VIEWPOINT BRIEF BIBLE STUDY ... revised 2/13/2011
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the work of

HIM, Jesus Sends
His Spirit to Us

During three years of intense training in preparation for the coming Kingdom of Christ, Jesus spoke little about the work of God’s Holy Spirit. In the final days leading up to Calvary’s agony, Jesus said a great deal to His apostles about a “Comforter” He would send them and whom He identified as the Holy Spirit of God and as His own Spirit. Throughout the rest of the inspired writings, we read of the work and power of God seen in the working of His Spirit. Note what one Christian evangelist has to say about how God works within us through His Spirit:

Thoughts for any day

by Given O. Blakely
From The Word of Truth Publication

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23, NKJV).

For centuries the professed church has been divided in its view of the Holy Spirit. For some, He is at the heart of the Kingdom. For others, He is a nonentity for our time. Both positions are wrong. In fact, these two extremes represent efforts to avoid error rather than efforts to appropriate truth. We find very little in Scripture about the Holy Spirit Himself. It’s His work that is revealed, and never the Spirit Himself. We must see this in contrast to what is said of the Father and the Son.

We are told considerable about the Father — His qualities, purpose, loves, and hates. His role in salvation is a particular emphasis in Scripture. Even more time is spent delineating the Son to us. We are told of Him volunteering to come and on earth do the Father’s will (Hebrews 10:9). Significant detail is provided concerning His coming to earth as a man (Philippians 2:5-8). Remarkable details are provided concerning His earthly ministry. His present activity is expounded, together with His imminent return. But we do not have this sort of detail about the Holy Spirit. I am going to venture a bold statement, knowing that some will recoil when they read it — we do not have enough information about the Spirit Himself to worship Him.

While we read of the Gospel of God (Romans 1:1; 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:2,8,9; 1 Peter 4:17) and the Gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16; 15:19, 29; 1 Corinthians 9:12; 2 Corinthians. 4:4; Philippians 1:27), we never read of a Gospel of the Spirit. Repeated references are made to holy men preaching Christ, but nowhere do we read of inspired men preaching the Spirit.

Perhaps this difference should not be overlooked, particularly when we find prominent religious teachers today proclaiming the Spirit above Jesus. The Holy Spirit was not sent to upstage the Savior, nor to replace Him. The fact that the Spirit has been so presented only confirms the spiritual threat of the environment in which we find ourselves.

Some will charge me with not believing in the work of the Spirit, but this is an imagination. Others will say that men of God did preach the Spirit, citing references such as Romans 8, Galatians 4, and others, to support their statement. I did not say inspired men did not say anything about the Holy Spirit. What I am saying is this: when the Holy Spirit inspired men to write concerning what was preached, he said they “preached Christ,” “the Kingdom of God,” repentance and remission of sins,” “the Gospel,” “the cross of Christ,” and “the Word.”

But it is never said that they “preached the Spirit" — NEVER! Not the subject of their preaching, God’s Spirit is seen as the Worker who brought the preaching home to the heart, convicting and persuading men of the truth. The point here is that the indwelling and work of the Spirit is not an end in itself. It is what He DOES that is the point. Spiritually uninformed people have made receiving the Spirit the point. The Word of God makes its point what the Spirit does within us! That may seem like a technicality, but it is not. The indwelling Spirit is the appointed means to the realization of God’s will within us. This is what makes us able to do His pleasure. It is what empowers us to overcome a world destined for fire.

Several hundred years before Jesus, God revealed His purpose. He was going to put His Spirit within His people. This was a revolutionary thought to the ancients. Ezekiel proclaimed it with remarkable clarity. “And I shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, says the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:14). “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27).

Observe that putting His Spirit within was not the real point. Rather, it was what resulted from that action. “And you shall live” . . . “and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep my judgments and do them.” This parallels Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Later, the Spirit revealed that this referred to the covenant we have in Christ (Hebrews 8:10-13; 10:16). The indwelling Spirit is the appointed means to the realization of God’s purpose within us.

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified)” (John 7:37-39).

The uniqueness of the day of salvation, together with the restrictions of days prior to it, are here revealed. Until Jesus was glorified, the Spirit could not be “given” as He is today. That means that Moses, the holy prophets, and even David, did not have the Spirit as do we who are in Christ. He did not indwell them as He does those in the Son. It is not that they were less qualified than we are. In fact, person to person, they stood far above most of us.

In their day, sin had not been “put away” (Hebrews 9:26). This prohibited the giving of the Spirit as has now been done. “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to them that OBEY Him” (Acts 5:32).

It is important to note the relation of our obedience to the gospel and the Holy Spirit’s being given to us. This is obedience in its initial or primary sense. The reference is to our beginning obedience to the Gospel. Peter referred to it as repenting and being baptized (Acts 2:28). Jesus called it believing and being baptized (Mark 16:16). Paul referred to it as believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). He also called it being baptized into Christ and putting on Christ (Gal. 3:27), and being “baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3,4). No person should balk at this, or think of this as a sectarian approach.

No one in all of Scripture was ever asked to “pray the sinner’s prayer,” or “ask Jesus into your heart” in order to be saved or in order to receive God's Spirit within. The presence of such approaches today must not cloud our minds. Jesus did not say to do these things, and the Holy Spirit is not promised to those who do them. As promised by the apostle Peter (Acts 2:38), the Spirit is given to those who obey the Lord Jesus! <


RAY ADDS: Obeying the gospel is key to receiving God’s Spirit within. It is key to becoming and remaining “in Christ.” We want to not lose sight of the RESULT of obeying the gospel. It is not only that we are promised eternal life because our sins are taken away. We are promised that God will live within us each day that remains of our life on this earth. God’s promise, given through the apostle Peter, is that we shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as well as remission of sins. Yes, it’s because we believed in Jesus that we obey Him, and it's clear that the Spirit will follow our believing in Jesus. But it is not stated that faith alone will do the job. If we love Jesus we will OBEY Him. If we do not OBEY Jesus, did we believe Him? Of course not.

We should be aware of God’s presence within us every day! Does that mean we are to display dramatic evidences of God’s power every day in every way? Only by the way we glorify God by living in Him and for Him, and by serving others in the name of Jesus Christ. For “special” gifts of the Spirit are not promised to anyone. It’s the Spirit Himself who is promised to us if we obey the gospel.

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CE-B01 By God's WORD
we’re begotten to NEW LIFE!

CE-B01 & HS-B02

Our God is the author and creator of life. Yet birth is not a miracle. Human births normally follow established patterns which were put in place by God. Not every human male/female pair can create life. Some who very much want to have a child remain childless. Other pairs are more fruitful than they might prefer. Jesus once spoke of a NEW birth, a second birth. Please consider:

John 3:1-5 (ESV) Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. [2] This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” [3] Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” [4] Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?" [5] Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

This new birth Jesus spoke of brings us into a different state. The first birth dramatically changes our state. So does the NEW birth. When Jesus spoke about our new birth, He clearly differentiated between the first birth (physical) and the second birth (spiritual). Many translators assume He said the needed new birth was of water and the Holy Spirit. I feel sure the correct understanding of the passage is that OUR new birth is within our hearts (spiritual) rather than in our bodies (physical). Some overlook the fact that we humans are spiritual beings and not only physical. God made us this way. He won’t have forgotten He did so.

Jesus is God’s UNIQUE Son. Most everyone knows that human babies are born because of union of a male and a female person. What makes Jesus God’s UNIQUE son is that no human male was involved in His birth to Mary. I’m told the Greek word often translated as “only-begotten” is more correctly translated as “unique.” Peter says each born-again person has been begotten by the Word of God. God has many begotten sons and daughters. The Spirit is not God’s Word. JESUS is God’s Word. Please note Peter’s strong advice to Christians:

1 Peter 1:13-23 (ESV) Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [14] As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, [15] but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, [16] since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” [17] And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, [18] knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, [19] but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. [20] He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, [21] who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

[22] Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, [23] since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God ...

Only God’s ONE Son who chose to come to earth from heaven was begotten by the Spirit of God rather than by a human father. Yet everyone who is born again of water and spirit (please remember that John did NOT capitalize the word “spirit” in John 3:5) is, with Jesus, a child of God. To me it seems significant that Jesus is unique in having the Spirit involved in His conception.

We have no virgin waiting to give us a rebirth. We don’t have the Holy Spirit visiting anyone to cause our new birth. Instead we are begotten by seed which is the gospel story being planted in our minds by our hearing or reading an account of the person called Jesus. As that seed grows, our spirit hears a call from Jesus to respond to His love. Those who HEED the call repent and are baptized into Christ.

God does not select a few for salvation, then “gift” them with faith, repentance, and baptism while the non-select still head for Hell. Instead, God made the gospel available for all men. He put in place a plan for spiritual rebirth by which “whosoever will” may come and be saved. The blood of Jesus washes away sin when a sinner hears the gospel and chooses to obey it. We call upon the name of the Lord by obeying what Jesus wants us to do.

The apostle Peter spells out how sinners may enter the heavenly kingdom. Peter had been given the “keys” to the kingdom. In Acts 2 we read of his using those keys for the first time in history to invite sinners to come to Jesus and be saved by Him. He didn’t say sinners should pray for the Holy Spirit to come personally to them. The apostle didn’t urge sinners to counsel with someone who would tell them what to do. He didn’t invite them to touch their radio or TV set. He didn’t ask them to sign a card, then send it and a gift to the address he would give them. What did the inspired speaker say?

The apostle suggested that they should do two things because they had sinned. They were to TURN away from loving and serving sin. He invited them to turn to Jesus. He called this turning “repentance.” It’s something any sinner is able to do if the sinner decides TO do it. Peter linked repentance with baptism. His hearers knew about baptism. It’s being buried in water and quickly raised up out of that water. Christian baptism is an immersion into and a being raised up out of water. The inspired advice was for the sinners to repent and be baptized.

On that first day of the existence of Christ’s church, 3,000 men CHOSE to be baptized as a sign of their repentance and their turning to Jesus for redemption and salvation. In order to receive remission of sins, these repentant believers were “buried and raised with Christ” by being immersed in water as was commanded by Jesus. And, as Peter promised, they then received “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit didn’t baptize the 3,000 converts.

The “seekers” spoken of in Acts 2:37 received the Spirit as a RESULT of their choosing to be baptized by human hands (Acts 2:38). It has always been so. It always will be so. New birth of water and spirit is not being baptized in water and the Holy Spirit. The baptism is in water. The Spirit is given as a result of the second birth. Nor are we even begotten by the Spirit for new birth. That's what makes Jesus the UNIQUE Son, while all of us also are sons and daughters of God. Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit. We are not. It’s the WORD about Jesus we hear that is said to be the active agent for our regeneration.

It’s JESUS who saves, whose blood washes sin away, who adds our names to “the Lamb’s book of LIFE.” It matters greatly that we understand that we don’t have to wait for a special sign from God that His Spirit has selected us for salvation. Any sinner of any responsible age is free to turn away from sin and to come to Jesus for salvation. Humans are free moral agents, to serve Satan by sinning, or to serve God.

Yes, God and angels are AWARE when any sinner is saved. But they do not make the choice FOR us or impose salvation upon us. When we do repent and accept baptism into Christ, then God sends His Spirit to dwell within and to provide support for us as we learn to walk with Jesus. But the Spirit does not convert us.

God’s offer of eternal life in glory is not given by force. His work which makes it possible for us TO be saved was done long ago. The Spirit helped get the word out that the Word of God (Jesus) saves. We don’t need to wait for additional work by the Spirit before we can repent and be saved by obeying the gospel. If we have heard the gospel so that we now know Jesus died in our place, and if we want to live for and to serve Jesus, we are free to do so! But God leaves the decision up to us.

Just as the process of human birth has been put in place so that normal intimacies can produce human life without special intervention of God being necessary for each birth, even so a process of spiritual rebirth has been put in place. This is the process: In our human spirit, having heard about Jesus, we CHOOSE to turn away from sin. We DECIDE we want to be a Christian, a disciple of Christ. Then we can be “baptized into Christ.” When we have repented and been baptized, THEN we are cleansed of sin and the Spirit of God is sent to dwell within us.

This gift from God is not a second baptism. It’s important that we realize that there’s only ONE Christian baptism. Please remember Paul’s clear statement in Ephesians 4:5 of that simple truth. For the Christian age, there is only ONE baptism. It’s the one Jesus said His followers were to perform upon converts to the Christ. It’s WATER baptism. The “gift of the Spirit” which follows the “new birth into Christ” is not a baptism in or by the Spirit. Please note that when the apostle Peter [Acts 2:38] invited sinners to save themselves, his prescription was that they should both repent and be baptized and THEN the gift would be given. For Christians, receiving the “gift of the Spirit” does not precede salvation. It always follows the washing away of sin. This gift is not itself the new birth. It simply is Jesus honoring His promise that He will be with us as we serve Him.

It’s hearing about the life and work of Jesus that opens the door of heaven for us. We do not need to know anything at all about the Spirit of God in order to become a Christian. It’s a bonus when we become aware of the Helper now available to strengthen us against temptation, and to walk with us as we find ways to serve God here on earth. But the job of the Spirit is primarily to help us learn more and more about Jesus, not more and more about the Holy Spirit.

The Christian church belongs to the Christ, not to His Spirit. It’s Jesus we are to love and serve. We should not get so eager to be made to feel good by spiritual exercises that we forget our Master sends us into the world to serve Him.

God’s Spirit is renewed within us whenever we repent – when we turn to Jesus seeking salvation and then obey HIM. Some assume that it’s the Spirit who saves, who generates new life within sinners. That’s not what the Bible says. The Savior is Jesus Christ. The Spirit is a Helper, a Comforter. Jesus promises (“I will be with you” Matthew 28:20) to be with us as we serve HIM rather than as we serve the Spirit.

The Spirit is available to help us as needed, but it’s WE ourselves who are called and encouraged to “add” particular qualities to our faith. Please read the epistles of Peter, especially chapter one of 2nd Peter where he advises that we should “make every effort to” ourselves ADD TO our faith. We are not saved by faith alone. The “fruit of the Spirit” the apostle Paul tells us about in Galatians 5:22-26 is not given to us without effort on OUR part so that these virtues will be joined to our faith.

Spiritual fruit is not a gift. Paul assures us that we who love Jesus are to ourselves “crucify” the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Does God do for us what He has told US to do?

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