember that these terms imply no inferiority of the Divine Persons. While these relationships cannot be comprehended by the human mind, yet they must be accepted or we soon drift from the doctrine of Trinitarianism into Unitarianism.
Perhaps we cannot do better than to close this discussion with a quote from the old Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith: "In this divine and infinite Being there are three Persons, the Father, the Word (Son) and the Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar, relative properties, and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence with Him."
II. THE DEITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
The proofs of the Spirit's deity may be divided into five categories.
A. The Holy Spirit is called God - (Acts 5:3-4, 9, I Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 2:22, II Corinthians 3:17). The Spirit is called Adonai (Compare Acts 28:25 with Isaiah 6:8-9). The Spirit is called Jehovah (Compare Hebrews l0:15-16, with Jeremiah 31:31-34). (1)
B. The Holy Spirit is associated with the Father and the Son on an equal level -- (Matthew 28:19) [Notice that the word "name" is in the singular thus signifying that the power, glory and authority of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit are one] (I John 5:7, II Corinthians 13:14.
C. The attributes of God are attributed to the Holy Spirit.
1. Eternity - Hebrews 9:14.
2. Life - Romans 8:2.
3. Omnipresence - Psalms 139:7-8.
4. Holiness - Matthew 28:19.
5. Omniscience - I Corinthians 2:10.
6. Sovereignty - John 3:8, I Corinthians 12:11.
7. Omnipotence - Genesis 1:1-2, John 3:5.
D. The works of God are attributed to the Holy Spirit.
1. The creation - Job 33:4.
2. The incarnation - Matthew 1:18.
3. Regeneration - (Compare John 3:8 with I John 4:7).
4. Resurrection -Romans 8:11.
5. The inspiration of God's Word - (Compare II Peter 1:21 with II Kings 21:l0).
E. The nature of the unpardonable sin reveals the Divine dignity of the Holy Spirit - Matthew 12:31-32.
Conclusion - The importance of this lesson is well emphasized by noticing the many cults that Satan has raised up to attack the truth of the Spirit's deity. May this incite us to greater care in giving the Holy Spirit His proper place in our love and worship.
1. Perhaps it should be explained that in the King James Version the word "Lord" when applied to God in the Old Testament may be a translation of one of two different Hebrew names of God. When it is printed in all capitals it indicates the name Jehovah. When merely the first letter is capitalized it is a translation of the Hebrew title for God - Adonai.
Chapter 3 - The Personality of the Holy Spirit
The personality (i.e., the quality or fact of being a person) of the Holy Spirit is set forth as clearly in the Bible as the personality of the Father and of the Son. When men deny this truth it is evidence of a Satanic blindness. Satan, who assails every truth, has made a two-fold attack on the doctrine of the personality of the Holy Spirit:
1. A doctrinal denial.
The ancient heretic, Arius, spoke of the Spirit as the "Exerted energy of God." This is to reduce the Spirit of God to a mere display of the Father's power. This error is still held by several cults.
2. A practical denial.
There are many religious people who, while not denying the Spirit's personality in their creed, yet in practice seem to view him as a mere power. Because the Spirit works unseen they seem to confound Him with His gifts and workings. These people often refer to the Spirit of God as an "it" or speak of having "a lot" of the Spirit. The author recalls hearing a Baptist preacher say "'the Spirit was there in great power." This godly man then corrected himself by saying "The Spirit was there in infinite power and manifested great power." May we also be careful how we speak of the blessed Spirit of God.
The early churches knew the Holy Spirit as a Divine Person who could be followed (Acts 13:2) and communed with (II Corinthians 13:14). We had better beware when this awareness of His Person and presence is lost.
I. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS ASSOCIATED WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON.
It is impossible to see how one could deny the Spirit's personality and still make sense out of many Scriptures (Matthew 28:19, II Corinthians 13:14, I John 5:7). Would anyone mention a mere "exercise of power" in a listing of persons?
II. THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS ALL OF THE ATTRIBUTES OF A PERSON.
A. He thinks - I Corinthians 2:10-11, Acts 15:28.
B. He feels.
1. He may be grieved - Ephesians 4:30.
2. He may be vexed - Isaiah 63:10.
3. He loves - Romans 15:30 (We might mention that one cannot grieve a person who does not love him or her).
C. He exercises volition (power of choice) - I Corinthians 12: 11.
D. He acts.
1. He inspired the Scriptures - II Peter 1:21
2. He teaches - John .14:26.
3. He leads - Romans 8:4.
4. He speaks - Acts 8:29, 13:2.
5. He convicts - John 16:8-11.
6. He regenerates - John 3:5.
7. He comforts - John 14:16.
8. He testifies - John 15:26.
9. He intercedes - Romans 8:26.
10. He calls preachers - Acts 13:2, 20:28.
11. He creates - Job 33:4.
E. The Holy Spirit is never confused with His gifts - (I Corinthians 12:4, 7-11, Acts 2:38). All Christians have the "gift of the Spirit," but no one has all the gifts of the Spirit."
F. Christ comforted, the Apostles by promising them the presence of another divine person in His absence - John 14:16.
The word paraclete translated "comforter" in John 14:16 is translated "advocate" in I John 2:1 and refers to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our comforter and thus it follows that the Spirit as "another Comforter" must also be a divine person. The Greek word used in John 14:16 for "another" is allos which means "another of the same kind," as opposed to heteros which means "another of a different kind."
G. Men's actions toward the Spirit prove that He is a person.
1. Men blaspheme the Spirit - Matthew 12:31. The nature of the unpardonable sin proves the Spirit's personality. It is the blaspheming of a person and not a mere power that is unforgivable.
2. Men lie to the Spirit - Acts 5:3.
3. Men tempt the Spirit - Acts 5:9.
4. Men resist the Spirit - Acts 7:51.
5. Men obey the Spirit - Acts 13:2-3.
H. Personal pronouns are used in reference to the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1.3:2 - "me" and "I" are used; in John 14:16 - "he" (It is true that the word "it" is sometimes used in the New Testament to refer to God's Spirit. The reason for this is that New Testament Greek as with some other languages contains a grammatical gender. The neuter gender in these languages may be used to refer to a person).
Conclusion - In the following lessons we will be studying the gifts and workings of the Holy Spirit. Before we begin let me implore you to be certain that you understand Who the Spirit of God is. As a young Christian I noticed that many churches preached the work of Christ and the plan of salvation, yet seemingly forgot the person of Christ. Let us not make this same error in regard to the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 4 - The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
Our appreciation of the Spirit's work will be greatly enhanced by surveying His activity in the Old Testament. Even as New Testament saints, our sense of dependence upon God's Spirit increases as we view His manifold work in the lives of the Old Testament heroes of faith.
Another advantage of tracing this doctrine through both testaments is that the unity of God's Word is wonderfully revealed. While the Bible gives a "progressive revelation," yet Paul never contradicts Moses, but rather refers to him for confirmation of doctrine. Both Old and New Testament writers reveal the Spirit of God as the author of all good in man.
I. THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
References to God's Spirit are scattered throughout the Old Testament. While the doctrine of the Trinity may shine somewhat less brightly in the Old Testament, yet the personality and deity of the Spirit are revealed. In the first verse of the Bible (Genesis 1: 1), the Hebrew word for "God" is a plural word. In Genesis 1:2, the Spirit is expressly mentioned. God also refers to Himself in the plural (Genesis 1:26, 11:7) and in at least one place the three persons of the Trinity are mentioned together (Isaiah 48: 16). Many of the Spirit's titles are found in the Old Testament (Psalms 51:11, Zechariah 12:10, and Job 33:4).
II. THE HOLY SPIRIT IN CREATION.
Many of God's works are attributed to all three persons of the Trinity. This we find is true in creation. While the Father and the Son are recognized in this work (Acts 4:24, John 1:3), yet the Spirit is in no wise excluded.
A. He was active in the creation of the universe - Genesis 1:2, Isaiah 40:12-13, Job 26: 13.
B. He was active in the creation of man - Job 33:4.
C. He is active in the preservation of nature - Psalms 104:10-30, Isaiah 40:7.
III. THE HOLY SPIRIT'S WORK IN SALVATION.
Since the fall of Adam, man has remained in an unchanged state of depravity. Apart from the gracious influence of God's Spirit there has never been a time when natural man could love, trust, or come to God. In every age the Spirit must convict (Genesis 6: 3), quicken (Psalms 119:25), enlighten (Psalms 19:27), and turn the soul to God (Psalms 65:3-4). The Holy Spirit has always been the guide and instructor of God's people (Nehemiah 9:20).
The belief of some that Old Testament believers were without the Spirit must be rejected. While no one will deny that on the day of Pentecost a new dispensation of the Spirit was received (John 7:37-39, 14:16-17, Acts 1:8), yet it must be asserted that there has never been a child of God who was destitute of the Spirit. The flesh can never produce a saint (John 3:3-6, Romans 8:7-8). In Proverbs 1:23, (2) Wisdom promised to pour out her Spirit upon those who turned at her reproof. Even while Christ was emphasizing the future descent of the Spirit. He was careful to make it clear that the Holy Spirit was already dwelling with them (John 14:16-17).
Another error sometimes heard is the teaching that Old Testament saints might lose the Spirit. Some have used the case of Saul (I Samuel 16:14) to prove this teaching, but they are confusing the Spirit's work in salvation with His work in equipping men for service to God. The Ho1y Spirit comes upon and departs from men in many respects, but never in regard to salvation. To imply such would be to deny the security of God's people (Psalms 37:24.).
IV. THE SPIRIT'S WORK IN REVELATION.
Just as Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would be our teacher, so the Spirit of God also taught the Old Testament saints. A. He inspired the prophets - II Samue1 23:2, Ezekiel 2:1-2, Micah 3:8. B. He inspired the Old Testament Scriptures - II Peter 1:21, Acts 1:16. C. He instructed God's people - Nehemiah 9:20.
V. SPECIAL GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT MANIFESTED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
A. Political gifts - Genesis 41:38, Numbers 11:25, 27:18. It was the Spirit of God who gave Israel her leaders.
B. Moral gifts.
1. Courage - Judges 6:34, 11:29.
2. Indignation - I Samuel 11:6.
C. Physical gifts.
1. Strength - Judges 14:6, 15:14.
2. Mechanical skill - Exodus 31:2-5.
All of this should teach us the meaning of Zechariah 4:6. Without God’s Spirit we can render no service unto God.
VI. OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES CONCERNING THE SPIRIT.
While the Old Testament prophecies that concern Christ are often studied, let us not forget those which foretold of the coming and work of God's Spirit.
A. Prophecies that concern the work of the Spirit during the earthly ministry of Christ - Isaiah 61:1-3.
B. Prophecies that concern the work of the Spirit during Christ's reign - Isaiah 11:1-9.
C. The prophecy of the Spirit's descent on the Day of Pentecost - Joel 2:28. [The author should mention that he does not consider Pentecost to be the complete fulfillment of this Scripture.]
D. Prophecies that concern the future work of the Holy Spirit with the Jews - Isaiah 44: 2-3, Ezekiel 37:1-14, 39:28-29, Zechariah 12:10.
2. Wisdom as personified in Proverbs, seems in the highest sense, to be no other than Jesus Christ. Compare Proverbs 1:23 with John 7:37-39. Study especially the last half of Proverbs chapter 8. Also carefully compare Luke 11:49 with Matthew 23:34.
Chapter 5 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in Relation to Christ
While the interaction between the persons of the Trinity must always be incomprehensible, yet the relation of God's Spirit to our incarnate Lord is especially shrouded in mystery. The Saviour, was both God and man, capable of growth yet perfect. He was self-sufficient as God, yet in His humiliation He needed the anointing of the Spirit. Let us then not grieve that all is not comprehensible but rather rejoice in the mystery of godliness (I Timothy 3:16).
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TOPIC.
That the work of the Spirit in the life of Christ is very important becomes evident when we consider that both the titles "Christ" and "Messiah" mean "anointed." Jesus is the "Christ" because He was anointed with the oil of the Spirit in a pre-eminent way (Hebrews 1:9, John 3:34, Acts 10:38).
The Old Testament has much to say about Christ as the anointed one that was to come:
A. In prophecy - Please note the following Scriptures: Psalms 45:7, 2:6 ("set" comes from a Hebrew word for "anointed". A Hebrew king was not "crowned" but "anointed" as king.), Isaiah 10:27, Luke 4: 16-21, Proverbs 8:23 (again "set up" means "anointed". Before the creation our Lord was foreordained to be the "Christ").
B. In type:
1. The fine meal (a type of Christ's sinless flesh) was to be offered with oil (a type of the Spirit) according to the book of Leviticus.
2. The Old Testament Anointings. In the Old Testament, men were anointed to the offices of prophet, priest, and king.
This typology finds its antitype in our Saviour the anointed of God.
a. Prophet - Isaiah 61:1-3
b. Priest - Hebrews 9:14
c. King - Isaiah 11:1-4, 42:1-4
II. THE NECESSITY OF THE ANOINTING.
The question of why the Son of God should need the Spirit’s anointing is part of the great mystery of the incarnation. We must remain very close to the letter of Scripture in answering this question and not wander into vain speculation.
A. Our Lord's anointing enabled Him to be like His brethren.
The covenant of grace; required that for Christ to represent His people He must become a servant and take upon Himself their nature (Philippians 2:5-11, Hebrews 2: 14, and 17). In this way He became the last Adam. As the children of God are dependent upon the Spirit for service, so Christ likewise served God through the power of the Spirit (Acts 10:38, Isaiah 61:1-3). Mark, who represents Christ as a servant says that He was driven by the Spirit (Mark 1: 12).
B. Christ had two natures.
As a man Christ was capable of growth and was thus taught by the Spirit of God (Luke 2:40, Isaiah 11:1-4). As a man Christ was led by the Spirit (Luke 4:1). Even Christ's works are attributed to the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:28). In all this Christ never ceased to be God yet His real humanity was certainly displayed.
III. THE STAGES OF THE SPIRIT'S ACTIVITY IN RELATION TO CHRIST.
A. Christ's forerunner.
The Holy Spirit enabled John the Baptist to carry out his work as Christ's forerunner (Luke 1:15). Even John's parents were Spirit-filled (Luke 1:41, 67)
B. Christ's conception.
The Spirit of God prepared the Saviour's human body in the womb of Mary (Matthew 1:18-20).
C. Christ's baptism.
Christ received a new anointing at His baptism (Matthew 3:13-17).
The purpose of this was:
1. To give a pledge of the Father's complete satisfaction with Christ (Matthew 3: 17, Psalms 45:7).
2. To give a sign to others (John 1:32-34, 6:27). John recognized that Jesus had the full power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:34).
3. To equip Christ for service (Isaiah 61:1-4).
D. Christ's temptation.
It was the Holy Spirit who led Christ into the place of His testing (Matthew 4:1, Mark 1:12).
E. Christ's service.
Christ's wonderful words and works were produced by the, Spirit's power Acts 10:38, Luke 4:16-21, Matthew 12:28).
F. Christ's death - Hebrews 9:14.
G. Christ's resurrection - Romans 1:4, 8:11, I Peter 3:18.
Note: This work as with others is attributed to the Father and the Son also. This helps us to remember that Christ never ceased to be God or exert His own Divine power.
H. Christ's glorification.
John the Baptist taught that only Christ could baptize with the Spirit (Matthew 3:11). This could not take place until after the ascension of Christ (John 7:39, Acts 2:33). The right to bestow the Spirit of life and power upon His people was given to Christ upon condition that He perform His redemptive work in their behalf (Galatians 3:13-14).
[When the Bible speaks of Christ sending His Spirit we are not to understand this to mean that the Spirit was not present before that time. These references rather refer to the Spirit's coming in New Testament power and blessing. Note that in John 14:16-17 our Lord speaks of the Spirit as present yet coming].
I. Christ's coming reign on earth.
The Bible connects the glory of Christ's future reign with the power of the Spirit (Isaiah 11:1-4, 42:1-4).
Chapter 6 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Inspiration of Scripture
Today any mention of the Holy Spirit brings to mind in many, the various prophets and tongue speakers of the Charismatic movement. Multitudes claim new revelations and special gifts of wisdom and knowledge. The author rejoices that in opposition to all this we have, "a more sure word of prophecy" (II Peter 1:19-21) which is the Bible. The Holy Spirit has given us so complete a revelation in the Scriptures that His work is now that of "illumination" rather than inspiration."
The author grieves to see men so taken with the claims of modern prophets while God's Word stands as a beacon of truth. The Bible seems as a "dead letter" to those who have never prayed over its contents, but hunger for the excitement of something new. The Bible as the greatest work of the Spirit in revelation is in every way superior to:
A. Tradition - Matthew 15:1-9.
B. Science - I Timothy 6:20 (Even true Science, which deals in fact, can never delve into the areas made plain in Scripture).
C. Fables - II Timothy 4:4 (The Book of Mormon gives us an example of modern fables.)
D. The occult - Isaiah 8:19-20.
E. Sign workers - Deuteronomy 13:1-3 (While in Hebrews 2:3-4, we find that signs were used to confirm God's Word, yet lying signs and wonders are also permitted to deceive those who do not love the truth).
F. False prophets.
G. Opinion - Proverbs 14: 12. The work of God's Spirit in inspiration may be summed up by stating that "we believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures." The remainder of this study will be spent in examining this statement.
In II Timothy 3:16, we find that the Bible is an inspired book. The word "inspiration" is a translation of the Greek word theopneustic and means "God breathed." In II Peter 1:21, we find that men of God were moved by the Spirit as the wind moves a boat. Whether the various portions of God's Word were given by dictation (Exodus 20:1), vision (Revelation 1:11), or inner guidance yet it is clear that all must be viewed as God's Word (Hebrews 4:12).
Inspiration must never be understood as a mere sharpening of the human intellect. Inspiration insures that every word of the Bible represents the mind of the Spirit. This is proved by statements in the Bible (II Samuel 23:2-3, Jeremiah 1:9), and also by the fact that some of the prophets had to study their own writings to gain, understanding of what they had written (I Peter 1:10-12). The emphasis of the word "inspiration" is that the Scriptures came from God. Many talk of "inspired men" but it is the Bible and not human authors which was inspired.
II. VERBAL INSPIRATION.
When the term "verbal" is used in connection with "inspiration" it implies that the very words of Scripture are inspired. To teach that the Bible writers were merely assisted by God or that their doctrines alone were inspired is to fall short of the Bible doctrine of inspiration.
The proofs of verbal inspiration are many. We are told that the Holy Spirit teacheth "words" (I Corinthians 2:13). Our Lord taught that every jot and tittle of Scripture was certain (Matthew 5:18). David taught that the Lord's "words" were pure and would be preserved (Psalms 12:6-7). Others testified that the inspiration they received was verbal. (Jeremiah 1:9, II Samuel 23:2). That Paul believed that every word of Scripture was inspired is seen in the fact that he built doctrines on one letter of Scripture (Galatians 3:1.6).
III. VERBAL PLENARY INSPIRATION.
The word "plenary" means full and implies that all of the Bible is inspired. The Bible does not contain God's Word in places, but it is God's Word in its entirety. This is stated very plainly in II Timothy 3:16.
The verbal plenary inspiration of God's Word is upheld by our Lord and His Apostles. Christ used all of the Old Testament in teaching (Luke 24:27), and quoted books like Jonah or Daniel which are now attacked by critics. In Acts 1:16 and 4:24-25, the Book of Psalms is spoken of as God's Word. The Apostle Paul quotes both Moses and Luke as of equal authority (I Timothy 5:18).(3) In II Peter 3:15-16, we find that Peter viewed Paul's epistles as "Scripture." The early church knew nothing of "degrees of inspiration" or uninspired portions of the Bible. All was believed to be "God-breathed."
IV. INSPIRATION LIMITED.
As important as it is to prove the verbal inspiration of Scripture, it is equally important to assert that only Scripture is inspired. To extend inspiration beyond the Bible in this day is to actually undermine God's Word as a complete revelation. We are warned not to add to God's Word (Revelation 22:18). The claims of every modern prophet stand as an attack on the Word of God.
Some have stated that to emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit is to promote fanaticism. This false conclusion has been brought about by those who seek revelations from God's Spirit apart from Scripture. When one understands that the Holy Spirit has completed His work in inspiration, and is now involved in opening hearts to understand the Scripture, he will be delivered from this error.
3. In this Scripture Paul quotes from both Deuteronomy and the Gospel of Luke. Moses who wrote Deuteronomy was the great prophet so revered by all. He led Israel out of Egypt and wrote the first five books of the Bible. Of course the antiquity of his writings would impress men.
Luke on the other hand was a younger man than Paul and was not even an apostle. The fact that Paul recognized, both men's writings as of equal authority certainly proves our doctrine of inspiration.
Chapter 7 - Types of the Holy Spirit
Someone has said that good teaching "turns men's ears into eyes." This truly is exemplified in the Bible with its types, parables, similes and metaphors. Spiritual truths are presented in a multitude of earthly figures. The person and work of the Holy Spirit is illustrated in Scripture by many types. A type is an object, person or event that prefigures another object, person or event. In this lesson we wish to examine some of the types of the Holy Spirit. It should be remembered that some things can be types of more than one person or event:
I. THE DOVE.
In John 1:32, we find the Spirit taking upon Himself the form of a dove. Characteristics of the dove that make it an apt type of the Spirit would be its beauty, gentleness, cleanliness and the fact that it is easily disturbed (Ephesians 4:30). The dove is also harmless (Matthew 10:16), and peaceable. Other places in Scripture where this type is used are as follows:
A. In Genesis 1:2, the Spirit is seen brooding over creation as a bird over her nest.
B. In Genesis 8:6-12, the dove is sent out from the ark by Noah. Here we note at least two pictures of the Holy :Spirit.
1. The dove unlike the raven refuses to remain outside the ark when no clean resting place may be found. The Spirit, of course, only indwells those who have been washed in the blood of Christ.
2. The dove brings back an olive leaf as a sign of hope to those in the ark. This prefigures the Spirit who brings assurance of salvation to those in Christ.
Note: It is interesting to notice that the raven was an unclean bird (Leviticus 11:15). Birds are also used in Scripture as types of demon spirits (Matthew 13:4, 19; Revelation 18:2).
Olive oil was an article of great importance in Palestine, being used for food, medicine, illumination and anointing. It is a constant type of the Holy Spirit in both Testaments.
A. In Exodus 40:9-11, we find that the tabernacle and its furniture were to be anointed with oil. As the tabernacle was a figure of Christ so the oil pictured Him being anointed by the Spirit.
B. In Exodus 27:20-21, we note that the interior of the tabernacle was illuminated by the use of oil. As each of the tabernacle's furnishings was a type of Christ, the interpretation is easy. Without the illumination of God's Spirit none would ever view the glories of our Saviour.
C. In Leviticus 14:14-18, we find that in cleansing the leper, both blood and oil were used. This reveals that when one is saved from the leprosy of sin that both the blood of Christ and the person of the Holy Spirit have a work to do.
D. The anointing of prophets, priests and kings prefigured Christ as our prophet, priest and king.
E. In Leviticus 2:1, we note that the fine meal (a type of Christ's sinless flesh) was anointed with oil (a type of the Holy Spirit).
F. Oil is often associated in the Bible with healing (Isaiah 1:6, Luke 10:34, Mark 6:12-13). The Holy Spirit brings spiritual healing.
Water is a common type of the Holy Spirit in salvation. Space forbids us to enlarge upon this type as we would like:
A. Water is the source of life. Without it, this world would be a parched and desolate cemetery. Likewise it is only the Spirit's presence that brings any spiritual life and fruit into our lives (Galatians 5:22-23, Isaiah 44:3, Acts 2:17).
B. The earth has an abundance of water. Likewise the redeemed have a bountiful supply of the Spirit's power (John 7:38).
C. Water is necessary for cleanliness. It is the Spirit who cleanses our heart in regeneration and continues to cleanse us as we daily approach our Heavenly Father (Titus 3:5, Exodus 29:4).
D. The Holy Spirit is compared to living water from a running spring. He is in every way superior to the stagnant wells and pools of this world. While the pleasures of this life soon fade and run out, yet the Spirit of God is a constant inner spring of life and joy (John 4:14, 7:37-39).
The wind is a special type of the Spirit as the word for "spirit" may also be translated wind (see chapter 1). Our Lord uses the wind us a type of the Spirit (John 3:8).
A. The wind is invisible in its workings (John 3:8). Christ hereby revealed the folly of connecting regeneration with visible signs like baptism.
B. The wind is not controlled by man (John 3:8). The Holy Spirit is sovereign in His workings.
C. The presence of the wind is known by its influence (John 3:8). Likewise the Holy Spirit is known to be present by His influence in hearts.
D. The wind is mighty (Acts 2:1-2). The Holy Spirit can break the hardest heart.
E. Just as the wind moves a sailboat so God's Spirit moved those who wrote the Scriptures (II Peter 1:21).
F. Just as a dry wind can wither the beauty of nature, so the Holy Spirit can wither the self-righteous heart of man by His convicting work (Isaiah 40:6-7).
A. In Acts 2:3, we find that fire was a sign of the Spirit's presence. In the Old Testament we see that fire is a type of the Lord's presence (Exodus 3:2), the Lord's approval (Leviticus 9:24) and the Lord 's protection (Exodus 13: 21) . Perhaps all of these ideas are included in Acts 2:3.
B. In Revelation 4:5, the Spirit is symbolized by seven lamps of fire. The number seven has confused some people, but it seems to refer to the perfect understanding given to Christ as the anointed of God (Isaiah 11:1-4, Revelation 5:6).
We have in no sense covered, every type or God's Spirit in the Bible, nor have we opened every figure in the types covered. May this lesson serve as a guide to encourage the reader to further study.
Chapter 8 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in Common Grace – Part I
Common grace may be defined as the unmerited goodness of God bestowed upon the world at large. It is called "common" not to downgrade it, but rather to distinguish it from "saving" or "efficacious" grace. Examples of common grace would include God's provision for man's physical needs (Matthew 5:45, Acts 14:17), the gospel call (Mark 16:15), Christian influence (Matthew 5:13) and the long-suffering of God (Romans 9: 21-22).
While each of the afore-mentioned blessings are external, yet common grace goes beyond even this to include many internal workings of God's Spirit. Some have supposed that because the effectual call is extended only to the elect that the Holy Spirit never works in others. This is a false conclusion. The Bible mentions many dealings of the Holy Spirit in men who were never regenerated.
I. THE RESTRAINT OF DEPRAVITY.
The corrupting power of sin is so great that only the restraining power of God's Spirit keeps this world from quickly becoming an unbearable cesspool. The fact that civil government, the family, public worship and some degree of safety are ever allowed to exist in this world must be attributed to common grace. That morality and honesty are even found among the unsaved reveals that God restrains men from giving free reign to their depravity. Think of what our own country would be like should God cease to work through His people in preserving some truth and decency. Would this world that crucified Christ ever let a saint live, should God cease to restrain (I Timothy 2:1-2, Genesis 20:1-18)?
This restraining power of God is revealed in the fact that God is said to "harden" hearts or "give men over" to iniquity. As God is never the author of sin (James 1: 13) these expressions must mean that God removed the restraints that formerly held back these individuals (Exodus 10:1, Psalms 105:25, I Samuel 2:25, Romans 1:24, 26 and 28). The removal of restraints could include the permitting of events that expose men's depraved nature, or the removal of conscience and fear of retribution. The Scriptures also reveal that Satan and his demons will incite men to sin whenever permitted by God (II Thessalonians 2:8-11, I Kings 22:15-23, I Samuel 16:14).
The restraining power of the Spirit is a blessing for which we should not forget to thank God. Unsaved men who boast of outward morality and culture, little realize what depths of depravity lay pent up within their own hearts. It is a glorious truth that God in fact restrains all sin that will not ultimately contribute to his glory (Psalms 76:10).
II. THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE UNSAVED.
The Bible clearly teaches that unregenerate men are spiritually blind (I Corinthians 1: 18, 2:11-14, Ephesians 4:17-18). Their eyes are closed to the glory of Christ and the nature of salvation. This, however is not to say that they are without any knowledge in the moral realm. God is pleased in His work of common grace to impart some knowledge unto the unregenerate.
A. While unsaved men hate the knowledge of God, yet they never succeed in erasing it from their minds (Romans 1:23, 28). In every nation men admit the existence of Deity. Atheism has never been natural to man. All this is because God has been pleased to give a universal manifestation of His existence. (Romans 1:19-20).
B. Another manifestation of common grace is the impartation to men of the knowledge of right and wrong. The natural man hates God's law (Romans 8:7), yet he can never erase its precepts. This is because the Holy Spirit has written them in his conscience (Romans 2:14-16). This Scripture proves that any mortality on the part of the unregenerate must be attributed to God.
One should notice here that both the saved and the unsaved have the law of God written in their hearts (Romans 2:14-15, Hebrews 8:10). The difference is that the saved not only have a much fuller and more spiritual revelation of God's law, but they are also enabled to love it Romans 7:22). The unsaved have a contracted view, of God's law which produces guilt and mere restraint rather than joyful obedience.
III. SPECIAL GIFTS.
Every good gift comes from God (James 1: 17). It was the Spirit who strengthened Samson (Judges 14:6), and gave Bezeleel his skill (Exodus 31:2-5). Should we not also attribute the abilities of those who benefit society today to the workings of God's Spirit.
In going beyond this we find that spiritual gifts are sometimes given to the unsaved. Balaam was given the gift of prophecy and Judas had the power to do miracles (Matthew 10:1). Saul prophesied and received power to rule and fight bravely (I Samuel 10:9-11, 11:6). In all this we see that while one must differentiate between spiritual gifts and saving grace, yet these gifts are to be regarded as blessings of God.
IV. SPECIAL INFLUENCES.
The Holy Spirit does not restrict His activity to the elect, but in fact often helps and protects them by influencing those around them. We are told that God controls the hearts of kings (Proverbs 21: 1). One thinks of Cyrus, Artaxerxes and Nebuchadnezzar. Cyrus, though a pagan, was called God's anointed because of God’s special purpose for Him in assisting the Jews (Isaiah 45:1). We remember how Joseph and Daniel found favor with their jailers, and Jacob was saved from Laban's wrath. All this reminds us that God is able to influence even the unregenerate for good. (Proverbs 16:7).
Whether it be the restraint of sin or the giving of physical necessities, yet all must admit that God is good to men (Psalms 145:9). How mistaken is the man who would limit all of God's blessings to the elect. Let us rather emulate God by being kind to both the good and the bad among men (Matthew 5:43-48).
Chapter 9 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in Common Grace – Part II
One danger that faces Bible students is that of developing a one-sided view of doctrine. The person who rejects either common or efficacious grace is always going to misunderstand not only the Bible but much of what he sees going on around him. One pastor of days-gone-by attributed the delusion of many "nominal Christians" to preachers who could not discern between common grace and saving grace, or to those who taught that common grace was sufficient grace. How many today mistake every religious flurry for regeneration! Let us then proceed to examine some of the Spirit's workings that come short of regeneration.
In Genesis 6:3, we find that God's Spirit had striven with men before the Flood. Doubtless His power caused Enoch's preaching to sting many. Since that day multitudes like Felix (Acts 24:25) have trembled under God's Word, while others like Herod have received it with attention and gladness (Mark 6:20). Our Lord promised that the Spirit would convict the world of sin, righteousness and of judgment to come (John 16:8-11). Both in the Bible and in our experience we must confess that there are many who are never saved, yet they know what it is to be dealt with by God.
II. SPIRITUAL INFLUENCES.
A. In regeneration a permanent work is done in the spirit of man. His heart is made to love God and his eyes are opened to see spiritual truths. That faith which is a fruit of regeneration can never be overthrown (I John 5 :4-5). All this is to be attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5).
B. While nothing short of the new birth can save a sinner, yet there are lesser works of the Spirit that many mistake for regeneration. Only God knows how close some come in appearance who are never saved. Have we not known men who seemed to love God and truth, yet fell away?
Perseverance seems to be the main mark that distinguishes regeneration from the passing effects of common grace. This is so evident that former theologians spoke of the spiritual influences of common grace as temporary grace. We want to notice just three of the many Scriptures that prove this.
C. In Matthew 13:1-24, we have both the parable of the sower and Christ's inspired exposition of the same. This parable taught the disciples what to expect in their preaching ministries and has often given light to preachers since that time.
Perhaps the most important lesson of the parable is that many would receive God's Word and profess Christ whose lives later would prove them to be Christless. While man by nature hates God, yet some because of the Spirit's influence receive His Word with joy (v. 20), but the change is not lasting. True faith is victorious, but temporary faith can be overcome by trials (v. 21), temptations (v. 22), and heresies (II Timothy 2: 1.8). The parable of the sower is everywhere illustrated in gospel-preaching churches today.
D. In II Peter 2:20-22, we have another case of those who are influenced by the gospel, yet later reveal their unregenerate state. The author has often found it helpful to compare this Scripture with II Peter, 1:3-4 to bring out the difference between common and saving grace.
1. Let us first notice the characteristics of those in II Peter 2:20-22 who experienced only a temporary change.
a. They escaped for a while certain of the more gross sins. (v. 20).
b. They received a degree of enlightenment (v. 20). This reminds us of Balaam who received such a view of divine things as to cause him to say, "Let me die the death of the righteous" (Numbers 23: 10) yet he died without Christ.
c. They fell away (verses 20-22). Peter compares them to hogs and dogs who have been cleaned up for awhile, but eventually their true natures are revealed as they return to their old habits.
2. Let us note the characteristics of the regenerate man in II Peter 1:3-4.
a. They not only escaped the more gross sins, but had their lusts subdued.
b. They were "called" to glory and virtue.
c. They were "partakers of the divine nature."
d. They were given "all things that pertain to life and godliness," rather than just certain influences.
e. There is no mention of their falling away.
E. The last Scripture we will notice in Hebrews 6:4-6. Some of the Jews who professed Christ were in danger of falling away. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews warns them that those who deny Christ after having experienced such gracious influences of God's Spirit are in a hopeless condition. We think of men like Balaam, Judas, Saul, Demas, or the Israelites who died in the wilderness. They experienced the breath of heaven, yet died lost and undone. (4)
III. THE PURPOSE OF COMMON GRACE.
The student may wonder what purpose God could have in common grace. We notice a few of the ends that our Lord accomplishes in this matter. We will notice a few of the ends that our Lord accomplishes in this matter.
A. God's goodness is magnified. God displays His goodness by giving food, drink, breath and life itself to His enemies. He bears long with even those who insult His name. To many of these same rebels He sends out His gospel of reconciliation and even works in their hearts a concern for spiritual things. Does not all this, as undeserved as it is, magnify God's goodness?
Some may object that because common grace is not saving grace, that God is insincere in extending it. This objection fails to notice that it is man's sin that renders common grace ineffectual. Were man not totally depraved he could respond to God’s universal gospel call. God is under no obligation to do anything for man, and everything He does do is a manifestation of His goodness.
B. Man's depraved nature is truly exposed by common grace. The fact that everything short of spiritual resurrection fails, really reveals the extent of man's depravity. Not physical blessings, nor a gospel of love, nor even the wooing of the Holy Spirit can avail till new life is imparted. Note: This certainly exposes the Arminian fiction that common grace is sufficient grace.
C. Common grace truly reveals the justice of God in judgment. In Romans 1:18-20, we see that God's revelation in nature has rendered man without excuse. In Romans 2:15- 16, we find that pagans will be judged on the basis of the law written in their heart. Because grace of any kind is always optional with God, it strips man of every shadow of an excuse.
D. God's gracious treatment of the world-at-large provides for Christians an example of how they should treat their fellow men. If we would be like our Heavenly Father we must love and do good to our enemies (Matthew 5:38-48).
The author prays that each one who studies this lesson will gain some discernment into God's way with man. How many who rest on some passing experience need to be awakened to their real condition. When Christ said, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate," was He not warnings us to give attention to the type of our faith? Should not each one who labors for souls, understand these matters if he would be a faithful guide of the blind?
Chapter 10 - The Preparatory Work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation
Commonly there is a work preparatory to regeneration that takes place in the sinner’s heart. Because salvation is a moral as well as a legal work this is to be expected. Those who are to eternally enjoy the benefits of faith in Christ are first made to see their need of Him. The self-righteous spirit of man must be broken up that the Saviour may receive all the glory in salvation.
Before beginning this topic let us be cautioned to remember that the Holy Spirit is a sovereign agent in salvation. He works as He pleases, and one person's experience must not be made a pattern for others. Some spend months under conviction, while others are soon brought to full assurance (Acts 8:26-39; 16:25-34). Some, like Paul, find the Lord who were not seeking Him (Romans 10:20). Some seem to be allowed to view the depths of their depravity before they find peace; while others are led more fully into a knowledge of their sinfulness after salvation. Let us rejoice that as God alone knows our heart, so He alone knows how best to deal with each of His people.
Being careful to keep the aforementioned facts in mind, let us study some of the preparatory works of the Spirit in salvation.
No one can overestimate the danger that unsaved men are in (John 3:1.8, Hebrews 10: 31), yet the Bible portrays them as asleep, blind, dead and unconscious. Death, sin, judgment and eternity are not realities to the unregenerate (Isaiah 28: 15). Men slumber on the brink of Hell.
In awakening the sinner, God's Spirit impresses upon the mind the reality of eternity and judgment. The sinner becomes aware that he is in danger of God's wrath. Spiritual matters become important. Not everyone who is awakened is then saved. Some are lulled back to sleep by an empty profession of religion or the pull of the world. (Acts 24: 25).
While only the regenerate are "renewed in knowledge" (Colossians 3:10) yet the unsaved can receive a degree of enlightenment. When a sinner is under conviction he may be ignorant of the nature of faith, but he sees clearly the danger of sin and the seriousness of eternity. For the first time his soul becomes important. Does not all this require a degree of illumination?
Even the natural man can be made to fear Hell and be concerned for his eternal welfare. This is of course different from the light of regeneration that enables a man to love God. This illumination then is simply a stirring up of man's natural mind to see the danger of sin and judgment.
While "awakening" deals primarily with danger, yet "conviction" is the work of God whereby the cause of our danger is revealed. In conviction a man is convinced and reproved concerning his sinful condition. This alone can give the sinner a desire to know Christ.
"A form of words, though e'er so sound, Can never save a soul; The Holy Ghost must give the wound, And make the wounded whole."
A. The areas of conviction - In John 16:8-11, we find three areas wherein men are convicted.
1. Of sin - God convicts men of great sins they have committed (Acts 2:36-37), of original sin, of failure in duties and of the sin of unbelief.
2. Of righteousness - Men are convicted of the righteousness of Christ, and of their need of His righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
3. Of judgment to come - Judgment often has reference to rule. Men are convinced that just as Satan will be vanquished, so Christ is the coming king, and that resistance is folly. The powers of evil have no chance for victory, but all will ultimately stand before God.
B. The need of conviction.
1. Without conviction men would not be ready to admit their total defilement, nor to come to Christ as helpless beggars. "Christ is all" (Colossians 3:11) in salvation, and God would have the redeemed to understand this. Conviction therefore prepares the soul for faith in Christ.
2. Conviction is preparatory to repentance. Godly sorrow (II Corinthians 7:10) precedes repentance which is a permanent change of heart and mind about sin.
C. The means of conviction. While conviction is a work of God's Spirit, yet He is pleased to use certain truths in this work. Just as He often uses the truth of God’s wrath to awaken sinners so in conviction He uses:
1. The law (Romans 3:19-20; 7:7-13). Men commonly judge themselves by their neighbors' actions, but in conviction they see that it is God’s glory they fall short of (Romans 3:23).
2. The goodness of God (Romans 2:4). Many have testified that it was a view of God's goodness that convinced them of their sin.
D. The earmarks of true conviction.
1. Real conviction causes a man to accept his guilt (Psalms 51:4, Luke 18:9-14).
2. Real conviction destroys self-righteousness (Luke 18:9-14, Isaiah 64:6).
3. Real conviction sees sin as being against God (Psalms 51:4, Luke l5:18.
4. Real conviction leads one to Christ, rather than to worldly despair (II Corinthians 7: 10).
Conviction may not be pleasant work, but it is a necessary one. To see ourselves as we are is a prerequisite to seeing Christ. In the first four beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-6) our Lord explains that only those who have experienced such conviction are truly blessed.
IV. A DESIRE FOR THE MEANS OF GRACE.
Before a soul is saved the Holy Spirit will often produce within him or her a desire to pray and to hear God's Word.
We hope that each student of God's Word can now clearly see that the purpose of the Spirit's preparatory work in salvation is to prepare the sinner to appreciate the Lord Jesus Christ. Every work of the Spirit leads the sinner closer to the realization that faith in Christ alone can save the soul.
"Whatever prompts the soul to pride, Or gives us room to boast, Except in Jesus crucified, Is not the Holy Ghost.
That blessed Spirit omits to speak Of what Himself has done, And bids the enlightened sinner seek Salvation in the Son. He never moves a man to say, "Thank God, I'm made so good. But turns his eye another way, To Jesus and His blood.
Great are the graces He confers, But all in Jesus' name; He gladly dictates, gladly hears, "Salvation to the Lamb."
Chapter 11 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in Regeneration
The words "born again" have today come into common use in religious circles. Knowing that Satan is a master of the redefining of Bible terms it therefore behooves us to continually assert the Scriptural meaning of these words.
I. THE NECESSITY OF THE NEW BIRTH.
A. In John 3:3 and 5, our Lord makes it clear that regeneration is necessary to salvation. Man not only needs forgiveness before he can fellowship with God, but his whole nature must be renewed. Fallen man is natural (I Corinthians 2:14), sensual (Jude 19), and carnal (Romans 8:5-7), as opposed to spiritual (I Corinthians 2:15). Christ reveals that there is an unchangeable distinction between that which is born of flesh and that which is born of the Spirit. The flesh may be religious, refined, educated and outwardly moral, but it is still flesh (John 3:6).
B. Every part of the natural man is defiled by sin. His mind is darkened to the things of God (I Corinthians 1:18, 2:14, Ephesians 4:18). His heart is in a state of enmity toward God (Romans 8:7, Jeremiah 17:9). His will is only free to carry out the desires of his depraved nature (John 1:13, Romans 9:16, Philippians 2:13). The flesh has become totally unprofitable in the things of God (John 6:63).
II. THE NATURE OF THE NEW BIRTH.
A. Regeneration defined.
The change required in man's soul to enable him to enter God's kingdom is called "regeneration" (Titus 3:5), being "born again" (John 3:3), or being "born of the Spirit" (John 3:6). Regeneration is an instantaneous work of God's Spirit whereby a holy disposition is given to the soul. The affections are renewed in love to God, and the mind is enlightened and made capable of understanding in the spiritual realm. Just as the change that takes place in the millennial earth is called regeneration (Matthew 19:28), so the new birth is a renewal of man's soul.
B. Regeneration illustrated.
The wonderful change that takes place in regeneration is illustrated in many ways. Let us examine some of the terminology applied to the New Birth to better illustrate its nature.
1. "Regeneration" or "Born Again" -- Are not these words merely human comparisons to what takes place in the miracle of grace upon the soul of man? In physical generation new life is imparted and family likeness produced. Are not these truths that which make birth a wonderful picture of the work of God's grace in man?
2. A resurrection -- Ephesians 2: 1, 5.
3. A renewal -- Colossians 3: 10.
4. A translation -- Colossians 1:13.
5. A new heart -- Ezekiel 36:26.
6. The writing of the Law in One's Heart -- Hebrews 8:10.
7. A new creature -- II Corinthians 5: 17.
8. The giving of light -- II Corinthians 4:6.
9. A good tree -- Matthew 7: 17.
10. A creation -- Ephesians 2:10.
C. Regeneration experienced. Regeneration is not experimental (something which may be experienced), but takes place on a level above the human consciousness. This is not to say that the new birth in never accompanied by strong emotions, but rather that the work of regeneration itself is not something felt, but is recognized by its fruit in one's life. Conversion is a result of the new birth and this we do experience. Regeneration is an act of God, but conversion is an act of man produced by the new birth.
III. THE AGENT IN REGENERATION.
A. Regeneration is not produced by baptism, the human will (John 1:13), or any work of man, but is a direct work of God upon the soul. Like the wind (powerful, uncontrollable and invisible) this work is in no way brought about, controlled or understood by man (John 3:8). This work which is often attributed to the Holy Spirit is an instantaneous and complete act of God upon the soul. While God uses means is the salvation of the elect, yet it must be understood that regeneration itself is not a co-operative effort. The Bible presents the new birth as an imperative and not as a command (John 3:3).
B. This brings us to the important question of the place of the gospel in regeneration. God's 'Word is often mentioned in connection with the new birth (I Corinthians 4:15, James 1:18, I Peter 1:23, Psalms 119:93). Just what part does the gospel play in this work? Some go so far as to teach that many are regenerated who have never heard the gospel. Let us consider this matter. (5)
C. We should first understand that while regeneration is a direct work of God upon man's soul, yet by its nature it is wrought in conjunction with the gospel. Regeneration produces faith, and faith is impossible without the gospel (Romans 10: 17). How can one believe upon a Saviour of whom he has never heard (Romans 10:14)? Regeneration also gives us a heart to know and love God (Jeremiah 24:7). This also implies a knowledge from the Scriptures of whom God is. If regeneration does not take place in conjunction with the Word of God then it can produce neither faith, love, holiness nor spiritual understanding.
D. In I Thessalonians 1:4-5, we find Paul telling the Thessalonian Christians that he knew of their election by the fact that the gospel had come to them in power. In regeneration God empowers the gospel by opening the heart to receive it (Acts 16:14). Many who have spent their lives in church have testified that when God saved them they felt as though they were hearing the gospel for the first time.
E. Those who teach that regeneration can occur apart from the gospel seem to fear that those who differ from them will give the gospel preacher part of the credit for God's work. They speak of our view as "gospel regeneration" and seem to believe that we have reduced regeneration to a mere work of moral persuasion. These fears, however, are groundless. We view regeneration as a sovereign and direct work of God on the soul, but do not twist the Scriptures by teaching that people may experience it apart from the gospel. This would be like God giving man the power of sight yet failing to create light so that man might have something to see. It is an insult to the wisdom of God.
IV. THE FRUIT OF REGENERATION.
As regeneration is only to be ascertained by its fruit, it then becomes us to know what effects regeneration will produce in a man. How else are we to know if we are born again or merely deceived. Let us list some of the graces produced in the soul by regeneration.
A. Faith -- I John 5:4-5, Hebrews 12:2, I Peter 1:3, Acts. 18:27 (The reader must not understand us to say that regeneration is prior to faith in the realm of time. Regeneration precedes faith only as to cause. Faith is instantly produced by the regenerating power of God and is thus simultaneous to regeneration as concerns time. This may be illustrated in the following way. A bullet fired through a wall instantly produces a hole. In the realm of time the action of the bullet striking the wall cannot be separated from the effect produced yet the bullet is the cause of the hole. Regenerating grace instantly produces faith yet precedes it as the cause.)
B. Repentance -- II Timothy 2:25.
C. Love to God -- John 4:19 .
D. Love to other saints -- I John 4:7, 3:14.
E. Perseverance -- Philippians 1:6, I John 5:4-5.
We trust that the reader's understanding of the new birth has been helped. How many mistake every religious experience for this marvelous work of grace. A knowledge of the new birth is not only necessary for us to make our own calling and election sure, but is needed if we would be true witnesses to others.
5. The case of children dying in infancy is not under consideration.
Chapter 12 - The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
The apostles were filled with grief and confusion at the mention of Christ's death and departure. The night before His crucifixion the Saviour strengthened them by speaking of the coming of another Comforter (John 14:16-17). This Comforter would not only go with them through life but actually dwell in them. The indwelling of God's Spirit is still a solace and support to saints. Our Saviour is not with us in the flesh as we face each day's trials, yet in us is One greater than the world (I John 4:4).
I. THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE STATED.
The New Testament teaches that the body of every saint is the dwelling place for God's Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19, John 7:38-39). The indwelling of the Spirit must not be confused with His gracious workings in the Christian. Regeneration and the gifts of the spirit must be distinguished from the gift of the Spirit Himself (I Corinthians 12:4, Acts 2:38).
II. A FALSE VIEW.
A. No Bible truth has escaped perversion by the hands of men. The most common error concerning the Spirit's indwelling of saints, is that this blessing is not common to all believers. Many teach that salvation must be supplemented by another experience before one can enjoy the Spirit's presence and power. This experience they call the second blessing, sanctification, or the baptism of the Holy Spirit. While various groups add their own twist, yet the general idea remains the same.
B. The fundamental flaw of this teaching is the idea that salvation must be supplemented. In Christ the believer has every blessing (Colossians 2:10, Ephesians 1:3, I Corinthians 1:30). When men turn our attention from Christ they have erred. The gift of the Spirit comes to us through Christ's salvation and not as a supplement to it (Romans 8:32, John 7:39). The Holy Spirit has come to magnify Christ Jesus, not to call attention to Himself.
III. THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE PROVED.
Bible truths also imply the indwelling of every saint by God's Spirit.
A. The Spirit is received through faith. The condition of salvation and of receiving the Spirit are the same - Ephesians 2:8, John 7:38-39, Acts 11:16-17, Galatians 3:2, Ephesians 1:13.
B. Those without the Spirit are unsaved - Romans 8:9, I Corinthians 2:9-15 and 12:3, Jude 19.
C. The presence of the Spirit is needed for one to be resurrected or translated - Romans 8:11.
D. The Spirit is a gift - Acts 10:45.
E. Assurance of salvation is based on our having the Spirit - I John 4:13 and 3:24, Romans 8:15-16 and 5:5.
F. Saints are overcomers - I John 4:3-4.
G. God gives us the Spirit because we are sons - Galatians 4: 6.
The very idea of a Christian being without the Spirit is contradictory to everything the Bible teaches about salvation.
IV. PROBLEMS RESOLVED.
Let us spend a few moments on some of the Scriptures used to teach the false view of this doctrine.
A. Ephesians 5: 18 - The "filling" of the Spirit and the "indwelling" are not to be confused. We are never commanded to be "indwelt" by God's Spirit.
B. Acts 5:32 - The obedience mentioned here is simply faith in Christ. II Thessalonians 1:8, John 6:28-29 and 7:39.
C. Passages related to the baptism with the Holy Ghost - See Chapter 20.
Chapter 13 - The Work of the Holy Spirit in Assurance
The Lord wishes His people to enjoy the assurance of salvation. During His earthly ministry, our Saviour assured with His own lips those who believed in Him (John 14:1-3, Luke 23:43). Having ascended to Heaven our Saviour has sent us another Comforter. The Holy Spirit has how a very definite work in producing assurance of salvation.
Before entering into a study of the Spirit's work in assurance, we will review some basic truths concerning this subject. This will benefit those who have never studied this subject before.
I. THE DOCTRINE OF ASSURANCE.
A. The possibility of assurance.
1. God's people have experienced assurance in the past - Psalms 23:6, II Corinthians 5:1, Hebrews 11:13, Philippians 1:21, I John 4:16.
2. God's Word asserts that we may have assurance - I John 5:13 and 3:14.
3. God commands us to seek assurance - II Peter 1:10, II Corinthians 13:5.
4. God's grace the basis of assurance - Romans 4:16. Those who make salvation to depend in part on man's works can never preach security in Christ. This is illustrated in all groups that teach that man must help earn or keep his salvation.
B. The necessity of assurance.
The assurance of salvation is necessary to both the joy and the service of the saint. The basis of our rejoicing is the certainty of our salvation (Luke 10:20, Romans 5:2). Christian service likewise is not motivated by fear but rather by assurance (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:5-7). We do not serve God as trembling servants, but as rejoicing children. Our faith works by love (Galatians 5:6). Full assurance may not be possessed by every saint, nor do any enjoy it to the fullest at all times, yet every Christian should seek "to make their calling and election sure" (II Peter 1 :10).
C. The basis of assurance.
"Is assurance based on God's Word, or on our experience?" This question is deceiving because it plays off Christian experience against the Bible. While it is a mistake to base our assurance upon experiences that have no Biblical basis, yet as we proceed it will become evident that our Christian experience does play a part in assurance. Many today having been told to "take it by faith" have never experienced a work of grace, and will find themselves deceived at last. To reject Scriptural teachings concerning the Christian experience as it relates to assurance is not "faith in" but rather "ignorance of" God's Word. Let us then understand that God's Word is the basis of our faith, and the judge (rather than the replacement) of our experience.
II. THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT IN ASSURANCE.
The works of the Spirit in producing assurance are manifold. For ease of comprehension we will divide them into three categories. These might be referred to as the "three tiers of assurance."
A. The terms of the Gospel - Acts 20:21, John 3:16, Luke 13:3, Acts 10:43, Acts 17:30, Luke 24:46-47.
Anyone wanting assurance of salvation should certainly begin by seeking to know that they have complied with the terms upon which God offers the forgiveness of sins. These are of course: repentance and faith. Remember that while both repentance and faith are acts of man yet they are made possible by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.
1. Repentance - Evangelical repentance must not be confused with penance, or reformation. Repentance is a "change of mind" that involves:
a. A conviction of personal sinfulness.
b. A godly sorrow over sin - II Corinthians 7:10.
c. A desire to be forgiven and cleansed from sin. True repentance involves more than a desire for forgiveness. The truly repentant sinner desires salvation from the penalty, power and presence of sin.
Repentance must not be confused with turning from sin, turning to God, or faith in Christ. These things always follow repentance and verify its presence, yet they must be distinguished from it (Mark 1:15, Acts 26:20, Acts 3:19, Matthew 3:8).
2. Faith - Saving faith must not be confused with mere historical assent (James 2:19), or with some temporary emotional experience. True faith involves:
a. A spiritual conviction of the truth of the gospel (I Corinthians 2:45, I Thessalonians 1:4-5 & 2:13).
b. A whole-hearted looking to Christ Jesus for salvation (Romans 10:8-10, Acts 16:30-31).
Some may wonder why we do not close our discussion on assurance at this point. The fact however that scripture has much more to say about assurance reveals that a person may truly repent and trust Christ and yet not possess full assurance. Assurance is not part of the essence of faith. To look to Christ for salvation is not the same as knowing that He has saved us (I John 5:13, II Corinthians 13:5). Those who are new Christians often fear lest their faith is not true saving faith. Doubts about their state and experience may torment them.
Those who teach that faith and assurance are the same confuse many. They often say "if you have truly trusted Christ you have no doubts." This is to base assurance upon our experience of assurance and is very disconcerting to the weak or trembling child of God. It is to teach that we must believe we are saved in order to be saved. The Scriptural doctrine is that assurance is the natural reflex act, or consequence of the faith. Assurance should follow faith as a result of self examination and study of the Scriptures (I John 5:13).
Having discussed this issue let us proceed to the other "Tiers" of assurance. Through these the young believer comes to full assurance.
B. The fruit of regeneration.
How does one know that his faith is truly the "faith of God elect?" The entire book of I John was written to answer this question (I John 5: 13). Therein we see that one who has truly been born again will have certain evidences of this in his life. Just as the "Ugly Duckling" learned its true identity by seeing its reflection so the believer comes to greater assurance by seeing the marks of regeneration not only laid out in Scripture but produced in his own heart. The Spirit bears co-witness with our own spirit to the certainty of our sonship (Romans 8:16). Is not the witness of our own spirit the personal awareness we have that the Holy Spirit has made us new creatures in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17)?
Our Lord said that a tree is known by its fruit (Matthew 7:17-20). Paul knew that the Thessalonians were elect because of the Spirit's work in their lives (I Thessalonians 1:4-6). Following are some of the marks of regeneration that true believers will see in their own lives:
1. An awareness of personal sinfulness - I John 1:8 & 10, Matthew 5:3-4, Romans 7:22-25.
2. A new desire to obey God - I John 2:3, 5:2-3, 3:18-19, Romans 8:14.
3. A love for God's people - I John 3:14-15.
4. A faith that lasts - I John 5:4.
5. An open ear to God's Word - I John 4:6.
6. A love for God - I John 4:1-9.
7. A new attitude toward this world's system - I John 2:15.
Let me conclude this section by reminding the reader that the marks of regeneration do not save us but rather reveal that we are saved. The spiritual side of salvation is called a "new birth" because it produces in us a likeness to our Heavenly Father (II Peter 1:4, Colossians 3:10). Are these characteristics manifest in your life?
C. The witness of the Spirit.
In Romans 8:16 we find that the Holy Spirit has a witness that He bears to the fact of our salvation. This is in conjunction with, but different from the witness borne by our own spirit to the new life we have in Christ. This witness of the Spirit is an inner testimony of God's love for us and His acceptance of us through Christ.
In Scripture the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as the "spirit of adoption" (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6-7). This is because He actually causes the saint to feel like a child of God and incites him to run to God in prayer. Those who trust in Christ are free of the spirit of bondage and very naturally look to God as their "Father." To this end the Spirit is said to cause us to cry "Abba, Father." Abba was a word meaning "father" that slaves were not permitted to use toward free men. This reveals the new spirit of freedom that the believer feels. The Holy Spirit enables them to feel like "sons" rather than "servants" of God (Galatians 4:5-7).
Beyond this the "witness of the Spirit" involves a direct manifestation of God's love and presence to the believer's soul. In Romans 5:5 where the context is assurance, we find that God's Spirit sheds the love of God into our hearts. We actually may experience the love that God has to us (I John 4:16). Christ promised to manifest Himself to those who love Him (John 14:21). He sups with those that open unto Him (Revelation 3:20). While we may not at all times enjoy these manifestations of God's love, yet like the bride in the Song of Solomon we should pray that the Spirit would bring us these tokens of love (Song of Solomon 1:2, 2:3-6). The witness of the Spirit is the highest form of assurance, and every child of God should desire to experience it in ever increasing clearness and power. "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you." (James 4: 7).
In the study of a subject such as this let us not be satisfied with a mere intellectual apprehension of truth. What profit is there in knowing about assurance, if we do not possess it?
Why should the children of a King
Go mourning all their days?
Great Comforter! descend and bring
Some tokens of thy grace.
Dost thou not dwell in all the saints,
And seal them heirs of heaven?
When wilt thou banish my complaints,
And show my sins forgiven?
Assure my conscience of her part
In the Redeemer's blood;
And bear thy witness with my heart,
That I am born of God.
Chapter 14 - The Comforter
At the Last Supper our Lord spoke of His betrayal and of His coming death and departure. Though Christ had taught His apostles of this for some time (Matthew 16: 16-21), yet it seems that only then did the reality of it grasp them. The thought of life without Jesus in their midst crushed them. As Christ went on to speak of coming persecutions (John 16:1-4) their hearts were filled with sorrow (John 16:6). The apostles had long seen the clouds of trouble gathering, but they felt secure in Christ's presence. Our Saviour had stilled each storm, fed the multitude when they were helpless, and cast out the demon which they could not. He had been their infallible guide and their teacher. They now felt like helpless orphans. Against the dark background of His soon departure our Lord spoke the comforting words of John chapters 14-16. It was at this time that He gave to them the promise of another Comforter (John 16:7).
Among Christians today who have never known Christ after the flesh (II Corinthians 5 : 16) the fears of the apostles may seem as weakness. We tend to forget that all our strength and guidance comes from the indwelling Spirit of God. In this lesson we wish to delve into this mission of the Spirit as our Comforter. This work is so wonderful that it was expedient that Christ should go away that the Spirit might be sent (John 16:7).
I. WHAT IS COMFORT.
While comfort is a pleasant experience yet it implies the presence of trouble. This world is a place of tribulation, persecution, and tears for the child of God. Before Christ's departure He assured the apostles that trouble would be their lot in life (John 16: 1-4). The child of God is therefore not to look for the cessation of trouble but rather for comfort during his trials.
II. THE NEED OF COMFORT.
The Christian who goes through life as if he were an unhappy orphan is certainly living beneath his privileges. God intends for His children to have comfort and joy in this world (John 14:27, John 16:33, Romans 14:17, John 14:18). A miserable Christian is guilty of unbelief (Romans 15: 13), and is a poor testimony. The joy of the Lord is our strength and the key to success in service (Nehemiah 8:10, Psalm 51:12-13). Note: It should be mentioned that Christian joy is not incompatible with a degree of grief over indwelling sin and with a longing for Heaven. We receive comfort in our aff1ictions and can rejoice in trials (James 1:2).
III. THE COMFORTER.
The Greek word for Comforter is paraclete which means "one called along side." The Holy Spirit as a comforter is our helper, our counselor, our advocate. In I John 2:1, Christ is mentioned as our paraclete. In John 14:16 Christ said that He would send "another" Comforter. The Greek word for "another" is allos which means "another of the same kind." The Holy Spirit is therefore (as was Christ) a Divine person who cares for us in Christ's physical absence. Being omniscient He can teach us God's will. Being omnipotent He upholds us in the world (I John 4:4). He loves us in the same way that Christ does, and holds communion with us (Romans 15:30, II Corinthians 13:14).
IV. HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT COMFORTS SAINTS.
A. The Spirit teaches Christians. Christ taught His apostles constantly during His earthly ministry, yet at His departure they still had much to learn. He therefore promised them "another Comforter" who would continue to teach them (John 14:26, John 16:13-14). On this account the Holy Spirit is called the "Spirit of Truth" (John 14:17). The Spirit was even to give them the words to say when they were hailed before courts (Matthew 10:17-20). In Apostolic times He taught by both revelation and illumination. Since the completion of the New Testament His work is confined to illumination.
B. The Spirit intercedes for Christians. In Romans 8:26-27(6), we find that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us by inciting our prayers. This is not to be confused with the intercessory work of Christ who alone is our advocate (Gk. paraclete) with the Father (I John 2:1). On the basis of Christ's finished redemptive work He intercedes in our behalf before the Father. The Holy Spirit however ,intercedes in our behalf not directly, but by teaching us how to pray. His work may be compared to that of a lawyer who instructs his client as to what he would say in court. It is interesting in this regard that the word paraclete has a legal connotation and [is translated “advocate" in I John 2:1. How good it is to know that when we kneel to pray we have One guiding us who knows the will of God and can lead us in our desires and petitions (Romans 8:27, Zechariah 12:10, Ephesians 6:18). Note: The author cannot help but reflect upon the fact that our Lord taught His disciples to pray during His days on earth. The Holy Spirit is truly "another Comforter" of the same kind.
C. The Spirit seals Christians. In Ephesians 4:30, we find that saints are sealed by the Spirit until the day of redemption. The fact that the indwelling Spirit would never depart from believers was used by Christ as a strong basis of consolation (John 14:16-17). These Scriptures seem to contrast the abiding presence of God's Spirit with the temporary nature of Christ's physical presence.
D. The Spirit assures Christians of God's love.
While the work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth assures us that
A seal is used to assert ownership. The presence of the Spirit
in an individual is
The main concept of the
seal, however, is that of security. Notice this in the
The children of God are sealed until the day
of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).
A. The seal.
nature of the sealing.
C. The object of the sealing.
D. The purpose of the sealing.
E. The time of
THE HOLY SPIRIT AS AN EARNEST.
In proving our
security, the Holy Spirit is viewed not only as a seal but as the
A. An earnest is part
of the whole. Our Saviour died to purchase for us all spiritual
B. An earnest is a promise of the future. An earnest acts
as a pledge that the rest of
In Romans 8:23, we
are said to have the "ﬁrstfruits" of the Spirit. This is akin to
In business, the
"earnest" gives a person security and peace of mind. Let us
This lesson should help us see
in the indwelling of God’s Spirit not only our present source of
Chapter 16 - The Holy Spirit as a Teacher
Of the many religions in this world only Christianity requires a supernatural teacher. No earthly qualification can enable one to grasp the truth of God. May this lesson be used of God to remind us of our great need of a Divine teacher, and of the privilege we have in having the Holy Spirit as such a teacher. He truly is the "Spirit of Truth" (John 15:26).
I. THE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE.
The Bible as our infallible textbook of faith and practice was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Certainly the inspiration of the New Testament was a great part of Christ's promise concerning the corning of the Spirit as our teacher (John 14:26).
Unsaved men are in a state of total spiritual ignorance (II Corinthians 4:3-4, John 3:3, Ephesians 4:18). The Bible describes them as blind, asleep, foolish, and full of darkness. This condition is not to be viewed merely as an absence of knowledge, but rather as a natural inability to appreciate, comprehend, and receive spiritual truth. Sinners may be well versed in the Bible and yet they can never truly discern the things of God (I Corinthians 1:18-21, 2:9-16).
A large part of the Spirit's work in regeneration consists in bringing to the elect a true knowledge of spiritual matters (Colossians 3:10, I Corinthians 1:23-24). The new birth is compared by Paul to the creation of light (Genesis 1:3, II Corinthians 4:6). Saints have been called "out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I Peter 2:9). Every Christian has been personally taught of God (John 6:45). Many will testify that they sat in churches (or even preached in pulpits) for years, and yet were spiritually blind until God saved them.
NOTE: Perhaps the saddest thought connected with this topic is that the unregenerate are unaware of their own blindness. The blind will even attempt to lead the blind (Matthew 15:14).
III. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
Christians have an unction or an anointing that teaches them what cannot be learned from man. (I John 2:20 & 27, II Corinthians l:21 -- Please note that "unction" and "anointing" have the same meaning). This unction is the communication of the Spirit to them (Compare Isaiah 61:1 with Hebrews 1:9). Only by the Spirit's teaching can anyone live the Christian life.
A. He opens the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit illuminates the mind of believers that they might understand the Scriptures. Christ promised the apostles that even though He was leaving, the Spirit would come and teach them (John 14:26). The fulfillment of this promise is seen in several ways:
1. In the book of Acts, we see that the apostles came to understand many of the teachings of Christ which they were blind to during His earthly ministry.
2. In the writing of the New Testament, and the manifestation of the gift of prophecy in apostolic times. In the illumination given to saints today as they study God's Word.
B. He leads the believer. The Holy Spirit guides the believer and enables him to know God's will (Romans 8:14, Proverbs 3:5-6).
C. He glorifies Christ. The Holy Spirit in His teaching has the purpose of bringing glory to Christ. The Spirit teaches us of Christ, and makes Him precious to us (John 15:26, 16:14-15).
Note: It is very important that we understand that God's Spirit has not come to call attention or bring glory to Himself. The Spirit does not call upon us to worship Himself (although He is an object of worship), but rather He directs us to worship Christ. In His teaching he opens the truths formerly taught by Christ (John 14:26, 16:13-14) and brings glory to Christ as the great teacher. The seeds of all truth in the New Testament may be found in Christ's teachings.
Let not the reader understand any of this to mean that the Holy Spirit is inferior to the Son of God. We are rather to understand that in the covenant of grace each Person of the Trinity has a different work to do in salvation. The Spirit has come to point men to Christ.
D. He protects the saint from error. The saint is secure in Christ because the Spirit enlightens him to danger. Rather than be seduced by the spirit of antichrist, saints abide in the Saviour because they are taught by the Spirit (I John 2:18-20 & 26-27). E. He teaches the saint concerning his blessedness in Christ. The Holy Spirit reveals to believers the greatness of their inheritance and the wonders of God's love and power manifested in their salvation (I Corinthians 2:9-16, Ephesians 1:15-19; 3:14-19).
As Christians it is our duty to study God's Word and listen to it preached. Let us not however forget to look to God's Spirit for real understanding.
"We have listened to the preacher
Truth by him has now been shown;
But we want a Greater Teacher
From the everlasting throne: \
Is the work of God alone."
Chapter 17 - The Filling of the Holy Spirit
Every child of God is under orders to be "filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). Let us therefore not be content to only learn about doctrine, but to go on in obedience and actually experience this "filling."
I. FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT - WHAT IT IS NOT.
A. It is not receiving more of the Spirit. Every child of God is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Because the Spirit of God is a person it is folly to speak as though He could be received in differing amounts.
B. It is not spiritual growth. Christians may be Spirit-filled at every stage of maturity. A babe in Christ may be Spirit filled while a mature Christian may enter into a time of failing in this area. The living of a "Spirit-filled" life should be viewed rather as a position of good spiritual health. While health may be experienced at any age, yet the lack of good health is a deterrent to proper growth in both the spiritual and physical realm.
C. It is not to be confused with other workings of the Spirit. The experiences of being "Spirit-filled" and "baptized with the Spirit" have often been confused. As would be expected the filling accompanied the baptism in Acts 2, but to therefore confuse them is a serious error that ends up perverting both truths. The baptism with the Spirit was given at Pentecost while people were Spirit-filled even before Christ's birth. We are commanded to be Spirit-filled while no one has ever been commanded to be baptized with the Spirit. They are clearly different experiences.
II. FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT - WHAT IT IS.
To be filled with the Spirit is simply to be yielded to Him in every area of our life. This experience is often directly and indirectly compared to drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18, Luke 1:15, Acts 2:13). Just as wine controls the drunkard and makes him bold and vocal so the Spirit-filled individual is under the sway of the Holy Spirit. He becomes spiritually bold and able to testify for His Lord.
The experience of those who have been Spirit-filled seem to vary greatly. In normal Christian living the saint is daily filled as he confesses his sin and yields to God. The filling in this instance is not so much an emotional experience as a continuance of fellowship with God. At other times the filling has come upon an individual unsought or with special signs. Please note the various circumstances which surrounded the filling in the following Scriptures: Luke 1:15, 1:41, 1:67, 4:1; Acts 2:4, 4:8, 4:31, 7:55, 9:17, 11:24, 13:9, 13:52.
These Scriptures make it very plain that the experience of being Spirit-filled follows no certain pattern as to the surrounding circumstances. The experience came before and after Pentecost, with and without visible signs, and upon many different types of individuals from our Saviour to an unborn baby. The experience is associated with praise, soul-winning, and judgment (in the case of Barjesus).
In taking note of all this we should be careful to remember that regardless of the surrounding events, the filling itself is simply the Spirit of God taking control of one's life. In our own life we may have times of being Spirit-filled that seem like mountain- top experiences while at other times the yielding to God produces only the quiet joy and peace of everyday Christian living. Regardless of the presence or absence of certain experiences let us be assured that each Christian may be Spirit-filled everyday. God alone knows the particular work that needs to be done and therefore He alone can determine the circumstances that are to surround our daily fillings.
III. CONDITIONS UPON WHICH ONE IS SPIRIT-FILLED.
Because we are commanded to be "filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18) it is obvious that there are conditions to be met under normal circumstances. The Christian who desires to be Spirit filled should note the following:
A. Quench not the Spirit - I Thessalonians 5:19.
B. Grieve not the Spirit;. Ephesians 4:30.
C. Walk in the Spirit - Galatians 5: 16. This is a yielding to the Spirit rather than to the power of the flesh.
D. Pray - Acts 4:31, Luke 11:13. Every Christian should pray daily for a closer walk with God and for a greater anointing of the Spirit in his life.
How sad for any child of God to dishonor his Lord by allowing the flesh to mar his testimony (I Corinthians 3:3). God uses those who are "Spirit-filled" (Acts 6:3, 11:24).
IV. THE RESULTS OF BEING SPIRIT-FILLED.
A. Bold preaching - Luke 1:15-16, Acts 4:8, Acts 4:31, Acts 9:7-20, Isaiah 61:1.
B. Joy - Acts 13:52, Ephesians 5:18-19.
C. Unity - I Corinthians 3:1-3, Ephesians 4:3.
D. Praise - Ephesians 5:19-20.
E. Spiritual growth - When God is at the helm of our life we may expect to grow daily in the grace and knowledge of our Lord (II Peter 3:18).
F. Proper behavior in our relations to others - In Ephesians 5:21-6:9, Paul deals with the various duties of the husband, wife, child, parent, employee and employer. Notice that the context is the filling with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Is not Paul teaching that only through the power of God’s Spirit can we properly fill our various roles?
May each of us count it as a sacred duty to daily be "filled with the Spirit." To be filled with the Spirit should be viewed as the normal Christian experience rather than the privilege of some select few.
Chapter 18 - The Fruit of the Holy Spirit
In Galatians 5:17, we find that within the saint are two contrary powers. The Spirit of God indwells all believers and leads them (vs. 18) into the way of righteousness. The flesh (i.e. the old nature) of course 1eads in opposition to the Holy Spirit and the new nature. This produces a constant battle in the life of all Christians (Romans 7:15-23), and causes them to long for release from the flesh (Romans 7:24-25, 8:23).
Paul goes on to teach that both of these powers will produce certain characteristics and works in the life of an individual who submits to them (Galatians 5:19-23). While either the "works of the flesh" or the "fruit of the Spirit" may be produced in a Christian's life, yet Paul makes it plain that saints are characterized by the latter. The flesh is not dead in a Christian but it has been crucified (Galatians 5:24). The terms "crucifixion" and "mortification" are used in the Bible to describe the slow death and weakening of the power of the flesh in a Christian's life. Those whose lives are constant displays of fleshly works will not enter God’s kingdom (Galatians 5:21).
I. THE SOURCE OF THE CHRISTIAN'S FRUIT.
Saints sometimes ask why we are left to wrestle with the flesh in this life. Is it not that God may teach us that all our spiritual good is of Him? Our old nature can produce nothing but thorns and briars. Everything that pleases God in a Christian must be called the "fruit of the Spirit."
The Christian then can only produce good fruit by submission to the Holy Spirit. As we yield to Him these characteristics will be produced in our life. This truth is illustrated by the Saviour in John 15:4-5, where He speaks of Himself as the "vine" and Christians as the "branches." Without a spiritual union with Christ through His Spirit there could be no flow of life into child of God.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE "FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
The importance of the "fruit of the Spirit" in a Christian's life may be seen by comparing it with the "gifts of the Spirit." While both are produced by God, yet it is clear that the "fruit of the Spirit" is much more important as a test of true spirituality.
A. The "gifts of the Spirit" offer no proof of salvation for they have been given at times even to the unsaved - (Balaam, Judas). The "fruit of the Spirit" however can only be produced in the life of these indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
B. The "gifts of the Spirit" may be used as a means of personal glorification rather than common edification. The very nature of the "fruit of the Spirit" prevents its misuse for selfish ends (I Corinthians 12-14).
C. The "gifts of the Spirit" are sovereignly dispensed by God while every Christian may produce the "fruit of the Spirit." Spiritual gifts are sometimes placed in the lives of the proud and selfish while spiritual fruit may only be produced by Christian consecration and submission.
D. Love (a fruit of the Spirit) is clearly shown to be superior to the "gifts of the Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:31-13:13). The "gifts of the Spirit" must be regulated by love or they will fail to attain their proper end of edifying God's people.
Left no one understand the above to be in any way a downgrading of spiritual gifts. They have their God-given purpose. The point to be remembered is that the "fruit of the Spirit" reveal our relationship to God and form our Christian character. Without the Christ-like spirit produced in us by submission to God all else is vain and our testimony is useless.
III. THE NATURE OF THE "FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
In Galatians 5:22-23, we find nine graces that are manifested as "fruit of the Spirit."
A. Love. This is affection toward God and man. It is produced by the new birth (I John 4:7-8), and is described by Paul in I Corinthians 13:1-8. Only as we are controlled by God's Spirit can we truly love.
B. Joy. This is holy cheer that comes from knowing God and believing His promises. It is necessary for Christian service (Deuteronomy 28:47, Psalms 51:12-13), and is an attribute of Spirit-filled Christians.
C. Peace. This is the peaceful disposition of mind and heart that comes from an assurance that we have been forgiven and that God is able to meet every need (Philippians 4:6-7).
D. Long-suffering. This is the Christian's trait of not being easily offended or provoked.
E. Gentleness. This is the kind and benevolent spirit seen in those who walk with God.
F. Goodness. This is a general, moral excellence without ulterior motive.
G. Faith. All true faith is produced by God's Spirit whether it be saving faith or the faith exercised in God's promises on a daily basis as needs and trials arise.
H. Meekness. This is a disposition to forbear caused by an awareness of our own sinfulness (Matthew 5:4-5).
I. Temperance. This is the self-control and moderation found in those who live only for the glory of God.
THE UNITY OF THE "FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
The author remembers seeing a questionnaire in which Christians were asked which of the "fruit of the Spirit" was manifest in their lives. This question carries some erroneous implications. While saints may have only one spiritual gift, yet this is never the case with the "fruit of the Spirit." Spirit-fi1led Christians will have all the "fruit of the Spirit" because the "mind of Christ" (Philippians 2:5) is in them. As they are controlled by God's Spirit they will become more Christ-like in every area of their character.
The unity of the "fruit of the Spirit" is seen in the fact that all of them may be included under the first, which is love. In Romans 13:8-10, we find that love fulfills the law. All the duties of man may be included under the command to love God and man. It would be a profitable study for the student of God's Word to meditate on Paul's description of love in I Corinthians 13:1-8. One would soon see that each of the "fruit of the Spirit" is manifested in love.
The closeness of our relationship to the Holy Spirit is easily judged by the manifestation of the "fruit of the Spirit" in our lives. Either the flesh or the Spirit is forming our character on a day-to-day basis.
Chapter 19 – The Sins Against the Holy Spirit
The Persons of the Holy Trinity each have a distinct work to do in the great plan of redemption. Because their work and mode of manifestation is different we find that sins can actually be perpetrated against the separate Persons of the Godhead (Matthew 14:32).
The Holy Spirit has the particular work of dealing with men's hearts and bringing them to receive the saving benefits of Christ's work. He indwells the saints and is present with the Lord's churches. He also convicts the unsaved and strives with sinners. Because of His work in our lives and in our midst the Bible mentions certain sins that are committed against Him as He carries out His special work. May God use this lesson in making each of us more sensitive to the danger of displeasing the Spirit of God.
I. LYING TO THE HOLY GHOST.
In Acts 4:34 -5:11, we have the story of Ananias and Sapphira lying to the Holy Spirit. Their sin was not in holding back part of the money but in making pretense of having given all so that they might receive honor for a sacrifice that they did not make. They are the parents of all those who seek praise for consecration that they do not possess. The carrying of such deceit into the church is a sin against the Holy Spirit. To try and deceive the church is to attempt to deceive the Spirit who is the omniscient administrator of the assembly. Men forget that to trifle with God's House is to trifle with God. In carrying out their sin Ananias and Sapphira were tempting God (Acts 5:9), and their fate stands as a warning to those who would follow their steps.
II. GRIEVING THE HOLY SPIRIT.
In Ephesians 4:30, Paul commands us to not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. The fact that the Spirit may be grieved implies that He loves God's people. We can only grieve those whose love and kindness we make ill returns upon. This idea of the Spirit's love is used by Paul as a motive for not grieving Him. The fact that He seals us reveals that His love causes Him to dwell in us to help and to bless.
That He seals us until the day of redemption shows that He will never forsake us. In light of such love and kindness would we wish to sin and grieve Him. The Holy Spirit is grieved by sin in the lives of saints. Our bodies are His temple and we should beware of defiling ourselves. He is perfectly holy and sin is offensive to Him. Particular ways in which the Spirit may be grieved are mentioned in the context of Ephesians 4:30.
A. Sinful words - Ephesians 4:29 & 31, 5:4.
B. Sinful attitudes - Ephesians 4:31.
C. Sinful acts - Ephesians 5: 3.
May God help us to walk circumspectly as we remember His presence.
III. QUENCHING THE HOLY SPIRIT.
In I Thessalonians 5: 19, we are warned against quenching the Spirit. This a saint may do for a time by hardening his heart against the leadership of the Spirit. Let us beware of stifling the voice of God's Spirit. Men like David, Abraham, and Jonah seem to have quenched the Spirit for a time and paid dearly. This sin is sure to bring chastisement and leaves us open to commit many foolish mistakes. Common ways in which the Spirit is quenched are as follows:
A. By rebelling against the inspired Word of God as recorded in the Bible or as given in former times orally by the prophets (I Thessalonians 5 :20).
B. By stifling the Spirit's rebukes when we have grieved Him.
C. By resisting the Spirits inner leadership for our lives.
IV. RESISTING THE HOLY SPIRIT.
In Acts 7:51, Stephen accused the Jews of resisting the Holy Spirit as did their fathers (Hebrews 3:7-10, and Isaiah 63:10). In Genesis 6:3, God speaks of the Spirit as striving with the people before the flood. Some have tried to interpret these Scriptures as referring only to the people's rebellion against the Word of God. They falsely conclude that because the Spirit’s work in the elect is effectual that He never works in the hearts of those who are not finally saved. While rebellion against God's word is resisting the Holy Ghost, yet there is no reason to deny that He deals personally with those who are never saved. As with other of the blessings of common grace (i.e., the gospel call) the Spirit's strivings with the non-elect are ineffectual only because of the depravity of their hearts.
V. BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT.
In Matthew 12:22-32, we have the story of some who committed the unpardonable sin. These Pharisees accused Christ of working by the power of Satan. In doing this they blasphemed the Holy Spirit by whose power Christ had worked (Acts 10:38). Our Lord proclaims this sin to be unforgivable.
While all this is rather simple yet when men begin to apply these precepts to our day great confusion ensues. Some have asserted that the unpardonable sin cannot be committed today and others have defined it as merely dying without Christ (this latter view confounds the issue for the unpardonable sin is unforgivable in this world as well as in the world to come). The author has often wondered why we could not accept the simple assertion of Christ that the unpardonable sin is that of knowingly blaspheming (profanely abusing and insulting) the Holy Spirit. Those unsaved persons who willfully malign the Spirit of God will never be recipients of His regenerating power.
Chapter 20 - The Baptism with the Holy Spirit
"What is the baptism with the Holy Spirit?" "Should I seek this experience?" These questions are becoming increasingly common as many modern churches propagate their conflicting views of this doctrine. Surely every child of God should desire to come back to the Bible for a fresh look at this subject.
I. THE BIBLE RECORD
A. The Bible does not contain nearly as much on the baptism with the Spirit as one might suppose. There are several mentions of the prophecy that our Lord would baptize with the Spirit and a record in the book of Acts of the fulfillment of this prophecy. The doctrinal epistles of the New Testament contain no command for anyone to seek this experience and in fact never mention it. This of course sheds an interesting light on the teaching of those who believe that every Christian is to seek this experience.
B. In searching the Bible record we should note that the New Testament contains five mentions of the prophecy that our Lord would baptize with the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3: 11-12, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16-17, John 1:33, Acts 1:4-5). It is interesting to note that this prophecy is mentioned once in each of the historical books of the New Testament. (7) (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts).
C. In the book of Acts we have four instances of groups being baptized with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:1-11, we have an event that may be clearly identified as the baptism with the Spirit (Acts 1:5, 2:33). The events of Acts 10:44-46 may also be viewed as a baptism with the Spirit in light of Peter's words to the Jerusalem church (Acts 11:15- 17). We are also safe in considering the events of Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 19:1-7 to be of the same nature.
D. In examining the Bible record we cannot help but notice that in each case the circumstances were very different. The sound as of a rushing mighty wind and the cloven tongues like as the fire were only manifested on Pentecost (Acts chapter 2). In Acts chapters 2, 10, and 19, they spoke with tongues but did not in Acts chapter 8. In Acts chapters 8 and 19, the baptism is associated with the laying on of hands but in Acts chapters 2 and 10 it is not. The Circumstance that each case had in common was that in every instance the Spirit was poured out on a distinct and different group. Each outpouring was accompanied with signs that confirmed the reception of the Holy Spirit by that particular group. Let us now examine the purpose of this baptism.
II. THE "BAPTISM" A NEW DISPENSATION(8) OF THE SPIRIT.
A. The baptism with the Spirit was the initial dispensation of the Spirit in New Testament power and blessings to the various groups mentioned in Scripture (Luke 24: 49). John the Baptist taught that only Messiah could baptize with the Spirit (Matthew 3: 11). This was because the gift of the Spirit had to be purchased for us by the Lord Jesus. The workings of the Holy Spirit in our hearts is a great part of Christ's salvation. The sending of the Spirit was proof that Christ's redemptive work was finished and accepted by the Father, and that Christ Jesus was glorified in Heaven (Acts 2:33, Galatians 3:13-14).
B. In each recorded case of the baptism with the Spirit a different group received this blessing. In Acts 2 it was bestowed upon the Jewish saints. In Acts 8 the Samaritan believers were thus baptized. Samaritans were despised by Jews as half-breeds. In Acts 10 the Gentiles received the baptism with the Spirit. Acts 19 records how it came upon those who knew only John’s baptism.(9)
III. THE "BAPTISM" AS A SIGN.
A. The baptism with the Spirit was not only a bestowal of the Spirit but also an important sign. John the Baptist made it clear that they could recognize the Messiah by His ability to baptize with the Spirit. As stated before, the baptism with the Spirit proved Jesus to be the risen and glorified Lord (Acts 2:33).
B. Notice now that the baptism with the Spirit not only verified the claims of Christ but also the authority of the local church. On the day of Pentecost (the feast of first fruits), Jews from all over the Roman Empire were gathered to worship God in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-11). There they encountered the first church made up of Christ's humble disciples. The Jewish Temple which had been the Father's house (Matthew 21:13, Matthew 23:38) was now left desolate by God from a spiritual aspect. The Christian assembly was now the House of God (I Timothy 3:15). Compared to the grandeur of Herod's Temple the little band of disciples was not impressive. Who would believe that this little assembly was now the place of divinely ordained worship?
C. The baptism of this first church with the Spirit certainly verified their claims. The sound as of a rushing mighty wind gave audible evidence of the Spirit's coming to the church. The appearance of fire was a symbol of God's presence. The tongues were also a sign to the unbelieving Jews (I Corinthians 14:21-22). These signs accredited the Lord's church and rendered the Jews excuseless should they reject their claims concerning the gospel. (Hebrews 2:1-4).(10)
The Baptism with the Spirit in Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 10:44-46 was the outpouring of the Spirit upon the Samaritans and the Gentiles. Again the baptism acted as a sign but this time it was for the saved Jews. This was necessary because even the Christian Jews of this time limited salvation to their own people. The Baptism of the spirit upon the Samaritans and the Gentiles gave Divine proof that they could also be saved and added to the churches of Christ apart from becoming Jewish proselytes. This is plainly seen in Peter's defense of his actions before the Jerusalem church (Acts 11:1-19). He used the baptism of the Spirit in Acts chapter 10 as proof that the Gentiles were partakers of the same blessings that the Christian Jews had received. Had the household of Cornelius received the Spirit in the same way we do today neither Peter nor the Jerusalem Church would have been convinced that they were partakers of the gospel blessings. In this regard we see that tongues were a sign not only to the unsaved unbelievers but also to the saved Jews who did not believe in the salvation and grafting in of the Gentiles.
In conclusion we might sum up some of the points brought out in this lesson and also state some of the deductions that maybe drawn from these points.
1. The baptism with the Spirit was the outpouring of the Spirit upon various peoples.
2. This dispensation of the Spirit was possible because of Christ’s finished work. Indeed it was Christ who did the baptizing (Acts 2:33).
3. This baptism was not bestowed on a day-by-day basis to individuals but rather it was given to a distinct group at a distinct time.
4. Once given this experience was not repeated, for the coming of the Spirit to any group was permanent. The signs that surrounded any certain baptism were sufficient to accredit that group once-and-for-all (Acts 11:15-18). The author for instance would never seek baptism with the Spirit because the Gentiles received this over nineteen hundred years ago as recorded in Acts chapter 10. It was sufficiently attested by signs at that time.
5. No one ever sought this experience nor was anyone ever commanded to seek it. It was given by God in His time. (Note how in Acts chapters 8 and 10 that both Philip and Peter were accosted by God for a certain work at a particular time in connection with the baptism).
6. This experience is not possible today unless someone can prove that there is a particular class of mankind who has never received the baptism with the Spirit. As the Jewish, Gentile, and Samaritan Christians have already received the baptism this would be impossible.
7. A common error held by many modern Bible teachers is the claim that I Corinthians 12:13 refers to the baptism with the Spirit. One needs only to carefully read the verse and the folly of this claim is exposed. In the baptism with the Spirit:
1) Christ is doing the baptizing.
2) The Spirit is the "element" into which the baptizing is done.
In I Corinthians 12:13:
1) The Spirit does the baptizing.
2) The body of Christ is the "element" into which we are baptized.
The context of I Corinthians 12:13 is the local church. People with various and differing spiritual gifts are added to the local church that it may function as a body. Paul uses the human body with its various members to illustrate how the local church operates. The baptism by which members are added to the church is obviously "water baptism." This in no way contradicts the statement in I Corinthians 12:13 that the Spirit does the baptizing. In John 4:1 we are told that Christ baptized yet verse 2 goes on to explain that the actual act of baptism was performed by the apostles. John in essence was saying that the baptism was carried out by Christ's leadership and authority. Likewise I Corinthians 12:13 refers to water baptism being administered by the leadership of the Spirit. He alone can, through the new birth, make one a candidate for baptism and He alone can lead a church to baptize such a person.
8: Because the word "dispensation" is used in different ways in theology, it might be well to explain that we are using the word according to its primary sense which is "a dispensing or distribution."
9. See addendum on page 63.
10. The authentication of the Lord's church by the baptism with the Spirit may be clearly illustrated by comparing the history of the church with that of Solomon’s Temple.
1) David collected the materials for the Temple - John the Baptist collected the materials for the church.
2) Solomon built the Temple - Christ built the church.
3) Solomon dedicated the Temple with a sacrifice - Christ redeemed the church by the sacrifice of Himself.
4) After the dedication the symbol of God's presence came to manifest God's acceptance of the Temple and His intention to dwell there. After Christ's death the Spirit descended on Pentecost to manifest that the church was the house of God.
Chapter 21 - The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
In this lesson we will survey the subject of the gifts of the Spirit.
I. SPIRITUAL GIFTS DEFINED.
The gifts of the Spirit are abilities and endowments given to one through the inner-working of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:4-11). They are to be distinguished from the initial gift of the Spirit Himself (Acts 2:38, 10:45, 11:17; I Corinthians 12:4). Spiritual gifts are also not to be confused with natural abilities or talents. One is born with certain strengths that may be developed. Spiritual gifts on the other hand are not a product of birth but of the Holy Spirit's power.
II. TYPES OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS.
Spiritual gifts are listed in the following passages (Romans 12:5-8, Ephesians 4:11-12; I Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-29). Various classifications that have been suggested are:
A. Administrative - functional-sign
B. Edification - authentication.
C. Permanent - temporary
Some gifts then were given as signs (Tongues, Miracles, Healing, etc.). Other gifts enable the church to operate in an orderly manner; (Helps, Government), or bless those with special needs (Showing Mercy). A large number of the gifts concern the ministry of the Word (Teaching, Prophecy, etc.). Those gifts that were given to meet the unique needs of the apostolic churches were of course temporary. This included all sign gifts, and any gifts that involved direct revelation apart from the Bible.
In noting the various types of spiritual gifts we should mention that certain types of gifted men are also mentioned (I Corinthians 12:28-29). The men who fill these positions must no doubt possess more than one gift to carry out their work. They are themselves gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:7-12). Certain of these offices like that of Apostle or Prophet were temporary.
III. THE SOURCE OF THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.
The gifts of the Spirit have a twofold origin.
A. They were given by Christ - Ephesians 4:7-11.
B. They are given by the Spirit - Corinthians 12:4-11.
These two points may be reconciled by understanding that the Spirit was bestowed upon the church by Christ. The Spirit has been called the "ascension gift" of Christ to the church (Acts 2:33, John 7:39). The Spirit having thus been sent produces within us the needed spiritual abilities.
IV. TO WHOM WERE THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT GIVEN?
A. While all saints have spiritual gifts (I Peter 4:10, I Corinthians 12:7), yet it is correct to say that the gifts were given to the church. All Christians are not members of one of the Lord's, but it is God's revealed will that they should be. The church is the proper sphere for the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts were given to the church for its spiritual development (Ephesians 4:8-12, note verse 12; I Corinthians 12:14-31, note verse 27-28). Gifts are given to individual saints so that the entire assembly may be blessed.
B. The relationship of the gifts of the Spirit to the church may be seen in the New Testament concept of the church as the Temple of God, and as the Body of Christ.
While regeneration makes us "living stones" (I Peter 2:5), it is the gifts of the Spirit that cause these "living stones" to form a temple of God that is "fitly framed together" (Ephesians 2:21). Just as a human body has many members that contribute to the general well-being of the whole so the local church as a body of Christ is supplied with every necessary function by the variety of gifts within its membership (I Corinthians 12:12-28; Ephesians 4:16). The church was given the gifts of the Spirit because it is responsible to promote the spiritual growth of God 's people (Ephesians 4:11-16).
C. Perhaps this is a good place to mention that the Charismatic concept of people receiving spiritual gifts in order to be personally blessed is entirely false. Every gift is for the body of Christ as a whole. We do not received gifts for our own benefit but for that of the body. As with ,the human body there is to be an interdependence of members. The good of the whole body must be the controlling factor in the exercise of any spiritual gift. This is Paul's central theme in I Corinthians chapters 12-14.
V. THE REGULATION OF THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.
A. Since spiritual gifts are given for the benefit of the entire body they must be regulated in a manner that will help to achieve this end. While specific rules are given (I Corinthians 14:27-35), yet the general precept is to allow love for others to control our actions. Love is so important in the exercise of spiritual gifts that the greatest exposition of love in the Bible is found in the midst of a discussion on spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 13:1-13).
B. In mentioning the regulation of spiritual gifts it is to be noticed that this implies that those who possess spiritual gifts may control them (I Corinthians 14:32-33). Those who disturb worship services with uncontrolled actions cannot attribute their behavior to the power of the Spirit of God.
VI. ARE SPIRITUAL GIFTS TO BE SOUGHT?
In our day many are being taught to pray for and to seek various spiritual gifts. This is a dangerous and foolish error. The person who teaches in this manner displays a total lack of understanding concerning the gifts of the Spirit. Consider the following facts:
1. No one in Scripture was ever instructed to seek or pray for spiritual gifts.
2. All Christians have one or more spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 12:4-11).
3. These gifts are bestowed by the Holy Spirit according to His sovereign will (I Corinthians 12:11). The church like the human body is designed by God (I Corinthians 12:18-28). We do not pick our own place in the body of Christ.
4. Members of the body of Christ have differing gifts (1 Corinthians 12:14-20). How foolish is the idea that everyone is to seek the same gift.
5. Christians are taught to be content with their gifts (I Corinthians 12:14-16, 29-30). Some have falsely concluded that I Corinthians 12:31, 14:1 teaches that we are to seek spiritual gifts. What Paul is saying is that those gifts that are a blessing to others are to be more highly regarded by the church. Rather than to desire self-glorification, the saints should desire to possess those gifts which can bless others. In the church of Corinth not all could be prophets (I Corinthians 12:29), but this gift was to be coveted or envied because it was a blessing to others. The church as a whole was to delight in those gifts that edified.
(II) What a blessing it would be if everyone possessed this attitude.
VII. THE DANGER OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS.
While the gifts of the Spirit were given to be a blessing they can be abused. Unlike the fruit of the Spirit they can produce pride. Sometimes where there is a multitude of spiritual gifts there is very little grace (Compare I Corinthians 1:7 with 3:1-3). Consider the following points:
1. Spiritual gifts are given to one for the good of others. It is therefore a fact that the reception of a spiritual gift does not insure one of a personal blessing.
2. Spiritual gifts are no sure mark that one is a child of God. Both Judas and Balaam received spiritual gifts.
3. The possession of spiritual gifts unlike the possession of the fruit of the Spirit in no way proves that our Christian life is pleasing to God (I Corinthians 13:1-3). Those who manifest the fruit of the Spirit are walking close to God. The same cannot always be said or those who possess spiritual gifts.
4. Spiritual gifts may expose us to certain temptations when not regulated by love. The Corinthians used their gifts as a means of self glorification. While the above is in no way intended to demean spiritual gifts, yet it is intended to be a warning to those who would misuse gifts or trust in them as proof of their personal acceptance with God.
11 In I Corinthians 12:31 & 14:1, Paul appears to be speaking to the church as a whole. The idea seems to be that the church as a body should desire God to raise up men who can be a blessing to all. This is totally different than an individual seeking to be endowed with a certain gift himself.
Chapter 22 - The Temporary Gifts
Baptists have historically believed that there were some spiritual gifts (and offices) that belonged to the infancy of the Lord's church. This was a natural result of their stand on the Bible. They held it to be their "only rule of faith and practice." This position has also been held by orthodox protestants.
On the other hand Catholicism and the majority of the cults have always claimed to possess miraculous gifts. Inspired prophets, new revelations, and miraculous healings and signs have always been boasted by these groups; In recent times a religious movement dubbed the "charismatic renewal" has made claims that the miraculous gifts are being restored through its agency. This movement is now interdenominational and has experienced tremendous growth.
As the modern emphasis upon miracles is surveyed, one wonders if the way is not being prepared for the coming of the Antichrist (II Thessalonians 2:8-12). His coming will be during a time of great emphasis upon the miraculous (Matthew 24:24, 7:22-23). It behooves the people of God to examine everything by the searchlight of God's Word.
I. THE NINE TEMPORARY GIFTS.
In I Corinthians 12:8-10, we have nine gifts listed that were the peculiar possession of the apostolic churches. These gifts (as with the office of apostle and prophet) were temporary. Our plan is to first define these gifts and then to prove that they were not given by God as a permanent endowment.
A. The word of wisdom. This was the ability to supernaturally make decisions or speak, not on the basis of study or forethought, but through the direct work of the Holy Spirit on the mind (Acts 6:8-10; Matthew 10:19-20). (Why do those who claim to possess this gift hire lawyers when involved in litigation?)
B. The word of knowledge. This was the ability to know facts and comprehend situations by virtue of a direct revelation from the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-10; II Kings 5:25-26).
C. The gift of faith. This is what we would call "miracle-working" faith (I Corinthians 13:2, Acts 3:1-9). This faith was not possessed by all saints, but was sovereignly bestowed by God as He saw fit (I Corinthians 12:11). It must not be confused with saving faith which is common to all saints.
D. Gifts of healing. This was the ability to heal at will (Acts 9:32-35). Healing was performed as a Sign (John 10:38; Acts 4:29-30).
E. The working of miracles. This was the ability to do miracles as a sign or confirmation that one's message was from God (Hebrews 2:3-4).
F. Prophecy. This was the ability to receive and to convey to others messages or doctrines that came by direct revelation from God. The Bible was written by prophets.
G. Discerning of spirits. This was the ability to discern whether those who claimed to exercise spiritual gifts were of God or of Satan. The early churches did not have a completed New Testament by which to examine the teachings of professed prophets.
H. Tongues. This was the supernatural ability to speak in languages that had not been acquired by study (Acts 2:1-11). This was done as a sign. (I Corinthians 14:22).
I. Interpretation of tongues. This was the ability to supernaturally interpret for those who spoke in tongues (I Corinthians 14:27).
II. FACTS THAT PROVE THE TEMPORARY NATURE OF THESE GIFTS.
In this section we wish to offer proof for the assertion that some gifts were temporary. In saying this, it needs to be understood that we are not trying to prove that God no longer heals, does miracles, or leads and illuminates His people. Every Christian rejoices in a prayer-hearing God. There is a difference however in God healing in response to prayer and in a man having the gift of healing as a sign. What we are asserting is that those gifts that were for the purpose of authentication or revelation were temporary. Let us now look at some of the reasons why this position is indeed true.
A. The early churches had special needs. The apostolic churches very obviously had some needs that are not found in churches today.
1. They did not have a complete New Testament, therefore they stood in need of various Divine revelations.
2. They needed signs to authenticate the revelations thus received (Hebrews 2:3-4).
None of the reasons given by modern Charismatics for our supposed present need of these miraculous gifts is Biblical. They assert that these gifts will make the church more spiritual, but the gifts did not necessarily have that effect on the apostolic church (Compare I Corinthians 1:7 with I Corinthians 3:1-3). They claim that as God's people still get sick, so we still need gifts of healing. This of course reveals a failure to understand that the gifts of healing were to act as a sign to unbelievers. God still heals according to His own will but not as a sign. There is no Scriptural reason why churches with a complete and totally authenticated New Testament need these nine miraculous gifts.
B. The testimony of church history.
Church history confirms the teaching that these miraculous gifts were confined to apostolic times (Hebrews 2:3-4). John Chrysostom (345-407 A.D.) the famous preacher from Antioch said concerning I Corinthians chapter 12, "This whole place is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place." The Charismatics claim that carnality and lack of faith were responsible for the gifts being lost. This however contradicts several facts:
1. The church at Corinth was carnal (I Corinthians 3: 1-3) yet they had an abundance of gifts.
2. Gifts are sovereignly bestowed by God (I Corinthians 12:11). If they ever ceased it was because it was God's will that they cease and not because saints lacked faith.
3. Christ has always had sound churches who would have received these gifts had they been available (Matthew 16:18).
C. The testimony of the Apostle Paul.
In I Corinthians 13:1-13, Paul is revealing the importance of love and its superiority over the gifts. In proving the superiority of love he states some interesting truths concerning the temporary nature of the miraculous gifts. Let us notice some of these facts.
1. In I Corinthians 13:10, a basic principle is annunciated. We are told that the incomplete will be done away with by the coming of that which is perfect. The incomplete revelation of verse 10 is obviously the miraculous gifts (vs. 9), and we believe that the Bible is that which is perfect. This being so then verse 10 would obviously teach that the completed New Testament canon would supersede and bring to an end the miraculous gifts. Some have tried to avoid this logic by making "that which is perfect" refer to the coming of Christ. This interpretation is to be rejected for the following reason:
a. "Perfect" is applied to a neuter object. It is hard to believe that Paul would refer to Christ as a "that."
b. The context is not dealing with Christ's return but with the differing degrees of completeness in revelation:
(1) Partial Revelation - Spiritual Gifts (vs. 9)
(2) Complete Revelation -God's Word
(3) Scripture must be interpreted according to its context.
c. In James 1:25 the Bible is spoken of as "perfect."
2. In I Corinthians 13:11, we have it insinuated that miraculous gifts were for the infancy of the church.
3. In I Corinthians 13:8-13, Paul seems to compare the relative permanence of faith, hope, charity, and the miraculous gifts.
a. Charity never fails (vs. 8), It is a grace that we will enjoy even in Heaven during the ages to come.
b. Faith and Hope are abiding when compared to the miraculous gifts (vs. 13, 8-10). Let it however be remembered that charity is still superior to faith and hope for both of these will be done away with at the return of Christ (Romans 8:24).
c. The miraculous gifts were only temporary (vs. 8). They are not eternal like charity neither will they continue till the return of Christ as will faith and hope.
Once the real purpose of the miraculous gifts is understood then the student should have no problem in understanding their temporary nature. There are in churches today no gifts that involve a direct revelation from God. Likewise as the sign gifts were given to vindicate new revelations they also have ceased. Those who believe that these gifts are still in operation cannot say: "The Bible is our only rule of faith and practice." To them the Bible is an open-ended revelation. Scriptural churches on the other hand believe that the Bible is God's finished revelation.
Chapter 23 - Health and Gift of Healing
Many have erred in including the whole topic of Divine healing under the heading of "the gifts of healing." (I Corinthians 12:9). The gift of healing was a temporary sign-gift, and only makes up a part of the subject of Divine healing. Because of the confusion surrounding the "gift of healing" and that of "Divine healing" we will cover both of these subjects in this lesson.
Those who teach that the "gift of healing" is still in operation accuse sound preachers of believing that God no longer hears prayer. This of course is a groundless slander perpetrated by those who refuse to search the Scriptures. People who are suffering from pain, fear of death, or grief for a sick loved one are often at the mercy of those men who claim to have the gift of healing. Surely every saint needs to be well-grounded in the teaching of God's Word concerning health and healing.
I. THE BLESSING OF HEALTH.
Just as Christians desire to see their brethren in good health (III John 2), so our benevolent God has made many provisions for the well-being of His people. Obedience to God's Word will normally bring better health. The Christian is to avoid worry, undue stress, fear, hatred, gluttony, and drunkenness. All of these are enemies of good health. Notice even the promise of long life attached to one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12).
The nation of Israel was given a sound program for better health years before the findings of modern science. God's commands to them included sanitation, quarantine of the sick, washing in running water, and the Sabbath rest. The prohibition of sexual immorality was a bar to the many social diseases that plague our country today. All of this reveals that while holiness is the chief desire of God for His people, yet He has consulted their physical well-being also in the giving of His commands.
II. THE REASON FOR SICKNESS.
Our view of healing will be greatly affected by our views on the purpose of illness. Modern "faith healers" would have us believe that all sickness is a result of unbelief and that none need ever be ill. In a world where both the good and the evil often suffer this view contradicts our experience as well as the Bible. In looking at God's Word we find that sickness may have many reasons.
A. Illness may be a punishment of God. We think of some of the plagues that fell upon Egypt, or the smiting of the sorcerer with blindness by the apostle Paul. It is interesting that in these cases, sickness was a sign as was healing in other cases.
B. Illness may be permitted for God's glory - John 9:1-3. God permitted this individual to be born blind so that Christ might be glorified in his healing. No doubt God permits some illness so that saints may glorify God in the exercise of Christian patience during trials.
Notice that at this point the apostles held the Jewish error that illness was always a result of personal sin. Likewise modern healers make the sick responsible should they not find healing.
C. Illness may be given to keep Christians humble - II Corinthians 12:7-10.
D. Il1ness may be given to chasten saints - I Corinthians 11:29-31.
E. Illness is sometimes not explained - I Timothy 5:23. Many times the child of God must claim the promise of Romans 8:28, while he has no knowledge of the reasons for his illness
F. Illness is sometimes produced by circumstances. In Philippians 2:30, we meet a man who became ill through placing the importance of God's work above that of his own health.
G. Illness may be from Satan. In Luke 13:16, we find a woman whom Satan had bound with illness. Other Scriptures speak of demons causing physical and mental infirmities.
III. THE GIFT OF HEALING.
A. The gift of healing was the ability to heal at will through the power of God. This was a sign gift that accredited the preaching of Christ and His disciples (Matthew 11:2-5; Mark 16:17-18; Acts 2:22, Acts 4:29-30; Hebrews 2:3-4). The early apostles preached the gospel and healed. The healing was to bring attention to and verify the veracity of the gospel (unlike the modem healers who emphasize and preach healing as an end in itself).
B. The gift of healing ceased as the Bible was completed and the message fully accredited. As with the giving of the law on Mount Sinai the gospel is not in need of continual accreditation. In the later books of the New Testament we see a decrease in the mention of healing and an increase of unhealed sickness (I Timothy 5:23; II Timothy 4:20; Philippians 2:25-30). It is interesting to note in this regard that New Testament Christians always viewed healing as a sign and never a mere personal blessing. Even the church at Corinth, so prominent for it's possession of sign-gifts was full of sick people who were being chastened (I Corinthians 11: 30).
C. God has never promised His people perfect health this side of glory (Revelation 21:4). Those who claim to presently possess the gift of healing not only make a false claim, but display a serious ignorance of the nature and purpose of this gift. To teach that it is always God's will to heal is to cruelly tantalize and deceive those who hurt, and to confuse the saint who is suffering according to the will of God.
IV. THE ARGUMENTS OF FAITH HEALERS.
Those who claim to have the gift of healing, and those who teach that it is always God's will to heal give various defenses for their doctrine. Satan has always been adept at quoting Scriptures. Let us examine some of these arguments.
A. Healing was purchased in the atonement. While it is a great truth that Christ died to redeem our mortal bodies, yet it is also true that we have not yet received the redemption of the body (Romans 8:23, I Corinthians 15:22-54). Some of the blessings of our salvation are future and no amount of faith (or rather presumption) will change this. Christians will continue to sicken and die till Christ returns.
Note also that those verses used to teach that the atonement provides for present healing have been misapplied. Compare Isaiah 53:4 with Matthew 8:16-17 (This portion of Isaiah was fulfilled during Christ's earthly ministry). Compare Isaiah 53:5 with I Peter 2:24-25 (This portion of Isaiah refers to the healing of the soul from sin).
B. Christ never changes - Hebrews 13:8. Hebrews 13:8, asserts that Christ is ever the same in His Divine nature and wonderful love. In no way does it prove that Christ's program is the same in every age. Those who quote this Scripture to prove that the gift of healing still exists forget that for the first thirty years of Christ's earthly life He healed no one. We also note that Christ's forerunner never healed anyone at all (John 10:41).
V. DOES GOD STILL HEAL?
While the saint who knows God's Word will reject with disgust the claims of modern healers, yet the author has never met a Christian who denied that God still heals. While the days of signs and sign-gifts are past, yet God will ever remain a miracle working God. We are glad to assert that God can and still does heal all forms of sickness. We may not always know whether or not it is God's will to heal, but we can never doubt His ability. Many can testify to have experienced the healing power of God.
VI. OUR DUTY IN REGARD TO OUR HEALTH.
A. We should exercise due regard for our physical well-being. To needlessly harm our health is to tempt God.
B. We should pray to God when ill - II Corinthians 12:7-9; II Chronicles 16: 12.
C. We should examine our heart for sin when ill. Sometimes illness is a result of chastisement for sin. I Corinthians 1:30-31, James 5:16.
D. We should call on others to pray for us when we are ill - James 5:14-16.
(Note that these are elders not faith healers who are called. The sickness in question here seems to be a result of chastisement).
E. We should use proper means for healing - I Timothy 5:23; Colossians 4:14; Luke 10:33-34.
F. We should submit to God's will.
God does not always heal His people. Sometimes they are given the opportunity to glorify God by displaying true Christian behavior during trials (I Thessalonians 5: 18; II Corinthians 11:27 & 12:7-10). Notice that true faith can be displayed in sickness as well as in healing (Compare Hebrews 11:33-35a with Hebrews 11:35b.39).
Interest in the gift of tongues has had phenomenal growth in the past few years. Multitudes now claim to possess this gift. As always, the children of God "prove all things" (I Thessalonians 5:21) by a careful study of God’ s Word.
THE BIBLE RECORD OF TONGUES.
The gift of tongues is mentioned in only three books of the New Testament (Mark 16:17-20; Acts 2:1-13, 10:45-46, 19:6, I Corinthians 12:1-14:40). It is quite informative to note how few books of Scripture mention tongues. Out of twenty-one New Testament epistles in which salvation, Christian joy, spiritual growth, ministerial qualiﬁcations, and the work of God's Spirit are dealt with, yet in only one is tongues mentioned. This is inexplicable were we to view the gift of tongues as it is viewed in the modem tongues movement. (It should be noted that the one time when tongues was mentioned in an epistle, it was in rebuke for the elevation and misuse of this gift.)
THE NATURE OF TONGUES.
The gift of tongues was the supernatural ability to speak in a
language that one had not acquired by study. There is no Biblical
reason to believe that this language was ever anything but an
existing human language. In Acts 2:1-11, the disciples spoke in the
native languages of the many foreign Jews present in Jerusalem on
Pentecost. In I Corinthians 14:16 & 23, the Corinthians are warned
that the unlearned could not understand tongues. These statements
would be meaningless if tongues were not human
A. Nearly every form of paganism, from early times until the present, has been characterized by some form of ecstatic speech. Even in many of the cults that have denied the basic tenants of Christianity, there have been claims of having the gift of a heavenly tongue (Mormons, Shakers). Needless, to say Christians have always viewed these activities as demonic (Isaiah 8:19).
B. The concept of Biblical tongues being a form of ecstatic speech was introduced into Christian theology by the rationalistic German theologians. They popularized the belief that Biblical tongues were not human languages in order to explain away the miraculous nature of the gift.
THE PURPOSE OF TONGUES.
Our Lord makes it very clear that tongues were for a sign (Mark 16:17). When the Corinthian church began to use tongues as a means of self-gloriﬁcation, they were told that they needed to mature and learn that tongues were to be used as a sign (I Corinthians 14:20-22). Let us examine this important point in detail.
In I Corinthians 14:21, Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11 as proof that tongues were a sign-gift. In Isaiah chapter 28, we ﬁnd Isaiah rebuking the elders of Judah for their sin. They did not repent but rather reviled Isaiah's preaching as being below their intellectual level (vs. 9-10). Isaiah then gives the prophecy that God will speak to them by the foreign tongues of the invading Assyrian army. From this, Paul concludes that tongues are for a sign.
We might also mention that tongues were not a sign to all unbelievers but to Jewish unbelievers in particular. This is seen in Isaiah chapter 28 and also in the New Testament. In every case recorded in the book of Acts, the gift of tongues was a sign to Jews. It is also interesting to remember that the church at Corinth was started next door to a Jewish synagogue (Acts 18:7). Perhaps this partly explains the prevalence of the gift in that church.
In continuing our examination of the purpose of tongues, we should notice that tongues acted as a sign of conﬁrmation for at least three different Bible truths.
A. The veracity of the gospel.
B. The reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God.
C. Coming judgment.
Having noted the true purpose of tongues we are now in a better
position to deal with some of the errors on this subject. We might
ﬁrst mention that some have taught that tongues were given to assist
in the preaching of the gospel.
Another false concept is the popular modern teaching that tongues are
for the private ediﬁcation of the user. This, of course, contradicts the
Scriptural teaching on the purpose of tongues and also the truth that
gifts are always for the body of Christ as a whole. It is also hard
to believe that God would withhold from many (I Corinthians 12:11 &
30) a means of spiritual growth. There is no
Let us examine some of the Scriptures used to teach that tongues should be used in prayer and private worship.
I Corinthians 14:2 - This verse is not describing prayer. The reason
that a man speaking in an uninterrupted tongue is speaking unto God
is because "no man understandeth him.” Paul is not discussing private
prayer but the error of using uninterrupted tongues in a church
service. If I were to use Spanish in an English speaking church, only
God would understand me and the church would
I Corinthians 14:3-5 - Paul is talking about the superiority of prophecy over tongues in a public church service. He that prophecies builds up the church , while he that speaks in tongues builds up himself. There is no mention here of any private act of devotion. ,
If an Englishman testiﬁes in a Russian church, his own heart may be
blessed but the church is not proﬁted. The same principle was true in
the , exercise of tongues. Notice also that in verses 4-5 Paul is
discussing a situation where the tongue speaker could interpret his
own words. The individual who
I Corinthians 14:14-15 - Paul is here speaking about praying in an unknown tongue, but only to rebuke the practice. Prayer is to be conducted with the understanding (vs. 15). This would forbid the idea of praying in a tongue one does not understand. The word battalogeo, translated "use vain repetitions" in Matthew 6:7, means to "babble unthinkingly." One is never to pray in this manner.
I Corinthians 14:27-28 - Paul is not here commending the practice of
private tongue speaking. His purpose is to forbid the use of
uninterrupted tongues in the church. These precepts were used by men
of God in former days to rebuke the Roman Catholic practice of
conducting religious worship in Latin.
The charismatic concept of tongues as a private devotional aid is contrary to everything that the Bible teaches about tongues.
IV. THE REGULATION OF TONGUES.
The disorders that occurred at Corinth caused Paul to lay down some
A. Everything must be done in an orderly manner - I Corinthians 14:32-33; 40.
B. Tongues are not to be sought - I Corinthians 12:18.
C. Tongues must be interpreted - I Corinthians 14:28.
D. Only one person at a time may speak - I Corinthians 14:27 & 30.
E. Only three may speak in tongues at anyone service - I Corinthians 14:27.
F. Women may not speak in the church - I Corinthians 14:34-35.
G. Tongues must not be forbidden - I Corinthians 14:39.
Paul was afraid that his teaching on the inferiority of tongues as a means of church ediﬁcation would cause it to be forbidden. (This Scripture of course would not apply after tongues had ceased. Baptist churches have every right to forbid the modem imitation of this gift).
THE CEASING OF TONGUES.
In I Corinthians 13:8, we are told that tongues would cease. This probably occurred in 70 A.D. when Israel as a nation lost its corporate existence. The gift deﬁnitely ceased by 95-96 A.D. when the Scriptures were completed. (For more information see the lesson on the temporary gifts).
Some may be wondering how we are to explain the modem phenomena of tongues-speaking in the Charismatic movement. As these modern "tongues" contradict the Bible teaching concerning the nature, purpose, duration, and regulation of tongues, they cannot be of God. God does not contradict His Word (I Corinthians 14:37; Matthew 5:17-18). The modern tongues experience may have various explanations.
A. It may be fake.
B. It may be psychologically induced.
C. It may be of demonic inspiration.
These Scriptures have been a battleground of controversy. Two major
errors have been based on this portion of Scripture.
To understand verses 1-7, several facts must be known:
B. Ephesus was far from Judea where John's ministry was carried out.
C. John, while on earth, had received authority from Heaven (John 1:6; Mark 11:30) to baptize. This authority was not passed on to his disciples. Christ and His apostles were baptized by John and it was Christ who gave His disciples authority to baptize (John 4:1-2; Matthew 28:28-29).
D. Some who came under John's widespread inﬂuence did not remain to become disciples of Christ. These men were ignorant of the coming of the Spirit (Acts 2) and other great truths.
E. Some of these men for years afterward attempted to teach others while having a very imperfect understanding themselves. Some even took it upon themselves to baptize as John had.
VERSE BY VERSE EXPOSITION.
A. Verse 1 - Paul came to the great city of Ephesus. Here a ministry was begun that eventually affected all of Asia Minor (verse 10).
B. Verse 2 - At Ephesus, Paul met certain men who had been ill-taught
and baptized without authority by someone who professed to be a
follower of John the Baptist (Apollos?). These men had obviously
never met John because they were ignorant of the baptism with the
Spirit and other truths that John preached (Matthew 3:11; John
C. Verse 3 - All baptism is "unto" someone's doctrine and authority
(I Corinthians 10:2). In baptism we are identifying with someone and
some system of doctrine.
D. Verse 4 - Paul then explained to these men that they had been ill-informed. They did not know even the purpose of John’s baptism and seemed ignorant of much or all that concerned Christ.
E. Verse 5 - Paul did not baptize these men because John's baptism
F. Verse 6-7 - Having been baptized by Paul, these men then received
the sign of the Baptism with the Spirit. Remember that this baptism
was a sign that gave outward proof that the Spirit had come to a
people. This is the last instance of any group in the book of Acts
receiving this sign. It was given to these twelve men as proof that
Paul's teaching to them was true. Now these men truly knew
God's Final Word
(A Study of the History of Divine Revelation)
A Brief History of Divine Revelation
Has God spoken? How did he speak? What did he say? Has he said all he intends to say? Where may we ﬁnd an accurate record of his revelation to man? Those who seek to know, worship and serve God cannot avoid these questions.
Christian's affirm that God has spoken in a variety of ways. As music and alt are acts of self expression, so God's creation is an act of self revelation.
"The heavens declare the glory of God and the ﬁrmament sheweth his handiwork." Psalm 19:1
"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God
hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the
creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the
things that are made, even his eternal power and God-head; so that
they are without excuse." Romans
Were men's hearts not darkened by sin every glimpse of forest, sky and sea would be a sermon.
Even in the human heart, God has not left himself without witness. The conscience in limited measure speaks of God's law and the coming judgment. Even the thief who justifies his greed sees clearly the evil of theft when he becomes the victim. At judgment, God will have no trouble unmasking the hypocrisy of those who disclaim knowledge of right and wrong.
Theologians refer to such forms of divine self- disclosure as
"natural revelation." While natural revelation is in every way worthy
of the Almighty, yet it fails to meet the need of man in his fallen
state. Creation shouts of a creator but cannot bring men to worship him
or even acknowledge his existence. Conscience speaks of God's law but
cannot produce obedience.
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
God in his grace has supplied our need. In revelation he moved beyond the natural to the supernatural. To the ordinary, he has added the special. In special revelation, God has revealed himself, his will and his gracious plan of redemption through Christ Jesus. This gift of revelation is sufﬁcient for salvation and as a guide in worship and service.
The Bible claims to be an inspired and inerrant record of special revelation. Christians accept this claim. They believe the Bible to be "God's Word."
That God should produce a book is really no surprise. Men must be
addressed using the vehicle of human language. Our memory being
limited and fallible, this record needed to be written down. We
needed an accurate, complete and permanent record. We needed a book!
"Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me." Psalms 40:7
The history of revelation recorded in the Bible shows that revelation was progressive in nature. The journey from Eden to Calvary was a long and eventful one. As the centuries rolled by, God revealed more and more of himself and his plan. The progress was sporadic, but not random. Each step led toward the goal. Every word was in preparation for his ﬁnal word. Some two thousand years ago, God spoke his ﬁnal word. The sun of revelation reached its zenith.
The Epistle to the Hebrews gives us a thumbnail sketch of these matters. We might call these verses a "brief history of special revelation."
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." Hebrews 1:1-2.
John Calvin gets to the heart of this in his brief tabulation of
Looking at Hebrews 1:1-2, we understand why the Bible has two major divisions: the Old and the New Testaments. These divisions of scripture are referred to as "testaments" because each centers on a divine covenant. The Old Testament records the history and details of the covenant God made with Israel at Mt. Sinai. The New Testament concerns the history and exposition of the New Covenant brought into force by the death of Jesus the Christ.
The Old Testament then records the history and content of special revelation before the coming of Christ. This came in a variety of ways and through many individuals. Prophets, priests, kings, soldiers, women and even little children heard God speak. He spoke to Adam in the Garden and to Moses at the burning bush. He spoke to Micah of Bethlehem, to Isaiah of Calvary and to Joel of Pentecost. God talked of his creation, his holy law, his chosen nation and the details of his covenant with Israel. Repeatedly, he spoke of a coming Savior whose advent would introduce the last days and a new covenant.
This initial period of special revelation reached from the time of Adam forward to the close of the prophet Malachi's ministry. The record of this revelatory activity is inscripturated in the ﬁrst 39 books of the Bible. These books are what we call the "Old Testament."
In these preliminary revelations, God was preparing the way for his ﬁnal word. In giving his holy law, God exposed men's sin and their need of a Savior. Messianic prophecies assured that when Jesus arrived, he would have their witness to his claims. The types, offices, ceremonies and even the people of the Old Testament, illustrated concepts and produced a language that made it possible for us to understand the person and work of Christ.“ Having at the time of Malachi said everything short of his ﬁnal word, God said no more for four hundred years.
Moving on to the second period of special revelation, we shall again notice the "thumbnail sketch" given in Hebrews 1:1-2.
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds."
God's ﬁnal word came to us through Jesus Christ. So signiﬁcant was his coming that it divided both the historical calendar and our Bible. Christ Jesus is the anti-type of all old covenant types, the subject of the prophets and the object of Israel's forward-looking faith.
So great was the revelation made through the Son, that he is called "the Word."
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was In the beginning with God. John 1:1-2
And the Word was made ﬂesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1:14
Who can fully ponder the glory of one who could truly say "I am the light of the world"? What truth can be added to the revelation of him who is "the truth"?
1 (’ Does the theology of "God manifest in the ﬂesh" ' 7 need augmentation?
The life of Christ on earth is our only perfect example. Others are to be followed only as they follow Christ. His teachings are the essence of all New Testament truth; the bud from which the ﬂower of apostolic exposition opened up. His saving work is the “good news" to be proclaimed to all. He is the completion of God's revelation in this age; He is God's ﬁnal word.
How beautifully this was expressed by the late F. F. Bruce in his exposition of Hebrews l : 1 -2:
"The earlier stage of the revelation was given in a variety of ways:
God spoke in His mighty works of mercy and judgment and made known
through His servants the prophets the meaning and purpose of these
works; they were admitted into His secret council and learned His
plans in advance. He spoke in
The Apostles of Christ
Jesus Christ is God's ﬁnal word. What then was the purpose of the
apostles” in God's plan of special revelation? As the coming of
Christ was a historical event, could it not be said that they were
the witnesses, historians, expositors, as well as the publishers of this
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we
have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have
handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have
seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which
was with the Father,
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the ﬁrst began to be spoken by the Lord, and was conﬁrmed unto us by them that heard
Notice how Christ in his high priestly prayer links the faith of
succeeding generations to
"I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of
the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept
thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast
given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou
gavest me; and they
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;" John 17:20
We might further emphasize the nature of the apostolic work by pointing out that they were the link between our Lord Jesus (the incarnate word) and the New Testament, the ﬁnal portion of God's written word. The 27 books of the New Testament were either written by the apostles or by men under their inﬂuence. The New Testament is the inscripturated record of God's ﬁnal word.
No wonder the beliefs of Christians are described in Acts 2:42 as the "apostles' doctrine." All scriptural churches are built on their teaching.
"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief comer stone;" Ephesians 2:20
The foundational nature of their work is emphasized in J 0hn's vision of the New Jerusalem.
"And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the
names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." Revelation 21 :14
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life," I John l:l-2
"Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our I Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord?" I Corinthians 9:1
"And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the ’ beginning." John 15:27
"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." II Peter 1:16
Peter was speciﬁc about this qualiﬁcation when a replacement for Judas was sought.
"Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection." Acts 1:21-22
Secondly, the Apostles received their message directly from Christ. Unlike preachers in succeeding generations, they were not dependent upon the testimony or teaching of others. Paul makes this defense of his apostleship when attacked in Galatia.
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Galatians 1:11-l2
Thirdly, as inspired instruments of revelation, they were accredited by their ability to perform signs. These might be called the "apostolic credentials."
"And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." Matthew 10:1
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the
ﬁrst began to be spoken by the Lord, and was conﬁrmed unto us by them
that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and
wonders and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost,
according to his own will?"
"Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all
patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. II Corinthians
Fourthly, as the witnesses and historians of God's greatest and ﬁnal revelation, they were promised infallibility of memory.
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:26
We can trust the accuracy of the New Testament record.
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:" John 16:13
During the earthly sojourn of Christ Jesus, the apostles were often
limited in their grasp of spiritual matters. All this changed with
the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
At this point, let us enlarge on a matter that has already been hinted at. Everything the apostles taught and recorded in the New Testament had its roots in the words and work of Christ. He, not the apostles, was God's ﬁnal word. The spirit came not to reveal new things to their mind, but to remind them of what Christ had taught and done. It was not new things, but these things they were illumined to understand.
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me." John 15:26
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." John 16: 13-15
The reader is challenged to consider how foundational the words and work of Christ are in the apostolic message. Take time to notice how the doctrines of the New Testament have their origins in the words of Christ. For the sake of emphasis, let us repeat what was formerly said: "The teaching of Christ is the essence of all New Testament truth; the bud from which the ﬂower of apostolic exposition opened up."
May God help us to grasp the importance and the ﬁnality of the apostolic labors. To deny the apostolic inspiration and authority is to lose the record of Christ our Lord. To go beyond the apostles in our search for truth is to go beyond Christ. The truth about Jesus is the "apostles‘ doctrine" (Acts 2:42). The "faith" or "body of Christian doctrine" is said to be "once delivered" because it was transmitted in one generation by the apostles.
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Jude 3
Without the apostles, we would never have heard God's ﬁnal word!
We have traced the history of special revelation from the time of Adam until its consummation in Christ Jesus. The place of the apostles in God's ﬁnal word has been explained. What then is the implication of all this for us who today wish to hear from God?
"Sola Scriptura" was a Latin phrase coined during the
reformation which means "scripture alone." The phrase was intended to
assert that scripture alone is the source of revelation for
post-apostolic Christians. We believe that a true understanding of
the history of special revelation leads one to this belief. To say
that Christ is God's ﬁnal word is to say "the Bible is our only rule of
In explaining the truth of "Sola Scripture," there are several issues
we should address:
1. "Sola Scriptura" is an assertion of the sufﬁciency of the Bible as
a spiritual guide. As a revelation it needs no additions. This is often
stated in scripture:
"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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 perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." II Timothy 3 : 1 5 -1 7
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm
2. "Sola Scriptura" is an assertion of the ﬁnality of scripture. This
is logically connected to the sufﬁciency of the Bible. That which is
sufﬁcient needs no additions. The old covenant promised a new covenant.
Christ in bringing this new covenant, brought God's ﬁnal word:
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, John 1:17
There is no newer covenant beyond Christ. Christian's possessed of a complete Bible expect and need no other word from God. To add to the apostolic record is to add to the revelations God gave through his Son. It is to deny the fullness and ﬁnality of Jesus the "Word."
Connected to the ﬁnality of the scriptures is the fact that the Bible has two major divisions. Remembering that the history of special revelation has two major divisions this is just as we would expect. Both Christ and the orthodox Jews accepted the ﬁrst 39 books of scripture as an inspired record of the ﬁrst covenant”. It comes then as no surprise that with the coming of Christ and a new covenant a new body of scripture would emerge. Such was recognized to be the case. In apostolic times, the New Testament books as they were produced were accorded equal authority with the old covenant scripture”. Returning now to the ﬁnality of the Bible we make our point: Just as the history of special revelation has two divisions, so we expect scripture in its complete and ﬁnal state to likewise have two major divisions. Our two-part Bible is complete and ﬁnal.
At the risk of being repetitious, let us close this section of our study by reviewing the facts that lead us to assert the truth of "Sola Scriptura." It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of this issue. Here then is a brief survey reviewing our line of thought:
l. The Old Testament was received by Jesus Christ as God's word and
as the inspired record of special revelation up through the ministry
The Doctrine of "Sola Scriptura" Practically Applied
Doctrinal exposition should be followed with practical application. After asserting the sufficiency and ﬁnality of scripture, we then ask how this applies to our day. In so doing, we are following the example of, not only, inspired apostles like Paul but also of wise preachers through the ages. Hear for instance the words of John Calvin who after expounding Hebrews 1:1-2 made strong practical application for his day:
When he says "hath spoken to us at the end of these days", he means
that there is no further reason why we should be in doubt whether to
expect any new revelation. It was not a pan of the Word that Christ
brought, but the closing Word. It is in this sense that the apostles
understand "the last times" and "the fast days." This too is what Paul
understands when he “rites that "upon us the ends of the ages have come"
(I Corinthians 10:11). If God has now spoken His last Word, it is right
to advance thus far, just as we must halt our steps when we arrive at
Him. It is very necessary for us to recognize both these aspects, for it
was a great drawback on the part of the Jews that they did not reckon
with the possibility that God had postponed a fuller teaching to another
time. They were content with their own law, and did not hurry on to the
goal. On the other hand, since Christ appeared the opposite evil has
begun to take effect in the world. Men try to go beyond Christ. What
else is the whole system of Popery but
the transgression of this limit which the apostles ﬁxed? Therefore, HS
the Spirit Of G0d Ill
Following such examples, we call men in our day to submit to the Lordship of Christ by acknowledging him as God's ﬁnal word. There is great danger in neglecting the gospel of Christ.
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the
ﬁrst, began to be spoken by the Lord, and was conﬁrmed unto us by
them that hear him; God also bearing them witness both with signs and
wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost,
according to his own will?
He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. He died to pay for sins and arose to prove that it was done. He is the only way to the Father and the only means of forgiveness. Without Christ, you are without God and without hope. God calls you to repent and believe on his Son.
He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself; he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave his Son. I John 5:10
To our Jewish friends, we offer the reminder that to reject Jesus as the Christ is to close our ears to God's ﬁnal word. Moses and the prophets prepared the way for him. He is the mediator of the new covenant promised in your prophets. He is the hope of Israel, the prophet like unto Moses, the seed of David, and the king of Israel. God forbid that he should stand as a light to the Gentiles while you are left in darkness.
Thirdly and ﬁnally, we would warn men of the danger of moving beyond Christ. Think of the Muslims who recognize Christ as a prophet then run past him to Mohammed. Likewise, the Mormons feel that they honor Christ yet race past him to Joseph Smith. Such is the case in multitudes of religious movements. They trade the light of the Son for the ﬂickering candle of human thought or satanic deception.
Even among those who claim to be Christians, there is the danger of moving beyond Christ Jesus. Consider the errors of Roman Catholicism. To the Old Testament they add the apocrypha. To the New Testament of our Lord and Savior they add tradition, papal infallibility plus countless visions and appearances of Mary over the years. Most basic in this system of error is the belief that the apostles of Christ have successors in the person of the Pope. Having denied the sufﬁciency and ﬁnality of scripture, they have an open-ended revelation rather than "the faith once delivered to the saints." No wonder that new doctrines have and are being added to the Catholic belief system.” God's ﬁnal word loses its ﬁnality.
Last let me address our non-cessationist” friends. Historical evangelical people signs. Truly a church with all sixty-six books of Holy Writ is better provided for than the most gifted church of apostolic times. Our treatment of this subject has been very brief. To those who desire further study we recommend the following book: T 0 Be Continued, by Samuel Waldron. - available at http://www.calvarypress.com/theol.asp.
Ultimately, the debate comes down to "What does the Bible teach on this subject?" Can we prove from scripture that certain gifts were only temporary? At ﬁrst glance, the cessationist seems to be at a disadvantage. Little in the way of scripture seems suitable for his arsenal. Is this really the case?
As a cessationist, I respond with the caution that we need to beware of preconceived ideas as to just how the Bible must teach something. Let me illustrate with a question: Where does the Bible say that the New Testament canon would close with the passing of the apostles? Though never explicitly stated, was this not implied in the promises of Christ made to the apostles (see chapter on Sola Scriptura). Would not the same promises also imply the cessation of any gift involving direct revelation? Is it consistent to forbid written prophecy while permitting oral prophecy? Either God's word is complete or it is not. Is it any more rational to ask "Where does the Bible say that prophecy would cease with the passing of the apostles?" than it is to ask "How do we know the canon closed with John's writing of the book of the Revelation?" I do not question that many non-cessationists sincerely believe they are committed to the ﬁnality and perfection of the scriptures. What I question is the consistency of their position. Perhaps you have heard the Arabic proverb about the nose of the camel. The non-cessationism that permits the "nose" of tongues and prophecy to enter the tent is not theoretically that different from the non-cessationist who allows the whole camel of Catholic tradition and papal infallibility into the tent.
Moving on, we notice that most non-cessationists agree that the ofﬁce of apostle was foundational and temporary. While we are glad that this is understood, it seems strange when we recall that in Ephesians 4:8-ll the apostles are classed as "gifts." Even non-cessationists who are committed to scripture must become cessationists of a sort.
Finally, I would remind our non-cessationist friends of what seems obvious. Apostolic churches had needs we do not have. After Christ's ascension, a period of about sixty years passed before the New Testament was complete. Visualize New Testament churches operating with none or little of the New Testament. How could they have received new covenant truth apart from the of the apostles and prophets? Such ministry was, of course, accompanied by signs to authenticate the revelations given (Hebrews 2:2-3). God wonderfully met their need. Still, the question remains as to why churches today that possess complete Bibles need prophets and have believed that spiritual gifts which involved direct revelation or such gifts that acted as signs to authenticate these revelations were foundational in nature and ceased with the passing of the apostles. The existence of these gifts was deemed unnecessary for those who possessed a complete Bible. When you assert that these gifts still operate, consider the company you keep. Most Pentecostal/Charismatic/Third Wave people would cringe at the thought of adding to God's word but the charge is difﬁcult to evade. (25) Do not you prophets claim to speak "God's word"? How often have you heard "God told me in your services"? Is there really any difference in a Pope who claims to speak "ex Cathedra" and a prophet who assures the audience that his message is directly from God? Are not both a denial of the sufficiency and ﬁnality of Holy Scripture’? Is there really anything to say beyond what God has said through his Son’? As the apostles gave us an inspired record of Christ, was not the door of revelation closed‘? Would we not be well advised to leave a lock on the door?
Cessationism is not about a style of worship It 1s not a denial of the supernatural or of our need of God s Spirit Really it concerns our view of scripture, the apostles and ultimately Christ Jesus Cessationlsm is not a limitation of the Almighty but an exaltation of Christ as God's ﬁnal word.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath 1n these last days spoken unto us by l‘l1S Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds, Hebrews l:l-2
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726