Monday, February 25, 2019

How the Holy Spirit Works Today

The Bible teaches that there is one true and living God who exists co-equally and co-eternally in three distinct persons: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (1 Jn. 5:7). All three are called God and are said to have the same divine attributes. The Spirit of God is a real person, and not a mystical force (else, how He could He be grieved? Eph. 4:30).

The professing church is very confused and misinformed about how the Holy Spirit works in this present age. The root of the problem is that most professing Christians don’t personally study the Bible, and among those that do, most do not rightly divide the word of truth. Many like to quote Heb. 13:8 and claim that God never changes in how He works. It is true that He does not change in His Person, but He does in His dealings with man. There are dispensational differences concerning the work of the Holy Spirit.

Examples: 1 Sam. 16:14; Ps. 51:11 with Eph. 4:30; Acts 2:4 with Eph. 5:18-20.

It is impossible to live the victorious Christian life without the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we must be grounded in what the Bible says about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the believer during this present age. The Holy Spirit has certainly worked in previous dispensations (Gen. 6:3), but He did not work in the same way that He is today.
Here is a simple overview of how the Holy Spirit works in the believer today:

      I.         The Relation of the Holy Spirit to the Believer
Every believer is in the Sprit and the Spirit is in every believer. This is brought about by five works of the Spirit:
A.    He circumcises us – (Col. 2:8-11) Man is a tri-partite being (spirit, soul, and body, 1 Thess. 5:23). When Adam fell, he died spiritually (separated from the Spirit of God), his flesh became corrupt, and his soul and spirit became stuck to the flesh. That is the condition of all that are born of the flesh. Upon salvation, Christ, by the Spirit, cuts away our inner man from the outer man. Our standing is no longer, “in the flesh”.
B.    He baptizes us – (Col. 2:12) This baptism is just as spiritual as the circumcision in v.11 (Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27-28). As we saw in our Bible study on Wednesday night, the word “baptism” primarily means “identification” and does not always involve water. This is a saving baptism and is not to be confused with Acts 1:5 (power vs. salvation, visible manifestations vs. none, prophecy vs. mystery, Christ the baptizer vs. the Spirit).
C.    He regenerates us – (Titus 3:4-7) Salvation is not a reformation of the flesh but a regeneration (new creature) by the Spirit.
D.    He dwells in us – (Rom. 8:9, I Cor. 6:19) The Spirit lives in every believer. The fact that He DWELLS in us (permanent residence) means we are secure.
E.     He seals us (Eph. 1:13-14) – The Holy Spirit is the guarantee (earnest) that we belong to God and our salvation is secure.

These five doctrines are not based on feelings and experience but on the word of God. They are true of every believer whether we know it or not. Many things happen upon salvation that we must learn about by studying the scripture. We have a STANDING in the Spirit that is unconditional and unchanging!

    II.         The Responsibility of the Believer to the Holy Spirit
Although the believer’s standing in the Spirit never changes, our state is conditioned on us fulfilling our responsibility to Him.
A.    Know Him through His word (deception, 2 Cor. 11:4; 1 Tim. 4:1)
B.    Walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25) – what does that look like? (Gal. 4:19; 5:22-23)
C.    Do not grieve Him (Eph. 4:30-32)
D.    Seek to be filled with Him (Eph. 5:18-21). This is not an event with supernatural manifestations as in Acts, but a goal to press toward (Phil. 3:12-14). We are only filled to the extent we are yielded to Him and filled with His word (Col. 3:16).

  III.         The Results of the Holy Spirit in the Believer
What can we expect when we are walking in the Spirit?
A.     What NOT to expect
1.     Signs and wonders - The sign gifts of the Acts period have ceased (1 Cor. 13:8-13).
2.     Emotional high - I heard a well-known IFB preacher claim that he gets “drunk in the Holy Ghost.” Many teach that “losing control of emotions” is evidence that you are filled with the Spirit. Yet, a fruit of the Spirit is TEMPERANCE! There is nothing wrong with strong emotions, but they can be deceptive.
3.     A “still small voice” to tell us what to do
B.     What TO expect
1.     Illumination to spiritual truth (1 Cor. 2:7-16)
2.     Victory over the flesh (Gal. 5:16-21)
3.     Fruitfulness (Gal. 5:22-23)
4.     Communion with God (2 Cor. 13:14, Eph. 6:18)

Monday, February 18, 2019

Walk Worthy

Ephesians 4:1-6
(1)  I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
(2)  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
(3)  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(4)  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
(5)  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
(6)  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

In Ephesians 1-3 we are edified concerning our spiritual wealth in Christ. In chapters 4-6 we are exhorted to have a spiritual walk in Christ (4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15). Some try to separate doctrinal teaching from practical preaching, but they go together, and both are necessary. The strength of application is a solid doctrinal foundation. Sound doctrine has a life changing effect when it is believed and obeyed (Rom. 6:17).

(v.1) – The law commanded, but grace beseeches (23x’s in Paul's epistles). Vocation = calling. The Body of Christ has a high (Phil. 3:14) and holy (2 Tim. 1:9) calling. The goal of spiritual growth is getting our state lined up with our standing. We must first KNOW our standing, which is why Paul dealt with that first in this epistle. To walk worthy is to live in a way that is becoming to the sound doctrine we profess to believe (Titus 2:1, 10; Phil. 1:27). 

(vs.2-3) – Our high calling demands a lowly walk. These verses describe how the members of the one Body should treat each other (Col. 3:9-15; Phil. 2:1-5). A true spiritual knowledge of all that the grace of God has made us to be in Christ should humble us. A superficial knowledge will just puff us up (1 Cor. 8:1). Paul said that knowledge without charity is nothing. We cannot make the unity of the Spirit, but we must endeavor to keep it.  That we must endeavor to keep it implies Satan and our own flesh will oppose it.

(vs.4-6) – This passage is often misused to teach that all professing Christians should be ecumenical and come together in unity despite doctrinal differences. God is not asking us to form a unity, but rather to recognize the unity that He Himself has made in Christ. This is the unity of the Spirit and not the uniformity of the flesh (e.g. Catholicism is a unified man-made religion).

There are seven spiritual things that form the basis of the unity of the Spirit. The word “unity” only appears 3 times in the Bible (Ps. 133:1; Eph. 4:3, 13). Seven is God’s number of perfection. Ephesians is the pinnacle of revelation for the Body of Christ, like Revelation is for Israel. The number seven is prevalent in both books. The first chapter reveals seven spiritual blessings and the last chapter seven pieces of spiritual armor. 

This is our main doctrinal statement. This is the basis of our fellowship (Eph. 3:9).

1)      One body – There are many local churches (Rom. 16:4), but there is only ONE body (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:13; Eph. 2:16; Col. 3:15). There are many Christian organizations, but there is only one spiritual organism that God is building today.

2)      One Spirit (1:13; 2:18; 1 Cor. 6:17) – The Holy Spirit baptizes, regenerates, indwells, and seals every member of the Body.

3)      One hope of OUR calling (Eph. 1:15-19; Titus 2:13; Phil. 3:20) – Israel has an earthly hope: Christ to establish His kingdom on the earth after the tribulation. We have a heavenly hope: being caught up to meet Christ the air before the tribulation. We will reign with Christ in His heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18). 

4)      One Lord – Christ is the Head of the one Body. Paul was the first to preach Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:20-23).

5)      One faith – “The faith” (e.g. 2 Tim. 4:7) is the body of doctrine revealed in Paul’s epistles for the Body of Christ. This “one faith” reveals the “faith of Christ” by which we are justified. Our faith is based upon this “one faith.”

6)      One baptism – There are various baptisms in the Bible (Matt. 3:11), but there is only one that makes us members of the one Body (Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12). The baptism by the Spirit that takes place upon salvation and puts us into the Body of Christ is the only baptism that matters today. How sad it is that the professing church is greatly divided over a water ceremony that God never even commanded the Body of Christ to practice! The apostle Paul never commanded water baptism like Peter did (1 Cor. 1:17; Acts 10:48). Water baptism is not to be a basis of fellowship, and yet that is exactly what it is in most churches! This one baptism cannot be water baptism.

7)      One God and Father – above, through, in = all about Him. God is not the Father of the lost (Gal. 3:26). The Father, Son, and Spirit are all in the believer.

Monday, February 4, 2019

How to Share Right Division

We must face the reality that we can only reach the reachable and teach the teachable. Some people are not receptive to the truth. We need the discernment to know the type of person we are dealing with (which comes through spiritual growth and experience). The apostle Paul did not unload the whole dispensational wagon on everybody that he talked to (1 Cor. 2:1-3:3). 

We should only try to show people the mystery if we discern that they are sincerely walking in the light they have with a desire to learn more truth (e.g. Acts 18:24-26). It is important that we are motivated by charity and not pride as we try to teach others (2 Tim. 2:24-26). There was a time when we didn’t know this truth either (1 Cor. 4:7)! 

Example of a conversation starter: Have you ever wondered why there are so many different denominations? How can so many groups, who all claim to believe the Bible, have so many different beliefs (1 Cor. 14:33)? They are trying to interpret the Bible instead of allowing the Bible to interpret itself (2 Pet. 1:20). The Bible is God’s word and therefore it must be studied God’s way. God did not start any denominations. He is only building one spiritual church (Eph. 4:4-6). 

Example of how to introduce right division to someone: Did you know there is a verse that tells us exactly how to study the word of God (2 Tim. 2:15)? Notice that it does not say divide truth from error, but rightly divide the word of TRUTH. All scripture is the truth and is FOR us (2 Tim. 3:16), but it is not all written directly TO us. God never changes in His person and moral principles (Mal. 3:6), but He has changed in His dealings with man through the ages as He gave progressive revelation. If you don’t understand this, the Bible will be a confusing book to you. 

We cannot possibly obey everything in the Bible. Consider the basic issue of what we are to eat:
Adam (Gen. 1:29) = no meat 
Noah (about 1500 years later, Gen. 9:3-4) = meat with blood
Moses (about 1000 years later, Lev. 11:46-47) = clean meats
Paul (over 1500 years later, 1 Tim. 4:1-5) = nothing is to be refused (note to teach otherwise in this age is a doctrine of devils)

We must not try to invent our own divisions or ignore the ones God put in His word. Everybody divides the Bible (OT/NT), but we must rightly divide it. 

Prophecy: SPOKEN since the world began (Acts 3:19-21)
Mystery: SECRET since the world began (Rom. 16:25)

The mystery of the Body of Christ was first revealed and made known through the apostle Paul (Eph. 3:1-13; Col. 1:24-27). 

There is one family of God, but there is a difference between God’s earthly people and His heavenly people (Eph. 1:10; 3:15). If words have any meaning, there must be a difference between the nation of Israel who is destined to reign on the earth over the nations (Isa. 60:1-5) and the spiritual Body of Christ (neither Jew nor Gentile, Gal. 3:27-28) who is seated in heavenly places and is destined to reign there eternally (Eph. 2:6-7; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1-4). 

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