Friday, August 19, 2011

Then and Now

Under the Old Covenant, the knowledge of God came through Moses and the prophets, but there were false prophets in Israel, too, who gained the confidence of God’s people and stole their hearts away from God’s real messengers. If the people had clung to the right who, they would have trusted in the right what, the law. Instead, they trusted the wrong who and were led away from the law, and lost their souls in the end. In the New Covenant, the knowledge of God comes through anointed ministers of Christ. But just as happened under the Old Testament, false teachers arose along with the apostles, gained the confidence of God’s saints, and stole their hearts away from God’s true ministers, just as Peter said would happen (2Pet. 2:1). If God’s New Testament people had continued trusting the right who, they would have rejected false teachers and the Institution they devised and would have trusted the right what, the Spirit of God.

God’s true prophets cried out for Israel to heed the law of God, stressing that the only acceptable way for them to serve God was the way He told them to serve Him; that is, by following the law of Moses. God’s true ministers now cry out for the children of God to follow the Spirit, stressing that the only acceptable way for them to serve God is the way Jesus told them to; that is, “in spirit and in truth”. The law was Israel’s only access to God; every true Old Testament prophet proclaimed that truth. In this covenant, the Spirit is our only access to God (Eph. 2:18), and every true minister of God preaches that truth. Moses told God’s people that the law was their life (Dt. 32:46-47), and every one in ancient Israel who believed Moses and lived by God’s law will be given everlasting life in the Final Judgment. Jesus and Paul told God’s people that the Spirit is their life (Jn. 6:63; Rom. 8:10), and every one who believes them and lives by the Spirit will also be given everlasting life in the Final Judgment.

Pay attention to what you hear. Anyone who tells you that receiving the Spirit of God is just an added blessing, an extra gift, and that you do not need to walk in it to be saved in the end is one of those who would steal your attention from the servants of God who are telling you the truth. We are baptized into the body of Christ by the holy Spirit (1Cor. 12:13), and without that holy Spirit of God we are, as Paul said, “none of His” (Rom. 8:9). Judgment.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Who Really Loves God?

Everyone who truly loves God also loves Jesus who was sent from heaven in the Father’s name (Jn. 5:43). Likewise, everyone who truly loves Jesus loves the holy ghost that was sent from heaven in Jesus’ name (Jn. 14:26). To reject Jesus is to reject the Father who sent him (Mt. 10:40), and to reject the Spirit is to reject the Son who sent it (Rom. 8:9).

Many in Israel who appeared to be godly were exposed as evil by their rejection of the Son of God , while many who appeared evil were revealed to be righteous by their love for him. To the envious religious rulers who despised him, Jesus said, “You are they who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Lk. 16:15). On the other hand, the Master encouraged those who loved him with these words: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk. 12:32).

“The kingdom of God”, wrote Paul, “is righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy ghost” (Rom. 14:17). So, when Jesus said that his Father would “give the kingdom”, he was saying that He would give them the holy ghost. This promise was fulfilled when his disciples “were all with one accord in one place, and 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” (Acts 2).

It is only to the extent that the Spirit of God leads us that we are rightly led. Only to the extent that the Spirit governs is the body of Christ governed well. Only to the extent that the Spirit gives wisdom is there sound judgment among us. And only to the extent that the Spirit anoints is there ever true ministry. To desire God is to desire the Spirit, and to love God is to love the Spirit. There are many who claim to love God, when in fact what they really love is a god of their own imagination. It is a person’s response to the Spirit that came on the day of Pentecost which brings to light what that person really wants and loves.

The Spirit guides us into all truth (Jn. 16:13). If anyone knows any truth, if anyone understands anything rightly concerning God, that knowledge came from the holy Spirit. Said Paul, “No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1Cor. 2:11). What little uprightness exists in the world today exists only by virtue of the influence of God’s Spirit. It is the Spirit that convicts men of sin and then convinces them of what is right (Eph. 4:30; Jn. 16:8). It is the Spirit alone that cleanses from sin (1Cor. 6:9-11), and it is only by the indwelling of the Spirit that one possesses the precious hope of being raised from the dead into eternal life (Rom. 8:11). One of the Spirit’s titles is “the Spirit of Grace” (Heb. 10:29), and we are being “saved by grace” only if we are filled with the Spirit, for it is by the Spirit, and by it alone, that the grace of God is ministered to the soul.

Christ Jesus and his Father dwell in the hearts of believers only by the Spirit (Jn. 14:23)! Jesus himself is inside of no one. He is in heaven with his Father, waiting for the day when the Father will send him back for us. We either have the holy Spirit within us, or we have nothing holy in us at all.