The Holy Spirit Displayed His Work at the Time of Messiah’s Birth

Approximately four hundred years of prophetic silence had passed in Israel since Malachi, the last chronological and canonical prophet, received his revelation from God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Four hundred years had passed since the last filling with the Holy Spirit of any person in the written record.

These were four hundred years of political struggle and spiritual darkness for the people of Israel.

During the inter-testamental period, the religiosity of the Jews grew steadily in empty orthodox Mosaic practice in a way that was not pleasing to God.  Despite this long and dark spiritual age, the prophecy given to Isaiah begins to come to fruition through the work of the Holy Spirit:

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.  For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” Isaiah 9:2

The dark period referenced by Isaiah comes to an end with a series of amazing events under the sovereign control of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.

It was a rare and well noted event in the Old Testament for a person to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but in the period surrounding Jesus’s birth, the Holy Spirit began a special work that eventually culminated in the age of the Church.

First and foremost, the Holy Spirit takes on an active role in the coming of Jesus into our world by conceiving Him in a supernatural way in Mary’s womb.

We then have special prophetic messages being delivered from God via Gabriel to Zechariah and Mary.

Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesies about “my Lord” when she meets Mary who is pregnant with baby Jesus. Baby John is filled with the Holy Spirit while in her womb as foretold by Gabriel.

It is also fascinating to note how an unborn baby “leapt for joy.” Being filled with the Holy Spirit and being able to feel joy are important characteristics of a person. This is one of the reasons why we believe that an unborn baby is a person, and life begins at conception.

Zechariah undergoes the miracle of regaining his speech, is filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophecies about the coming of the Messiah and the work of his son John.

We see the filling and guidance of the Holy Spirit with respect to Simeon and Anna when they see baby Jesus at the temple.

The Spirit also pours out the gift of knowledge on Jesus as a child when He teaches in the temple, and Jesus becomes “full of the Holy Spirit” in His ministry.

All these aspects of the vast work of the Holy Spirit herald the transition from a dark age into an age of light, the Messianic age, and ultimately the Church age when the Spirit is poured out onto the followers of Christ without measure in the baptism and the filling with the Holy Spirit.

Unlike in the OT era, we now have a special privilege to be able to access an abundance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What used to be a rare and very selective event, the filling with the Spirit has now become accessible to all born-again believers. All glory belongs to God-the Holy Spirit for the work He does in us!

A Closer Look at Romans 1: the Nature of Human Relations

Rom 1:26 “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

I will preface this article by saying that the Bible forbids us from hating any group of people.  We are commanded to love our neighbor, and at the same time to preach the truth about God’s love, and the repentance from any and all sin.

Whenever an in-depth look is undertaken into any Bible passage, one must use a word-for-word translation like the ESV or the NASB, and possibly look at the Hebrew or Greek text using tools such as Strong’s dictionary among others.  We will take a look at this passage and focus on the way apostle Paul uses the derivatives of the word “nature” in the context of homosexual relations.

One of the most important points of the gay agenda is to proclaim the idea that homosexual relations come naturally to the persons who subscribe to that orientation.  This has been implied even by some evangelical leaders like Rick Warren… but not in so many words.  A closer look in Romans 1 reveals that same-sex relations are not only sinful, but they are against nature the way God ordained it.

The context of Romans 1:18-32 is very important because it further solidifies this position.  The theme here is God’s wrath against the depravity of mankind, making the point that idolatry is unnatural.  It says that men committed an unnatural act in that they “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man. (verse 23)”  We see the contrast here between the natural and the unnatural, the glory of the immortal God and the images resembling mortal man, respectively.

Paul points to the transition between the natural worship of God, and the unnatural worship of man and idols.  He also points to how men unnaturally “exchanged the truth about God for a lie (verse 25).”

Continuing in the same pattern of natural vs unnatural, Paul gives an example of human depravity: homosexuality.  Just like the exchange of the “glory of the immortal God” for idolatry, and truth for lie was presented earlier, Paul now presents two more unnatural exchanges:

1. The phrase “their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones” references lesbianism as being unnatural, therefore against nature

2. The phrase “men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another” references homosexual relations among men and specifies that these men abandoned the natural state, that is the relationship ordained by God between man and woman in Gen 2:24.  Paul makes a clear case that an unnatural relationship is now taking place between members of the same sex.

The final analysis is the result of depravity: “the due penalty for their perversion” which is the result of God giving  “them up in the lusts of their hearts.”

Romans 1:26-27 is abundantly clear that homosexuality is not only sinful, but unnatural in the context of human relations ordained by God.  The argument that homosexual desires are natural, as any other sinful desire like lust, hate, anger, and greed directly contradicts Romans 1 Scripture.

Related click here: Can one repent of these unnatural desires?

Also: Biblical case against gay marriage

The Triune God Revealed in the Old Testament (part 2)

continued from here

The book of Isaiah is considered by many to be the “Gospel” of the Old Testament (OT) because it portrays Jesus in His Messianic role as the servant send by God the Father under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  Isaiah 61:1-2 has strong trinitarian implications because it distinguishes the three persons of the Godhead and it shows their participation in the work of salvation of mankind:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;”

The narrative here is spoken by Jesus, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the opening of the passage “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me” encapsulates the Trinity.  The Hebrew word ruah is used to designate the Holy Spirit in the OT and it is used in this passage.  The words Lord God (Adonai and YHWY) represent God the Father, while the person speaking in this passage is Jesus, the messianic servant sent by the Father to accomplish the tasks listed in verses 1-3.

The fact that Jesus is the narrator cannot be contested due to the evidence found in Luke 4:16-30.  Jesus enters the Synagogue on Sabbath and reads aloud from the scroll the passage in Isaiah 61:1-2, and makes the astonishing claim:  “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  Jesus thus claims to be the Messiah, the narrator of Isaiah 61.

Therefore, Isaiah presents the Trinity – God the Father sending Jesus the Messiah, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit –  together doing the work of redemption.

Isaiah also pays special attention to the Holy Spirit and designates personal qualities to Him in Isaiah 63:10 “But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them.”  Besides the terrifying claim that God Himself became the enemy of Israel and He fought against them, this verse reveals two important things about the Holy Spirit (ruah).

First, the Holy Spirit is a distinct entity (his Holy Spirit) from God the Father (LORD YHWH), and second, the Holy Spirit can be grieved, a personal and emotional quality.  We now have a clear presentation of two out of three persons in the Trinity, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in Isaiah 63:10.

A biblical demonstration of the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit is beyond the scope of this article, but Isaiah 61:1-2 and 63:10 are clear in revealing the three separate persons of God: LORD YHWH the Father, Jesus the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit.

to be continued…

Eternal Security is not Compatible with a Life of Sin… Even if Once “Saved”

I would like to thank my friend Ruben Birle who drew my attention to the teaching of dr. Charles Stanley on the issue of eternal security.  An internet search reveals that Stanley holds some degree of Arminian views in his soteriology (salvation theology), and was involved with the John 3:16 Conference, which was specifically against Reformation Theology.

In the video below he answers the question: “How can a person be saved, backslide into a life of sin, and still be saved for all eternity?”

My critique follows below.

I strongly believe in the eternal security of the saved, specifically the ones who have truly been born-again.  Salvation belongs to our God not to us, and God is the One Who completes His work toward our glorification, a process in which we fully participate.  The issue in this video comes down to whether the ones living in sin are saved or not.

The views expressed in this clip are not biblical because the entire discussion hinges on the term “life of sin.”  The term is present in the question and Stanley references it multiple times in the video.

It starts off with identifying the person who receives the gift of salvation but “lives pretty much like everyone else” (0:38).  He calls this backsliding, but it is much more serious.  These persons are not even saved because they have not experienced the new birth which is evident as that radical change in their life when they exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  So how can an unsaved person have eternal security?

Is it possible for a saved person then to live a “life of sin” since this is what the video is addressing?  This answer is a resounding no!  Therefore that person does not have eternal security.  They are lost until they experience the new birth made possible by the Holy Spirit (John 3).

The Bible is firm about any “saved” person who lives a “life of sin.”  These individuals are not saved.  Dr Stanley says that it is possible to experience salvation AND live a “life of sin” and just lose your reward, but not your salvation.  Wrong!  The biblical evidence against dr Stanley’s false teaching in insurmountable!

1 John 3:6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him… 

1 John 3:9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God

1 John 1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.

Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

2 John 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God

…and many, many more verses…

Despite what the Bible really teaches, Dr Stanley persists on the idea that one can be “saved,” then live a “life of sin” and still have eternal security, with the stipulation that he will lose his reward. This, my friends is false teaching!  Anyone who continues to live in sin has never been born again!

Which Person of the Trinity Should We Pray to?

Christian believers are required to have a continuous life of prayer, and we pray to God and address Him as Lord in our prayer.  If we are to understand the way God is revealed in Scripture, we must realize that God is revealed in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, each being fully God and all three one God.

A logical question then follows, does it matter which person of the Godhead we pray to?  Or should we mainly pray to God as Lord?

Pastor and theologian John Piper answer as follows:  “the pattern that you find almost uniformly – I say almost uniformly – throughout the New Testament is to pray to the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Reformed believers pray almost exclusively to the Father because the other persons of the Trinity facilitate our access to the Father.  The Holy Spirit glorifies the Son, and the Son, thru His sacrifice brings us to the Father.  Jesus also prays to the Father and this serves as the ultimate example for us.

But I also believe it is biblical to pray to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit.  Consider the following verses about praying to Jesus:

John 14:13-14 “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do… If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

1 Cor 1:2 “in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”

1 Tim 1:12 “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord…”

With respect to the Holy Spirit, we must understand that the Holy Spirit facilitates our worship and prayer.  He points to the Son as the only way to the Father.  But since the Holy Spirit is fully God, we may address the Holy Spirit directly in prayer, for example: “come, Holy Spirit.”

Prayer is essentially communication, and when we have fellowship with someone, we communicate with that person.  Paul tells us in 2 Cor 13:14 that we partake in “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.”  Therefore it is not wrong to communicate in prayer with the Holy Spirit.

Piper, concludes: “So my bottom line answer – and I’ve been asked this a lot – is to follow in general the pattern of the Bible, namely, pray to the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Spirit, that is, in reliance upon the help of the Spirit.”

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/does-it-matter-which-person-of-the-trinity-we-pray-to-84697/#XryEmI7Sd0EpxOXq.99

The Triune God Revealed in the Old Testament (part 1)

Other than the teaching of salvation by grace thru faith, the doctrine of the Trinity may be the most important doctrine of the Christian faith.  Some theologians would say that it is the primordial doctrine of Christianity.  Wayne Grudem defines it in his Systematic Theology as follows:  “God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.”

Well known passages in the Old Testament (OT) as well as obscure ones reveal the plurality of the Trinity.

Psalm 110:1 is the most frequently quoted passage from the OT in the New Testament (NT).  Here David receives a tremendous revelation from God to be able to write a glimpse of this amazing intra-Trinitarian conversation:  “The Lord says to my Lord:  “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”  Jesus challenges the Pharisees in Matthew 22:41-46 to understand that David is referring to two separate persons as “Lord” in Psalm 110.  God the Father says to God the Son, “sit at my right hand.”

David’s revelation continues when he writes in Psalm 45:7 “Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”  Jesus is the anointed One by the Father when David again reveals the Father and the Son Jesus as God.

The Trinity is also revealed in a less known passage found in Hosea 1:7 “But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God.”  God (Elohim) here is speaking about the Lord (Yahweh) who will save Judah.  The Scripture clearly indicates here that two separate persons can be called God and Lord, that is Father and Son.

In the context of God’s plan of redemption, Isaiah 48:16 has amazing trinitarian implications: “And now the Lord God has sent me, and his Spirit.”  In NT perspective Jesus is the Messiah the One send by the Father.  It follows that in the redemption context of Isaiah 48, the person “me” in verse 16 send by God is Jesus.  If this verse is spoken by Jesus, and I believe it is given its context, we now have all three persons of the Trinity, the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit mentioned in this verse.   Amazing!

The doctrine of the Trinity is a blessing for us because by understanding it we understand God’s plan of redemption and how each person of the Trinity is involved in each aspect of salvation.  We will never grasp how God can co-exist in three persons and be One God, but if we are to believe the Bible, we must accept this doctrine.  CS Lewis attested its validity when he said that such a doctrine could never be made up by a human mind.  No one could have come up with this type of idea if it wasn’t for the revelation given in the Bible.

to be continued…