What the Bible says about . . .
God the Father
Here is one of those questions that many people ask, “Where did God come from?” Or the question may go like this, “Who created God?” And of course there are many other questions that people ask regarding this issue about the existence of God but the bottom line is this, nobody created God, He has no beginning and He has no end. He is eternal.
In Psalm 90:2 we are told, “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”How can that be, that He has always existed and He has always been God?
The Bible does not tell us and so, we must believe it by faith because God has said it in His Word and His Word is truth!
NATURAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
OMNISCIENCE (HE IS ALL-KNOWING)
When we speak of God being omniscient we are saying that He is all knowing! The idea here is that God cannot learn anything because He already has total knowledge of everything!
Therefore, you can’t hide anything from God because He already knows what you will do before you even do it! Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being omniscient:
Job 37:16, Isaiah 42:9, Isaiah 44:6-7, I Samuel 16:7, Psalm 139:1-4, Matthew 10:29-30
OMNIPRESENCE (HE IS PRESENT EVERYWHERE)
Another attribute of God is that He is omnipresent or that God transcends all space and spatial limitations. He is present everywhere, not diffused through the universe, but present everywhere! This is another hard concept for us to understand, but it is what the Bible teaches and so we must believe it by faith!
Now don’t come to the conclusion that the Scriptures are teaching a pantheistic viewpoint here. What is Pantheism? Pantheism is the view that God is everything and everyone, and that everyone and everything is God. Pantheism is similar to polytheism (the belief in many gods), but goes beyond polytheism to teach that everything is God. A tree is God, a rock is God, an animal is God, the sky is God, the sun is God, you are God, etc.
Pantheism is the supposition or belief behind many cults and false religions (e.g., Hinduism and
Buddhism to an extent, the various unity and unification cults, and “mother nature” worshippers). That is not at all what the Scriptures are teaching. They teach His presence fills the universe and is limitless, not that everything contains God.
Here is one Scripture to show us that the universe cannot contain God. We are told in I Kings 8:27 as Solomon was dedicating the temple, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being omnipresent:
Jeremiah 23:23-24, Psalm 139:7-10, Hebrews 4:13, Acts 7:47-50
OMNIPOTENT (HE IS ALL-POWERFUL)
The next attribute of God is that He is omnipotent or that He is all-powerful. We are told in Jeremiah 32 that, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. . . . Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”
Jeremiah 32:17, 27.
God is all powerful, but there are things that God cannot do, which does not make Him less than all-powerful. It does not diminish the fact that He is God. Let me explain. First of all it is impossible for God to lie, (Hebrews 6:17-18).
Another thing that God cannot do is God cannot change, (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8). God cannot let sinners into heaven, (John 3:3, 5). God cannot do things that go contrary to His nature, who He is.
That does not make Him a lesser God or negate Him from being God. Thus, when we speak of God being omnipotent it doesn’t mean that God can do all things, because God cannot do anything that is contrary to His holy character!
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being omnipotent:
Genesis 1:1, Psalm 115:3, Isaiah 40:28, Psalm 33:6-11, Matthew 19:26
ETERNAL (HE HAS NO BEGINNING AND NO END)
Another natural attribute of God is that He is eternal or that God has no beginning and He has no end! Now that is difficult for us to understand because everything has a beginning and everything has an end. How can this be? We may not be able to fully understand this with our finite minds but that is what the Scriptures teach and so we must believe it by faith.
In Psalm 90:2 we are told, “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being eternal:
Genesis 21:33, Psalm 93:2, 102:12, Psalm 102:24-27, Isaiah 57:15, Revelation 22:13
IMMUTABILITY (GOD IS UNCHANGING)
Now this is important for us to understand, that God is immutable or He is unchanging! God’s character will always be the same. His nature will always be the same. His love will always be the same. His forgiveness will be forever. His salvation and promises are forever and-so-on. This is a good thing, that God is unchanging because if He did change, we would not know if we were saved or not. We would not know if He loved us or not. We would not be sure of anything. But God is unchanging and therefore we can rest on what He has said. It will stand the test of time, we can take that to the bank!
Our whole assurance in God is based in the fact that our heavenly Father is trustworthy. Thus, we can live life to the hilt because He can be trusted. May we as Christians never forget that!
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being immutable:
Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 6:17-18, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17
MORAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
Now keep in mind that we cannot posses the Natural Attributes of God but we can possess His Moral Attributes. In fact, we are called to manifest these attributes in our lives. They are the fruit of the Spirit. It is the way we are to live out our Christian faith. As we understand who God the Father is, what is His nature, we will see what He desires of us.
When we think of justice we think of someone who has been appointed by the people to represent them. In other words, the people are not formed for him, but he or his position for them. Thus, he has been entrusted to and will administer justice for the people based on a set of standards or laws. These standards, as we know, can change from time-to-time.
That idea of justice, when you apply it to God, is wrong. He is not formed for us to represent us, but we are formed by Him to represent Him! And God has not made standards for man, they are His standards and thus, since He is the creator of the heavens and earth, He has the right to put forth His justice. And if you think about it, righteousness is just an expression of God’s holiness. If He were not holy then He would be unjust.
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being righteous, just:
Genesis 18:25, Psalm 16:4-7, Isaiah 45:21, Zephaniah 3:5-7
Love is another attribute of God; it is part of His nature. Some try to exclude the other attributes of God and just focus on His love, but you can’t do that. All His attributes flow from Him and one
attribute does not supersede the other. Here are some Scriptures that speak of God’s love:
Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:16-17, Romans 5:8, I John 4:7-11
A.W. Tozer gave us a good understanding of God’s holiness as he wrote, “Neither the writer nor the reader of these words is qualified to appreciate the holiness of God. Quite literally a new channel must be cut through the desert of our minds to allow the sweet waters of truth that will heal our great sickness to flow in. We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of. God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine.” (A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, pp. 103-104).
Here are some Scriptures that speak of God being holy:
Exodus 3:5, Exodus 15:11, Isaiah 6:1-7, I Peter 1:13-16, I John 1:5
Grace is another attribute of God and it means that we are getting what we don’t deserve. We don’t deserve eternal life with God. We don’t deserve any of the blessings of God, but God freely gives them to us and He gives them to us in Christ Jesus! Here are some Scriptures that show us the grace of God:
1:15-17, Romans 5:1-2, Romans 6:23, I Corinthians 15:10, II Corinthians 12:9,
Genesis 6:8, Exodus 33:12-17, Galatians 2:21, Ephesians 2:8-9, Ephesians 4:29, II Peter 3:18
Mercy is another attribute of God. When I think of this word, “mercy” I see it as meaning that we are NOT getting what we deserve. You see, in God’s economy, we deserve DEATH and because of God’s great mercy that He bestows upon us, we get life! Now here is the problem. If God just forgives our sins, then He is not a righteous God, He is not a good God, He is not a holy God.
So how can God extend mercy to fallen man, not giving man what he deserves, DEATH or ETERNAL SEPARATION FROM GOD? The solution to that problem is that Jesus has paid in full the penalty for my sins, your sins and thus, He can extend His mercy to us through Christ! Here are some Scriptures that speak of God’s mercy:
Psalm 86:5, Psalm 51:1-2, Isaiah 55:7, Hebrews 2:17
Another moral attribute of God is that He is faithful. In other words, God is trustworthy. What He has said is true and He will see that it will come to pass. We can trust in Him. We can trust in what He has told us. God was not faithful, if He was not trustworthy or trustful, we would be in trouble. We would never know if or when we could trust Him. Imagine a relationship like that. Here are some Scriptures to show us the faithfulness of God:
Numbers 23:19, Psalm 119:89-90, Lamentations 3:22-24, I Corinthians 10:13,
II Thessalonians 3:3, Titus 1:2
Still another attribute of God is His goodness. Now when we speak of goodness in relation to God we are saying that the goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, to be cordial, to be benevolent or compassionate towards man. Are some Scriptures that show us the goodness of God.
Psalm 23:6, Psalm 27:13, Psalm 31:19, Psalm 107:8-9, Psalm 107:31, Psalm 145:8-9, James 1:17
As you have seen these attributes of God the Father and seen all that He is; His character, His nature, what flows naturally from Him, I pray it has moved you to love Him even more. And in loving Him more, I also pray that it has moved you to learn even more about Him. The more you know Him the more you will love Him and the more you love Him the more you will want to know Him.
What the Bible says about . . . The Trinity
OLD TESTAMENT TEACHING ON THE TRIUNE GOD
This is a problem for many people and for most Jewish people. They do not believe that the Old
Testament teaches on this idea of a Triune God. They believe that there is just one God and in reality so do we. The difference is that we believe in one true God who manifests Himself in three distinct persons. But again, like the State of Missouri, SHOW ME where in the Old Testament it speaks of this Triune God! That is exactly what I will do. But before I do, let me share with you some of the objections that some people have regarding this idea of the Triune God.
First Milton Lindberg, a Jewish Believer in the Messiah has stated, and he is right, that unless we can find the plurality of God in the Hebrew Bible, we should not speak of worshiping the God of Abraham. This is what he wrote,
“Although it may be granted that the Christian’s New Testament teaches that the term God may be applied to God the Father, to God the Son, and to God the Holy Spirit, the Christian should cease to claim that he worships the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses and the prophets, the God of the Torah [teachings or first five books of Moses], the Nevi’im [prophets], and the Kethuvim [writings], unless there is found in the Tanakh [Hebrew Bible], indisputable evidence that God exists in more than one personality.” - Milton B. Lindberg, In the Light of the Tenach: The Trinity, pp. 1-2
As we will see, the Scriptures speak clearly of the Triune God, even in the Old Testament. This is not an idea that was developed by Christians from the pagans, this three-in-one God, but it is what God is telling us in His Word! Before we look at these verses showing the Holy Trinity, let me give you a few verses that speak of there only being one God and there are no other Gods. And keep in mind that is what we as Christians believe, one God manifested in three distinct persons. Here are those verses that speak of only one God:
First of all, in Isaiah 44:8 we are told, “Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.” That does seem pretty clear; there is only one God, there are no others. Here are a few more verses that speak of there only being one God!
Isaiah 45:5-6, Isaiah 45:22, Joel 2:27.
It seems to be pretty straight forward. There is only one God. But what about the Shema or what I believe is the one big objection the Jews have regarding the Trinity, besides these previous verses we have read. This Shema is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which reads, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
These verses are also known as the SHEMA, which means to “hear.” The Jews would say these verses, this prayer in the morning and in the evening. They would teach it to their children; it was an important part of their lives!
Now in saying that, I want to show you something here that you may not expect. The Trinity is not a New Testament idea, but it is spoken of in the Old Testament, even in the book of Genesis. But here in Deuteronomy 6:4 listen once again to what we have read, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!"
During worship at the temple the worshipers would cry out over and over again, "SHEMA YSRAEL YAHWEH ELOHIM ECHAD YAHWEH." Over and over they were affirming the oneness of God, which was the foundation of the Hebrew religion; they were of course monotheistic in their beliefs! And so are we as we will see. We do not worship three different God’s, but one God manifested in three distinct persons!
Let’s look at what this text is saying. We start out with “LORD” and that is YAHWEH, the covenant name of God used by the Jews and when you see it in all capitals, that is what it is referring to.Then we go to the word “God” and that is the Hebrew word,
ELOHIM.Now this is where it gets interesting to me.El is the singular form, Elo is speaking of two and Elohim is speaking of three or more.Now this is a problem, are we saying that there is more than one God, a polytheistic belief? Absolutely not and I will show you why.
Next we are told that the LORD or YAHWEH is “one” or ECHAD.Once again this is confusing. First we say that there are three Gods, then here it is saying one God. What in the world is going on? This word “one” speaks of a compound unity, not a singular unity.Let me give you an example. When God created Adam and Eve He said, “And they shall become one [ached] flesh” (Genesis 2:24) or a compound unity.
Now that may not sound too important, but it is. You see, if you were to speak of a singular unity, the Hebrew word would be YACHAD, but that is not what the Holy Spirit used here. If He did, we would have no basis for the Trinity. But when you have the plural form, Elohim paired with echad, then you are speaking of one God manifested in three distinct persons!
In the very first verse of the Bible we see the Triune God or Trinity presented, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In Genesis 1:1 the word God is “Elohim” in the Hebrew. Remember Elohim is a plural noun meaning three or more, but the verb “created” is singular in the Hebrew. This is grammatically incorrect, but it is God’s way of communicating to us His tri-unity (three in one). We do not worship three Gods. We are not polytheistic, but we worship one God who is manifested in three distinct persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are monotheistic and that is what Moses is teaching us.
Let me share a few more verses here in Genesis to show you what I mean. In Genesis 1:26-27 we are told, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Listen to how The Amplified Bible puts these verses here in Genesis 1:26-27, it makes it very clear. “God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth. [Ps 104:30; Heb 1:2; 11:3.] So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. [Col 3:9, 10; James 3:8, 9.].”
Obviously The Amplified Bible expounds on this and makes it clearer or easier to understand. You see, that is the intent of these verses here in Genesis chapter 1, that the Triune God was working together in the creation of man.
Let me share with you a few more Old Testament verses that speak of the Triune God, the Holy Trinity, spoken of in the Old Testament.
Isaiah 40:13, Isaiah 44:6, Isaiah 48:16, Isaiah 61:1-2, Isaiah 63:7-10
NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING ON THE TRIUNE GOD
As you study the New Testament Scriptures there are many examples of the Trinity or our Triune God, one God manifested in three distinct persons. I realize it is a hard concept for us to understand as one writer wrote, “Explain the Trinity? We can’t even begin. We can only accept it - a mystery, disclosed in Scripture. It should be no surprise that the triune Being of God baffles our finite minds. We should be surprised, rather, if wethe nature of our Creator. He would be a two-bit deity, not the fathomless Source of all reality.”
(Vernon Grounds inCommitment. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 4).
That truly is a problem for us; that we cannot understand it with our finite minds. How can there be only one God and yet manifest Himself in three distinct persons at the same time? It is as Spurgeon said, “In attempting to define the Trinity or unveil the essence of Divinity, many men have lost themselves: here great ships have foundered. What have we to do in such a sea with our frail skiffs?” He also wrote, “I suppose, if any man looks long into the doctrine of the Trinity, he will be like one who gazeth upon the sun, and will be apt, first, to be dazzeled, and, then, to be blinded by the excessive light. If a man asketh that he may understand this great mystery, and refuseth to believe until he doth comprehend it, then he will be blinded, most assuredly.”
Let me share with you some Scriptures that speak of the Trinity and you will see for yourself that there is one God who is manifested in three distinct persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!
Matthew 1:20-23 – God the Father sent forth His Son, the Incarnation – God with us!
Luke 1:35 – An angel of God the Father spoke, God will be born by the power of God the Holy Spirit!
Matthew 3:13-17 – Here we see God the Father speaking, God the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus, who as we have seen, is God. One God manifested in three distinct persons!
Galatians 4:4-7 – God the Father sent forth God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts!
John 1:1-2, 14 – The Eternal God, the Word, became flesh and dwelt among us. He was equal with God or face-to-face with God.
Matthew 28:19 – Jesus said that we are to baptize people “in the name of” and not “in the names of.” It is singular and not plural as you would think it should be. Jesus is showing us the unity of the Trinity, of the Triune God and thus, it is “in the name of” and not “in the names of.” One name and yet three distinct persons!
II Corinthians 13:14 - “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” Notice once again Paul is speaking of the Triune God, the Holy Trinity here in this benediction!
I Peter 1:2 Peter - In this verse we see Peter showing us how the Holy Trinity, the Triune God is involved in our salvation once again.
Listen to what New Testament and evangelical scholar, Murray Harris had to say regarding Paul’s letters and how they show two of the three persons of the Godhead. He wrote,
“At the beginning of each of Paul’s letters is a salutation that ends with a standardized formula: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”
(1 Corinthians 1:3 and elsewhere). The apostle is not saying that there are two distinct sources of grace and peace, one divine and one human; significantly the preposition from (in Greek) is not repeated before “the Lord Jesus Christ.” Rather, Father and Son jointly form a single source of divine grace and peace. Of no mere human being could it be said that, together with God, he was a font of spiritual blessing. Only if Paul had regarded Jesus as fully divine could he have spoken this way.”
- Murray J. Harris, Three Crucial Questions About Jesus, p. 77
I think you have seen, as you look at both the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Scriptures, that there is a Trinity, a Triune God. If you deny this, you then are worshiping a different God, not the God of the Bible. Please remember that. Let the Scriptures speak for themselves. Let me leave you with this, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”
II Corinthians 13:14.
When we speak of the Triune God or the Holy Trinity many have a difficult time with this because from Genesis through the book of Revelation you will never find these words being used in the Bible. Therefore the question for many is why do we believe it? Is it even true? Folks, just because those words are not used in the Scriptures does not mean that the concept is untrue or it is not real.
Keep in mind that this is not some abstract, take it or leave it idea, but it is what God has said. It is what God has shown us in His Word; one God manifested in three distinct persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
First of all let’s look at a definition of this word Trinity, which comes from the Latin word TRINITAS, and means “threeness.” The definition of this word, “Trinity” from the American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster back in 1828 is, “In theology, the union of three persons in one Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
Webster then quotes Locke who says, “In my whole essay, there is not anything like an objection against the Trinity.”
Another definition of the Trinity is from Warfield, who wrote, “There is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence [life].” In other words, what we see is that they are one and yet three distinct
persons.They are all God, they are all equal, they are all eternal and to negate that or try to discredit that you have to negate or discredit the Word of God! Therefore, look at what the Scriptures are teaching us.
What the Bible says about . . . Jesus
Jesus Christ is Almighty God, the Second person of the Holy Trinity. Many see Jesus as a great prophet, a great teacher, a good man, but not Almighty God. If you feel that way, if you deny the deity of Jesus Christ, that He is God, you are still dead in your trespasses and sins. You are not saved. I realize that is a harsh statement, but if it is true, and it is, then why would you want to believe a lie and be eternally separated from God? Let me show you how even Jesus said that if you deny that He is God you will die in your sins.
In John 8:24 Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
Now please understand that the word “He” is in italics and thus, it was not in the original writing. This verse is better translated, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” In other words, Jesus is saying that He is the great I AM of Exodus chapter 3, the EGO EIMI, the voice from the burning bush, Almighty God.
Now you don’t have to believe what I have to say, but let me share with you what the Scriptures have to say regarding the deity of Jesus Christ!
- DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST- HIS ATTRIBUTES
ETERNAL – Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2, John 1:1-3
OMNIPOTENCE – ALL POWERFUL
JESUS HAS POWER OVER DEATH – Luke 7:11-16, 8:49-56, John 11:36-44
JESUS HAS POWER OVER NATURE – Matthew 8:23-27
JESUS HAS POWER OVER DISEASE – Luke 4:38-40, Matthew 9:1-8
JESUS HAS POWER TO FORGIVE SINS – Mark 2:3-12
JESUS HAS POWER OVER DEMONS – Luke 4:31-37
JESUS HAS THE POWER TO CREATE – Colossians 1:15-17, Matthew 14:13-21
OMNISCIENCE – ALL KNOWING
JESUS KNOWS ALL THINGS – John 16:30, John 21:17
JESUS KNOWS THE HISTORY OF INDIVIDUALS – John 16:19, 1:43-51
JESUS KNOWS OUR SECRET HOUGHTS – Luke 5:22-23, John 2:23-25
OMNIPRESENCE – PRESENT EVERYWHERE
HE IS PRESENT WHEREVER HIS DISCIPLES GATHER – Matthew 18:20
HE IS PRESENT WHEREVER HIS DISCIPLES GO – Matthew 28:18-20
IMMUTABILITY – UNCHANGING
JESUS IS UNCHANGING – Hebrews 13:8, Hebrews 1:10-12
When you look at the attributes of Jesus you can clearly see that they are the same attributes spoken of God the Father and thus, Jesus must be God and He is! Now, in the Incarnation, when God became flesh and dwelt among us, He was still fully God and now He was also fully man. Let me show you the humanity of Jesus.
- HUMANITY OF JESUS CHRIST
HE WAS BORN OF A WOMAN – Galatians 4:4, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:30-38
HE WAS SUBJECT TO THE LAWS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT – Luke 2:40, Luke 2:52
HE POSSESSED THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF HUMAN NATURE HE POSSESSED A BODY – I John 1:1, Matthew 26:12, John 2:18-22, Luke 24:36-40
HE POSSESSED A SOUL – Matthew 26:38, John 12:27, Acts 2:25-33
HE POSSESSED A SPIRIT – Mark 2:8, Mark 8:12, John 13:21
HE WAS SUBJECT TO HUMAN PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS
HE BECAME WEARY – John 4:6
HE SLEPT – Matthew 8:24-25
HE HUNGRED – Matthew 4:2
HE SUFFERED PHYSICAL AGONY – Luke 22:44
HE EXPERIENCED INTENSE SORROW AND DISTRESS – John 11:35, Isaiah 53:3, Luke 13:34-35
HE DIED – Matthew 27:50 Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, John 19:30-37, I Corinthians 15:3
JESUS WAS SUBJECT TO TEMPTATION – I Peter 1:18-19, Matthew 4:1-11, Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15
I realize it is hard to understand how Jesus can be fully God and fully man in the Incarnation, but that is exactly what the Scriptures teach us. This story is told of Daniel Webster when he was in the prime of his manhood. He was dining with a company of literary men in Boston. During the dinner the conversation turned upon the subject of Christianity. Mr. Webster frankly stated his belief in the divinity of Christ and his dependence upon the atonement of the Saviour.
One said to him, “Mr. Webster, can you comprehend how Christ could be both God and man?” Mr. Webster promptly replied, “No sir, I cannot comprehend it. If I could comprehend him, he would be no greater than myself. I feel that I need a super-human Saviour.”
- Christian Witness
EXTRA BIBLICAL ACCOUNTS OF JESUS
Many people complain that there are no extra Biblical statements about Jesus, but that is not true. First of all, if you want eyewitness accounts you have to go to the Bible because we have eyewitness accounts of the existence of Jesus. But if you want historical evidence outside the Bible, you go to historians and people that were antagonistic towards Christianity, because they have nothing to gain by speaking of Jesus, only stating that facts that He did exist!
Yes, there are not volumes written of Jesus outside the Scriptures, but understand that He was nobody important who came from a hick town. In the Roman world He was not worth writing about, but we have some writings regarding Jesus outside of the Scriptures. Many negate what these historians have written because they want to deny that Jesus existed. Let me just give you a couple to show you that there was extra Biblical accounts of Jesus!
Josephus ben Mattathias was also known as Flavius Josephus. Flavius was his Roman name and Josephus his Jewish name. This man was a Pharisee and a priest living in Jerusalem. He was born in 37 A. D. and died sometime after 100 A. D. He saw first hand all the events leading up to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. In fact, he was a general of the Jewish rebel forces in Galilee fighting against Rome.
Then Josephus was captured by the Romans at the fall of the city of Jotapata and ended up being friends with the Roman General, Vespasian. Then, in Rome of 94 A. D., Josephus published his study of the Jewish people and called it Antiquities of the Jews. In this book is a passage that has caused great debate and concern whether or not it is accurate.
Please understand, the only reason it is being questioned is because it mentions Jesus as an orthodox Jew. That is not a good reason! Listen carefully to what he wrote, “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.”
Here is another writing of Josephus that show us that Jesus did exist, that He walked this earth. Again, in his book Antiquities of the Jews Josephus speaks of the death of James, the half-brother of Jesus. He wrote, “As therefore Ananus (the High Priest) as of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus (the Roman Procurator) was now dead, and Albinus (the new Procurator) was still on the road; so he assembles a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.”
Let me share one more with you, and there are others, but this is from a North African Christian teacher named Julius Africanus. He wrote this in 215 A. D. What Julius did was record the writing of a pagan historian by the name of Thallus.
Thallus lived in 52 A. D., only some 20 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and thus, an eyewitness to these events. What Thallus wrote about was the darkness that covered the land. This is what Julius wrote, “Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun – unreasonably, as it seems to me (unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of the full moon, and it was at the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died.)”
So there are extra Biblical accounts of Jesus and His life!
THE DEITY OF JESUS
JESUS CLAIMED TO BE GOD
Luke 4:16-21 – Ministry in Nazareth
Matthew 22:41-46 – Son of David
John 10:22-33 – I and My Father are One
John 5:16-23 – Claiming to be equal with God
John 8:51-59 – I AM statement
John 1:1-4, 14 – Jesus is the Eternal God
John 17:1-5 – Jesus received the glory of God
John 1:18 – Only Jesus has seen the Father
THE SEVEN “I AM” STATEMENTS MADE BY JESUS
John 6:35 - I AM the Bread of Life
John 8:12, 9:5 – I AM the Light of the world
John 10:7-10 – I AM the Door
John 10:11 – I AM the Good Shepherd
John 11:25 – I AM the Resurrection and the Life
John 14:6 – I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life
John 15:5 – I AM the Vine
WHAT OTHERS SAID OF JESUS
Matthew 16:15-17 – You are the Christ
II Peter 1:1 – God and Savior Jesus Christ
John 20:24-29 – My Lord and my God
Titus 2:13 - Great God and Savior Jesus Christ
Colossians 1:15-17 – Image of the invisible God
Colossians 2:9 – In Christ the fullness of the Godhead
Hebrews 1:3 – express image of His Person
I John 5:20 – True God
Isaiah 9:6 – Mighty God
Romans 9:5 – Eternally blessed God
Mark 14:61-64 – Son of the Blessed
John 18:4-6 – I AM
Mark 1:23-24 – Demon “Holy One of God”
Matthew 1:20-23 – Angel “God with us”
Daniel 7:13-14 – Son of Man
Hebrews 1:8-9 – God the Father calls Jesus God
I think you can clearly see from the Scriptures that Jesus is Almighty God, the second person of the Holy Trinity! And let me give you this to think about. As you study what is out there, you will find that there is overwhelming evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, both in secular and Biblical history. But, perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus did exist is the fact that literally thousands of Christians in the first century A. D., including the twelve apostles, were willing to give their lives as martyrs for Jesus Christ. People will die for what they believe to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be a lie. As Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24. May you believe that Jesus is Almighty God, the Savior of the world!
What the Bible says about . . . The Holy Spirit
When it comes to the Holy Spirit , who He is and what His function is in this world, there is much confusion today. Yet, when you look at the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is mentioned some 90 times with at least 18 different titles that are assigned to Him. In the New Testament we see that He is mentioned more than 260 times with 39 different names and titles that are assigned to Him. In fact, out of the 27 New Testament books, only the books of II John and III John do not mention the Holy Spirit. Is this an important subject? You bet it is. God took the time to mention the Holy Spirit in 25 of the 27 New Testament books! God does not want us to be confused about the Holy Spirit!
Where does this confusion come from? Some of it comes from the fact that the Old Testament
Hebrew word for “spirit” is “RAUCH” and it means “breath.” Then, as we get to the New Testament the Greek word for “spirit” is “PNEUMA” and it also speaks of “wind” or “air.” Now if that is all we were told of the Holy Spirit, if that is all the information we had, we too may come to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is some kind of “power” or “force” and not a person at all. But, as we will see, the Scriptures speak much more in regards to the Holy Spirit and they will clearly show us who He is. He is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.
Another reason so many are confused today is because of what has been said in the past regarding the Holy Spirit. One of the early church scholars, Arius, who lived around 280 - 336 A. D., taught that only the Father was the true God. He said that
Jesus was a created being and that the Holy Spirit was an essence. This doctrine is known as the Arian heresy. Many still hold it as being true, and you can clearly see that many of the cults have picked up on this idea.
In fact, the Nicaean Counsel stripped Arius from his position and branded his teachings as heresy! And yet, many still believe this idea but clearly the Scriptures don’t support this theory and that is why we call it a heresy!
Also, the Jehovah Witnesses teach, “The Bible use of ‘Holy Spirit’ indicates that it is a controlled force that Jehovah God uses to accomplish a variety of His purposes. To a certain extent, it can be likened to electricity, a force that can be adapted to perform a great variety of operations.” Again, they are agreeing with what Arius taught and he was wrong and so are the Jehovah Witnesses!
So let’s look at what the Scriptures teach us of this third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
PERSONAL PRONOUNS USED OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
John 16:13 – He, His
John 15:26 – He
John 14:26 – He
John 14:16-17 – He, Him
John 16:7-14 – He, Him
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS TREATED AS A PERSON
Ephesians 4:30 – He can be Grieved
Acts 5:3 – He can be lied to
Matthew 12:31, Mark 3:29 – He can be blasphemed
Hebrews 10:29 – He can be insulted
I Thessalonians 5:19 – He can be quenched Acts 7:51 – He can be resisted
Isaiah 63:10 – We can rebel against Him
THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A PERSON
I Corinthians 2:10-11 – The Holy Spirit has intelligence
I Corinthians 12:11, Acts 16:6-7 – The Holy Spirit has a will
Romans 15:30, Ephesians 4:30, Isaiah 63:10 – The Holy Spirit has emotion
John 15:26, 16:13-14 – The Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus and exalts the Father and the Son over Himself
John 14:16-17 – The Holy Spirit helps us
PERSONAL ACTS THAT HAVE BEEN ATTRIBUTED TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
Acts 13:2 – The Holy Spirit speaks
Genesis 6:3 – The Holy Spirit strives with man
Acts 16:6-7 – The Holy Spirit guides
John 14:26, Nehemiah 9:20 –The Holy Spirit teaches us
Romans 8:26 – The Holy Spirit intercedes for us
Romans 15:19 – The Holy Spirit works miracles
II Corinthians 13:14 – The Holy Spirit Communes with us
As you can clearly see, these attributes can be spoken of in regards to a person and not some impersonal force. To try and say that the church has come up with this doctrine, that the Holy Spirit is a Person, and to call it a false doctrine or say that we have twisted the Scriptures to fit our bias, is a smoke screen to hide the truth. The Scriptures clearly teach that the Holy Spirit is a person, is alive, the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Holy Trinity and not some impersonal force like the wind or electricity!
R. A. Torrey wrote this regarding the Person of the Holy Spirit,
It is of the highest importance from the standpoint of experience that we know the Holy Spirit as a person. Thousands and tens of thousands of men and women can testify to the blessing that has come into their own lives as they have come to know the Holy Spirit, not merely as a gracious influence (emanating, it is true, from God), but as a real person, just as real as Jesus Christ Himself, an ever-present, loving friend and mighty helper, who is not only always by their side but dwells in their heart every day and every hour, and who is ready to undertake for them in every emergency of life. Thousands of ministers, Christian workers, and Christians in the humblest spheres of life have spoken to me or written to me of the complete transformation of their Christian experience that came to them when they grasped the thought - not merely in a theological, but in an experiential way - that the Holy Spirit was a person and consequently came to know Him.
- R. A. Torrey, The Person And Work Of The Holy Spirit, pp. 10-11
THE DEITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
THE GODLY ATTRIBUTES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Hebrews 9:14 - Eternal
I Corinthians 2:10-14, John 14:26, John
16:13- Omniscient – All Knowing
Psalm 139:7-10 - Omnipresent – Present Everywhere
Luke 1:35 - Omnipotent – All Powerful
THE GODLY WORKS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Genesis 1:1-3, Genesis 1:26, Psalm 104:30, Job 33:4 - The Holy Spirit was actively involved in creation
I Corinthians 12:4-6 - The Holy Spirit is working with God the Father and God the son in the activities of the Church
John 6:63, II Corinthians 3:5-6,
Romans 8:10-11 - The Holy Spirit gives us new Life
II Peter 1:19-21 - The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures
Isaiah 48:16, Isaiah 6:8-10 and Acts 28:25-27, Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Hebrews 10:15-17, Psalm 95:6-11 and Hebrews 3:7-11, Acts 5:3-4, II Corinthians 3:17-18 - The Scriptures speak of the Holy Spirit being God
I think you can clearly see that we don’t have to twist or distort the Scriptures to make them fit our own theology, but just let the Scriptures speak for themselves. We have seen that the Holy Spirit manifests attributes that only God can have; eternal existence, He is omniscient, He is omnipresent, He is omnipotent. We have seen that the Holy Spirit was actively involved in creation, the workings or the ministries of the Church; He gives us new life and has inspired the Scriptures. And we have seen that the Scriptures themselves call the Holy Spirit God!
Do not remove the Holy Spirit from His position with God the Father and God the Son as part of the Tri-unity of God. All three are one God and yet they exist as three distinct persons and function in perfect harmony. As Deuteronomy 6:4 says in the Hebrew tongue, “Shema Ysrael Yahweh Elohim achad Yahweh” or “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”
In regards to the Deity of the Holy Spirit, this is what R. A. Torrey wrote,
To sum it all up by ascribing to the Holy Spirit all the distinctively divine attributes and several distinctly divine works, by referring statements which in the Old Testament clearly name Jehovah, the Lord, or God as their subject to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, by coupling the name of the Holy Spirit with that of God in a way in which it would be impossible to couple that of any finite being with that of Deity, by plainly calling the Holy Spirit God - in all these unmistakable ways. God in His own Word distinctly proclaims that the Holy Spirit is a divine person.
- R. A. Torrey, The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit, p. 30
Make no mistake about it, the Holy Spirit is not only a person, but He is Almighty God, the third Person of the Holy Trinity! As we recognize that fact, as we understand that He is Almighty God, we will treat Him with the honor that He deserves and not like some kind of force or puppet whose strings we pull or whose power we can call down for our own gain. The Holy Spirit is God! May we not forget that!
3. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE WORLD
John 16:8-9 - The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin
John 16:8, 10 - The Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness
John 16:8, 11 - The Holy Spirit reproves the world of judgment
Remember, the work of the Holy Spirit in this unbelieving world is to convict the world of sin so that those who do not believe in Jesus would believe! We have seen in this unbelieving world that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness as they see the standard that God has set, which is Jesus, or perfection, and realize that they cannot attain that on their own or by their own efforts. But they can receive the gift that is in Christ! Lastly, in this unbelieving world, the Holy Spirit reproves the world of judgment because
Satan has been judged at the cross and his power over our lives has been removed!
This is the work of the Holy Spirit in an unbelieving world as the Holy Spirit comes alongside unbelievers to draw them to Christ!
4. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE LIFE OF A BELIEVER
John 16:7 - The Holy Spirit is our helper
I Corinthians 2:10-14, John 14:26, I John 2:27,
I John 5:6 - The Holy Spirit is our teacher
John 16:13, II Peter 1:2-4, Acts 16:6-10 - The Holy Spirit will guide us
Ezekiel 36:27, Hebrews 12:1-4, Philippians 1:6,
Galatians 5:16-18, Ephesians 3:14-21,
Ephesians 4:17-24, II Corinthians 3:18,
I John 3:1-3 - The Holy Spirit will conform us into the image of Christ
Galatians 5:16-26, John 13:34-35, John 15:4-5,John 15:8, I Corinthians 13:4-8a - The Holy Spirit will produce fruit in our lives
As we submit to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, He will be our helper in doing what is right, and keep us away from that which is wrong. The Holy Spirit will be our teacher revealing the truths of God from the Word of God. He will bring to remembrance those things we need to know in a given situation. The Holy Spirit will guide us down the right path as we gain spiritual discernment that is according to the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will conform us to the image of Christ as we submit to Him.
It is out of this relationship that the fruit of the Spirit naturally grows in our lives! That is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer as the Holy Spirit comes inside of us!
I pray that as you search the Scriptures you will believe what the Scriptures are saying regarding the Holy Spirit. Listen to what God is saying and not man! Bring everything into the light of God’s Word and you will not be hurt or mislead by that. I think we have clearly seen that the Holy Spirit is a person, the third Person of the Holy Trinity – GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT!
What the Bible says about . . . The Work of the Holy Spirit
In the Gospel of John and in the book of Acts we are told of the three-fold work of the Holy Spirit in the world today. So let’s begin in John’s Gospel where we are going to see two of these aspects in which the Holy Spirit is working; what He is doing.
We are told in John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
- THE HOLY SPIRIT “WITH” US
Jesus used two different Greek prepositions which designate the different relationships of the Holy Spirit towards us. The first one is PARA and this is the Greek word which speaks of the Holy Spirit dwelling “with” us. The Holy Spirit is in this world drawing out a bride for Christ, the Church, you and me. He comes alongside pointing us to Jesus.
In John 16:8-11 we see the work of the Holy Spirit in this world. In these verses we see three things the Holy Spirit is doing in the life of the unbeliever, what the Holy Spirit is doing in this world today as He comes alongside to draw us to Christ. He will convict the world of SIN, of RIGHTEOUSNESS, and JUDGMENT.
The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin – John 16:8-9
The first thing that the Holy Spirit is doing in this world is convicting this world of sin. They do not believe in Jesus, the One who can forgive them of their sin!
The Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness – John 16:8, 10
Here we see that the Holy Spirit reproves the world of righteousness by pointing us to Jesus, who was accepted by God and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
Unless you obtain that kind of righteousness, you will never get to heaven and you will never attain that kind of righteousness apart from Christ!
The Holy Spirit reproves the world of judgment – John 16:8, 11
When Jesus died on the Cross, the ruler of this world was judged and his power permanently broken. But, if you refuse Jesus you will be judged. This judgment is the inevitable combination of these two truths - convicting the world of sin and righteousness.
The sin is man’s part. The righteousness is God’s part. The only way to reconcile that issue of sin is to have the righteousness of Christ applied to our lives by faith, as Paul tells us in II Corinthians 5:21.
The world is still under the power of Satan, but the Holy Spirit desires to release them from those chains that are binding them, those sins that are keeping them in bondage. But He won’t force you. If you continue to reject the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, He will reprove you or accuse you of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment!
- THE HOLY SPIRIT “IN” US
Now, when a person comes to Christ, asks Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, then we see this second Greek preposition regarding the work of the Holy Spirit come into play. This second Greek word is EN. This word speaks of the Holy Spirit dwelling “in” us. This happens the moment we get saved because apart from the Holy Spirit indwelling us, we are not saved!
Remember what Paul said in Romans 8:5-11, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 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. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him 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.”
Paul is telling us that the identifying mark of a believer is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit or that the Holy Spirit has come into our lives! When the Holy Spirit indwells us, the characteristics of Jesus will flow through us; like love, compassion, joy, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and-so-on. What is controlling your life?
Let me share with you some of the things that the Holy Spirit is doing in the life of a believer.
- THE HOLY SPIRIT IS OUR HELPER – JOHN 16:7
As we come to Christ one of the things that the Holy Spirit does in our lives to comfort us. The word, “Helper” in John 16:7 is the Greek word, PARAKLEETOS and it can also mean comforter.
Thus, as the Holy Spirit indwells believers, He guides us in the things we should and shouldn’t do. He helps us. If God has placed it upon your heart not to do something, then don’t do it. Don’t resist the work that the Holy Spirit is doing in your life. You see, the Holy Spirit is our helper and as He helps us in our daily lives, it brings comfort to all of us. He is our PARAKLEETOS our helper, our comforter!
- THE HOLY SPIRIT IS OUR TEACHER – I CORINTHIANS 2:10-14
When you are talking about Scriptural things, when you are talking about spiritual matters, you have to understand that these things are not within our reach by human intelligence or human experience. We can’t know them on our own. Then how can we know them? The Holy Spirit will teach us and bring to remembrance those things that we need to know, for He is our teacher! It is the Word of God opened up to us by the Spirit of God!
- THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL GUIDE US – JOHN 16:13
Another way that the Holy Spirit works in the life of a believer is that the Holy Spirit will guide us. So often in life we come to a place in the road and don’t know which way to turn. And it can be frustrating not to know what to do because the obvious way is not always the right way. As Christians, we don’t need to worry, or wonder. At least we shouldn’t. May we be open to where the Holy Spirit is guiding us, not only where to go but also what to do, because He knows what is best for our lives. It may not be the easiest way to go, but it is the best way to go. The Holy Spirit will guide us. May we obey!
- THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL CONFORM US INTO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST – EZEKIEL 36:27
Another work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, which we tend to want very much, but we don’t enjoy too much, is the Holy Spirit conforming us into the image of Christ. As the Holy Spirit molds and shapes our lives there are times that there is some chipping away in our lives, and as that is going on, it may hurt! There may be times when some imperfection is removed and that too hurts! But this is all done to make us more like Christ, to conform us into His image. This is done as we surrender our lives to the Holy Spirit and follow the Word of God!
- THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL PRODUCE FRUIT IN OUR LIVES – GALATIANS 5:16-26
God wants to produce fruit in our lives, abundant fruit. We see this fruit in
Galatians 5:22-23. As you read these verses understand that the fruit of the Spirit is love. It is singular, not plural. Thus, the eight things that follow love in Galatians 5:22-23, are eight characteristics or manifestations of love that are seen in the life of a believer. I like the way that D. L. Moody put it. He said: “Joy is love exalting. Peace is love
Reposing. Longsuffering is love untiring. Gentleness is love enduring. Goodness is love in action. Faith is love on the Battlefield. Meekness is love under Discipline. Self-control is love in training.” God wants to produce fruit in our lives; good fruit. May we surrender our lives to Him and let Him not only flow in us but through us!
Remember, the work of the Holy Spirit in this unbelieving world is to convict the world of sin. This sin is that of unbelief in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is opening their eyes so that they would believe! We have seen that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness as they see the standard that God has set, which is Jesus or perfection, and realize that they cannot attain that on their own, by their own efforts. But they can receive the gift that is in Christ! Lastly, the Holy Spirit reproves the world of judgment because Satan has been judged at the cross and his power over our lives has been removed! This is the work of the Holy Spirit in an unbelieving world!
We have also seen that the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, has been sent to us to not only draw us to Christ, but once we come to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes inside us. We, in a sense, are a temple of God. God’s desire is to make us like Himself by transforming us by His Spirit, so that we might bear much fruit.
As we submit to the Holy Spirit’s guiding, He will be our helper in doing what is right, and in keeping us away from that which is wrong. The Holy Spirit will be our teacher revealing the truths of God from the Word of God. He will bring to remembrance those things we need to know in a given situation. The Holy Spirit will guide us down the right path as we gain spiritual discernment that is according to the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is conforming us into the image of Christ as we submit to Him. It is out of this relationship that the fruit of the Spirit is naturally produced in our lives!
So God is working, drawing people to Christ and then sanctifying them, making them more like Jesus. It is easy to become discouraged as we see our failures, but understand that God is working. We are a work in progress and so, may we learn to surrender to Him. We need to be open to what the Holy Spirit is teaching us and then walk accordingly. We should not walk contrary to what God has told us. In fact, God’s Spirit does not tell you to do things that are contrary to the Word of God. R. A. Torrey wrote,
“Being led by the Spirit of God does not mean for a moment that we will do things that the written Word of God tells us not to do. The Holy Spirit never leads men contrary to the book of which He Himself is the author. And if there is some spirit which is leading us to do something that is contrary to the explicit teachings of Jesus or the apostles, we may be perfectly sure that this spirit who is leading us is not the Holy Spirit. This point needs to be emphasized in our day, for there are not a few who give themselves over to the leading of some spirit, whom they say is the Holy Spirit, but who is leading them to do things explicitly forbidden in the Word.
We must always remember that many false spirits and false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). There are many who are so anxious to be led by some unseen power that they are ready to surrender the conduct of their lives to any spiritual influence or unseen person. In this way, they open their lives to the conduct and malevolent influence of evil spirits to the utter wreck and ruin of their lives.”
R.A. Torrey, The Person & Work Of The Holy Spirit, pp. 113-114.
What the Bible says about . . . The Baptism with the Holy Spirit
We have looked at two of the three Greek prepositions that are used in the New Testament regarding the Holy Spirit. First of all the Holy Spirit is “with” us, PARA in the Greek, drawing us to Christ. Once we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes “in” us, EN in the Greek. He indwells us! Both of these prepositions are found in John 14:16-17.
The third Greek preposition regarding the Holy Spirit is found in Acts 1:8 where we are told, “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.”
This third Greek preposition that is used of the Holy Spirit is EPI. This word speaks of the Holy Spirit coming “upon” us or “over” us, empowering us for service. Now there are many in the church today who like to discredit this and say that there is no such thing as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. They will tell you that this phrase, “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is not found in the Bible. That is true. But just because a phrase is not spoken of in the Scriptures, does that mean the Bible is silent on this subject? Absolutely not!
Keep in mind that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, in John 20:22, Jesus breathed on His men and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. At that point they were New Testament saints. The Holy Spirit had come in them. They had all the information at this point, but they lacked the dynamic power to take that information to a world lost and dying in their sins. They are saved at this point but not empowered. Therefore, Jesus tells them in Luke 24:49 what they needed to do. He said to them, “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.” The disciples were told to wait until they were empowered by the Holy Spirit and the reason is simple. If they did not wait, they would be working in the power of their flesh instead of by the Spirit of God, and they will only become frustrated and unfruitful in the endeavor. They needed to wait until they were empowered for service.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells us that this power in your life will be used in such a way so that you will “be witnesses” of Christ! There is a point that needs to be made here.
Notice that it doesn’t say that we are to go out and witness. Witnessing is not wrong, but that is not what Jesus is saying here. He is saying that the Holy Spirit will empower us to be witnesses of Christ. That burning love we have for Christ in our hearts is manifested in our actions and as people look at us, they see something vastly different. They see God working in us. They see Christ in us! We are to be witnesses of Christ!
Think of this power that Jesus is giving us, this empowering with the Holy Spirit in our lives to be witnesses of Christ, like steam in a locomotive. The steam in a locomotive is not there to toot the whistle, even though that may be fun and it may sound cool. But the steam in a locomotive is there to move the train forward, so it can arrive at its destination.
The same is true with the power of God’s Spirit in our lives. This empowering is not there for us to toot our whistle or draw attention to ourselves, but to move the Gospel message forward!
I want to share with you about two different baptisms that the Bible speaks of. First of all there is the baptism unto life. In this baptism it is the Holy Spirit that is the baptizer. In I Corinthians 12:13 we are told, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” Who is doing the baptizing here? It is the Holy Spirit! In this baptism we are being baptized into the body of Christ. The purpose is the new life we have in Christ, that eternal life. The evidence for this is the Fruit of the Spirit!
I don’t think many people have a problem with that. But there is a subsequent baptism. This is a baptism unto power and this time the baptizer is Jesus. In Luke 3:16 we are told, “John answered, saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’”
And in John 1:32-34 we are told, “And John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.’”
Again, who is the baptizer here? It is not the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist tells us that it is Jesus who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit! This is not speaking of being baptized into the body of Christ, but with the Holy Spirit. The purpose for this baptism is for power, the power to be a witness for Jesus.
A LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE
IN THE EARLY CHURCH
OF THIS BAPTISM UNTO POWER
- THE DAY OF PENTECOST – ACTS 2
In Acts 2:1-6 we see what took place on the Day of Pentecost. Remember what Peter was like before this event. He was afraid to even mention that he was a disciple of Jesus or that he even knew Jesus. But now, after this baptism unto power, we see that this frail, weak Peter, who was afraid to say he was a disciple of Jesus at one time, now speaks with boldness the message of Christ. He doesn’t pull any punches but lays it all out and the people listen and they are cut to the heart. They are convicted.
In Acts 2:16-18 we see Peter point to the prophet Joel showing that what has taken place is of God. Out of this witness, out of Peter pointing them to Jesus, 3,000 people got saved as the Holy Spirit worked on the hearts of the people through the preaching of the Word of God. The church got started with a bang. We see here the boldness of Peter to speak the Word of God as he was empowered by the Holy Spirit. This is the baptism unto power that Jesus has given to Peter and to us! So we see it in the early church, at least on the Day of Pentecost.
- A REFILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – ACTS 4
In Acts 4:23-33, Peter and John are released from prison having being arrested for healing a lame man. The people that were gathered together here in Acts chapter 4, were basically the same people that had gathered together on the Day of Pentecost. And yet, here we see them filled once again with the Holy Spirit. The result of that refilling is that they spoke the Word of God with boldness and they gave witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! They prayed for that powerful boldness and God gave it to them as they asked. In fact, the word “boldness” is PARRESIA in the Greek and it speaks of “telling it all.” In other words, they didn’t hold back. They laid it all out and they were not fearful of what people might do or say to them!
- BAPTISM INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST AND THEN THE BAPTISM WITH THE SPIRIT AT A LATTER TIME – ACTS 8
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is often a separate and subsequent work apart from salvation, but it can take place at the time of salvation. In Acts chapter 8 Philip begin to do a work in Samaria. In Acts 8:5-8, 12, 14-17 we see them saved, but the Holy Spirit had not fallen upon them yet. As Peter and John come, they lay hands on them and they are now empowered for service. They are baptized with the Holy Spirit! As you can see in this Instance, it occurred at a different time than their salvation.
- BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AT THE SAME TIMES AS THEIR CONVERSION – ACTS 10
In Acts chapter 10 we read of a man named Cornelius who was in Caesarea. He was an Italian Centurion, and was in charge of 100 soldiers. This man feared God. He was a good man. He even prayed to God, and yet he was not saved. He recognized, along with his family, the emptiness of the Roman gods and wanted to know the true and living God. God was not only working in the heart of Cornelius at this time, but also in Peter who would bring the Gospel to Cornelius and his family!
Through a series of events, God had Peter go to the house of Cornelius and as he spoke forth the Word of God, the Holy Spirit moved upon their hearts. The Spirit moves through the teaching of the Word of God. That is the Biblical pattern! They didn’t have to learn how to speak in tongues. They didn’t have to practice it. The Holy Spirit came upon them as they gave their lives to Christ and they spoke in tongues and magnified God. Here we see their salvation and the baptism with the Holy Spirit occurring at the same time. After all of this, they were then baptized in water!
- SAUL’S CONVERSION AND EMPOWERMENT – ACTS 9
In Acts chapter 9 Saul is on his way to Damascus to bring those who were of the Way, Christians, back to Jerusalem with him, bound with chains. But on the way there, Saul encounters the Lord. Keep in mind that Damascus was 130 miles northeast of Jerusalem, so this was at least a six-day journey. That tells me that Saul was very committed to his cause, to stamp out the Way or Christianity. You can read of what took place in Acts 9:1-9.
Somewhere between the verses of this experience, I believe we see Paul get saved. This “requested one” Saul became the “little” one or Paul, as he saw himself in Christ. What is the evidence that Saul got saved here? I think there are two reasons for us to believe this.
First, Saul asked Jesus, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” The voice replies that He is Jesus and Saul is no longer persecuting Jesus but calling Him Lord! And secondly, he was praying in verse 11 of Acts chapter 9. We are told this, “So the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.’”
Then, in Acts 9:17-22 I believe we see Paul empowered with the Spirit of God as he speaks the Word of God with boldness! So we have seen Paul’s conversion into the faith, that he got saved on the road to Damascus, and then we saw the subsequent empowerment for service as he waited in Damascus. The result of this empowerment was the movement of the Gospel message forward as he was “proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” That is exactly what Jesus said would be the evidence for this baptism unto power. We would be witnesses of Him that the Gospel message would move forward. We see that in the life of Paul!
- SALVATION AND THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BY THE LAYING ON OF HANDS – ACTS 19
In Acts chapter 19:1-4 we see Paul is on his third missionary journey. When he is in the city of Ephesus he encounters some disciples that were dry and lifeless. I don’t believe these men were saved at this time. As Paul questioned them they only know of John’s baptism, which was one of repentance from sins, to prepare for the coming Messiah. That was all they knew of. So they were not saved.
They were waiting for the coming Messiah, not knowing that He had already come and paid in full the penalty for their sins. They were what we might call Old Testament saints. The Spirit of God had not in-dwelt them for they had not received Jesus as yet. So Paul shares with them about Jesus, His atoning death and glorious resurrection and they got saved! In Acts 19:5-7 we see their salvation and this empowerment for service as the Holy Spirit comes upon them!
I want to share with you a portion from Greg Laurie’s book, “On Fire” regarding this empowering of God’s Spirit upon our lives. This is what he said,
“A town somewhere in the U.S. was battered one night by hurricane-force winds. In the morning, after the storm had abated, the citizens emerged from their homes and shelters to assess the damage. The power of the storm quickly became clear to one investigator who was dumbfounded by an incredible discovery. Mouths dropped open as people came to check out his report: a common plastic drinking straw driven deep into a telephone pole by the night’s vicious winds. Obviously, under normal circumstances, a flimsy straw could never penetrate a telephone pole. But the tremendous power of the wind had driven the straw into the wood like a spike.
As believers living in an ungodly world, sometimes we wonder if we can ever make a difference. We wonder if we can effectively penetrate our cynical culture with the good news God has given us to proclaim. The answer lies in the source of our power. If we rely on our own strength and methods, then no, we cannot make much of a difference. But if we choose to be driven by God’s limitless power, we become like that straw in the hurricane where nothing can stop us. We can indeed make a dramatic difference.”
- Greg Laurie, On Fire, pp. 21-22
I hope you have seen that this empowerment is very Scriptural and that it is for today just as much as it was for the first century church. The baptism unto power! Remember what Jesus said to us in Acts 1:8, from The Amplified Bible, “But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.” The Living Bible puts it like this, “But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to testify about me with great effect, to the people in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, about my death and resurrection.”
Why not receive all that God has for us and as we do, may others be able to say of us, as they said of Paul and his companions, “. . . ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.’” Acts 17:6. Actually, this upside down world, by the power of God’s Spirit, may we turn this world right side up!
Let me leave you with this to think about.
Author Jamie Buckingham once visited a dam on the Columbia River. He’d always thought that the water spilling over the top provided the power, not realizing that it was just froth,that deep within turbines and generators transformed the power of tons and tons of water to electricity - quietly, without notice, not like the flashy froth on top.
- Source Unknown
May we come to the power source and not think that our froth is something. It is the power source that gives to us the power to move that Gospel message forward. May we not forget that. I hope you have seen that this empowerment is very Scriptural and that it is for today just as much as it was for the first century church. The baptism unto power!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit Part 1
As we look at what the gifts of the Spirit are, we need to begin in I Corinthians 12:1 where Paul tells us, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.” Verse 1 it should read, “Now concerning spirituals” for the word “gifts” was added for clarity but it truly is not needed because the context of these verses tells us that Paul is referring to gifts. The Greek word that is used here for “spirituals” is PNEUMATIKA, and the IKA ending on a word means, “characterized or controlled by.” Adam Clarke defines these spirituals this way, “Gracious endowments, leading to miraculous results . . . These all came by the extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit.”
Let’s paraphrase what Paul is saying here to help us to understand it more clearly. “Now concerning the things of the Spirit that are controlled by the Spirit.” Do you see how important it is to have a correct understanding of what Paul is saying here? But again, many put their own ideas, their own thoughts here and what they believe is in stark contrast to what Paul was saying here in Corinthians! We see people running to and fro for this healing service on Thursday, another on Monday, and-so-on. When the reality is, we don’t control the Holy Spirit or place our demands on Him as to when healing services are going to take place. The Spirit of God is in control and He gives gifts as He sees fit, not necessarily when we want them. These are the things of the Spirit that are controlled by the Spirit, may we not forget that!
There are those who deny these gifts of the Spirit or at least part of them, and others who abuse them. But without the gifts functioning in the Church, without the operation of these spiritual gifts, the Church is lifeless and ineffective in its mission. It is the Spirit of God that draws people to Christ and the Spirit of God uses the body of Christ to do that. He uses us through the various gifts that He bestows upon us. So, let’s not be ignorant of these things!
You see, God is going to give to us the things we need to do the work He has called us to do, and He tells us just to ask Him! It is as Vance Havner said, “We will move this world not by criticism of it, nor conformity to it – but by combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.” Folks, we need the power of God upon our lives today just as much as the first century church did. Why is that?
John Courson gives to us an excellent example of why it is needed, what it is all about. He tells us that, “The steam in a locomotive does not exist to toot the whistle. Its purpose is to power the engine and move the train. So too, the empowering of the Spirit is not given for people to feel ‘Holy Ghost goose bumps’, emotional highs, or warm fuzzy feelings. The Spirit comes upon people in order that the message of the Gospel might be moved throughout the world.” May we not forget that. Let us not be ignorant of these things as we look at the gifts of the Spirit that are given to us as He wills, not as we will!
The Scriptures speak of these spiritual gifts in four different portions of Scripture and some of them repeat the gifts, and some add new gifts to the list. You can find these in Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11, I Corinthians 12:4-11 and I Corinthians 12:28. To help simplify this, let me put the gifts in these three categories.
- Ministering Gifts: These are the gifts of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor/teacher, teacher, exhortation, discerner of the spirits, the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge.
- Serving Gifts: These are the gifts of ministering. Giving, leadership, showing mercy and faith.
- Sign Gifts: These gifts are the gifts of prophecy, healing, miracles, tongues, and interpreting tongues.
Now keep in mind that there may be more gifts than what I have listed. Also keep in mind that every believer has a spiritual gift and I believe God will give to each believer what they need in a given situation.
We are going to begin looking at gifted men that Christ has given to the Church. In Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-16 we see that Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor/Teachers and Teachers Jesus has given to the Church to build them up in the faith. He has given these men to the Church so the Church will not be tossed to and fro by all the winds of false doctrine that come blowing through the Church. They are to keep us strong and help us so we can go out and do the work of the ministry. So let’s look at these gifted men that Christ has given to the Church.
The first appointment, the first gift, that God gave to the church, was men who were apostles. For the office of primary apostles, there were certain criteria that had to be met. We are told in Mark 3:14 these apostles had to be handpicked by the Lord. We are told in Acts 1:21-22 that they had to be with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry and eyewitnesses of His resurrection. We are told in John 14:26 that God used them to give the Church its doctrine. In Ephesians 2:20-21 we are told that they laid the foundation of the Church. In II Corinthians 12:2 we are told that they had power to do miracles. And in Matthew 19:28 and Revelation 21:14 we are told that they have a future role in the Kingdom Age and in the New Jerusalem.
The primary office of Apostles has passed off the scene with the death of these men, the apostles. Yes, we are all apostles in a sense because we too have been sent by the Lord to bring the Good News of Jesus to this world, but the office of apostles has passed off the scene. The foundation for the Church has been laid.
Now as we study prophets, understand that this is not speaking of the gift of prophecy, which we will deal with when we study that gift. But this is speaking of the office of a prophet. What a prophet did was to be someone who forth-told the things of God and foretold the things of God. That is, he spoke the Words of God and he also spoke of future events with 100% accuracy as God revealed things to them.
The Hebrew word for “prophet” is NABIY, and it carries with it the idea of someone who spoke on the behalf of another. The biblical thought is that they spoke for God. The New Testament Greek word, PROPHETES, carries with it the same idea.
Now, as we looked at the apostles, they moved around a lot. They had more of an itinerant ministry. As they traveled they laid down the doctrine of God to the people. Whereas the prophets tended to be more local, speaking the Word of God to the local church, encouraging them to move ahead, admonishing them not to give up, and strengthening them in the faith, and-so-on.
Once again I believe that this office has passed off the scene as they too were laying the foundation for the Church to be built upon. Interestingly enough, we find no mention of apostles or prophets in the Pastoral Epistles. Why? Because they were passing off the scene and would not be in the Church anymore. They laid the foundation, as Ephesians 2:20-21 tells us.
You see, once the foundation was laid by the apostles and the prophets, their work was completed, and now the walls of the building are being put together by the Evangelists, Pastor/Teachers and Teachers. We are “living stones” building up the Temple of God, as I Peter 2:5 tells us. So I believe the office of a prophet has passed off the scene even though we all are prophets in the broadest sense of the word in that we are speaking forth the Words of God.
Evangelist is another gift that Christ has given to the Church. The Greek word is EUAGGELISTES, which means, “one who declares good news.” In other words it speaks of proclaiming the Gospel message. The work of the evangelist is to preach and explain the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ to those who have not yet believed. He is a proclaimer of salvation by grace through faith in the Son of God.
As you go and share you faith with others that is not the gift that Paul is speaking of here but we are all called to be witnesses of Him. But there are some who have this gift. They are evangelists. You talk to people who have this office, and people are getting saved all the time
Waiting in line at the movies, people get saved. The waitress at the restaurant gets saved while the person is ordering his meal. He comes out of the bathroom and someone got saved in there! Pastor Raul Reis can mess up a Bible story and 300 people get saved! And it makes you nuts, thinking there must be something wrong with you. You present the same information, the same message as they do, but you don’t have the same results. It is because they have this gift. It is a divine appointment by God and they do get results.
The New Testament evangelist went to where the sinners were. He didn’t wait for them to come into the Church. They preached the good news and as people got saved, they would remain with them until a pastor could be raised up or sent to these new believers.
Two examples of this gift in operation are seen in the life of Peter in Acts 2:22-24, 37-41 and Philip in Acts 8:5-8. This gift or office of an evangelist, these gifted men, are uniquely designed and given to the Church to reach the lost with the saving gospel, and every Church should consider this ministry as high priority. Local Churches should raise up evangelists. We are to send some out in mission enterprises and others to remain permanently in the Church fellowship - to teach, mobilize, and lead others out to fulfill the commission of winning the lost to Christ. The gift of evangelists!
Now when we speak of a pastor, this gift that Jesus gave to the Church, we need to understand that a pastor is also a teacher. There is no such thing as just a pastor. We see this in I Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” Those two functions define the teaching shepherd. You can be a teacher without being a pastor, and we will look at that, but to be a pastor and not a teacher is not biblical!
Now the word for, “pastor” in the Greek is POIMEN, and it speaks of one who feeds, one who leads, one who cares for a group of people just like a shepherd does for a group of sheep. That is the heart of a pastor.
There are basically three primary responsibilities that a pastor has for his flock. Let’s look at those for a few minutes.
First of all the pastor is to guide those who have been entrusted to him by God. The pastor is to lead his flock down the right path.
Secondly, we see that the pastor is to help his flock to graze. I know that sounds kind of funny, but hear me out. As a shepherd we are to bring the sheep into rich, fertile fields to feed upon that is the Word of God. We are to teach them, for if we don’t they well be spiritually sick and malnourished. There are so many winds of doctrine blowing through the Church today, no wonder the sheep are so sick, weak, and easy prey for the wolves that are out there.
The third and last point is that a pastor is to guard his sheep. As a pastor, as a shepherd, I am to guard the sheep from the wolves that come in disguised as Christians, as sheep, but are ready to destroy and devour the sheep with their false doctrine. A shepherd needed to be on guard at all times, watching over the sheep. If a wolf was spotted, they would launch their rod to send those wolves running away.
In all three of these areas we have just looked at, guiding, grazing and guarding, they all contain one important element, the teaching of God’s Word! You teach them so they know where to go. You teach them so they can feed on the nutrients of God’s Word and be strengthened in the inner man. You teach them so they are aware of the danger that is out there. It is as
Nehemiah 8:8 says, “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.” Ezra read the Word, explained the Word, and then he applied the Word of God to their lives! That is what a shepherd is to do!
The last of the gifted men that Christ gave to the Church are teachers. Keep in mind that this is a very broad office. Think about it for a minute. We have teachers at Bible
Colleges, teachers who teach at seminars, teachers who teach small group Bible studies, teachers who teach through books they write. We have teachers that teach the young children in Sunday School, the middle aged children in Sunday School, and the teenagers in Youth Group, home Bible study and-so-on. All are very important. All are the same office, but used in a different way.
The problem many times is that people take teaching, the teaching of God’s Word, far too lightly. Remember what James tells us in James 3:1, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” You see, if you are not teaching right, be it a Bible study, Sunday School, in books, at Seminars, or whatever, then you are misleading God’s people and He will hold you accountable for that! I am not trying to scare you, but from what I have seen, especially from the Seeker Friendly,
Purpose Driven and Emerging Church, they are taking away or adding to God’s Word. They see no problem with that, and I think they are taking what James has said far too lightly! Thus, stick to the Word of God and you won’t go wrong. The gift of teachers that Christ has given to His church!
Let me leave you with this to think about as we finish up looking at these gifted men that Christ has given to the Church to build it up, to help it go out and do the work of the ministry. Every believer today is indebted directly or indirectly to these specially gifted men God has given to His Church. Through their preaching, teaching, writing, exhortation, and other ministries, they lead the lost to Christ, enrich our knowledge of God and His Word, and encourage us, “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called.” Ephesians 4:1.
All of the gifts that Christ gives to individuals, and to the church as a whole, are gifts which He Himself perfectly exemplified. If ever there was a preacher it was Christ. If ever there was a teacher, ruler, administrator, servant, helper, or giver it was Christ. He is the perfect illustration and example of every gift, because His gifts to us are gracious gifts of Himself. In saying all that, remember these gifts of Evangelists, Pastor/Teachers, and Teachers are given as gifts to the Church by Jesus to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, ‘til we are transformed into His image when we go to be with Him!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit Part 2
- WORD OF WISDOM
Before we look at this spiritual gift we need to understand what wisdom is all about. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.”
Now, what is the difference between wisdom and knowledge or is there a difference? First of all knowledge is the gathering together, the accumulation of facts and information.
Wisdom, on the other hand, is the proper application of that knowledge. There are a lot of very intelligent people who are very unwise. They have all the information and they don’t apply it correctly to their lives. It is so important for the days we are living in, to correctly apply the correct information or knowledge to our lives—WISDOM!
First of all we need to understand that this is not just natural or even godly wisdom. The Word of Wisdom is a supernatural gift that the Holy Spirit gives us at various times in our life to help us answer a question, solve a problem, defuse a crisis, and-so-on. Many times as this gift is exercised we see the critics silenced, problems resolved, and people amazed at what was said. One writer put it like this, “The Word of Wisdom supernaturally discloses the mind, purpose, and the way of God as applied to a specific situation.” (The Holy Spirit, theholyspirit.com).
Another writer put it like this, “The gift of the word of wisdom is the application of knowledge that God gives you (I Corinthians 2:6-7). This type of wisdom is a gift which cannot be gained through study or experience and should by no means try to replace them. The gift of the word of wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective. . . . The gift of the word of wisdom is also the revealing of prophetic future; it is speaking hidden truths of what is not known. It is a supernatural perspective to ascertain the divine means for accomplishing God’s will in a given situation, and is a divinely given power to appropriate spiritual intuition in problem solving.
Furthermore, this gift involves having a sense of divine direction, being led by the Holy Spirit to act appropriately in a given set of circumstances, and rightly applying knowledge. The gift of wisdom is the wisdom of God. It is the supernatural impartation of facts; it is not natural. You can’t earn it. . . . The gift of the word of wisdom works interactively with the other two revelation gifts: knowledge and discernment.” (The Word of Wisdom, David Holt Boshart, Jr.).
Now this is one of those gifts that most, if not all of us, wish we had all the time. We wish that no matter what situation we are in, this gift is in Operation. But that is not the case. You also need to understand that this is not a gift that you can turn on and off like a light switch whenever you want to. The Scriptures tell us that the Holy Spirit gives it to us in certain situations, as He wills. In saying that, we are going to look at several examples of this gift being exercised in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
WORD OF WISDOM SEEN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
- SOLOMON - I KINGS 3
God gave to Solomon Godly wisdom, and yet, we also see Solomon using the word of wisdom, given to him by the Holy Spirit, to settle a very difficult problem that was brought before him. In I Kings 3:25-28 we see that Solomon, as God gave him this gift of wisdom, was able to discern who the living baby belonged to and who the dead baby belonged to. That was the word of wisdom that God gave to Solomon and we see that it resolved the problem and everyone was amazed at what Solomon said.
- JOSEPH - GENESIS 41
In Genesis 41:33-40 we see Joseph not only interpret the dream that Pharaoh had, but he also came up with a plan to save the people from the coming famine. And as Pharaoh saw how Joseph applied the knowledge he had received wisely, he made him Prime Minister over Egypt. Joseph exercised the word of wisdom that resolved a problem and the people were amazed!
WORD OF WISDOM SEEN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
- JESUS QUESTIONED ABOUT TRIBUTE MONEY - LUKE 20
The religious leaders always tried to catch Jesus by the words He said, and in Luke chapter 20 it was no different. The question they presented before Jesus was simple. It was a pretty straight forward question, “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Luke 20:22.
But there was no way He could answer it and be correct. This was a no win question to answer. You see, if Jesus said “Yes”, that it was lawful, then the Jews in the crowd would walk away, for they hated Rome and looked for any way to separate themselves from Roman authority. If He said “No”, that they should not pay taxes to Caesar, then the Jewish religious leaders would alert the Roman
authorities, telling them that Jesus is a rebel, and He would be dealt with.
It was a no win situation and yet in Luke 20:23-26 we see Jesus answer them and put them to silence by what He said. As the word of wisdom was working in Jesus they were stunned! The word of wisdom given to Jesus in this situation solved the problem, silenced the critics, and amazed the people.
- JESUS IS CONFRONTED BY THE SADDUCEES - MATTHEW 22
Here in Matthew chapter 22 we see the Sadducees, who were the liberals of their day and did not believe in miracles or the resurrection, present Jesus with this situation.
There was a woman who married a man and he dies not having any children. His brother marries her and he dies before having any children. This happens with 7 of this man’s brothers, all dying not having any children. (First of all I would like to know what she is putting in their drinks.) But in the end, this woman dies also. And the question they ask Jesus is this, “Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.” Matthew 22:28.
In Matthew 22:29-33 we see that Jesus shows them that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. He was not the God of Abraham, but He says, “I am the God of Abraham.” They did not understand resurrection life. They were trying to deny that there is a resurrection with this story and Jesus nails them here. Again, the problem was solved, the critics were silenced, and the people were amazed as Jesus spoke forth the word of wisdom.
- JESUS CONFRONTS THE PHARISEES - MATTHEW 22
In Matthew chapter 22 we see Jesus confront the Pharisees, the keepers of the Law you might say. Jesus comes and asks them a question. You see, they lived in a patriarchal society, where the father was always the leader of the family. A father would never call his son lord, but it would be the other way around. Also, the religious leaders believed that the Messiah would be a man, and not God incarnate, from the linage of David.
So Jesus says to them beginning in verse 42 of Matthew chapter 22, “. . . ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?’ If David then calls Him ‘Lord,; how is He his Son?’ And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.” Matthew 22:42-46.
Jesus nails them on this one. You see, the only way David can call his son, “lord” is if he was more honored, and being the Son of God He was more honored than David, and thus, David calls Jesus, the Messiah, Lord! The result of this word of wisdom is the critics were silenced, and the people amazed!
- THE APOSTLES SOLVE A CHURCH DISPUTE - ACTS 6
In Acts chapter 6 we see the church growing, and one of the programs they had was a food pantry to help out the widows. Now a problem arose when some of the people felt the Hellenists Jewish widows were being treated unfairly, not like the Jewish ones were. The Hellenists Jews were those Jews who lived outside Israel who spoke the Grecian language and lived like the Greeks. The Jews living in Israel looked down upon them, and we need to remember, the apostles were part of those from Israel. Now was there a real problem or not? We don’t know, but the issue is they felt like they were being cheated. It is out of this that there could have been a huge church division! And in Acts 6:2-8 we see what took place and this is a remarkable move and a very wise one! They have the Hellenist Jews pick out seven godly men to oversee this ministry, and they pick seven Hellenist Jews to do the work. We see the problem solved, the critics silenced, and the church grow!
- JAMES SETTLES THE GENTILE ISSUE IN THE CHURCH - ACTS 15
The Judaizers would come into an area after Paul preached salvation by grace, and they would say that Paul was right, but you also had to be a Jew. You had to keep the Law of Moses. There arose some dispute over this issue, and thus, the case was presented to the church in Jerusalem, of which James was the head. James listened to what Peter, Paul, and Barnabas had to say, and then he gave his recommendation regarding this issue, of whether gentiles need to keep the Law of Moses or not.
James says to the gentiles that they don’t have to keep the Law of Moses as part of the basis of their salvation because the Jew’s couldn’t even keep it. They sent a letter to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas and others, to be read before all. And in verse 30 of Acts chapter 15 we see what transpired.
We read, “So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the
letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.” Acts 15:30-31.
Notice, the problem was solved, and these people rejoiced over the words that were spoken by James, as God gave him a word of wisdom to speak forth in a very difficult situation.
- PAUL BEFORE THE COUNCIL - ACTS 23
Paul caused a riot in Jerusalem, as the people grabbed him, thinking he was teaching people to negate the words of Moses. They felt that he was telling people to turn against the Jews, and he was accused of bringing gentiles into the Temple. Before they could harm him, the Roman soldiers rescued him. As they were bringing him up to the Fortress of Antonio, on the Temple Mount, Paul asks to speak one more time to the people.
In Acts 22:30-23:1-10 we see what took place. You see, as Paul speaks of Jesus and all that He has done, the people listened, until he said that God told him to forget about going to the Jews because they rejected what He had for them, and instead, to present it to the Gentiles. At this point, when Paul said, “gentiles,” they went ballistic. Paul was hauled into the barracks by the soldiers before they killed him.
As you read what took place, you will see that God gave Paul a word of wisdom in this situation. As I said before, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, (that is why they are sad-u-see)! But the Pharisees, who were very conservative, did. So Paul says he is a Pharisee who had a hope in the resurrection of the dead. Now the Pharisees saw nothing wrong with that, but the Sadducees did. So a conflict broke out between these two religious groups. Paul is removed from the situation by the Roman commander, leaving these religious leaders fighting amongst themselves, as if they were on trial!
As we have seen, the word of wisdom is a supernatural power to speak with divine insight, whether in solving difficult problems, defending the faith, resolving conflicts, giving practical advice, or pleading one’s case before hostile authorities. It is a gift that is given during certain situations, not something we have all the time. It is given by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit. THE WORD OF WISDOM!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit Part 3
- WORD OF KNOWLEDGE
In I Corinthians chapter 12 we see another supernatural gift of the Spirit, the word of knowledge. First, let me give you a description of what this word of knowledge is all about. It is supernatural information that has been given to us by the Holy Spirit; things we could not know through natural acquisition or study. The Holy Spirit gives us divine knowledge regarding a person or a situation that we could in no way obtain on our own. Think of it this way. God is the transmitter. He is sending the information to us and we are the receivers of that information.
Let’s break these two words down and I think you will see what this word of knowledge is all about. First of all, I think the key thought is the word, “word” or LOGOS in the Greek. Logos is a principle or concept or teaching, and not necessarily just one word. Also keep in mind that this is not a vast reservoir of information that we can draw from at will.
The word, “knowledge” or GNOSIS in the Greek speaks of knowing something. And so, the word of knowledge is a supernatural ability given to us by the Holy Spirit, a limited piece of information that will solve a problem, silence the critics, expose a sin, and encourage a person, and-so-on. It is supernatural knowledge that the Holy Spirit gives to us as He wills.
Many times this gift is flowing so naturally that we don’t even recognize it or if we do, it is usually long after the fact. But, there are the other times when God gives us a word of knowledge about a given situation that is so incredible to us that we may want to dismiss it. We can’t even believe it. And many times we do, only to find that what God was saying did come to pass just as He said it would.
WORD OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
When you look at this gift, the word of knowledge, other than Jesus, Elisha the prophet seems to have exercised this gift more than anyone else. God spoke to him so powerfully that he came to expect to receive from the Lord words dealing with various situations. He thought of it as common that God would give to him a word of
Knowledge. When He didn’t, Elisha was surprised!
- SYRIA’S WAR PLANS - II KINGS 6:8-12
Picture what is going on here. At this point in time the Kingdom of Israel was divided into the Southern Kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Syria’s leader, Ben-Hadad, is preparing to invade Israel, the Northern Kingdom. As they made their battle plans, God gave Elisha a word of knowledge as to where they were going to strike. Elisha told the king of Israel, and the attack was halted. This happened several times to Ben-Hadad and his Syrian army.
Finally, as you can well imagine, Ben-Hadad had enough and he put two and two together. He felt that there must be a spy in his army, a traitor who was sensitive to this information and giving it to Israel. It had to be a spy. Ben-Hadad demanded to know who this traitor was! Obviously he wanted this man exposed so he could stop this information from getting to Israel. He would put to death this man for being a traitor!
To his surprise, there was no traitor in their camp. In II Kings 6:12 we see that one of his servants said that Elisha knows what you say, even the words you speak in secret. The words you speak in your bedroom are known to him. God gave to Elisha a word of knowledge. This was supernatural information given to Elisha to solve a problem, the problem being this secret invasion into the Northern Kingdom of Israel by Syria. God used this gift in the Old Testament!
- GEHAZI’S SECRET REVEALED - II KINGS 5:20-27
You may remember the story of Naaman, who was a commander in the Syrian army. A good man, and yet he had leprosy. On one of his raids into Israel he captured an Israeli girl and made her a slave in his home, caring for his wife. She informs Naaman’s wife that if Naaman would go and see Elisha, he would be healed of his leprosy!
Naaman goes to see Elisha, and through a series of events, he washes in the Jordan River and he is healed from his leprosy! Well, Naaman wants to pay Elisha for his services and Elisha refuses. The servant of Elisha is interested in the money and he runs and catches up to Naaman. He tells Naaman this story that two young men have come and they could use the money and change of clothes.
Naaman is so thankful for what has happened to him that he gives Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, double of what he asked for. As Gehazi returned home, he hid the clothes and the money and then returned to Elisha as if nothing happened.
Starting in verse 25 of II Kings chapter 5 we read, “Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, ‘Where did you go, Gehazi?’ And he said, ‘Your servant did not go anywhere.’ Then he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.’ And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow.”
II Kings 5:25-27.
Once again we see God give Elisha a word of knowledge, showing not only what Gehazi had done, but also the motives behind his actions! In this instance we see the word of knowledge expose the sin of Gehazi so that he could repent and get right with God. But he did not repent. He lied to Elisha and God struck Gehazi with leprosy!
THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
In the New Testament we find the word of knowledge exercised by Jesus, but not exclusively, as we will see. As this gift was working in the life of Jesus, it will also work in us, as the Holy Spirit reveals to us the things He desires us to know for a given situation.
- REVELATION TO NATHANAEL - JOHN 1:43-51
In John 1:43-51 we see that after Philip accepts the invitation to follow Jesus, he goes and tells Nathanael, who is very skeptical of this man named Jesus. As they begin walking, Philip and Nathanael run into Jesus. Jesus tells Nathanael things that Jesus could not have known. That fig tree was a good distance away, a place where no one was able to see him sitting. Jesus spoke of what Nathanael was doing by the fig tree, and it changed Nathanael’s heart. Jesus not only told him where he was, but what he was reading, the Scriptures and specifically the book of Genesis where Jacob has the vision of the ladder with angels ascending and descending upon it. Jesus says that this bridge is pointing to Him; Jesus has bridged that gap between God and man. Jesus exercised the word of knowledge in His life to open the eyes of Nathanael so that he may see Jesus; it solved a problem of the hard heart!
- WOMAN BY THE WELL IN SAMARIA - JOHN 4
In John chapter 4 you may remember the story of the encounter that Jesus has with the woman by the well in Samaria, and how she gave back to Jesus some cute little answers to His questions. But she missed the point. Jesus was dealing with a spiritual issue. She was looking at it as a physical issue. Beginning in verse 16 of John chapter 4 we read, “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.’” John 4:16-19.
Here we see Jesus, in speaking a word of knowledge, cut right to the heart of the issue, exposing her sin and her emptiness. The word of knowledge can do that. This woman’s life is changed; she turns to Jesus and then calls the men of the city to hear what she has heard. She begins to evangelize!
- JESUS KNEW LAZARUS WAS DEAD -JOHN 11:11-17
In John chapter 11 Jesus is told by the friends of Mary and Martha that their brother, Jesus’ friend Lazarus, was sick. But in verse 14 Jesus said to them, “Lazarus is dead.” How in the world did Jesus know that Lazarus was dead when even those who came to tell Him that Lazarus was sick did not even know, and they were with Lazarus? God gave Jesus a word of knowledge, showing that not only was Lazarus dead at this point, but he would not remain dead, and that as Lazarus was raised from the dead, God would be glorified.
- ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA’S SIN EXPOSED - ACTS 5:1-11
In Acts chapter 5 we see the first instance of someone in the church being slain in the Spirit. As you will see, this was not a good thing! In the church people were giving to help others, selling property and possessions to help out. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to join in. Maybe they wanted the recognition. We don’t know for sure. So they sold a possession and they gave some of the profit to the church. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem arose when they lied and said they gave all the money to the church.
When Ananias came before Peter, God gave to Peter a word of knowledge, exposing the lie. Ananias fell down dead! Now around 3 hours later his wife shows up, and we read beginning in verse 8 of Acts chapter 5, “And Peter answered her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?’ She said, ‘Yes, for so much.’ Then Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.” Acts 5:8-11.
Why did God do this? God was using the word of knowledge to keep the church pure! You see, even at the beginning there was evil that was trying to destroy the church. God let Peter know, through the word of knowledge, that this couple were lying about their giving and they both were struck dead. Again, they could have told the truth when their sin was exposed, but they lied and it cost them their lives!
You can read in Acts 8:18-24 of Simon the sorcerer and how his sin was exposed to Peter. It cut right to the heart of the matter! Peter had no way of knowing what was in Simon’s heart, but God did and exposed it! That again is the word of knowledge in operation. As the Lord speaks to Paul, Paul tells the men on this ship not to fear. Their lives would be spared, but the ship will be lost. He had confidence that God had spoken to him, giving him a word of knowledge in what to do in the situation he was in. We see that not one man lost his life, just as God said through Paul.
These are some stories that show us the operation of the word of knowledge in the New Testament; how God graciously gave it to some as they needed it to solve a problem, silence the critics, expose a sin, and encourage a person, and-so-on. What God has done in the Old Testament, what God has done in the New Testament thru this gift, is not over. This gift is still in operation today and I will show you some examples.
THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE CHURCH TODAY
Let me say this. To deny the operation of this gift today is to deny what the Scriptures have to say. You must also deny the many examples we see of this gift being exercised in the church today. I just want to share with you a couple of examples of this working in the church today to show you what I mean.
- FRIEND’S SUICIDE THOUGHTS EXPOSED
Shortly after I got saved, a friend’s son came to church. He was a troubled young man. He had contemplated suicide and he even attempted to kill himself. Thank God he did not succeed. This suicide was on his mind right then. As my pastor began teaching, somewhere in the middle of his teaching, he got off on a tangent regarding suicide. It really didn’t fit in with the text, but off he went. As he spoke it nailed this young man right where he was at. In fact, I had become uncomfortable because I was thinking this kid must think I called the pastor and told him to teach on this subject because he was coming to the church that day. But that was not the case, not at all. The Holy Spirit gave Pastor Phil a word of knowledge that flowed so naturally that, unless you knew the situation, you would not see the gift in operation. In fact, after talking with Pastor Phil about this, he said that he had no idea why he went off on that tangent. But now he does, it was the Holy Spirit giving him a word of knowledge that a young man needed to hear!
- WORD OF KNOWLEDGE OF BROTHERS WHEREABOUTS
Pastor Chuck tells the story of “a Korean lady who was separated from her brother when her homeland was divided into north and south. He was in the north, she was in the south. They had lost contact for some 40 years. One day the Lord started prompting her with a new concern for her brother, so she began praying that somehow God would help her find him if he were still alive.”
“She heard that he had been sent to Manchuria, so she prayed again that the Lord would help her contact her brother. While she was in prayer, the Lord gave her a phone number in Manchuria. She called that number and her brother answered! Just recently this woman returned from a trip to visit her brother. Before she left, the Lord had showed her a vision of her brother’s house. When she arrived in town she quickly recognized the house she had been shown, and she was reunited with her brother! That’s the word of knowledge – a marvelous gift of God.” (Chuck Smith, Living Water, p. 112).
When you find yourself in a difficult situation, ask God to give you this gift, and He will as He sees fit. Other times He will give you this gift just because He is gracious and desires to. This is not some kind of occult power, not at all! It is a God given ability, to build up the body of Christ! God graciously gives it to some as they need it to solve a problem, silence the critics, expose a sin, and encourage a person, and-so-on. THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit Part 4
- GIFT OF FAITH
Another gift of the Spirit that is found in I Corinthians chapter 12 is the gift of faith. First of all, faith is a vital part of our life. In fact, we exercise it every day of our life. It takes faith to sit in a chair, believing it will support you. It takes faith to fly in a plane, believing it will get off the ground and then land once again. It takes faith to allow someone to put you to sleep and then do surgery on you, believing that when you wake up you will be better than you were when you went to sleep. It even takes faith just to walk, believing that your legs will support you. But what is faith, and more importantly, what is true biblical faith?
Once again we don’t have to guess what faith is because the Bible tells us. In fact, we are given a definition of this word. Paul, in Hebrews 11:1-3 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
First of all this word “faith” comes from the Greek word PISTIS, and this word speaks of a moral conviction of religious truth or the truthfulness of God. It speaks of an assurance that we have. This is not a blind faith but a faith that is based upon the Word of God, what God has promised us. Thus, if God is faithful, and He is, then our faith is not blind but it is active. It is a faith that has legs to walk because we trust in the Lord!
The next word in that first verse of Hebrews chapter 11 that I want to look at is that word, “substance”, HUPOTASSO in the Greek. This word speaks of a “confidence or confident expectation.” Thus, faith is the confidence of what we are hoping for, which is eternal life with Jesus. We have not seen Jesus and yet, by faith, we believe in all His promises that He has given to us in His Word.
Next we will look at is the word, “evidence” which comes from the Greek word, ELEGCHOS, (el’-eng-khos) and speaks of proof or conviction. What Paul is implying or telling us is that this is an outward manifestation of the inward assurance. The person of faith lives his belief. His life is committed to what his mind and his spirit is convinced is true.
So faith supports those things we know to be true, the promises of God even though we might not see them with our physical eyes, but through the eyes of faith we believe. That belief is the evidence or the confidence we need to live what we believe. You see, faith truly begins when all other possibilities end. It is out of our hands and in the hands of God. I like they way George Muller put it. He says, “Difficulties are found for faith to feed on.”
Morris puts it like this, “Faith extends beyond what we learn from our senses, and the author is saying that it has its reasons. Its tests are not those of the senses, which yield uncertainty.”
And Bruce tells us regarding faith, “Physical eyesight produces a conviction or evidence of visible things; faith is the organ which enables people to see the invisible order.”
You see, we grow by trusting in Him. It is not a blind leap of faith but a trust in His Word, in His promises, that what God has promised He is more than able to bring to pass.
Before we deal with the gift of faith, I want to take a few minutes and look at several different types of faith that are mentioned in the Scriptures. I think it is important for us to understand what faith is all about before we look at the gift of faith given to us by God, a supernatural gift!
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SCRIPTURAL FAITH
- SAVING FAITH - EPHESIANS 2:8-9
Paul, in Ephesians 2:8-9 speaks of this saving faith. He wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Obviously this is speaking of our salvation and he tells us that we are saved by grace. That is important because many feel that they are being saved and that is not what Paul said. You are saved; it is a done deal if you have received Jesus as Your Lord and Savior!
It is all about grace, unmerited favor. You don’t deserve this gift. You will never deserve it, but God has graciously extended His hand with this gift in it. He has given to us Jesus!
Now the agent of this is faith. You see, faith reaches out to the gift that God has in His hand. Faith reaches out to Jesus. This is the faith that God has given to us; to believe Jesus Christ is our Savior. He paid the penalty for our sins. The bottom line is this. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
If you add anything to your salvation, it is no longer grace, works have been added. Paul said that it is not of works because if it were, you would just boast about it!
In fact, when Paul speaks of this being a gift of God, it is written in the Greek so as to speak of the whole experience of salvation. Remember that salvation is a gift to be received by faith; it is not a reward for something we have done! Also keep in mind how saving faith comes. As Paul tells us, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17! This saving faith reaches out to God to take the gift of Jesus into their life!
- DEAD FAITH - JAMES 2:14-18, 20-26
We need to understand that just because works don’t save us doesn’t mean we don’t work. Good works are the evidence for our faith and yet there are those that don’t do anything. James tells us that those who say they are saved and yet do not do good works, have faith that is dead. And please understand this, it seems obvious and yet many miss it; if your faith is dead then it is not living, and if your faith is dead then you are not saved. James makes that point in James chapter 2!
People may say that they have faith, but it is not manifested in their lives. They don’t act upon what they believe. Abraham’s faith was not dead but living and manifested in his actions. He went to offer his son as a sacrifice, believing that if God wanted him to do this, then God would have to find a way to raise Isaac from the dead to fulfill the promises that He made to Abraham, that through his seed the Messiah would come. Abraham believed what God had said and his faith was manifested in his life.
Think of it this way, if you were sitting in a movie theater, and someone yelled “Fire,”, and you saw the smoke and flames and you believed there was a fire there, but you remained in your seat, making no effort to move away from the danger, and did not try to help others get out of that burning movie theater, your faith is empty. It is dead, and you will also be dead! Dead faith does not act. It is empty!
- TEMPORARY FAITH - MATTHEW 13:20-21
Then there is temporary faith and once again this person is not saved as we will see. Remember the parable of the soils found in Matthew chapter 13. The soils represented different hearts and how they received the Word of God, the seed that was sown upon these soils. In verses 20-21 of Matthew chapter 13 we read, “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”
Here is a person who hears the Word of God. He is excited. He may have even come forward. There is great joy for a time. But his faith is not real, only temporary faith. It is a “for the moment type of faith.” When difficult times came, when persecution arose, he walked away from that which he once believed. He was never saved because true faith abides. He never had a conversion experience. It was an emotional experience which changed as the outward circumstances changed.
It is like a sports fan that will be for a team when they are winning but when things get tough, when they have not won a championship for 100 years, they give up. They will also come back when things are going better. That is not true faith, but is a temporary faith. You see, true faith remains and temporary faith falls away!
- INTELLECTUAL FAITH - JOHN 20:25
Another type of faith is intellectual faith. This type of faith is important in that we grow as we read and study the Scriptures. But it does have its down side and that is when it is all in our mind and it can’t be expressed in a practical, day-by-day experience. It never reaches our heart you might say.
An example of this is seen with Thomas after the resurrection of Jesus. In John chapter 20 Jesus appears to His disciples, but Thomas isn’t there. And in verse 25 we read, “The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’” Thomas refused to believe unless he could actually put his finger into the wounds in Jesus’ hands or his fist in the wound in Jesus’ side.
Thomas heard what they had said, but he refused to allow that intellectual faith to be manifested into practical faith, where we see it exercised in day-by-day living. We need to know the truths of God found in the Word of God but it must not end there. We must then take those truths, that intellectual faith, and apply it to our lives, to let our faith walk!
- PRACTICAL FAITH - ROMANS 12:3
Then there is practical faith. This practical faith is exercised on a daily basis, and as it is, it grows like a muscle that is being exercised. Paul put it this way in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
God has given each one of us a measure of faith. Like a seed that is planted, as it is watered and nurtured, it will grow and blossom. The same is true with practical faith. As you study the Scriptures and apply them to your daily life, you will draw closer to God. Then, as we see God answer our hearts cry, as we see God work, our faith will be strengthened.
That is practical faith, a faith that is exercised. As you hear the Word of God, as you are taught the Word of God, you step out in faith and see what the Lord will do in the situation you are in. As you do, you will see your faith grow as you learn to trust in the Lord more and more. That is practical faith!
- GIFT OF FAITH
Now we will look at the gift of faith. This is what Paul is speaking of back in I Corinthians chapter 12 where he wrote, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for one is given. . . . faith by the same
Spirit . . .” I Corinthians 12:7a, 9a.
This is a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit, not some kind of learned behavior. This gift of faith, this sudden surge gives you the confidence that God is going to work a miracle, perform a healing, provide for a need, protect you from impending danger.
Donald Gee put it this way in regards to the gift of faith. He said: “It would seem to come upon certain of God’s servants in times of special crises or opportunity in such a mighty power that they are lifted right out of the realm of even natural and ordinary faith in God - and have a divine certainty put within their souls that triumphs over everything.”
It seems that when the gift of faith is in operation, it is working in conjunction with other gifts, such as the gift of healings or the gift of miracles. As God gives us this supernatural faith it acts as a channel for Him to work through, as we are going to see.
OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES OF THE GIFT OF FAITH
- ELIJAH - I KINGS 17 & 18
James 5:17 tells us that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and yet, we are told in I Kings that he is given the faith to go before king Ahab and tell him that it isn’t going to rain for 3 years. Then after this Elijah is sitting on the top of Mount
Carmel and he tells his servant to go look towards the sea. He sees nothing. Six times he repeated this. On the seventh, his servant came back and said, “. . . ‘There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!’ So he said, ‘Go up, say to Ahab, “Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.” Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. . . .’” I Kings 18:44-45. God gave him the faith to speak those words and it opened a door for God to work a miracle through him.
- FAITH OF DANIELS THREE FRIENDS - DANIEL 3
In Daniel chapter 3 we read of Daniel’s three friends who refuse to bow down and worship the golden image. This makes the king, Nebuchadnezzar, furious. Before he tosses these three Hebrew young men into the fiery furnace, he gives them one more chance to change their minds and have their lives spared.
This is their reply to the king of Babylon, from Daniel chapter 3, beginning in verse 16, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’” Daniel 3:16-18.
Notice the faith they had in their God. No fear, which is the opposite of faith, but just trusting that God could spare them if He wanted to, and even if He didn’t, He would spare them from this king! They knew God and thus they were able to walk by faith and trust in Him. What a great lesson for us!
NEW TESTAMENT EXAMPLES OF THE GIFT OF FAITH
- FAITH OF THE CENTURION - MATTHEW 8:5-13
Interestingly enough, some of the greatest examples of faith in the New Testament are seen outside of Israel. In Matthew chapter 8 we see a Roman centurion come to Jesus because his servant is very sick, ready to die!
Jesus, in hearing his request, says that He will come and heal this man’s servant. Now the response by the centurion is interesting. He said beginning in verse 8, “. . . ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’ When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!’” Matthew 8:8-10.
God gave the centurion the gift of faith to believe in the healing power of Jesus. God used that to work a miracle. His servant was healed that very hour!
- GIFT OF FAITH IN PETER - ACTS 3:1-11
In Acts chapter 3 Peter and John are going to the Temple to pray. At the gate beautiful was a lame man who had been sitting at this gate for many years, just begging for money to help him. He was there even during the time of Jesus. As Peter and John go by, Peter says to him, “Look at us.”
Now naturally this man thought he was going to get some money, but Peter instead said, “. . . ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them - walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.” Acts 3:6-9.
Please understand this. Peter did not just go around lifting people up who were paralyzed. Here God gave him the faith to do that. As the gift of faith was exercised the gift of healing came forth. The faith to do this came from the Lord. It was supernatural faith!
- GIFT OF FAITH IN PETER - ACTS 9:36-43
Peter, who is in Lydda, gets word that Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas, was sick and she died. So Peter went to Joppa. We read beginning in verse 39 of Acts chapter 9, “Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.”
No human being has the faith to raise the dead, but when God wants to do a work, He gives that person the gift of faith so that He can work a miracle. That is exactly what we see here as Peter lifts this dead, lifeless body up, and she is alive!
Please understand that we can’t conjure up this kind of faith on our own. It is a supernatural gift that the Holy Spirit gives to us as He wills, just as with the other spiritual gifts. Don’t listen to those faith teachers that tell you the reason you are not healed is because you lack the faith to be healed. Hogwash! We must never forget that God is in control. He is sovereign. He will give to us those things we need in our life as He sees fit.
The gift of faith; remember that it is used to give you the confidence that God is going to work a miracle, perform a healing, provide for a need, or protect you from impending danger. It is a supernatural gift; the gift of faith!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit Part 5
- GIFTS OF HEALINGS
Another gift of the Spirit is the supernatural Gifts of Healings that is spoken of in I Corinthians chapter 12, where we read, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given . . . gifts of healings by the same Spirit.” I Corinthians 12:7-8a, 9b.
What I want you to notice in this description of this gift is that it speaks of, “gifts of healings” and not the, “gift of healing.” It is in the plural form. Why would Paul do that?
Because there are different types of gifts and different types of healings that take place as the Holy Spirit gives us this gift as He wills.
We love to place God in a box and have Him work only in a pre-described way, but with the gifts of healings there is no set pattern. I think the reason is simple, so that we can’t come up with some formula to market the gifts of healings. These are grace gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit.
I love the way that James has us pray when someone is sick. He tells us this; “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” James 5:14-15.
James says we are to call for the elders, plural, not that they alone can heal but for a group of people to pray together so that no one man can get the glory or the credit, only God. Now God does not always heal this way. sometimes it is through the prayer of one. It is as He wills.
We can look at the life of Jesus and see how He healed people. And as we study this we will see the variety of ways He worked. You see, it is not a, “Do it this way and God has to act this way” theology. Let me show you what I mean with just a few examples of how Jesus healed people in many different ways and how others healed in a variety of ways. There was no formula to follow. That is important for us to understand. People were healed as God desired, as He willed and not as we willed!
VARIOUS WAYS GOD HEALED PEOPLE
- CENTURION’S SERVANT HEALED - MATTHEW 8:5-13
Here we see Jesus heal this Centurion’s servant from a distance. That may shock some of you because we think that this gift of healing has to be done as you are in contact with the person. But here we see Jesus clearly heal this centurion’s servant from a distance!
- PETER’S MOTHER-IN-LAW HEALED - MATTHEW 8:14-15
Here we see Peter heal his mother-in-law as he touches her hand!
- TWO BLIND MEN HEALED - MATTHEW 9:27-31
In Matthew chapter 9 we see two blind men come to Jesus, desiring to be healed, to receive their sight back. And here we see that Jesus touches their eyes and they are healed.
- A BLIND MAN HEALED - JOHN 9:1-7
In John chapter 9 Jesus encounters a man who was born blind. We see Jesus spit on the ground, make some clay out of it, and then place it upon this mans eyes. Then He tells this blind man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. And this man, who was led to the pool blind, came back seeing! Now don’t go spitting on the ground and making some clay to place on someone’s eyes unless the Lord tells you to. What I am showing you is the many ways this gift is in operation. There is no set way; it is according to the Spirit of God!
- ANOTHER BLIND MAN HEALED - MARK 8:22-26
In Mark chapter 9 we see Jesus heal another blind man, but this time He spat on this mans eyes. Now I don’t know about you, but healing at a distance would have worked for me, but Jesus spat on his eyes! Now as Jesus did this He also touched this man’s eyes and asked him if he could see. This man said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Mark 8:24. Jesus touched his eyes again and his sight was completely restored. It was not that Jesus was short on power the first time, but this is the way the Holy Spirit wanted to work in this man’s healing.
- PETER’S SHADOW - ACTS 5:15-16
We see here that people are getting healed as Peter’s shadow passed by. A very unique way to heal, but that is what the Holy Spirit chose to do.
- PAUL’S SWEATBAND - ACTS 19:11-12
Here we see another unusual way to be healed. They took Paul’s sweatbands and placed them upon the sick and demon possessed, and they were healed. Luke tells us that God was working, “unusual miracles by the hand of Paul.” Acts 19:11. This was not a normal way, but again this is how the Holy Spirit desired to work.
What I want you to notice that this is speaking of the gifts of healings, done many different ways, as the Spirit of God sees fit!
HEALINGS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
- HEALING OF THE GENTILES SON BACK TO LIFE - I KINGS 17:17-24
In I Kings chapter 17 we see Elijah staying at a widow’s house in Zarephath. One day her son got sick and he died. Elijah prayed and stretched himself out on this young man three times, and life was restored to him. This young man was brought back from the dead. He was healed!
- HEALING OF NAAMAN OF LEPROSY - II KINGS 5:1-27
In II Kings chapter 5 we read the story of Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, a good man, who had leprosy. He is told by his Jewish servant girl to go and see Elisha the prophet in Israel who would heal him. Naaman goes and after he humbles himself, he obeys the words of Elisha, dipping himself seven times in the Jordan River. We are told in II Kings 5:14, “So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” Naaman was miraculously healed of leprosy, an incurable disease!
HEALINGS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
- THE HEALING OF THE MAN WITH A WITHERED HAND - MATTHEW 12:9-13
In Matthew chapter 12 we see Jesus go into a synagogue and meet a man with a withered hand. Word had gotten out of what Jesus could do, and the people knew, even though it was the Sabbath, that Jesus was going to heal this man. That is exactly what Jesus did, as verse 13 of Matthew chapter 12 tells us. We read, “Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.” Here this man with the withered hand was healed!
- HEALING POWER GIVEN TO THE APOSTLES - MATTHEW 10:1
In Matthew chapter 10 we read, “And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” The healing power that Jesus had was given to His apostles. Thus, some will argue that this is where this gift ends, with the apostles! That is wrong as we will see in a minute. First let me say this, the apostles, as with Jesus, did many miracles and yet they did not heal everyone. The sovereignty of God was the issue then as it is now!
- POWER TO HEAL GIVEN TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE - MARK 16:15-18
In Mark 16:15-18 we read, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’”
Who can heal? Jesus says all those who believe! That includes us, not just the apostles. Again, that doesn’t mean we can heal at will, but the Holy Spirit gives this gift as He wills. That is very important for us to understand! And it is important for us to understand that God still heals today. In fact, He has healed everyone of us who has come to Him. He has cured us of our sin and brought us to the Father. That truly is the best healing, an everlasting healing!
- PETER HEALS THE LAME MAN - ACTS 3:1-11
In Acts chapter 3 we see a lame man who sat at the Gate Beautiful at the Temple begging for alms. This man was 40 years old, and sat at this gate during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. I’m sure Jesus saw him every time He went to the Temple, and yet Jesus did not heal him. But here we see Peter and John going to the Temple to pray and they encounter this man.
Peter says to him, “. . . ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them - walking, leaping, and praising God.” The lame man was healed!
Now why isn’t God healing more today? There are a few reasons we can look at. We have covered some of them, but I think it is important to understand this issue so we don’t become discouraged.
WHY GOD DOESN’T HEAL ALL
- GOD IS SOVEREIGN
Some feel that Jesus healed everyone He came in contact with but that is not true. Let me give you a few examples. In John chapter 5, at the pool of Bethesda we see all the lame, the crippled, come and wait for the waters to be stirred, because the first one in when this occurred would be healed. That is what they believed. There was a large crowd of lame people just waiting for this healing to occur in their life yet Jesus healed only one lame man!
We can also look at Acts chapter 3 where we saw the lame man sitting at the gate of the Temple during the time of Jesus and he wasn’t healed by Jesus. The point is God is sovereign. He heals in His time and He heals those whom He wants to heal. We must not forget that. Those in the positive confession movement believe they can use a positive formula to get healings from God. But, if you say anything negative, then those negative words you spoke will create a negative power and that will happen to you. That is foolish!
Maybe you have heard of this story of three men traveling in a car and the driver asked the friend next to him, “How’s your brother doing?” The man responded by saying, “He’s really sick!” Quickly the driver responded, “Don’t say that negative thought. Say that he thinks he is sick!” The driver then turned to the man in the back seat and asked, “How’s your sister doing?” And he responded by saying, “She thinks she’s dead!” Silly, yes, but this is the reality of what they teach.
Here is another reason why many times people are not healed. It is that they refuse to believe that God can and will heal people. This is very true when we pray for someone with a terminal illness. Since it is beyond mans ability to do anything, we bring God down to our level and feel it is too late for this person. We may pray, but we also think, “They’re dead!” That is wrong. For the God who created us can and does heal us many times.
In Matthew 13:53-58 we see that Jesus wanted to do mighty works but their unbelief hindered His work. Now please understand this, I am not talking about the power of faith controlling God, but just the faith of a mustard seed, the slightest amount of faith that opens the door for God to move as He wills. Lord, help us in our unbelief!
- THE ABUSE
Today we see all kinds of abuse with this gift of healing. We see healers using sideshow tricks, growing a leg longer; pumping people up to make them think they are healed, and-so-on. This does not negate what God is doing, but it does dishonor Him.
- THIS GIFT IS NOT GIVEN TO ALL
In I Corinthians 12:28-30 Paul is asking a rhetorical question, and the answer is, “No!” You see, not all of us have these gifts. The Holy Spirit gives this gift as He wills to whom He wills! Obviously this is a very outward gift and there can be much abuse with it, as we can see.
SICKNESS IN THE EARLY CHURCH
- PAUL - II CORINTHIANS 12:7-10
II Corinthians says that Paul had a “thorn in the flesh,” not the spirit. This was a physical problem that was not a small thorn, but literally a “tent spike.” And many believe it was a severe and painful eye problem. (See Galatians 4:15, 6:11). The reason God allowed Paul to suffer this way was to keep him humble and trusting in the Lord. Paul even believed in physicians. He had his own personal one, Dr. Luke! Paul was a man of faith and yet he was sick!
- TROPHIMUS - II TIMOTHY 4:20
In II Timothy 4:20 we see Paul leave Trophimus sick in Miletus. If Paul only knew of the faith formula, right? Wrong! If Trophimus only had more faith he could have been healed and traveled with Paul, right? Wrong! I’m sure Paul prayed for this man and in the sovereignty of God, he was still sick and Paul left him in Miletus to recover from this illness.
- TIMOTHY - I TIMOTHY 5:23
Timothy had some kind of amebic dysentery from the water that gave him some bad stomach problems. We call it
Montezuma’s Revenge today and they had no Pepto Bismol to correct this problem! So Paul told him to add some wine to the water to kill the bacteria. Was that a lack of faith on Paul’s part? No! Why didn’t Paul pray for him? I’m sure he did and he also used the resources they had to help him, which was adding wine to kill off the bacteria, which would in turn help his stomach problem!
WHY GOD ALLOWS SICKNESS
- GOD ALLOWS SICKNESS TO CORRECT US
God does allow sickness in our life to correct us, to get us back on track as Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:5-6. Also, David tells us in Psalm 119:67 that affliction kept him in line with God; it drew Him close to the Lord and His word! Not all sickness is a result of us going astray, but some is!
- IT BUILDS UP OUR FAITH
When we are weak, sick, we tend to lean more upon Him, depend upon Him more. Job saw this in all that he was going through and said, “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10. In Isaiah 48:10 God says, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Trials, sickness, tend to build us up in the faith.
- TO BRING GLORY TO GOD
The way we handle sickness, various situations, can either bring glory to God or not. When I first got diabetes my mom said to my wife, “I bet his faith is shaken now!” And Julie replied, “No, it has only strengthened his faith!” And that has been very true some 22 years later! You see, we need to let our light shine even, and especially, during those difficult times because it shows that our faith is real!
Yes God does heal today and the Holy Spirit does give this gift as He wills. Why are some of the most wicked people healed and dear saints of God get sick and die early in life? That is the sovereignty of God, and to try and figure it out is futile. Job spent many chapters trying to figure out the how’s and why’s of God and finally he learned the lesson, to trust God. You see, if you don’t trust Him, you will make Him your adversary. If you know God, you won’t have to know all the how’s and why’s, but you will learn to just trust in Him.
In Acts chapter 4 as we see the disciples pray we read beginning in verse 29, “‘Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:29-31. Healing was part of the early church and the gifts of healings are still in operation today, as the Holy Spirit, “. . . works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” I Corinthians 12:11. The Gifts of Healings!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit Part 6
- GIFT OF MIRACLES
In I Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul speaks of another supernatural gift that the Holy Spirit can give to us. That is the gift of miracles or the working of miracles in our lives. This is different from healings in that miracles deal with all other supernatural happenings that come from God. This is not something that man has the ability to do; it is beyond all he can do and that is why it is a miracle!
The word that Paul uses for “miracles” is very interesting; it is a word we would probably not expect. It is the Greek word DUNAMIS, and we can translate this gift as “the operation of powers.” It is speaking of dynamic power. It is the same Greek word that is used in Acts 1:8 where Jesus spoke of the power of the Holy Spirit that He will give to us to move the Gospel message forward; that dynamic, that explosive power. That is the kind of power this word is speaking of!
GIFT OF MIRACLES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
- CROSSING OF THE RED SEA - EXODUS 14
Remember as the children of Israel left the bondage they were in by the hands of the Egyptians, as they were on the move, God had them rest in Pi Hahiroth. Now from a safety point of view, this was a bad idea. There were mountains on either side of them and they also had the Red Sea in front of them. The only way out was to return the way you came. Now that was going to be blocked off by the Egyptian army who were called to action by Pharaoh after he changed his mind about letting the children of Israel go free. He wanted his slaves back!
As the Egyptian army drew close and the children of Israel saw what was happening, they began to complain and murmur that they were going to die in the wilderness and it was better for them to be slaves in Egypt. (Exodus 14:11-12).
Now, from a human perspective they were right. There was no way out. They were dead! The problem for them was they negated the power of God; that God said He was going to bring them into the Promise Land and thus, He had to provide a way out of this hopeless situation. He would provide a miracle for them!
We see Moses, their leader, do the right thing. As Moses begins to pray, God tells him, and I am paraphrasing, “Son, now is not the time to pray. Now is the time to move!” Now that was a big problem; for where were they going to go? How can over 2 million Jews make it across the Red Sea? Well God had a plan. As Moses lifted up his rod and stretched out his hands over the Red Sea, the waters were divided and the children of Israel were able to cross on dry ground. To hold off the Egyptians until they were able to cross, God sent a pillar of cloud to hamper their movement.
Finally, as the Egyptians came after them, also passing through the Red Sea on dry ground, God took off the bolts that held their chariot wheels which then fell off. At this point, the Egyptians realized they were no match for God. They tried to high tail it out of there, but the waters came back upon them, destroying them all.
Now that was a miracle to say the least.
But there are those out there that try to discredit this miracle. They say that the children of Israel didn’t cross at the Red Sea, but at the Sea of Reeds, which is very shallow. They say if the wind is right, and it is strong enough; it could push that water away, all 6 inches or so of it, allowing the children of Israel to pass through. If you believe that then you also believe in miracles, for the entire Egyptian army drowned in 6 inches of water. I guess they forgot their water wings! I believe what God has said in Genesis 1:1 and thus, I have no problem with what God has done here. He is God and this was truly a miracle. There is no earthly explanation for this!
- RAINING HAILSTONES AND THE SUN STANDING STILL - JOSHUA 10
Another miracle in the Old Testament is found in Joshua chapter 10. Here we see the five Amorite kings come against Gibeon, who had made a peace deal with Joshua and the children of Israel. God tells Joshua, “. . . ‘Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.’” Joshua 10:8.
The first miracle we see regarding this battle is God raining hailstones down upon the Amorites, killing more of them with these hailstones than Joshua and the children of Israel did with the sword. God was a good shot! Don’t forget, none of the children of Israel were hit with these hailstones. This was a miracle, not just a hailstorm! God had guided these hailstones to the target He wanted and He was very accurate; 100% accurate with His shots!
But the story is not over. As the day was passing by, Joshua had not completely wiped them out, so he prayed that the sun would stand still, that it would not go down until they had completed their mission. Again, people laugh at this, but if you believe in Genesis 1:1, this is nothing for God. Also keep this in mind; if there is a long day on this side of the earth, then there must be a long night on the opposite side of the earth. Is there any historical evidence for this event to show us this really took place? Yes there is!
Immanuel Velikovsky in his book, Worlds In Collision, records that the Mayans have a record of a long night on the opposite side of the earth, just as you might expect. This is not only seen in the Mayans historical record, but with other people around the world. God did a miracle with the hailstones and the sun standing still for almost a whole day! Once again there is no earthly explanation for this. It is a miracle!
- ELIJAH AND THE PROPHETS OF BAAL - I KINGS 18
In I Kings chapter 18, we read of the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. King Ahab, the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, was a wicked king. Along with his wife Jezebel, they led the people in Baal worship. They were the demonic duo of the Old Testament you might say! Elijah comes on the scene and confronts Ahab, telling him to gather the prophets of Baal together on Mount Carmel, and when the day was over the real God would be seen. There would be no mistake about who is the true and living God!
Elijah made this deal with them about what was to take place. The deal went like this. Each group was to offer a sacrifice to their God and whoever’s sacrifice was accepted by fire consuming it, would win. The prophets of Baal went first. They chose a bull, cut it in pieces and placed it upon their altar. For several hours they cried out to Baal. They even jumped up and down, trying to get Baal to see them, but nothing happened.
I can relate to Elijah, he is my kind of man. You see, by noon Elijah was getting tired and bored of all they were doing, and he begins to mock their efforts, saying “. . . Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.’”
I Kings 18:27. I like that and it did get their attention. In fact, the words of Elijah drove them nuts and they began to cry out louder. They began to cut themselves until the time of the evening sacrifice, and still nothing. By this time they were a bloody and beaten mess and their sacrifice remained on the altar. Their god was silent!
Now it was Elijah’s turn. He gathered the people around, prepared the altar and the sacrifice, then made a huge trench around the altar. He also had 4 water pots filled with water and poured them on the sacrifice. He repeated this three times. There was so much water poured, that it filled the trench around the altar.
Elijah prayed to God and “Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!’” I Kings 18:38-39.
This miracle pointed the children of Israel back to God, for they were wavering between the two; the true and living God and Baal. This miracle showed them who was God! There is once again no earthly explanation for this event; it was a miracle of God!
- THE FLOATING AX HEAD - II KINGS 6
The last one we are going to look at in the Old Testament is found in II Kings chapter 6. During this period of time, we see the number of prophets growing and that they needed a larger place to dwell. So they decided to build a bigger place and they asked the prophet Elisha to help them in this work.
As they were cutting down the trees, one of the ax heads fell into the water. The problem for this man who lost this ax head was that it was not his. He borrowed it. Is this a big deal? It was a big deal! Ax heads were expensive and hard to come by. You could not run to Fleet Farm or Menards, not even Lowes to buy another one.
We read beginning in verse 6 of II Kings chapter 6, “And the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, ‘Pick it up for yourself.’ So he reached out his hand and took it.” II Kings 6:6-7.
You may be thinking that this was not such a big deal, not such a big miracle, but it was if you lost that ax head you borrowed. This tells me that God is concerned about even the little things in our life. He even numbers the hairs of our head, which changes all the time! Again, to have an axe head float in the water is truly a miracle. It is beyond scientific explanation!
Now those are just a few of the many miracles that occurred in the Old Testament and I think you should be able to see that the gift of miracles was in operation even in the Old Testament. It wasn’t just a New Testament work!
GIFT OF MIRACLES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
- THE FEEDING OF THE 5,000 - JOHN 6
In John chapter 6:8-14 we see the feeding of the 5,000 men, plus women and children, maybe upwards of 15,000 to 20,000 people! Here we see a great multitude follow Jesus to the Sea of Galilee. He had compassion on them, knowing they did not bring enough food to eat. Philip, when questioned by Jesus on what they could do, told Jesus basically, “Where in the world could we get the money to buy that amount of food?”
As you read this portion of John you can see that this was truly a miracle. God multiplied the food. With just two small fish and 5 little crackers and the people were filled. In fact they were stuffed. They could eat no more. They even had leftovers’, 12 baskets full! This was a miracle of God. There is no earthly explanation for it!
- SALVATION - MATTHEW 19
Here is one that we might not think of being a miracle, but it is one of the greatest miracles of all and that is our salvation. Here we see God take these dead spiritual bodies and make them alive again in Christ! And folks, if we saw no other miracles than that of salvation, we should be satisfied. To me, as I have said, salvation is the greatest miracle!
In Matthew chapter 19:16-26 we read of the story of the rich young ruler who was so close to heaven and yet he refused to give his life to Christ. His possessions hindered him.
You see, salvation is impossible from a human perspective. We can do nothing to merit God’s favor; to climb our way into heaven. Yet, with God all things are possible. We can be saved, not by our works, but by the completed work of Christ on the cross of Calvary. The stairway to heaven is Christ! Paul in
Ephesians 2:1-10 makes that point very clearly!
So, if I had to pick out the greatest miracle in the Bible, this would be it; our salvation. Without it, we would still be dead in our trespasses and sins! But God has made us alive in Christ! There is no earthly explanation for this; it is a miracle of God!
- PETER RELEASED FROM PRISON - ACTS 12
The last miracle we will look at in the New Testament, and there are many, is found in Acts chapter 12:7-11. In this portion of Scripture we see Herod coming against the Christians. He has James the brother of John killed by the sword and Peter is locked in prison, waiting for his turn. Peter was guarded by four squads of soldiers who were to bring him out the next morning. He was not going to escape! In fact, he was going to be put to death just as James was!
So here is Peter, sleeping and chained between two Roman soldiers with guards at the door. This tells me there is rest in Christ even during the most intense trials that may come our way.
These Roman soldiers were the best of the best. If you fell asleep on duty, you could be put to death. But God causes the guards to go to sleep and these chains that were around Peter fell off. We see Peter just walk by these sleeping guards as if he were a free man, and I guess he was, God freed him! This was an awesome miracle. So much so that Peter first thought he was just dreaming, but it was very real and God set him free! This was truly a miracle of God!
MIRACLES IN THE CHURCH TODAY
- THE MULTIPLICATION OF FOOD IN MEXICO
Several years ago my wife took our Youth Group on a mission’s trip to Mexico. They partnered up with Youth For Truth and ministered to the poverty stricken areas, those that had nothing in these villages. On one of their trips they were bringing bags of rice to the people and they expected about 50 to 75 people and thus, took the appropriate amount with them to this village.
Now when the rice was handed out it was only given to the women, not because they cooked the food, but because the men would take the rice and make an alcoholic beverage with it, leaving their family with no food. As they arrived there they encountered a problem. There were twice as many people as they expected and they only had food for about 75 people!
So the kids went back and forth bringing out the rice bags, expecting to run out, but when they were done, all the people had food! That was a miracle. They had only brought enough food for, at the most 75 people and now they were able to hand out food to 150! The beauty of this was not only the ministering to the people, but the kids saw the power of God, that He still does miracles, that He still multiplies food! This was a miracle; there was no earthly explanation for it!
- YELL, “JESUS LOVES YOU” WITH YOUR HEAD IN A MAILBOX
Now this is one of those where you just shake your head in amazement. One of the pastors at a pastor’s conference was sharing a story that happened in his church. There was a young man who just came to the faith. He was a new Christian and just had a zeal to serve the Lord, but again, he was very young in the faith.
One day he was driving through a very expensive area of California, an exclusive area, they are all expensive. He felt the Lord telling him to stick his head in a mailbox and yell, “Jesus loves you!” Well, immediately he rebuked the devil for putting that foolish idea in his head, but as he continued to drive he kept feeling the Lord was telling him to do this. He kept struggling with this, thinking this is foolish, it is ridiculous, but he could not get it out of his mind.
Finally he slowed his car down, saw this big metal mail box, and stopped in front of it. He got out of his car, still feeling foolish, put his head in this big metal mailbox and yelled, “Jesus loves you!” at the top of his lungs. Then he ran back to his car to get out of there as fast as he could.
But before he could leave, he saw a man running out of his house towards him and he felt foolish and sorry he had done this. The man came to the car and the young Christian apologized for what he did, but the man stopped him. He said to this young Christian, “Right before you yelled that, I was standing on a chair with a rope around my neck ready to hang myself. Before I did, I just cried out to God and said that if He is real He needs to show me right now. As soon as I said that I heard the words, ‘Jesus loves you!’ You saved my life!”
There is no way that this young Christian, on his own, could just stop in front of this man’s house seconds before he commits suicide and say the words that would stop him! That is the gift of miracles, or the operation of the gift of miracles!
- GOD CLOSED THE SWITCH
Listen to the story and you will see this miracle of God. We are told,
A remarkable incident occurred some years ago when a Christian called upon God in a time of great danger. A 12-car passenger train was speeding along in eastern Missouri. On board were hundreds of happy children on their way to [a] SundaySchool picnic. The sky was cloudless when the excursion began, but it wasn’t long before they ran into a severe thunderstorm. The heavy downpour caused the concerned engineer to slow down to about 35 miles an hour. As the train rounded a curve, the man saw that the switch just ahead had been left wide open. He jammed on the brakes, but he was sure they faced certain disaster.
“Stick with it!” he shouted to the fireman. “Hundreds of children are on board.” “I intend to!” came the reply. Then the fireman, who was a Christian, cried, “O God, help us!” His words were drowned out by a thunderclap as a bolt of lightning struck right in front of the engine.
The next thing they knew, they were safely past the danger point. After stopping the train, the men hurried back to find out what had happened. To their amazement they discovered that the lightning had struck the rails and closed the switch. This in turn kept them from being shunted onto a spur which would have caused certain derailment. - Henry Bosch
You see, God used the natural, lightning, in a supernatural way and this miracle saved the lives of these children and the workers on the train! There is no earthly explanation for this; it was a miracle of God!
- THE MULTIPLICATION OF FOOD AT VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
At our VBS Graduation Party we bought food for about 80 people and had a little more. We had about 95 pieces or about 1 piece for each person who attended, about 76. The amazing thing is that people were taking seconds and thirds. Some had 3 or 4 burgers on one bun. We should have run out of food, but we had leftovers!
Not only that, but we only had 3-4 cans of beans and yet, the last person who came through the line took the last plate of beans. We had just enough and then we ran out. We had a refrigerator full of soda to start with and we ended with the same. Yet people were drinking all day! I truly believe that this was a miracle of God!
The Gift of Miracles is still around today!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit Part 7
GIFT OF PROPHECY
In I Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul speaks of another supernatural gift that the Holy Spirit can give us which is the gift of prophecy. We have talked about the office of a prophet and how that office has passed off the scene. Then what is this gift of prophecy all about and is it different than the office of a prophet? The difference between the office of a prophet and the gift of prophecy is simple. There was no room for error for the office of a prophet. But for the gift of prophecy there can be human error at times. Paul said in I Corinthians 14:29, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.” They were to judge if what was spoken was of God or not.
Now because of some potential problems, some have dismissed this gift. They believe that it too has passed off the scene. I disagree and I am thankful it is still around today. You see, Paul in I Corinthians 14:1 says, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” Why would Paul say that he desires for us to pursue or seek after the gift of prophecy, especially if it has passed off the scene? He wouldn’t!
Notice that Paul gives us three reasons why this gift of prophecy is so important in the church even today. In I Corinthians 14:3 he said, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” If we truly understand what Paul is saying here, this is one of the most important gifts to be exercised as the body of Christ comes together.
PROPHECY SPEAKS . . .
- EDIFICATION (It is the Greek Word “oikodome” [oy-kod-om-ay’])
This word, “edification” speaks “of building” or “building as a process.” In other words, as the gift is being exercised we see believers built up, strengthened in their faith, in their relationship with God. It should cause believers to hold on to God’s promises even during difficult times.
Remember what Paul said in Romans 14:19 as he wrote, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” The focus is to build people up, not to tear them down. We are to strengthen them in the faith. God is not in the business of destruction, but restoration and we need to remember that as we speak to people.
In Romans 15:2 Paul makes that same point when he said, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.” In I Thessalonians 5:11 Paul admonishes us to continue on in these things, as he said, “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
So, as this gift of the Holy Spirit is in operation you will see people grow and blossom in their faith. That should be desire of all of us, not just the pastor or the elders building people up, but all of us participating in this great work of God and using the gift as the Holy Spirit gives it to us.
- EXHORTATION (It is the Greek word “paraklesis” [par-ak’-lay-sis]
The next word that Paul uses is “exhortation” and the idea here is to come alongside and help, to spur someone into action. When you think about it, the Scriptures are a PARAKLESIS to us. They help us in our walk and spur us into action. In II Timothy 3:16-17 Paul tells Timothy that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The Scriptures tell us what is right, doctrine. They also tell us what is not right or reprove us. The Scriptures tell us how to get back on track when we have gone astray. They correct us so that we may walk worthy of the high calling by which we have been called. They also tell us how to stay on track or give us instructions on how to live. All of these are important as God is strengthening us and spurring us into action. The Scriptures are living and Powerful. Therefore, if they don’t spur us into action it is because we have become dead to them! In regards to correction, think about this for a minute. None of us like to be corrected. However, if God ignored what we were doing, allowing us to travel down a path of death and destruction with no real concern, it would show us that He doesn’t care for us.
But He does care for us. He does love us and He will correct His children, sometimes using the gift of prophecy to cut through the hardness of our hearts and get us back on track. It is as pastor Chuck has said, “Don’t just mouth it - do it! Don’t just hear it - practice it!” May that be the desire of our hearts, to live what we believe.
William Barclay wrote this in regards to exhortation or encouragement.
“One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. . . . It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”
- William Barclay, The Letter to the Hebrews
Yes, that should be our duty as Christians, to encourage people, but as the gift of prophecy is in operation the words that are spoken will point us in the right direction. They will spur us into action. They will lead us to Jesus.
- COMFORT (It is the Greek word “paramuthia” [par-am-oo-thee’ah]
Paul then speaks of “comfort.” We may not admit it, but all of us love to be comforted. I don’t care how big or strong or macho you think you are, we all like to feel the comfort that another can bring into our lives. Now let’s take this a step up and ask the question, “How important is it to have the comfort of God in our lives?” It is extremely important. In that comfort we see the peace of God in our lives. We can rest in Him!
That comfort is experienced when we recognize that God is still in control. He is still on the throne. As bad as things might seem, He will work it out for His glory. It is as Romans 8:28 says, “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.”
It is when we understand our God and know that He is for us, that we can rest in Him. He, in a sense, is the captain of our lives as this story illustrates for us. We are told,
“Robert Louis Stevenson tells of a storm that caught a vessel off a rocky coast and threatened to drive it and its passengers to destruction. In the midst of the terror, one daring man, contrary to orders, went to the deck, made a dangerous passage to the pilot house and saw the steerman, at his post holding the wheel unwaveringly, and inch by inch, turning the ship out, once more, to sea. The pilot saw the watcher and smiled. Then, the daring passenger went below and gave out a note of cheer: ‘I have seen the face of the pilot, and he smiled. All is well.’”
- Robert Louis Stevenson
When the gift of prophecy is in operation, we find that the words that are being spoken will comfort us and give us a proper perspective of who God is, that He is still in control and He is still upon the throne. That comfort that God has given to us, we can turn around and give it others!
So we see Paul’s point regarding the gift of prophecy here. When the gift is in operation, it will edify the people, it will exhort them to move forward in the Lord and it will comfort them during difficult times!
I think this is important for us to understand. When we take our eyes off the Lord the storms of life seem overwhelming and we feel that we are going under. Get your eyes back on the Lord! Here is a beautiful aspect. What God has given to us, His great comfort, we can turn and give to others.
Paul, in II Corinthians 1:3-5 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”
As you can see, this gift is very important in the church today. That is one of the reasons the enemy causes people to dismiss this gift and say that there is no Scriptural support for it being in operation today. I disagree. I do feel the Scriptures support the operation of not only the gift of prophecy, but the other spiritual gifts that the Scriptures speak of.
On the other end of the spectrum, are those that abuse this gift. They are not bringing edification, exhortation or comfort to the people, but confusion. They are feeding the flesh!
We also need to be careful because there are many people out there that are claiming they are speaking for God. How do we know if what they say is of God, or if it is from the imagination of their own hearts, or from a lying spirit, or maybe born out of a pizza they had before they went to sleep that night? I think that is an important question and one we need to explore more closely. How do we know if this gift is being used by someone today?
HOW DO WE KNOW IF THIS IS OF GOD?
- THE WORD OF GOD
The first thing you need to do is bring what has been said into the light of God’s Word. If it contradicts what God has said in His Word, then you can toss it aside. It is not of God! God does not contradict Himself. Some, in trying to get around this, say that “God is bigger than His Word”, or that “God is giving to us new doctrine”, or “You are quenching the Spirit by your judgmental and restrictive attitude” or even “You can’t put God in a box!”
If we get this wrong, we are going to be in serious trouble. We will open ourselves up to all kinds of false doctrine, false teaching! Paul in I Thessalonians 5:19-22 said, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
We can test all things by bringing them into the light of God’s Word. What doesn’t stand the test of God’s Word is tossed aside and that which is found in God’s Word is held onto. It is good.
Quenching the Spirit is not speaking against or coming against these prophecy’s but rather doing that which is not found in God’s Word. That quenches what the Spirit is trying to do! I think we all understand that, but many times we let others confuse us by what they say because we don’t want to quench the Spirit. So we believe what they are saying, even though it is contrary to the Word of God. Test all things. If it is not found in God’s Word, get rid of it, abstain from that evil!
You see, God does not contradict Himself; He does not say things that are contrary to His Word. Keep that in mind as you bring prophecies in the light of God’s Word. It is as John admonishes us in I John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Bring everything into the light of God’s Word to see if this word spoken was a gift of prophecy or not!
- IT SHOULD REVEAL JESUS OR DRAW YOU CLOSER TO HIM
When people are speaking for God they should not be exalting self or placing God in a position of dishonor. They should be exalting Jesus. As John said in I John 4:2-3, “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” Sounds simple, but we must not lose sight of that. As John tells us in Revelation 19:10,
“. . . For the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” The focus should be Jesus or manifest the nature of Jesus. The words spoken should reveal Jesus or draw you closer to Him!
John also tells us that “Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Thus, any teaching of prophecy that takes us away from Jesus is not right. Prophecy should unfold the beauty of Jesus to us! In Psalm 40:7 we are told regarding Jesus, “Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me.’”
Also, in John 5:39-40 we are told, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Isn’t it amazing that people can read the Scriptures and still miss Jesus? The reason is simple. They are not willing to come to Him!
In I John 5:10 we are told, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.”
Thus, if you believe, you have eternal life. If you reject Jesus, you make Him a liar because the Scriptures testify that He is the way, He is the truth and He is the life. Without Him you will never get to heaven. Jesus is the spirit of prophecy!
- YOU MAY HAVE TO PONDER IT IN YOUR HEART FOR A TIME
Sometimes things that are spoken are predictive in nature and you may have to ponder them in your heart to see if they come to pass or not. We see this at the birth of Jesus with all the things that Mary saw at His birth pointing to Him being “A Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” We are told in verse 19 of Luke chapter 2, “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” What Mary pondered in her heart, did come to pass! There is nothing wrong with praying about what you hear or what you believe God spoke to you regarding some situation. Ponder it in your heart. Think about it. Let God show you if it is of Him or not!
- DOES IT LINE UP WITH THE FACTS
Here is another point that is important and we must not dismiss. There are times that someone will come up to you and tell you that God spoke to them regarding you, but what they are saying does not line up with the facts at all.
Therefore, you can dismiss it.
This gift can speak of future events, foretelling the things of God. This gift can speak of speaking forth the Words of God, forth-telling the things of God. But, as I have said, the gift of prophecy is speaking forth the Word of God through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In a sense you are a channel through which the Lord may speak. The words will edify, exhort and comfort believers. Remember what David said in
II Samuel 23:2, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.” When God places His Words upon our lips what a joy it is to speak them! The gift of prophecy is still in operation today as it brings edification, exhortation and comfort to the Church; the gift of Prophecy!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit Part 8
GIFT OF DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
As Christians we need to be able to discern between the true and the counterfeit or we can get swept away with false teachings that are going on; the winds of false doctrine that come blowing through the church. As John admonishes us in I John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” May we heed his words and test the teachings that are given to us to see whether or not they are of God.
Paul in I Corinthians chapter 12 places this spiritual gift, the discerning of spirits, right after the gift of prophecy, which was no accident. I truly believe the Holy Spirit inspired Paul as to the order of these gifts. Not that one is more important than the other, but when things are taught they need to be tested to see if they are of God. If they are not of God then toss them aside and hold onto only that which is good, only that which is from God, that which is found in His Word.
Some say that we are not to judge. They are wrong. They will go to Matthew 7:1-2, which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” They will then say,”See, we are not to judge or you will be judged the same way you are judging others!” But when Paul spoke of the gift of “discerning of spirits” he uses the Greek word DIAKRISIS, dee-ak’-ree-sis, which means, “judging through.” The idea is to test if something is of God or not. So you have to judge it. Jesus, in Matthew chapter 7 was speaking of judging a persons heart, their motives. To test if anything is true or false, it must be judged, and not according to our own wisdom, but according to the Word of God.
In fact, as you read further down in Matthew chapter 7, Jesus says we are to judge if something is of God or not. So again, in verses 1-2 of Matthew chapter 7 Jesus is speaking of not judging the motives, not judging a persons heart, not their actions. We are to judge what they are saying and not what they are teaching!
We also need to understand that this gift is not just using the knowledge that God has given to us to determine what is right and what is wrong, but it is the supernatural ability to, in a sense, see right to the heart of the matter. Donald Gee put it this way when he said this regarding this gift, “The essential thoughts of the word are a piercing of all that is merely outward, and seeing right through, then forming a judgment based on that insight. It is a sharp and powerful word.”
Another writer put it like this, “Discerning of spirits is the supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to perceive the source of a spiritual manifestation and determine whether it is of God (Acts 10:30-35), of the devil (Acts 16:16-18), of man (Acts 8:18-23), or of the world. It is not mind reading, psychic phenomena, or the ability to criticize and find fault.”
Still another writer wrote, “Discernment in Scripture is the skill that enables us to differentiate. It is the ability to see issues clearly. We desperately need to cultivate this spiritual skill that will enable us to know right from wrong. We must be prepared to distinguish light from darkness, truth from error, best from better, righteousness from unrighteousness, purity from defilement, and principles from pragmatics.” (J. Stowell, Fan The Flame, p. 44).
In saying that, there is learned discernment and then the discerning of spirits. We will look at both of them to get a better understanding of them. I think it is important that we use the learned discernment as well as the discerning of spirits so we are not taken in by false teachers, false doctrine, the false prophets that are out there who look like the genuine, but are wolves in sheep’s clothing!
- LEARNED DISCERNMENT
Now when we talk about learned discernment it really means just what it says. It is something that develops or grows over time. In Hebrews 5:12-14 Paul tells us, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Paul, the writer of Hebrews is coming against those who have not matured in the Lord, those who have remained spiritual infants. They should have grown and learned how to discern between good and evil.
As a person grows in their relationship with God, taking the Word of God and applying it to their lives, they are exercising their faith, applying it to their lives.
In this section on learned discernment, something that each and every Christian should be exercising like a muscle, I would like to discuss three types of false teachers or false prophets.
Again, each one of us is responsible for recognizing them and not accepting that which is false, exposing that which is a lie and holding onto that which is true, that which is of God. The three areas that we are going to be examining are the DENIERS, the DISTORTER’S, and the DECEIVERS. As you will see, some are very obvious while others are not. But the point being, none of them are speaking for God and they are to be exposed and not followed because of that! Some of these may even overlap, but as you will see, they are all dangerous!
- THE DENIERS
The first group of people we are going to look at are the deniers! These people or teachers, are the easiest to spot. They flat out deny the faith. They reject Christ and they reject Christianity. As believers in Christ we should be able to see clearly they are not of God. Yet some Christians embrace them because they are not exercising discernment. They are truly immature in the faith.
Groups that are out-and-out deniers of the faith are Buddhist, Hindus, Muslims, the New Age, Eastern Mysticism and Mind-Science cults, the Occult such as Satanists and-so-on. These deniers of the faith should be very obvious to us.
- THE DISTORTER’S
The second group of people that we are going to look at is the distorter’s. These people or teachers are a little harder to spot and yet, when you bring what they say in the light of God’s Word, it is not that difficult. This group teaches heresy that is many times coupled with the truth and they believe they are Christians. They may even use the same Christian jargon as we use and yet their definition of those phrases or words is completely different.
Groups that are distorter’s of the faith are the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Science, the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Herbert W. Armstrong’s World Wide Church of God (although it seems that the leaders are now retracting what Herbert W. Armstrong taught, and I guess time will tell if their words are genuine or not) and yes, even the Catholic Church. Of course there are others that also fit into this section. When you examine what the distorter’s of the truth teach, they too can be recognized as false teachers.
- THE DECEIVERS
The third group of people that we are going to look at is the deceivers. These people or teachers, these groups are probably the most difficult to spot. They are very subtle in the error that they teach, because they mix it in with a lot of truth.
They of course look like Christians, and sometimes they are, but other times they are nothing more than wolves in sheep clothing. When you listen to their teaching you hear about health, wealth and prosperity but never on denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Jesus. They may refer to the cross but then never preach it.
They bring New Age and Eastern Mysticism into the church claiming that the early church fathers practiced these things. That may be true, but that doesn’t make it right if what they practiced went against the Word of God.
Please understand that learned discernment is not only to gain head knowledge, but to take those truths of God and apply them to our lives. Learning what is good and what is evil and holding on to the good and standing against that which is evil. The church today is lacking this. The words of Jesus spoken of in Luke 18:8 are an eerie call for us to stand up for what we believe in. Jesus said,
“. . . Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
Make no mistake about it, the deception is only going to get worse and worse. Many will be taken in because they have not grown in the Lord, they have not Matured, and therefore they cannot discern good from evil! Learned discernment is an important part of our Christian life. May we not take it too lightly or ignore what God is saying to us!
- THE GIFT OF DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
When we speak of the gift of the discerning of spirits we need to understand that this is different than learned discernment. The discerning of spirits is a supernatural ability to see right to the heart of the matter, to judge whether a teaching or a person is of God or not. It is a non-verbal revelation that the Holy Spirit gives to you, bearing witness with your spirit, that this person is not of God, the teaching is in error, their motives are wrong, there is pride or bitterness in their heart, or not to place them in a ministry at this time or not at all. It is not the word of knowledge, but just a feeling in your spirit that something is not right.
Paul speaks of this gift in I Corinthians 12:7-11, as he wrote, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
Let me show you in the Scriptures the operation of this gift.
- A. JESUS SEE’S THEIR HEART - JOHN 8:30
Jesus is going to press them for He saw their heart, exercising the gift of discernment. As much as they said they believed, their hearts were far from God. For as Jesus questioned them, they became defensive, said that Jesus was an illegitimate child, having a demon in Him, and picked up stones to kill him. This is an excellent example of Jesus exercising this gift, the discerning of spirits. He saw into the heart of the matter and he brought it to the surface!
- JESUS KNEW ALL MEN - JOHN 2:23-25, 6:64
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus knew all men; He knew what was inside of them. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, and yet He kept extending His love to him. Many people today say they follow the Lord, are doing the work of the Lord, and yet they don’t know Him. They are not one of His. The parable of the wheat and the tares speaks clearly on this. They look just like us and it won’t be until the harvest time that the truth of the matter will be known, unless the Holy Spirit reveals that information regarding specific individuals. At times He does as you are talking with someone and they are speaking of the Lord and yet you know that they don’t really know Jesus,. There is something wrong and you can’t figure out what, but God’s Spirit is showing you!
- PETER SEE’S SIMON’S HEART - ACTS 8:9-23
In Acts chapter 8 Philip goes down to Samaria and revival breaks out, people are getting saved. As you read Acts 8:9-17 the logical conclusion is that Simon is saved. He believed and was baptized. On the surface everything looked good. That was the problem. It was all on the surface. His heart was far from God. Now if I was down in Samaria and said that about Simon I would be called, “unloving”, “judgmental”, but listen to what transpired as Peter came down to Samaria.
Beginning in verse 18 of Acts chapter 8 we read, “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.’” Acts 8:18-23.
Peter comes in and exposes this false believer. He tells him that his heart is not right with God, that it is filled with bitterness and he is still bound in sin. The only way Peter could have known this is that the Holy Spirit revealed it to him; He showed Peter that something was not right in Simon’s heart, even though Philip had seen nothing wrong and allowed him to be baptized.
- PAUL EXPOSES A FALSE PROPHET - ACTS 13:9-12
In Acts chapter 13 we meet a person who is called Bar-Jesus, or the son of Jesus. The problem was that it was in name only. He was not a believer and as you read through these verses you can see that Paul discerned that this guy was not of God and Paul was not afraid to stand up and say so!
Now in saying that, we must also be careful that we don’t allow jealousy, criticism, suspicion, or hate to be called discernment. Feelings are subjective and we need to be careful and make sure that what we are saying is from God, that our hearts are right and we are walking in the Spirit, not in the flesh. On the other hand, if the Holy Spirit has spoken to your heart, then you need to stand up for the truth, and speak it forth. The only way the church is going to remain pure is by using learned discernment and also this supernatural gift of discerning of spirits.
I believe that this gift as well as the learned discernment that God has given us is to be exercised in the church today. This gift of the discerning of spirits is needed even in the church today, to test the spirits, the teachings, to see if they are of God or if they are truly doctrines of demons! This gift is needed to make sure that what is spoken, what is taught, what people are doing is consistent, is in accordance to the Word of God!
Let us be wise and use the discernment that God has given to us and also the supernatural gift of discerning of spirits. It is truly needed in our lives and in the church today, the gift of the discerning of spirits!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit
GIFT OF TONGUES
In I Corinthians 12:7-11 we see the gift of tongues or speaking in tongues spoken of, GLOSSA, (gloce-sah’) in the Greek. This is a kind of personal prayer language given by God through which the believer can communicate with God beyond the limits of knowledge and understanding. It is this gift that has divided the body of Christ into two main groups with still others between those two groups. Let me explain.
On the one end of the spectrum there are what we would call the charismaniacs. They believe that anything and everything goes. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, you have those who we would call charisphobics. These people are terrified of the spiritual gifts and believe that most of them have passed off the scene.
Remember what Paul said in I Corinthians 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” The charismaniacs have the first part of what Paul said down pat, “Let all things be done.” And the charisphobics have the last part of what Paul said down pat, “be done decently and in order.” I think they are both wrong in their thinking, in what they believe. I see that there is a balance between them both and the Lord wants us to exercise these gifts and to exercise them as He has instructed us to, or as Paul said, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
THE TWO EXTREMES REGARDING THE GIFT OF TONGUES
First we are going to look at the abuse of this gift, what we have called the charismaniacs. This group of people believes that the manifestation of being filled or empowered by the Spirit, is speaking in tongues. If you don’t speak in tongues then the Holy Spirit has not come upon you or empowered you for service.
First of all, that kind of attitude can easily lead to spiritual pride. If you don’t have this gift, there are all kinds of pressures placed upon you to manifest it, even to the point of faking it so you fit in with the spiritual elite. Yet that kind of thinking, that if you don’t speak in tongues you are not empowered by the Holy Spirit, is not Scriptural. How do I know that they are wrong regarding this belief, that a sign that you are empowered by the Spirit is speaking in tongues? Because the Scriptures don’t support it!
First, Paul tells us in I Corinthians 12:28, “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.” Did you see that? Tongues are way down on the list of spiritual gifts. The way some talk you would think that tongues is the most important spiritual gift. Yes, it is important because God has given it to us, but let’s not read into the Scriptures something that is not there.
Paul makes another point as he goes on in verse 29 of I Corinthians chapter 12, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?”
Paul is asking a rhetorical question with the answer being “No, not all speak in tongues nor do all interpret the message of tongues.” How can that be if tongues are a sign that you are empowered by the Spirit of God, that the Spirit of God has come upon you to empower you for
service? That is easy. As you read that you can easily see it is saying to us that tongues is not the sign of being empowered by the Holy Spirit. Yes we do see this happen at times in the book of Acts where the believers were empowered by the Holy Spirit and then they spoke in tongues, but as you will see in a few minutes, that is not how it always happened.
Also, understand that not everyone is going to speak in tongues. Don’t feel that you are lacking because you don’t. On the other hand, we should not be afraid of this gift, as some are, because it is a beautiful gift that the Holy Spirit gives to us.
The second group is the charisphobics and this group generally believes that the manifestation of this gift of tongues passed off the scene at the close of the apostolic period when the New Testament cannon was completed. Many times they will go to I Corinthians 13:8-10 as their proof text, where we read, “. . . But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”
It does sound like Paul is saying that tongues will pass off the scene and their rationale goes like this. They believe that Paul, in I Corinthians 13:10, was speaking of the completion of the New Testament when he said, “. . . when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” Thus, the gift of tongues has ceased. The gift of prophecy has failed. The gift of knowledge is done away with. You see, we don’t need them anymore because we have the Word of God.
It sounds good, but I don’t believe that is what Paul is speaking of. I think their understanding of this text is flawed. You see, when Paul spoke of, “. . . that which is perfect has come . . .” he was not speaking of the completed Word of God. I realize that I may have opened up a can of worms here, but I think it is important to understand what Paul is saying so we don’t come to the wrong conclusion.
I don’t believe it is that difficult to figure out. Listen to what the rest of what Paul has to say in I Corinthians chapter 13 beginning in verse 11, where we read, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” I Corinthians 13:11-12.
Also, in II Corinthians 3:18 we read, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
What I want you to notice in these verses is the context. What is the context? It is looking at God dimly through a mirror and the mirror represents the Word of God. We don’t have a clear or complete look at Him yet. We are being transformed into His image. But one day, when He comes back for His Bride, the Church, we will see Him face to face. We will have glorified bodies, they will be new.
We won’t need the gift of prophecy for the Lord will be with us. We won’t need the gift of knowledge for the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth. And we won’t need tongues for these corrupted bodies of flesh will be transformed and praise will flow from our lips unto Him. So Paul was speaking of Jesus at His second coming when he said, “. . . that which is perfect has come . . .”
Also, within this group of charisphobics are those who believe this gift is totally a human invention of made-up sounds. Some feel it is some kind of emotional outburst as you are worked up into this state of mind and unknown sounds come out of your mouth. Some even go as far as saying that the people that practice this gift are opening themselves up to demonic spirits to speak through them. How ridiculous that is. God has given us this gift to be used in our lives today. This is not something outside the Scriptures, but clearly taught in the Scriptures!
As much as some would like to disagree with that, let the Scriptures speak for themselves. Let’s not get stuck in our own personal biases. Jesus said in Mark 16:17-18, “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Who is Jesus speaking to? That is a very important question for us to answer because how we answer it will determine what Jesus is saying here. You see, when Jesus spoke these words it was not just to the apostles. It was not just to the disciples, but He spoke these words to “. . . those who believe . . .” And the way I understand that is, Jesus is talking to all of us who believe! One of those gifts that Jesus was speaking of was the gift of tongues.
If Jesus spoke of this gift we don’t need to fear it. We don’t need to assume it has passed off the scene. We don’t need to try to negate it. Just let the Scriptures speak for themselves and receive all that God wants us to have.
In saying all that, what is this gift called tongues? Simply put the gift of tongues is a supernatural ability that has been given to us by the Holy Spirit so that we can communicate with God in a language we don’t know and don’t understand. It bypasses the intellect. This can be a modern language spoken by others, but one you have never spoken. It could be some ancient dialect from a people that have long since passed off the scene, or it could be, as Paul tells us in I Corinthians 13:1, that it is an angelic language or a heavenly language. Let’s look at some Scriptures to see a little more clearly what this gift is all about.
THE GIFT OF TONGUES
SPEAKING TO GOD
Here is an important issue regarding the gift of tongues. The gift is used to speak to God. In I Corinthians 14:2 we read, “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” As I have said, this is important for us to understand. When we speak in tongues we are communicating with God.
Prophecy is God speaking to His church. Tongues are man speaking to God in an unknown language. Thus the focus of what we say in an unknown tongue is God. We will deal more with this and the interpretation of tongues in our next study, but the focus is upon God.
We see this manifested in four different ways. They are prayer, worship, giving thanks and it will strengthen the inner man. We will look at these four a little closer because this is all part of this gift.
Tongues is a prayer language unto the Lord, it is about Him! In I Corinthians 14:14-15 we read, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” Prayer to God can be in tongues at times, especially when we don’t know what to pray for. But that is not the only way we are to pray. If we only pray in tongues, we wouldn’t know when God answered our prayers.
But we can pray in tongues as Paul said in Romans 8:26-27, “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. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
Thus, as we pray in the spirit, we pray unhindered by our flesh, so selfishness and other sinful attitudes are eliminated from our prayer. Think if it this way, as the fifteenth-century Italian reformer Savonarola put it, “When prayer reaches its ultimate, words are
Tongues is about worship, the worship of the Lord. In I Corinthians 14:15-16 we read, “What is the
conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say ‘Amen’ at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?” As we speak in tongues we are worshiping the Lord, our focus is Him.
Tongues is also used to give thanks unto the Lord. In I Corinthians 14:17 we read, “For you indeed give thanks well . . .” When we speak in tongues we are giving thanks to God, something we should be doing not only in tongues! But the focus is on the Lord, it is all about Him and that truly is what this gift is about!
STRENGTHENS THE INNER MAN
Lastly, this gift does help to strengthen the inner man. In I Corinthians 14:4 we read, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself . . .” Tongues does not necessarily build up the church, for the words are unto God, but it does strengthen the individual who is exercising this gift. We read in Jude 20, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” That is not to say it can’t edify the church, it can but prophecy is more
edifying than tongues to the church!
NEW TESTAMENT EXAMPLES OF THE GIFT OF TONGUES
THE DAY OF PENTECOST - ACTS 2:1-11
In these verses we see the gift of tongues being exercised right after they were filled with the Spirit. They spoke known dialects perfectly. Even though they didn’t know what they were saying, the other people were able to hear them in their own dialects speaking praise unto God for all His wonderful works.
EMPOWERING BY THE SPIRIT - ACTS 4:19-20, 31
What was the evidence here that they were empowered by the Holy Spirit? They spoke the Word of God with boldness. Yes tongues are evidence that a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, but it is not THE evidence as some like to teach.
REVIVAL IN SAMARIA - ACTS 8:17
Did you notice that when hands were laid upon them it doesn’t say anything about tongues being exercised here? We know that something was different in their lives at this point because Simon the sorcerer wanted to purchase it with money. A common practice in the occult back then was to sell your secrets, your powers. Thus, there was something visible that was manifested in their lives, but we shouldn’t try and imply that it was this gift of tongues. It could have been
something else or even a combination of gifts being exercised by these individuals.
GENTILES SAVED AND SPEAK IN TONGUES – ACTS 10:44-48
As God’s Word is given to these gentiles they get saved. After they were saved, the Holy Spirit came upon them empowering them for service. We see here that the gift of tongues is in operation and as it is, we see praise given unto God. If tongues were spoken, how did they understand what was said? It is possible that the gift of interpretation of tongues was also in operation and as the gift of tongues was used, so too was the gift of interpretation and they heard God being praised, magnified, as He should be!
ENCOUNTER IN EPHESUS - ACTS 19:5-7
Here they not only spoke in tongues, but they also prophesied which shows us different evidences for the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
The gift of tongues is a beautiful prayer and praise language unto God. Don’t be afraid of it. It is as Paul said, “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” I Corinthians 14:2. The gift of tongues!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES
Another gift of the Spirit is the interpretation of tongues as Paul tells us in I Corinthians 12:7-11. Now the Greek word that Paul uses for “interpretation” is HERMENEIA, (her-may-ni’-ah) from which we get our word “hermeneutics” from, which refers to the science of Scriptural interpretation.
And so, this gift of the interpretation of tongues is the supernatural ability that has been given to us by the Holy Spirit so that we may interpret tongues, a language that we don’t know or understand. Now every time you speak in tongues it doesn’t have to have an interpretation. The interpretation is only needed in a public setting, in fact it is required. On the other hand, in your own private devotional time, if you speak in tongues, no interpretation is required. Also, this is an interpretation, not necessarily a verbatim translation. In fact, most of the time it is a paraphrase of what was spoken for it may be very difficult to translate from that language to English.
Let me go through some verses here in I Corinthians chapter 14 as we examine this gift.
I CORINTHIANS 14
Paul is speaking in general terms regarding tongues, that no one understands tongues unless there is someone to
interpret them. Pastor Chuck tells a story that took place many years ago. About 55 or 60 people had gathered together on Pentecost Sunday to wait upon the Lord and remember what He did when he sent His Spirit upon the Church.
As they worshiped and praised the Lord a woman named Lynn stood up and began to speak in tongues, and Pastor Chuck recognized she was speaking French, although he could not make out all that she was saying. But what he understood was she was giving praise unto God. This woman was thanking God for the beautiful new song He had put into her heart as He moved her from singing in nightclubs to
singing for Jesus. Pastor Chuck could understand just enough of what she was saying, but not enough to give an interpretation, which of course if he knew the language it would just be an interpretation, not the supernatural gift of Interpretation.
Now Pastor Chuck’s wife, who doesn’t understand any French, began to interpret the message that was given in tongues. Pastor Chuck goes on to say, “A Jewish visitor from Palm Springs who was going through some marital problems had joined us that night. A friend had brought her so I could counsel her after the meeting. When the people left and we were getting ready to talk, she said ‘Before we get into my problems, I would like you to explain to me why the one lady spoke to the group in French and why the other lady translated what she said.’”
“‘Would you believe it if I told you that neither of those ladies know French?’ I asked.”
“‘No I wouldn’t’ she explained.”
Pastor Chuck went on to say that he has known his wife for years and she doesn’t know any French and neither does the other lady. And he took her to the Scriptures showing her the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues.
“‘Well,’ she said, ‘that was the most beautiful French I have ever heard. It was spoken with a perfect aristocratic accent. I lived in Paris for five years and it isn’t street French; it was the aristocratic form of the language. And the other lady gave a perfect translation.’”
That is the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues properly used in a public setting. As I have said, in a private setting you don’t need the interpretation; it is your spirit communicating with God’s Spirit!
Paul’s point is simple. Tongues edifies you and that is why its primary use is in private. Prophecy is beneficial to the body of Christ and thus it is used in a public setting. The only time tongues is beneficial in a public setting is when an interpretation is given, and tongues is praise, not teaching!
Does everyone speak in tongues? It would seem that Paul is saying, “No, not at all!” for he tells us, “I wish you all spoke with tongues.” If you do that is great, if you don’t, that does not make you less spiritual, not at all. The Spirit gives to us as He wills, we can ask because it is a beautiful prayer and praise language unto God, but then it is up to the Holy Spirit to give the gift to us!
Notice what Paul is saying here. If a person can’t understand what is being said, then it is of no real benefit to them. Now Paul is going to give to us some illustrations to drive home his point.
Back in those days the sound a trumpet made would call you to battle, wake you up, call you for meals, when to retreat in battle, and-so-on. Thus, it was very important that you made the right sound with the trumpet so the soldiers would know what to do. You wouldn’t want to call the soldiers to battle when you want them to retreat, that would not be good! And like our language, pre–arranged sounds mean certain things to us.
In other words, if you don’t understand the language, then the words are meaningless. They make no sense and they don’t help you or anyone at all. But the gift of tongues is different in that the person speaking it can be edified, drawn closer to God. Tongues can benefit you and of course God understands it for it is primarily but not exclusively praise unto Him!
Paul is speaking here of the use of tongues in a public setting. If you exercise this gift in a public setting there needs to be someone to interpret. If not, then no other tongues should be spoken. Paul is not speaking of the use of tongues in a private setting when there does not need to be an interpretation.
This really upsets our intellect. We want to figure out what we said and we try to make sense out of it. When we can’t our mind tells us that these words are just made up and we try to reject what God is doing. We say that it is not real. The gift of tongues does take faith because it bypasses our intellect, we don’t
understand it. It also bypasses our fallen nature.
There are times we don’t know what to pray for and the Spirit makes intercession for us, praying in the will of God. That is what Paul said in Romans 8:26-27. But we also are to pray on our own, with understanding, so that we can know when God answers our prayers.
Now please understand that there is nothing wrong with speaking in tongues, Paul himself spoke in tongues. But in a public setting, without an interpretation, no one is edified except you. The gift of tongues is primarily used in a private setting as we praise and thank God for all He is and all He has done.
Again, notice Paul’s focus, to build people up, and that is primarily done with the gift of prophecy. The problem in the Corinthian church was that they were self-centered and used the gifts to bring glory to themselves instead of building up the body of Christ. That is why Paul says that they are children or they are selfishly immature! In fact, Paul is telling them to grow-up, act their age, be mature, put on the mind of Christ. As you examine the life of Jesus He was others-centered instead of being self-centered! And, of course, He is a great example to follow! The gifts are not given to exalt us, but to honor and praise the Lord and build up the body of Christ. May we not forget that!
Now there are some Scriptures that are difficult to understand and these are some of the most difficult verses to understand in the Bible, some of the hardest ones to figure out! J. B. Phillips, the famous Greek scholar, when he was translating the Greek Scriptures to English thought there was a copyist error because it didn’t make sense to him. It seemed that Paul was contradicting himself. And so in verse 22 he said it was correctly translated this way, that tongues are for those who believe, to fit in with the rest of what Paul said in these verses.
I think this is hard to understand because many are trying to understand it without seeing what the Old Testament has to say about this. We saw that with the book of Revelation, that many of the things spoken of in the book of Revelation come right out of the Old Testament and if you don’t approach the book that way, it can be confusing and you can come to the wrong conclusion!
Here’s the thing. I don’t believe there was a copyist error and I will show you why. Paul is using an Old Testament illustration from Isaiah chapter 28 to make his point. In Isaiah God is
pronouncing judgment upon the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the hands of the Assyrians, and upon the Southern Kingdom of Judah by the hands of the Babylonians.
And God said that He sent them prophet after prophet who spoke to them in a language that they understood. And God was telling them through the prophets that they needed to repent and get right with God or judgment was going to come upon them.
And they refused to listen to what the prophets were saying and God was going to send them another people whose language they didn’t understand, the Assyrians to the Northern
Kingdom of Israel, and the Babylonians to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and judgment would come upon them. They would speak to them in a language they did not understand!
Paul is now going to apply this illustration, but in verse 20 of I Corinthians chapter 14, before he does, listen to what he tells them, “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.” Paul is telling them not to be children, to grow up, to be mature, to understand these things. Tongues is not a sign of spiritual maturity or even that God is among you, for God used unbelievers to speak to Israel and Judah as a sign of judgment.
And thus, Paul is telling us that tongues is a sign to unbelievers in that it speaks to them of God’s judgment that is coming upon them. I think Paul is speaking of people of faith who are refusing to hear what God is saying to them. You see, the prophets are speaking but they refuse to listen, and thus they are condemning themselves by rejecting Christ and what He has to say to them. Just as in Isaiah’s day as they grew cold, indifferent to the Lord, I think that is who Paul is speaking of here. You see, if these were true unbelievers, then, as tongues are spoken in the hearing of unbelievers, most of the time it does not draw them to Christ, but pushes them out the door, they think you are crazy when they see this gift being exercised in front of them.
Prophecy, on the other hand, speaks to believers that God is among them, the Word of God, as it is being taught, ministers to the people.
Now the illustration may be a little confusing, it may be a little cloudy, but Paul draws he conclusion from this illustration beginning in verse 23 of I Corinthians chapter 14, when he said, “Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” I Corinthians 14:23-25.
Here’s the thought. Tongues, in general, does not minister to new believers or unbelievers. In fact many times they will think you are nuts, that you lost your mind. Therefore, in a public gathering, when you get new believers and unbelievers together, prophecy, the teaching of God’s Word, is the gift that needs to be exercised. You see, prophecy cuts right to the heart as Hebrews 4:12-13 tell us. And so the idea here is that we see prophecy in a public setting and tongues in a private setting, that is the general rule.
As much as people hate restrictions, Paul gives us some restrictions for the use of the gift of tongues. Only 2 or 3 are to speak, not all at the same time, and not the entire congregation. And what we see happening today is the whole church is speaking in tongues at the same time and that is not Scriptural. Not only that but if the gift of tongues is given, then there must be another who will interpret what was said. Back then, as today, people love to draw attention to themselves, and this gift does have the potential to do that. That is why Paul was trying to set things in order, to get them to understand the proper function of the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues.
And once again you need to keep in mind that this was an early letter and the Bible was not completed yet. The leaders were new Christians and so they still needed to grow in the faith. Also, some feel that there were many home churches and this may relate to them. In either case, on a Sunday, someone would read a Psalm, another would teach, someone would speak in tongues and there would be an interpretation, someone may give a revelation and the problem was their selfishness, their lack of love, their desire to be heard and it caused a mess in the church. Thus, Paul says, “Let all things be done for edification.” If everyone is speaking at the same time there is no edification only a lot of noise! You see, the goal of coming together as a body of believers is not entertainment, it is not for ourselves, to meet our needs, but it is for the edification of the body of Christ, being built up in the Spirit by the Spirit of God and the Word of God!
Here we see another restriction by Paul. Some today would say that Paul is quenching the Spirit by all these restrictions, you just need to let go and let the Spirit do whatever He wants. Not at all, that would just bring about confusion and God is not the author of confusion. In fact, when you think about it, just letting things go, do whatever you want, when things are chaotic, when there is no order, when people have moved outside the Word of God, that is what quenches what the Spirit is trying to do! And so, if there is no one to interpret, then the gift of tongues is not to be exercised.
And what we see here in these verses is that Paul is laying the ground rules for speaking in tongues. He tells us that at the most 3 people can speak in tongues during a service and then there must be the gift of interpretation also working. If not, the gift is not to be exercised.
Now here is a question some of you may have. “Why don’t we see the gift of tongues in operation on Thursday evenings or Sunday mornings here at Calvary?” First of all tongues is used in our private devotions, but as I said, not exclusively! Also, think about this for a minute. As we are worshiping the Lord, singing praises unto Him, why would God interrupt the worship of Himself? During the teaching of God’s Word God is speaking through me with the gift of wisdom, knowledge, teaching, prophecy and-so-on. And again, why would God interrupt Himself during the teaching? He wouldn’t! During our praise, prayer and worship nights that we have on Thursday’s every so often, that is when the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation is to be in operation besides being in our own personal devotional time as I have said.
Now what Paul says here is interesting. You might not think it fits in, but it does. You see, Paul understands that some are not going to accept what he has to say. Some may reject it and may even think that Paul is quenching the work of the Spirit by his restrictions. So Paul hits them hard by telling them that if they are really spiritual, if they are mature, then they will understand that these things are from God and not out of Paul’s own heart. But for those who still want to come against him, he tells them to remain ignorant, fight with yourself because he is not going to waste his time trying to convince them otherwise. Here is the information and they needed to receive it. Paul was not politically correct, but he did make his point with them.
Yes, we can quench the Spirits work in our lives by disobeying Him, rejecting what He wants us to do. It is like throwing a bucket of water on a fire, it will be quenched. But also understand that all that He wants us to do is in accordance with the Word of God and not apart from it!
There is nothing wrong with the gift of tongues; in fact, it is a gift that the Holy Spirit gives to us. Paul’s point is simple, don’t forbid tongues in a public setting, but if it is exercised, make sure there is the gift of interpretation to go with it. If not, then tongues should not be exercised in the public setting. There does need to be a balance, and Paul rightly recognizes that prophecy is the best gift to be used in a public setting.
And so as Paul closes out I Corinthians chapter 14 he sums things up for us. Tongues are not bad, there is nothing wrong with this gift but prophecy is better during a church service for the people will be edified, exhorted, comforted by the Word of God!
The interpretation of tongues is a powerful and effective tool that the Holy Spirit has given to us, may we use it properly with the gift of tongues! The gift of interpretation of tongues!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit
THE GIFT OF MINISTRY OR HELPS
Paul, in Romans 12:3-8 lists more gifts of the Spirit and we are going to look at the gift of ministry . In I Corinthians 12:28 it is called the gift of helps. And these are a little different from the other gifts we have been looking at in that these gifts are given to individuals in the body of Christ to be used to minister to them.
It is not just a one time or specific time gift, but I believe the Holy Spirit gives these gifts to certain individuals, just as we saw with the gifted men that Christ has given to the Church. Now, not all have these gifts but God spreads them out so that each body is able to function properly! And these gifts that God gives to us are not based on how spiritual we are but they are grace gifts. They are gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit not because we deserve them, but that is what God has chosen to do!
The New Testament uses three different Greek words that are translated into “minister” or a similar English word. And we are going to look at them starting with the word that Paul used here in Romans 12:7 to help us understand what this gift is all about. And keep in mind that all three of these words will encompass what we are speaking of here. Also, please don’t forget that this is a supernatural ability; it is not just a person who is really good at doing something, like ministry! May we not lose sight of that fact; this is a gift of the Holy Spirit that has been given to us! So let’s look at these three Greek words so we can get some insight into what this gift is all about.
THE GREEK WORDS USED FOR “MINISTRY”
DIAKONIA OR DIAKONOS
The first Greek word we are going to look at is DIAKONIA, (dee-ak-on-ee’-ah) and it means servant and we have translated it into our English word “deacon.”
Now a deacon was someone who took care of the physical aspects of the church. This is the word that Paul used here in Romans 12:7 and it is also called the gift of helps, as Paul said in I Corinthians 12:28.
This is not a profession but it truly is a calling, and I believe it goes far beyond the idea of a deacon, as we think of it today. We should think of this gift as the laying down of our life to serve or minister to others. It is going that extra mile. Thus, we can translate this verse in Romans 12:7 like this: “or service, let us use it in our serving.” This Greek word, DIAKONIA or DIAKONOS, is the most used word for “ministry” or “minister” in the New Testament!
The second Greek word we are going to look at for “minister” is LEITOURGOS, (li-toorg-os’) and this Greek word speaks of a wealthy person who has given himself freely to public service. He, in a sense, is a volunteer who has given himself to serve the community at his own expense. He works for the people, volunteering his time, you might say.
We see this word used in Philippians 2:25, as Epaphroditus gave himself to the service of Paul.
Also, Paul used this same Greek word in Romans 15:15-1. Here Pau tells us that he gave his life to the service of Jesus Christ, serving the Gospel message to those who were lost, and in this service to man, God was being worshiped.
And so, the idea here with this Greek word, LEITOURGOS, is no matter where you are you are a servant, volunteering to serve others at your own expense. And this may not necessarily be monetary in nature. It could be with your time, your resources, whatever, but it will cost you!
The last Greek word for “minister” that we are going to look at is HYPERETES, (hoop-ay-ret’-ace) and it means, “under rower” or “galley slave.” What does that mean? These are the ones who were located on the lowest level of the ship and yet they did the majority of the work. They were the slaves! But you see, without their efforts the ship would remain motionless or it would be tossed all over the place by the waves, not moving in the direction they needed to go. But the under rowers would propel the ship forward, helping it to reach its destination and yet they were the ones not seen and they were, of course, not thought of as being important, they were slaves!
When you look at the ministry, that is a good definition. It may not be pretty, it may even be smelly, and the work is tremendous, but you are propelling God’s church through this world, helping them to see Jesus more clearly, to help people reach Jesus.
In Acts chapter 26, as Paul is speaking before king Agrippa of his conversion experience, of sharing Jesus with him, he said beginning in verse 16 what the Lord said to him, “But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” Acts 26:16-18. That word “minister” in verse 16 is the Greek word HYPERETES, or under rower. Paul was a galley slave for Christ and truly that is what the Lord has called us to be!
I think it is important that we understand that this is a gift and how it truly is also a calling. It is not a job, we need to understand that. It is a calling and we will see this as we look at a few Scriptures.
A CALL TO MINISTRY?
THE CALLING - EPHESIANS 3:7 - DIAKONOS
In Ephesians 3:7 Paul tells us what this gift of ministry is all about, this gift that God has given to us. As you read this notice that this was a calling and this calling was not according to man, but by the gift of God’s grace. Because it was of God, God gave him the power to do the work. Too often people wonder how they can become a minister. We don’t make ministers, God does and as He raises them up all we can do is recognize what God is doing in their life.
THE EDUCATION - ACTS 4:13
So, what do you need to be a minister of Jesus Christ? What kind of education do you need? Let me explain by sharing with you what two apostles had in regard to education. In Acts 4:13 we see this played out for us.
Notice that Peter and John did not go to Old Rabbi University. They did not have their PhD in Theology. They were with Jesus and that fellowship with the Lord trained them up in the things that they needed.
What is interesting is that these religious leaders who had arrested Peter and John were the ones who were schooled in the Law of God, the Scriptures, and yet they saw something different in Peter and John.
Yes, they were fishermen, and in their minds they were uneducated and untrained men, and yet they spoke the Scriptures with boldness. How can that be? They recognized that Peter and John had been with Jesus! We must remember that when the Lord calls us He also will equip us. Sometimes that means going to Bible School and sometimes it doesn’t!
FULFILL THE MINISTRY - COLOSSIANS 4:17 - DIAKONIA
Here is one that seems so obvious and yet, I have seen people get involved in ministry and then just drop the ball you might say. God wants us to fulfill the ministry that He has called us to, that just makes sense and that is what Paul tells us Colossians 4:17.
How important are those words for each of us. What has God called you to do? Whatever it is, fulfill it and do the work to the best of your ability. It would seem that maybe Archippus was down, maybe discouraged, maybe he wasn’t seeing much fruit from his labor and Paul encourages him to continue on, don’t stop, don’t give up, keep forging ahead in the work that God has called you to do. He wanted the church in Colosse to encourage Archippus to finish the work that God has called him to do, to fulfill it! We all need that encouragement from time to time as did Archippus!
And I love Paul because he had such a passion for the ministry. He had such a passion to fulfill the work that God had called him to do. Remember what Paul said in Acts 20:22-24?
He did not want anything to move him from the course that God has set for him. And thus, may nothing move us from the course that God has for us! And, know that what you do, even though you may not see results as quickly as you like, Paul reminds us, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:58. What a glorious promise, one that I hold onto and I hope you do too!
You see, whatever ministry that God has placed you in, give it your all, do your best. That is all God asks of us, to fulfill the ministry He has called us to for the betterment of the body of Christ!
GOD PLACES US IN MINISTRY - I TIMOTHY 1:12 - DIAKONIA
People often wonder, “How does a person get into ministry?” Let me say this, we don’t appoint people into a ministry, God raises them up and we can only recognize what God has done in their life. The Lord puts people in ministry. That is what Paul tells us in I Timothy 1:12.
You see, God not only enabled Paul to be in ministry, but it was the Lord who put him in the ministry! I know, some of you look at Paul and see this great man of God and then you look at your own life and that is not what you see. And you wonder if God can ever use you!
It all comes down to this, it is the grace of God, it is the mercy of God that He extended to Paul and to us. It is not because of us, it is because of Him! God places us in the ministry as I have said before; all we must do is follow!
USE THE GIFT THAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU - I PETER 4:10-11 – DIAKONEO
The last one we will look at is found in I Peter 4:10-11. In God’s multi-faceted or manifold grace, He has given to us gifts to minister in the body of Christ. Now, if we don’t use these gifts Peter tells us it is as if God’s grace gift was given to us in vain. And folks, if we don’t use these gifts they are wasted. Meyer puts it this way, “Manifold grace is many-coloured grace. As when a ray of light breaks into a spray of many hues, so each of us receives God’s grace at a different angle, and flashes it back broken up into some fresh colour.”
It just makes sense, to use the gifts that God has given to us and yet, many refuse to take those steps of faith. And notice that Peter tells us that we are to use the gifts with the ability that God has given to us and not in our own strength! These are not natural abilities or talents that a person has. God is the one who raises the person up, gives them the ability to do the work. Thus, God gets the glory and not man!
We are going to now look at the example of Jesus and the ministry He did when He walked this earth. He truly is the ultimate example for our lives of what a servant is all about! He shows us what this gift of ministry or gift of helps is to be manifested in our lives!
THE MINISTRY OF JESUS, OUR EXAMPLE
WASHING THE DISCIPLES FEET – JOHN 13
Jesus, of course, is our ultimate example of a minister or one who helps others. In John chapter 13, the night before His crucifixion, Jesus and his men had gathered together to share in the Passover meal.
And so, as guest arrived at someone’s home the lowest servant would come and wash their feet and dry them. You did not want to sit next to someone at the table with dirty, stinky feet! But here, in this room that the disciples of Jesus met there was no servant, no one to wash their feet.
And none of the disciples were going to step forward and do this job, they were the Apostles not the B-postles you might say! In fact, the disciples were arguing who was going to be greatest in the kingdom, not a slave in the kingdom, so they were not going to stoop down and do this. They were not thinking of serving anyone, let alone washing anyone’s feet!
And so God, the creator of heaven and earth, girds Himself with a towel, gets the water, and begins to wash the disciple’s feet. And I’m sure that things grew quickly silent in the room at that time. No one was talking about being prime minister in the kingdom at this point! And as Jesus finished teaching them by example, He now was going to teach with words in John 13:13-17.
Jesus, who has taught them by example, now tells them to go out and do the same to others, to be a servant. Now Jesus is not saying that we are to literally go out and wash people’s feet, that is not the point. He is telling us to go out and be a servant, to minister to people as He ministered to them!
FULFILLMENT IN DOING THE WORK OF GOD – JOHN 14
In John 4:13-14 Jesus encounters a woman by Jacob’s well in Samaria, while His disciples are out looking for food. Jesus is telling this woman that she will never fill that void that is in her life with worldly things, only a relationship with God will satisfy her completely. He is the only one that will satisfy our hunger and our thirst!
Now keep in mind that Jesus was hungry, He was thirsty, He was tired at this point. And now His disciples returned and in John 4:31-34 we see Jesus teach by example. Notice that Jesus found satisfaction, joy, rest, fulfillment in doing the work of God. His hunger was satisfied. You see, you can’t minister without getting something back in return. It comes as you give yourself away!
Now we have seen Jesus teach by example and now He was going to teach by words, showing them how this applies to their lives. And we read in verse 35, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”
Please understand what is going on here. It is not harvest time yet, there is still four months to go until the harvest. Some say that this was a proverb that Jesus was speaking of; others say it was a literal time till the harvest. But don’t miss the point through all the rationalizing. Whatever was growing in the fields, it was tall, but not ready to harvest yet. And as the woman of Samaria went to get the men of the city, they now were coming through the fields, and as they walked their heads were seen above these crops with their white turbans on. And Jesus is saying that it is harvest time now, the people are coming, there is your work, be a servant and fulfill the work of God that your joy may be full! In other words, I have shown you by my example what needs to be done; now you go and do the same!
May we be a servant of all and minister to people with the supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit! It truly is a gift that is needed today and may we exercise it, the gift of ministry or the gift of helps!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit
THE GIFT OF EXHORTATION
Paul tells us of some of the other gifts of the Spirit here in Romans 12:3-8 and we will specifically look at the gift of exhortation from these verses. Now many people today can exhort others, and we should all be doing that, but please understand that this gift of exhortation is a supernatural gift given by the Holy Spirit that stimulates people into action.
William MacDonald put it this way as he said that this “is the gift of stirring up the saints to desist from every form of evil and to press on to new achievements for Christ in holiness and service.” And when a person who has this gift comes alongside of you, they get you moving!
The word that Paul used here in Romans 12:8 for exhorts” is the Greek word PARAKALEO, (par-ak-al-eh’o), which is translated “exhorts.” This Greek word is made up of two different Greek words, PARA which means, “by the side,” and KALEO which means, “to call.”
Thus, this word “exhorts” means, “to call by the side.” It can be translated, helper, to counsel, comforter or encourager. In fact, when Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit He called the Holy Spirit the PARAKLETOS, which has the same basic idea, to comfort.
In fact, that is how this word is translated when Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, “comforter” or “helper!” And this gift of exhortation, many times works in conjunction with some of the other spiritual gifts, like pastor-teacher, teacher, mercy, ministry and-so-on.
Now to understand exhortation or comfort, we need to look to God, the creator of heaven and earth as our example. In the New Testament we can go to II Corinthians chapter 1 where Paul tells us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4.
In this section of Scripture Paul uses the same Greek word that is used in Romans 12:8, PARAKALEO and PARAKLESIS when he was speaking, and we have translated them into our English words, “comfort” and “comforted.” And what Paul is saying is God has come and will come alongside us and help us, comfort us, and carry us through those difficult times we encounter in life. He will encourage us! God loves to wrap His arms around us and many times He does that through the body of Christ who are coming alongside to help.
OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES OF EXHORTATION
JUDAH PLAYS THE HARLOT - JEREMIAH 3:1-5
In Jeremiah 3:1-5 we see Jeremiah exhorting Judah to turn back to God and not to go after the false gods. They were involved in spiritual adulatory and because of their actions judgment had and was coming upon them. He goes on to say in Jeremiah 4:1-2, “‘If you will return, O Israel,’ says the LORD, ‘Return to Me; and if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved. And you shall swear, ‘The LORD lives,’ in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; the nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him they shall glory.’”
The call is to stir them up into action and to desist from every form of evil. To press on to new achievements in holiness and service unto the true and living God instead of going after these other god’s! Now the problem is that they then must act upon what they heard and they did not and they were brought into captivity because of it. Here’s the thing, just because someone is exhorting us doesn’t mean we have to listen, and many times that is the problem. We continue down that dangerous path until we find ourselves in captivity!
TRUST IN THE LORD - II CHRONICLES 20
In II Chronicles chapter 20 we find a great story of seeing what God can do in the most difficult, the most dangerous of situations! Here in II Chronicles chapter 20 we see three nations rise up against the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Edomites, who were all blood relatives of Israel, and yet they were mounting an attack against Judah, and obviously Judah was outnumbered and outgunned!
On the throne in the Southern Kingdom of Judah was a godly king by the name of Jehoshaphat. And I love what Jehoshaphat does in this dangerous and really hopeless situation. He calls for a fast to seek the Lord in this matter. What a great thing to do and it was the right thing to do!
And as the people gathered around their king, he exhorted them by refocusing them on God, he refocused them on God’s power, and he concludes by saying in verse 12 of II Chronicles chapter 20, “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”
Again, a proper perspective of the situation - we have no strength, we can’t do it on our own, and so our eyes are upon you Lord! It speaks of a total dependence upon God.
It is as Psalm 46:1-2 says, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” It is when we lose the consciousness of God in our life that things get out of focus and we become anxious and terrified.
Remember what David said in Psalm 31:24, “Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.”
And truly think about this for a minute. If you place your eyes upon people, guess what, you will be disappointed! If you place your eyes upon the situation you are facing, the circumstances you find yourself in, you, like Peter will begin to sink! Folk’s, we need to place our eyes upon God and when we do we will be stable, He will see us through all that life has thrown our way!
It is as Jehoshaphat said, “. . . For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” There is no other place to look but the Lord, and now they waited upon God to answer their hearts cry.
And so as they waited the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel, who said beginning in verse 15, “And he said, ‘Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.’” II Chronicles 20:15-17.
Did you see what Jahaziel did here? He exhorted them to look to God and see the salvation that He will bring in this battle. In fact the battle plan was to put the worship people in front as they went to battle and as they did, singing praises unto the Lord, the enemy was confused, and they began killing each other. Praise, especially during difficult times confuses the enemy.
The people of Judah didn’t even lift a sword in this battle, the entire enemy had killed each other and it took 3 whole days for Judah to gather the spoils of this victory that God had given them. We can see that both Jehoshaphat and Jahaziel both exhorted the people to look to God, to trust in the Lord.
Now let’s look at some New Testament examples of this gift in operation and see how it is played out!
NEW TESTAMENT EXAMPLES OF EXHORTATION
YOU CAN’T STOP A GOOD MAN - ACTS 14
We are going to see here that you can’t stop a good man who is serving the Lord, whose faith is in the Lord, whose strength is in the Lord! Here in Acts chapter 14 we see that Paul was in Lystra with Barnabas, and Paul heals a man who never walked in his life, crippled his entire life, up to this point anyway.
Now when the people saw this they thought, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” In fact they thought Paul, being the smaller guy, was the god Mercury, and Barnabas, being bigger, was the god Jupiter. And as these pagan priests hear of this they come with sacrifices to offer to Paul and Barnabas. When they saw this we see that Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes and pointed them to the true and living God, explaining that they too are only men and not gods!
Now when the Jews from Antioch and Iconium got word of what was going on, they came and stoned Paul to death, at least they thought he was dead, and they dragged his body out of the city, and left him for dead. And in Acts 14:20-22 we see what happened after they stoned Paul.
You see, you just can’t stop a servant of God. Paul was almost killed; he then gets up, goes and preaches in Derbe, and then goes back to the place where they tried to kill him! What in the world was he doing there? Not filing a compliant with the local law enforcement on how he was mistreated, beaten up. He was not protesting against those that tried to kill him.
But he exhorted the believers to continue on in the faith. They saw the example of Paul and it encouraged them to continue walking in the faith. Can you imagine witnessing all that happened to Paul and now he is the one exhorting them to go on? That had to fire them up, encourage them and that is exactly what this gift does!
BUILDING UP THE GENTILES IN THE FAITH - ACTS 15
In Acts chapter 15 we will see the gentiles built up in the faith out of a dispute that arose over the gentiles that where coming to Christ. Some of the Jews believed that these gentiles should become a Jew, get circumcised, and keep the Law of Moses. And so before things got out of hand they had the Jerusalem council church meeting to help settle this situation.
And after hearing all the arguments, James comes to a conclusion that the gentiles did not need to do these things, even the Jew’s couldn’t keep the Law of Moses! And so he sends a letter to the church back in Antioch, to the gentile believers. And we read beginning in verse 31 of Acts chapter 15, “When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement. Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.” Acts 15:31-32.
Not only did this letter encourage the gentile church to continue on, but Judas and Silas did the same. Do you see that even a letter, a card, even just a little note can be a source of encouragement to people. May we not forget that!
EXHORTING THE EPHESIAN ELDERS - ACTS 20
In Acts chapter 20 we see Paul exhort, encourage the Ephesian elders. In this story Paul is on his way to Jerusalem, and the ship docks in Miletus, which is about 30 miles or so from Ephesus. So Paul calls for the Ephesian elders to come so he may exhort them one last time, his farewell address to those he spent 3 years teaching. And in Acts 20:27-36 we see what transpired.
And we see in these verses Paul exhort these leaders to shepherd the flock that God has entrusted to them by feeding them, warning them, and protecting them. He exhorted them to live a life that is pleasing to God, to be an example to the people, to maintain a good reputation. Paul, seeing these men for the last time, poured out all that was on his heart, building them up in the faith, and exhorting them to continue on, and they responded in a way that shows how much they loved Paul. We read beginning in verse 37 of Acts chapter 20, “Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20:37-38.
Do you see how much they loved Paul and respected this man of God! And I am sure those words encouraged them greatly in the work that God had called them to do. To stay focused, to not let anything move them off the course that God has set for their life. What a powerful gift this is, this gift of exhortation!
Barnabas stepped back and he let Paul shine! He was a man with a humble spirit this Mr. Encouragement!
BARNABAS - MR. ENCOURAGEMENT!
HE LIVED WHAT HE BELIEVED - ACTS 4
Barnabas lived what he believed and that is important if we are going to encourage people, they need to see our faith lived out in our lives. In Acts chapter 4 we see the church continue to grow in Jerusalem. And that was like a death sentence for most of the Jewish believers.
And so they were hurting and hungry, while some of the other believers were doing better, and they sold some of their land and gave the money to the church to help those believers out who were in need. We see this in Acts 4:32-37.
Here we see that this man named Joses, who was also called Barnabas, also helped out with ministering to those in need. And I’m sure he got the name Barnabas out of the way he lived. Why do I say that? Because his name, “Barnabas” means “son of encouragement!” Barnabas did not just talk about helping others, he lived it. His deeds matched up with his words.
TAKING A CHANCE ON OTHERS - ACTS 9
Barnabas, Mr. Encouragement was willing to take a chance on others. He was willing to let them take a step in faith and see what the Lord would do in their lives. Could they fail? They could but Barnabas was a man who was always encouraging them to go forward!
In Acts chapter 9 we see Saul’s or Paul’s conversion experience. And again, he went from persecuting Christians to defending the faith. We read of this in Acts 9:20-26. Here is the problem. His old friends, the religious leaders saw him as the enemy to their faith, they wanted him dead. The believers in Christ were still afraid of him. They weren’t sure if Saul was legitimate or not in the faith. And really, could you blame them? Absolutely not, they saw what he was doing to Christians, even consenting to the death of Stephen! So what could he do? Not a whole lot!
But in Acts 9:27-28 we read what Barnabas did for Paul. Notice what this man does here. We see Barnabas take a chance and he brought Saul to the apostles and stood up for him. True ministry is not activity, but it is people. And here we see Barnabas stand up for Saul, which must have encouraged him, and the other believers. You see, Mr. Encouragement!
A HUMBLE SPIRIT - ACTS 11
Barnabas also had a humble spirit and truly, if you are going to encourage others you can’t be haughty or looking down upon people, you must be humble. In Acts chapter 11 we see the church moving out of Jerusalem, being scattered because of the persecution that was mounting in Jerusalem. And in Antioch a large number of Greeks got saved. We see this played out in Acts 11:22-24.
Here we see that Barnabas goes to Antioch and God is working in him and through him, things are happening. And we read of this in Acts 11:25-26. Why did he let Paul take over? Because he saw his limitations and also saw that Saul or Paul, raised in the Greek culture, schooled in the Law of God, was better equipped for the job, so he goes to Tarsus to find Saul and bring him back.
You see, Barnabas was concerned with others and wasn’t interested in a position or recognition like so many people are today. He had a very humble spirit and was more interested in the work of God than human recognition or accolades! He was willing to step down and let Saul come in because he was the best man for the job here in Antioch. In fact, we read in Acts 15:35, “Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.” Notice, Paul is mentioned first, even though Barnabas was the older Christian and the one who was sent to Antioch.
THE PRICE YOU PAY - ACTS 15
Now please understand that there is a price you will pay for being an exhorter, an encourager and we will see that with Barnabas. You see, Barnabas was a man who did not like to give up on anyone. He saw the diamond in the ruff you might say. And when you go out on a limb for someone you do take a chance, you can pay a heavy price. We see this spoken of in Acts 15:36-41.
Here we see that Paul was ready to do the circuit, to go back to areas where they had preached before, to encourage them and see how they were doing. And Barnabas wanted to take John Mark, but Paul didn’t. Why was Paul so harsh on John Mark? Because Paul saw how he did not finish the work last time, that he left before the work was done. And thus, he was not going to take him again. Barnabas, on the other hand, saw the potential of this young man and was not ready to give up on him. And because of that, because of all the contention, Paul and Barnabas split up and went their own way. Paul ends up taking Silas with him and Barnabas ends up taking John Mark.
What happened to John Mark? What happened to this man who did not finish the work? He ended up being one Paul’s most valuable co-workers in the faith. How can that be? It was because of one man who saw his potential and was willing to take that chance and work with him. And it Colossians 4:10 and II Timothy 4:11 we see how important John Mark was to Paul now!
This man who struggled to complete the work early on in his life now has a Gospel that bears his name: The Gospel According to Mark! And some believe that it was Peter who gave Mark all the information he used in writing this Gospel. Again, all because one man stood up for him and exhorted him to go on, and he did!
You see, exhortation and the gift of exhortation is truly needed in the church today. We all need to be encouraged and exhorted to move forward. My pastor did that with me, as well as others in the church I came from. From teaching a Bible study to overseeing ministries, they were the result of someone exhorting me on. Exhortation stimulates and motivates people into action!
Most of us probably remember that old phone commercial that said, “Reach out and touch someone!” Okay, maybe I am just dating myself, but there was a commercial like that back in 1979! The point is this. God is calling all of us to do just that, to reach out and touch someone, to exhort people. Remember what Paul said in Hebrews 10:24-25.
Paul is admonishing us to gather together as a local body of believers to worship God, to stir each other up for good works and-so-on. So if you are not doing that, then you are negating what the Scriptures are saying here! You can’t stir people up, exhort them, encourage them if you don’t reach out and touch them! You have to make that effort and as God gives to you this supernatural gift of
exhortation, don’t hold it back, use it for the glory of God. You see, you don’t know how you can impact a person’s life and you may find that diamond that may be hiding in the ruff! The gift of exhortation, may we use it often in our lives!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit
THE GIFT OF GIVING
Another gift of the Spirit, one we can’t avoid because it is listed as a spiritual gift, is the gift of giving! Paul, in Romans 12:3-8 lists more of these spiritual gifts that are given to us and specifically we will see the gift of giving.
Now please understand that yes we are all to give to the work of God but this is a gift of the Spirit, it is more than just normal giving. You see, the gift of giving is the supernatural ability given to a person by the Holy Spirit to give of himself, his resources, his talents to aid others. We are all called to give like I have said, but this is taken to a higher level.
When you think about it, giving goes against the very nature of man. We are very selfish when it comes to giving by nature. We want something in return for our giving and if it is not worth it to us, if it does not benefit us, we usually won’t give.
On the other hand, God is very giving. We read in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Thus, by His own nature, God is giving, man is not!
The problem for us is this. In Jeremiah 13:23 we read, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.” The answer is obvious. No an Ethiopian can’t change the color of his skin. Nor can a leopard change the color of his spots. Thus, we, by our very nature, can’t do good unless we are born again in Christ.
Paul tells us in I Corinthians 6:11, “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.” And in II Corinthians 5:17 we read, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” And so God can change us, and He does, even though at times that old nature rears its ugly head!
HOW ARE WE TO GIVE?
GIVE CHEERFULLY - II CORINTHIANS 9:6-7
Listen to what Paul tells us in II Corinthians 9:6-7 in regards on how we are to give and specifically, we are to give cheerfully. He wrote, “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
First of all Paul uses an agricultural principle to make his point. If you sow lets say corn seeds very sparingly, when it comes time to harvest the corn, you will have very little in return. But if you sow bountifully then when harvest time comes you will reap bountifully also. I do understand many are afraid to even speak of that principle because of all the abuse, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. God has said it in His Word, and lets not be afraid of it.
Paul goes on to say that when we give we need to be cheerful about it, for God loves it when we give out of that kind of heart. He does not love it when we give out of compulsion, when we are forced to do so and we do it grudgingly, but when we do it out of a heart of love. In fact the word “cheerful” in the Greek is HILAROS, from which we get our English word “hilarious” from. In other words, God loves a hilarious giver! That is how we should give to Him.
GIVE FREELY - PSALM 54:6
Next we are going to look at the idea of giving freely. In Psalm 54:6 we are told, “I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good.” The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, “With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to You; I will give thanks and praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good.” And The Living Bible says, “Gladly I bring my sacrifices to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.”
You see, God wants us to give to Him freely, with no strings attached. We are not to give like this, “Lord, if I give this to you then you need to do this for me!” That is wrong. It is when we give freely; it is out of that heart attitude, that motivation, that we are blessed! I truly believe that tithing is an Old Testament principle. And please understand when I say principle that is exactly what I mean. I don’t mean we have to give 10%. We can give more, we can give less, we just give freely to the Lord. In fact, when you add up all they were to give in the Old Testament, it came to around 23½ % per year in tithes. I don’t hear anyone saying we must give 23½% in our tithes!
Folk’s, we are living in the age of grace, and in the age of grace we are not forced to give, but again, as you sow you will also reap! We are called bondslaves of Christ, and thus we are willingly to give to Him everything, our Master, as we are under His authority.
Thus, it is all His! So when you give to God, you are giving out of a cheerful heart, or don’t give at all! You are to give freely to Him or don’t give at all!
GIVE OUT OF LOVE - I CORINTHIANS 13:3
Now you might not think this one is important, but it is. We are to give out of love. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 13:3, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
There are many people that give but do so with the wrong attitude. In fact they become angry, resentful, bitter at times, looking down upon those who are less fortunate. God wants us to give out of love and if you can’t, then don’t give, because it is worthless in the eyes of God. God has given us the greatest gift, His Son and He did this out of His love for us, may we do the same for Him as we give to Him!
GIVE WITHOUT DRAWING ATTENTION TO YOURSELF – MATTHEW 6:1-4
Also, when we give we are not to draw attention to ourselves. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:1-4, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
That is the proper attitude to have when you give, not drawing attention to yourself, because when you do, you are taking it away from God. That is why we don’t have plaques of what people have donated to the church; we don’t want to rob them of their rewards by giving them the glory, the attention and praise now. And so, when we give to God we are not to do so in a way that would draw attention to ourselves!
GIVE WITH SIMPLICITY - ROMANS 12:8b
Paul, in Romans 12:8b tells us, “he who gives, with liberality” and what Paul is saying here when he says that we are to give with liberality, that word can be translated “simplicity.” Again, the thought is with no strings attached, no conditions. God accepts giving with no strings attached. And so the thought here is when we give we should do so generously and with simplicity.
In Psalm 50:10-12 we read, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness.”
In other words, it is all the Lords and what the Lord does is He allows us to give back to Him that which He has given to us, so we can assist in the work of God, the building up of His kingdom by giving of ourselves to His people. And what a blessing it is to be able to help others in our giving.
You see, when we give to God it is not only monetary, we give of our time, of our talents, it is serving in the body of Christ and yet so many make it so complicated and it isn’t. Keep it simple!
GIVE WILLINGLY - EXODUS 25:2
The next thing we will look at in regard to our giving is that we are to give willingly. We are told in Exodus 25:2 in regard to the building of the Tabernacle, “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”
This was a huge building project in the desert wilderness. There were no Menards or Lowe’s to go and buy your supplies. These were all to be provided by the people and then constructed, put together by others. And what I want you to notice here is that there was no pressure for them to give. No one was coming to their door with a pledge sheet. They didn’t get envelopes in the mail telling them to give. I remember growing up in the Catholic Church there were the envelopes for my parents each week and at times it was tough for them. What really amazed me is that they had envelopes even for the kids. There was not that idea of giving willingly to God in this and that was wrong.
But what we see here in Exodus is that God wanted Moses to tell the children of Israel, to instruct them about giving, and then only those who gave from a willing heart would be received. Now what is the result of all this when there is no pressure to give? In Exodus chapter 36 we see the result of what happens when people give willingly.
We read beginning in verse 4, “Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, and they spoke to Moses, saying, ‘The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do.’ So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, ‘Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.’ And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done - indeed too much.” Exodus 36:4-7.
Imagine that, Moses had to tell the people to stop bringing in their offerings; they had more than enough for the work of building the Tabernacle. And so the people had to be restrained from bringing any more. Imagine that kind of a problem! He wants you to give willingly for His work.
GIVE HONESTLY - ACTS 5:1-11
The next thing we will look at in regard to giving is that we are to give honestly, which makes sense and yet, that does not always take place. In Acts 5 we read the story of Ananias and Sapphira and in Acts 5:1-11 we see this story played out for us.
The problem with Ananias and Sapphira was not that they didn’t give all they had to God, but they lied to God about what they gave to make themselves look good before the people and the apostles. God wants us to give honestly to Him, to be faithful about what we are giving to Him because you can’t hide anything from Him. Everything is open and naked before the Lord.
Now when we are told to give to God, the first thing we think of, and maybe the only thing we think of is MONEY, MONEY AND MORE MONEY! You know, “Show me the Money!” mentality! We are going to look at this issue a little closer so we can see what the
Scriptures have to say in regard to what God wants us to give, and you might be surprised.
WHAT WE ARE TO GIVE TO GOD?
GIVE YOURSELF - II CORINTHIANS 8:1-6
I think that this covers everything when we speak about giving, give yourself. Place your life on the altar of sacrifice and give yourself over totally to God, all that you have you give to Him so He can use as He desires. Paul, in II Corinthians 8:1-6 tells us, “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the
ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well.”
Here in II Corinthians chapter 8 we see that Paul is commending the believers in Macedonia for their generosity in giving. These believers were going through very difficult times, they heard what was going on with the believers in Jerusalem, the hardships they were having, and they were willing to help out at all cost their brethren in Christ. In fact Paul says they went overboard in their giving, but not because they felt they had to, but they willingly gave of themselves to help others, even beyond their own means!
Folk’s, as we give of ourselves we give of our time, our talents, our gifts, and yes, even of our money to help those in need. A great example of a person who gave himself to the service of God was Epaphroditus. Paul, in Philippians 2:25-30 tells us of this man and what he did. You see, he was God centered, and others centered! He was willing to give his own life to minister to those that were in need, to those who needed to hear of Jesus and those that needed to be built up in the faith!
Again, as Jesus said, “. . . Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8. When we give to God out of our own resources we are only giving back that which is already His. And as we give out of a right heart, God does bless us abundantly! You see, there are blessings as we give! But I don’t want to pressure anyone into giving or make anyone feel like they have to give. That is between you and God! You give out of a cheerful heart and see the blessings that God will rain down upon you!
And when the gift of giving is poured out upon people, the giving is supernatural, it is powerful, it is more than you can imagine.
Listen to these words from Paul the apostle in II Corinthians 9:8-15. He said, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: ‘He has dispersed abroad, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
The gift of giving, what a blessing it is in the body of Christ, not only to those who receive it but also for those who are the ones who give cheerfully, freely, out of love, without drawing attention to themselves, with simplicity, willing and honestly!
As Martin Luther said, “I have tried to keep things in my hands and lost them all, but what I have given into God’s hands I still possess.” May we not forget that! The gift of giving!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit
THE GIFT OF LEADERSHIP
Paul, in Romans 12:3-8 speaks of more spiritual gifts and one of these gifts is the gift of leadership! Paul calls it in I Corinthians 12:28, the gift of administrations or the gift of governments. We may have many ideas what a leader or leadership is all about and what a leader or leadership is not. But what are the Scriptures telling us and specifically here what is Paul speaking of, what does Paul mean when he speaks of the gift of leadership? The Greek word that Paul uses in Romans 12:8, “leads” is PROISTEMI,
(pro-is’-tay-mee), which means, “to stand before.” And so we can see that this word carries with it the idea of someone who stands before the people.
Then, in I Corinthians 12:28 the Greek word that Paul uses for “governments” is KUBERNESIS, (koo-ber’-nay-sis), which means, “to steer a boat.” And we can see there that Paul is making the point that this gift is manifested in a way that helps to steer people just like someone who is steering a boat is making sure it is still on course, heading in the right direction.
And thus, we see Paul speak of who a leader is in Romans 12:8, “one who stands before the people.” And then what He does in I Corinthians 12:28, “to steer a boat.” Both thoughts encompass what a leader is all about. And a good biblical definition of what a leader is would be one who stands before the people to steer them into and keep them on the right course, to bring them to Jesus. That truly is a godly leader!
Now for many, when they think of leadership in the church what comes to mind is the role of a pastor or elders and it does not apply to them. Folk’s, we need to understand that this is not just speaking of the pastor or the elders; it is far more encompassing than that. Those that are over ministries, like Sunday School, Worship, Usher, Sound, and-so-on should all be leading in their ministries.
And we must also remember there are leaders in the home, at work, and-so-on. The results when people aren’t leading is things become chaotic, no one knows what they are doing. But, the results when people are leading in the various ministries they are in is things function smoothly, that the coarse has been set and it is easy to follow.
Personally, and I think biblically, as you will see, the church could not function without the gift of leadership or the gift of governments. One of the problems we see today is that the church, the body of Christ is seen as an organization and it is much more than that. The church, the body of Christ is a living organism and it is important for us to understand that. But don’t just stop there, as many do. You see, When it comes to organization they see it as worldly and want nothing to do with it.
Interestingly enough, the Dictionary defines an “organism” as “anything resembling a living thing in its complexity of structure or functions.” In other words, an organism must have some kind of organization to function properly. That just makes sense. If there was no organization in an organism, there would be no life!
The body of Christ is no different. Yes the body of Christ is a living organism, but it is also organized. Think of it this way, in the human body we have a skeletal system. Without it we would be a blob! With it there is form, structure, and working with the muscles we have movement, and-so-on. The body of Christ, without organization, would be a shapeless form, a blob! Structure, organization in the body of Christ allows us to function and move in a way that God wants us to. There is direction!
The man we will be studying in regard to what leadership is about, what a good leader manifests in his life, is Moses. And there are many others in the Bible, but let’s look at Moses. Now think about that for a minute. Here is a man who lead over 2 to 3 million people from their bondage in Egypt, had a 40 year camping experience with them in the wilderness and most of what he got in return was complaining, murmuring.
Not an easy task and yet, when you are called to be a leader you are in it for the long haul. People are not going to like you, they will get mad at you, they will complain about this and complain about that, but in the end, you serve the Lord. And because of that, none of these things should move you from the course that God has set for your life!
Our Scripture reference in regard to the life of Moses and his leadership is found in Hebrews 11:23-29.
Now first of all where did Moses learn these leadership principles or really this faith from? Interestingly enough, we are told in Hebrews 9:23 that he learned these things from his parents. And keep in mind that around the age of 5, as Moses grew, by command of Pharaoh, all male Jews were to be put to death, but the parents of Moses hid him for those years. Then his mom placed Moses in an ark and sent him down the river where Pharaohs daughter saw this child and desired to raise him.
It was during those 5 years that his parents instilled in him the things of God, lessons that he would not forget. And Pharaoh’s daughter had Moses’ mom care for him even though she did not know she was the mother of Moses, again, instilling the things of God in this child!
Not only that, but we also see Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses taught him some organizational skills in regard to leadership in Exodus 18:12-27.
Jethro recognized that Moses could not do all the work on his own and he explained to Moses what he needed to do to rectify this work problem. He told him to find men who fear God, men who are of truth, who are not in it for themselves and let them help you in the work.
And Moses learned the lesson and he was blessed, those who were raised up were blessed and the people were blessed. Now let’s look at several ways these leadership skills were manifested in the life of Moses, these characteristics that were manifested in his life.
LEADERSHIP SKILLS IN THE LIFE OF MOSES
The first thing a good leader needs to manifest in his life is faith. And please understand I am not talking about any kind of faith or a faith in anything and everything. I am talking about faith in the true and living God. We see this in the life of Moses here in Hebrews 11:24, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.”
Please understand that Moses was next in line to the throne. He could have had it all and yet, when he became of age he decided to choose God and his people over all that Pharaoh could have given him! That was truly faith because with Pharaoh he had it all, he needed nothing and with the Jewish people, his people, he had nothing, they were salves in Egypt! This was not a blind faith or an empty faith but one that counted the cost and saw the reality of it all, that it is better to trust in God than man!
And thus, to be a great leader it takes faith, a faith in God or as Paul said in Hebrews 11:1-3, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
What is faith? Faith, in a sense, gives us evidence of the invisible, of those things we can’t see and yet with the same confidence to what we can see with our physical eyes, in fact it should be even stronger than what we can see with our physical eyes. Think about it for a minute. Our senses can lie to us and we can be deceived. Have you ever seen something that looked so good to eat and once you ate it, took a bite of it, you found it to be the exact opposite. Your senses deceived you!
But faith in God, faith in the promises of God is far more secure, in fact they are 100% sure because God cannot lie. Paul, in Titus 1:2 tells us, “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” Then why do we believe so much in what we see with our physical eyes instead of the promises of God? Because we lack faith! And so, faith is living in a hope that is so real it gives absolute assurance to us that it will come to pass.
Faith supports those things we know to be true, the promises of God even though we might not see them with our physical eyes, but through the eyes of faith we believe. And that belief is the evidence or the confidence we need to live what we believe. You see, faith truly begins when all other possibilities end, it is out of our hands and in the hands of God. I like they way George Muller put it, he says, “Difficulties are found for faith to feed on.” We grow by trusting in Him, not a blind leap of faith but a trust in His Word, in His promises, that what God has promised He is more than able to bring to pass.
So if we are to be great leaders we must have faith in God, in His Word and learn then to walk in them, to rest in them. And we truly need people who have this kind of genuine faith in the church today to be leaders, it is that important!
The second characteristic a godly leader needs to manifest in his life is there must be fidelity or a commitment to what he believes. We see this played out in the life of Moses in Hebrews 11:25, “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.”
What is being spoken of here is fidelity, commitment, integrity. Moses was a moral man and he looked at life through the eyes of faith. You see, he saw the pleasure of sin, how intriguing it was, that there was some attraction to it, but he also knew this was only temporary. And because of that he stood firm, he was faithful unto the Lord, he was not taken out by sin, by immorality!
And let me say this. The reason people are not faithful, the reason there is no commitment, no fidelity to what they believe, the reason that they stumble in sin is they do not have solid relationship with God and thus, the way they treat man, they way they live out their faith shows that. Now some of you may be taken back by what I have said, but that is just the way it is. If your walk with the Lord is strong, if it is solid, then you will not sin!
Moses saw this and chose that which was difficult and eternal to that which was easy and yet only temporary. He chose that which would last and bring abundant joy to that which was short-lived and puts you in bondage. We need to have more leaders who will walk in integrity, have this commitment, have this fidelity to the Lord in their life!
The next characteristic we are going to look at is foresight. A godly leader must have foresight. Notice what we are told in Hebrews 11:26, “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”
How often we don’t see the big picture because we are just looking for what we can get here and now. Moses saw the big picture and yes, things were difficult, but he knew that God had bigger and better things for him than anything in this world.
In I John 2:15-17 John gives to us this warning of what this world has for us and what God has for us. And you can see how this world, all it has to offer us, is temporary, it is not going to last. It is all passing away but for those who abide in Christ, those who do not love the world, we will abide with Him forever, no one can take that away from us. That does not mean this life is easy, but it is passing away and that which is eternal is eternal. I know, brilliant, but true!
Leaders must have a vision that sees beyond the difficulties, beyond the problems and looks to the Lord to see them through. You see, we do have insight into the things of God, it is called the Word of God and His promises to us will not fail, they will never fail! Think about it, as a leader, if you do not have foresight but get wrapped up in what you are going through, not seeing the bigger picture, people will see that and they will not be built up by what they see, but they will be discouraged!
We need to have leaders who have foresight in the things of God and look beyond the reproach, the reviling that is seen in this life and look to the reward, look to Christ!
The next characteristic a godly leader needs to manifest in his life is firmness. What do I mean by that? I mean that they need to be firm in what they believe and no matter the cost, they will not buckle. We see this in the life of Moses as we are told in Hebrews 11:27, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.”
Remember 40 years prior to Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt he fled Egypt. Why did Moses flee from Egypt 40 years earlier? Because he feared what the king might do to him, put him to death. Now, 40 years later he returns to Egypt not fearing this earthly king because he knew that the heavenly King would fulfill His promises to him! It is as Solomon said, “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”
The fear of man causes us to do things we shouldn’t do and in the end, it truly doesn’t save us. You see, being obedient to the Lord, trusting in Him and walking accordingly causes us to be secure. Not that anything bad will ever happen to us, but we are secure in Christ and no one can steal the Lord from us, we will always be with Him and He will always be with us!
Why do we tend to trust in man more than God? Because we believe man gives us tangible answers to our problems while God tells us we need to walk by faith. God wants us to not let the outward circumstances dictate what we are to do. And in the end, when we trust man, we are disappointed, we are in more trouble than when we started, we have not gained the solution or the victory we thought. That is why we are to be firm in our walk with the Lord and not let these outward circumstances drive us like cattle, but let the Lord lead us and then follow Him!
As leaders this can be difficult because you want people to like you and that will not always be the case. You have to do what God is calling you to do and that may offend some, make some angry or whatever. You have to be firm in the faith or you are going to be wishy-washy and that is not good! Even in the face of opposition you need to stand strong, you need to be firm in what the Lord wants you to do!
We need to have leaders who have a firmness, a steadfastness to lead the way in the face of opposition!
Another characteristic in a godly leader’s life is that of fulfillment and what I mean by that is that they need to not only talk about doing something, they need to take it to its end, they need to finish what they start. We see this in the life of Moses here in Hebrews 11:28 where we are told, “By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.”
Remember the story in Exodus, as Moses is trying to negotiate the release of the Jews from their bondage in Egypt with Pharaoh, and 9 plagues come upon the Egyptians because of their refusal to let God’s people go. And they still refused and thus, the 10th plague was the death of the firstborn in each family. The only way to stop this plague was by placing the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of your home. In fact, the way the Lord instructed Moses to do this would form the shape of a cross as the blood dripped down.
Now what if Moses took that all in, knew what needed to be done and yet, did not do it? Then there would be the death of the firstborn in the homes of the people, including the Jews! But Moses was a man who fulfilled what he was told to do and that should be the goal of every leader, to fulfill the role that God has placed them in, to be obedient to the call of Christ in our lives!
And so, we once again need to see godly leaders who are ones who fulfill the calling of Christ in their lives!
The last characteristic of a godly man that we will look at is that of freedom. Now that may seem kind of strange but let me show you how it was played out in the life of Moses and then we will make the application to our own lives. In Hebrews 11:29 we are told, “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.”
Remember the story, the children of Israel are at the Red Sea and the Egyptian army is coming after them, and on either side of them are mountains and they are trapped with the Mediterranean Sea in front of them. There was no way out! And the people are complaining and God tells Moses to move the people forward as He opens up the Red Sea for them to go through. The children of Israel make it through but the Egyptian army has the waters come crashing down upon them, killing all of them. You see, it was time for the people to move and their leader Moses needed to get them moving and he did! He led them to freedom!
As leaders we need to do the same. Many times people are feeling closed in, pressured on all sides and the Lord wants His people moving, not stationary and leaders are to lead the way for the people to follow because there truly is freedom in walking where God is calling. On the other end there is only bondage, death and destruction. But even in saying that many refuse to walk and thus, leaders must encourage them and lead them!
Godly leaders must direct their people to freedom, the freedom in Christ, the freedom to go where He is calling!
And let me say this. I want you to see what Paul has to say in Romans 12:8 the way we are to lead people. He wrote, “. . . he who leads, with diligence . . .” Paul says that when we lead people we are to do so with “diligence.” The Greek word that Paul uses is SPOUDE, (spoo-day’), which means, “in eagerness, earnestness” and it carry’s the idea of speed. It is hard to lead the people if you are lazy or if you are doing something halfheartedly. Give it your all, lead with the proper perspective, the proper attitude. Paul tells us of this in Acts 20:28 as he spoke to the Ephesian elders. “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
I want you to remember the Greek words that Paul used in Romans 12:8 and I Corinthians 12:28 for “leads” or “government.” We are to stand before the people and steer them down the right path, down the right course, and keep them on that right course by being an example to them, we are to lead them to Jesus! We have seen 6 characteristics of a godly leader and they are FAITH,
FIDELITY, FORESIGHT, FIRMNESS, FULFILLMENT, and FREEDOM! Simple and yet very important to learn them and apply them to our lives as we stand before the people of God and lead them down the right path, the one that brings them to Jesus! That is godly leadership and it is a gift of the Holy Spirit!
What the Bible says about . . . Gifts of the Spirit
THE GIFT OF MERCY
Another gift of the Spirit, one that is very important, is the gift of mercy and Paul mentions this gift in Romans 12:3-8. And did you notice that we are to show mercy with cheerfulness, not sadness or with despondency, unhappiness, anger, bitterness and-so-on. We are to show mercy with joy! And obviously this is another important gift that is needed in the body of Christ!
Now here in Romans 12:8 the Greek word that Paul uses for “mercy” is ELEEO, (el-eh-eh’o), and this word means, “to have pity, to be compassionate.” When we think of mercy that comes from the Scriptures, we think of not getting what we deserve. And yes, that is a very simple and yet it is a very accurate definition. You see, we are all sinners, we are all unrighteous and thus we deserve to go to Hell. But God steps in and because of His great mercy we don’t get what we deserve.
Now when people do things against us we don’t want them to see any mercy, we want them to get justice, to get what they deserve. But think about that for a minute. How many people are going to cry out for God’s justice to be placed upon their lives? You would be a fool if you did! Justice is getting what you deserve. It is an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth mentality. Thus, we cry out for the mercy of God upon our life so we can be spared the death sentence of Hell, not getting what we deserve, so that we can obtain what we don’t deserve, life with the Lord, which speaks of His grace that He gives to us.
Now before we look at what God expects of us in regard to mercy, I think it would be good to look at the Scriptures that speak of God’s mercy. And understand this, some 41 times in the Bible God declares that His mercy is everlasting. Let us not forget that! I think this is an important attribute of God that we need to understand and an important gift that the Holy Spirit gives to the church and thus, we need not only to understand it, but live it!
THE MERCY OF GOD
You see, God’s mercy is found in His nature. It flows from His love. You can’t see God without seeing His mercy. And yes, even in His judgment He is ready to extend His mercy to all who will receive it. God can’t be more or less merciful, it is just an attribute of God and it is rich and it is deep!
Did you hear that? God is abundant in mercy! The Hebrew word is RAB, which speaks of “abounding, exceedingly, full, great, increase, (too, very) much, multiply, plenteous, sufficient.” That is the best we can do with our earthly words to describe God’s mercy, but to use a phrase of today, “It doesn’t get any better than that!” And I don’t think anyone of us will say I wish God showed me more mercy, He is abundant in mercy! If you feel that you need more of God’s mercy in your life, then you don’t understand that it is already there, abundantly and freely given to you in Christ!
Not only is God’s mercy abundant but it is great and think about this for a minute. God has the right to destroy us but because of His great mercy, we live!
Prior to David’s sin with Bathsheba he asked God to judge him according to his righteousness. Now that David sees the reality of that, and how unrighteous he is before God, he cries out for God’s mercy! That is all we can do. And David understands how rich, how tender the mercy of God was toward him and we should see that in our own lives also. That God’s mercy is rich, it is deep it is tender!
Did you see that? Did you notice how long the mercy of God lasts? What a comfort that should be to us, that God’s mercy is everlasting, it will not end, it will never end towards us!
PSALM 103:8, 11
Notice what the Psalmist tells us here. Our God is abounding in mercy and the Psalmist tries to help us get a handle on it by saying God’s mercy is as far as the heavens reach. Scientists tell us that the universe is expanding, and it has been estimated that our universe right now is some 12 billion light years, and growing! That means that God’s mercy towards us is inexhaustible, it is
everlasting, it will never end! It extends farther than we could ever imagine!
This is one we can all use, especially me. Every night I go to bed feeling like a failure, like I have blown it, I can wake up the next morning refreshed knowing that God’s mercy towards me is new every morning! How great is that? Do you see how rich, how deep, how wonderful the mercy of God is towards us!
So, as we have seen, God, by His very nature, is merciful. Man, on the other hand, is not. Man is very vengeful; he is very retaliatory in his actions. You know what I am talking about here. It is basically, “If you do this to me then I will do that to you” mentality.
Now, obviously when God created man he was very good and within him was the ability to be merciful, it flowed from his life until sin entered the picture. Think about it, the first thing Adam said when God asked him what happened was he blamed God for making Eve; it was her fault for his failure. No mercy there!
And so when we are called to extend mercy to someone, many times the dark side comes out and instead of mercy we belt them, or mouth off, or do something that is retaliatory in nature rather than forgiving. The only problem with that is what we are manifesting in our lives is not the nature of God!
You see, as children of God it is important that we show mercy to others. In fact, Paul tells us in I Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” You see, the nature of Jesus should flow from our lives but that will only happen as we surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit and walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Let’s look at some examples from the Scriptures regarding the mercy that should flow from our lives, what the Lord is calling for us to do, what He is calling for us to be!
THE MERCY OF GOD IN US AND FLOWING FROM US
Of course it is easy to be nice to those who are nice to us. But Jesus wants us to go that extra step further in love, to reach out to those who are not nice. You see, we are to be different. We are to do to others what they don’t deserve and as we do we are demonstrating the love and character of God to others! We are showing them the mercy of God, the mercy that God has shown us!
You see, Paul is saying that the human desire is to avenge the wrong that was done to you. But God wants us to forget that wrong, as hard as that may be, and love those who are coming against you because by doing good it might bring them to repentance. In fact, you can get so wrapped up in fighting for your rights that you are overcome by evil. Be careful!
A great example of what should be done regarding evil is given to us by Abraham Lincoln. You see, Massachusetts’s congressman, Thaddeus Stevens, wanted to completely crush the south after the Civil War. But Abraham Lincoln wanted to make peace, to heal the wounds and forgive. But Thaddeus Stevens slammed his fist down on the table and said, “Mr. Lincoln, I think enemies ought to be destroyed!” Abraham Lincoln very quietly responded and said, “Mr. Stevens, don’t I destroy my enemy when I have made him my friend?” You see, destroy the enemy with the love of God, point them to Jesus and make them your friend, a child of God. May we learn from Lincoln’s example! May we extend the mercy of God to others!
Perspective is everything! Paul is saying to let it go. Don’t hold on to all that anger, bitterness, and-so-on. If God forgave you, then you must forgive others. You can let that poison remain in you, drinking it up, but in the end you will be spiritually, emotionally and physically sick. And we do see that in the body of Christ. But there is a cure! You must give it to God and forgive! And if you can’t do it for them, then do it for Jesus! Again, may we have the mercy of God not only flow into our lives, but through us and may it touch the lives of others!
Listen carefully to what James tells us in James 2:13. He wrote, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” If you refuse to show mercy to others, then God will do the same to you.
You see, James is speaking of showing mercy to people, not giving them what they deserve, why? Because we deserve death and our merciful God has given to us life through His Son, Jesus Christ. Thus, we should be merciful or God will judge us as we treat others.
It is as Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” And I think that even applies with the mercy we extend to others.
And here is one of those difficult passages in the Scripture and just listen carefully to what Jesus is saying here in Matthew 6:14-15. Jesus tells us, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Now I’m sure we can debate all the theological aspects of what was said here from now until the time the Lord returns. But let us not miss the point. Take it at face value. You need to forgive others, not just a suggestion, but a command.
And I think Jesus expounds on this when He speaks about forgiveness in Matthew chapter 18. Jesus tells the story of a king who wants to settle his accounts and one person owed him ten thousand talents. We don’t know if that was silver or gold, but let’s just say it was 16 million dollars, for Jesus was exaggerating the amount to make a point.
The man didn’t have the money to pay the king back and thus, he and his family were going to be sold into slavery to pay off that debt, which of course was impossible for him to pay off. And so this man pleads with the king to have compassion upon him, to extend mercy upon him. And the king did, he forgave him his debt completely! And you would think that is great, right? Not so fast.
This man who was forgiven this debt had a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarri, not a lot, let’s say 16 dollars. And this man did not have the money to pay him back, and so he begged the man to give him some time to pay it off, which was very possible. Instead of doing that, the man had this other servant thrown in prison, where he could not pay him back, and he refused to have compassion upon him, to extend mercy to him.
Well word got back to the king of what had happened and we read beginning in verse 32 of Matthew chapter 18, “Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was
angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Matthew 18:32-35.
Once again this is a heavy lesson that could be debated for years. But don’t miss the point. God wants us to forgive. Again, it is not a suggestion; it is a command that is based upon what He has done for us! He has forgiven us, not just 16 million dollars because in today’s economy that can be paid back. We need to update that dollar amount. Let’s make it equal to our national debt, which was as of October 3rd, 2011: 14,708,954,989,764.06 or over 14 trillion dollars.
We could never repay that back and that is the idea and yet God has forgiven us, can’t we forgive someone who only owes us 16 dollars? God wants us to and if you can’t, then you have to consider what Jesus is saying in Matthew chapter 6 and Matthew chapter 18. But don’t make the mistake of watering those verses down, take them for what they are saying and forgive!
It is not that we deserve mercy or anyone deserves it, that is not what mercy is all about. If we deserved it then it would not be mercy but it would be a debt that the person owed us.
Obviously none of us deserve mercy, the mercy of God and He freely extends it to us in Christ Jesus. Because of that, because of what He has done He wants us to extend that same kind of mercy to others because they don’t deserve it, but they truly need it!
Here in Romans 12:8, in the verse regarding this spiritual gift of mercy that we have been looking at this morning, Paul tells us, “. . . he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
Paul wants our mercy to be shown with cheerfulness. It is one thing to extend mercy to someone, but if you do it with your fist and teeth clinched, and anger in your heart, you might as well forget it. God won’t accept that.
You see, attitude is important and if you can’t show mercy with cheerfulness, then you are really not showing the mercy of God towards others. No you are not and that is just the way it is!
And some of you might not even agree with me on this. You may think I am going too far. If you feel that way or you are not sure, let me share with you some Scriptures that will show you this is not just a good suggestion. To extend mercy to others is what God expects from us, it is a divine command and it is to be done with cheerfulness!
EXTENDING MERCY TO OTHERS, A DIVINE COMMAND!
In Luke 6:36 we are told, “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” If we truly are a reflection of God, His representatives here on earth, then we should manifest His character in our life. We should show mercy to others just as He has shown mercy to us and is showing mercy to us every single day of our lives! And keep in mind that this word, “merciful” speaks of being compassionate towards others, actively not passively! That is the heart of God and it should be our heart also, having compassion, mercy towards others.
In Micah 6:8 listen to what the Lord says regarding mercy and what He desires of us. We are told, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” Here it is: what is good, what God requires of us. We are to do what is right. We are to be merciful. And we are to walk with God humbly.
You see, God has shown us what He desires of us. First of all He wants us to do justly. In other words He is telling us that we need to be fair. Don’t rip people off. Don’t oppress people.
Secondly He tells us that we are to love mercy or lovingkindness. To express to others the same mercy that God has shown us. And lastly He tells us that we need to walk humbly with our God. We need to be in fellowship with Him.
These are not rituals but they speak of a relationship. If your relationship with God is right you will treat your fellow man with righteousness and mercy. If your relationship with God is off, your relationship with man will be off and it is amazing what can flow from a heart that is not right with the Lord.
Again, this is not a suggestion, it is a command, we are to be just in our actions, we are to love mercy or extend mercy with cheerfulness and we are to walk in humility before the Lord and if you do, if you walk in humility before the Lord, the other things will fall into place!
In Zechariah 7:9-10 we are told, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion Everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, The alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart Against his brother.’” God’s desire is that we would reach out and show mercy to those around us instead of plotting evil against them.
Now are these statements by God outrageous? Of course not! He is asking us to have true justice, to show mercy, to have compassion towards people, not to oppress the less fortunate, and not to plot evil against another. The problem with doing these things is when your relationship with God is not right, your relationship with man will also be off, and thus, these things are not going to flow from your life. And the idea is we love mercy when it is shown to us, but we don’t like to show mercy towards others. We don’t like to be cheated.
Now in saying all that I want you to think about this for a minute. How will people know you are a Christian? Is it the size Bible you carry around with you? Maybe it’s the Christian tee-shirts you are wearing as you push your way into line? How about the Christian bumper-stickers on your car as you go speeding by the other cars yelling at those drivers for going so slow? What about going to church not just once a week, but twice? None of those things are a characteristic of a Christian. They are not a tell-tale sign of who you belong to.
You see, Jesus said in John 13:33-34, “Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” They will know you are Christians by your love, a love that is manifested in action, and it is out of that love that mercy flows.
We all are to have mercy towards others and at times the Holy Spirit gives us that supernatural ability to forgive and have compassion upon people. For example, the father or mother who forgives and shows mercy towards the person that killed their son or daughter! That is not natural but supernatural; it is the mercy of God being shown through them towards this person who does not deserve it. That is the gift of mercy, one way it is manifested!
You see, mercy is not a passive word, but it is an action word, and thus that action should be manifested in our life. It is as Henry Ward Beecher said, “No one thing does human life more need than a kind consideration of the faults of others. Everyone sins; everyone needs forbearance. Our own imperfections should teach us to be merciful.” The gift of mercy is truly needed in our lives; it truly needs to be manifested in the church! The gift of mercy!
What the Bible says about . . . The Bible Part 1
Today there is an attack against the authority of God’s Word. Listen to the warning that Harold Lindsell gave us way back in 1976 and when you listen to what he has to say, you will see how far people have moved away from God’s Word. He wrote,
“I shall argue that once infallibility is abandoned, however good the intentions of those who do it and however good they feel their reasons for doing so, it always and ever opens the door to further departures from the faith. Once errancy enters an institution, it does not simply become one of several options. It quickly becomes the regnant [reigning] view and infallibility loses its foothold and at last is silenced effectively. When one surveys the current scene in places where errancy has gotten a grip, it soon becomes obvious that there are few champions of inerrancy ready or willing to challenge the new reality.”
He goes on to say, “I will contend that embracing a doctrine of an errant Scripture will lead to disaster down the road. . . . it will lull congregations to sleep and undermine their belief in the full-orbed truth of the Bible, it will produce spiritual sloth and decay; and it will finally lead to apostasy. No one should forget that the clearest example of this is the Unitarian Universalist denomination . . . In turning away from Trinitarianism, this group of people turned away from the clear teaching of the Bible.
Underlying their departure from orthodoxy was their disbelief in the infallibility of Scripture. In the early nineteenth century the difference between the Unitarians and the orthodox did not seem so great. But today the chasm is vast. Many Unitarians are atheists; many are humanists. In both the first and the second Humanist Manifestos the names of Unitarian clergymen are prominent. Among Unitarian Universalists the doctrine of sin has disappeared. The gospel is not preached. No missionaries go to the ends of the earth with the good news of Christ’s salvation. Nor is the Bible preached in their churches. This group is utterly and completely apostate. No other conclusion is possible.”
- Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Truth, p. 25-26
We truly are in a battle for the truth of God’s Word today. Let’s take a look and see what we have in our hands and what the Bible has to say about itself.
BIBLIOLOGY: THE BIBLE
When we speak of Bibliology it is referring to the study of the nature of the Bible and it includes such topics as Revelation, Inspiration, Inerrancy, Illumination and Interpretation. We are going to look at these topics so we can understand what they mean.
The word “revelation” comes from the Greek word, APOKALUPSIS, (ap-ok-al’-opp-sis) and it speaks of unveiling or uncovering something. Biblically speaking it is the act and process whereby God makes Himself known to us. There is general revelation (We see this in Psalm 19:1-6) where we can see God through nature, we can see His handiwork, that there is a Creator, there is a Designer, there is a God. But natural revelation is limited because it can’t tell us who God is and what He desires of us.
Then there is special revelation (We see this in Psalm 19:7-14) where God speaks to us through His Word. He tells us who He is and He tells us where we stand and what we need to do. It gives to us everything to live lives that are pleasing to Him and to have fellowship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ!
I think Dr. Norman Geisler gives us a very good definition of what inspiration is all about. He wrote,
“Inspiration is the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit, who through the different personalities and literary styles of the chosen human authors invested the very words of the original books of the Holy Scripture, alone and in their entirety, as the very Word of God without error in all that they teach or imply (including history and science), and the Bible is thereby the infallible rule and final authority for faith and practice of all believers.”
- Dr. Norman Geisler, Systematic theology Volume One, Introduction/Bible, p. 241
And listen to what the Bible has to say in II Timothy 3:16 which tell us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
The Greek word for, “given by inspiration of God” or “God-breathed” is THEOPNEUSTOS and it is a combination of two Greek words. The first is THEOS which is God and PNUE which is breath. And thus, like The New International Version tells us, it means “God-breathed.”
Now, let’s take what is spoken here and compare it with what we are told in Psalm 33:6, which reads, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” I want you to listen carefully to this, it is important. Just as God spoken the universe into existence, He breathed it into existence you might say, God also breathed into existence His Word, the Bible!
The next word that we will be looking at this morning is “inerrancy” and this is one that many struggle with and thus, it is important for us to understand what this word means. In other words, is the Bible without error in the original manuscripts? I believe it is or we have a huge problem. You see, if you can’t trust the Bible in one area then how can you trust it at all?
These 66 books are without error in their original manuscripts and what we have today is very accurate, there are no major doctrinal changes in the manuscripts that have been found and we will look at that more as we look at the texts of the New Testament and the Old Testament!
It is as Proverbs 30:5-6 tell us, “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.” Don’t mess with His Word, but apply it to your life. You see, the Bible is the sole authority in matters of belief and practice!
Now when we speak of illumination we are speaking of what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives as we read and hear the Word of God. It is one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word of God to us. And thus, this word can be defined like this. Illumination is that which happens when a truth of Scripture is made understandable by the Holy Spirit to the individual. In other words, it is the proper interpretation of the Scriptures as the Holy Spirit shines His light upon it.
When we are talking about interpretation we are speaking of the correct understanding of the Scriptures, the correct meaning of what God is saying to us. Illumination sheds the light on the Scriptures and applying it to our lives. When we speak of interpretation we are talking about the reader seeking to understand the meaning of Scripture. In other words, when we read a biblical story, we need to understand the context of that passage and then, out of that the Holy Spirit opens it up or enlightens us to the application, which is the illumination part. Both illumination and interpretation are closely related.
Now when we speak of interpretation many disregard any rules and just make the Bible say what they want instead of what it really says, what God is saying to us! Let me give you some rules to follow as you read God’s Word.
SIX RULES FOR BIBLE INTERPRETATION
When I speak of definition I am talking about what the word means. And this can be a little tricky because the Greek language has more words than our English language. For instance we have one word for “love” in the English language while in Greek there are at least three and they are each specific and not general as we see with our word.
Now don’t let this scare you because for the most part, words have a limited meaning. For instance, if you come across the word “mountain” in the Bible it is not going to mean a tree or bird or fish, it is some geographical mound or hill. Using a dictionary or Greek/English lexicon may help us to understand words like “love” and their meaning.
And don’t come to the conclusion that everything is an allegory or a metaphor because then you start taking away the events that have occurred, they are a fairy tale to expound on some kind of spiritual truth. No, the Bible is very clear when it is using allegories or stories to show something, but the majority of the Bible is to be taken literally except when the passage is using a metaphorical language. Think of it like this, “If the literal sense makes sense, seek no other sense.” I like that and it is a good way to remember this one, definition!
Who was the Bible written to? Yes, all of mankind but specifically, the Old Testament was written by Jews to the Jewish people and thus, to understand it you have to understand the usage or practice or customs of the Jewish people. You can’t approach the Scriptures with a western mindset because you will come up with the wrong interpretation. Look at the Feasts of Israel and as you understand what they were about you will have a better picture of Christ and the work He came to do. Look at the Tabernacle and its furnishings and as you do you will have another beautiful picture of Christ and the work He came to do. You see, you can’t separate the Scriptures from its Jewish roots or you will miss what they are trying to say! Usage is important, the customs, the practices of the people that the Lord wrote to and through!
Many of the New Testament writings are letters to churches, communities or people and thus, we must read them in light of that also.
When you buy a house the key to selling it is, “Location, location, location!” Well, when it comes to interpreting Scripture it all boils down to this, “Context, context, context!” In other words, every word you read must be understood in light of the words that come before and after it. If you don’t look at the context you can come to a faulty or wrong conclusion and sadly, many do this to prove their point, but that does not make them right because what they are saying was taken out of context!
One person put it like this, “Seeking the biblical author’s intended meaning necessitates interpreting Bible verses in context. Every word in the Bible is part of a verse, and every verse is part of a paragraph, and every paragraph is part of a book, and every book is part of the whole of Scripture. No verse of Scripture can be divorced from the verses around it. Interpreting a verse apart from its context is like trying to analyze a Rembrandt painting by looking at only a single square inch of the painting. The context is absolutely critical to properly interpreting Bible verses.”
A good rule to follow is this, “A text without a context is only a pretext.” In other words, it is speaking of a false reason or motive put forth to hide the real one! And thus, it is impossible to understand any statement without considering its context!
Also, we must keep in mind that the interpretation of a specific passage must not contradict the total teaching of Scripture on a point. Individual verses do not exist as isolated fragments, but as parts of a whole. The exposition of these verses, therefore, must involve exhibiting them in right relation both to the whole and to each other. Scripture interprets Scripture. Thus, CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT!
This one also can go along the lines of context and that is the historical background of what you are reading. In other words, you have to have some awareness, some knowledge of life during that period of time in which it was written. That is not to say when the Bible speaks of scientific things it will be wrong, but understand the culture of the day, that is important! And yes, the spiritual principle will be timeless and is timeless, but don’t negate the background in which it was written.
You see, the Christian faith is based upon historical fact, it rests, for instance on the historical Jesus and not just some story! Let me give you an example so you can see what I mean. When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he was writing to a group of people that were living in a very immoral society and some of that came into the church and Paul was correcting them on this.
To understand what was going on in Corinth at that time helps us to understand why Paul said what he did! Yes, we can take what Paul wrote and apply it to our day but don’t forget that letter was written to the Corinthian church even though it has a spiritual application for us! So looking at the historical background is important for us to understand what was happening then. After we do this we can make the spiritual application because the Holy Spirit wrote this through Paul and the other writers of the Bible with all of us in mind. He can illuminate it for us. Historical background, don’t lose sight of it!
INTERPRET WITH A CONNECTION TO OUR FAITH
The next one is simple; we need to interpret the Scriptures with a connection or correlation to our faith. In other words, the Bible does not contradict itself. If you read in the letters of Paul that our salvation is based on grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, that is clear. But, when you read the letter of James it seems to be saying that we are saved by works and not by faith. So who is right? Is this a contradiction in the Bible, a big one?
No not at all. Paul is speaking of the means of our salvation, that it is based in grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone. While James is writing about how we live out our faith, that our faith is not dead but it is active. You see, James is not contradicting what Paul has said, he is expounding on it and making it applicable to our faith, how we live out our faith!
Here’s the thing. If one portion of Scripture seems to contradict another, the problem is not the Bible but the interpreter! And I truly believe as you read the Bible, as you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to open a passage up to you, He will help you to interpret it correctly. You see, if God wrote these words for us, or more correctly breathed them out to us, then God cannot lie and thus, what He has said is true and He will not contradict Himself!
DEPENDENCE UPON THE HOLY SPIRIT
The last one we will look at is our dependence upon the Holy Spirit and we touched on this one briefly with our last section. If you try to approach the Scriptures with the wisdom of man, your intellect, then that is what you will get out of it, man’s wisdom, which is nothing compared to our all knowing God! I realize that some have a hard time with this because we think we can figure it out, but we can’t.
Listen to what Jesus said in John 16:12-15, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
Listen carefully to what Jesus is saying here. First of all these men were going to need further instructions; they were not ready for all that Jesus had for them at this time. But when the Holy Spirit comes, He will teach them all truth, He will give to them the things that they will need, and He continues to teach us today! He gives to us all truth and where is truth found? It is found in the Word of God and it is the Holy Spirit that not only illuminates the Word of God to us but also interprets it for us!
And notice the function of the Holy Spirit, to reveal Jesus to us and that is done through the Word of God, the exercise of the gifts, and-so-on. The truth tester is simple, does it agree with God’s Word and is it revealing Jesus to us! That is the work of the Holy Spirit! In other words, it is the Holy Spirit’s function to throw light upon the Word of God so that the believer can understand the meaning that is intended and then we can act upon it. Faith put into action!
I believe the Scriptures are very clear on this. To fully understand the Word of God it is going to be impossible without the prayerful dependence upon the Sprit of God. And think about this for a minute. He is the one who inspired the Word and thus, He is the supreme interpreter!
Now in saying that let me also make these couple of points. First of all, the Holy Spirit is not going to guide us into interpretations that contradict each other or fail to have a logical consistency to them. Secondly, the Holy Spirit is not going to give us new doctrine that is not already contained in the Word of God.
In other words, the Holy Spirit makes us wise in what is written and not beyond what is written! The Holy Spirit does not communicate to us new truth but illuminates what is revealed in the Scripture already! I hope that is clear! And thus, we need to have a dependence upon the Holy Spirit as we interpret the Scriptures!
This truly sums up what we have in our hands, the Word of God, as one writer wrote, “This Book is the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding; its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s character. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; yes, to glory itself, for eternity.”
- Source Unknown
May we treasure these Words of God that He has written to us! God’s Word is a REVELATION to us in who God is! God’s Word is INSPIRED or given to us from the very breath of God! And as we have seen, God’s Word is INERRANT in the original manuscripts and the copies we have today can be trusted. There is ILLUMINATION which sheds the light on the Scriptures and INTERPRETATION which speaks of understanding the meaning of Scripture.
What the Bible says about . . . The Bible Part 2
The Bible is not a science textbook but when it speaks about scientific things, it does so with 100% accuracy as we will see. So let’s examine the scientific evidence for the Bible.
FUNDAMENTALS OF SCIENCE
We might as well start with the fundamentals of science, or the basics of science. Herbert Spencer, the famous British philosopher who lived back in 1820 to 1903 made an interesting observation. He said that there were basically five fundamentals of science. They are: Time, Force, Action, Space, and Matter. So a little over 100 years ago Spencer came up with this and it still holds true today.
But Spencer was not the first to come up with this. The Bible declared this some 3500 years ago! Who could write such a thing as this? Moses did in Genesis 1:1. Let me show you these five fundamentals of Science in the very first verse of the Bible. We are told, “In the beginning [time] God [force] created [action] the heavens [space] and the earth [matter].”
Isn’t that interesting that in the very first verse of the Bible we can see that there is something very special, very unique about this book! Maybe you are not too impressed by this. If you are not, hang in there, I have much more to show you that will blow your mind away!
The next thing we are going to look at is astronomy or the scientific study of the universe, especially of the motions, positions, sizes, composition, and behavior of astronomical objects.
The first one we are going to be looking at is the earth. I am sure you have heard people call Christians who believe in the Bible, who believe in creation, “flat earthers” or that we believe in a flat earth! That is ridiculous and the only ones who could believe that are those that deny the Scriptures! Interestingly enough if go on the Internet and type that in you will see many sites related to this and people who today, in the twenty-first century, believe this, that the earth is flat and they are not Christian!
In Isaiah 40:22 we are told, “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” Notice that it says, “circle of the earth” and not that the earth is flat! Over 2700 years ago the prophet Isaiah wrote this! In Proverbs 8:27 we are told, “When He prepared the heavens, I was there, When He drew a circle on the face of the deep.” The shape of the earth is a sphere, it is round, not flat and God not only told us, but He should know because He created it!
Not only that, but in the oldest book of the Bible, the book of Job we are told, “He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing.” Now this is an amazing statement for the people of Job’s day! Job is telling us that the earth hangs upon nothing, there is nothing holding it up. Keep in mind that the Hindu people believed the earth was held up or suspended upon four elephants which stood on the back of a giant tortoise that was floating on the surface of the world’s waters!
There where others who believed that the earth was supported on the shoulders of Atlas or some strong man! For the Vedic priests, the earth was set on 12 solid pillars; its upper side was its only habitable side. The Altaic people of Northern Siberia affirm that their mighty Ulgen created the earth on the waters and placed under it three great fish to support it. And the Tartars and many of the other tribes of Eurasia believed the earth to be supported by a great bull! Man got it wrong; God got it right and spoke through Job to let us know that there is nothing observable holding up the earth! Job spoke this some 4,000 years ago!
Now what about this “empty space” to the north? Recently scientists have discovered that an area to the north of the axis of our earth, toward the polar star, is almost empty of stars in contrast to the other directions! In fact, Mitchell Waldrop wrote this in regard to this emptiness to the north in Science magazine, “The recently announced ‘hole in space,’ a 300 million-light-year gap in the distribution of galaxies, has taken cosmologists by surprise. . . . But three very deep core samples in the Northern Hemisphere, lying in the general direction of the constellation Bootes, showed striking gaps in the red shift distribution.” (Mitchell Waldrop, “Delving the Hole In Space,” Science magazine, Nov. 27, 1981).
Interestingly enough, this emptiness in the direction to the North of our solar system is not visible by the naked eye! How did Job know this? God knew it and spoke through Job. Science finally caught up with the Bible!
We also see that the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics are spoken of in the Scriptures, long before man discovered them! The First Law or the Law of Conservation of Energy speaks of the fact that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Isaac Asimov put it like this, “Energy can be transferred from one place to another or transformed from one form to another, but it can be neither created nor destroyed.” To put it simply, all the energy that exists in our universe remains constant and it can never change!
How does this relate to us as Christians and what we believe? When God created the universe that is all there is, there is no new energy or matter that is created! And think about this. This Law was discovered in the nineteenth and twenty centuries! And yet, in Genesis 2:1 we are told, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.” Now we may not think too much about what is said here, but I think it speaks volumes of our God!
The word that Moses used for “finished” in the Hebrew is in the past definite tense for this verb and it speaks of a completed action in the past and this action will never occur again! That is exactly what the First Law of Thermodynamics says or the Law of Conservation of Energy. Neither matter nor energy can be created; they can only be changed from one form to another!
The Second Law of Thermodynamics or the Entropy Law states that all systems and elements in the universe are wearing down. They are moving from order to disorder. This is in direct opposition to the Theory of Evolution which tells us that all simple systems and elements can become increasingly more organized and complicated by random chance. The Theory of Evolution is in direct opposition to the Second Law of Thermodynamics or the Entropy Law and yet they believe both are possible because the only other explanation is that there is a God!
Again, this was not discovered until the nineteenth and twenty centuries! But listen to what God tells us in His Word about things wearing down, moving from order to disorder, the Entropy Law! In Isaiah 51:6 we are told, “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, And look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, The earth will grow old like a garment, And those who dwell in it will die in like manner; But My salvation will be forever, And My righteousness will not be abolished.” In other words, this universe is wearing down, it is moving from order when it was created to disorder when it will be abolished or dissolved!
In Psalm 102:26 we are told, “They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed.” The Psalmist is speaking of the heavens and the earth here and he is saying that they are growing old, they will not last forever! We see Paul quote this in Hebrews 1:11-12 where we are told, “They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.”
These two Laws did not come into effect until after sin entered the world. So man is not evolving, getting better, but moving from order, perfection to disorder and decay! That is the Entropy Law and God told us about it long before man discovered it!
Look at the universe and how big it is and let’s see what God has to say about it. First of all, how big is our universe? That is a great question and listen carefully to what Brent Tully wrote for Nova regarding this. He wrote,
“. . . The most distant galaxies we can now see are 10 or 12 billion light-years away. We could never see a galaxy that is farther away in light travel time than the universe is old - an estimated 14 billion or so years. Thus, we are surrounded by a “horizon” that we cannot look beyond - a horizon set by the distance that light can travel over the age of the universe. This horizon describes the visible universe - a region some 28 billion light years in diameter. But what are the horizons of a civilization that inhabits the most distant galaxies we see? And what about galaxies at the limits of their vision? There is every reason to think that the universe extends a long way beyond the part of the universe we can see. In fact, a variety of observations suggest that our visible patch may be a small fraction - maybe an infinitely small fraction - of the whole universe. . . .”
- Brent Tully, How Big is the Universe?, 11/11/00
In other words, we can’t really know how big it is because if the universe is only 14 billion years old and light travels at 186,000 miles per second, we can’t go beyond 14 billion light years because that is all the time we have for light to travel that far! First of all that can only be true if the speed of light was a constant and when God created the heavens and the earth did He place these stars and galaxies already that far out and the light was already present upon the earth? Could be! And he thinks the universe is far bigger than we could ever imagine! Maybe bigger than he could but God created it and He measures it with the span of His hand!
Also, which is interesting to me, scientists today are telling us that the universe is expanding. Does the Bible speak of this? I believe that it does. In Isaiah 40:22 we are told, “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” As you read this it seems to be saying that our universe is expanding since its creation because God is stretching it out, He is the one who is causing it to expand!
You can’t see this happening with the naked eye and yet God has told us that He is doing this. Do we have to see it to believe it? If you have to please understand that this was not discovered until the 1920’s as astronomers saw with the telescope that virtually all clusters of galaxies appear to be moving away from all other clusters or that the universe is expanding! Now do you believe it? Now here is another so-called problem!
In Isaiah 34:4 we are told, “All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down As the leaf falls from the vine, And as fruit falling from a fig tree.” This verse is speaking of the coming judgment of God upon a Christ rejecting world and the creation of a new heavens and a new earth. But in doing so it talks about the heavens being rolled up like a scroll and that seems to indicate that the universe is flat. Great, first we had to deal with a flat earth and clear that up but now the Bible tells us the universe is flat. That can’t be right, or can it? How can we be in a flat universe?
Brent Tully makes this interesting observation, something that we did not know until the recent past. He wrote, “It turns out that the basic inflation picture satisfies a number of observed facts about the universe. One fact is particularly interesting because the better our observations become the more tightly they agree with a prediction of the inflation model. This is that the universe should be “flat” - no overall curvature of space. Spectacularly convincing evidence - recent measurements of irregularities in the microwave background radiation - supports this proposition.” - Brent Tully, How Big is the Universe? 11/11/00
So the Bible is right, the universe is flat and God is going to roll it up like a scroll is rolled up! Once again man has caught up with God!
What about all the stars in the sky? In 150 A. D. Ptolemy counted 1,056 stars and he claimed that the number could not exceed 3,000! And yet, in Jeremiah 31:37 and 33:22 we are told, “Thus says the Lord: ‘If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the Lord.’ . . . ‘As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’”
We see two important points here. First of all the heavens can’t be measured. Yes, there have been guesses and yet, as we have seen, the universe is expanding and we don’t know how far it goes out there, some 12 to 14 billion light years or more, probably much more than that! Secondly, the Lord says that we will not be able to count the host of heaven, we will not be able to count the stars, they can’t be numbered!
In regard to how many stars are out there, and there is more than 1,056 or even 3,000, Fraser Cain writes, “It’s a great big Universe out there, with a huge numbers of stars. But how many stars are there, exactly? How many stars are there in the Universe? Of course it’s a difficult question to answer, because the Universe is a vast place and our telescopes can’t reach every corner to count the number of stars. But we can make some rough estimates.
Almost all the stars in the Universe are collected together into galaxies. They can be small dwarf galaxies, with just 10 million or so stars, or they can be monstrous irregular galaxies with 10 trillion stars or more. Our own Milky Way galaxy seems to contain about 200 billion stars; and we’re actually about average number of stars.
So an average galaxy contains between 1011 and 1012 stars. In other words, galaxies, on average have between 100 billion and 1 trillion numbers of stars. Now, how many galaxies are there? Astronomers estimate that there are approximately 100 billion to 1 trillion galaxies in the Universe. So if you multiply those two numbers together, you get between 1022 and 1024 stars in the Universe. How many stars? There are between 10 sextillion and 1 septillion stars in the Universe. That’s a large number of stars.” [No kidding!] - Fraser Cain, How Many Stars?, January 28, 2009
We are now going to look at oceanography because again, what man did not know for many years, God did and spoke it forth in His Word! Solomon, long ago wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:7, “All the rivers run into the sea, Yet the sea is not full; To the place from which the rivers come, There they return again.” How true that statement is. Let me give you one example. The Mississippi River, with an average flow rate, when running at an average rate of flow, dumps approximately 6,052,500 gallons of water into the Gulf of Mexico every second. Can you imagine that, over 6 million gallons of water per second! And keep in mind that this is the water that is dumped into the oceans from just one river!
What happened to all that water? Where does it go? Once again the Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 11:3a we are told, “If the clouds are full of rain, They empty themselves upon the earth . . .” And in Amos 9:6b we are told, “. . . Who calls for the waters of the sea, And pours them out on the face of the earth - The Lord is His name.” In other words, it is that water cycle and this was not fully understood until the 16th and 17th centuries! That means more than 2,000 years before this was discovered, God told us about it! The water that goes into the sea is evaporated and then it comes down again upon the land and it goes into the sea once again!
Did you know that there are paths in the sea? There are, not because I said so but God did. In Psalm 8:8b we are told, “. . . And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas.”
Did you know that this was discovered by a man who had this verse read to him! Matthew Fontaine Maury, a United States Navy officer was one of the people who charted the oceans currents. Not the first but one of the ones that used the Bible to prove what he believed.
Maury took God at His Word and found that the Word of God was fully accurate, completely accurate. He gave a defense for what he believed in, he did not compromise his faith but stood strong in what he believed, the Scriptures to be the authoritative, infallible, inerrant Word of God! May we do the same!
The Bible also speaks very clearly on the hydrological cycle or the water-vapor cycle. In Job 36:27-29 we are told, “For He draws up drops of water, Which distill as rain from the mist, Which the clouds drop down And pour abundantly on man. Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds, The thunder from His canopy?”
It is interesting because both the Hebrew and English definition of the word “distill” speak of it as follows, this word distill speaks of having small moisture droplets of steam or vapor condensate and collect into water drops large enough to become heavy and to fall! In fact, what we see here in Job is the complete hydrological cycle of evaporation, cloud formation and precipitation! The hydrological cycle was first “discovered” by two “great” scientists named Perrault and Marriotte in the 1700’s. Yet it was described in the Bible thousands of years before that.
Did you know that there is weight to wind? There is! So when someone says you are full of hot air, that means what you are saying is heavy man! No, sorry but what can I say. I guess, turn to Job 28:24-26 and I will show you what I mean. We are told, “For He looks to the ends of the earth, And sees under the whole heavens, To establish a weight for the wind, And apportion the waters by measure. When He made a law for the rain, And a path for the thunderbolt.”
Did you realize that the fact that air has weight was proven scientifically only about 300 years ago? Imagine that, only 300 years ago! Is this important? You bet it is. You see, the relative weights of air and water are needed for the efficient functioning of the world’s hydrologic cycle, which in turn sustains life on the earth. You see, God knew this, He created the heavens and the earth and He has told us long before we discovered it! It was not random chance happenings that all this is working out. There is a God who created the heavens and the earth, end of story!
We can go on but I hope you can see that when the Bible speaks on matters of science, it is 100% accurate. If there is something that seems to be a discrepancy, it is because we are either misunderstanding what has been said or it is the way we are looking at the issue. Again, science has to keep correcting itself, God does not!
Robert Ingram wrote, “Science is a marvelous tool given by God to discover the secrets of the cosmos and to elicit praise from men. When science is rightly studied within the context of the faith it is an ally, not an enemy.” May we not forget that!
What the Bible says about . . . Advanced Medical Knowledge
The Bible is not a medical book and yet, when it speaks of medical issues, it does so with 100% accuracy. And this is not just superficial information as you will see, this is advanced medical knowledge that we find in the Bible. And keep in mind that many of these things that the Bible has given to us were not understood or discovered until recently! And the reason that we can trust in what God has to say is that the Word of God has been given to us by God, breathed from the mouth of God, from Genesis through Revelation, all of them!
Now let me share with you how the most advanced society on the earth in the days of Moses treated medical issues before we see what the Bible has to say. The Egyptians were very advanced in astronomical and engineering knowledge but their medical knowledge was very primitive. Let me show you what I mean. Grant Jeffery tells us, As an example of the medical ignorance and primitive state of their medical knowledge, consider the Egyptian doctor’s suggestion for healing an infected splinter wound. The prescription involves the application of an ointment mixture composed of the blood of worms mixed with the dung of a donkey. The various germs, including tetanus, contained in donkey’s dung must have assured that the patient would rapidly forget the pain of his splinter as he died from an assortment of other diseases produced by his doctor’s contaminated medicine. . . .
The Egyptian doctors had an equally wondrous cure for a poisonous snake bite. They poured “magical water” over a pagan idol and then gave it to the victim for what probably turned out to be his last drink on earth.
. . . A careful examination of the medical treatises from the Egyptians and the comprehensive Babylonian Code of Hammurabi reveals absolutely nothing about preventative medicine to enable people to avoid these deadly diseases that devastated ancient societies.
However, the presence of incredibly advanced and accurate knowledge of diseases, sanitation and preventative medicine in the ancient Scriptures is one more incontrovertible proof that the Bible is truly the inspired Word of God. It is fascinating to note that a total of two hundred and thirteen out of the six hundred and thirteen biblical commandments found in the Torah were detailed medical regulations that insured the good health of the children of Israel if they would obediently follow the laws of God.
- Grant R. Jeffrey, The Signature of God, pp. 141, 143
Now let’s look at the advanced medical knowledge that is found in the Bible and I think you may be surprised by what God has to say to us. Yes, this is not a medical book but when it speaks of medical issues, it is 100% accurate!
ADVANCED MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE IN THE BIBLE
LIFE IS IN THE BLOOD
Today this is a well known fact, that the life is in the blood. But way back to the time of Moses we see the Lord speak to Moses regarding this very issue in Leviticus 17:11-14. Moses, some 3500 years ago tells us that the life is in the blood and yet, we did not discover this until 1616. A man by the name of William Harvey discovered that the blood circulation is the key factor for physical life! Although we take this knowledge for granted, until Harvey’s time, people were not aware that the blood travels through the body and is pumped through its course by the heart.
And think about this, even during the days of George Washington they did not realize the importance of blood, that life is in the blood! The reason I say that is George Washington was bleed to death by, what they thought in those days would heal him, bloodletting. I guess they went just a bit too far, he should have told him just a little off the top! But again, the life is in the blood and without the blood there is no life!
Red blood cells can carry 270 million molecules of hemoglobin each. That is what is needed for life and if there were any less there would not be enough residual oxygen available to sustain life. The blood is needed to feed and carry away waste products from the sixty trillion complex cells that make up the human body! Not only that, but the blood travels on this superhighway you might say of blood vessels that are all connected and these blood vessels, if stretched out we be about seventy-five thousand miles long, enough to circle the earth three times!
THE LIFE IS IN THE BLOOD and Moses told us this over 3500 years ago! How did he know this? Because our Creator, our God knew it and shared it with him!
CIRCUMCISION ON THE EIGHTH DAY
You might not think this next one is that important but I think it is incredible! In Genesis 17:12 the Lord says that circumcision is to be done on the eighth day, not the seventh or the ninth, but the eighth day! Why in the world did God instruct Abraham and the children of Israel to circumcise their newborn males on the eighth day of their life?
That is a great question and it was not known until 1935 when Professor H. Dam proposed the name “Vitamin K” for the factor in foods that helped prevent hemorrhaging in baby chicks. We also know that Vitamin K is responsible for the production of prothrombin by the liver. Thus, if there is a deficiency of Vitamin K, there will be a prothrombin deficiency and hemorrhaging may occur since both Vitamin K and prothrombin are necessary for proper blood clotting!
Oddly enough, it is only on the fifth through the seventh days of the newborn male’s life that vitamin K (produced by bacteria in the intestinal tract) is present in adequate quantities. As I have said, Vitamin K, coupled with prothrombin, causes blood coagulation, which is important in any surgical procedure. Holt and McIntosh, in their classic work, Holt Pediatrics, observed that a newborn infant has “peculiar susceptibility to bleeding between the second and fifth days of life. . . .
Hemorrhages at this time, though often inconsequential, are sometimes extensive; they may produce serious damage to internal organs, especially to the brain, and cause death from shock and exsanguination.” (1953, pp. 125-126).
Obviously, then, if vitamin K is not produced in sufficient quantities until days five through seven, it would be wise to postpone any surgery until some time after that. But why did God specify day eight?
On the eighth day, the amount of prothrombin present actually is elevated above one-hundred percent of normal (it peaks at 110 percent of normal) - and is the only day in the male’s life in which this will be the case under normal conditions. If surgery is to be performed, day eight is the perfect day to do it. Vitamin K and prothrombin levels are at their peak on this day.
- I. McMillen, M.D., in his book, None of These Diseases, observed, “We should commend the many hundreds of workers who labored at great expense over a number of years to discover that the safest day to perform circumcision is the eighth. Yet, as we congratulate medical science for this recent finding, we can almost hear the leaves of the Bible rustling. They would like to remind us that four thousand years ago, when God initiated circumcision with Abraham. . . .
Abraham did not pick the eighth day after many centuries of trial-and-error experiments. Neither he nor any of his company from the ancient city of Ur in the Chaldees ever had been circumcised. It was a day picked by the Creator of vitamin K.” (S. I. McMillen, M.D., None of These Diseases, p. 93).
Moses’ information, as recorded in Genesis 17:12, not only was scientifically accurate, but was years ahead of its time. How did Moses have access to such information? The answer, of course, is God provided this information to him. The best day for circumcision is the eighth day just as God said and now modern medicine has caught up and agrees with what God has said. If they only listened before! CIRCUMCISION ON THE EIGHTH DAY, God said it and He is 100% correct or should I say 110% correct!
REPRODUCE AFTER THEIR OWN KIND
This one seems so obvious and yet, many deny it today and that is the fact that animals, plants, birds and-so-on reproduce after their own kind! What that means is that a dog will have puppies and not kittens. A bird will have a baby bird and not a reptile. An apple tree will produce another apple tree and not an orange tree. Humans will have a human child and not some monster, that transformation only happens when they are teenagers! Sorry. But the key is that they reproduce after their own kind!
We know this as the “Law of Biogenesis” which means that life only comes from preceding life and perpetuates itself by reproducing only after its own kind or type! It is what Genesis 1:11-12, 21, 24-25 tells us. Moses, some 3500 years ago, tells us that in the very beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth and all life within it, created them with the ability to reproduce after their own kind. Yes, there are a variety of dogs out there, but they are all dogs! That is the key and as you look at the fossil record, that is what you find. Living things reproduce after their own kind just as God said and He should know because He created them!
And this is one of the greatest problems for evolutionists. They know this to be true as this book tells us. This is a quote from a current Biology text book. It says, Life cannot arise by spontaneous generation from inanimate material today, so far as we know, but conditions were very different when the earth was only a few billion years old. In that ancient environment, the origin of life was evidently possible and it is likely that at least the early stages of biological inception were inevitable.”
- Nell Campbell, Biology, 1987, page 504
Do you see what this author did? He admitted spontaneous generation is impossible today, but he puts his faith in the belief that the early earth had some unknown different conditions in order for life to originate from inanimate material. David Kirk correctly stated, “By the end of the nineteenth century there was a general agreement that life cannot arise from the non-living under conditions that now exist upon our planet. The dictum ‘All life from preexisting life’ became the dogma of modern biology, from which no reasonable man could be expected to dissent.”
In fact, listen to what Dr. Wald, the foremost biologist in this country, has to say and his words speak volumes. He said, “Spontaneous generation was totally disproved 100 years ago by Louis Pasture. . .That leads us only one possible conclusion. That life arose as a super natural creative work of God. I cannot accept that philosophically, because I don't want to believe in God. I choose to believe that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation arising to evolution.”
Why does he want to believe in evolution, something that has not been proved and must be believed by faith? Why must he alter the Law of Biogenesis? Because he does not want to believe in God! Folks that is not science but he is suppressing the truth that he knows and is promoting a lie, and in fact, it has become a religion to him.
And keep in mind that we did not understand this until the 1900’s and yet, Moses told us this some 3500 years ago, he believed it. In fact, even Paul picks up on this in I Corinthians 15:39 and in Acts 17:24-25. In other words, God created life, it did not just happen by random chance occurrences, the probability of that taking place is beyond what you could even imagine!
So I think it is very clear, creation reproduces after its own kind and it is God who has created life, all life and it did not arise out of spontaneous generation or life from non-life! Thus, life REPRODUCES AFTER THEIR OWN KIND just as God has said!
MAN IS CREATED FROM THE DUST OF THE EARTH
Here is one that we can clearly see today and it is what God has said in Genesis 2:7. What is the scientific proof that man’s body came from the dust of the ground, as the Bible says?
The human body is made up of materials and minerals found on the surface of the ground, and not from the core of the earth. Oxygen, being the most abundant element on the earth’s crust or on the ground, makes up 65 percent of the human body, and carbon, also abundant on the top soil of the ground, is 18 percent, and hydrogen is 10 percent. The 59 elements found in the human body are all found on the earths crust. This is amazing because what the Bible says perfectly match the scientific composition of a human body.
Not only that but the exact proportion of the minerals and materials, if maintained, make up a healthy human body. Excesses in these materials will cause disorders and diseases. Excess of aluminum, for example, and iron, will be toxic for the human body. The proportions of the abundance of the 59 elements on the earth’s crust, is amazingly represented in its presence in the human body. Thus, MAN IS CREATED FROM THE DUST OF THE EARTH just as God has said!
SANITARY PRACTICES FROM THE BIBLE
The whole idea of sanitation and germs was only discovered a little over 100 years as Louis Pasture demonstrated this in the late 19th century in his Germ Theory of Disease. He showed that most infectious diseases were caused by microorganisms originating from outside the body.
In 1818, Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis was born into a world of dying women. The finest hospitals lost one out of six young mothers to the scourge of “childbed fever.” A doctor’s daily routine began in the dissecting room where he performed autopsies. From there he made his way to the hospital to examine expectant mothers without ever pausing to wash his hands.
Dr. Semmelweis was the first man in history to associate such examinations with the resultant infection and death. His own practice was to wash with a chlorine solution, and after eleven years and the delivery of 8,537 babies, he lost only 184 mothers – about one in fifty.
Nevertheless, Semmelweis encountered strong opposition from hospital officials as some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands; they felt that their social status as gentlemen was inconsistent with the idea that their hands could be unclean.
He spent the vigor of his life lecturing and debating with his colleagues. Once he argued, “Puerperal fever is caused by decomposed material, conveyed to a wound. . . I have shown how it can be prevented. I have proved all that I have said. But while we talk, talk, talk, gentlemen, women are dying. I am not asking anything world shaking. I am asking you only to wash. . . For God’s sake, wash your hands.”
But virtually no one believed him. Doctors and midwives had been delivering babies for thousands of years without washing, and no outspoken Hungarian was going to change them now! And what was he asking them to do? He just wanted them to wash their hands and they mocked him for it and yet today, hand washing is a common practice because it decreases the chances for the spread of infection.
In Numbers 19:3-22, Leviticus 11:1-47; 15:1-33, Deuteronomy 23:12 we see these things spoken of as God instructed His people over 3500 years ago! And think about something like drinking water and what God has to say regarding the water you are to drink in Leviticus 11:34-36. Also, how to quarantine people and during the plague people eventually looked to the Bible to stop the spread of this disease. You see, God told them back in Leviticus 13, 14, 22, Numbers 19:20.
In Leviticus 11:34 and 15:12, if food or water that was in a vessel came in contact with a dead animal or an infected person, it was declared to be unclean, you were not to eat it or dink it! Just practical things that we take for granted today but were not practiced by man and many times it killed them!
And here is one that if practiced today, sexually transmitted diseases like venereal diseases and AIDS would be eliminated! What God has said is very simple, the Israelites were forbidden to have any sexual relations outside of marriage and so are we. (See Leviticus 18:22, 20:20-16; Exodus 20:14; Hebrews 13:4).
Also, the biblical plan for marriage is a husband and a wife, not a man and a man or a woman and a woman. (See Genesis 1:27, 2:23-25; Matthew 19:3-6). Gonorrhea may be the first STD discovered; it is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae, first discovered in 1879. But God warned about this long ago, He gave us the way to protect ourselves from any sexually transmitted diseases, it is called abstinence until marriage! But we have negated what God has said and thus, sexually transmitted diseases continue to be the world’s leading contagious disease and it does not have to be!
Because of the SANITARY PRACTICES FROM THE BIBLE many lives have been saved and many infectious diseases have died out!
Now is the Bible just another book written by ignorant men or is it the Word of God? You can make that decision yourself, but when you look at the evidence, you can clearly see the hand of God. And if you think about it, entire books could be written on the Old Testament’s amazing medical accuracy.
Medical doctors McMillen and Stern have done just that in their extremely interesting volume None of These Diseases. Many physicians who have compared Moses’ medical instructions to effective modern methods have come to realize the astonishing value and insight of the Old Testament text.
As Dr. Macht once wrote: “Every word in the Hebrew Scriptures is well chosen and carries valuable knowledge and deep significance” (Macht, 1953, p. 450). Such is certainly the case in regard to the medical practices listed in its pages. Indeed, the accurate medical practices prescribed thousands of years before their significance was completely understood provide excellent evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible.
And keep in mind that man’s medical knowledge was virtually abysmal until the beginning of the twentieth century. Even the existence of germs was unknown until around A. D. 1890. Yet, the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah, or the Law, recorded by Moses approximately 1491-1451 B. C., reveal surprising advanced scientific principles. In addition, the Bible contains advanced medical and scientific knowledge about hygiene and sanitation.
The Scriptures contain God’s medical instructions for Israel that far exceeded the level of knowledge possessed by the Egyptians and other ancient societies of that day. God inspired Moses to record these medical commandments to protect them and it shows us that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3:16-17. May we never forget that fact, God’s Word is truth, we can trust what God has said to us.
What the Bible says about . . . Government
This is a tough one for many Christians, that we are to obey the laws of the land or we are to obey what the government tells us. And at this point, you may be upset, but let’s look at what the Scriptures tell us and then, let us live accordingly.
Paul tells us in Romans 13:1-7 about our role in human government, how we are to live out our faith. He wrote, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”
As I said, not an easy section, but an important one for us to understand and apply to our lives.
One writer said regarding this, Believers must live properly in the world, including obeying government authorities and rulers. Christians should practice good citizenship and receive praise from those who rule, because they do so as ministers of God for good.
If believers disobey legitimate government, they will suffer as evildoers. Practicing love for one another fulfills the law; and this love will do no wrong! Christians should “behave properly,” because the day of service is short. They must leave no room for the working of the flesh and its lusts.
- Woodrow Kroll, Romans – Righteousness in Christ, p. 201
Again, as we have seen, in Romans 13:1-7 Paul deals with this subject of human government and what our responsibility is towards this government.
Here in Romans Paul makes it very clear as he says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities . . .” That includes you and me, every soul!
And as you look at the leaders in this country, this is not an easy task and yet, God appoints people into governing positions, and sometimes it is for our good and sometimes for judgment!
In Jeremiah 25:9 we are told, “‘behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ says the LORD, ‘and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations.’”
Also, in Jeremiah 27:6-7 we are told, “And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given him to serve him. So all nations shall serve him and his son and his son's son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them.”
Do you see that? God calls this pagan King, Nebuchadnezzar His servant for he is accomplishing the will of God, even though he thought he was doing as he pleased, he thought he was in control.
Thus, if you resist those in authority over you; you are disobeying God’s Word; you are resisting His will!
You see, God has placed them as the legitimate authority and we must respect that position they are holding, we are subject to them!
It is as Paul said in I Timothy 2:1-4, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Also, in Titus 3:1-2 Paul tells us, “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”
And lastly, in I Peter 2:13-17 Peter tells us, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men - as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
Did you see that? Peter said, “for this is the will of God.” In other words, this is not an option for us, we are to respect, honor, we are to be subject to those who are in authority over us. And if we reject that, then we are not in the will of God! It truly is that simple. We may not like it, but it is what God has said!
Now let me also say this. This does not mean we have to agree with everything they say or do. And if what they tell us goes against what God says in His Word, if they tell us to do something that is immoral, then we can disobey what the government says.
Peter, after he and the boys were arrested for sharing their faith, sharing Jesus, they were arrested by the religious leaders, and they were confronted by the High Priest in Acts chapter 5. And this is what the High Priest said and what Peter said, “‘Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!’ But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’” Acts 5:28-29.
Now please understand that what Peter said is not a license to be disobedient to the government.
Look at all the atrocities that Rome had perpetrated upon Christians, as I have said, all the injustice, and Paul’s’ focus was not to change the government, protest against the government, but to preach Christ crucified, the Gospel message!
You see, Paul wanted to see them changed inwardly and that change would then affect their outward actions!
The only reason we may go against what they are saying and disobey them is when they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man (as in Acts 4:19).
For instance, if they told a woman she has to have an abortion. You obey God and not the government!
You see, until Jesus Christ returns to set up His government, until He rules and reigns on this earth, we will have human government and thus, we are to be subject to it. It will be far from perfect, but, for the most part, it does help keep things in line!
And here is the thing. As a rule, people who do what is right need not fear the authorities. It is only those who break the law who have to fear punishment.
Again, Paul is speaking in general terms. There are governments like China, North Korea, Iran who are not for their people, but their cause, their agenda.
And in verse 4 of Romans chapter 13 Paul is speaking of the government’s right to execute capital punishment upon those that commit such crimes; it is a deterrent to others.
In Genesis 9:5-6 the Lord tells Noah, “Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.”
Make no mistake about it, a government that does not put forth justice will move to anarchy! And we are moving quickly in that direction here in our nation!
Robert Haldane puts it this way,
The institution of civil government is a dispensation of mercy, and its existence is so indispensable, that the moment it ceases under one form, it re-establishes itself in another. The world, ever since the fall, when the dominion of one part of the human race over another was immediately introduced (Gen 3:16), has been in such a state of corruption and depravity, that without the powerful obstacle presented by civil government to the selfish and malignant passions of men, it would be better to live among the beasts of the forest than in human society.
As soon as its restraints are removed, man shows himself in his real character. When there was no king in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes, we see in the last three chapters of the Book of Judges what were the dreadful consequences.
- Robert Haldane, An Exposition of Romans, p. 581
Now Paul speaks of something we are all familiar with, paying taxes. And I am sure that many of you are not excited about this one, I don’t think anyone is.
And the reason being, not only because they are so high, but because our taxes support so many ungodly things.
But Paul tells us that we are to pay taxes for the taxes are also used to help restrain evil and to keep the government going so the society doesn’t deteriorate into anarchy!
Now for those who still struggle with paying taxes, and I think we all do, let’s go to the authority, to Jesus and see what He has to say in Matthew 22:15-21.
Here we see that Jesus has an encounter with a Herodian, who was working together with the Pharisees to catch Jesus, and we are told, “Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.’ So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’”
Jesus makes a very powerful point. Yes, we are to pay our taxes and we are to give to God that which is His. That means we give to God our entire lives!
And, you are to pay your local taxes, your state taxes, and your federal taxes and in doing so you are honoring God.
That does not mean I agree, or you agree on how those taxes are being spent, that is not the issue, I give out of obedience.
We should be praying for our leaders. We should pay our taxes. It is as simple and as difficult as that! But as we surrender to the Lord, seek His will in these matters, it is an easy thing to do!
Make no mistake about it. A life that is surrendered to God, placed on the altar of sacrifice as a living sacrifice unto God, will walk properly before God as his life continues to be transformed into the image of God.
Not only that, but then we will be a light to this world that is in darkness, a world without hope and without love. We can give them hope and love in Christ!
As Paul said in I Corinthians 13:4-8a, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
What the Bible says about . . . Catholics Believing Their First Pope?
This is taken from what Mike Gendron put together in a e-mail he sent out and all I ask you to do is compare the words and works of Peter and see if this Pope as well as the past Pope’s have followed Peter or their own ways. Let’s see what the Scriptures have to say.
Catholics Should Believe Their First Pope
The apostle Peter played a prominent role in the early church. Soon after he abandoned his career as a fisherman to follow Christ, he became a fisher of men. Several of his sermons were recorded in the Book of Acts, and his two epistles are included in the divinely inspired Scriptures.
Since Catholics have been taught that Peter was their first pope, I have developed some questions to shed some light on his theology, ecclesiology, and soteriology.
All of the answers come directly from his writings and sermons. . . .
Peter, were you the first pope and the supreme head of the first century church?
“As a fellow elder, I exhort the elders among you... to shepherd the flock of God.” (1 Peter 5:1-3)
Are you the rock upon which Jesus would build His church?
Jesus is “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God, chosen and precious... The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense. They stumble because they disobey the word.” (1 Peter 2:4,7-8)
Were you infallible?
Paul opposed me to my face because I was not in step with the truth of the Gospel. (Galatians 2:11,14)
Should we confess our sins to priests?
Repent of your wickedness and pray to God that your sins may be forgiven. (Acts 8:22)
Should we pray to Mary and the saints?
Pray to God. (Acts 8:22)
Can anyone be saved apart from the Lord Jesus Christ?
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
What would you say to Pope Francis who teaches that atheists can follow their conscience into heaven?
“There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” “The ignorant and unstable twist Paul’s letters to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” (2 Peter 2:1; 3:16)
Can anyone be certain that they have inherited eternal life?
God has caused believers to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven and protected by the power of God through faith. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Is it possible for God’s grace or indulgences to be purchased for the remission of sins?
God ransoms us “not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Can a person be born again through water baptism?
The only way to be regenerated is to be “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23)
Should Jesus Christ be made a sin offering during the sacrifice of the Mass?
Christ suffered “once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
Is the Catholic priesthood necessary to mediate between God and man?
Every believer, who is called out of darkness into Christ’s marvelous light, is made a priest for the purpose of offering spiritual sacrifices to God and proclaiming His perfections (1 Peter 2:9).
Should Jesus continue to be pictured as a dead man hanging on a cross or as a baby in Mary’s arms?
The resurrected Christ has “gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” (1 Peter 3:21-22)
What should we do in these days of great deception?
Take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:17-18)
There is a profound contrast between the divinely inspired teachings of Peter and the fallible, ungodly opinions of Pope Francis. The enormous disparity between the instruction of these two men Catholics call “pope” shows how far the Roman Catholic Church has departed from the faith of the apostles. May God give us all a greater compassion for the many victims of religious deception.
- Mike Gendron, Proclaiming the Gospel,
Mike Gendron’s Web Site: - http://www.pro-gospel.org/
In Matthew chapter 16 we see this confession of faith by Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Matthew 16:16. And Jesus told Peter that it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to Peter, but God the Father did!
And then the controversy as Jesus tells Peter, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18.
Let’s first look at this word “church” because this is the first time we see this in the New Testament. It is the Greek word EKKLESIA, (ek-klay-see’-ah) and it speaks of “calling out” and thus, Jesus has called out His Church from this world, to be separated unto Him. I don’t think any of us have a problem here.
The tricky part comes regarding who the Church is built upon. The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Church is built upon Peter. The Scriptures clearly teach that the Church is built upon the proclamation made by Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” You see, the church is built upon Jesus Christ and the fact that He is almighty God, He builds the Church, there is no man who can build His Church and I will show you why I believe this to be true.
First of all the name “Peter” in the Greek is PETROS or a small stone. The Greek word for “Rock” is PETRA or a massive stone! The Church is not to be built upon a small stone; like I have said, no man can build His Church. The Church is to be built upon the ROCK, upon Jesus Christ! Do we really need a church to be built upon a man, the world is filled with that and look at how that is working out!
I do realize that may not be enough for you so let me share a few more things. Who is Jesus speaking to? His disciples and they are Jewish, keep that in mind. As you look throughout the Scriptures, when the word “rock” is used in a figurative sense, it is never used of man; it is always speaking of God! That is important. Jesus does not change that here. Thus, what Jesus is saying is that, “Upon God Himself – upon Jesus, the Son of the Living God – I will build my Church.”
Now for those that think that Peter started the church and he was the first Pope, that is not what the Scriptures teach. Peter never spoke of himself as the foundation of the Church, the rock that the Church was built upon. In Acts 4:11-12 we are told, “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Peter did not call himself this supporting stone but he is speaking of Jesus!
Also, in I Peter 2:4-8 Peter states this fact once again, “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.”
If Peter if was this “living stone” then there is a big problem because we are then all Popes because Peter said that we are all “living stones”! Peter is not saying that the church is built upon him or any other man. The Church is built upon Jesus, the “chief cornerstone”, the “rock.” I hope that is clear, it needs to be or you will end up worshipping a man instead of the Living God!
Search the Scriptures for yourself and not the words of man. God’s Word is truth and it will set you free from the lies that are out there. Please contact me, Pastor Joe at Calvary Chapel of Manitowoc if you have any questions.
As you search the Scriptures God will reveal Himself to you. May you come to know Him as Lord and Savior of your life as you repent of your sins and ask Him into your life. As you do all your sins are cast is far as the east is from the west to be remembered no more. It is finished, the work has been completed by Jesus! (Ephesians 2:8-9)
What the Bible says about . . . “Emergent Church! Not my Church!”
Years ago we saw liberalism sweep through sound, mainline Protestant churches and brought them down. And there was the doubting of the authority of the Bible and from there foundational doctrines began to fall!
You would think we would have learned the lesson, but as you look at what is happening in the church today, we are falling prey to more liberalism and this time it is called - The Emergent Church!
What is this Emergent Church all about? Let me share this with you and you will see how dangerous it really is. We are told,
“The emerging, or emergent, church movement takes its name from the idea that as culture changes, a new church should emerge in response. In this case, it is a response by various church leaders to the current era of post-modernism.
Although post-modernism began in the 1950s, the church didn’t really seek to conform to its tenets until the 1990s. Post-modernism can be thought of as a dissolution of “cold, hard fact” in favor of “warm, fuzzy subjectivity.” The emerging /emergent church movement can be thought of the same way.
The emerging / emergent church movement falls into line with basic post-modernist thinking - it is about experience over reason, subjectivity over objectivity, spirituality over religion, images over words, outward over inward, feelings over truth. . .
For example, because experience is valued more highly than reason, truth becomes relative. Relativism opens up all kinds of problems, as it destroys the standard that the Bible contains absolute truth, negating the belief that biblical truth can be absolute. If the Bible is not our source for absolute truth, and personal experience is allowed to define and interpret what truth actually is, a saving faith in Jesus Christ is rendered meaningless.
Another area where the emerging / emergent church movement has become anti-biblical is its focus on ecumenism. Unity among people coming from different religious backgrounds and diversity in the expression of corporate worship are strong focuses of the emergent church movement. Being ecumenical means that compromise is taking place, and this results in a watering down of Scripture in favor of not offending an apostate.
What the Emergent church has done is take the Word of God out of the hands of the people of God and because of the illiteracy regarding the Bible, aberrant teachings have been brought into the church! And now, if you come against false doctrine, you are unloving, judgmental! How sad that is!
Agree with me or not, I believe that this latest fad in Christianity is bringing about the church of Laodicea or the last days apostate church. I realize that may upset some of you, but look at what they are removing from Christianity!
They are taking away the deity of Jesus, His virgin birth, His atoning sacrifice for the sins of man, His death and resurrection! It is amazing that they still call themselves Christians!
It is interesting how this false doctrine is brought into the church and it is done in such a way that many don’t recognize it until it is too late!
“Is my church going Emergent?” That is what we will be looking at. I am going to share with you some information that can give you an idea if your church is going Emergent. This is from Roger Oakland and he gives to us the following regarding the Emergent Church. He wrote:
What are some signs that my church is going emergent?
- Sound biblical doctrine is dangerous and divisive, and the experiential (i.e., mystical) is given a greater role than doctrine.
- Bible prophecy is no longer taught and is considered a waste of time.
- Israel becomes less and less important and has no biblical significance.
- Eventually the promises for Israel are applied to the church and not Israel (Replacement Theology).
- Bible study is replaced by studying someone’s book and his methods.
- Church health is evaluated on the quantity of people who attend.
- The truth of God’s Word becomes less and less important.
- God’s Word, especially concepts like hell, sin and repentance, is eventually downplayed so the unbeliever is not offended.
Here are some of the warning signs:
- Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.
- The centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.
- More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.
- The teaching that Jesus Christ will rule and reign in a literal millennial period is considered unbiblical and heretical.
- The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.
- The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past.
- An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.
- Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be reinvented in order to provide meaning for this generation.
- The pastor may implement an idea called “ancient-future” or “vintage Christianity” claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.
- While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.
- These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.
- There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.
- Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.
- There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.
- Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave.
I realize that this may be shocking to some of you because you have seen this played out in the church you are going to. And once it starts it seems to move very quickly.
And you need to keep in mind that many times the church won’t admit to being an Emergent Church, but their name may change, their focus may change and now there are books by authors that are truly Emergent in their thinking.
Also, we see leaders within the Seeker-Friendly churches, the Purpose Driven churches are nothing more than Emergent in their teachings!
We see leaders like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Tony Campolo, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, Allen Jones, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Spencer Burke, Marcus Borg, Dave Fleming, Richard Foster, and many, many more.
Walter Martin gave this warning to us and tragically, people were not listening and today, many don’t seem to care. But it is a warning we need to heed. He wrote,
“It is a cult because it follows every outlined structure of cultism; its own revelations; its own gurus, and its denial – systematically - of all sound systematic Christian theology. It is a cult because it passes its leadership on to the next group that takes over - either modifying, expanding or contracting - the same heresies; dressing them up in different language, and passing them on. . . . it denies the authority of Scripture, it ruins its own theology. And it ends in immorality; because the only way you could have gotten to this homosexual, morally relativistic, garbage - which is today in our denominational structures - is if the leadership of those denominations denied the authority of the Scriptures and Jesus Christ as Lord. . . . Test all things; make sure of what is true (see 1 Thessalonians 5:21). I’m not being harsh; I’m not being judgmental. I am being thoroughly, consistently, Christian; in the light of historic theology, and the holy Bible.”
The Bible is very clear that in the last days the church is going to be split into two major divisions, those who follow the Lord and those who follow men. In I Timothy 4:1 we are told, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits, and doctrines of demons.”
And tragically, instead of testing the spirits, we are embracing them because it makes us feel good, even though it is not part of the Word of God! We read books like Jesus Calling, Love Wins, The New Christians and-so-on. We embrace practices like Yoga, the Desert Fathers, the Silence, labyrinths and-so-on. We need to discern between what is of God and what is not!
Listen to what John tells us about testing the spirits and how we can know truth from error. You see, we should not be deceived.
In I John 4:1-6 we are told, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
And yet today, we don’t test the spirits, but we believe what anyone and everyone is telling us except for God. There is a lacking of discernment and if you are struggling in this area today, I would encourage you to search the Scriptures to see if what is being taught in your church is of God or of man!
And I will leave you with this to think about. Jude tells us, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 3.
I pray that you will earnestly contend for the faith that has been entrusted to you. There is a battle going on and if you don’t search the Scriptures, you are going to be in trouble!
Remember, in the Garden of Eden Satan said to Eve, “Has God indeed said?” and he is doing that today and many are listening to him and embracing the doctrines of demons. Be warned, be aware. Love the Lord and His Word and He will guide you in the truth because His Word is truth!
As Jesus said in John 8:32 that if we abide in His Word, that “. . . You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
What the Bible says about . . . The End Times
As you look at the things that are happening in the world, you can clearly see that something big is about to happen, something big on the horizon. The Bible speaks much of the Last Days and yet, many Christians don’t know what this time is all about. Keep in mind that there were over 300 prophecies related to Jesus’ first coming, that He fulfilled down to the tiniest detail. There are over 500 prophecies related to Jesus’ second coming and He will also fulfill those down to the tiniest detail! Nearly every book of the Bible contains prophecy regarding the End Times. So it is important!
This is not going to be an in-depth study on End Times, but it will give you a general overview of this period of time. If you want more information please go to our web site and check out our Daniel, Revelation, I Thessalonians, and our Prophecy Update studies.
The most amazing sign is that of the re-gathering of the Jewish people into the land of Israel. On the heels of their destruction by Hitler and the German’s, the Jews were brought back into the land of Israel on May 14, 1948. This was truly a historic event since the Jews were wandering without a homeland for almost 2,000 years and yet they were preserved as a people and the language they speak today is Hebrew!
On the day they became a nation, the Arab world rose up against them to destroy them. God protected His people and they won not only that war but every war that they have been in since then as the Muslim nations want the Jews wiped off the face of the earth. They are not looking for peace with the Jews, but the destruction of the Jews!
On June 7, 1967, after Jordanian forces joined several Arab countries trying to destroy the Jewish people, they instead were defeated. As Israeli troops moved into the old city and stood at the Western Wall or the Wailing Wall for prayer, Rabbi Shlomo Goren declared: “We have taken the city of God. We are entering the Messianic era for Jewish people, and I promise . . . That what we are responsible for we will take care of.”
The city of Jerusalem was once again reunited and the Star of David flew over the nation’s capital, JERUSALEM! You can read of this promise of God to re-gather the Jews into the land of Israel, bringing them back to life in a sense, in Ezekiel chapter 37.
Sometime before the start of the seven-year Tribulation Period, there will be a war in the Middle East. In this war, found in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, we see Russia and her Muslim allies come down to wipe out the nation of Israel. And as you study these nations, they are Islamic, and the last one to turn to Islam was Turkey! These nations are ready to come against Israel and through what they do, Russia will be drawn into this battle. But God will step in and destroy this army, wipe them out. It is after this event that the seven-year Tribulation Period will begin.
Damascus, one of the oldest cities is still standing. It has not been destroyed yet. Why does it have to be destroyed? Because we are told in Isaiah 17:1 of its destruction. “The burden against Damascus. ‘Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap.’” The Bible states that the destruction of Damascus will be so great that the city will be nothing but a ‘ruinous heap’ after the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy.
Look at the turmoil that is going on in Syria today, the threats they are making towards Israel and the civil war that is going on there. Israel could wipe them out if they threaten them with any chemical or biological warfare!
We are seeing the beginning of the birth pains mentioned in Matthew chapter 24. We see people outside the church, and now within the church, believing they are god. We see wars and rumors of war every day. Famine threatens many people today, pestilences are growing, and we have had more major earthquakes in our recent history than at any other time. These are the beginning of sorrows!
Prior to the start of the Tribulation Period, the Church, the Bride of Christ, will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. You can read of this event called the Rapture in I Thessalonians chapter 4 and I Corinthians chapter 15.
John is a picture of the Church being caught up to meet the Lord in Revelation chapter 4. In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 we see the Church Age. At the close of the Church Age, John is caught up into heaven, just as the Church is caught up to meet the Lord at the close of the Church Age.
Also keep in mind that this world is moving towards a one-world government. The world has been divided up into ten kingdoms already. Back in 1968 the Club of Rome had its beginnings with leaders from ten different countries gathering together looking for solutions to the worlds problems. They claimed to have the answers for peace and prosperity for the world. Then, on September 17, 1973, the Club of Rome released a report entitled “Regionalized and Adaptive Model of the Global World System.”
This document divides the world into ten political/economic regions they call “kingdoms”. This seems to follow the free trade agreements that are being made. This sounds very much like the ten kingdoms that Daniel said would rise up in the last days, the revived Roman Empire! (Daniel 2).
Back on July 18, 1993, CFR member and Trilateralist Henry Kissinger in the Los Angeles Times concerning NAFTA, said, “What Congress will have before it is not a conventional trade agreement but the architecture of a new international system . . . a first step toward a new world order.”
If you still are having a hard time regarding this happening, look at what James Warburg said back on February 17, 1950. Keep in mind that James Warburg was a member of the CFR. Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said these words, “We shall have a world government whether or not you like it – by conquest or consent.”
The Tribulation Period is a two-fold event in that first Christ pouring out His wrath upon a Christ
rejecting world and second God dealing once again with the nation of Israel. You see, as Paul tells us in Romans chapter 9-11, all Israel will be saved one day. I believe this will take place during the
Jesus told the Jewish people in Matthew 23:39, “for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'" I believe this is their petition for the Lord to return as they turn to Him and He forgives them of their sins!
The Tribulation Period is not for the Church. Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:9, “For God did not
appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Revelation 3:10 Jesus said, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” So this day is not for us. It is for those who remain on the earth. Those who rejected Jesus. We will be with the Lord before the Tribulation Period begins.
I believe the Tribulation Period begins with the covenant that the Antichrist makes with the nation of Israel to rebuild their Temple on the Temple Mount. You can read of that in Daniel 9:27. Right now the Palestinians will not let the Jews rebuild their Temple because the Dome of the Rock is located there, a Muslim holy site, or so they say.
In Revelation 11:1-2 John is told to measure the Temple proper and leave out the outer court because it has been given to the Gentiles. If the Temple was built, with the Holy of Holies placed on what is known as the Dome of the Tablets, you would be able to look out from the Holy of Holies, through the east gate, to the Mount of Olives.
According to the Mishnah - the highly esteemed book of Jewish oral traditions - when the priest stood in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he could look through the veil, through the door, and see the Eastern Gate directly before him.
That means that Solomon’s Temple was not located where the Dome of the Rock is located, but to the north, where the Dome of the Tablets is Located. It can be rebuilt and will be rebuilt! The Jews are prepared to rebuild the Temple today. They have the priests to do the sacrifices and the Temple implements and the priestly garments all ready to go. They are just waiting for the word!
In Revelation chapter 6 we see Jesus open the scrolls and as He does the wrath of God is being poured out upon a Christ rejecting world. The first scroll that is opened is the revealing of the Antichrist. I believe he will take, not by force, but that the people will be willing to have this man come and rescue the world from political, economic, nuclear, ecological disasters. He comes on the scene as a man of peace, but his true colors are quickly seen as he starts inflicting his will upon the people, especially the many who have turned to Christ during this period of time. And there will be many. Many who will be put to death for their faith. With the unleashing of these seals, we see war, famine, death, martyrdom, and great cataclysmic events in the heavens and on the earth. One third of the earth’s population will be destroyed in the opening of these seals!
This leads us to the Trumpet Judgments found in Revelation chapters 8 and 9. In these judgments we see one third of the vegetation burned up. We see one third of the sea become blood, affecting life in the sea as well as ships that traverse the oceans. We see one third of the fresh water supply affected and people will die from drinking it. We will see one third of the daylight hours affected.
The last three Trumpet Judgment are called “woes” because they are bad. It is hard to believe they can be worse than what we have seen so far, but they are! The fifth Trumpet Judgment releases demons that have been chained in the pit for this Day of Judgment. They will sting people and for five months people will want to die, but death takes a holiday!
The sixth Trumpet Judgment gives us 200 million more demons to now kill one third of mankind. We have already seen one third of mankind killed in the Seal Judgments, and now the worlds’ population has been decreased by two thirds in these judgments. The seventh Trumpet Judgment will unleash the final judgments, the bowl judgments!
At the midpoint of the seven-year Tribulation Period, we see that Satan and his demons are thrown out of heaven. It is at this point that Satan enters the Antichrist and during the last 3½ years, the people will see his true colors and they are not pretty. Siding with the Antichrist is the False Prophet who gets the world to worship the beast in a one-world religion.
Once the Antichrist gets what he wants, he will destroy this religious system, but he will continue to use the False Prophet for his own gain.
The Bowl Judgments take place at the end of the Tribulation Period. We see sores erupt on people who have taken the Mark of the Beast. This mark is the mark that people will need to buy or sell things. In taking it, the person is making a willful rejection of Jesus and thus they have sealed their fate. The sea becomes blood and every creature in the sea dies. The springs become blood and thus the drinking water is destroyed. The sun will scorch people and it will be so bad that they blaspheme God instead of repenting of their sins! The land becomes dark, and that darkness brings about much pain. They once again did not repent, but blaspheme the God of heaven! The sixth Bowl
Judgment gathers the people together for battle against the Lord. We call this the Battle of Armageddon!
It is at the end of the Tribulation Period that the Lord returns with His Bride, the Church, and He destroys those that have rejected Him. Those that have received Him will enter into the Kingdom Age, or the 1,000-year reign of Christ. God promised that the Messiah would sit upon the Throne of David and that is what will take place. (See II Samuel 7:1-17, Daniel 9:24-27).
Satan is bound in the bottomless pit. The Antichrist and the False Prophet are sent to the Lake of Fire and the rest of those who rejected the Lord are waiting for the final judgment at the end of the Millennial Reign!
After that 1,000-year reign, Satan will be loosed for a short time so that those who were born in the Millennial Reign have a chance to make a choice; the Lord or
Satan. Sadly, some will follow Satan, but Jesus will quickly put down that rebellion. Those that have
rejected Him throughout history will come before Jesus at the Great White Throne Judgment. They will be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity along with Satan. Those who have received Him will enter into the eternal state as God creates a new heaven and a new earth! There will be no more sin, no more sorrow, no more death!
Keep your eyes focused upward. Our redemption is drawing near. May we say as John said, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” MARANATHA! Thus, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.
What the Bible says about . . . The Feasts of Israel
In this study we are going to look at the Feasts of Israel that are spoken of in Leviticus chapter 23. You may be wondering why this is even important to us, but as you will see, it is very important that we not only see what these Feasts were about historically, but also their prophetic significance!
God instructed the children of Israel to observe seven Feasts, of which three occurred in the springtime: The Feast of Passover, The Feast of Unleavened Bread, and The Feast of Firstfruits. There was one Feast that occurred in the summer: The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. Then there were three fall Feasts: The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles.
I believe the Scriptures indicate that the first three Feasts of Israel point to the first coming of Jesus Christ. The fourth Feast points to the Church and what Christ has done to birth and empower the Church. Then the last three Feasts relate to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
So far not too controversial, but let me change that. I believe that the only Feast that relates directly to the Church is the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. The other six Feasts relate to the nation of Israel and what God is doing with His people, the Jews. I realize that some have very strong feelings about the Feast of Trumpets being related to the Rapture of the Church, but as you will see, I don’t believe it fits.
- THE FEAST OF PASSOVER – LEVITICUS 23:4-5
The Feast of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are sometimes used interchangeably for both Feasts, but they are two separate Feasts. The Feast of Passover took place on the 14th of Nisan and it was celebrated to commemorate Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.
God instructed Moses and the children of Israel that each family was to slay a lamb and place the blood of that sacrifice upon the doors of their homes. The pattern He instructed them to follow caused the blood to form a cross, interestingly enough. As they did this, the Lord told them that the Angel of Death would pass over their homes. If they didn’t obey the Lord, then judgment would come in the form of death to the firstborn of that family.
Thus, this Feast looked back historically to how God delivered His people from their bondage in Egypt by the sacrifice of the lamb. But, this feast also looked ahead prophetically to the coming of the Messiah to shed His blood to free the people from their bondage to sin they are in. Thus, as the blood of Jesus is applied to our lives the judgment of God passes over us!
Remember what John the Baptist said as he saw Jesus coming, “. . . ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” John 1:29. Don’t miss the point here. John is saying that Jesus, God incarnate, is THE sacrificial Lamb who did not come to cover our sins but to take them away completely!
Paul picks up on this idea of Jesus being the Passover Lamb when he wrote in I Corinthians 5:7, “ . . . For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” He is our Passover Lamb and by receiving Him into our lives by faith, our sins have been forgiven. You see, the work is done; the gift is there for all to receive it, but not all appropriate that gift into their life by faith!
As we look at the Feast of Passover we see the finished work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary as THE Lamb of God who sacrificed Himself for our sins. In other words, God took our sins and poured them upon Jesus and He took the righteousness of Jesus and poured that upon us! JESUS IS OUR PASSOVER LAMB!
- THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD – LEVITICUS 23:6-8
Beginning on the 15th of Nisan and running for seven days, or the 15th through the 21st of Nisan, was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On the first and last day of this Feast there was a holy convocation. Keep in mind that leaven speaks of sin in the
Scriptures and in this Feast and the Feast of Passover there is no leaven to be found. In fact, before this Feast, they will go through their homes and sweep away any leaven that is found!
Prophetically speaking, many believe this is a picture of the Church, of believers and how they are to walk in holiness, in purity. That is very true and there are many Scriptures that tell us we need to walk in holiness, to be set apart for the Lord. But I don’t believe that is what this Feast is prophetically indicating.
First of all the Church was not born until the Feast of Pentecost. So it would seem strange to call us to holiness when we are not even around yet! Secondly, as good as we think we are, we still sin! When we look at the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, it is a Feast that includes leaven. Why? There is leaven in this Feast because the Church is filled with sinners in a practical sense.
Yes, all our sins are forgiven in a positional sense, but we do still sin in a practical sense, or in our day-to-day lives. John picks up on this when he tells us in I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” And, if you remember, the Feast of Unleavened Bread has no leaven it!
Then what does this mean? Who is it speaking of? Keep in mind that the first three Feasts speak of the first coming of Jesus Christ. Thus, who is the sinless one? It is the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world. It is JESUS CHRIST!
The sinless One who gave His life at 3 pm was placed in the tomb on the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Thus, JESUS IS THE SINLESS ONE. HE IS OUR UNLEAVENED BREAD!
- THE FEASTS OF FIRSTFRUITS – LEVITICUS 23:9-14
The Feast of Firstfruits occurred on the day after the Sabbath or the first Sunday after Passover’s Sabbath. This Feast was the celebration of the barley harvest, not the wheat harvest that took place in May or June. The idea here is that the firstfruits belonged to the Lord and as you gave to Him your best, it would ensure a bountiful harvest. Put God first. You won’t lose when you do that. He deserves our best.
During this Feast the priest would take the first sheaf of barley from the field and waved it as an offering before the Lord. Like I said, it was a token that the first and best belonged to the Lord. It was done before Israel reaped the harvest for themselves.
Now, how does this relate prophetically speaking? If Jesus was crucified on Thursday, the Feast of Passover, if He was placed in the tomb at the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, then the Feast of Firstfruits speaks of His resurrection from the grave, which coincidently occurred on Sunday morning!
Again, this points to the first coming of Jesus Christ, the Feast of Firstfruits. Paul, in I Corinthians 15:20-23 makes this point about Jesus being the firstfruits as He tells us, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.”
Christ is the beginning. He was the firstfruits and there is coming a bountiful resurrection from the dead.word “coming” is PAROUSIA in the Greek and in general terms it speaks of a person’s appearance.But when it is spoken of Christ, it relates to His second coming. Matthew 24:27 tells us, “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” So we will receive our resurrection bodies at the second coming of Christ!
What a glorious truth and what great hope and comfort it gives to us, knowing that since Jesus has been raised from the dead, so too will we one day! JESUS CHRIST IS OUR FIRSTFRUITS OF WHAT IS TO COME – A BOUNTIFUL HARVEST OF SOULS!
- THE FEAST OF PENTECOST – LEVITICUS 23:15-22
We are told that fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits came the Feast of Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks or SHAVOUT. This Feast took place in the month of Sivan on the Jewish calendar, and it corresponds to our May/June, during the wheat harvest. In this Feast they would bring a new grain offering to the Lord and wave two loaves of leaven bread before the Lord. Interestingly enough, in these Feasts, this is the first time leaven is used, and there is an important reason for that, and the first time for two loaves of bread, as we will see.
On this Feast we can read of what took place in Acts 2:4-41. What we see here is the empowering of the Holy Spirit for service upon believers. We see the birth of the Church! The problem here is that, if this is dealing with the Holy Spirit, how can the Feast of Pentecost relate to Jesus? In John 16:7 we are told, “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.” Did you see that? Because of the work Jesus has done and His return to glory, He now sends His Spirit to work in the lives of His people, to empower them for service!
Now, what about those two loaves of leaven bread? What is that all about? Well, we know these two loaves are speaking of the Jews and the Gentiles coming together into one body, the body of Christ. The leaven in the Scriptures speaks of sin in both the Old and New Testament.
The Holy Spirit is showing us that Jewish sinners and Gentile sinners will come together in Christ; this is what makes up the Church – SAVED SINNERS! Think about it. How many of you were sinners? All of you! Great, now how many of you still sin? All of us do and if you refuse to admit it, then you are a liar! We all fall far short of what God desires, but we are forgiven in Christ and called to strive for holiness!
So we see here, as Jesus sends out the Hoy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost, the Church was born - THE FEAST OF PENTECOST!
- THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS – LEVITICUS 23:23-25
The Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, took place on the first day of the month of Tishri on the Jewish ceremonial or religious calendar and thus, it corresponds to our September/October. When the trumpets sounded, it called God’s people together for this celebration. It is also known as the “Day of Judgment” or the “Day of Sounding the Shofar” and the “Day of Remembrance.” As Passover is the start of the religious New Year, Rosh Hashanah is the start of the civil New Year.
Now, why is there such a long period of time between the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets? I believe this period of time is known as the Church Age where God is gathering together a bride for Jesus out of both Jews and Gentiles.
I also believe the Feast of Trumpets does not give to us a picture of the Rapture of the Church, but it does give to us a picture of the second coming of Jesus Christ as He gathers the children of Israel together in Jerusalem. Jesus does this by blowing the trumpet to alert them that the Messiah has come! Thus, I believe that this will take place on the very day the Feast of Trumpets is celebrated as the New Year begins for Israel, a new beginning you might say for them as they come to Jesus! The Feast of Trumpets is the re-gathering of the nation of Israel together before the Lord - THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS!
- THE DAY OF ATONEMENT – LEVITICUS 23:26-32
This is the second of these fall Feasts that began on the 10th day of the 7th month or Tishri, the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. This Feast was more of a day of affliction; affliction over their sin and the need for atonement that could only be made by the shedding of the blood of the sacrifice and the confessing of the sin upon the scapegoat and sending him away into the wilderness, showing that their sins were forgiven.
The picture of Christ is beautiful. He shed His blood for our sins on the cross of Calvary and because of that our sins have been cast as far as the east is from the west to be remembered no more! In other words, our sins were paid in full!
I believe the picture of the Day of Atonement is a picture of Israel’s national repentance., that they receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the atonement that is only found in Him! The picture does fit perfectly. You can read of this in Luke 13:34-35. Here we see Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem for He sees the power of Rome coming down and destroying her and her only hope is Jesus, whom they have rejected.
In less than 40 years from this cry, in 70 A. D., Rome did come down and destroy the city of Jerusalem, scattering the Jews all over the place! As you move down into verse 35, I believe we see the petition of the nation as they call upon the Lord prior to His return at His second coming at the end of the Tribulation Period.
Paul speaks of the repentance of the Jews in Romans 11:25-27. One day they will receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. The nation of Israel will be saved! Also, listen to what we are told in Isaiah 25:9, “And it will be said in that day: ‘Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.’”
Who is their God? Jesus is their God. As you read on you will see that come shinning through. Who have they been waiting for? They have been waiting for the Messiah to come, Jesus! They missed Him the first time but they will receive Him when He comes again. What are they rejoicing in? They are rejoicing in the salvation that the Messiah, that Jesus, brings them, the freedom from sin! The focus here in this verse is the Kingdom Age!
In Zechariah 13:1-6 we are told that the Lord will remove the sins of the Jews. How is that accomplished? Only by receiving Jesus as their Lord and Savior! He concluded in verse 6 by once again speaking of the wounds of the crucifixion that were placed there by the Jews for their rejection of Him!
You can read Daniel 9:24, only one verse, but it is packed with things all related to the nation of Israel in the last days, the Jewish people. This is for the Jews, and the culmination of all things for them will be to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, to anoint the most holy.
So the Day of Atonement is fulfilled at the end of the Tribulation Period at the second coming of Jesus Christ as He will not only judge the Gentile nations but the nation of Israel as well. All those that receive Him will enter into the Kingdom Age with Him, which is pictured in the last of these Feasts, the Feasts of Tabernacles. Thus, the Day of Atonement is fulfilled as the Jews receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior and their sins are forgiven, cast as far as the east is from the west, to be remembered no more! Thus, I believe this will take place on the very DAY OF ATONEMENT!
- THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES – LEVITICUS 23:33-44
This last Feast is called the Feast of Succoth or Tabernacles, also the Feast of Booths, SUCCOTH in Hebrew. It began on the 15th day of the 7th month or Tishri and it lasted for seven days. During this Feast the Jews would live in temporary booths, as they did in the wilderness. It reminded them of how God brought them through those times and into the Promise Land.
I believe the picture here is the future Kingdom Age that God has prepared for Israel and all those who believe. But again, I believe the focus is Israel in the second coming of Jesus! Instead of dwelling in booths, they will dwell with the Lord and in Isaiah 11:6-9 we see a picture of what that period of time will be like.
What a glorious period of time, 1,000 years as righteousness fills this land as our King of kings and Lord of lord’s rules and reigns! It is also worth noting that the Jews added two extra rituals to their celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles to remind them of God’s wilderness blessings. The first was the pouring out of the water from the pool of Siloam, recalling God’s provision of water in the desert; the second was the placing of four large lighted candlesticks to recall the pillar of fire that led the people by night.
Jesus related both of these traditions to Himself. It was during the Feast of Tabernacles, when the water was being poured out, that He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37). He also said to the temple crowd, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12). What a tragedy that the Jews were so careful to maintain their traditions and yet they completely missed the Messiah who was in their midst! I wonder how many people today miss the Messiah because of the traditions they hold on to! The Millennial reign of Christ – THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES!
So we have seen in the Feast of Passover that Jesus is the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world as He was crucified on the Feast of Passover for our sins. He is our Unleavened Bread as the sinless One was placed in the tomb on the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And He is our Firstfruits as He was raised from the dead on that Sunday morning, assuring us that one day we too will be raised from the dead, the Feast of Firstfruits! These are the Spring Feasts.
Then, on the Feast of Pentecost we see the Church burst on the scene in power as Jesus unites both Jew and Gentile into one body, the body of Christ, empowering them for the work of the ministry; to bring the Gospel message to a lost world, The Feast of Pentecost. This is the Summer Feast.
In the Feast of Trumpets, Jesus will gather Jews from all over the world at the end of the Tribulation Period, the Feast of Trumpets. Then, on the Day of Atonement, the Jews as a nation will receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior at the end of the Tribulation Period; they will receive His atonement, the Day of Atonement. Finally, the Feast of Tabernacles, as the Jews will dwell with the Lord in the
Millennial Kingdom, the Kingdom Age for 1,000 years, the Feast of Tabernacles. These are the Fall Feasts.
In all of this we have seen the complete work of God bringing both Jews and Gentiles into the Kingdom Age and to be with the Lord
Jesus Christ for eternity. What an awesome God we have. You see, these Feasts did not just mean something historically, they were not just a ritual that the Jews observed. But it pointed to the future plan of God in which three of those Feasts have been fulfilled in Jesus, the fourth or Pentecost is still being played out as we are in the Church Age and there are three more to come, to be fulfilled in His second coming! THE FEASTS OF ISRAEL!
Indisputable Pro-Choice Argument?
Matt Walsh wrote on his blog:
I couldn’t help but open an email with the subject line: “You’re afraid of this pro-choice argument” Afraid? I’m afraid of a lot of things. Actually, five things: spiders, asteroids, ghosts, head lice, and malaria. But arguments? Especially pro-abortion arguments? Definitely not on the list. I might be frustrated by them; annoyed, angered, even disturbed, but afraid? I don’t think so.
Here’s Rachel, trying to strike fear into my heart:
Dear Matt, ever since I first read your blog I knew you were a cowardly fake. It wasn’t until I started reading some of your anti-choice articles that my suspicions were truly confirmed. You spend a lot of time picking the low hanging fruit. You attack the weakest abortion rights arguments while ignoring the glaring weaknesses in your own position.
If you had the guts or the brains you’d try to respond to the most important abortion rights argument… bodily autonomy or bodily integrity. This means that we have the final jurisdiction over our own bodies. Nobody can claim a right to our body that goes above our own right. Nobody can use our bodies without consent. We cannot be forced to donate organs or blood to someone else. A fetus must survive on a woman’s body so the woman has a right to withdrawal her consent and her body at any time.
This is the pro-choice argument that no anti-choice fanatic… especially one as stubborn and simpleminded as you… could ever possibly dispute. If you still don’t understand, try to imagine this hypothetical…
Imagine that you wake up one morning in a hospital bed. In the bed next to you is a famous singer. He is unconscious and all of these tubes are connected from him to you. A doctor comes in and explains that the singer became sick and you are the only person with the right blood type to match his. They need you to remain hooked up to him until he recovers… they tell you it should only take nine months. Until then, he needs to use all of your organs… your kidneys, liver, lungs, everything… just to survive. If you unplug yourself, he will die. So do you think you are obligated to stay plugged in? Does he have a right to live off of you like this? Should you be FORCED to stay connected to him? That’s what situation the pregnant woman is in. Instead of harping on all of these irrelevant issues, I wish you’d be brave enough to address it from this angle. It is immoral to require a woman to sustain a fetus and it is moral for a woman to make a decision with her body based on what is right for her. How can you argue against this?
But I guess your blog is more about preaching to the choir than actually being intelligent and bold in your writing. What a shame.
You’re right. You win. I have no response. I can’t think of any reason why you’re wrong about any of the points you raised.
Well, I can’t think of any reason — except for, like, ten reasons. So I’ll start with five reasons why that hypothetical is flawed, and move on to five additional reasons why your overall argument is flawed.
Here we go:
- Your analogy is flawed because it presupposes that the relationship between mother and child is no more significant, and carries with it no more responsibility, than the relationship between a person and some random stranger in a hospital bed.
This is absurd. If we’re trying to make this hypothetical as close to pregnancy as possible, shouldn’t the sick singer (or violinist, according to the original iteration of this hypothetical) at least be your child? Your argument doesn’t work because the fact that your child is your child, and not some strange adult from across town, is precisely the point.
Hidden cleverly in this hypothetical is the insinuation that one cannot agree that an unborn child has a right to his mother’s body, without agreeing that anyone in the entire world, in any context, for any reason, at any point, for any period of time, has a right to a woman’s body.
Nice try, Rachel.
Just because a mother is expected to be a mother doesn’t mean she’s also expected to be a slave, a prostitute, and a forced organ donor to talented musical artists. Indeed, the extent of our responsibility to a person hinges in many ways on our relationship to them. You would, I assume, agree that you have a responsibility to your born children, wouldn’t you? And your responsibility to them extends far beyond your responsibility to your neighbor, or your plumber, or your trash collector, doesn’t it? The relationship matters. Your hypothetical fails because it pretends that relationships are irrelevant.
- Your analogy is flawed because it leaves out an important detail: how did the singer become ill in the first place?
Aside from cases of rape, a child is only conceived because two people intentionally committed a particular act which has, literally billions of times, resulted in the conception of a human life.
This singer came down with a terrible sickness. You might feel pity for him, but you didn’t cause him to be sick. You didn’t put him in this state. You had absolutely nothing to do with it. The same cannot be said when a child is conceived.
- Your analogy is flawed because, when framed properly, it doesn’t strengthen your moral position — it defeats it.
The hypothetical should be this: your own child becomes very sick because of something you did. He needs a blood transfusion and you are the only match. Would you refuse to give him your blood because it infringes on your bodily autonomy? Could this be morally justified? You put your kid in the hospital and now you will choose to watch him die because he ‘doesn’t have a right to your blood.’ THIS scenario would be the closest to abortion. And, if you are consistent in your affinity for ‘bodily autonomy,’ you could not criticize parents who’d rather let their child die than be inconvenienced by a blood transfusion.
- But, no matter how you frame the hypothetical, it is still flawed because it ignores one crucial thing: natural order.
An unborn child is exactly where he is supposed to be. He couldn’t possibly be anywhere else. This is the fundamental difference between two people hooked up to machines on a hospital bed, and a ‘fetus’ connected to his mother inside her womb. The former represents unnatural and extraordinary measures, while the latter represents something natural and ordinary. The unborn child is where Nature (or God, as I call Him) intends it to be.
The unborn child is not, in any scientific or medical sense, an intruder or a parasite. These words have meanings, and unborn babies do not fit the bill. They are where they are supposed to be. They are where they belong. A fish belongs in water, just as an unborn child belongs in his mother’s womb.
- Beyond all of these points, the analogy is flawed because abortion is not the same as ‘unplugging’ a person from medical equipment.
It might be quite sanitary and pleasant to refer to abortion as a woman ‘withdrawing support’ from her child, but the procedure goes beyond this. During a ‘termination,’ the baby is actively killed. It is crushed, dismembered, poisoned, or torn apart. It is killed. It is actively, actually, purposefully, intentionally killed.
In fact, even in the original hypothetical — where you’re hooked up to a singer in a hospital bed — while it would be acceptable to unplug yourself, it would NOT be morally or legally permissible to shoot the poor guy in the head. A person’s physical reliance on you does not give you the moral (or legal, usually) right to murder them. ‘Withdrawing support’ is precisely what an abortion isn’t. If it was, then the baby would be delivered and left to die in the corner of the room. Of course, this is how some abortionists conduct business, but it’s illegal. If they’re caught, they go to jail.
- But the bodily autonomy argument is flawed in ways that go beyond that utterly fallacious and misleading hypothetical. It’s flawed because nobody is crazy enough to consistently apply it to pregnant women.
According to bodily autonomy, a mother could not be judged harshly for smoking, drinking, doing coke, and going skydiving (hopefully not all in the same day) while 6 months pregnant. If you really believe that a woman’s body is autonomous — that she has absolute jurisdiction over it — then you must defend a mother who does things that could seriously harm her unborn child, even if she hasn’t chosen to abort it. This is not a slippery slope argument; this is a reasonable and inevitable application of your principle.
- The bodily autonomy argument is flawed because it requires you to support abortion at every stage of development.
I’m throwing this in here because most pro-aborts will not (vocally) defend abortion at 8 or 9 months. But — if bodily autonomy is your claim — you must. Is a woman’s body less autonomous when she’s been pregnant for 35 weeks? There is no way around it: bodily autonomy means that it is moral to kill a fully formed baby, at seven months, or eight months, or nine months.
- The bodily autonomy argument is flawed because you can’t limit it to pregnant women.
You say that our bodies cannot be ‘used’ without our ‘consent.’ Why should this apply only to pregnancy and organ donations? Children, at any age, create profound demands on their parents’ bodies. Whether it’s waking up in the middle of the night for the crying baby, working long hours to pay for their food and clothing, carrying them around when they cannot walk, staying home when you’d like to go out, going out (to bring them to the doctor, or school, or soccer practice) when you’d like to stay in, etc, etc, etc, and so forth. An argument for absolute bodily autonomy means that it can’t be illegal, or considered immoral, for a parent to decline to do any of these things, so long as their decision was made in the name of bodily autonomy.
The Matt Walsh Blog - March 4, 2014
In Psalm 139:13-16 we are told, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”
In Psalm 119:73 we are told, “Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.”
And in Jeremiah 1:5 we are told, “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.”
One of the greatest travesties that has come upon our nation is the 1973 court case of Roe versus Wade that legalized the murder of innocent children in the womb. From that point to March 6, 2014 at 12 noon there have been 57,190,110 abortions, murders done in this country. And in this world, since 1980 until March 6, 2014 there have been 1,287,270,880 abortions or murder committed!
Now you may be taken back by calling abortion “murder” but that is exactly what it is! A baby’s heart starts beating from 14-28 days after conception (usually before the mother even knows she is pregnant). By the 30th day almost every organ has started to form. By six weeks he begins to move his arms and legs. And by 43 days his brain waves can be read. By the time this baby is 8 weeks old, he has his very own fingerprints, he can urinate, make a strong fist, and can feel pain.
According to a London study, “Even the unborn feel pain, according to preliminary evidence by British researchers . . . Fisk and his colleagues found a dramatic rise in fetal stress hormones when they inserted a needle into the fetuses for blood transfusions. This is the same chemical response that occurs when children and adults feel pain.”
We are fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator, let us not take the precious life of an unborn child away by murdering them. The safest place for an unborn child is the mother’s womb, let’s not change that! (John 3:16-21, John 14:6, Romans 3:21, 6:23, 10:9-10)