The Work Of The Holy Spirit

The Work Of The Holy Spirit

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.” (John 16:12–16)

 

 

Note: The reader would do well to first read the following article on the Divine Essence.

 

The Scriptures tell us that the Holy Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), and thus has no beginning or ending. Thus it is when we see the very beginning, we are not surprised to find that the Holy Spirit was active in the Creation. “Inthe beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1–2) When man was created, the Spirit of God was busy. “The Spirit of God hath made me, And the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job 33:4)

We then see the Spirit of God calling men to repentance for a time. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lordsaid, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:1–3) The Scripture later speaks of this as the longsuffering of God (1 Peter 3:20). Jesus also told us that the Spirit would convict men of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11), pointing men to Jesus.

When a person trusts Jesus, the Spirit applies to that person the benefits available to us in Christ. “Through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18) He sanctifies, redeems, justifies, and cleanses us. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11) Taking residence within us, He is the earnest of our inheritance, thus promising to bring to us all of the blessings of Christ in this world and in that which is to come (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Spirit has worked in people, giving them various gifts and skills that they might do the work God desired of them. “And the Lordspake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,” (Exodus 31:1–3) The Spirit was laid upon men for leadership positions also (Numbers 11:16-17;28:17). “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lordcommanded Moses.” (Deuteronomy 34:9) We see similarly in 1 Samuel 10:6;16:13. This continues to this day within the body of Christ, as “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1 Corinthians 12:7 and context) We are warned that we need not think that we can work without the aid of the Holy Spirit. “This is the word of the Lordunto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, Saith the Lordof hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)

The Spirit also guides us (John 16:13;Acts 8:29;10:19;11:12;16:7;21:4) Being omnipresent and omniscient, He is a perfect guide who is always with us. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7–10) In His guidance, He instructs us. “Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations; yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.” (Nehemiah 9:18–20) It is important to note that the Holy Spirit guides us by instructing us. We must never think that our feelings and opinions are important or crucial in being guided by the Spirit, because He directs and guides us by teaching us. Holy Spirit guidance is Word based guidance.

It is very important that we understand that the Spirit is deeply involved in the work and ministry of the Word. We read, “Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, And the man who was raised up on high, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lordspake by me, And his word was in my tongue.” (2 Samuel 23:1–2) Thus, He spoke to the prophets (Cf Ezekiel 2:1-3;Micah 3:8;Zechariah 7:12;1 Peter 1:10-12;2 Peter 1:16-21). We also find that the Holy Spirit was active in giving to us the New Testament. “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:25–26) He was promised to testify of Christ, using the apostles to bear witness (John 15:26-27), which they did (See 2 Peter 3:1-2, where Peter states that the writings of the apostles are of the same authority as those of the Old Testament Scriptures.). Jesus promised that the Spirit would guide us into all truth, telling us things to come (John 16:12-15). We see this throughout the New Testament Scriptures, as the writers often acknowledge their words as being of the Spirit, or God’s Word (1 Corinthians 2:10-14;7:40;1 John 5:6,9;Revelation 1:9-20). In fact, Peter was so bold as to call Paul’s writings by the name “Scripture” (2 Peter 3:14-16), and John placed his writings on the same level as the law (Revelation 22:18-19 Cf Deuteronomy 4:1-2). Yes, the Spirit has given to us the Scriptures we have today.

Not only does the Spirit give to us the Scriptures, but also He helps us understand them. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:9–16) We are taught in the Scriptures that God gives to us understanding (Proverbs 2:1-9;James 1:5;John 16:12-16;Ephesians 1:15-17;2 Timothy 2:7). Because we have the Holy Spirit within us, we can understand the wonderful gifts and words of God to us in the Scriptures.

The Scriptures present to us many promises of the Spirit being poured out upon the earth and upon men. It is then that the earth will be renewed and filled with righteousness and peace (Isaiah 32:15-20;44:1-5;Ezekiel 39:25-29;Joel 2:28-32;Acts 2:17), and men will be transformed. This promise began to be fulfilled on Pentecost (Acts 2), and continues to be fulfilled in everyone who believes to the saving of the soul (Romans 5:5;8:9;1 Corinthians 12:13;Galatians 3:26-29;Ephesians 1:13-14). (See the article The Baptism Of The Spirit.)

When the Spirit comes upon a person, He also indwells him. “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:15–18) This wonderful indwelling of the Spirit is the very presence of both the Father and the Son within us (See Romans 8:9-11, where the Spirit is spoken of as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. See also Colossians 1:27.) Not only so, but the promise of Jesus is that the Spirit will be with us forever. God has promised never to leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6), and His Spirit will ever be within us.

As the Spirit works within the child of God, we have already seen that He instructs us and enlightens us regarding the Word of God; but He also is at work in us to sanctify us. Paul stated, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22–25) The Spirit works within us to give us the will and the power to please God (Philippians 2:13), and He enables us to put to death sinful lusts and live holy to the glory of God (Romans 8:1-14).

The Spirit also assures us of our salvation and son ship. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:12–16) We know that we belong to Christ because of the presence of the Spirit within us transforming us into His likeness (Ephesians 1:13-14;1 John 3:24), and giving to us promise of greater and more perfect things to come (Romans 8:9-11;Galatians 5:5;Titus 2:11-15).

This is but a very small portion of the things that can be written concerning the work of the Holy Spirit within us. It is a beginning for us. Let us search the Scriptures, pleading with God to fulfill His promise of giving to us enlightenment and understanding, so that we might indeed know the things He has freely given to us. “Open thou mine eyes, That I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:18)

 

 

The Presence Of God

The Presence Of God

“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; Even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; But the night shineth as the day: The darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:7–13)

Introduction

The text above presents us with three important things to meditate upon: 

1.     The omnipresence of God: the fact that God is present everywhere.

2.     The comfort of God’s presence.

3.     The awe-inspiring reality of God’s presence.

God’s presence should inspire awe within us, because we know that He is everywhere at all times, seeing all things. There is nothing secret from Him. This should inspire comfort within us as His saints, because God’s presence means that He is with His people to guide, bless, strengthen, and comfort them; and He will eventually bring us into His eternal dwelling place to forever be with Him.

In this study we shall consider that God is omnipresent, that He is always present with His people, that there are warnings regarding losing God’s presence, and the fact that one can be eternally banished from God’s presence.

The Omnipresence Of God

            The Bible begins with the presentation of God as transcending (existing above, exceeding the limits of) time, space, and matter. You ask, “how?” The Scripture tells us that He is before all things, because, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Being the Creator of time, space, and matter, we know that God is greater than these things. 

            Scripture tells us that God lives beyond time and space: “For thus saith the high and lofty One That inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, With him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15) God inhabits eternity. God does not live in time, though He does use time for His purposes (E.g. Psalm 31:15;Ecclesiastes 3:1): God lives in eternity, which is without limits. Not only so, but this also speaks of God living beyond the bounds of space. There are no limits to God’s size: He is eternal. This means that there is no place where He is not present.

            Scripture teaches us of God’s omnipresence when it speaks of God’s being larger than the universe. Solomon spoke of God’s omnipresence by saying that the newly built temple could not hold Him. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (1 Kings 8:27) Though we often speak of God living in the highest of heavens, yet such speech is truly only figurative: the heavens and the highest of heavens cannot hold God, because He transcends space. God led Isaiah to write, “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: Where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, And all those things have been, saith the Lord: But to this man will I look, Even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, And trembleth at my word.” (Isaiah 66:1–2) Here God declares that He is larger than the universe, or created space. A building cannot truly house God, because it would mean that God is limited. God is not limited, but is infinite and eternal: this is why God is omnipresent, because He is beyond the limits of space and time and is present in every place at every moment.

            God’s omnipresence is also one of the reasons that God is spoken of as being omniscient, or all-knowing. The Psalmist spoke of God’s omnipresence and omniscience as being complementary attributes of God (See Psalm 139). Jeremiah was also led to write, “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:23–24) Because God fills the universe, He is able to see and to know all things. For the saint this is comforting (Psalm 139), but for the sinner this should be disturbing (Jeremiah 23:23-24). There is no greater comfort to the saint than knowing that God knew him even before his birth, and will be present with him beyond his death. On the other hand, the sinner should greatly fear, because there is not one thought in his heart, nor one deed that he does that can escape God’s knowledge and judgment. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3) 

God’s Presence With His People

            One precious promise upon which God’s people can always rely is that of His presence with His people. God’s presence with His people is more than the fact that He is everywhere: it means that God intends to bless His people. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) God’s presence with His people is different from His omnipresence in that His presence with His people is always beneficial to them. Some tend to focus on God’s judgment and fail to remember His mercies and His grace; yet we need to recognize that God’s people are not under judgment (See John 3:17-18;Romans 8:1-4), but do forever partake of His grace (Psalm 23:6;Ephesians 2:5-7). It is for this reason that Moses pled for God’s presence to go with the children of Israel and lead them into the land of promise (Exodus 33:12-20). It was also this to which Ezra clung when heading from Babylon back to Jerusalem: “For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.” (Ezra 8:22) So, too, did David trust in this promise, saying, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: What can man do unto me?” (Psalm 118:6)

            Numerous times God has promised His special presence to His people. To Isaac He said, “sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;” (Genesis 26:3) Likewise to Jacob He made the same promise: “And behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” (Genesis 28:15) This same presence was promised to Moses: “And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.” (Exodus 3:12) Joshua was a recipient of this same promise: “And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee.” (Deuteronomy 31:23) Israel was reminded of this once again many years later: “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, And he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt; Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, The Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.” (Isaiah 43:1–3) This same promise has been repeated to the saints in Christ when Jesus said He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20), that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever (John 14:15-18), that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). With this in mind, we should embrace the glorious reality that God is gracious and merciful to His children and will never abandon them, nor leave them alone at any time.

The Warnings Of Losing God’s Presence

            One important thing that we must bear in mind is that God’s promise to His children is that they shall be His forever. We read that the Spirit is within the children of God until the time that He redeems us at the resurrection (Ephesians 1:13-14;Romans 8:9-11). Nothing will pluck us out of the hand of God, Jesus said. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:27–30) God’s power is so strong that there is nothing and no one that can take us out of His hand or cause us to lose His presence with us. This promise is repeated quite strongly by Paul: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35–39) Child of God, never fear! Jesus went to the cross and died for you. He went to the grave and arose for you. His promise is that He will return to take you into His presence forever (John 14:1-3;1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). Such a great love as God has for His saints compels Him to graciously bless us with His presence forever!

            That being said, we must consider the warnings that Scripture gives about losing the presence of God. What do they mean, and to whom do they apply?

            First of all, let us consider Israel, the nation who received the promises of God, and how God promised His presence and yet warned of the loss thereof. 

            1. The promise of God’s presence was given to Abraham when He promised to give him and his seed the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-7). God kept this promise and repeated it to Isaac (Genesis 26:1-3). Samuel reminded rebellious and sinful Israel of this same promise, saying, “For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.” (1 Samuel 12:22) In the midst of great destruction and woe, Jeremiah was reminded of this daily, because He knew Israel was not spared for her faithfulness, but because God remained faithful. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22–23) During the captivity, God did not spare Israel as a nation because they were righteous, but because He was merciful and because He is faithful to His promises. God always keeps His promises and will never leave those who trust in those promises.

            2. God did, however, give warnings regarding the loss of His presence. What does that mean? Consider: “And the spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: and he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:1–2) God warned Israel that they were not to defile themselves (Leviticus 18:24-30;Deuteronomy 28) because they would find themselves being chastened sorely should they do so. They were warned that idolatry would lead to God’s judgment upon them (Joshua 24:19-20). David’s seed received a similar warning (2 Samuel 7:14-16), and he passed it on to Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:1-10). Manasseh was warned likewise (2 Kings 21:10-15). Do these things mean that God contradicted Himself and did actually forsake His people utterly? Not at all, because we read, “I am the Lord, I change not; Therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6) What we can say about this is that God has kept His promise to Israel and never has forsaken them. When Israel sinned, however, God did at times withdraw much of His blessing and they did appear to have been forsaken. One of those times was when Jerusalem was destroyed and many were taken captive into Babylon. It was at this time, however, that we find God promising that He would forever be faithful to His people (Jeremiah 30:1-31:40) and make a new covenant in which their sins would forever be forgotten. Despite the great suffering and heartache that sin brought to them and the judgment that God placed upon them, He remained merciful to them and faithful to the promises He made. 

Banished From God’s Presence

            Scripture tells us that one could descend into hell and that God would even be there (Psalm 139:7-10), yet those who are lost will finally be banished from the presence of God. Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22–23) He stated that, at the great day of judgment, many would hear Him say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matthew 25:41) How can God be present everywhere, even in hell, and yet the sinner be cast into hell and forever banished from His presence? Remember that we saw earlier that God’s presence with His people is a special presence in that it brings His promises and blessings. The lack of God’s presence must certainly bring quite the opposite of blessings. In fact, we find the following said regarding those who will experience God’s judgment: “It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6–10) In other words, those who experience the second death (Revelation 20:11-15) experience the loss of the blessings of God, the loss of God’s mercy, the loss of the pleasure of His glorious saving power, and the loss of the opportunity to glorify and enjoy Him forever. Yes, sinners forfeit the rich blessings of the presence of God refusing to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior! 

The Joys Of The Presence Of God

            Time will not permit, neither can the human mind comprehend the joys of the presence of God. It is this joy, however, that the saint anticipates experiencing in eternity. David said, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11) God is eternally joyful, and so are the joys that are in His presence. Jesus prayed that we would experience God’s presence and joy, saying, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24) We will experience nothing but eternal grace (Ephesians 2:5-7) and the joy-filled love of God forever, when we are taken into His presence. Oh, how we should long for the day that we hear, “enter thou into the joy of thy lord!” (Matthew 25:21) 

Romans 6:1-7 and Baptism

Romans 6:1-7 And Baptism

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:1–7)

Does This Text Speak Of Water Baptism?

Does the above passage speak of water baptism? This passage has been used to show that water baptism shows our identification and participation with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Is this so? Does water baptism cause us to die with Christ and rise to walk in a new life? Does water baptism join us to the local body of Christ? To answer the question concisely, no, it does not. That is what we shall seek to establish in this article.

The first thing that we must do is notice the greater and the immediate context. The greater context shows us that Paul has been teaching the Romans about justification by faith rather than by works (Romans 1:16-17;2:27-30;3:21-28;4:1-5,24-25). The immediate context is that God’s grace in Christ reigns unto life where sin had once reigned unto death. “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20–21)

The opening verse asks if we should continue in sin that we might experience the abundance of God’s grace. After all, where sin is abundant, grace is superabundant (Romans 5:20-21). Yet grace reigns unto life. Grace conquers sin. For this cause we cannot sin in order to continue to receive great grace: we have died and are alive, as we see taught in Romans 5:20-21. God forbid that we think that the gospel encourages sin by giving grace to sinners (Cf Romans 3:1-8), when the gospel is the message of God’s conquering of sin.

The response to the question is that we are dead to sin. How shall those who are dead to sin continue to live in sin? We know that is logically impossible. Scripture tells us that we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) who are crucified with Christ. “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:19–21) We are also risen with Him. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved.)” (Ephesians 2:4–5) (See also Galatians 2:19-21) This came through the grace of God when we believed.

Paul asked the Romans if they were aware that they, by way of being baptized into Christ, died to sin and risen to walk in a new life (Romans 6:3-4). Ask yourself this question: Does water baptism bring about this great change, or is it the free, justifying grace of God in the believer that makes this change? We have already seen that it is the work of free grace that changes us.

Paul continues and tells the Romans that in baptism we share in Christ’s death and resurrection, that the body of sin is destroyed, all to the purpose that we would not serve sin. Does water baptism do all of this? We have already seen that this occurs by the free grace of God when one trusts Jesus and is justified by faith. Furthermore, Paul teaches us in Colossians that it is by the blood of Christ that we are forgiven our sins, rescued from the power of darkness, and made citizens of the kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13-14). This deliverance from sin is the very essence of the doctrine of redemption through grace. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7) The context of this passage speaks of God’s grace in Christ being to God’s glory. We do not contribute anything to our salvation. Redemption and deliverance from sin come because Christ died for us and rose again. This is why God gets the glory and not man (Cf Ephesians 2:8-10).

Then we find that Paul states that the person who is dead is freed from sin (Romans 6:7). Interestingly enough, the word “freed” is the same word that is more often translated “justified.” Dare we say that water baptism justifies us and frees us from sin? Dare we, who contend for the free grace of God in the gospel and justification by faith, proclaim that this is water baptism in Romans 6:1-7, if the text tells us that this great change is wrought by baptism? The Word of God does not allow us to do so.

What Baptism Is This?

If this is not speaking of water baptism, then of what does the text speak? What baptism is this? This can only be the promised baptism of the Spirit. Let us consider what the promise was.

The promised outpouring of the Spirit was to give to God’s people cleansing, new life, and liberation from sin. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.” (Ezekiel 36:25–29) God promised Israel that He would put His Spirit in them, change them, and liberate them from sin. In a similar manner, He said, “Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; Yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: Because the palaces shall be forsaken; The multitude of the city shall be left; The forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, A joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, And the wilderness be a fruitful field, And the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, And righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; And the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, And in sure dwellings, And in quiet resting places;” (Isaiah 32:13–18) Again, notice that there is great liberation from the curse of sin when the promised outpouring of the Spirit comes.

Again he says, “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh: that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19–20) Once more we see that the promise of the Spirit will bring a change of heart in the people so that they will be liberated from sin to serve God. This promise is also given in Joel and fulfilled in Acts 2. “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:16–21) “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:38–40) It is quite evident that the promised gift of the Spirit is given in order that we might be saved, cleansed, delivered, forgiven, and made anew.

Paul spoke of this when he referred to the seal of the Spirit that is given to us: “in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14) This seal is not one such as we think of on a jar of beans, but a seal such as we see when papers are notarized. It is a mark that signifies that something is official or genuine. Thus we read, “And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” (1 John 3:24) The Spirit within us is what signifies that we are God’s children. When we trust Jesus we receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit and the love of God is poured out (See Romans 5:5, where the text tells us it is “shed abroad in our hearts,” or poured out.) in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Thus we see that the baptism which clothes us with Christ (Galatians 3:26-29), buries us and raises us through faith (Colossians 2:12), and causes us to die, buries and raises us, and justifies and liberates us from sin (Romans 6:1-7) is nothing less than the promised baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is given to all who trust Jesus.

God Is Spirit

 

(John 4:24 KJV)  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

 

Introduction

The subject which is at hand is the subject of the spiritual essence of God. God is a spirit.  When we speak of essence we speak of the basic, unchanging nature of something or someone.  Thus, God’s basic, unchanging nature is spirit.  It would be in order at this time to attempt to define, or describe, what is meant by spirit.  In the New Testament, the word spirit comes from the Greek word pneuma,which simply means wind.  It is from this word that we get our English word pneumatic, which means wind powered. Spirit is non-material like the wind.  That is, spirit is not a shape or form that can be perceived by the senses of man.  Spirit cannot be seen, smelled, touched, heard, or tasted.  Spirit may be manifest to the senses by that which is material, but pure spirit is not material.  Thus, when we state that the essence  of God is spiritual, we are saying that the very basic nature of God is not a bodily nature that can be seen, felt, touched, heard, or tasted.

Another thing we need to notice is that, while God may make Himself manifest to us in a variety of ways (the ultimate revelation being Jesus Christ Heb.1:1-3), God, in His essence cannot be perceived by our senses.  He cannot be confined or limited to a body. God transcends (or, rises above, and goes beyond the limits of) that which is material.  God is greater than flesh, or material things. Thus, what we are saying is that, while God may manifest Himself to our senses, He is far greater than the things in which He manifests Himself to us.  God is above a book, a man, a voice, a sight.  God is spirit and is not limited by the constraints of material boundaries.

Lessons From John Chapter One

One of the greatest passages in the Bible that deals with the nature of God is found in John chapter one.  Here much is said concerning who Jesus is, and His existence before the creation.  The passage also tells us that God was manifest in Christ Jesus when He became flesh and lived among us.  From this passage we shall learn several lessons.

The first thing we must notice is the fact that God transcends material existence.  While this has already been mentioned, let us notice the passage which deals with this great truth.  (John 1:1-3 KJV) “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”   The first thing we must notice is, that before everything else, God is. While this may seem to be grammatically incorrect, God is eternal.  There is no past or future with God: He is eternal and lives in the “everlasting now.”  Before there were any angels, before there was an earth, there was God.  We also find (Heb 11:3 KJV) “ Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” In other words, everything that we see about us is a product of the creative power of God.  There’s not one thing that was not made by God. This means that God was before matter.  God is not material: He is pre-material, so to speak.  God created material things.  This being so, God must be something other than matter.  God is spirit.

In John chapter one we also find that God is spoken of as the Word.  A word is “An articulate or vocal sound, or a combination of articulate and vocal sounds, uttered by the human voice, and by custom expressing an idea or ideas; a single component part of human speech or language.” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) When a word is reduced to its basic components, there are two things remaining; the vocal sound , and the thought behind the articulation.  This means that a word is essentially something that is not physical or material.  A word, in its most basic of states is a thought in a mind.  A word, or thought, presupposes intelligence. Now, before there was anything else, there was the Word.  This Word is God.  In the beginning, then, there was simple, pure, eternal intelligence – the Word/God.  This means that, before there was any creation of material things, God is; and this signifies to us that God is spiritual in nature.

John also states, (John 1:4 KJV)  “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”  We also read of Christ , (1 John 1:1,2 KJV)  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;  (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;).  Here we find that God is life.  As we consider what life is, we see that life is not necessarily material in nature.  In fact, life is spiritual in nature. As we read the account of the creation, we find God breathing life into the nostrils of man.  Man had been created from the dust of the ground, but did not live.  God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.  Life came from the spirit of God in man.  James tells us that “the body without the spirit is dead.”  (Jas.2:26)  Solomon stated that both man and beast had the spirit of God in them to give them life (Eccles.3:19-21).  Today we see the manifestation of life in men and in beasts.  We don’t see the life itself, but we do see the manifestation of it.  We can also tell when the life is gone from the bodies of men and beasts.  Job understood that the life which was his own self actually existed independently of his body by the power of God.  He stated, (Job 10:11,12 KJV) “ Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.  Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.”  Job knew that his body was but a dwelling place for the spiritual life which was the true Job. It is the same with all of us. This is why our body is referred to as being a tabernacle, or tent.  (See 2Cor.5:1)  Our body is simply the temporary place in which the spiritual man lives. Thus we see that life is spiritual, and God being the source of all life, and life Himself, is in essence spiritual.

In the passage before us, Jesus is also spoken of as having an existence before He took unto Himself a body.  (John 1:1-4,14 KJV)  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  God took upon Himself the earthly tent of human flesh.  Before this, however, He existed.  Jesus Christ had an eternal existence independent of anything and anyone, and that before He became flesh.  We read in Hebrews 10:8 that a body was prepared for Jesus.  In other words, Jesus existed in His spiritual state before the incarnation (His becoming flesh).  Paul told the Philippian church, (Phil 2:5-8 KJV)  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  Again we see that Jesus existed with the very same nature as God before He was made flesh.  In fact, He was still God after He took upon Himself the human body in which He dwelt for above thirty years.  (Col 2:9 KJV)  “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” He was also still spirit. Just as heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain God (1Kings 8:27), so also an earthly body could not confine Jesus.  This is why Jesus spoke of  Himself as being in Heaven.  (John 1:18 KJV) “ No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”  (John 3:13 KJV) “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”  Jesus, being God, transcends fleshly existence so that, though He dwelt in a body of flesh, He was/is not confined to that body.  While this may be hard to comprehend, let us remember that God does not change (Mal. 3:6;Jas. 1:17), and Jesus was God.  Though Christ can be seen as willingly limiting Himself in some areas (knowledge, for example Mt. 24:36) He was still fully God in human flesh. This means that it was necessary for Christ to have surpassed the mortal, human, physical limitations that you and I have.

God Is Invisible

Another thing that points to the spiritual essence of God is the fact that He is invisible.  Paul speaks of Jesus as(Col 1:15 KJV)  “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.”  God is invisible.  Just as we cannot see the wind, we cannot see God who is spirit.  (John 1:18 KJV) “ No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” He is spoken of as being the one whom no man hath seen, nor can see. (See 1 Tim.6:16) When you consider that even miniscule particles of matter can be seen when aided by a microscope, we understand that God is not made of matter.  He is spirit, which is invisible as the wind is invisible.

What About The Appearances of God?

One thing that may be raised as an objection to the spiritual, or non-corporeal (immaterial, or without a body) nature of God is the fact that there have been times in which God appeared in the form of a man or an angel.  This is a very valid point that must be addressed.  In addressing this issue, two points must be made: one, God cannot be seen of man; two, the manifestation of God to man.

The first point is a reiteration of a point that has already been made: God, as spirit, is invisible and cannot be seen. Added to this is the fact that man cannot see the fulness of God’s glory and live (Ex.33:19-23)  When Isaiah saw the Lord, he fell upon his face confessing that he was a sinful man.  (Isa.6:1-8)  (John 12:41 KJV) “ These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.”  Isaiah did not see God as a bodily essence.  Isaiah saw the magnificence of God shining forth in all of His splendor.  John also stated that“no man hath seen God at any time.” (John 1:18)  God cannot be seen (1Tim. 6:15,16), for God is spirit.

The second point is of great significance. The invisible God has been seen of men.  This is not a contradiction that is found in the Bible.  This is a paradox, or a situation that seems to be a contradiction, but isn’t a genuine contradiction.  We know beyond any shadow of a doubt that the Bible teaches us that God is invisible and cannot be seen.  We also know it to be true that God has manifest Himself to men in visible ways.  Let us now dig a little deeper into this matter.

That God cannot be seen is evident. What, or who, was it that Moses, Isaiah, and others saw, then?  One point that needs to be made is that God, while in essence spirit and not confined to a body, can at times take unto Himself a body.  We know this is so from manifold instances in the Scriptures, and from the fact that Jesus was God in human form.  The basic nature of God is still spiritual when He does appear in a material way.  When Moses saw God, he saw God’s glory.  (Exo 24:11,17 KJV) “ And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.  And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.”  In fact, that was what Moses requested to see in Exodus chapter thirty-three.  (Exo 33:18 KJV)  “And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory.”  While space would not permit an in depth study of the glory of God, we can find from reading Exodus chapters thirty-three and thirty-four that the glory of God is the beauty of His nature, character, and attributes.  Moses saw the beauty of God in His person more than His physical appearance.  You see, when God appeared to men, it was not for the purpose of demonstrating to them His looks.  God has never appeared to man in such a fashion as for man to get a good picture of a physical appearance.  There is a reason for this: God knew man would make an image of what he saw if God appeared to Him in such a way.  (Deu 4:15-19 KJV)  “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:  Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,  The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,  The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:  And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.” 

God appeared for the purpose of communicating with man.  From the time God met with Adam in the garden till the time Jesus came, God’s appearances were for the purpose of revealing His will, way and purpose to man.  (See Hebrews 1:1-3;2:1-4;12:25-27 for examples and teaching concerning this truth)  Jesus Himself is the Word of God.  He is the eternal Word, yet He is the revealed Word, too.  (John 1:18 KJV)  “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”   Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God to sinful man.  Jesus manifest God to us.

All the while that God has manifest Himself to us, however, He has manifest His word, will, way, character, and glory.  While God by nature is invisible, to communicate with man, He must appeal to the senses which He has given man.  Man’s main avenues of perceiving facts are seeing and hearing. The manifestation of God to man has been through these avenues.  Man cannot perceive that which is not presented to his senses.  Thus God has revealed Himself to us.  While God has thus manifested Himself to us, believe it or not, in so doing He has hidden Himself from us.  God is so great that He fills Heaven and earth. (Jer 23:24 KJV)  “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.”  Again, this shows us why God must be spirit, and not confined to a body.  He fills Heaven and earth.  God transcends material existence.  God also, by manifesting Himself to us through that which is material, has not shown us many things about Himself.  Just as the natural creation cannot show all the glory of God, even more so is a human body unable to show the fulness of God.  As Habakkuk saw the glory of God, he realized that, while God revealed much about His greatness, much was hidden from man. Man does not have the capacity to receive unlimited knowledge.  If God were to fully reveal Himself to us, He would be giving unlimited knowledge to finite man.  God is so great that, when He reveals Himself to us, there is so much more that is not revealed that it is, as it were, hidden.  (Hab 3:3,4 KJV)  “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.  And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.”  What a revelation of how great God is!  He cannot be fully manifest by anything material, nor comprehended fully by the human mind!  (Job 26:14 KJV)  “Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?”

Another objection that is raised is the fact that God is spoken of as having bodily parts.  (See Isa.51:9;53:1 the arm of the Lord; Deut.8:3;Isa.1:20 the mouth of the Lord; 2Chron.16:9; Ps.33:18 the eye of the Lord; Ex.7:5; Ps. 75:8;Isa.62:8 the hand of the Lord)  Again, this is a good point that must be addressed.  One cannot assert one truth to the exclusion of another.  What is meant by these statements if God is spirit and not material?  This writer is convinced that these are anthropomorphisms, or an interpretation of what is not human in terms of human characteristics.  In other words, these references are God’s means of taking the truths of His greatness and communicating them to us in words and terms to which we can relate.  In other words, while God does not have hands, eyes, ears, or any other bodily parts, He speaks of Himself as having these terms so we can grasp the truth He is presenting about Himself.  This may be compared to adults talking “baby talk” to children so that the child can understand what is being said.  This is an accommodation to the infirmity of humans.  These statements that portray God as having bodily features are God “lisping” as He speaks to us, that we might know Him better.  Remember, God is first, foremost, and eternally spirit.  We must allow every other representation of God to fit within this framework, or else we misrepresent God.

Making God in Our Own Image?

There is a clear danger to be seen in believing that God has always inhabited a material body such as we have.  That danger is the possibility of idolatry.  Man has an incredible tendency to create an idol, even if that idol is in his own mind and not a physical reality.  (Let us not forget that covetousness is idolatry Col. 3:5)  This is the reason God did not appear to Israel in any bodily manner at Mt. Sinai.  The Lord knew that, if Israel saw a bodily representation of God, they would make an image of that appearance of God, and worship the image instead of God.  It is probably for this same reason that the manifestation of God at other times was so awe-inspiring, fear inducing, and the message and character of God overshadowed the physical appearance which was before men.

Paul told the Roman church that the condemnation of the human race came because men did not give God the glory due Him.  In fact, they lowered God by trading His magnificence for an image that was like men (See Rom.1:18-23).  They actually decided to make God in their own image!  In doing so they tried to elevate man, and obscured the glory of God.  God simply cannot be fully represented by or in anything material.  God is spirit and transcends material existence.  The Lord complained of the Israelites, “thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” (Ps. 50:21)  God is not like we are.  We made in the image of God, but God is so much greater than we that we will never measure up to what God is.   If we could, then we would be God, and that is an impossibility.

Finally, we must see that this truth carries great implications for our worship.  (John 4:24 KJV)  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  Many times we think of worship as something we do in the flesh.  Worship is spiritual because God is spirit.  God does not need anything from us (See Ps.50:9-15,22,23; Acts 17:22-31).  He does not hunger, thirst, or suffer need of any kind.  He is self-sufficient and all sufficient. God has no bodily passions or desires to be fulfilled either.  Worship is spiritual in our giving Him the honor that is His due.  He is worthy of our praise.  Remember that God rebuked the Pharisees for their fleshly worship saying, (Mat 15:7-9KJV)  “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,  This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”  True worship is the acknowledging the worth of God.  While it may manifest itself by deeds done in the flesh, worship is spiritual because God is spirit.  If we consider God to be flesh, we will worship Him in a way that corresponds to our belief.  We will seek to present fleshly worship, because we feel that is how God is to be approached.  Knowing that God is spirit, we can come to Him at all times, at any place and worship Him from the depths of our hearts.  Worship is not about Mt. Gerizim or Jerusalem, Samaritan or Jew, black or white.  Worship is to be in spirit and in truth.  Worship must conform to the truth of who God is.  When we recognize the infinite glory of God in His spiritual essence and praise Him for that greatness, we have worshipped in spirit and in truth.  (John 4:24 KJV)  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of The Divine Essence

Of The Divine Essence

“We believe in one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in essence, equal in power and glory.”[1]

 

What do we mean when we say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the same in essence? What is this essence? This terminology began to be used in the early centuries of the church when a man named Arius declared that the Son of God had a beginning, and that there was a time when the Son of God did not exist. A man named Athanasius stood up to combat this heresy. Athanasius said, “The Word who admittedly gives life and order to, and is in, the whole, must also be in the part; and in a part He manifested Himself—namely, in a human body. He gives life and being to everything, yet is essentially distinct from creation, being one in essence with the Father only.[2]The Son, Athanasius declared, is one in essence with the Father. The essence speaks of being. It speaks to us of nature and character. When we say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the same in essence, we are saying along with Christians of many centuries that they are the same being and of the same nature and character.

While it is indeed obvious that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons, it is often difficult to see that they are one essence, being, or character. Let us consider the following:

  • The Father is God: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11)
  • The Son is God: “Inthe beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1–3)

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)

  • The Holy Spirit is God: “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:3–4)

 

What we mean when we say this is that each of the Divine persons is of the same being, nature and character. Thus, if we say that God is eternal, we must say that the Father is eternal (Deuteronomy 32:39-41;Matthew 6:13). We must also say that the Son is eternal (John 1:1-3;Colossians 1:15-17;1 John 1:1-4). Then we must also say that the Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14). Thus, the essence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one.

It is necessary that we maintain this, because the Scriptures present us only one God. From the very beginning we are taught that the one true God created all things. It is He who said to Israel, “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lordthy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1–3) Again, “Hear, O Israel: The Lordour God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lordthy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5) There is only one God, and must worship only one God. God’s holy and righteous jealousy demands that (Exodus 20:1-7; 34:14). We do not worship three different Gods; but we do worship one God who subsists[3]in three distinct persons. Thus, to worship the Son as God is not to be a polytheist who is provoking God to jealousy. Neither is it sinful to say that Christ is in us (Colossians 1:27), when we are speaking of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling (Ephesians 1:12-14). Nor is it wickedness to call the Holy Spirit God, as though we were claiming that the Holy Spirit is a separate God from the Father; because we know that the Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of Him who raised up Christ from the dead (Romans 8:9-11). To worship God is to worship the three persons of God. We believe in the Trinity, the three-in-one God, the God who is three persons in one essence. To do otherwise would be to worship a god who is a figment of our sinful imaginations, as Scripture presents us three persons who are all God, and are the same in essence.

Finally, if the three persons are not of the same essence, then which is the God of our salvation? God is the only Savior, we find. “Tell ye, and bring them near; Yea, let them take counsel together: Who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? Have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; A just God and a saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: For I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, The word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall swear.” (Isaiah 45:21–23) Yet we also read that Jesus is our Savior: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) (See also 1 Timothy 1:15;Titus 2:13.) Then we read of the Holy Spirit in relationship to our salvation. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” (2 Thessalonians 2:13) Either the Bible is inconsistent and contradictory in claiming that all three persons are our Savior, or the Bible is teaching us that all three of the persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are equally God, being the same in essence. It is imperative for us and for our salvation that we believe that there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one in essence, equal in power and glory.

To Him alone be the glory.

 

 

 

 

[1]Statement of Principles, Louisiana State/State Line Association Of Regular Baptist Churches.

[2]Athanasius of Alexandria, Athanasius: On the Incarnation of the Word of God, trans. T. Herbert Bindley, Second Edition Revised (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1903), 15–16.

[3]Subsist- to be, to exist

Is The Baptism With The Holy Spirit A Second Blessing?

Baptism With Spirit Second Blessing or not

Is The Baptism With The Holy Spirit A Second Blessing?

(Note that much of this material has been imported from the author’s article on The Baptism With The Holy Spirit.)

The issue that is before us is an issue that is of great importance to the Christian Church today.  For approximately one hundred years there has been a movement that seems to major on emphasizing the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of saints.  Many (possibly most) of those who are involved in this movement believe “in the baptism with the Holy Ghost subsequent to a clean heart.”  (See http://www.churchofgod.org/about/declaration_of_faith.cfm)  In other words, the belief is that one is baptized with the Holy Spirit after they are saved.  The question that we must ask the Scriptures is whether or not this doctrine is true.

The Seal of The Spirit

“After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”  (Eph 1:13,14 ) KJV 

What is the sealing of the Spirit?  Often we think of the seal in the terms of a seal on a jar, or on an envelope.  We think of it in terms of security.  The context speaks to us of security.  We must, however, take Biblical terms and use them in the manner for which they are intended and not go halfway with them.  The seal is the Spirit.  There is security provided by the Spirit being our seal. The Spirit seals us until Christ comes to redeem our vile bodies and make them like His glorious body (See Php 3:20,21; 1Pet 1:3-9; Rom 8:23).  The seal is something that is enduring, however, it is not a seal of the jar lid sort.  The seal is a sign of authenticity.  It bespeaks of the genuine nature of that which is sealed.  For instance, if I were to buy a car, I would receive a bill of sale.  The bill of sale needs to be notarized before I can register the car in my name. When I get the bill of sale notarized, it is stamped with the “Great Seal of The State of _____________.” The seal is placed on the bill of sale to authenticate that it is a document that is genuine and not a forgery.  In Jesus’ day, the seal was usually made in wax by impressing it with a signet ring. That ring had a particular motif that was unique to the authority who owned it.  Thus, when a seal was set on the tomb of Jesus, it was declared off limits by the authorities.  The seal declared that the order to not open the tomb was an official government order.  When a child of God believes the gospel and is saved, he is sealed with the Spirit which God promised in the Old Testament.  Remember, Paul stated that the seal was with the Holy Spirit of promise. The Spirit within us testifies to the authenticity of our faith.

What did the Old Testament Scriptures promise us concerning the Spirit of God?  We must learn this to know what the sealing with the Spirit of promise is and what it means to us.  Let us look at some of the places where we can read of God’s promise of the Holy Spirit.  (For a more extensive treatment of this promise see the authors article “The Baptism With The Spirit.“)  Below are several passages that present to us the promise of the Holy Spirit.

Isa 44:1-8 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.  For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.  One shall say, I am the LORD’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.  Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. (KJV)

In this passage, we have a promise of the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the people of Israel.  The promise from God is a promise that in that day He will deliver and bless His people, and the people would take the name of the LORD unto them.  That is, they would declare Him to be their God and their spiritual husband.  (Compare this with Acts 2:38 and the command to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  This is nothing more than a call for them to identify themselves with the Christ who had poured out the Spirit in fulfillment of the above prophecy.  What a marked contrast between this simple truth and the heresy of “One-ness” professors!) John was telling the people that the promised redeemer was coming to save Israel.  The baptism of the Holy Ghost is a fulfillment of God’s promise.

Ezek 11:19-20  And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (KJV)Ezek 36:25-26 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.   A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (KJV)

Note that once again we have before us a promise of God giving His Spirit.  This promise is to the end that men would be changed to ones who would love and worship God instead of idols.

Zech 12:9-10  And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.   And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (KJV)

Here, too, we have a promise of God pouring out His Spirit upon His people at the time of the end.  At this time they shall be delivered, restored, and saved.

After many years of expecting God to send His blessing and John declaring that the blessing was at hand, Jesus stated that the blessing of the outpouring of the Spirit was near.  Jesus stated before He ascended to Heaven, Acts 1:4  wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. (KJV)  Luke 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.  (KJV)    Jesus let His disciples know that God was soon to fulfill the promise that He had given them so many years before. Finally, on the day of Pentecost, it came.  Acts 2:1-4  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.   And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.   And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (KJV)

Acts 2:16-21  But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;   And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:   And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:   And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:   The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come   And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (KJV)  The Holy Spirit fell upon the people and they were baptized in the Spirit.  As the saints began to praise God, some observers mocked and stated that the saints were drunken. Peter’s defense was two-fold: it was too early in the morning to be drunken, and this was the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise that God had given.  The PROMISE had arrived!

The wonderful thing about this blessing is the fact that it is a universal promise.  The promise is available to all who call upon the name of the Lord. This statement is a quote of Joel 2:28.  Peter mentioned that the outpouring of the Spirit was in fulfillment of the promise in Joel 2. He also told those men to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.  This is especially interesting to note when you contrast the present day misrepresentation of Acts 2:38 which people use to teach baptism in Jesus’ name in order to obtain the forgiveness of sins.  One thing is certain, Acts 2:38 does not contradict the plain statement “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  When Peter said, Acts 2:38  Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  (KJV) he was simply stating that men must receive Jesus as the Christ and embrace Him as the true King of Israel.  Not only so, but one of the things that is characteristic of those upon whom the Spirit is come is the fact that they identify themselves with the Lord who poured out His Spirit  (See Isa 44:5).  If this is characteristic of those who have received the promise, is it any wonder that Peter would tell the Jews who rejected Christ that they must repent, accept Jesus as their Messiah, and identify themselves with Christ to be saved?  Salvation is not through the identifying, but those who deny the Lord are denied of Him (See Matt 10:32,33).  No one need think himself to be forgiven of sin if he will not confess Jesus as the Christ and as his savior. This is simply another part of Scripture being fulfilled which says, Isa 44:3-5 I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:   And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.  One shall say, I am the LORD’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel. (KJV)

Seeing that the Holy Spirit of promise is the seal (sign of the genuine nature) of our redemption, and that the promise of the Spirit is to everyone who believes Jesus, we must ask ourselves one more question. That question is this: when does the believer receive the seal of the Spirit?  Is it received simultaneously with regeneration, or is it sometime subsequent to the new birth?  The text that states to us that the Spirit is the seal of our redemption sets the time of the sealing, too.  Eph 1:13 after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.  (KJV)  The apostle Paul asked the question of the Galatians, Gal 3:2  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  (KJV)  Paul reminded the Galatians that their receiving of the Spirit and blessing came through faith, not works of the law.  He also told them that the reason Jesus died was that we could receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  Gal 3:13-14  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  (KJV)  Finally, Paul lets us know that this receiving of the Spirit was not an indwelling alone, but a baptism.  Gal 3:26-29 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (KJV)   It is important to note that the baptism in Gal 3:27 is of necessity a Spirit baptism.  The word “for” is a word that joins the statement to be made with the foregone statements.  We have believed in Christ and have put on Christ when we were baptized with the Spirit into Christ.  This baptism happens when we become children of God by faith in Christ. In Christ there is equality and no distinctions.  (This would not be so if the baptism were water baptism into the local body, for we know that God has placed different people in different positions of authority in the local body.)  This baptism is part and parcel of our belonging to Christ and being of Abraham’s seed.  In short, the baptism of the Spirit comes to everyone who believes in Christ to the saving of his soul: and that according to the promise of God of which we have already studied. As a matter of fact, we are told that the only ones who do not have the Spirit of God are the ones who are not saved.   Rom 8:9 Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (KJV)  It can be safely concluded, then, that the baptism with the Holy Ghost is not a “second blessing” but occurs at the very moment one believes and is born again.

 

 

A Consideration of Two Texts That Seem to Support The Doctrine of The Second Blessing

The following passages seem to support the doctrine of the second blessing.  The question we must ask is, “Do they indeed support the doctrine of the second blessing?” The first thing we must note is the fact that it has already been determined from the Scriptures that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is not a second blessing.  At the same time, we must do justice to hard texts that seem to point in the other direction.  They cannot be dismissed.  Let us now examine these two texts.

Acts 8:14-17  Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:  Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)   Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (KJV)  As we study this passage we must first understand the context.  The disciples had stayed in Jerusalem until persecution caused many of them to flee to other places.  As they fled, they preached.  As they preached, people were converted.  In Samaria folks believed on Jesus.  Let us not forget that the Samaritans and Jews were not friendly to one another.  We must also recall that the Jewish people had a very strong spirit of nationalism, and especially was it strong in relation to their religious views.  The Scriptures show us evidence that it was difficult for the early church to accept that there were those who were not of Jewish descent who could be saved.  It is no wonder that, when the church at Jerusalem heard of converts at Samaria, they sent some down to look into the matter.  When Peter and John arrived in Samaria, they prayed for the new converts and laid their hands upon them.  When this was done, the Samaritan believers received the gift of the Spirit.

Why did this happen in this manner, and what did it signify? First of all, this happening demonstrated to the Samaritans their acceptance into the body of Christ. They were received as true Christians by the apostles who were chosen by Christ to be His witnesses.  There should be no doubt that this caused them much comfort.  Not only so, but this action demonstrated that the apostles and the Jerusalem church were willing to share the honor of the gifts of the Spirit with the Samaritans.  The laying on of hands signified their willingness to share with the Samaritans the blessings that they had enjoyed because of Jesus (compare Num 27:18-23). This happening was not something that was normal.  In other words, we need not expect the coming of the Spirit to happen in this manner as a matter of course.  These events happened in this manner because God was working through this to emphasize the unity that is in the body of Christ.  This unity was taught by Paul when he said,“ As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.   For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”  (1 Cor 12:12,13)  KJV 

Acts 19:1-7  And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,  He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.   And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.   Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.   When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.   And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.   And all the men were about twelve.  (KJV)  What happened here?  First of all, we must see that these disciples were ignorant of the Holy Ghost.  How could that be?  If there baptized with John’s baptism, or unto John’s baptism, they should have heard of the Holy Spirit.  John preached and told men that they should believe on Jesus, who would baptize them with the Holy Ghost (Matt 3:11,12).  The preaching of John was calculated to lead men to faith in Jesus. It is obvious that these people had not heard the gospel message correctly.  Because of this, they did not receive Jesus as their savior.  They were not true disciples of Christ.  Having heard the truth, they evidently embraced it, as they were baptized into Christ.  After that, Paul laid hands on them and they received the Spirit.  This happening can easily be explained by the fact that the laying on of hands and the receiving of the Spirit happened for the purpose of giving these people the assurance that they needed that their faith was indeed genuine and was honored by God.

While these may not be what some would call “water tight” explanations, we can at least say that they are as plausible as any other we know of. These explanations also seem to fit well with the facts that we know.  What we must realize is that passages such as these do not change the fact that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not a second blessing, but occurs when one is converted.  The occasional obscure passage must never be used to negate that which is plain and easily understood.

 

 

 

 

 

The Baptism with The Holy Spirit

Baptism With Spirit

Matt 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.

(KJV)

 

John the Baptist came as a herald of the Christ.  His preaching was filled with promise of the Messiah’s coming.  As he preached to the people and baptized those who repented, John told them that the Christ was coming to baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.  What is this baptism with the Holy Ghost?

One thing we must notice is that this baptism is a baptism with the Holy Ghost, or inthe Holy Ghost.    Many times people speak of the baptism of the Holy Ghost as if the Holy Spirit did the baptizing.  In reality, Jesus does the baptizing.  “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” (Matt 3:11)  The work of the baptism of the Holy Ghost is the work of Christ.

The Promise

As John spoke to the people, his preaching was a familiar theme.  That theme was concerning the coming King of Israel.  John told the people that he came in fulfillment of Isa 40:1-8.  John’s ministry was in accord with Old Testament prophecy.  Part of the prophecy concerning John’s ministry was that he would tell the people that only God and His word would endure.  Included in this message was the fact that the Spirit of the LORD would blow upon men and they would perish.  With this in mind we can see that John’s preaching about Jesus baptizing with the Holy Ghost was preaching that pointed men to the Scriptures and promises about the work of the Christ.

As we read the word of God we find that the Spirit is spoken of as “that holy Spirit of promise.” (Eph 1:13)  The Holy Ghost came according to the promise of God.  We find this promise several times in the writings of Isaiah the prophet: Isa 32:13-18  Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:  Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;  Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.  And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.  And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (KJV)  This prophecy speaks of the fact that God would pour out His Spirit on the people and that it would have an amazing effect upon the whole of creation.  The effects of the pouring out of the Spirit would be seen in the reign of righteousness in the lives of men and in the earth.  When John the Baptist preached that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost, the people knew that he was speaking of the work of the promised Messiah who would come to rule the earth in righteousness and give peace to His people.

Isa 44:1-8 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.  For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.  One shall say, I am the LORD’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.  Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. (KJV) Again, in this passage we have a promise of the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the people of Israel.  The promise from God is a promise that in that day He will deliver and bless His people, and the people would take the name of the LORD unto them.  That is, they would declare Him to be their God and their spiritual husband.  (Compare this with Acts 2:38 and the command to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  This is nothing more than a call for them to identify themselves with the Christ who had poured out the Spirit in fulfillment of the above prophecy.  What a marked contrast between this simple truth and the heresy of “One-ness” believers!)  John was telling the people that the promised redeemer was coming to save Israel.  The baptism of the Holy Ghost is a fulfillment of God’s promise.

Ezek 11:19-20  And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (KJV)Ezek 36:25-26  Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.   A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (KJV) Note that once again we have before us a promise of God giving His Spirit.  This promise is to the end that men would be changed to ones who would love and worship God instead of idols.

Ezek 37:12-14  Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.  And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,  And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.  (KJV) Here, too we have a prophecy that God will restore Israel and pour His Spirit out upon them.  This promise speaks of the future of Israel when the LORD returns to raise the dead and to rule in the earth.

Zech 12:9-10  And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.   And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (KJV) Once again we have a promise of God pouring out His Spirit upon His people at the time of the end.  At this time they shall be delivered, restored, and saved.

It is abundantly evident from the Scriptures which are before us that John’s preaching was preaching that would resonate with the people.  It was doctrine that they would recognize because they were familiar with it.  The King was coming. Their deliverer and Savior was near.  The Kingdom of Heaven was indeed at hand.  The promise of the outpouring of the Spirit was an Old Testament promise that was indeed gospel (good news) to the people.  When the Messiah poured His Spirit upon the people, sin would be forgiven, captives would be set free, and the world would be changed into a righteous habitation.

 

The Promise Fulfilled

Acts 2:1-4   And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.   And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.   And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.   And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (KJV)  Acts 2:16-21   But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;   And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:   And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:   And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:   The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (KJV) Acts 2:36-38   Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.   Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?   Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  (KJV)After many years of expecting God to send His blessing and John declaring that the blessing was at hand, Jesus stated that the blessing of the outpouring of the Spirit was near.  Jesus stated before He ascended to Heaven, Acts 1:4  wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. (KJV)  Luke 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.  (KJV)    Jesus let His disciples know that God was soon to fulfill the promise that He had given them so many years before. Finally, on the day of Pentecost, it came.  The Holy Spirit fell upon the people and they were baptized in the Spirit.  As the saints began to praise God, some observers mocked and stated that the saints were drunken.  Peter’s defense was two-fold: it was too early in the morning to be drunken, and this was the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise that God had given.  The PROMISE had arrived!

The wonderful thing about this blessing is the fact that it is a universal promise.  The promise is available to all who call upon the name of the Lord.  This statement is a quote of Joel 2:28.  Peter mentioned that the outpouring of the Spirit was in fulfillment of the promise in Joel 2.  He also told those men to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.  This is especially interesting to note when you contrast the present day misrepresentation of Acts 2:38 which people use to teach baptism in Jesus’ name in order to obtain the forgiveness of sins.  One thing is certain, Acts 2:38 does not contradict the plain statement “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  When Peter said, Acts 2:38  Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (KJV) he was simply stating that men must receive Jesus as the Christ and embrace Him as the true King of Israel.              Not only so, but one of the things that is characteristic of those upon whom the Spirit is come is the fact that they identify themselves with the Lord who poured out His Spirit  (See Isa 44:5).  If this is characteristic of those who have received the promise, is it any wonder that Peter would tell the Jews who rejected Christ that they must repent, accept Jesus as their Messiah, and identify themselves with Christ to be saved?  Salvation is not through the identifying, but those who deny the Lord are denied of Him (See Matt 10:32,33).  No one need think himself to be forgiven of sin if he will not confess Jesus as the Christ and as his savior. This is simply another part of Scripture being fulfilled which says, Isa 44:3-5 I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:   And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.  One shall say, I am the LORD’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel. (KJV)           

Another place where we see the promise fulfilled is Acts 10.  In this chapter Cornelius had sent for Peter to come and preach for them.  He and his family needed the Gospel, and God arranged for Peter to go and preach to them.  Peter preached and told them that Jesus was the one who would forgive them of their sins and justify them.  Acts 10:44-48  While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.  (KJV)  At this time the church was still a Jewish church.  Peter was called into question about having fellowship with Gentile people.  His defense was this, Acts 11:15-18  As I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.   Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.   Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?   When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.  (KJV)  At this point we simply need to see that the Gentiles received the same promisethat the Jews received.  God had kept His promise to pour out His Spirit upon His people and to save all those who call upon Him.

The Baptism With The Holy Ghost Today

            The final question that needs to be asked is, “What is the relevance and significance of this doctrine for us today?”

Paul said, Eph 1:13-14  after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.  (KJV)  What is the sealing of the Spirit?  Often we think of the seal in the terms of a seal on a jar, or on an envelope.  We think of it in terms of security.  The context speaks to us of security.  We must, however, take Biblical terms and use them in the manner for which they are intended and not go halfway with them.  The seal is the Spirit.  There is security provided by the Spirit being our seal. The Spirit seals us until Christ comes to redeem our vile bodies and make them like His glorious body (See Php 3:20,21; 1Pet 1:3-9; Rom 8:23).  The seal is something that is enduring, however, it is not a seal of the jar lid sort.  The seal is a sign of authenticity.  It bespeaks of the genuine nature of that which is sealed.  For instance, if I were to buy a car, I would receive a bill of sale.  The bill of sale needs to be notarized before I go register the car in my name. When I get the bill of sale notarized, it is stamped with the “Great Seal of The State of _____________.” The seal is placed on the bill of sale to authenticate that it is a document that is genuine and not a forgery.  In Jesus’ day, the seal was usually made in wax by impressing it with a signet ring. That ring had a particular motif that was unique to the authority who owned it.  Thus, when a seal was set on the tomb of Jesus, it was declared off limits by the authorities.  The seal declared that the order to not open the tomb was an official government order.  So, when a child of God believes the gospel and is saved, he is sealed with the baptism of the Spirit whom God promised in the Old Testament.  Remember, Paul stated that the seal was with the Holy Spirit of promise.  The Spirit within us testifies to the authenticity of our faith.

As the great apostle Paul spoke to the Galatian churches, he reminded them of this same truth.  His aim was to defend the truth of justification by faith. For this reason he asked the question, Gal 3:2  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  (KJV)  Paul reminded the Galatians that their receiving of the Spirit and blessing came through faith, not works of the law.  He also told them that the reason Jesus died was that we could receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  Gal 3:13-14  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  (KJV)  Finally, Paul lets us know that this receiving of the Spirit was not an indwelling alone, but a baptism.  Gal 3:26-29 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (KJV)   It is important to note that the baptism in Gal 3:27 is of necessity a Spirit baptism.  The word “for” is a word that joins the statement to be made with the foregone statements.  We have believed in Christ and have put on Christ when we were baptized with the Spirit into Christ.  This baptism happens when we become children of God by faith in Christ. In Christ there is equality and no distinctions.  (This would not be so if the baptism were water baptism into the local body, for we know that God has placed different people in different positions of authority in the local body. Furthermore it would actually be equating water baptism with salvation if water baptism were the baptism referred to here.)  This baptism is part and parcel of our belonging to Christ and being of Abraham’s seed.  In short, the baptism of the Spirit comes to everyone who believes in Christ to the saving of his soul: and that according to the promise of God of which we have already studied.

Finally, this baptism with the Spirit is a great assurance to the child of God.  Paul told the Roman church, Rom 8:9-11  ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.   And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.  (KJV)  All of God’s children have the Spirit of God in them.  The presence of the Spirit of God, in whom we were baptized upon believing in Jesus, is our assurance of our salvation.  Remember, it is our seal of authenticity.  Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.  (KJV)  Because we have the Spirit of Christ in us, we know that we are partakers of the promise.  This is not simply a subjective feeling.  God lives within us and testifies to us of the fact that we are true believers.  When we read the Scriptures about God’s promises coming to those who believe we have assurance that we are partakers in that promise, because we have trusted Christ, have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit dwells within us giving us the knowledge of salvation according to God’s promise (See Luke 1:77).

Let us thank God that He has given us such a promise and such a blessing.  We can live our lives with full assurance that we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ and are forgiven of our sins.  We have this assurance because He has given us the seal of the Spirit of God who has surrounded us, joined us to Christ, and lives within us.