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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Work of the Holy Spirit - Baptism

The next post in our study of the Holy Spirit is possibly the most controversial in the study. This is because of the misunderstanding of both Scripture and the practice of baptism. With this study, it is my goal to shed light on this topic so that the believer can be confident where he or she stands in Christ and what the baptism of the Holy Spirit means to the believer.

It is critical to understand what the bible says about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and what difference it makes in the believer’s life. Because so many have been mislead regarding this aspect of the work the Spirit, it is important to stick with what the Scripture plainly teaches regarding this topic.

Here is the outline I used:

I. We must understand its prediction (Matt 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33)
          A. We need to understand the words.
                  1. Not water baptism
                  2. Meaning of the word baptism
         B. We need to understand it had not happened before Jesus
         C. We need to understand its parallel with John’s baptism

II. We must understand its fulfillment (Acts 1:5, 11:15-17)
         A. Jesus guaranteed it (Acts 1:5)
         B. Peter remembered it (Acts 11:15-17)

III. We must understand its purpose (1 Cor. 12:13)
         A. Identifies us with Christ (Gal. 3:26-28)
         B. Creates an oneness with Christ (Rom. 6:1-5)
         C. Puts us in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-14)
                  1. All believers have been baptized by the Spirit
                  2. The baptism of the Spirit does not erase racial, social, and sexual differences, but it makes them irrelevant in the church.
                  3. Baptism of the Spirit is something Christ does to us.

To begin with, one must understand the predication of the baptism of the Holy Spirit to understand its fulfillment. John the Baptizer was in the wilderness baptizing people in the Jordan River and Jesus comes to be baptized by John. It is at this time John predicts the baptism of the Holy Spirit. ( Matt. 3:11, John 1:32-33). To understand this prediction we first understand the words used. To begin with, while John was baptizing in water, he made a clear delineation between what he was doing and what Jesus was going to be doing. The point is, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not related to water baptism. Too many times the two are equated because the same word is used. The Greek word "baptidzo" literally means "to sink, to envelope, to immerse." In short, John is simply saying that he is enveloping, immersing people in water, but Jesus will envelope or immerse people in the Holy Spirit.

To understand the prediction of the Holy Spirit we also need to understand that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is connected to the work of Christ. It is not connected to a religious work or rite but it comes to the believer because Jesus Christ died on the cross, was resurrected, and then ascended to heaven. The prediction of the baptism of the Holy Spirit indicates it is not connected with water baptism and it is not something that people work for or deserve.

Finally, to understand the prediction of the baptism of the Spirit, one must note the parallel to John's Baptism. The "stuff" John baptized with was water; the "stuff" Jesus baptizes with was the Spirit. John plunged people into water; Jesus would plunge them into the Holy Spirit. John would cover those who came to him with water; Jesus would cover those who come to him with the Holy Spirit. The point to all of this is that many today teach that the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes when one is baptized in water. This first point, "We must understand its prediction" shows us that the two are parallelled but are not connected.

After we understand the prediction, we must understand the fulfillment of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The fulfillment of John’s prediction came at Pentecost. We know this because first, Jesus guaranteed it. In this passage, Jesus has risen from the dead and had been appearing to people for forty days. He is about to ascend into heaven to sit on His throne and he said (Acts 1:5). Jesus ended His ministry on earth they way it began: with John’s prediction of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. My point is that Jesus pointed to Pentecost as the fulfillment of the Baptism of the Spirit. This means when the apostles received the Spirit, they were also baptized in the Spirit. It was not two separate events but one event - receiving the Spirit and being baptized in the Spirit.

In addition to Jesus guaranteeing it, Peter remembered Jesus guaranteeing it. In Acts 11:15-17, Peter is recounting the story of Cornelius receiving Christ after Peter had a vision in which God told him Gentiles could also receive the Holy Spirit. So Peter went to Cornelius’s house, share Christ, they received Christ, and were baptized both with the Spirit and with water. So when Cornelius was saved, it brought to Peter’s mind Jesus guarantee of the Holy Spirit baptism. My point is that when we see the actual baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Scripture, it is an event that happens at salvation. Cornelius’ experience is the normative Christian experience for today’s believers.

In short, when one understands the fulfillment of the prediction of the Spirit's baptism, one will see that when a person accepts Christ, they are baptized in the Holy Spirit AT THAT MOMENT. Many today teach that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is separate event to conversion. Many who teach this indicate that this baptism is evidenced by speaking in tongues. This teaching is not only a misunderstanding of Scripture, it places undue burdens on those who have not spoken in tongues and makes them feel like second-rate believers when, in fact, they have been just as baptized in the Spirit as every other believer the minute they trusted in Christ.

Finally, after understanding the Spirit's baptism and understanding its fulfillment, we must understand the purpose of the baptism of the Spirit. To put if briefly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit identifies us with Christ (Gal. 3:26-28), creates an oneness with Christ (Rom. 6:1-5), and puts us in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-14). The baptism of the Spirit is not about another level of spirituality as compared to other believers. It is about becoming one with Christ and one with the body of Christ.

The points made in this sermon are greatly debated but I believe this is what Scripture clearly teaches. The two main misunderstanding connected to the baptism of the Holy Spirit are 1) the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes when one is baptized and 2) the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate event than one's conversion. Neither of these are correct and neither are supported in Scripture. The baptism of the Spirit happens the moment one trusts in Christ. I hope this study helps. Please post any comments and opinions related to this issue.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Work of the Holy Spirit - Indwelling

Another aspect of the Holy Spirit's work is that He indwells believers. While I attempted to make each of these sermons an expository sermon, that is, examining one main pericope of Scripture, the rest of these sermons on the Holy Spirit are more like topical sermons. The remaining sermons are biblical and they are theologically sound but are pulled from various passages throughout Scripture.

The Spirit's indwelling is an amazing part of the Spirit's work in the believer's life and is important to understand. Here is the outline I used for this sermon.

I. What is Indwelling? (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Tim 1:14)

II. What does indwelling provide?

          A. Indwelling makes God’s presence possible. (John 14:16-17)
                  1. The new presence would be their advocate.
                  2. The new presence would bring new knowledge.
                  3. The new presence had not been experience before (John 7:37-39)

         B. Indwelling makes eternal life possible (Rom. 8:9-11)
                  1. The Spirit shows ownership (9)
                  2. The Spirit brings life after death (10-11)

         C. Indwelling makes holiness possible (1 Cor. 6:18-20)
                  1. The temple
                      a. There was great care in the design of the temple
                      b. Great wealth in the construction of the temple.
                      c. The people knew the temple is where God resided.
                  2. Believer’s are the temple of God
                  3. Strength for holiness comes from the Spirit (Eph. 3:16)

This study begins with understanding indwelling. Indwelling is a separate act than that of regeneration even thought it occurs as the same time. Like regeneration, the minute one places their trust in Christ, that person becomes indwelt by the Holy Spirit. "Dwell" in the 1 Corinthians passage is a word which means "to occupy a house, to reside" and by implication it means "to cohabit" with someone. In the 2 Timothy passage "dwell" is made up to two words. The first word is the preposition which denotes a fixed location. It would be the word "in." The second is the word we just discussed: "to reside, occupy, dwell." The Holy Spirit indwells us. When we accept Christ, the Spirit of God comes down and takes up residence within us. He occupies, sets up house, within us.

The word "dwell" or "indwell" in Scripture has a permanency to it. In our culture, there is such a transitory nature of the word "residency." We hear something about occupying a house, we think in a temporary nature. That is not the case for the Ancient Near East. "Dwelling" means permanency we will talk about that more in a moment. My point is that indwelling occurs and it occurs for each and every believer, it happens at the moment of salvation, and it is permanent. There is never an evacuation or expulsion of the Spirit from the believer’s life.

The second part of this study delves into the result of the Spirit's indwelling in the believer's life. The first amazing provision of indwelling is that God is presence is possible. This new presence would be their advocate, or paraklete, a word that It literally means "someone who is called along side" and has the connotation of someone comes along aside to help you through. This new presence would also bring new knowledge. Jesus promises the disciples they will know things they did not really know before. The point is Christ said that He will love and disclose Himself to those who have the Spirit, the paraklete. Finally, the new presence had not been experience before. This presence of the Spirit would be different than anyone had experienced before because Jesus had not been sacrificed and had not been risen from the dead. This means the indwelling we have right now as believers is something Abraham did not have, Moses did not have it. David did not have it. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel did not have it. Even John the Baptist did not have it. It is a new presence which was brought by the glorification of Jesus. The indwelling provides believers with a unique presence of God in our lives.

The second provision of the Spirit's indwelling is that it makes eternal life possible. Being indwelt by the Spirit means we have eternal life. This is because the Spirit shows ownership. When one receives Christ, the Spirit regenerates that person, and He is poured out upon that person. But this also means the Spirit of God comes and makes His residence within them. This means that person belong to Christ. Therefore, if you have the Spirit, you belong to Christ. If you do not have the Spirit, you do not belong to Christ. Additionally, the Spirit brings life after death. The same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead dwells in believers and doesn’t do death. This fleshly body may fade and die. But first, believers' spirits are alive because of the Holy Spirit in them. But in addition to that, it is not just a Spirit resurrection. The Spirit will raise our mortal bodies from the dead. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit guarantees us eternal life.

The final provision of the Spirit's indwelling covered in this study is that it is only through the Spirit's indwelling that the believer can be holy. By comparing believers and the Old Testament temple, Paul utilized this powerful image to show that God provides holiness to the believer. Like the temple in the Old Testament was holy ground because God indwelt it, the believer is holy because that same God indwells them (please note: I do not hold to sinless perfection or that the believer lives in perfect holiness. Only that God sees Christ's sinlessness in those who have trusted in Christ). The point is that the Spirit is the one who strengthens our inner man for the holiness needed as the temple of God. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit leads us to a holy life.

Once again, this is not an exhaustive discussion on the indwelling of the Spirit but is a nice introduction to the study of indwelling of the Spirit. It is an amazing and awesome idea that the God of Creation and the Sustainer of Life resides in believers and gives them the power needed to live in a way that glorifies him. And if you are believer, all of this is available. You have the presence of God within you. You have eternal life. And you have the power through the Holy Spirit for holiness. If you are not a believer, surrender to Him today.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Work of the Holy Spirit - Regeneration

After discussion who the Holy Spirit is and what He does, the next five sermons focused in on specific works of the Holy Spirit. These are not meant to be an exhaustive list or exhaustive sermons on each topic. The list of the work of the Holy Spirit in each believer's life would be a long list indeed, and each topic could be expanded more than what could be covered in a 30 minute sermon. Nevertheless, this session deals with Spirit's work of regeneration. I based the sermon on Titus 3:3-7 and here is my basic outline.
I. The Holy Spirit shows us we need a Savior (3)
          A. Sins of a person nature/Sins of the inner person
          B. Sins of the outer life/Sins of the outer person

II. The Holy Spirit is how God saves us (4-6)
        A. Not through good works but through grace & mercy (4-5a,7)
        B. Through the washing of the Holy Spirit (5b)
                    1. Washing produces regeneration
                    2. Washing produces renewal
                    3. The washing is complete (6)

III. The Holy Spirit is how God adopts us (7)
          A. Adoption begins with justification
          B. Adoption makes us heirs
          C. Adoption gives hope

To begin with, the Spirit shows us we need a Savior. This the first step of the Spirit's work of regeneration. He point out the sins of an internal nature (foolish, disobedient, and deceived) and the sins of an external nature (enslaved to lusts and pleasures). The sins of internal nature could be considered mental or intellectual. It deals in the realm of the mind, like disbelief and deceived. The sins of the external nature are summed up in the word for "pleasures" used here. It indicates this is a hedonistic lifestyle that only is concerned with pleasing self, that is, in a physical way. Hence, the reference to the external nature or flesh.

The point is we all were either there at one point in our lives, or we live there now. In either case, as the previous post on the Holy Spirit discusses, it is the Spirit who convicts one of these sins. Paul begins his discourse on regeneration with the topic of conviction of sin.

Next, we see that when one trusts in the work of Christ on the cross, we are saved through the Spirit's work in our life. He saved us through his grace (getting something we do not deserve) and his mercy (not getting something we do deserve). One is not saved through religious activities, good works, or a sacrificial lifestyle. It is only through God's grace and mercy we are save. Paul states this in an interesting way and enlightens us of the Spirit's work in salvation.

The phrase Paul uses "by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit" is much debated. "Washing" automatically brings to mind for many the act of baptism. But first of all, Paul has JUST SAID that it was not through any work we do but through God's grace and mercy alone. Also, I am not sure why baptism, of any mode, could be considered "washing." Pouring, sprinkling, nor immersion could be describes as one washing. But because of the mistaken belief that baptism can cleanse one of sin, many mistake this as a description of the physical act of baptism. This is wrong and changes the whole tenor of what Paul is saying.

"Washing" here is solely the spiritual act the Spirit works in the believer's life. Through my study I have come to the conclusion that washing describes both regeneration and renewal. In other words, the phrase could read, "the washing of regeneration and the washing of renewing by the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit washes us and this washing results in both regeneration and renewal. The word used for regeneration is literally "to be born again." The word "Renewing" is literally the word "renovation." Once a person accepts Christ's sacrifice, the Spirit renovates the person and they are born anew.

Paul finishes his thought by saying that the washing the Spirit provides is complete. He says that God "pours put" the Holy Spirit "richly" on believers. The phrase "pouring out" is in the aorist tense, which connotes a historical act from the past completed in the past. Paul is speaking to believers so they had received the Holy Spirit in their past. They received Him and it was completed in the past.
When we accept Christ, the Holy Spirit is poured out on us. And He is poured out richly, generously. We are not given only part of the Holy Spirit only later to get more of Him. Paul tells us that God’s pouring out of the Holy Spirit is totally complete for each one who receives Him.

The final part of the Holy Spirit's regeneration has to do with adoption. Once regeneration occurs in the believer's life, which happens at the moment of surrender to Christ, that person is justified. The popular definition of justification is "declared innocent" and can be cleverly summed up by saying "being justified is being able to say that God sees me 'just if I'd' never sinned."

Adoption also makes us heirs to the promise God has given His children. In fact,
Romans 8:14-17 tells us that believers are co-heirs with Christ. This is an amazing truth which should produce hope and encouragement to every believe, which is the final point.

Because we are adopted and heirs, this means that we have a hope that the lost do not have. Hope in Scripture is not wishful thinking. Instead, it is expectant waiting. The two are diametrically different and must be understood. The believer, being regeneration is adopted and is now expectantly waiting for the time when he or she will spend eternity with their Creator and Savior.

The Spirit's power in our lives is powerful and amazing. This first lesson on the specific work of the Spirit in our lives should stir the believer to praise, worship, and service of the one who so lavishly loves us.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Another Cool Feature

Make my blog a widget on your blog! (Like anyone is going to do that). If you click the link below, you will see the widget and then you can customize it and then press "Get Widget" and it will give you code to paste into your blog. Again, I just thought it was neat and truly do not think anyone will take advantage. However, if there is any one who does, let me know. I am sure we can find some help for you somewhere.

Click here to get the widget.

Monday, March 08, 2010

What Does the Holy Spirit Do?

Getting back to the topic I was posting on before my missions break, I will be posting on my sermon series on the Holy Spirit. My second sermon was about what the Holy Spirit does. As the first sermon was a general discussion of who the Holy Spirit is, this sermon was a general discussion of what He does. Using John 16:8-14, here is my sermon outline.

I. The Holy Spirit convicts the lost (8-11).
         A. Of sin because they do not believe (9)
         B. Of righteousness Christ is not physically here (11).
         C. Of judgment because Satan has been judged (10).

II. The Holy Spirit helps the believer (12-13)
         A. He guides us in all truth
         B. He guides by speaking (13)
                  1. He does not speak on His own initiative.
                  2. He speaks what he hears
                  3. He discloses what is to come

III. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (14)

This passage provides the reader with great overview of the work of the Spirit. To begin with, He convicts the lost of sin. He explicitly says that this is the sin of unbelief. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts the world, a word John uses throughout his gospel to refer to humankind who are opposed to God and His will, of their unbelief. The Holy Spirit convicts the lost that they have rejected Christ. It is the Spirit’s job to convict men of this rejection. The Spirit pricks men’s consciences of their unbelief. We cannot logically argue them into heaven. We cannot provide enough evidence to convict the lost of their rejection. We cannot nag someone until they receive Christ. It is the Holy Spirit’s job alone. We are supposed to have an answer for our faith and being ready to give an answer is a must. But in the end, the Spirit is the one convicting of unbelief and the lost person must respond to that conviction.

The Spirit also convicts the world of righteousness. When Christ was walking on earth, people could look at Him and see the epitome of righteousness. However, Christ rose to heaven and is now not able to be seen. Because Christ’s physical body is not here and cannot be seen, the Holy Spirit is the one convicting of unrighteousness.

You may have seen this when you tell people you are a Christian. They may have been cursing one minute but then after you tell them they immediately clean up their language and begin talking in church-talk. This is a little like what we are talking about. They are convicted of righteousness but are looking at it in relative terms. Imagine if Christ showed up in His glorified body and stood before them or us. I would think our thoughts, words, and actions would change. But since He does not physically show up, the Spirit is the one who convicts of unrighteousness. This gap between our unrighteousness and God’s righteousness teaches us we need a bridge to God, a mediator. It is the first step in our relationship with God. We need Christ and the forgiveness he brings. The Spirit brings that conviction about.

The Holy Spirit also convicts the world of judgment. This is not the future judgment. We know this by the context. Satan has already been judged. This is in the perfect tense, which indicates an act in the past completed in the past, but the results continue on from that completed act. Satan was judged on the cross and was condemned. He may be the prince of this earth right now, but his fate has been sealed already.

"Judgment" here to the lost is that when we examine every thought, word, and action in light of Christ’s absolute righteousness, we realize we are condemned because we do not measure up. John referred to this once already in the His gospel (John 3:16-19). The fact is, the lost have already been on the cross and they have been found guilty. In fact, every one of us have been judged and found guilty. The good news is that if one receives the forgiveness provided for by Christ, that judgment has been paid for by Christ Himself.

So the summary of the first part of the sermon is this: The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts people that they have been judged. It is this conviction that leads people to accept Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts the world they have rejected Christ, their righteousness falls short, and they have been judged and found guilty as a result of this.

The second aspect of the Holy Spirit's work is that He helps believers. He guides the Spirit by speaking to the believer. John tells the reader three things about the Spirit's communication with believers. John first says the Spirit does not speak on His own initiative. Second, John says the Spirit speaks only what he hears from the Father and Son. Finally, the Spirit discloses what is to come. Now, when Jesus said this to His disciples, it is clear he was referring to all the disciples would encounter as recorded in the Book of Acts. But also, in reference to John specifically, the book of Revelation and the end times.

The final aspect John reveals about the Spirit's work is that He glorifies Christ. I believe this is where most teaching on the Holy Spirit goes awry. If we look at the Holy Spirit, we should see him pointing to Christ. The Spirit does not draw attention to Himself but to Christ. In short, the Spirit points to, or glorifies, Christ and Christ shows us what God is really like.

This provides the listener a nice introduction to the to the work of the Holy Spirit. Knowing that I was going to spend the next five week speaking about the work of the Spirit, I was not concerned that this was not an exhaustive study on the work of the Spirit. In fact, there are some very important things the Spirit does which are not brought up in this passage of John. However, it provided a great starting point for delving deeper into the work of the Spirit.

Friday, March 05, 2010

More Than Gold - Home Again

I have been back from Vancouver for about two weeks and I need to close out my series on my mission trip to Canada. I thought I would finish my posts with some pictures of Vancouver and things we experienced there.

Here is a picture of the Olympic Village in Vancouver. If you look closely, you can see the Union Jack's where the team United Kingdom team was lodging and the Norwegian flag where their team was staying (click picture for larger image).

Here is one of the shores in town where a local resident comes and stacks rocks. I am not sure why or if they represent anything, but it is interesting and he does a good job of stacking them....I guess...I do not really know what constitutes good rock stacking. I leave it to you. (click pictures for larger images).

One of the places we served at was First Baptist Church of Vancouver. It was established in 1910 and it was a beautiful building. I do not know about the health of the church but they had a small group reaching out to their own city. Here are some pictures of this church (Click pictures for larger images).

On the streets of Vancouver I found this monstrosity. I do not even know what to say about it (click picture for larger image).

In the "Gastown" district of town, they had a steam powered clock. That was pretty interesting and when it whistled every quarter hour. It sounded like a musical train. Note the steam out the top of the clock. The plaque has some interesting information (click pictures for larger images).

Finally, we went downtown to look at the cauldron for the games. I am not a huge fan of the design (not sure what that is all about) but I think someone told me that when you look at just right it is supposed to look like a maple leaf. I must have not been at that angle (click picture for larger image).