And whatever you ask in
that I will do, that the
may be glorified in
If you ask anything
in My Name,
I will do is
“If you love Me,
keep My commandments.
“'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind, and with all your strength. '
The second is this,
'You shall love your neighbor as yourself. '
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Until the Fullness
Holy Spirit's Purpose
following the Holy Spirit
In John 14, Jesus says,
TRULY I tell you . . .
I will do whatever
ASK in MY NAME,
so that the
Father may be glorified
in the Son
You may ask me for anything
I will do it”
This promise seems to give us the right to
ask for anything and everything we want,
and Jesus is obligated to give it to us--
but is that really
Lord is saying here?
The entire fourteenth chapter of John serves as
Jesus’ valedictory address
crucifixion would leave His followers
scared and confused,
so Jesus provided
them with comfort and assurance
regarding a number of things,
they would carry
Part of this
comfort was the promise that
Jesus would hear
answer their prayers.
Jesus tells them that anything
“in my name”
granted to them
Jesus is not promising to be a personal vending machine; rather,
He is encouraging
confidence and faithfulness
When Jesus says to pray
“in my name,”
He means that
we can pray in
He has provided the access we need to heaven. When our requests, made in the name of His Son, further God’s purposes and kingdom, God will act on our behalf, and in the end the Father will be “glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). A good example of such a prayer is Christ’s in the garden where He prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
In the old American West, before the days of credit cards, a shopkeeper would maintain a ledger book recording the activities of each customer’s account and the amount owed. The business owner knew his customers well and the work in which they were involved. A customer would at times send others to the shop for him to make purchases and bring back materials needed for his home or business. Those sent in the customer’s stead (e.g., his children) would be able to receive the goods “in the name of” the account owner. But, if they tried to purchase things not in line with what the shopkeeper knew the customer needed or wanted,
the purchase would be denied.
Coming to God
is similar to those old financial transactions.
Jesus holds the account, and we are welcome to come to the Father in Jesus’ name to receive what we need. The Father willingly grants our requests because of Jesus’ standing. Of course, if we are asking for things that we don’t need or that are contrary to the character or will of Christ, then we cannot expect to receive those things (see James 4:3).
When He said He would give “whatever you ask in my name,” Jesus was not delivering a magical formula for getting whatever we want. He was giving us a guiding principle to align one’s desires with God’s. When we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we pray according to the will of God; we pray for what will honor and glorify Jesus. God will provide the means necessary to accomplish His objectives, and He equips us as His servants. Ultimately, God receives all the glory and praise for what is done.
Having a “head” knowledge of God, does not equate to having a relationship with Him. To really know Him is to love Him. To really know Him is to spend time with Him.
He is the one who mediates the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. We receive all the fullness of blessing on account of His indwelling. Our lives are lived in union with the Lord Jesus by the Holy Spirit. All the fruit that He produces in His people are first to be found in Christ.
The issue is not whether we will worship, but what. Even better, whom and how.
On this Sunday, as many of us ready ourselves for corporate worship, perhaps the most significant single biblical text for guiding the essence of what we’re pursuing together when we gather is Jesus’s words in John 4:23–24.
The Holy Trinity
“The Hour is Coming,
Father in Spirit and Truth,
for the Father
such people to worship him
God is spirit,
Him Must Worship
Spirit and Truth.”
Heart and Head
Spirit and Truth
part is plain enough — with the
Coming of Jesus,
that Truth centers
Person and Work,
Who is Himself
and the message about
his saving accomplishments for us,
WORD of the TRUTH,
It is this “word of truth” (James 1:18) by which we’re given new birth, this “word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) that Christian workers endeavor to handle aright, and this truth that anchors and saturates worship that is truly Christian.
“True worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine.”But what about “spirit”? Is this our spirit or God’s Spirit? Jesus’s memorable statement in John 3:6 helps: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” It’s not either-or, but both-and. For those who are new creatures in Christ, our spirit owes its existence and vibrancy to the Spirit of God. As John Piper writes, “True worship comes only from spirits made alive and sensitive by the quickening of the Spirit of God”
God’s Spirit ignites and energizes our spirit.
Bone and MarrowChristian worship engages both heart and head. It necessitates true doctrineabout the Father and his Son, and their partnership in rescuing sinners, and due emotion about that doctrine. It is both an affair of the heart and an affair of the mind. Piper sums it up as “strong affections for God rooted in truth.”
Worship must be vital and real in the heart, and worship must rest on a true perception of God. There must be spirit and there must be truth. . . . Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full (or half-full) of artificial admirers . . . . On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought. But true worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine. Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow of biblical worship. (81–82)
What It’s NotSo the essence of true worship is not external, but internal — heart and head, emotion and thought, spirit and truth — whether we’re talking all of life as worship (Romans 12:1) or corporate gatherings for worship.
“While the external forms that our worship takes are not insignificant, they are not the essence.”Yet we’re so prone to identify worship with the externals: how nice (or shabby) the building is, how many are in attendance, how good the music is, how gifted the preacher is, whether someone near us is doing something on their smartphone other than reading a Bible app or taking notes, or whether one of the worship leaders is waving a hand distractingly or doing those odd facial expressions or swaying or even jumping. (There’s something to be said about “undistracting excellence” for those planning and leading worship services, but that’s for another time.)
But while the external forms that our worship takes are not insignificant, they are not the essence. They don’t make it, and they shouldn’t break it. True worship is not centered on and coextensive with the forms, but flowing from the heart. Spirit and truth.
Whatever Your ContextTake this reminder with you as you ready your heart and roll up to your next corporate worship gathering. The externals do matter, but they are not the essence. They need not rule the day.
Whether your corporate context is wonderfully conducive to what moves you most, or grates against all your personal preferences, the heart of worship need not be hindered — because the heart of worship is the heart.
At bottom, it’s not what we do (or don’t do) with our hands (or what someone else is doing or not doing), but what we do with our hearts and minds — because of the one who has captured our hearts and minds. Worship is in spirit and in truth.
Holy Spirit comes
He comes primarily
Lord Jesus Christ
In his second address, Dr. Ferguson drew attention to the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 8:1-17. One of the first things that we must recognize as we approach these verses is that there is a peculiar temptation to read what the apostle Paul says about the work of the Spirit in terms of the need we have for personal growth, rather than as a statement of the fullness of blessing we have in Christ. "Paul is not describing the steps we take in the Christian life, he is opening out to us the plenitude of the blessings that are ours simultaneously in Jesus Christ."
The relationship between
the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ
can be best described from the
words of the apostle in
"You are not in the flesh
but in the Spirit,
if indeed the
Spirit of God dwells
Now if anyone does not have
Spirit of Christ,
He is not His
Christ is in You,
the body is
dead because of sin...."
The Holy Spirit
Spirit of the Father,
but He is also the
Spirit of the Son
Notice the way that Paul develops his argument
in verse 9,
moving first from a general statement about
now live in the Spirit,
to a more specific statement
Spirit of God indwelling
Paul then continues unfolding the blessings of the gospel by explaining that the Spirit of God is also the Spirit of Christ. He finally brings the matter to a climax in verse 10, where he explains that it is actually Christ who lives in us. There is an inseparable union between the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus, and the Lord Jesus and the believer by the work of the Spirit.
What are the implications of this truth? Paul now shifts into a discussion of the holiness produced by the Spirit. "The Spirit gives us all the power to mediate the holiness of Christ to us because He is the Holy Spirit." There are, incidentally, two other places where we learn more about this Spirit's work in relation to the person of Christ. The first is John 14-16, and the second, Galatians 5:22-23.
In his final discourse to the disciples, Jesus revealed to them the mysteries of the indwelling Spirit they would receive after His resurrection. In John 14:23Jesus asserts, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." It is the Holy Spirit who makes this dwelling possible in the lives of believers. If we tie together what our Lord says in John 14:2 with what He says in John 14:23 we must conclude that "Jesus goes to heaven to make a home for us and that the Spirit comes from heaven to make a home for the Father and the Son in the lives of believers."
The Spirit comes to indwell us in order to produce holiness in us--even the holiness of our Lord Jesus Christ. You will find, as you read through John 14-16, a number of things that Jesus says He possesses and that He wishes to give to His followers. These things are His joy, His peace and His love--incidentally, three of the fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. And, we must remember that the fruit set out in those verses is the fruit produced by the Spirit of Christ. The sanctification produced by the Spirit is a sanctification produced by the Spirit's union, first with Christ and then with His people.
It is incumbent upon us to understand the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who mediates the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. We receive all the fullness of blessing on account of His indwelling. Our lives are lived in union with the Lord Jesus by the Holy Spirit. All the fruit that He produces in His people are first to be found in Christ. The Holy Spirit is in our lives to make you more like Him.
What is justification?
Justification is an act of God’s free grace (Romans 3:24), wherein he pardoneth all our sins (Romans 4:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:19), and accepteth us as righteous in his sight (2 Corinthians 5:21), only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Romans 4:6, 11; 5:19), and received by faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Philippians 3:9).
What is adoption?2Adoption is an act of God’s free grace (1 John 3:1), whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God (John 1:12; Romans 8:17).
What is sanctification?3Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace (Ezekiel 36:27; Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13), whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:23-24; 1 Thessalonians 5:23), and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness (Ezekiel 36:25-27; Romans 6:4, 6, 12-14; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 2:24).
What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?4The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love (Romans 5:5), peace of conscience (Romans 5:1), joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17), increase of grace (2 Peter 3:18), and perseverance therein to the end (Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5).
How are you righteous before God?1Only by true faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-28; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 3:8-11). Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God’s commandments, have never kept any of them (Romans 3:9-10), and am still inclined to all evil (Romans 7:23), yet God, without any merit of my own (Deuteronomy 9:6; Ezekiel 36:22; Titus 3:4-5), out of mere grace (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 2:8), imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ (Romans 4:3-5; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19; 1 John 2:1-2). He grants these to me as if I had never had nor committed any sin, and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me (Romans 4:24-25; 2 Corinthians 5:21), if only I accept this gift with a believing heart (John 3:18; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 3:22).
Why do you say that you are righteous only by faith?2Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, for only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God (1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 2:2). I can receive this righteousness and make it my own by faith only (Romans 10:10; 1 John 5:10-12).
But why can our good works not be our righteousness before God, or at least a part of it?3Because the righteousness which can stand before God’s judgment must be absolutely perfect and in complete agreement with the law of God (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10), whereas even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin (Isaiah 64:6).
But do our good works earn nothing, even though God promises to reward them in this life and the next?4This reward is not earned (Matthew 5:12; Hebrews 11:6); it is a gift of grace (Luke 17:10; 2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Does this teaching not make people careless and wicked?5No. It is impossible that those grafted into Christ by true faith should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness (1 Matthew 7:18; Luke 6:43-45; John 15:5).
What is redemption?1Redemption is the act of God which sets us free from the power of evil, sin, and death.
Did God Prepare Us
God Sent the Prophets
to call us
Back to Himself,
to Show us
Need for Redemption,
and to Announce
Coming of the Messiah
Did God leave
mankind to perish in
estate of sin and misery?
God, out of
His Mere Good Pleasure,
from All Eternity,
People to Everlasting Life,
Covenant of Grace,
Deliver Them Out
Estate of Sin and Misery,
and to bring them
Estate of Salvation,
(Ephesians 1:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 5:21; Acts 13:8; Jeremiah 31:33).
Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?4The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person, forever (Galatians 3:13; 1 Timothy 2:5; John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9).
How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?5We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us, by His Holy Spirit (John 3:5-6; Titus 3:5-6).
How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?6The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling (Ephesians 2:8; 3:17).
Why did Christ humble Himself?7Christ voluntarily humbled Himself in order to “redeem me, a lost and condemned person.” (Isaiah 53:4-5; John 10:17-18)
From what has Christ redeemed you?8He has redeemed me “from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil.” (John 1:29; Hebrews 2:14-15, 17)
How has Christ redeemed you from all sins?
- He took my guilt and punishment upon Himself Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).
- He freed me from the slavery of sin
- (John 8:34-36; 1 Peter 2:24).
How has Christ rescued you from death?10Through His suffering, death, and resurrection, Christ has triumphed over death. Since He now gives me eternal life I need not fear death (1 Corinthians 15:55-57; 2 Timothy 1:10; 1 Peter 1:3).
How has Christ rescued you from the power of the devil?11Christ has completely conquered the devil. Therefore the devil can no longer accuse me of my sins, and I can resist his temptations (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8). Note: See also Romans 8:31-34; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Revelations 12:10.
With what has Christ redeemed you?12Christ has redeemed me, “not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.” (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7)
How does this work of redemption benefit you?13Christ was my substitute. He took my place under God’s judgment against sin. By paying the penalty of my guilt, Christ atoned, or made satisfaction, for my sins (vicarious atonement) (Isaiah 53:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 2:17).
Has Christ redeemed only you?14No, Christ has redeemed me and all people (universal atonement) (2 Corinthians 5:15; 2 Corinthians 5:19; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 John 2:2; 2 Peter 2:1).
In conclusion, then, why has Christ redeemed you?15The Scriptures teach that Christ’s purpose was
- “that I may be His own”; that is, I am now righteous and blameless in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 5:21; Revelation 5:9);
- that I may “live under Him in His kingdom”; that is, that I am now freed from the slavery of sin and thus freed to serve God (Romans 6:6; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Colossians 2:6; Titus 2:14);
- that I may “serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness”; that is, that I honor God with my whole life and rejoice in Him now on earth and forever in heaven (Luke 1:69, 74-75; Galatians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:9).
What do you mean by
GRACE I mean a
bestowed on us,
THROUGH the MERITS
There are two kinds of
Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace
What is sanctifying Grace?
Sanctifying Grace is
Grace which makes
Pleasing to God
is actual Grace?
Actual Grace is that Help of God
Enlightens our Minds
Moves our Will
Evil and do Good
Is grace necessary to salvation?5Grace is necessary to salvation, because without grace we can do nothing to merit heaven.
Can we resist the grace of God?6We can and unfortunately often do resist the grace of God.
What is the grace of perseverance?7The grace of perseverance is a particular gift of God which enables us to continue in the state of grace till death.
Why must we firmly hold to this teaching of justification by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith?8We must firmly hold to this teaching because
- It is the most important doctrine of the Christian religion (Acts 4:12; Acts 10:43);
- It distinguishes the Christian religion from false religions, all of which teach salvation by works (Galatians 5:4-5; Micah 7:18-20);
- It gives enduring comfort to the penitent sinner (Acts 16:30-31, 34; Matthew 9:2);
- It gives all glory to God for His grace and mercy in Christ (Revelation 1:5-6).
With whom was the covenant of grace made?9The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.
How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?10The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provides and offers to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promises and gives his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he has appointed them to salvation.
Was the covenant of grace always administered after one and the same manner?11The covenant of grace was not always administered after the same manner, but the administrations of it under the Old Testament were different from those under the New.
How was the covenant of grace administered under the Old Testament?12The covenant of grace was administered under the Old Testament, by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the passover, and other types and ordinances, which did all foresignify Christ then to come, and were for that time sufficient to build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they then had full remission of sin, and eternal salvation.
How is the covenant of grace administered under the New Testament?13Under the New Testament, when Christ the substance was exhibited, the same covenant of grace was and still is to be administered in the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; in which grace and salvation are held forth in more fulness, evidence, and efficacy, to all nations.
Who is the Mediator of the covenant of grace?14The only Mediator of the covenant of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, of one substance and equal with the Father, in the fulness of time became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in two entire distinct natures, and one person, forever.
What is that union which the elect have with Christ?15The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband; which is done in their effectual calling.
May not true believers, by reason of their imperfections, and the many temptations and sins they are overtaken with, fall away from the state of grace? 16True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God, and his decree and covenant to give them perseverance, their inseparable union with Christ, his continual intercession for them, and the Spirit and seed of God abiding in them, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Can true believers be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and that they shall persevere therein unto salvation?17Such as truly believe in Christ, and endeavor to walk in all good conscience before him, may, without extraordinary revelation, by faith grounded upon the truth of God’s promises, and by the Spirit enabling them to discern in themselves those graces to which the promises of life are made, and bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God, be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and shall persevere therein unto salvation.
What is repentance to life?1Repentance to life is a saving grace (Acts 11:18), whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sins (Acts 2:37) and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ (Joel 2:13), does with grief and hatred of his sin turn from it to God (Jeremiah 31:18-19), with full purpose to strive after new obedience (Psalms 119:59).
What is the true repentance or conversion of man?2It is the dying of the old nature and the coming to life of the new (Romans 6:1-11; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:5-10).
What is the dying of the old nature?3It is to grieve with heartfelt sorrow that we have offended God by our sin, and more and more to hate it and flee from it (Psalms 51:3-4, 17; Joel 2:12-13; Romans 8:12-13; 2 Corinthians 7:10).
What is the coming to life of the new nature?4It is a heartfelt joy in God through Christ (Psalms 51:8, 12; Isaiah 57:15; Romans 5:1; 14:17), and a love and delight to live according to the will of God in all good works (Romans 6:10-11; Galatians 2:20).
What does God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us by reason of the transgression of the law?5That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law, he requires of us repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.
Not only do we receive the Holy Spirit at the exact moment of our conversions to the Lord, but that we are also sealed with His actual presence on the inside of us.
This divine seal now becomes a very powerful, spiritual bond between God and us, and we are now sealed for all of eternity as a result of receiving the Holy Spirit on the inside of our human spirits.
However, in addition to receiving the Holy Spirit and actually being sealed with His presence, one other incredible thing will occur at the exact moment of our conversions to the Lord – and that one other incredible thing is that we will be “regenerated” by the Holy Spirit.
Here is the verse that will specifically tell us that we will be regenerated by the Holy Spirit at the exact moment of our conversions to the Lord:
“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)
Notice two very important things in this verse:
First, this regeneration is being directly tied to us getting saved in the Lord. The words, “but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, “ are definitely telling us that we are saved by God’s grace and mercy and that when He does save us – He is saving us “through” the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.
Second, this regeneration is done directly by the Holy Spirit Himself. The words “regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” are telling us that this regeneration is being done directly by the Holy Spirit Himself.
As I explained to you in my article on “Sealed With the Holy Spirit,” when the Holy Spirit comes to live on the inside of us at the moment of our conversions to the Lord, He comes to live and take up residence in our human spirits.
The Bible says that we have three parts to our being – body, soul, and spirit. The Holy Spirit will move in and take up residence in our human spirit. As a result, our bodies have now become His actual temple.
What this means is that our human spirit is what will actually be regenerated at the moment of our conversions to the Lord – not our souls or our bodies.
As you will see in some of the definitions I will list below, once our human spirits are regenerated by the Holy Spirit at the moment of our conversions to the Lord, several incredible things will immediately happen.
But before I get into the actual specifics as to exactly what will happen in this regeneration, here are some of the basic definitions of what this regeneration of the Holy Spirit is all about from some of the different Bible Dictionaries and Commentaries:
- SPIRITUALLY REBORN
- SPIRITUAL REBIRTH PRODUCING ANEW BEGINNING
- A SPIRITUAL REBIRTH, being RENEWED, REFORMED
- or RECONSTITUTED
- RENEWED or RESTORED AFTER a DECLINE to a LOW CONDITION
- NEW BIRTH, the begetting of NEW LIFE
- RENEWAL of MORAL and SPIRITUAL NATURE
- The REBIRTH of the HUMAN SPIRIT to a
- RESTORED RELATIONSHIP with God
- RENEWED to LIFE and SALVATION by FAITH in God
- An ACT of God THROUGH the HOLY SPIRIT resulting in an INNER, PERSONAL RESURRECTION from sin to ANEW LIFE in Jesus CHRIST
- The RADICAL SPIRITUAL CHANGE in which GOD BRINGS an individual from a condition of
- spiritual defeat and death
- to a
- RENEWED condition of HOLINESS and LIFE
All of the Above
definitions Perfectly describe
what happens in
the Holy Spirit
To think that the Lord will
Allow His Holy Spirit
into our Human Spirits
at the EXACT MOMENT
Conversions to Him
so that we can have
His Divine Life
Start to Flow
Ministry and Sanctification
to knock you right off the couch
when you really
stop and think about what is really
So you can really grasp how powerful and wonderful of a thing it really is to literally be fully regenerated by the Spirit of God, I will break down all of the incredible blessings and benefits under the captions below.
It is one thing to know that you have been saved by the blood that Jesus has personally shed for you – but it is quite another thing to fully realize and understand exactly what we have as a result of this new spiritual rebirth in the Lord.
Study these benefits and blessings very carefully if you really want to know who you really are in your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without question, our personal salvation and regeneration in the Lord is absolutely the greatest and most profound and powerful thing that can happen to any human being this side of heaven.
There is absolutely nothing greater than to be truly born again into the kingdom of God.
1. Regeneration is Instantaneous Through the Holy SpiritThe first thing you need to know about your regeneration in the Lord is that it is an instantaneous event. It is not something that has to be worked out over the course of time. It is a one time event and it is perfectly completed at the time that it is done by the Holy Spirit.
Regeneration occurs immediately at the time that you receive the Holy Spirit into your human spirit. In other words, it occurs at the exact moment of your personal salvation and conversion to the Lord. It is not a progressive process like our sanctification in the Lord is.
Not only is our personal salvation in the Lord a direct free gift, but so is our personal regeneration in Him. It’s a full package deal. In our personal salvation is our personal regeneration in the Lord. There is nothing that we have to do on our end to earn it or achieve it. It’s all given to us as a direct free gift from God the minute we are willing to admit that we are sinners in need of a personal Savior to save us from our sins.
2. Only Our Human Spirits Are Regenerated At SalvationThe Bible says that we have three distinct parts to our beings – body, soul, and spirit. As explained above, the Holy Spirit initially only comes to live and dwell in our human spirits – not in our souls or our bodies.
What this means is that only our human spirit is immediately regenerated at our conversion with the Lord.
The body is obviously not regenerated as it is still subject to the aging and death process as a result of the Adamic curse that is still in full operation on this earth.
Our physical bodies will eventually be giving out and dying on us. Our soul is who we really are. It is our total personality. It is our mind, will, and emotions. However, our souls are not regenerated at this new birth.
The Bible tells us that we have to enter into a sanctification process where God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will start to mold, shape, and transform us into the express image of His Son Jesus Christ. This sanctification in the Lord is a progressive and ongoing process. It is not something that is instantaneously received at our conversions like our regeneration in the Holy Spirit is.
Bottom line – only our human spirits are immediately regenerated as soon as we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.
Our human spirits are immediately regenerated because the Holy Spirit has now moved in and has taken up full residence in them.
As a result of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power now residing in our human spirits, our spirits are immediately and instantaneously regenerated with a new, divine, spiritual life.
3. We Are Now Born Again Into the Kingdom of GodAs a
RESULT of ACCEPTING
Lord and SAVIOR
HUMAN SPIRITS –
the Bible tells us that
NOW been BORN AGAIN
Here is the verse that will give us this
“… I SAY to YOU,
HE CANNOT SEE
The Kingdom of God …
unless one is
Born of Water and the Spirit,
KINGDOM of God
Notice that being born again is referring direct to being born of the Holy Spirit Himself. In other words, if you do not have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of you, then you are not truly born again in the Lord.
It is only when the Holy Spirit comes and enters into your human spirit are you truly born again – and the only way to be able to get the Holy Spirit to enter into your human spirit is to be willing to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.
There is no other way into the kingdom of God. We either come through Jesus and the blood that He has personally shed for all of us on the cross or we do not come through at all.
As a result of being truly born again, our spiritual relationship with the Lord has now been fully restored.
When Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden of Eden, not only were they banished from this most incredible environment, but they also lost their direct spiritual connection and relationship that they so perfectly had with the Lord.
Their spiritual relationship with the Lord was completely severed and broken the minute they sinned by eating the fruit off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
In other words, Adam and Eve suffered a direct spiritual death as a result of their one transgression against the Lord.
However, as a result of Jesus coming down to our earth in the flesh to die on a cross for all of our sins, we now get our spiritual relationship fully restored back with both God the Father and Jesus Christ if we are willing to accept Jesus and His sacrificial death on the cross. This is why the word “again” comes after the word “born.”
Being born “again” means that we are getting something back that we had originally lost – and that specific something is our spiritual relationship with the Lord. As a result of accepting Jesus as our personal Savior, we get to receive the Holy Spirit.
And as a result of receiving the Holy Spirit on the inside of our human spirits, we now get our spiritual relationship once more fully restored back with the Lord. This thus is a spiritual rebirth.
Without the Holy Spirit living and operating on the inside of us, we would all still be spiritually dead, spiritually dead in all of our sins and trespasses against the Lord. This is why it is so vitally important that all Christians know exactly what it means to be born again.
Our Human Spirits
As a result of what happened in the story of Adam and Eve,
every single human being that is
BORN into This World
is born into
This World in sin and iniquity.
We are all born into this world
a fallen and sinful nature
and no amount
good and holy works,
matter how many
good works we may do,
and no matter
and good those works
will ever be good enough to
back into the
LORD and SAVIOR
As a result of being born into this world
without the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us
– our human spirits
are now born “dead” into this world.
In other words,
we have no God-life anywhere in our beings.
Our human spirits are born completely dead into
this world as a result
of the first sin of Adam and Eve.
Here is the verse that will show us that we are
all spiritually “dead” in our sins and
as a result of being born into this world
in a fallen, unsaved, and corrupt state
You He Made Alive,
DEAD in trespasses and
which you ONCE
according to the COURSE
THIS World …”
Once we are willing to accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, then the Holy Spirit will come and enter into our human spirits. And once the Holy Spirit comes and enters into our human spirits – then our human spirits are fully resurrected once again! We now have God’s divine spiritual life running through our spirits.
Just stop and think for a moment of what kind of spiritual reality we are dealing with. We are born into this world with completely dead spirits.
As a result of being born into this world with completely dead spirits, we have no lifeline back to the Lord, and no chance to be able to enter into heaven once we die and depart from this life.
But once we are willing to accept Jesus as our personal Savior, all of this completely changes within a matter of seconds. Here is what will happen the minute we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior:
- We are immediately born again
- We immediately receive the Holy Spirit into our spirits
- Our dead spirits are immediately
- resurrected and regenerated
- We immediately get to go into heaven after we die
- and cross over
Just as Jesus Himself fully resurrected on the third day from His crucifixion, so too are our human spirits fully resurrected the minute we get saved in the Lord.
In other words, our human spirits are going from maximum death to maximum life in just a matter of seconds after we are saved! Any unbeliever can thus transition from total death to total life in the snap of a finger if he is willing to take the big step of admitting that he is a fallen sinner in need of a personal Savior to save himself from his sins.
5. All Of Our Sins Will Be Fully ForgivenAs a result of accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, all of our sins – both past, present, and future sins will be totally and fully forgiven.
The Bible tells us that at the exact moment of our conversions to the Lord that:
- Our sins will be fully forgiven
- Our sins will be fully blotted out
- Our sins will be fully washed away
- Our slates will be fully wiped clean
- Our sins will no longer be remembered by the Lord
- God will remove our transgressions from Him
- as far as the east is from the west
All of your sins will be totally and completely forgiven by the Lord if you are willing to admit that you are a sinner, that you need a personal Savior to save you from your sins, and are willing to confess out all the wrong and sinful things that you have ever done in your life in an appropriate sinner’s prayer to the Lord.
What this means is that there is no more baggage, no more weights, no more anchors, no more guilt, and no more burdens that you have to be carrying around on you.
The blood that Jesus has personally shed for you on the cross has now set you totally and completely free from all of your sinful and guilt-ridden past – no matter how bad your past may have been, and no matter what kinds of vile, bad, and heinous sins you may have committed in your past.
With the exception of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, there is no sin that is too vile or too heinous that the Lord cannot fully forgive you for if you are willing to accept the full pardon that He is willing to offer you through His death on the cross.
As a result, you are now fully free to start living again in your present and your future with whatever the Lord will have in store for you from here on in.
6. We Now Have the Power of the Holy Spirit For Ministry and SanctificationAs a result of immediately receiving the Holy Spirit at our conversions to the Lord – we now have His divine power available to us to help us in the sanctification process that the Lord wants to start with each and everyone of us – and we now have His divine power available to us to help us be very good and very successful at whatever God will be calling us to do for Him in this life.
In other words, God’s divine power is immediately available to all of us for service, ministry, and sanctification if we are willing to fully yield and surrender ourselves to Him and the call that He wants to place on each one of our lives.
So not only do we get our dead spirits fully resurrected and regenerated, our lifelines and spiritual relationship fully restored back to the Lord, all of our sins fully forgiven, and full entrance into heaven after we die and cross over – but to top it all off, we now get to have the power of the Holy Spirit Himself flowing and operating through us so that we can become everything that the Lord is calling us to become in Him (sanctification), and accomplish everything that He is calling us to accomplish for Him in this life (ministry).
So not only does God want to get us into heaven when we die and cross over, but He also wants to start the real show with us right down here on this earth.
We do not have to wait until we get to heaven to have God start the sanctification process to make us into a better and more holy people. We do not have to wait until we get to heaven to be able to start to go to work for the Lord in whatever He will be calling us to do for Him in this life. It can all start right now – right where you are standing at with the Lord.
7. We Have Now Become
All Things Are Now Brand New
I will now leave you with
whopper power verse that
will put the icing on this entire cake
This next verse will now tell us as a
result of all of the Above
benefits and blessings
that we have now become
Christ, that all
“old things” have now “passed away,”
and that everything has
Once you really meditate and chew on all of the above benefits and blessings – you will see that God the Father is now giving each person that will accept His Son as their personal Savior a completely brand new fresh start with their lives.
God is telling us that not only is all of our past and all of the bad things of our past fully behind us – but that we have now been made into brand “new creations” in Him. The reason God the Father can state that we are now new creations in Him is because we now have the Holy Spirit and His divine power living and operating on the inside of us to transform us into those new creations.
Before we had received the Holy Spirit, we did not have God’s supernatural power operating in us to transform and sanctify us. Due to the fallen sin nature that we have all been born into this world with, we do not have the natural power or ability within our own beings to change ourselves for the better.
It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit operating on the inside of us can we change and transform into the true sanctified saints that God is calling all of us to become in Him.
As a result of this divine power now residing in us in the Person of the Holy Spirit – we now have the power, the ability, and the means not to only change ourselves for the better, but we now have the power, the ability, and the means to change our whole lives for the better.
Not only can the Holy Spirit help you with your inner life, but He can also help you with your outer life as well.
Once you get saved, and then fully surrender your entire life over to the Lord so that He can fully guide you into His divine destiny for your life, you will then be given a brand new and different life from the old life that you had been living in. Once you enter into God’s perfect plan and destiny for your life, you will then find out what you were really created to be in this life.
As a result of this brand new life and brand new direction that God will now be giving you – all things will now become brand new as this next verse will tell you. Here is the verse that is giving us this powerful piece of revelation:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Notice that you have to be “in Christ” before you can be given this brand new life. And the only way to be “in Christ” is to become a born-again believer. Unbelievers are not in Christ and as a result, they are all living in dead and fruitless lives.
Ephesians 4:13-14 Amplified Bible (AMP)until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity].
Repentance is the way provided for us to become free from our sins and receive forgiveness for them. Sins slow our spiritual progression and can even stop it. Repentance makes it possible for us to grow and develop spiritually again. The privilege of repenting is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Repentance: A Change of Heart, a Change in DirectionRepentance is not just part of the transformation by which a sinner becomes a saint, but is an attitude of heart, with accompanying actions, that should mark the whole of a believer’s life. Although this truth is not always at the forefront of our minds it is biblical.
“When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.”
So one ingredient of a vibrant Christian life is repentance. Turning from sin and trusting in the good news that Jesus saves sinners should be a continual principle operating in our lives. The gospel is not a message we move on from but is essential for every day and every moment, bringing conviction, grace, forgiveness, and power.
What is Repentance?
A basic biblical definition is:
“Repentance is a change of heart
that leads to a
change in the direction of life”
One of the clearest
summaries of what repentance
can be found in the
Book of Joel:
“"Now, therefore," says the Lord,
"Turn to Me
with all your heart, with fasting,
weeping, and with mourning."
So rend your heart,
and not your garments;
return to the Lord your God,
for He is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger,
and of great kindness;
He relents from doing harm”
Notice that God does not call disobedient people to tear their garments (external behaviour) but to tear their heart (sorrow for sin with an accompanying desire to change). Changing external behaviour in word or deed without the necessary internal change (belief, thoughts, motives, and desires) is akin to sticking apples on an orange tree. The fruit may look different, but the root is unchanged. Similarly, with repentance the heart is the issue. When the heart is profoundly changed the consequence will be a change of action. If the heart is unchanged then any behavioural adjustments will be temporary.
The second thing we can notice in the passage is true repentance is rewarded with wonderful and gracious promises from a faithful God. He will show grace, mercy, and patience. The gospel message is filled with hope for the repentant believer.
What are the signs of genuine repentance?Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, states that there is “godly sorrow” and “sorrow of the world”:
“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Godly sorrow honours God, trusts in the grace of the Lord Jesus and is enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit. It comes from a change of heart that has thought differently and produced deeds in line with that change. Examples of those who showed “godly sorrow” include Joseph’s brothers (Genesis 42-45) and the Corinthian believers (2 Corinthians 7).
The “sorrow of the world” has not honoured God and is often associated with remorse over the consequences of sin. Judas (Matthew 27) and Esau (Genesis 27) are examples of individuals who displayed “the sorrow of the world”.
Is there any way I can make a judgement about my repentance? How can I know it is not just remorse? How can I discern if someone else’s repentance is genuine? I will suggest four tests that we can use to help answer those questions.
The repentant person will be sickened by their sin.If I am truly repentant about my sin, I will not treat it as a small issue. Psalm 51 details David’s repentance towards God. He acknowledged that his sin was significant and that, although he had wronged many people, it was primarily and ultimately against God.
A simple “Sorry”, with no consideration of any required change, is like sweeping the problem under the carpet. It may join an increasing pile “under the carpet” that will one day cause a major stumble. It is worth noticing that in Psalm 51 David was dependent on the Lord to change him, knowing that the heart was where the change was required:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
The repentant person will seek to right wrongs.If I am repulsed by my sin and am genuinely repentant, I will seek to right any wrongs. The classic example of this is seen in the life of Zacchaeus (Luke 19), when he saw his sin from God’s perspective and sought to pay back those whom he had wronged. The Lord Jesus confirmed the genuineness of this repentance.
Similarly, the repentant believer will, as far as possible, make restitution. If I communicated sinfully to another person I will not only tell them I am sorry but will inform them what I am sorry for. If I slandered someone’s character to others, then I will seek to tell all those to whom I spoke that my words were incorrect.
A good rule in this matter is to genuinely repent and seek forgiveness in the sphere in which the offence occurred. Thus, if I had immoral thoughts about someone, I would confess that to God but there would be no need to tell the person concerned. Likewise, words spoken to one individual do not require confession to a wider group. However, if my actions impacted a wider group then I should apologize to that whole group and be diligent to demonstrate to them all my repentant attitude.
The repentant person will not apologise conditionally.I have too many childhood memories of having to apologise for bad behaviour. Oftentimes the instruction was given for the quarrelling parties to say “sorry” to each other. If one party did not utter that one short word, then neither would the other.
The attitude and actions of the believer should be quite different from my childish ways. Instead of seeking a reciprocal apology we should unreservedly and unconditionally repent of wrong actions. Although we may also have been wronged by the person(s) we are repentant towards, our thoughts and actions should not be predicated on the actions of others.
True repentance will be marked by an unconditional and complete apology, as far as possible, to all we have sinned against.
The repentant person will change their behaviour.When the heart is changed there will be behavioural change. The church at Corinth, although not perfect, did manifest the change that the Holy Spirit produces:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
In the past they had practised all manner of sin but now, due to the indwelling Holy Spirit, they had the power to say “No” to these practices. These sins no longer characterised their lives.
Permanent, God-honouring change can only be produced by the Holy Spirit but needs the co-operation of the believer. For example, if I am convicted that I have not been using my time in a way that honours God, then I will need to confess that to Him, knowing that my sin has not made God love me less and I will be forgiven based upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
However, as genuine repentance is a change of heart that leads to a change in the direction of life, then my use of time will now be different. I will think and believe differently about how I use it and my actions will be the fruit of my new thinking. If there is no change of action then there has been no repentance.
ConclusionTrue repentance can only be witnessed over a period of time but these four tests will help in identifying its reality in a believer’s life.
Romans 2:12–29 describes two groups of people, with an emphasis on how their sin relates to their knowledge of God's written Law for the nation of Israel. Here, ''Gentiles'' are those who sin apart from the law, while ''Jews'' are those who sin under the law. Paul shows how, in both cases, God will judge people based on whether they kept the law and were circumcised in their hearts. Even Gentiles who follow the law out of sincerity would be regarded by God as truly Jewish. Meanwhile, God will discount the Jewishness and circumcision of someone under the law who breaks the law and does not have a sincere heart. Paul will show in the following chapter that, in truth, no one can keep the law.
Romans 2 springs a trap on any religious person who read Paul's lists of sins at the end of Romans 1 and thought it wasn't about them. Paul calls them out for making themselves judges when they are also guilty. He shows that God will judge everyone, including those under the law, based on their works. This prefaces this letter's theme of salvation by grace, through faith, rather than by works. Many benefits come with having the law, but only if those under the law keep it. Jewishness—circumcision—must be an inner state, not just an outer one. Paul will show in the following chapter that none of us really meets those conditions.
Paul has divided humanity into two groups: those who have sinned under the law—the Israelites, or "the Jews"—and those who have sinned without being under the law—which is everyone else. Those who sin under the law will be judged by the law. However, Paul has written in the previous verses, even Gentiles might keep some parts of the law just by listening to their own consciences. After all, the same God who gave the law to Israel built into human beings a sense of right and wrong. There is no third category: all people fall short of God's standard of perfection (Romans 3:9–10).
Now Paul refers to the day when God will judge the "secrets of men by Jesus Christ." At that judgment, Paul suggested in the previous verse, our consciences will stand as a witness in regard to what we have done, right or wrong. God's judgment of Gentiles, in other words, will be as fair and consistent as His judgment of Jewish individuals who have lived under the law of Moses. Sin is sin, whether we have been given an explicit list or not.
Paul writes that, according to his gospel—the gospel of Jesus Christ—this will include a judgment of the "hidden things" of people. God will judge thoughts and secrets, as well as actions. Also, this judgment will be by Jesus Christ. He will stand as judge in this moment (John 5:22–27; Hebrews 4:13).
Again, we see the larger point Paul is coming to: nobody, whether Jew of Gentile, will be shown to be righteous at the judgment based on their own good works. Only in Christ, by grace and through faith, will anyone be declared righteous and given eternal life.
The Starting Point of Israel’s Restoration – The Mystery of Gentile SalvationDuring the first lesson in this series, The Plan of God, we looked into the reality that everything our Father does, He does for His glory. We further studied how He reveals a specific plan in Scripture in order to manifest Himself and His great name to every nation on the earth. His chosen nation that is at the center of His dealings with mankind is Israel. We saw how Israel’s restoration and redemption is absolutely paramount for God to be glorified in the earth. He chose it to be this way and it is beautiful.
Now that we find ourselves with an understanding of the chief goal of God’s plan we must venture into deeper waters. In this lesson we will start journeying down the path to understanding the events that must take place to set in motion the process of Israel’s restoration. Scripture details the mystery of Gentile salvation as the first step towards the full will of God manifesting in the earth. Let’s take a look at this great mystery, learn why it was a mystery, and the great cost that was required to preach this mystery.
The Mystery RevealedUp to this point we have briefly discussed the weight of this mystery, its requirements, and its purpose. This should be a good foundation to now examine what this mystery is. While writing to the church at Ephesus, Paul starts chapter three with revealing the mystery he just spent two entire chapters writing about.
Ephesians 3:1-61 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you,
3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
In today’s version of Christianity this doesn’t appear to be that glorious of a revelation. The Gentiles can be saved; well of course they can! What we do not realize is that during the time of the Messiah, only Gentiles who underwent ritual conversion to Judaism could participate in certain aspects of Jewish worship. The idea that a Gentile could be fully accepted by God without any form of conversion (i.e., circumcision and immersion) was preposterous. But through Yeshua, the revelation came that God saves the uncircumcised (read: Gentile) then same way He saves the circumcised (read: Jew): faith.
In order to help us get an understanding of how amazing this mystery is, let’s look at the inheritance of the Jews and Gentiles. Biblically speaking, what are the Jews’ possessions or belongings, and what belongs to the Gentiles? In other words, if the mystery didn’t exist, what would be the Gentiles fate?
The Jew’s InheritanceFirst let’s look at what rightly belongs to the Jews. This will lay the foundation for understanding why the mystery of Gentile salvation was so puzzling.
I want to make this short and sweet, so I am going to list everything the Scriptures say belongs to the Jew (Israel). Notice I said belongs (present tense) and not belonged (past tense), even after the revelation of the mystery. Nothing has changed in regards to what is rightfully theirs. Still to this very day all of these things are Israel’s inheritance.
Romans 9:1-5 tells us the following belongings are rightfully Israel’s.
- The Adoption
- The Glory
- The Covenants
- The Giving of the Torah (Law)
- The Worship
- The Promises
- The Patriarchs
- The Messiah
In addition to the astonishing list above, other advantages that belong to Israel include the following:
- The Gospel, tribulation, glory, honor and peace is to the Jew first (Romans 1:16, 2:6-11)
- Salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22)
- Stewardship of the Word of God (Romans 3:1-2)
- Elected and beloved for the sake of the forefathers (Romans 11:28-29)
Now before someone misunderstands, let me make it clear that nothing in this list means that the Jews somehow have merited or earned salvation. No way! Salvation for all is and always will be 100% an act of God’s mercy. Salvation was, is, and always will be a gift from the Father in response to faith in His Son, the Messiah Yeshua. To illustrate, John Piper details three great points that are worth mentioning. These detail the ways the Jews do not have an advantage or priority over the Gentile.
1. The Jews do not have priority in righteousness or merit. 2. The Jews do not have priority in how they are saved. 3. The Jews do not have priority in participation in God’s covenant blessings.
To the Jew First, and Also to the Greek
What these advantages did do is provide centuries of witnesses of the coming Messiah to Israel. Had they submitted to God’s righteousness and not tried to establish their own, they would have been the most blessed people on the earth! (Romans 10:1-4)
God will be faithful to His covenantal promises and oath to Abraham which includes a yet future restoration of Israel because of His great love for them. Deuteronomy 7:7-11
Nonetheless, take a good hard look at these lists and realize that all of these belongings were given to Israel (the Jew) almost entirely because of God’s covenant with Abraham. God has not taken these things away from Israel. In fact, Paul addresses that very issue in Romans 3:3-5 by saying that even though they were unfaithful, God will remain faithful to His promises! Also Romans 11:29 clearly states that the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. Later in this series we will explore Israel’s great calling and purpose. For now, simply know that everything Gentile believers boast in today, all of our “blessings”, were actually given and belong to Israel. We will discuss our access to them and involvement in them in the next article.
The Gentile InheritancePrior to inclusion into the Body of Messiah, what inheritance did the Gentiles possess? I mentioned earlier from Ephesians chapter three how Paul details the revelation of the mystery of Gentile salvation. But throughout chapters one and two, Paul describes what the Gentiles could have expected had they not been included into Israel’s covenants. Let’s take a look at a few of these Scriptures.
Ephesians 2:11-1211 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Let’s put the Gentiles’ expectations and inheritance into list form so we can see it a bit easier:
- Separated from the Messiah
- Alienated from the commonwealth of Israel (the ones who have all the good stuff!)
- Strangers to the covenants of promise
- Having no hope
- Without God
Are you starting to see it? Gentiles had nothing in and of themselves to even give us a hope of finding God. We don’t even have a godly heritage! Gentile history is literally the history of paganism. Isaiah, speaking of the Gentiles, says that “God was found by those who did not seek Him; And He showed Himself to those who did not ask for Him.”
What Yeshua had to do on that tree was make a way for Gentiles to be included in the covenants of promise. He did that! Ephesians 3:13-22 details these events. What Yeshua had to abolish was not His laws, as some people teach. But instead He had to remove the hostility by which most Jews approached pagan Gentiles. As we end this article I want to look at the relationship between religious Jews and pagan Gentiles to show you why the possibility of Gentiles being saved was such an incredible mystery.
Salvation Comes to the Gentiles! But Some Aren’t so Happy…Let’s start by looking at an encounter involving Peter and the circumcision party. This story details the cost the Apostles paid to make known the mystery of Gentile salvation.
In Acts 10, the Bible records Cornelius, a Gentile who fears God, receiving a vision from God telling him to send for Peter immediately. Cornelius obeys and sends his servants to tell Peter everything he has seen (Acts 10:1-8). Meanwhile, Peter receives visions from God that are so scandalous in Peter’s mind that He literally tells God “No!” on three separate occasions (Acts 10:9-16). While Peter remains perplexed and ponders the meaning of these visions, the servants of Cornelius arrive at his lodging place. The Spirit tells Peter to go with them. The next day Peter leaves with six of his fellow brothers. Let’s read together what transpires when Peter gets to Cornelius’ house:
Acts 10:25-2925 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”
Nothing in the Torah, the teaching of Yahweh, forbids a Jew from associating with or visiting a Gentile.
Now let me make this abundantly clear. Nothing in the Torah, the teaching of Yahweh, forbids a Jew from associating with or visiting a Gentile. Absolutely nothing. This forbiddance is 100% the work of man, a tradition passed down in Judaism. The reason it is passed down has to do with purity laws. Certain things that Gentiles do can cause a Jew to become unclean. So to prevent themselves from even the possibility of becoming unclean, Judaism simply made it a law and custom that Jews could not eat or have fellowship with Gentiles. But let me reiterate, this was not God’s design nor law.
So let’s keep going. The house of Cornelius eagerly receives the gospel from Peter. Instantly, Peter realizes that the Gentiles can, and have, received the same gift as the Jews. Salvation has come to the Gentiles! Amen!
Acts 10:34-4834 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.
He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
You need to realize that this event is absolutely monumental. Nothing like this had ever happened before! Quite frankly, nothing like this existed in the imagination of a Jew outside of the prophets of God. Truly incredible, utterly unfathomable. Nonetheless, for Peter to witness and experience this event cost him dearly. For as soon as the members of the circumcision party caught wind that Peter violated their traditions and customs, they began preparing to confront Peter.
As soon as chapter 11 begins, we pick up reading about the confrontation that was awaiting Peter.
Acts 11:1-3 1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
English fails to emphasize what just transpired. Let’s add some context.
- In that day, being saved without being circumcised wasn’t even a possibility in people’s minds. It was the very seal of your right-standing with God. So this party isn’t some foreign group who Peter can merely shrug off. No, this party had “made” the rules that governed 2nd temple Judaism. If the circumcision party made the decision to ostracize Peter, he becomes shut out from everything and everyone inside Judaism.
- The word criticized here in Greek is diakrinō. By looking at other places this word is used and how it is translated there, you can see that this word implies more than just a disagreement. In fact, this word gives the idea of a separation, a dividing between two incompatible ideas. Think about what how a judgement from a judge operates: it places a line in the sand and renders you as the guilty on the wrong side awaiting punishment. Or how faith and doubt are opposites. This is the connotation of this word.
- We know that the weight of the pressure from this group was so immense that Peter later relapses into the man-made traditions of considering the Gentiles unclean. He transgresses the revelation of God out of fear of these men (Galatians 2:11-14). This is the fruit of the spirits of intimidation and manipulation on display.
I hope that as we have gone through the story of Cornelius you can see how unbelievable the mystery of Gentile salvation was. Frankly, in the Jewish mind, it was impossible for a uncircumcised person to be saved, period. And yet through our Messiah, and Him pouring out His gift on the Gentiles, we have become fellow heirs with the Jew. If this doesn’t sink into your hearts and cause an overflow of gratitude and worship, then you still do not get it! May the revelation of the mystery of our salvation be given to each one of us even now.
There is More to this MysteryI sincerely hope that this article has roused in you a fresh thankfulness and praise for the work that Yeshua did on the tree to give Gentiles access to His covenants! While saying that, I am also keenly aware of my personal inability to express every nuance of the beauty of this mystery. It truly is something that cannot merely be an academic pursuit. So I encourage and challenge you to go spend time digging into the Word. Learn the depths of our Father’s love being poured out upon a people wholly undeserving.
Has your heart gotten lifted up? Somewhere along the way have you somehow started to think that your salvation was merited in some way, or that you deserved it? Do you have the sobering mentality that literally everything you have in God was given to you? Our Father doesn’t owe us anything. He gives it all out of His great love and mercy. Worship Him in the beauty of His holiness.
As we end this study you must understand that there is more to this mystery! In the next article we will look into the very purpose that God made Gentile salvation a mystery. Do you realize that as a corporate body of Gentile believers we have a specific and unique calling within the plan of God? Have you ever struggled to find purpose? To find your calling? Well, join me next article to learn why we were even saved. I can assure you that you will discover the real biblical purpose behind your salvation and how it can be the key to walking in your God-given calling on this earth.
We All Need to Repent
- What is sin? What effects do our sins have on us?
Faith in Jesus Christ naturally leads to repentance. There has been the need for repentance in the world from the time of Adam to the present day. The Lord instructed Adam, “Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence” (Moses 6:57).
We come to earth for the purpose of growing and progressing. This is a lifelong process. During this time we all sin (see Romans 3:23). We all have need to repent. Sometimes we sin because of ignorance, sometimes because of our weaknesses, and sometimes because of willful disobedience. In the Bible we read that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) and that “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
What is sin? James said, “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). John described sin as “all unrighteousness” (1 John 5:17) and “the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).
That is why the Lord said, “All men, everywhere, must repent” (Moses 6:57). Except for Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, everyone who has lived upon the earth has sinned. Our Heavenly Father in His great love has provided us this opportunity to repent of our sins.
Becoming Free from Our Sins
- What is repentance?
Repentance is the way provided for us to become free from our sins and receive forgiveness for them. Sins slow our spiritual progression and can even stop it. Repentance makes it possible for us to grow and develop spiritually again.
The privilege of repenting is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In a way we do not fully understand, Jesus paid for our sins. President Joseph Fielding Smith said of this:
“I have suffered pain, you have suffered pain, and sometimes it has been quite severe; but I cannot comprehend pain … that would cause the blood, like sweat, to come out upon the body. It was something terrible, something terrific. …
“… There was no man ever born into this world that could have stood under the weight of the load that was upon the Son of God, when he was carrying my sins and yours and making it possible that we might escape from our sins” (Doctrines of Salvation,sel. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:130–31; italics in original).
Repentance sometimes requires great courage, much strength, many tears, unceasing prayers, and untiring efforts to live the commandments of the Lord.
Principles of Repentance
- What are the principles of repentance?
For teachers: Writing a list can generate interest and help learners focus their attention. As you discuss the principles of repentance with class members or family members, you may want to ask someone to write the principles on the board or on a large piece of paper.
President Spencer W. Kimball declared: “There is no royal road to repentance, no privileged path to forgiveness. Every man must follow the same course whether he be rich or poor, educated or untrained, tall or short, prince or pauper, king or commoner” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 38; italics in original).
We Must Recognize Our SinsTo repent, we must admit to ourselves that we have sinned. If we do not admit this, we cannot repent.
Alma counseled his son Corianton, who had been unfaithful in his missionary calling and had committed serious sins: “Let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance. … Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point” (Alma 42:29–30). The scriptures advise us further not to justify our sinful practices (see Luke 16:15–16).
We cannot hide any act of our lives from ourselves or from the Lord.
We Must Feel Sorrow for Our SinsIn addition to recognizing our sins, we must feel sincere sorrow for what we have done. We must feel that our sins are terrible. We must want to unload and abandon them. The scriptures tell us, “All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and … have truly repented of all their sins … shall be received by baptism into his church” (D&C 20:37).
- Study 2 Corinthians 7:9–10 and Mormon 2:10–14. In what ways do you think “godly sorrow” is different from expressions of regret?
We Must Forsake Our SinsOur sincere sorrow should lead us to forsake (stop) our sins. If we have stolen something, we will steal no more. If we have lied, we will lie no more. If we have committed adultery, we will stop. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:43).
We Must Confess Our SinsConfessing our sins is very important. The Lord has commanded us to confess our sins. Confession relieves a heavy burden from the sinner. The Lord has promised, “I, the Lord, forgive sins, and am merciful unto those who confess their sins with humble hearts” (D&C 61:2).
We must confess all our sins to the Lord. In addition, we must confess serious sins—such as adultery, fornication, homosexual relations, spouse or child abuse, and the sale or use of illegal drugs—which might affect our standing in the Church, to the proper priesthood authority. If we have sinned against another person, we should confess to the person we have injured. Some less serious sins involve no one but ourselves and the Lord. These may be confessed privately to the Lord.
We Must Make RestitutionPart of repentance is to make restitution. This means that as much as possible we must make right any wrong that we have done. For example, a thief should give back what he has stolen. A liar should make the truth known. A gossip who has slandered the character of a person should work to restore the good name of the person he has harmed. As we do these things, God will not mention our sins to us when we are judged (see Ezekiel 33:15–16).
We Must Forgive OthersA vital part of repentance is to forgive those who have sinned against us. The Lord will not forgive us unless our hearts are fully cleansed of all hate, bitterness, and bad feelings against other people (see 3 Nephi 13:14–15). “Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin” (D&C 64:9).
We Must Keep the Commandments of GodTo make our repentance complete we must keep the commandments of the Lord (see D&C 1:32). We are not fully repentant if we do not pay tithes or keep the Sabbath day holy or obey the Word of Wisdom. We are not repentant if we do not sustain the authorities of the Church and do not love the Lord and our fellowmen. If we do not pray and are unkind to others, we are surely not repentant. When we repent, our life changes.
President Kimball said: “First, one repents. Having gained that ground he then must live the commandments of the Lord to retain his vantage point. This is necessary to secure complete forgiveness” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 43).
- How do the teachings in this section differ from the false idea that repentance is the performance of a list of simple steps or routine actions?
- In what ways does repentance help us?
As we repent, the Atonement of Jesus Christ becomes fully effective in our lives, and the Lord forgives our sins. We become free from the bondage of our sins, and we find joy.
Alma recounted his experience of repenting from his sinful past:
“My soul was harrowed up [troubled] to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
“Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
“… So great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
“… It came to pass that as I was … harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy … concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
“Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me. …
“And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more. …
“And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
“… There can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy” (Alma 36:12–14, 17–21).
- How did repentance and forgiveness bring Alma joy?
- What are some possible consequences of procrastinating our repentance?
The prophets have declared that “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God” (Alma 34:32). We should repent now, every day. When we get up in the morning, we should examine ourselves to see whether the Spirit of God is with us. At night before we go to sleep, we should review our acts and words of the day and ask the Lord to help us recognize the things for which we need to repent. By repenting every day and having the Lord forgive our sins, we will experience the daily process of becoming perfect. As with Alma, our happiness and joy can be sweet and exquisite.
- Matthew 9:10–13; Luke 13:3; Ezekiel 18:30 (repent or perish)
- Alma 7:21 (no unclean thing can dwell in God’s presence)
- 2 Corinthians 7:9–10 (godly sorrow)
- Mosiah 4:10–12 (steps to repentance)
- Isaiah 1:18; Mosiah 26:28–32 (repentance brings forgiveness)
- D&C 58:42 (sins remembered no more)
- 2 Nephi 9:23 (repentance necessary to salvation)
- 2 Nephi 2:21 (repent while in the flesh)
- D&C 19:15–20 (the Lord has commanded us to repent so we will not have to suffer as He did)
The Spirit’s Work
Conversion of Sinners
God, entering into a covenant with fallen man, engaged Himself to redeem a chosen people unto holiness. Christ, the Mediator of this covenant between God and man, sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven in order to send forth His Holy Spirit to these fallen men, and to birth them into a living hope. Such a birth is “from above” (John 3:3), and the direct result of the intervention of the Spirit of God upon the hearts of wicked sinners. A spiritual change must take place in order for the sinner to come to faith, and to believe on the work and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Spirit of God is the author of this spiritual change. This spiritual change is wrought by spiritual means employed by the Holy Spirit. Just as there is a remarkable event in conception and birth of a human being, so even to a greater degree there is a spiritual “event” of sorts that parallels birth, but into the realm of the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son. This is the liberation, or emancipation of the soul from spiritual bondage and death.
Regeneration is the term used for this spiritual change wrought upon the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit sent forth from Christ’s throne. It is absolutely necessary that regeneration takes place in order for a man to be released from his fallen and depraved state to the Kingdom of God. Christ, in John 3, rests upon the reality that man is so depraved and fallen that his spiritual birth must take place first before he ever perceives or understands of the spiritual realities of the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3, 5). In this way, the Spirit’s work is crucially important in delivering and changing the heart of these men so that they may believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. This event, that spiritual change, is impossible with men, but possible with God. Without a manifestly true change on the mind of the person by God, they cannot believe, nor experience any deep significant trust on Christ. No unregenerate man, then, can see the kingdom of God unless God wills he should see it and converts him to be able to see it. From all this, it is manifest that redemption itself proceeds on the principle that God must allow admission to His kingdom first, and to apply a spiritual principle that quickens the soul to life.
The work of the Spirit of God is, in its own place, as needful and important as the work of Christ Himself. Christ said in John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” Jesus Christ dispensed the Spirit of God only after His ascension and enthronement. This certainly does not mean that God never dispensed the Spirit at any other time, but rather, it does prove, quite conclusively, that the special sending of the Messiah in His place would be something that had never happened before. Christ would, from the throne of God, send the Spirit to take the place of His corporeal presence for a time until His next return. The Spirit, then, is the agent by which the work of God is completed and accomplished on earth in this interim time. Jesus said, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49).” Also, in Acts 1:8, Jesus states, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Such a power was the direct affect of Christ’s kingly enthronement and subsequent order of the redemptive plan. This is the very reason why John records, “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:39).” Not that the Spirit was not present or working, but that He was not dispensed by the enthroned Messiah; for Christ had not died, been buried, been raised from the dead, and seated at the right hand of God.
The design of the Spirit’s work is found in John 16:8-11. Here Christ teaches, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” The Spirit is to do this by shedding abroad the gift of His work in the hearts of men convincing them of the truth of Jesus Christ and His work. He principally does this through the Word of God and through the preaching of the Word of God (and this was the reason the Apostles were to wait for the power of the Spirit to accomplish this at Pentecost).
What is the process by which a sinner is converted and changed? The Bible explains that the origin of salvation is planned by the love of the Father (Eph. 1:3-10), and its ultimate issue is declared to be the “salvation of His people,” or “their obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Between these two points, though, there is the work of the Spirit. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says that, “because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” men are saved. Without the Spirit of God, the work of Christ Himself would have been in vain.
Through belief in the truth, the Spirit of God sanctifies men unto God. Such an act is seen in cases with Lydia at the preaching of the Apostle Paul, “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14).”
The first part of the Spirit’s work is to convince a sinner of His misery. John 16:8 says, as noted already, that the Spirit, “when He has come, He will convict the world of sin.”
Though the Spirit convicts men of not just one sin, but their state as a sinner before Him, this is not enough to transform the soul. Conviction (such as with Esau and Cain) is not enough unless one is born from above, and repentance and faith all accompany such a work. However, in conviction, the work of the Spirit in pressing men to view themselves as sinners is accomplished in light of the Law of God and the character of God as a Holy being. As Paul says, “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death (Romans 7:9-10).” After this, the Spirit presses the sinner to look to Christ alone who can save the soul through His death and resurrection. In this way, the Spirit of God brings a sinner to feel and understand his need of a Savior.
After the Spirit has convinced a man of his sin and misery, He next enlightens his mind in the knowledge of Christ. Here the Spirit teaches him the person, character, offices, and the work of Jesus Christ. As Paul says, “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe (Galatians 3:22).”
It may be said and commented that even though there is a conviction of sin, and that men are made enlightened to the reality of the person, office and work of Christ, that they may not be saved. Felix trembled before Paul, and many were made partakers of the Holy Spirit and of the blessings of the age to come as recorded in Hebrew 6, but these were, in fact, still lost (Acts 24:25; Hebrews 6:1-8).
The illuminating work of the Holy Spirit may be said to be the groundwork of all His other operations. It is through the truth (which must be known and believed) that the Spirit fulfills all the functions of His office in the minds of men. By enlightening the mind, He lays the groundwork for the conviction of conscience. He is the enlightener of God’s people, and imparts spiritual illumination to their minds. This obviously implies a previous state of spiritual deadness and darkness, which is the natural state of all men. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” This darkness is universal to all men born as progeny of Adam. This darkness is not just the absence of light, but also a blindness of mind. When men are converted, the veil of darkness is taken away (1 Cor. 3:14-16) and the glorious light of the Gospel of Christ shines upon their minds (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
As the “enlightener of the soul”, the Holy Spirit is the revealer of truth, and the Author of the Scriptures which are used as the instrument of His work. The efficacy of the Word depends completely on the work of the Spirit, and His gracious actions upon men. He seeks to enlighten, quicken and invigorate by the light of the Word of God. The subject of these operations is the conscience. This moral faculty is arrested by divine truth to the reality of its sinful state and need of saving grace. This is the direct operation of the Spirit’s use of the law. The law is the schoolmaster that brings the sinner to Christ (Gal. 3:24).
Sin, then, becomes vile in the mind of the enlightened conscience. The Spirit convinces of the fact of sin, that we have done this or that; of the fault of sin, that we have done ill doing on account of sin; of the folly of sin, that we have acted against reason and our true interest; of the filth of sin, that by it we become odious to God; of the fountain of sin, the corrupt nature; and lastly of the fruit of sin, that its end is death.
Those who are currently under the conviction of sin would do well to remember the following: 1) beware how you deal with your convictions and remember that you are responsible to God for the treatment of them. 2) Instead of stifling your convictions and suppressing them, rather try to find out the evils of your conscience, and of your nature in particular. 3) Since you have a sight and sense of sin, you should endeavor to find out its consequences according to God’s law. 4) Be very aware of false security and false grounds that you may have a self-confidence in. 5) Be sure to reject sins that are peculiarly tempting and resist them. 6) Acquaint yourself with the complete remedy that can be found in Jesus Christ and the Gospel for the misery that you are in, instead of attempting to cover up certain aspects of sin and never dealing with the root cause of the heart problem. 7) You should strive to close with Christ as soon as possible having a true interest in the Gospel. 8) If you are convicted of sin and wickedness, and have a true sense of repentance being worked into your heart by the Holy Spirit, you should turn to the language of repentance – prayer – and confess your sin and need of grace before Christ.
When dealing with the work of the Spirit, there is also a preparatory work that He may do upon the soul of an individual in the work of conviction and instruction before He changes their heart. Extent, duration and the result of such work differ in degrees between men, for they are constitutionally different in makeup. There is a preparation of mind that takes place, to set the mind in a proper frame before conversion. Such a work, as John Owen says, is preparing, preventing, working, co-working and confirming the Gospel in the one engaged by the Holy Spirit. That which fights against such preparation is deemed unbelief, carnal security, rebellion, and the world’s basic disposition of enmity fighting against God.
Conversion is not a partial work on any one part of the human faculty, but a change in every faculty and the whole man – a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states clearly, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” However, this change does not immediately perfect the sinner as if they have no further sanctification to endure. Rather, it places them in opposition to the life they once lived and have been translated from one life to another; from one kingdom to another. Colossians 1:13 describes this translation, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.”
Conversion rightly consists in a sinner being brought intelligently (not by blind faith) to some knowledge of God’s truth imparted to the mind, which in turn grants understanding. Here the sinner affirms what he understands by assent and then at the final end of conversion he engages in real trust. There has to be an actual, intentional closing with Christ and His benefits. He must believe that Jesus is the Christ. He must believe his sin condemns him by God’s law and he is in eminent danger of eternal ruin. He must believe he has been made willing to come to Christ, and that in this willingness he desires to heed the teachings and commandments of God as stated in the Word of God. Faith is a principle instrument in bringing men from darkness into light. 1 John 5:1 says, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.” Real spiritual faith is needed, not dead faith (James 2:17).
Sinners are made willing to come to Christ. Every sinner’s heart is resistant to the truth. In this way they “resist the Spirit” as Stephen said, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you (Acts 7:51).” This does not mean that the sinner can overpower the work of the Spirit, but that the outward preaching of the Gospel is always and continually resisted by the sinner’s depraved and wicked heart. However, once the Spirit determines to change a sinner’s heart, that heart will be changed by sovereign grace. The sinner is made willing to close with Christ by the Gospel call by the power of the Spirit and His effectual calling and change of the sinner’s heart. Ezekiel 36:26 is plain on this point, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” This is obviously far more than a moral change or an amendment of life. It is a transformation of the whole faculty of the sinner into holiness.
The result of the Spirit’s work on an individual sinner is the creation of a new being or state of relationship. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” When a sinner is saved by the work of the Holy Spirit he is then united to Christ, as the Scripture says, “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death (Romans 6:5).” This union with the Lord Jesus Christ is the life-giving power and sustenance of a sinner. The sinner receives life through the spiritual Head of the church being attached to the organic vine. Christ explains this union and its benefits in John 15:4-5, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” This new creature has acquired new life, a new view of himself, new affections for the things of God, new views of the world around him, and new spiritual insight that he did not possess before. His desires and aims are entirely new, and he now has the desire to continue the communion he has with God, and to acquire larger views of His perfections. He says with the psalmist, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psalm 42:2).” He has new enjoyment, new habits, new experiences with the world, and a new conflict in his soul in which he fights with the world, his flesh, and the devil against sin. You may ask yourself, “Am I in Christ?” It may be more helpful to ask, “Am I a new creature?”
In probing the doctrine of regeneration, it is inevitable that we come upon the subject of the regeneration of infants. The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the French Confession all state that children are included in the Covenant of Grace and can be saved and regenerated by God. The reason this question is brought to light is that men are justified by faith alone and infants are incapable of faith in this regard. Can they, then, be saved? The Scriptures state that there is no other name under heaven by which men must be saved. Can these infants be saved by that name when they never hear that name and may die young in infancy? It is true that children, however young, even infants in their mother’s arms, are fit and capable subjects of divine grace. God is a God of families and generations that has enacted a Covenant revolving around federal headship that immediately includes the children of a given covenant family. For example, Jesus Christ deals with children in Luke 18:15-16, “Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” Jesus says that these children are of such, or belong to this Kingdom. The Gospel of Mark adds, “And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them (Mark 10:16).” By Jesus’ action of taking up and blessing them demonstrates they are fit subjects for grace, as well as the reality that the imposition of hands on a given individual was the usual sign by which the communication of the Spirit was shadowed forth.
Instances of the Spirit’s work on children and infants abound. Jesus Christ was formed in the womb of Mary by the Spirit (Luke 1:35), and in the case of Jeremiah God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).” John the Baptist was “filled with the Spirit” even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). Covenant children, then, should be admitted to baptism (as the confession state mirroring the biblical warrant of infant inclusion in the covenant), and are fit and capable of being divinely regenerated by the Spirit of God.
The work of the Spirit in regeneration on infants should not be confused with baptismal regeneration, which is a Roman invention. The Westminster Confession of Faith is helpful on this subject. Children are not baptized in order to acquire an interest in the covenant, rather, they have an interest in the covenant already because of the nature of the covenant and then are baptized as a result. Abraham, for example, had an interest in the covenant first, and then circumcision was added as a sign and seal of his interest in it. The point of interest for the children lies in the covenant promise “I will be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee (Genesis 17:7).” Children in this regard are baptized with the New Testament covenant sign as a sign and seal of their engrafting into Christ – or regeneration, remission of sins, and of their engagement to be the Lord’s. One should not confuse the Westminster Confession of Faith’s teaching that not all who are baptized may be regenerate. It carefully guards against this language without diminishing the reality of the conferred grace in the sacrament. It also guards against the Roman Catholic doctrine of ex opere operato, of communicating saving grace in the rite itself with no regard to parent or child at all, but inherent in the power of the priest’s work in administering the rite.
The Spirit’s Work in the Conversion of Sinners
The example of the Philippian Jailor
After reading the narrative the reader will notice the three stages, first, as a careless sinner, then as a convinced sinner, and then a converted man. There are two points to remember in terms of his careless estate. First, he imprisoned the Lord’s servants for preaching the word of God, and second, he was ready to thrust himself on his own sword and kill himself (this demonstrated his practical atheism). He then went from being a careless sinner, to a convinced sinner in that he fell to his knees before Paul and Silas and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” This demonstrates a change in his nature from the practical atheist to the convicted heart of one who needed God’s mercy. At this point he was convinced of the danger of eternal damnation, but not converted. He did not ask, “How can I be saved?” but rather, “What can I do to be saved?” Every natural mind thinks it can “do” something to be saved. Paul then had to explain the way of salvation on how one is saved. Believing on the Lord Jesus was the requisite but the jailor would not be able to attain this unless he understood what he believed in.
The means by which the jailor was converted was the Gospel of Jesus Christ demonstrating the truth of Christ’s work in his death and resurrection. Paul and Silas went back home with the jailor and explained the way of salvation to the entire household. The substance of this is not recorded. They exhorted him in the simple statement they made in the jailhouse to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. This would focus on the truth of His person. They said, “you shall be saved,” which is a personal faith that must be excited. This Gospel was the suitable agent and explanation that Paul and Silas explained to the entire household. He rejoiced and his entire house was baptized under his solemn admission to federal headship over them. After all this instruction, he demonstrated a real, simple and scriptural faith.
We learn from all this that men in their unconverted state are careless. While they are careless, God is pleased to make some solemn and awakening dispensation of providence to arouse them to see their need of Christ and the utter depravity. Such a work of conviction is wrought in the conscience by the power of the Holy Spirit, and then they are enlightened to the truth. Through this the Spirit changes their heart, and they are converted. The Gospel, then, is the only effectual instrument designated to convert a sinner, and its power lies in the manner in which the Holy Spirit uses it for the benefit of the elect.
The example of the Dying Malefactor (Luke 23:32-43):
In this example, a thief was converted in a most precarious position – hanging on the cross next to Jesus Christ. We do not know anything about this man’s religious background, or what may have transpired before he was caught as a thief. It could have been that he heard some of Christ’s teaching while picking pockets, or learned about the Teacher from Nazareth while at a dinner party. In any case, the Scripture is silent on what he may have known about religion.
The dying thief was a man whose crimes exposed him to the highest penalty of death under the Roman system. This man, though, was so vile, that even while he was hanging there with his “friend”, these two thieves reviled the Lord and made His crucifixion that much more serious and painful. After a time of reviling we read that this thief began to have a change of heart. He says to his other friend who did not experience this change, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation (Luke 23:40)?”
The thief went from reviling to defending Christ. He acknowledges that his punishment is justly deserved, but that Christ had done nothing wrong. What made this change in him? In order to answer this, we must retrace the thief’s steps. What could the thief have known about Christ since he was condemned with him and they were all sentenced to be crucified together? The thief surely would have heard Pilate’s pronunciation before the crowd that Christ was found innocent before him (Luke 23:27).
This is directly related to the thief’s words that they deserved to be crucified but Christ had done nothing to deserve this. He would have been a witness to Christ’s prayer, that those crucifying him should be forgiven. What if the thief thought about the character and humility of Christ? Christ could not be any sort of common sufferer. There had to be something more here. He would have also heard the enemies of the Savior speaking about the Savior at the foot of the cross. “He saved others…” he would have heard. “Let him save himself if he is the chosen of God” he would have heard. “If you are king of the Jews save yourself and us” he would have heard. This no doubt the thief recalled when he said to Christ, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He believed, by faith, that Jesus was the Christ, and the King, able to save sinners, as He had saved others before. He, in the manner of prayer, asked Christ o “remember him,” and he had the fear of God as exemplified by his statement to the other thief – “Do you not fear God?” After all of this, Christ then acknowledges this sinner’s conversion and says, “I tell you the truth, today you shall be with me in paradise.” At conversion, then, the sinner receives all the rights and privileges of adopted sons of God, just as this thief on the cross.
The example of Paul (Acts 9:1-22):
The Apostle Paul’s conversion is probably the greatest record of a conversion in the Bible. In respect to his pre-conversion state of mind on religious matters, he was a Jew of Jews and a Pharisee of Pharisees (Acts 26:4). He was more zealous for the law than any of his fathers (Galatians 1:14), and in touching the law, he says he was blameless (Philippians 3:4). In respect to his views of Christ and the Church, he was not only an unbeliever, but also a violent persecutor of the Christian Church. He desired to exterminate the following of Jesus Christ. He was happy to consent to the death of Stephen when the Jews stoned him to death for standing up for the Lord Jesus Christ. Afterwards, the Scriptures tell us that Saul of Tarsus was wreaking havoc on the church. He had violent affections against the truth of the Gospel and desired to see the church exterminated from the face of the earth.
Saul’s conversion was a result of the truth of Jesus Christ by the vision and the voice of the Savior. It was aided by a demonstration of the power of the spirit when he least expected it. When Saul was arrested by the Christ on the road to Damascus, no doubt, he unmistakably understood who he was dealing with. This was “the Lord.” Christ questions him as to why he is persecuting the church. Saul simply asks what he should do. There is no great dialogue, or systematic theology presented to him. Rather, from what he already knew about Christ, in an instantaneous moment such truths were made alive to him and the practical application of those truths as well. Paul would have, at this point, though that this Jesus must have risen from the dead, is sitting at the right hand of God, and that he could not fight God. Later, he was further instructed by Ananias (verse 6), and this Ananias would tell him what he ought to do. No doubt further instruction was given. The Spirit of God then took that information, as well as what he already knew of the Old Testament and caused Paul to process it and he was converted. His whole conversion hinged on his belief that Jesus was the Christ. As Paul says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief (1 Timothy 1:15).”
The example of the Ethiopian Treasurer (Acts 8:26-40):
The Ethiopian Treasurer demonstrates the example of how an ignorant, but sincere and
devout inquirer, can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. There are many things which could have hindered him from coming to faith; his homeland – which was miles away from the truth of the Gospel which was just beginning to spread in Jerusalem; his wealth – for it is hard for rich men to enter the kingdom of heaven; and rank and influence – he was an attendant to the Ethiopian Queen Candace. Can this Ethiopian change his skin? Although he was ignorant in the things of God, by his devout attitude to the Scriptures and his travels to the Jewish synagogue, we find he is a proselyte to the Jewish faith, and he had come to Jerusalem to worship. The narrative tells us he was reading Isaiah which shows his diligent inquiry to gain a true knowledge of faith from the Old Testament Scriptures. However, we know he had not yet acquired the truth about Jesus. Philip was sent to him to explain the passage he was reading, which was the 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah and the message of the Suffering Servant. So Philip preached Jesus to him. “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God” was a simple and straightforward test of his sincerity of faith. The proof of the authority he placed himself under was his desire to be baptized. He was not ashamed to be attached and unified to the Christ.
The example of Cornelius (Acts 10):
Cornelius was already a devout believer and his conversion was more of an advancement in religion than a specific conversion. He was by birth a Gentile, and by profession a roman soldier. He was a proselyte to the Jewish faith and believed in, and worshipped, the One True God. As he conformed to Jewish worship, so it is evident that his prayers were addressed to the God of Israel. Acts 10:4 states, “And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.” Here it may be inferred that he must have been a genuine believer and a justified man as in the same case of Abraham. He was justified awaiting the promised Messiah and may be regarded as a believer. For we know the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination before God. He simply had not had the opportunity to believe in the Christ as “come already,” and this was the task of Peter to explain this to Cornelius and his household. The centurion here was in a time of transition from the Jewish to Christian faith. This would be a move from an imperfect sight of the Messiah (through types but by faith) to a more perfect sight of Him. He was a Jewish proselyte and from this he became a Christian convert.
Peter gave Cornelius and his household a summary of the Gospel, with appropriate evidence to the fact of Christ’s authority and kingship. He gave them God’s proclamation of peace through the salvation found in Jesus Christ alone. The promised Messiah of the Old Testament is this Jesus Christ that Peter was preaching and that Cornelius believed in. He was baptized as a result of his faith in Christ, and the text tells us that he glorified God, he and all his household. The Holy Spirit has transferred Cornelius from Old Testament faith to the New Testament Christ.
The example of Lydia (Acts 16:13-15):
The ordinary means by which the Holy Spirit converts sinners (as we have seen through each of these instances) is through the Word of God. This is true to a more detailed experience for Lydia, the Gentile businesswoman from Thyatira. In this narrative Lydia is a beneficiary of the direct, sovereign operation of the Spirit of God on her heart. She was attending a prayer meeting when she was enraptured with the message of Paul. Without prayer, it should be remembered, we have no reason to expect blessings from God. The text says that the Lord opened her heart while Paul was preaching. This implies her heart was shut against the truth of the Gospel even though she may have been a devout Jewish proselyte (for why would she be praying?).
Lydia’s heart was under the same influence of darkness that every other sinner experienced. She was among those that are “futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:21).” Her heart was closed until it was opened by the Lord, “whose heart the Lord opened…” The Spirit used this narrative to demonstrate the truth that He uses the instrumentality of the Word to affect the change in a sinner’s heart. “The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14).” After the preaching of Paul, God opened her heart and she understood the gospel. In response to this gospel she was baptized and placed herself under the authority of Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. This was her obedience worked out in salvation.
The example of Timothy (2 Timothy 3:14-15):
The account of Timothy demonstrates the work of the Spirit throughout the life of a child of the covenant. He was raised on religious education in early life, and from the pious care of his parents. From a child he had known the Old Testament scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:15 says that, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” His mother was a Jewess and so she taught him the Old Testament even though his father was a Greek.
The case of Timothy demonstrates three lessons of the work of the Holy Spirit upon a soul. First, it shows that little children are capable subjects of divine grace. We also learn that a sound religious education early in life is often blessed as a means of saving conversion to God. We also learn that true religion is sometimes implanted in the soul of a child at a very early age, and continues to grow, bring forth fruit, and be strengthened even though for a time it may be unperceivable.
The example of the conversions at Pentecost (Acts 2):
In this amazing narrative three thousand souls were saved in one day of preaching. Acts 2:41 states, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” There were devout religious men there, as well as those who persecuted the Savior previously and had Him put to death. These were “devout men” from every nation, according to the narrative. Here we find, then, a variety of characters assembled from all over the Dispersion of the Jews gathered before Peter and his sermon.
It is interesting to note that before Peter preached, the assembly was in fervent prayer in the upper room awaiting the power from on high. 120 disciples waited for this by the Lord’s command, and it is usual for revival to take place after a devout time of extended prayer. The Spirit descended on them for service after this time of prayer, and fulfilled the promise of Christ to the disciples at that moment. The disciples, then, received the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit for service, and they were immediately employed upon speaking in other tongues, and preaching, which generated great concern from the crowd. Peter then, by this attraction, takes the opportunity to address this lost crowd, and tell them about Jesus Christ. So we see that these people experienced three stages here: 1) the miraculous gift of the Spirit in tongues, 2) a work of conviction in their hearts, and 3) the work of real conversion through the preaching of the word. The direct means to their conversion was Peter’s sermon.
Peter’s sermon demonstrated that Jesus was the Christ. It also demonstrated the guilt of those who put Him to death, and the sinfulness of men in their rejection of Him. The Gospel was freely offered to them after Peter’s exposition of quoted Old Testament texts, and his present application of the history of Christ just occurring throughout the Jerusalem area with the Messiah Jesus Christ. They were “cut to the quick” by the Spirit and inquired as to how they may be truly saved. This was done through the internal work of the Spirit on this crowd of people, which were not all saved. Those who were saved were baptized with the transitional New Covenant seal – baptism, and fruit followed their true conversion. Acts 2:42 says they “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” They also continued in brotherly love toward one another, having all things in common voluntarily.
The example of Revivals
(such as in Acts 2:17-18):
Though the church is regularly accustomed to look for slow and common operations of the spirit through church history, every now and again the Spirit sovereignly sends revival. True religion is the product of this revival and solely depends on the work of the spirit of God in blessing the people of God. Revival had been seen in the Old Testament such as in the days of Seth, and of Josiah (Genesis 4:26; 2 kings 23:19ff). Two things define true revival in religion: 1) a general impartation of new spiritual life, vigor and power to those who are already the people of God, and 2) a remarkable awakening and conversion of souls. Such revivals in the New Testament church surround Pentecost, the Reformation of the 16th Century, the local revivals of 1623 and 1641 in Ireland and England under James Ussher, in 1630 in Scotland under John Livingston, in 1638 in Scotland in Glasgow under the National Covenant, in 1643-48 under the Westminster Assembly, in 1734 under the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, and in 1812 under Reverend M’Bride. Would we wish that the Spirit would pour out such a revival of religion again.
of the Spirit in the Edification
of His People
The Work of the Spirit as the
Spirit of Holiness
The general work of the Spirit resides in two main classifications in relation to the Church: 1) the regeneration and salvation of individuals, and 2) the edification of His people in further growth under the Gospel. This second part is what we turn to at this point. Sanctification is the work of the spirit, and its beginning starts with conversion and grows from that point. Even after the believer is born again, the work of the Spirit continues in the progressing and growing sanctification of the soul. From the new birth there shall be new life. Christ is emphatic in demonstrating the fruit bearing aspect of the believer in Matthew 7:16-20, “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” And likewise He says, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit (John 15:2).” Such a change comes from a true change of the heart.
Sanctification and the continuance of spiritual life depends upon the gracious operation of the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Romans 8:9 also says this, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” This operation of the Spirit is by His will operating in us, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).”
This walking in the Spirit maintains a constant conflict with indwelling sin and seeks to crucify the remnant of remaining sin still in the soul. Paul says in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”
Yet, every motivation of goodness in the believer, and each motion to good works are done by the Spirit’s power and His action in motioning the soul to work rightly. Galatians 5:18 states, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
The Work of the Spirit as the Spirit of Adoption
The Spirit of Adoption imparts a reverence and godly fear to God’s character in the heart to every true believer. It is a different spirit than that of the world that holds a spirit of fear towards God as a righteous Judge. Now, the believer is able to see Him as a loving Father. Paul explains, “because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father (Galatians 4:6)!” This Spirit of adoption implies a hearty sense of gratitude and a principle of supreme love to God, such as a child feels towards a forgiving and affectionate Father. The Apostle John says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).” This spirit also implies a warm brotherly love toward all those who are members of God’s family. This is a new affection that springs from a new relationship we have in Christ which unites converts with others as part of the organic body. Ephesians 5:2 says, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us.”
This kind of adoption presses the believer to trust God as their Father for all things, even the things to come in the future as a child relies on his parents. It is committing our trust to His sovereign providence for our good. Christ says, “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him (Matthew 6:8).” Such a comfort in this way should be building to a full assurance of faith, though various degrees of comfort may be given to a given child of God at any given time. Remedy for fear in providences that surround God’s children in this way is simply to return to the simple faith that one had the moment they were converted. The simple trust that God works all things for our good. Romans 8:28 is clear to this, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
The Work of the Spirit as the Spirit of Prayer
The truth of the Old Testament is just as alive in the New Testament. The spirit of God aids us in prayer. The Psalms alone are a wonderful testimony to the prayer of the saints all through the Old Testament. In the New Testament promises of the Spirit’s work in prayer come forth like a mighty rushing wind. Zechariah 12:10 promises, “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.”
The Holy Spirit helps us to pray. He does not pray for us, rather, He moves and motions in us prayers up toward the throne of grace. Romans 8:26 speaks directly to this and the Spirit’s operation around this work, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” He enables us for prayer in respect to our needs, necessities, wants, sins, and shortcomings. He makes known to us the rich provision of His grace to us and demonstrates to us our privileges in Christ. He works in us dispositions and desires to pray well in order get the needful deposits of grace waiting for us at the throne. He aids us in attaining spiritual graces through prayer for the service of the ministry. He even stirs us up against infirmities to prayer (sloth, laziness and lethargy) by causing us to watch against those hindrances and overcome them by His grace and through the teachings of the Word of God.
Prayer is a solemn exercise that is engaged in by the use of spiritual power from the Spirit of God. As Jude 1:20 directs us to be “praying in the Holy Spirit.” It is beyond our natural power to accomplish sanctification on our own, and this demands the exercise and operation of the Spirit’s grace in us for victory in everyday living.
The Work of the Spirit as the Comforter
God Himself is the Author of all comfort and communicates comfort to the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. This work of God is given in Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The early Christians were blessed by this hope and comfort that comes from God, “And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied (Acts 9:31).”
Such comfort by the Spirit comes by the truth of the Word. Believers are able to feel its power and understand its importance to their lives personally. They are taught about the boundless love of Christ for them, that they are strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God, that they may be rooted and grounded in love gradually through the Christian life and walk, and that they can truly know how God cares for them in order to be “filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19).” Such a comfort comes directly by the Spirit’s sanctification upon their souls, without which, they would never know any of these things to any great measure past intellectual assent. It is the Spirit that works them into their hearts and minds.
The Spirit also helps the believer to be assured and comforted by the reality of his salvation. Ephesians 4:30 tells us, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Such a sealing is through the Word of God impress upon the heart and mind. 1 John 4:13 demonstrates that our adopted constitution is known through His abiding in us and sealing us, “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” By this adoption, we are made His forever, and the Spirit indwells all his children for all time.
The story of Lot's wife begins
in Genesis 19
after two angels arrived
in Sodom at eventide and were
spend the night at Lot's home.
The men of Sodom
were exceedingly wicked and
to offer up these men/angels
to have sex with; instead,
Lot offered up his two daughters
but they were refused.
As dawn was
Lot's visiting angels urged
him to get his family and flee,
so as to avoid being
caught in the impending disaster for
the iniquity of the city.
The command was given,
"Flee for your life!
Do not look
behind you, nor stop anywhere
in the Plain;
flee to the hills,
lest you be swept away."
Lot's wife looked behind her at
turned into a pillar of salt.
Unity in the Body
…To equip the saints
for works of ministry
build up the body of Christ,
until we all
reach-unity in the faith and
knowledge of the
as we mature
to the full measure of the stature
Then we will no longer
tossed about by the waves
and carried around by
every wind of teaching
and by the
clever cunning of men in
From His fullness we have all
received grace upon grace.
We believe and know that You are the
Holy One of God."
1 Corinthians 2:6
the mature, however, we speak a
message of wisdom--but not
the wisdom of this age or of
the rulers of this age,
who are coming to nothing.
1 Corinthians 14:20
Brothers, stop thinking like children.
In regard to evil be infants,
but in your thinking be mature.
for whom I am again in the
pains of childbirth
Christ is formed in you,
God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father, may give
you a spirit
of wisdom and revelation
in your knowledge of Him.
which is His body,
fullness of Him
who fills all in all.
Till we all come
in the unity of the faith,
the knowledge of
the Son of God,
to a perfect man,
measure of the stature
fullness of Christ:
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: …
And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: …
in the unity.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and heto whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, somaking peace;
1 Corinthians 14:20
Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
“Wherein (Grace in verse 7)
he hath abounded
in all wisdom and prudence;”
You know I had a letter the other day that said, “How do you explain the abundant life?” Now a lot of times I like to throw these questions right back at people. How would you explain the abundant life? Well you can’t put it into words really, and I guess when I do write and answer that question,
I’m going to say, “Listen, it’s that complete package of the Grace of God that has given me the assurance of salvation, eternity in God’s presence. It has given the assurance that God is in total control of every moment of my life. I don’t have to worry and fret that all of a sudden I’ve been cut loose, and I’m without hope. I don’t have to feel that I’m under a constant burden of guilt. Now that’s some of the abundant life that Christ has promised for this earthly sojourn.”
It’s a life maybe not always of happiness, maybe our circumstances are not always the greatest, but the joy is there. So regardless of our circumstances we have the joy that Paul speaks of so much in the Book of Philippians. Paul is always saying in that Book, “Rejoice” And do you remember what kind of places Paul was in? In the dungeons of prison, shipwrecked, in the water, and under the scourging, and yet the man could constantly say, “be joyful.”
Well that’s the abundant life. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to have two Cadillacs in our garage, or the biggest house in town. But the abundant life is that we have been redeemed, we have eternal life, we have the hope of glory, we have that constant assurance that He knows all about us. We have access into the throne room of Heaven. We can pray at any time, and any place so that’s all part of the abundant life. But it’s not limited to just the abundant life, look what He’s giving us here.
“…wisdom and prudence;”
Now what’s the word prudence? I think I can wrap it up better than Webster’s dictionary. Prudence is just common horse sense! Isn’t it? When you are prudent you merely have good sense. Now if can have wisdom and with it some good common horse sense, then you’ve got the abundant life. God has given all this to you and I as believers free. We haven’t had to grovel in the ground, we haven’t had to climb the steps to St. Peter, we haven’t had to go across the ocean. He’s given all this to us, here and now. And it’s abounding, it’s more than we can handle, and how do we appropriate all this? By faith. I don’t always feel or sense it, but I come back to the Word and here it is, and I can believe it. Now that is what God is looking for, and the more we believe, I think the more He’ll bless us. Remember there’s nothing that pleases the heart of God more than the faith of a human being. For you see it’s unbelief that He’s going to hold in the strongest light against mankind. Remember when we looked at those verses in the Book of Hebrews?
“And to whom sware he that they should
not enter into his rest,
but to them that believed not? 19.
So we see that they
could not enter in because of unbelief.”
And the opposite of unbelief is FAITH!
So here it is now then.
We’ve appropriated His Grace –
“Wherein he hath abounded toward
us in all wisdom and prudence;”
Now what’s the problem with Christendom today? They don’t have that kind of wisdom. Oh they may be saved but they’re out there floundering in ignorance of the Scripture. I just had a phone call this morning from a gentlemen. He said he had been to seminary, and the further he went in those seminary courses the further they were taking him from the truth. So he dropped out, and had discovered our lessons on the Internet, and realized what they were teaching in the seminary was running contrary to the Book. Well this is the beauty of God’s Grace. He’ll pour out wisdom and common sense to any of us who will appropriate it by faith, but we have to stay in the Book to get it. We’re not just going to be able to leave it up to the pastors. Now I’m not putting the fault totally on pastors, because they’re overloaded a lot of the time, but the average individual has to learn to get into the Word, and seek these things out. Now in verse 9 and 10, we’re going to spend the next little while, maybe 2 or 3 lessons in them.
“Having made known unto us (Paul) the mystery of his will,…”
What’s another word for “mystery“? Secret. Oh let’s go back and look at it in Deuteronomy 29:29 I was talking to a gentlemen recently that said, “Les after I saw that verse I just used it over and over, because it just says it all with regards to the revelations of the apostle Paul when he claims that these things were kept secret and that they were revealed to him and him alone from the ascended Christ.” Sometimes people will ask me, “Now are you taking things away from what Jesus said during his earthly ministry?” No I don’t take it away, but I know one thing, what He said from His ascended place in glory carries a lot more weight for us today than what He said to the Jew under the Law. And of course everything that Christ says from glory is through the apostle Paul. Now here it is.
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: (what kind of things? Secret things. Now what’s a secret? Something that nobody else knows anything about.) but those things which are revealed (that’s from the word where we get revelation) belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Now of course here Moses was writing under the Law, but he’s dealing with the same God. The same God that we deal with has told us the same thing. That He has kept things secret until He saw fit to reveal it. Now back to Ephesians 1 again for a moment then we’ll be going to Romans. Verse 9 again.
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:”
In other words, where does everything start and finish? In the mind of God. Now let’s go back to Romans a moment and look at one of my favorite verses.
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel (do you see how Paul uses the personal pronoun) and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since (Christ earthly ministry? Since Peter’s message? No, but rather since anything was ever created. God has kept all of this secret, since)
the world began.”
Now that’s the reason Jesus couldn’t preach Paul’s Gospel, that’s why Peter couldn’t preach it, because Paul’s Gospel was still kept totally secret in the mind of God until Paul received it. What is the revelation of the secret then? How that because of that price of redemption as we saw in the last lesson, because it has been accomplished, the work of the Cross is done, because of the power of His resurrection, God can now pour out on the human race this whole package of Grace and revealed truths that come from the pen of the apostle Paul. In it we have all of the truths that the Church needs today. You don’t have to go anywhere else to get the truth that we need. Now that doesn’t mean you throw away the rest of your Bible.
All the Bible is going to work for its common end, but if we would just see Christendom tonight spend 90% of its time in Paul’s epistles, and 10% of their time in the rest of the Bible we’d see things begin to happen. But it’s the other way around, most people spend 90% of their time in the Four Gospels and Old Testament, and they look at Paul’s epistles like they’re waste paper, and that makes old Satan happy. The expression I get from one of my fellow ranchers is, “They treat you like an unlovely step-child.” Well I think that’s the way most of Christendom treats Paul, like an unlovely step-child that they really don’t want any thing to do with, but you know they’ve got to admit he’s there. Now I see that all the time, but you see in Paul’s writings is where we have to be, because it was to this man that these secrets that had been held in the mind of God were finally revealed. Now just for a moment let’s turn to Ephesians chapter 3 to show you what I’m talking about.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, (this unmerited favor poured out from the very heart of God) that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;”
Now it’s interesting if you want to really do some language work. This word unsearchable really means “you can’t find the beginning of it.” It just goes back so far that you can’t trace it, and it began before Christ ever created anything. Now reading on, and remember what we’re talking about. It was revealed only to the apostle Paul.
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, (this secret) which from the beginning of the world (age) hath been hid (the same word in Deuteronomy 29:29) in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:”
That’s the mystery, this whole package of revealed truths that now comes only from the pen of the apostle Paul. Let’s name a few of these truths that was revealed only to this apostle. 1. Our beautiful salvation Gospel as recorded in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and Romans 16:25. 2. Redemption by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. Our redemption price has been paid. 3. He has justified us. 4. He has forgiven us. 5. He has given us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
6. He has baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, and what am I always saying about that term? You won’t find that term Body of Christ anywhere else in Scripture except in Paul’s writings. And there he refers to this Body of Christ, this composition of saved people, black or white, rich or poor, east or west, it makes no difference. Every believer becomes a member of this Body of Christ. That’s one of the revelations of the mystery. It had never been revealed to anyone before.
7. Another one of the mysteries given Paul is the rapture of the Church this sudden out-calling of the saints when we meet the Lord in the air is another one. I get such a kick out of people sending me articles and books about the Church going into or through the Tribulation. And I just can’t read them when I see where they’re headed. I just lay them down. They’re all doing the same thing. They are ignoring the apostle Paul. I know where they’re coming from, Matthew 24 where Jesus is speaking to the Nation of Israel, and His second coming to the earth. Now listen, you and I aren’t concerned about the Second Coming, we’re concerned about the out-calling of the Body of Christ, the Rapture to meet the Lord in the air, and that is strictly a Pauline revelation. No body else even mentions such a thing.
Yes, all the rest of Scripture speaks of the Second Coming, and it is coming, but before that happens, we’re out of here, because we won’t fit in that Tribulation scenario. It’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole; the Church won’t fit. The Tribulation is God dealing with the Nation of Israel, the Tribulation comes out of all the prophet’s statements of the Old Testament. The only time Paul even mentions it is in II Thessalonians chapter 2, where he makes it so plain that after we have departed then shall appear that man of sin, and the Tribulation, and all the rest of it. Otherwise the Second Coming has nothing to do with Paul’s teachings. I just get so frustrated, why do people keep sending me this stuff that the Church will go into or through the Tribulation when all they would have to do is read Paul’s I Corinthians 15:52-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. He’s the only one that has had these secrets revealed concerning the Church. So remember the Rapture and the Second Coming are two different events – separate by at least seven years.
Now there’s nothing secret about the prophetic things that the Old Testament prophets wrote about. There was nothing secret about Christ coming to the Nation of Israel was there? Why it was even revealed where He would be born. It was revealed unto Mary that His name would be called Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. There’s nothing secret about that. The Old Testament in Psalms and Isaiah were full of crucifixion, His burial and resurrection, it was all back there, it wasn’t secret. It’s the same way with the Book of Revelation. There’s nothing in that Book that’s a secret. It all fits with the Old Testament prophecy. All you have to do is read Joel and Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and they all fit with Revelation, that’s not a secret. But when you come to these things like we’re looking at now, that here we are by God’s Grace having wisdom and prudence poured out on us, the like of which has never happened before, nor will it happen again once the Church is removed. I mean, we’re on separate special grounds as believers of the Church Age. Now let’s look at another one of the mysteries in Colossians I think I’ve already mentioned 6 or 7 of them, and we haven’t touched on all of them.
“… whereof I Paul am made a minister; (Paul has to let us know that he’s God’s authority.) 24. Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, (not His body of flesh, but what”) which is the church: “
Now you don’t find Peter using that term. You don’t find Jesus in His earthly ministry talking about the Body of Christ, because all He dealt with was Israel and the prophetic. But in Paul’s writings he’s constantly reminding us that we are members of the Body of Christ, a special combination of believers from every walk of life, from every corner of the globe, by virtue of having believed the Gospel. Now verse 25.
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, (Gentiles) to fulfil (or bring to completion) the word of God; 26. Even the mystery (the secret) which hath been hid (most people don’t even want to read that. I think they must close their eyes when they come to some of these words, but here it is, these things which have been hidden) from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.”
Now that’s from the pen of the apostle Paul. Oh goodness go on up into chapter 2.
“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, (listen this isn’t Greek, this is all so plain if we’ll just read and study it) to the acknowledgment of the mystery (secrets) of God, and of the Father, and of Christ: 3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Because He’s God! But what are we reading? He has now seen fit by His Grace to release these things that had been kept secret, and is now sharing them with us through the apostle Paul. God has never revealed these truths before. Now just for a moment let’s go to II Corinthians chapter 11. We studied these verses during our Corinthian study, but they’ve blessed my heart so that I’ve been using them over and over. You see this is what we’ve got to get people to understand. Oh they only want to go by what Jesus said. Well that’s all right up to a point, but Jesus didn’t reveal the mysteries in His earthly ministries. Some say, “Oh I’m going by what Peter says”, but Peter didn’t have be mysteries. But look at what Paul says in verse 5
II Corinthians 11:5
“For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.”
He’s not a step behind Peter in authority, in fact he’s ahead of Peter. Then he repeats it again in verse 22 and 23, and he’s referring to the Twelve in Jerusalem.
II Corinthians 11:22-23
“Are they Hebrews? so am I, Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.”
Then come into chapter 12, and drop down to verse 11. And again Paul is defending that apostleship here. He is trying to show the authority he has as the apostle to the Gentiles.
II Corinthians 12:11
“I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: (what did he mean by that? Well they were putting him down. They were constantly saying, `Now wait a minute Paul, you’re all right, but after all Peter had more authority. Peter is the big wheel in Jerusalem.’ And others used Apollos as their example, but look what Paul says) for I ought to have been commended of you; (Paul was the one that brought them out of pagan darkness, not Peter, not Apollos) for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, (but in his humility he says) though I be nothing.
Paul has now become uppermost in authority. The Twelve are now behind him. They are still beating a dead horse, so to speak, because God has turned from Israel, and they were the apostles for Israel. (Galatians 2:9) God had now turned to the whole human race, and this was all part and parcel of the revelations of mysteries which had been hidden in God, but now have been revealed to this man. And I’m sure just like the Church today, Paul was up against himself when he said, “All in Asia have turned against me.”
7. The Fulfillment
The importance of the promise of God to David regarding his posterity and his throne has been frequently ignored in treatments of the field of eschatology. Those who deny the inspiration of the Scriptures are at no pains to weigh its significance. Those who are more serious in their attempts to ascertain the exact meaning of Scripture have too often been satisfied with the simple solution that these promises are fulfilled in Christ. It is the thesis of this discussion that the Davidic covenant deserves an important place in determining the purposes of God and that its exegesis confirms the doctrine of a future reign of Christ on earth.
Analysis of the CovenantDavid had the godly ambition to build a temple to Jehovah. The incongruity of allowing the ark of God to remain in a temporary tent-like tabernacle while he himself lived in the luxury of a house of cedar seemed to call for the erection of a suitable permanent building to be the center of worship. To Nathan, the prophet, was revealed that God intended David to build something more enduring than any material edifice. David’s “house” was to be his posterity and through them his throne and his kingdom were to continue forever. The main features of the covenant are included in the following passage: “When thy days are fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, that shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: if he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men; but my loving kindness shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thy house and thy kingdom shall be made sure for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Sam 7:12-16).
The provisions of the Davidic covenant include, then, the following items: (1) David is to have a child, yet to be born, who shall succeed him and establish his kingdom. (2) This son (Solomon) shall build the temple instead of David. (3) The throne of his kingdom shall be established forever. (4) The throne will not be taken away from him (Solomon) even though his sins justify chastisement. (5) David’s house, throne, and kingdom shall be established forever.
To Solomon, then, was promised a throne which would be established forever. To David was promised a posterity, a throne, and a kingdom established forever. The promise is clear that the throne passed on through Solomon to David’s posterity was never to be abolished. It is not clear whether the posterity of David should be through the line of Solomon. It will be shown later that this fine point in the prophecy was occasioned by the cutting off of the posterity of Solomon as far as the throne is concerned.
What do the major terms of the covenant mean? By David’s “house” it can hardly be doubted that reference is made to David’s posterity, his physical descendants. It is assured that they will never be slain in toto, nor displaced by another family entirely. The line of David will always be the royal line. By the term “throne” it is clear that no reference is made to a material throne, but rather to the dignity and power which was sovereign and supreme in David as king. The right to rule always belonged to David’s seed. By the term “kingdom” there is reference to David’s political kingdom over Israel. This kingdom was spiritual only in the sense that it was given to David by the anointing of God’s prophet. The kingdom was by its nature earthly, political, and limited to Israel. By the expression “for ever,” it is signified that the Davidic authority and Davidic kingdom or rule over Israel shall never be taken from David’s posterity. The right to rule will never be transferred to another family, and its arrangement is designed for eternal perpetuity. Whatever its changing form, temporary interruptions, or chastisements, the line of David will always have the right to rule over Israel and will, in fact, exercise this privilege. This then, in brief, is the covenant of God with David.
The covenant has many confirmations in the Old Testament. Specifically, Psalm 89 speaks repeatedly on this theme. “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant: Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations…. My loving-kindness will I keep for him for evermore; And my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, And his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, And walk not in mine ordinances; If they break my statutes, And keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, And their iniquity with stripes. But my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, Nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, Nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness: I will not lie unto David: His seed shall endure for ever, And his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as the faithful witness in the sky” (Ps 89:3, 4, 28-37).
The Problem of FulfillmentAmong conservative theologians, the opinion is unanimous that Christ fulfills the Davidic Covenant. The evidence is clear from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. For anyone accepting the authenticity and inspiration of the Scriptures, the testimony of the angel to Mary is conclusive: “And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33). The promise of David’s throne, David’s kingdom, and all that is involved is transferred by this prophecy to Jesus Christ, “The Son of David” (Matt 1:1). The line that began with David has its consummation and eternal fulfillment in Christ.
The problem of fulfillment does not consist in the question of whether Christ is the one who fulfills the promises, but rather on the issue of how Christ fulfills the covenant and when He fulfills it. Concerning this question, there have been two principal answers: (1) Christ fulfills the promise by His present session at the right hand of the Father in heaven; (2) Christ fulfills the promise by His return and righteous reign on earth during the millennium. Interpreters of Scripture have usually adopted an answer to the problem which fits their larger system of doctrine. Those who deny a millennium or who identify Israel and the church are apt to insist that Christ is fulfilling the covenant by His present session. Those who believe in a literal millennium and a reign of Christ on earth affirm the second answer. In this obvious contradiction between two systems of interpretation, there are certain issues which determine the outcome. These issues may be reduced for our purpose to the following: (1) Does the Davidic covenant require literal fulfillment? (2) Does the partial fulfillment already a matter of history permit a literal fulfillment? (3) Is the interpretation of this covenant in harmony with other covenant purposes of God? (4) What does the New Testament teach regarding the present and future reign of Christ?
Does the Davidic Covenant Require Literal Fulfillment?If it were not for the difficulty of contradicting certain systems of interpretation of Scripture, it is doubtful whether anyone would have thought of interpreting the Davidic covenant as other than requiring a literal fulfillment. The arguments in favor of literal interpretation are so massive in their construction and so difficult to waive that they are more commonly ignored by those who do not want to believe in literal fulfillment than answered by argument. George N. H. Peters, in his monumental work, The Theocratic Kingdom, in Proposition 52, has listed no less than twenty-one arguments in favor of literal interpretation, not to include collateral material. His important arguments for literal interpretation may be summarized as follows: (1) the solemn character of the covenant which was confirmed by an oath; (2) a spiritual fulfillment would not be becoming to a solemn covenant. (3) Both David and Solomon apparently understood it to be literal (2 Sam 7:18-29; 2 Chron 6:14-16). (4) The language used, which is also used by the prophets, denotes a literal throne and kingdom. (5) The Jews plainly expected a literal fulfillment. (6) The throne and kingdom as a promise and inheritance belong to the humanity of Christ as the seed of David rather than belonging to His deity. (7) There is no ground for identifying David’s throne and the Father’s throne. (8) A symbolical interpretation of the covenant leaves its interpretation to man. (9) The literal fulfillment is requisite to the display of God’s government in the earth, necessary to the restoration and exaltation of the Jewish nation and deliverance of the earth from the curse. (10) Literal fulfillment is necessary to preserve the Divine unity of purpose.
Unless all of these weighty arguments be dismissed as utterly without foundation, it must be clear that there are good and important reasons for adopting a literal interpretation of the covenant promises. If a literal interpretation be adopted, the present session of Christ is not a fulfillment of the covenant, and it must be referred to the future. It is clear that at the present time Christ is not in any literal sense reigning over the kingdom of David. From the content and circumstances surrounding the Davidic covenant, it is evident that a literal fulfillment is anticipated.
Does the Historical Partial Fulfillment Permit a Literal Interpretation?There are, however, obvious difficulties in interpreting the Davidic covenant in a literal way and expecting a literal fulfillment. The covenant was given almost three thousand years ago, and history has not contained any continuous development or continued authority of the political kingdom of David. A question may be raised whether history permits a literal fulfillment of the covenant. Does not the fact, viz., of Israel’s captivity, with the downfall of the kingdom of Israel argue against a literal fulfillment? Do not the centuries which have elapsed since the coming of Christ prove that no literal fulfillment is intended? These are pointed questions and one cannot argue about the facts which support them. If we believe that no word of God is broken, it is obvious that an interpretation which is not sustained by historic fulfillment is a wrong interpretation. The usual solution to this problem is that there is both a historical and a spiritual fulfillment. It is historical, in that a literal descendant of David was born—Christ; it is spiritual in that the kingdom perpetuated and the throne are not literally David’s but God’s.
Jamieson gives such a solution to the problem of the fulfillment of the covenant: “This promise, like that made to Abraham, has a twofold aspect,—one points to David’s natural posterity and temporal kingdom, the other to the Messiah and the kingdom of heaven. It respected the former only as types and pledges of the latter. Some, indeed, restrict this promise entirely to the Messiah, and deny that it was applicable to David’s natural descendants at all. The passages which seem to apply any part of it to these, refer, in their opinion, to another promise made unto David, which was of a temporal nature, and altogether distinct from this. But we have no account of any such promise in all the history. The truth is, this promise, like many others in the Old Testament, has a twofold sense—it takes in the type as well as the antitype; so that those who saw it accomplished in what respected David’s temporal house, had a proof that the Lord spoke by the prophet Nathan, and consequently a pledge that He would also in due time fulfill the spiritual part of it also. That it included David’s descendants, who by ordinary generation were to succeed him on the throne of Israel, is evident from David’s application of it to his son Solomon, in whom the temporal part of it had a partial accomplishment (1 Chr. xxii.6-11 ; xxviii.5-8 ). The Lord himself also applies it to Solomon, when He appeared in vision (2 Chr. viii.7-18 ). It contains a threatening against such of David’s children as should commit iniquity, which was verified on his royal posterity who succeeded him on the throne, whom the Lord punished for their transgressions, as the sacred history abundantly shows. It was to fulfill the temporal part of this promise that the Lord continued the house of David so long on the throne of Judah, notwithstanding all their frequent and aggravated rebellions against Him (1 Ki. xi.36 ; 2 Ki. viii.19 ; 2 Chr. xxi.7 ) ; and it was repeatedly appealed to by the Jewish Church when the judgments inflicted upon David’s temporal house and kingdom seemed to make it void. This promise as it represented David’s natural seed was conditional, so that the Lord at length deprived them of the kingdom; but He did not by that deprivation violate or nullify the covenant with His servant; for this was only what He threatened at the commencement of it to do in the event of their committing iniquity (1 Chr. xxviii.9 ). But how, then, was the promise made good, that David’s seed should sit on his throne forever? The spiritual and eternal part of the promise pointed to the Messiah, who was to come of the seed of David according to the flesh, and to be raised up from the dead to sit for ever on His heavenly throne. The promise as it respected the Messiah was absolute, and in Him had its full accomplishment.”
The difficulty with the interpretation of fulfillment in part by temporal events and in part by spiritual is that it does not actually fulfill the covenant. It is true that Christ is the Son of David, and that this is literal descent, but it is without significance unless He also possesses the throne of His father David. Is it the meaning of the covenant that the kingdom of David and his authority over Israel should be transmuted into a general government of God over the world or over the saints? Is it not rather that the literal fulfillment of the reign over the house of Jacob and the throne of David is specifically singled out by the angel in the announcement of Mary (Luke 1:32-33)? If the transgressions of Israel resulted in the captivity and made impossible a literal fulfillment of all aspects of the covenant, is it not strange that the very elements which it is denied can be fulfilled literally should be reiterated in the New Testament? Is it not rather that God, foreseeing the temptation to lose hope in the promise, calls attention once more to its inviolate character? It must be clear to any candid interpreter that Mary would understand it to mean the fulfillment of the hope of Israel for an earthly and political kingdom. The revelation of the angel must be taken either as a confirmation of the covenant or a deliberate encouragement of a false interpretation of Scripture—which is unthinkable.
In the mind of God, it is evident that there is no contradiction in the literal interpretation of the covenant and the temporary enslavement of the Jewish nation in the captivity and under the dominion of Rome. In what sense, then, can we expect a literal fulfillment?
A clue can be taken in a significant accuracy in the covenant and its subsequent fulfillment. In proclaiming the covenant, the language of the prophet carefully distinguishes between the seed of David, Solomon, and the throne. David is assured that his seed will reign forever. Solomon is assured only that his throne will continue forever. In this fine point is an illustration of God’s intention. In the subsequent history of Israel, Solomon’s line is specifically cut off from the throne at the time of the captivity of Judah (Jer 22:30; 36:30 ). In the lineage of Christ found in Matthew and Luke, it is clear that Joseph descended through Solomon and the line which is cut off, while Mary descended from another son of David entirely, Nathan—by curious coincidence the same name as the prophet’s who gave the Davidic covenant, though undoubtedly two different individuals. Accordingly, while the legal lineage came to Christ through Joseph, his legal father and a descendant of Solomon and his heirs, the actual seed of David was transmitted through Nathan and Mary. This brings us to an important conclusion: the line which was to fulfill the promise of the eternal throne and eternal kingdom over Israel was preserved by God through a lineage which in fact did not sit on the throne at all, from Nathan down to Christ. It is, then, not necessary for the line to be unbroken as to actual conduct of the kingdom, but it is rather that the lineage, royal prerogative, and right to the throne be preserved and never lost, even in sin, captivity, and dispersion. It is not necessary, then, for continuous political government to be in effect, but it is necessary that the line be not lost.
All agree that the line is not lost. It came to its fulfillment in Christ. In the destruction of Jerusalem, the genealogies were destroyed and it would be impossible for Jews of to-day to trace their lineage back to the line of David. Accordingly, in the wisdom of God, the proof that Christ was of the line of David has been preserved, but at the same time the evidence has been destroyed for any future contenders for the honors. The Jews of to-day must admit that they could not positively identify the lineage of a Messiah if he did appear now. Only Christ has the evidence necessary, and the line is preserved with Him.
The partial fulfillment of the covenant, in that Christ is identified as the one through whom it will be fulfilled, instead of indicating a spiritual fulfillment rather lays the foundation for a literal fulfillment. The purpose of God is seen to be preserved in maintaining the line of David which has the right to rule. The postponement or delay in assuming political power in no wise invalidates the promise. The partial fulfillment in no wise hinders the literal fulfillment of all the covenant.
Is Literal Fulfillment in Harmony with Other Covenants?The interpretation of the Davidic Covenant inevitably is colored by the construction placed on other covenants of Scripture. It is not within the province of this discussion to investigate all these covenants. If the premillennial viewpoint of Scripture be sustained by other arguments, however, it is clear that the Davidic covenant fits perfectly into the picture. It is the covenant ground for the earthly rule of Christ. All the promises regarding the nation Israel, the possession of the land, the millennial blessings in general, and the return of Christ to reign are in perfect harmony with a literal fulfillment of the covenant. The purpose of God in David is fulfilled in the reign of Christ. This has two aspects: His millennial reign and the continued rule of God in the new earth for eternity. The premillennial viewpoint provides a fully adequate literal fulfillment of the covenant.
Wilkinson has written a forceful summary of this point: “Nevertheless, facts are stubborn things. It is a fact that God has declared that Israel is not to cease from being a nation before Him for ever. It is a fact that the Jewish nation, still in unbelief, survivor of all others, alone retains its national identity…. It is a fact that the promise of a land (the territorial limits of which were defined) to the posterity of Abraham, as also the promise of a son of David’s own line to occupy David’s throne for ever, were unconditional promises, ratified by covenant and oath. It is a fact that the posterity of Abraham has never yet fully possessed and enjoyed the whole of the land so granted and that no son of David occupies David’s throne, nor can do so enduringly till Jesus returns to earth…. The O.T. promises are all as certain of fulfillment in their O.T. sense and meaning and purpose to Israel, as are the N.T. promises certain of fulfillment to the Church.”2
The literal fulfillment of the Davidic covenant is, then, in harmony with the larger covenant purpose of God. In fact, its plain intent and the nature of the promises are another confirmation of the premillennial interpretation of Scripture. It provides an interpretation fully honoring to God and His Word.
The New Testament Teaching on the Reign of ChristAttention has already been called to the New Testament confirmation of the purpose of God to fulfill the Davidic Covenant literally (Luke 1:32, 33). The New Testament has in all fifty-nine references to David. It also has many references to the present session of Christ. A search of the New Testament reveals that there is not one reference connecting the present session of Christ with the Davidic throne. While this argument is, of course, not conclusive, it is almost incredible that in so many references to David and in so frequent reference to the present session of Christ on the Father’s throne there should be not one reference connecting the two in any authoritative way. The New Testament is totally lacking in positive teaching that the throne of the Father in Heaven is to be identified with the Davidic throne. The inference is plain that Christ is seated on the Father’s throne, but that this is not at all the same as being seated on the throne of David.
About the only reference which can be construed as having any connection with the identification of David’s kingdom reign and the present session of Christ is that found in Acts 15:14-17. After Paul’s testimony of wonders wrought among the Gentiles, James addressed the council in these words: “Symeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After these things I will return, And I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen; And I will build again the ruins thereof, And I will set it up: That the residue of men may seek after the Lord, And all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called” (Acts 15:14-17).
The problem of this passage resolves into these questions: (1) What is meant by the “tabernacle of David”? (2) When is the “tabernacle of David” to be rebuilt? The first question is settled by an examination of its source, Amos 9:11, and its context. The preceding chapters and the first part of chapter nine deal with God’s judgment upon Israel. It is summed in the two verses which immediately precede the quotation: “For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, like as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, The evil shall not overtake nor meet us” (Amos 9:9, 10).
Immediately following this passage of judgment is the promise of blessing after the judgment, of which the verse quoted in Acts fifteen is the first: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations that are called by my name, saith Jehovah that doeth this. Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their own land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith Jehovah thy God” (Amos 9:11-15).
The context of the passage deals, then, with Israel’s judgment. After this period, which is the period of Gentile opportunity, God will raise up the tabernacle of David, give Israel supremacy over Edom and the nations, bless their crops, regather Israel, restore their cities, and assure them that they will never again be dispersed. The entire passage confirms that the “tabernacle of David” is an expression referring to the whole nation of Israel, and that in contrast to the Gentile nations. By no possible stretch of the plain meaning of this passage can the “tabernacle of David” be made to be the equivalent of the New Testament church. The prophecy concerns the rebuilding of that which was fallen down. The “ruins” are to be rebuilt “as in the days of old.” The nature of the blessings are earthly, territorial, and national, and have nothing to do with a spiritual church to which none of these blessings have been promised.
What then is the meaning of the quotation of James? What relation does it have to the problem faced by the council at Jerusalem? The question considered by the council was one of Gentile participation in the church. It apparently was difficult for the apostles to adjust themselves to equality with Gentiles in the Gospel. The evident blessing of God upon the Gentiles, their salvation, and spiritual gifts were indisputable evidence that a change in approach to the Gentiles was necessary. They must face the fact that both Jew and Gentile were saved by grace in exactly the same manner. How was this to be reconciled with the promises of God to Israel? It is this which James answers.
He states, in effect, that it was God’s purpose to bless the Gentiles as well as Israel, but in their order. God was to visit the Gentiles first, “to take out of them a people for his name.” James goes on to say that this is entirely in keeping with the prophets, for they had stated that the period of Jewish blessing and triumph should be after the Gentile period: “After these things I will return, And I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen.” Instead of identifying the period of Gentile conversion with the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David, it is carefully distinguished by the first(Gentile blessing), and after this, referring to Israel’s coming glory. The passage instead of identifying God’s purpose for the church and for the nation, Israel, established a specific time order. Israel’s blessing will not come until “I return,” apparently reference to the second coming of Christ. That it could not refer either to the Incarnation or to the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost is evident in that neither are “return’s.” The passage under consideration constitutes, then, an important guide in determining the purpose of God. God will first conclude His work for the Gentiles in the period of Israel’s dispersion; then He will return to bring in the promised blessings for Israel. It is needless to say that this confirms the interpretation that Christ is not now on the throne of David bringing blessing to Israel as the prophets predicted, but He is rather on His Father’s throne waiting for the coming earthly kingdom and interceding for His own who form the church.
An examination of the evidence has brought us to the conclusion that the Davidic covenant demands a literal fulfillment, that the partial fulfillment in no wise hinders a complete future fulfillment and in fact requires it, that only a literal fulfillment is in harmony with the other covenant purposes of God, and that the New Testament is not only silent on any identification of the present position of Christ with the Davidic throne but specifically separates the present period of Gentile blessing from Israel’s future glory.
THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST BEING THE OVERFLOW OF GRACE AND REALITY
Based on John 1:16 we can say that the fullness of Christ is the overflow of grace and reality. God became man and dwelt among us, full of grace and reality. Of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. Our receiving is not a once-for-all matter; rather, it is a continual receiving, a receiving of grace upon grace. The phrase grace upon grace in Greek implies that grace is like the rolling waves of the sea that come in wave after wave without ceasing. Beginning from the time we are saved, we receive grace and reality from His fullness, and it is a receiving without end until we grow up to be a full-grown man with the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
God has given Himself to us to be our grace and reality with a goal in view, that is, to produce the church. John 12:24 says, “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” This “much fruit” is blended together to become one loaf—the church. God became flesh and brought grace and reality for the purpose of producing the church. The church does not only have the riches of Christ, but it is also the fullness of Christ. The church is the overflow of His riches, and this overflow is His expression.
Genesis 1:27 tells us that God created male and female according to His image. But in practicality when God used dust to create man, He created only a male, Adam; He did not create the female, Eve (Gen. 2:7). God did not create two people. Later God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone, so He created a female to be his counterpart. How did God create the woman? God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and took out one of his ribs, and He built that rib into a woman. Then God placed this woman before Adam. As soon as Adam saw her, he said, “This is bone of my bones / And flesh of my flesh” (v. 23). The two were a perfect match, so they were joined together to become one flesh. This proves that Eve flowed out of Adam, that she was an overflow of Adam. In the New Testament, in Ephesians 5, Paul says that the story of Adam and Eve refers to Christ and the church. This also tells us how the church was produced: It was by Christ’s “sleeping” on the cross and His side being pierced to flow out blood and water. The blood was for washing away our sins, and the water was for giving us life. Then in resurrection He entered into us as the Spirit and thereby regenerated us. Thus, all of us are built up together to become the church as the counterpart of Christ. Therefore, the church is the overflow of the riches of Christ, and it is the fullness of Christ. The church is the result produced from the riches of Christ, and it is the overflow and expression of Christ.
THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST
THE FULLNESS OF GOD
The fullness of Christ
is the fullness of God.
Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” This verse speaks not of riches but of fullness. If we say riches instead of fullness, it is not correct, because all the riches of God have become the fullness of God as His expression. All of this fullness dwells in Christ bodily. Therefore, this fullness becomes the fullness of Christ, and the fullness of Christ is the fullness of grace and reality. These three fullnesses—the fullness of God, the fullness of Christ, and the fullness of grace and reality—all refer to the same fullness
At the moment of our salvation when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, three most amazing things will happen.
The first thing that will occur is that we will get automatic forgiveness for all of our sins – all past, present, and future sins that we will ever commit.
The second thing that will occur is that we will get to go straight to heaven when we die and cross over because we have now become saved and born again.
However, there is a third major thing that will occur that some Christians do not have a full understanding on. At the exact moment that we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior and have become saved and born again, we also instantaneously “receive” the third person of the Godhead – the Holy Spirit Himself!
The Bible tells us that both God and Jesus live in heaven. However, when we become saved and born again, we literally get to receive the Holy Spirit Himself. He literally, and I mean literally, comes to live on the inside of us.
As you will see in the Scripture verses I will list below, our bodies have now become the temple of the Holy Spirit because He is now living on the inside of us. And not only does the Holy Spirit come to live on the inside of us as a result of accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, but the Bible also tells us that we have now become “sealed” with the Holy Spirit.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “seal” means “to confirm, authenticate or guarantee – to pledge.” In two Scripture verses I will list below, the Bible tells us that we are given the Holy Spirit by God the Father as a “guarantee” and as a “deposit.”
When God says that we are sealed by His Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation in Jesus, He is giving us a very powerful revelation on what is actually occurring in the spiritual realm. Not only are we receiving the presence of the Holy Spirit, but we are also being sealed with His actual presence. This seal now becomes a very powerful, spiritual bond between God and us.
Here are the specific verses from the Bible that will tell us that we will all “receive” the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation with Jesus, that our bodies have now become the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that we have now been “sealed” with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
1. Receiving the Holy Spirit at the Moment of SalvationThis first verse will tell us that we will receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation with Jesus – not sometime later. Here it is:
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38)
Notice this verse is talking about those who are actually getting saved. When you “repent” and you are getting “remission” for your sins – you are in the process of getting saved by accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. You cannot truly repent and receive full forgiveness and remission for your sins unless you are first willing to accept Jesus as your personal Savior.
Then notice what the verse says next. After you have repented and have accepted Jesus as your personal Savior – then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit Himself. I believe this verse is telling us that we will receive the Holy Spirit the moment we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. It will happen right then and there, not sometime later.
Some people will get saved and water baptized at the same time. Others will get saved, and then baptized with water at a later date.
The Holy Spirit will come into you at the moment you get saved – not at the moment you go through the rite of water baptism. If you go through the rite of water baptism at a later date, the Holy Spirit is not going to wait until you do that. He will enter into you right at the moment that you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, no matter where that may take place at.
2. Our Bodies Are Now the Temple of the Holy SpiritThe above Scripture verse tells us that we will “receive” the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation in Jesus. So once we receive Him, where exactly does He go? The next set of verses will tell us that He will literally come to enter in on the inside of us.
The Bible says that we have three parts to our beings – body, soul, and spirit. Our human spirits are referred to as our innermost being by the Bible. The Holy Spirit will come and enter into your human spirit.
As a result of the Holy Spirit now living on the inside of us in our human spirits, the Bible tells us that our bodies have now become the “temple” of the Holy Spirit since we now carry His actual presence on the inside of us.
Here are 5 very good verses telling us that the Holy Spirit now literally lives on the inside of us, and that our physical bodies have now become the actual temple of the Holy Spirit.
- “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
- “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
- “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:17)
- “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Romans 8:9)
- “But if the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)
Notice the first verse tells us to glorify God in both our bodies and our spirits. I believe this verse is giving us key insight that the Holy Spirit is now living on the inside of us in our human spirits and as such, our bodies have now become His temple. Notice this verse does not use the word “soul” – but only “spirit.” Our souls and spirits are two separate parts inside of our beings.
When the Holy Spirit initially comes into us, He will literally take up residence in our human spirits. However, I believe there is a second experience that can occur where the Holy Spirit will release from your human spirit to come up into your soul area.
This second experience has been called by many the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Our spirits are baptized with His presence at the moment of our salvation with Jesus, but our souls can also be baptized with His presence. For a good, detailed explanation on what this second experience is all about, and how to go about actually receiving it, go to my article titled “How to Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit“ in the Bible Basics section.
3. Sealed with the Holy SpiritAs a result of having received the presence of the Holy Spirit Himself at the moment of our conversions, the Bible tells us that we have now been “sealed” with His actual presence.
Here are 3 very powerful verses all using the word “seal” in reference to the Holy Spirit now living on the inside of us, and a fourth verse that says that the Holy Spirit has been given to us as a “guarantee.”
- “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
- “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a deposit.” (2 Corinthians 1:21)
- “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13)
- “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 5:5 )
To think that God the Father would allow the third Person of His Godhead, the Holy Spirit, to come down and literally enter in on the inside of us where our bodies have now become the temple of His Spirit is something that is truly awesome and completely mind-blowing!
Now that we know that we have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us – what exactly will He do with us? What kind of activity can we expect from Him? I will be doing additional articles in the very near future on some of the incredible things that will start to happen to you once you open yourself up to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to start to become much more active in your life.
But for right now, for those of you who have not received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit where He is now residing up in your soul area, I would highly recommend that you go to my article titled “How to Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit”
If you are willing to take this extra step and receive this second gift that is available to all believers – your whole life will take a major turn in the Lord.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
Romans 10For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, "I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry." Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me." But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people." - Romans 10:12-21
Faith Comes By HearingAs said in Romans 10, "how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?" In order to have faith in something or someone, we must first be aware of their existence. Such is the meaning of "faith comes by hearing." When rational people hear the good news of the Gospel and redemption in Jesus, they can have faith in Christ and accept His eternal salvation. Furthermore, when people hear the Word of God they can know and trust in the Godly order of life and why we should accept the redemption of Jesus' atonement with faith in Him.
The ESV Study Bible explains Romans 10, verse 17,
“Paul now sums up the argument thus far. One can come to faith only through hearing the gospel, and the specific message that must be heard is the word of Christ, that is, the good news about Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen Savior.”
Romans 8:33 reminds us that it is God who justifies, so faith is not something we can accomplish on our own. If we could reach out and take faith for ourselves, we would be able to save ourselves and that contradicts Scripture and our need for the Savior.
According to the Lutheran Study Bible English Standard Version(ESV), the meaning of hearing includes, “the act of hearing, the ear, or the message heard. The message is the meaning here.” (Romans 10:17 Commentary p 1930). The ear receives the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, faith begins in the hearer.
The cross of Christ fulfilled God’s plan of salvation for the world. Those who hear this message and receive it come to understand the meaning of faith. They know that faith is a gift from God and that salvation is God’s grace poured into the hearts of the hearer through the power of the Holy Spirit. We can say with certainty, “God gives us faith as a gift, through which Christ’s righteousness is credited to us (Ephesians 2:8-9) and our sins are forgiven (Romans 3:22-24)” (The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Philip Melanchthon, 95, Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions).
Knowing Jesus: Four Ways to Go Deeper in Your RelationshipMay 4, 2022The peepers sing their sweet serenade while raindrops crackle like fire licking up a pine bough. I search the skyline for a hint of lingering daylight and breathe a prayer that God will take me deeper on this journey of knowing Jesus through experience.
“What do I need to know as we prepare to head into the summer season of noise and activity?” I pray.
The words of Philippians 3:8 come to mind: “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” In an instant, I’m reminded that the most important pursuit in my life is knowing Jesus more deeply.
Why Knowing Jesus Matters More Than Anything ElseWhat is the most important pursuit in your life?
You might be investing your energy into making the world a better place through your career. Maybe you’re a mom, and you’re trying to raise godly children. You might be a student with hopes for good grades and a powerful platform from which you might impact the world for Christ. Perhaps you’re part of a thriving ministry that brings healing and hope to the hurting.
God calls us to join him on mission in the world; however, it’s important to remember that excelling in our careers and callings is not our highest goal.
I spent decades finding my identity through my achievements. As a student, I was proud of my perfect grades. When I became a teacher, I was proud of my career choice and my vision for making a positive impact on the world around me.
My accomplishments felt fulfilling for a while, but eventually, I needed to accomplish something else to feel fulfilled. God radically transformed my life by leading me to the words of Philippians 3:8, which tells us to consider all of our achievements garbage in comparison to knowing Jesus in an experiential way.
Our daily work matters. God wants us to partner with him and carry his love into the world. But doing God’s work is not the most important pursuit in our lives; instead, knowing Jesus is the most important pursuit.
Knowing Jesus Through ExperienceIn the original language, the word for “knowing” is more than head-knowledge. The word refers to an experiential way of knowing Jesus—a kind of knowing that comes from doing life alongside him. We come to know Jesus experientially as we watch for his work in our everyday moments, ask him to help us trust him, follow his guidance, seek his comfort, and anchor ourselves in his promises.
About ten years ago, I decided to claim Philippians 3:8 as my life verse. Above all else, I want my life to be about knowing Jesus—more and more with each passing day. I want to live a life of love, and love begins with knowing Jesus.
How to Live It Out
But what does knowing Jesus look like on a practical level? How do we come to know Jesus through experience? Here are a few points to remember:
1. We join him in what he is doing.We come to know Jesus through experience as we watch for his movement in our lives and partner with him by loving others. This includes asking him for guidance as we interact with the people he places in front of us. Every day, Jesus calls us to be vessels of his love. We join him in his work by intentionally carrying his love to the broken world around us.
2. We keep glancing in his direction all day long.Song of Solomon 4:9 says we captivate Jesus’ heart with one glance in his direction. The more frequently we glance toward him, the more we will encounter his joy and love. And Jesus’ joy and love will transform our hearts.
3. We hide his Word in our hearts and apply it to our lives.We renew our minds by hiding God’s Word in our hearts. Do you want to know Jesus more deeply? Hide his Word in your heart by memorizing Scripture. Think of it throughout your day, and allow his Word to guide your paths.
4. We lean into his grace.Jim Wilder writes that grace is what happens when God does for us that which we cannot do for ourselves. Where do you need to lean into grace? Do you need Jesus to help you trust him in uncertainty or break free from a pattern of sin? Ask him to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. He will show you your role and lead you on level ground.
As for me, I return to the chaos of the house as the rain patters and the peepers sing. Walking through the door, I scoop the little one into my arms and leave the messy floors and scattered toys for later. This way of living present in my moments feels like it might just be ushering me into the life I long for. It feels like I might just be encountering Jesus.
Have you heard the phrase
“faith that moves mountains”?
This beloved phrase comes from Matthew 17:20: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Jesus utters this shocking pronouncement to his disciples. This brings up questions for us. Does this mean that if we have enough faith, we can do anything we want? If we believe hard enough, can we accomplish miraculous feats?
Some motivational speakers might say this is the case. Just believe hard enough, and you’ll get what you want. However, read in the context of the passage, and of the Bible as a whole, we begin to see that using faith like some sort of magical power is not what Jesus is advocating.
Faith is not a mustering of will or a power to wield. Faith comes from trusting in God and His will.
What Jesus is advocating is something far more radical.
We must go back to the context of this verse to truly understand what Jesus is saying.
In Matthew 17, Jesus has just come down from the mountain where He was Transfigured before Peter, James, and John. The following occurs in Matthew 17:14-20:
“When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. ‘Lord, have mercy on my son,’ he said. ‘He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.’ ‘You unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.’ Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”
Here, Jesus could potentially be talking about real mountains. The Lord does have that power. However, in context, the problem being addressed is that the disciples could not drive out the demon because they had too little faith.
Jesus constantly used metaphors and parables in His teachings. Here, the “mountain” Jesus is metaphorically alluding to is the demon-possessed boy. Jesus is making a point that even the tiniest bit of faith — the size of a mustard seed, the smallest seed the disciples would have been familiar with — can accomplish great things. The point here seems to be the vast difference between the size of a mustard seed and the size of a mountain. If the disciples had even the smallest bit of faith, it could do great — mountain-sized — things.
This is another area of clarification. Do we have faith in our own abilities?
No. We are told, “Lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), and 2 Corinthians 3:4-5reminds us, “Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”
Do we have faith in the favorable outcome? If we believe hard enough that a thing will happen, shall it cause that thing to do so?
Though “believe it and you can achieve it” may sound like a good slogan, it is ultimately foolishness. God controls the outcome, not us. Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
So what do we have faith in? Our faith is in God.
Jeremiah 10:12-13 says, “But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.”
The Lord has the power to move mountains. Our faith is in Him to do so. Nothing will be impossible for us (Matthew 17:20) because “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
This leads us to some wonderful news. We don’t have to summon up enough faith to perform miracles. It isn’t about believing hard enough, trying hard enough. We only need faith the size of a mustard seed. It is our God who performs mighty deeds.
We serve an awesome God who is capable of great things. He can move all of our mountains.
We may have faith in and claim His promises for our lives. Here are three ways our Lord moves mountains when we put our faith in Him.
1. Have faith that the Lord will move mountains that are obstacles to your faith.Sometimes one of the most seemingly insurmountable obstacles is that of clinging fast to God.
Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
When we feel that we can no longer keep the faith, we may turn our eyes to God. When we don’t understand something about the Bible or God, the Lord will lead us toward Him. If we have faith that God will pull us through, He is faithful to lead us through this life and all of its snares into a full relationship with Him.
We may ask the Lord to help us overcome the obstacles in our hearts that separate us from Him.
2. Have faith that the Lord can move mountains that are obstacles in your life.Clearly faithful believers are not promised easy lives. (The book of Hebrews puts this idea to rest quite solidly.) We will suffer. Our very world is broken. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time,” Paul says in Romans 8:22.
Jesus says in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus promises that we will have trouble. However, He has overcome the world. Nothing in it holds power over Him or can thwart His will.
When we pray in accordance with God’s will, we may have faith that, no matter the odds, the will of God will be accomplished. When we pray, “If it is your will, may it be done,” we know His will shall indeed be done.
No sickness, no obstacle, no poverty, no broken relationship, no cycle of sin, nothing is too big for God to overcome.
Paul says it far better. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
This one is twofold.
First, our sin may seem insurmountable. We may believe that we are beyond saving, beyond forgiveness. If you truly knew what I’ve done, we think, you would understand. You would see that I am beyond rescue.
But if we have the tiniest bit of faith — faith the size of a mustard seed — and we put that faith in Jesus, our sins are wiped out forever.
Psalm 103:10-12 tells us, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Second, we may find it impossible to forgive others. Humans do truly atrocious things to each other — things that do not deserve forgiveness. However, Jesus is very serious about forgiveness. In Mark 6:14-15, He says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Others may not deserve our forgiveness. However, neither do we deserve the Lord’s forgiveness. Yet, Jesus died a brutal death that we might be forgiven. He commands that we also forgive.
By human logic, this is nonsensical, even impossible. But by faith, forgiveness is possible. Through prayer, through faith, we are able to forgive those who have sinned against us.
As we’ve discussed, moving mountains is not accomplished by mustering up enough faith. It is done by trusting God to move the mountains by His power.
However, it should be our desire to draw ever closer to Him, to grow deeper in faith.
Growing in faith is not about studying or intellect, though these can help. It is not about rigor or discipline, though these also have their place in our growth. Rather, growing in faith is growing in relationship.
Our faith is a relationship with our infinite Creator. The scandal of the cosmos is that the all-powerful God would call humans His friends (John 15:15) and children (1 John 3:1). As we spend time with Him, learn about Him, talk with Him, walk with Him, and follow His teaching, we will grow in relationship and grow in faith. For if we are God’s friends and children, will we not align with His will? And will not He, as the best of friends and fathers, delight to move the mountains that rise up against us?
Our Lord flattens mountains.
He forgives sins.
He makes a way. Perhaps
none capture this so beautifully
as Isaiah in Isaiah 40:1-4:
"Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
A voice of one calling:
'In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.”
- And whatever you ask in prayer,
you will receive, if you have faith.”
Adam and Eve had intimate fellowship in the presence of God before the fall (Genesis 3:8). Since that time, sin has prevented our ability to be in the physical presence of God (Exodus 33:20). Now only the holy, sinless angels are in the physical presence of God (Luke 1:19). But Christians have the presence of God within us by virtue of His indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:23; 15:4), and that indwelling presence comes only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are aware of the reality of this presence from our obedience to His Word. “We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praise of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Note that Peter says that “we are chosen people . . . belonging to God.” If we belong to Him, will He not be present among us? We never lose the reality of God’s presence, no matter how badly we fail; we never sin so much as to lose our salvation; we never sink so far as to banish the Holy Spirit. We can anger God because of our sin, but true believers never lose the presence of the Holy Spirit. While we will never lose the reality of God’s presence, we might lose the “sense” of His presence.
Every child of God invariably goes through this feeling of losing God’s presence from time to time, like a landlord who has left his house and gone away on business for a while. He has not left the house completely empty, for, if he had, he would have taken all his belongings with him. But because he has left all his furniture and belongings in that house, does it not mean that he will return once again? Any believer knows that there are times of spiritual leanness when perhaps the Lord determines to test our faith. Does He not push us through the winnowing flames of affliction that we might be all the more pure (Job 23:10; 1 Peter 1:7)?
But the practical result of being in God’s presence is joy! Many Christians seem gloomy and dejected because they lack this sense of God’s presence. The fellowship is sweet for those who walk with the Lord in obedience and faith. But the sweet fellowship that comes from obedience and trust in the Lord is not a passing feeling. It sustains us, especially during trials, for “the joy of the Lord shall be your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). James, the Lord’s brother, writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2) because trials produce faith and develop perseverance. When we persevere through trials, proving to ourselves and to others that our faith is real, our sense of God’s presence increases, as does our joy.
David speaks of a joy that only the righteous can know (Psalm 16:11)—a joy that is but a foretaste of a far greater and everlasting joy when we see the Lord’s face in the glory to come.
Romans 10:17 - So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Mark 11:22-24 - And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
James 2:19 - You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Luke 1:37 - For nothing will be impossible with God.
Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
2 Corinthians 5:7 - For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Ephesians 2:8 - For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
1 Corinthians 2:5 - That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.