Lucia's Blog: July 2014
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, July 25, 2014

THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: THE INDWELLING - PART FIVE


 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.'"
Revelation 21:1-4


God's ultimate blessing, final reward and eternal destiny for all men who are acceptable in His sight is for HIM to dwell with them as is described in Revelation 21:1-4.  Notice that  this description of the "New Jerusalem," which is the "heavenly home" where God dwells with men, His people, fits the language of the Old Testament that described the way He dwelled among His people, the Israelites,  "I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God. They shall know that I am the Lord their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them; I am the Lord their God."  Exodus 29:45-46.  He also walked among them, "I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people."  Leviticus 26:12.  Likewise those, who beforehand had prophesied of Christ and His redemption through His blood for all men, used the same language saying, "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' declares the Lord,  'I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."'  Jeremiah 31:33.  The promise spoken here is not that of a "tent" but rather the promise of a divine "presence."  This promise of  a divine "presence" was to be a prophecy or sign of God's ultimate dwelling among His people.  This indwelling of the Holy Spirit can only be found when one can study in depth the indwelling of Deity as a whole.

In Ephesians 1:13-14 we read, "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory."

My question is then, how does God dwell in men?  What does the Word of God mean by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?  The problem is that we fail to understand how the Godhead dwells in man.  What this means is that many don't understand the indwelling of God by the Father and the Son making it difficult to comprehend this indwelling of the Holy Spirit in men.  The fact is that whichever avenue God chose for the Holy Spirit to dwell in men, He is dwelling in men through the Holy Spirit.

The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit as being in prophets, in the sense that He was working miracles, supplying or endowing them with power.  As He delivered all Truth, he enabled some to work miracles, confirming the Word.  Although the apostles were also Christians, they were dependent on the Holy Spirit in a special way to work in them and through them to perform signs, wonders, and mighty works. There were only twelve Christians who served as apostles in the beginning and eventually the number grew to include another apostle and many prophets.

I want to point out that the word  ENOIKEO in the Greek language is used of God's Spirit, "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."  Romans 8:11; of God Himself, "Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, 'I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'"  II Corinthians 6:16; of the Word of Christ, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."  Colossians 3:16; of faith, "For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well."  II Timothy 1:5; of the Holy Spirit Himself"Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you."  II Timothy 1:14 and even of sin, "So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me."  Romans 7:17.  Notice that in each of these passages the word "indwell" goes together with an additional "in."  Now when expanding it to include KATOIKEDO, "dwell-with" we must include Christ, "So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love."  Ephesians 3:17 and if we include it with MENO, "remain," and add "spirit of truth," John 14:17" for the apostles, "That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."  We must conclude that the language used in such cases does not make any distinction between the indwelling of God and of the Holy Spirit.  If this reduces the effect or significance of the Holy Spirit, (as some are claiming) then it also reduces the significance of the Father as well as the Son.


I.  GOD'S ETERNAL PURPOSE

From the beginning, God's greatest desire and eternal purpose was to have a beautiful relationship with men, with Him as their Creator being manifested through men and being glorified by them.  We can clearly see this in Revelation 21:1-4 as the culmination of God's eternal purpose.  Let us consider God's eternal purpose:
  • God wanted to dwell among men:
    • Foreshadowed, Exodus 40:34-38 in the Tabernacle
    • Then in the Temple, I Kings 8:10-13
    • This was to be a symbolic dwelling, I Kings 8:27; Isaiah 8:18; Isaiah 33:5
    • A perfect example of God dwelling in man is seen in Matthew 1:23; Col. 2:9
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, 'God with us.'"
"For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form." 
God indwells us as our Mediator, Advocate, link, means of fellowship, seal with God making this indwelling a final and complete one.
  • To be manifested through men:
    • To make known the riches of His glory:   "And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory."  Romans 9:23; Ephesians 3:10
    • As Children of God:  "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name."  John 1:12; Hebrews 2:10
    • To the world through the Gospel:  "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.  Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me."  John 17:6-8, 20
  • Intended man to glorify God:
    • Glorify the Father, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  Matthew 5:16
    • Glory in us making it one in God, "And all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them."  John 17:10, 22
    • To the glory and praise of God, "Having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."  Philippians 1:11
  • Glory in the church:
    • "To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."  Ephesians 3:21

II.  THREE THINGS THAT ENABLED GOD'S ETERNAL PURPOSE:

The following are three things that completed God's eternal purpose and made it possible for this indwelling:


A.  THE NATURE OF MAN:
  • In the image of God:  "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."'  Genesis 1:26-27.   Notice that other creatures such as animals don't have this capacity.  A deaf person, for example, can not enjoy music since he cannot hear.
  • Man has a spirit that can make it possible to respond to God's Spirit:  "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."  Romans 8:14.
  • God intended man to give him glory and praise:
    • Hebrews 2:5-15:  "For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying, 'What is man, that You remember him? Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him?  'You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and have appointed him over the works of Your hands; You have put all things in subjection under his feet.'  For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.  But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone... "  Being made a little lower than angels and crowned with glory and honor having all things subjected to Him.
    • Romans 8:28-30:  "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified."  He foreknew some to be conformed to the image of the Son and these to be glorified.

B.  SACRIFICE OF CHRIST:

Although God had intended man to glorify Him, man with his "free will" rejected his Creator, our Jehovah God.  Man chose evil rather than that which is good and righteous thus he became separated from God.  As a consequence of this, God the Father had to offer His Son as a "guilt offering" to die on our behalf, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."  John 3:16.

Consider why it was necessary for Christ to die and become the ultimate sacrifice of our redemption and reconciliation:
  • Because our sins had separated us from God.  "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear."  Isaiah 59:2
  • So that our unrighteous deeds might be taken away.  "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away."  Isaiah 64:6

Thanks be to God that through Christ we are forgiven, justified, and have the compatibility necessary for the "indwelling."  Consider how Christ made this "indwelling" possible:

    • Christ made it possible for us to be reconciled, justified and thus to be compatible with God.  Remember that our sins rendered our fellowship with God impossible, rendering us unfit as a habitation for God to dwell in.  "If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."  I John 1:6-7.  Without this cleansing through the blood of Christ, conditioned on our confessing and repenting of our sins, we can have no fellowship with Him. 
    •  God would not dwell with men who walk in darkness.  "Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, 'I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  'Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,' says the Lord.   'And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you.  'And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,'  Says the Lord Almighty.'"   2 Corinthians 6:16-18.
    • It is through Christ that God had made this compatibility, fellowship, and indwelling possible.  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."  John 3:16.  This was vital to reconcile us back to Him, for Him to "indwell" us by means of the Holy Spirit.  "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."   Rom. 3:23-26

C.  THE CALLING OF GOD:
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.  It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me."  John 6:44-45
"Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him."  John 14:23
  • This is where the Holy Spirit comes in:
    • The Father dwells in us through the Son, His messenger, Hebrews 1.  He expressed His mind to us.
    • The Holy Spirit, being their final revealer makes it possible for both the Father and Son to dwell in us, through the effect of the Holy Spirit’s Words.
"In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit."  Ephesians 2:22.  
"That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love."  Ephesians 3:16-17. 
We must freely submit our own spirit to the Spirit of God.  It is only through this total surrendering and submission to Him that we are able to establish true fellowship with God as well as to enjoy all the blessings of this "indwelling."  God then is glorified, and man is blessed.  Isn't that beautiful!
  • Christ is the WAY:  
    • We see God:  "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.Philip said to Him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?'"  John 14:7-9
    • We come to know God: "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments."  I John 2:3
    • We have fellowship with God:  "What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ."   I John 1:3, 6-7
    • We abide in God:   "Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.'"  John 14:23
    • We must be faithful to Christ:  This is vital in order for God to dwell or abide in us and we in Him.  How is this possible?  Let us consider the following: 
      • By bearing good fruit:  
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."  John 15:1-7
      • By keeping His commandments:  
"Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.'"  John 14:23
      • By His teachings:   
"We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."  I John 4:6
      • By our love:  
"No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us."   I John 4:12 
      • By the Spirit whom He gave us:  
"The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us."   I John 3:24.  

With all this being said, God's eternal purpose from the beginning was to:
  • Dwell in man
  • Be manifested
  • Be glorified by His children.  
In a few words, God's eternal purposes were made possible by three things:
    • The nature of man.
    • The sacrifice of Christ.
    • The manner by which He calls and draws man to Him which I just mentioned above are all the final realizations that make it possible for this final indwelling
"For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."  II Peter 1:4.  

This is inseparably related to our acceptance and obedience to the Gospel, the Word of God.  Take note that it is only through the inspired Word of God that He can dwell in us.  This is the only means of "indwelling."  God's Spirit then expresses the things of God to us His children.  Consider why the Holy Spirit is the only WAY to Christ.  Let’s notice also how the Holy Spirit reveals Him to us:

  • The Holy Spirit is the WAY to Christ:
    • We are partakers of the Divine Nature:  "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."  2 Peter 1:4.  It is only through the KNOWLEDGE of Christ that we can become partakers of this Divine Nature.  This knowledge comes to us only by the calling of the Gospel, "It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
      2 Thessalonians 2:14.  This is how the "indwelling" or fellowship begins.
    • This dwelling is made possible by our acceptance and response to the Gospel, God's everlasting Word:  "As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father."  I John 2:24.  For further reading:   I John 1:6-7; I Cor. 2:10-13; Eph. 3:1-12; John 14:9,10-26.
    • Our Lord and Savior is also our Mediator, Advocate.  He is the link between man and Deity, the final union of God's Spirit and man's spirit.  This is the fellowship, the knowing, and the abiding (the indwelling) which makes us into ONENESS with God.
"The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God."  Romans 8:16
    • God and the Spirit of God united as Deity:
      • The church(the body of Christ) is called the "house" or "temple" of God where He dwells:  "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"  I Corinthian. 3:16.
      • One's body is the temple of the Holy Spirit:  "Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"  I Corinthians 6:18
      • God's Spirit in man's spirit for Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith in Him.  It is through our reception and obedience to God's Spirit that we become strong in Him.  When Christ dwells or lives in us, we are then able to be rooted in Him making us strong. 
"That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."  Ephesians 3:16-19
      • The love of God is poured out in our heart by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.    , "And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."  Romans 5:5
      • We are able to be filled with the Spirit.  "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit."  Ephesians 5:18
      • When we allow the Word of God to dwell in us richly.  "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."  Colossians 3:16 
      • The Holy Spirit dwells in us, Christians, in the same way that the Father and the Son "indwells us."  So the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is through:
        • Fellowship
        • Communion
        • Abiding
        • Knowing
        • Being known
        • Being taught the ONENESS of God and man while in this earthly tabernacle. 
We are looking to, longing for, and preparing for our "ultimate heavenly indwelling" which is to be with God for all eternity.  ALL the above descriptions are but the same relationship of man and God.


CONCLUSION:  

Men have complicated the subject of the "indwelling of the Holy Spirit" when in fact it is not that difficult to grasp.  In John 4:10-14, Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman of the "living water" which one may have "in Him.” The Samaritan woman could not comprehend how this could be possible.
"Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.'  She said to Him, 'Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?  You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?'  Jesus answered and said to her, 'Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.'"

Later in John 6:31-35, Jesus described Himself as the "true bread from heaven" which "giveth life to the world."  Again in John 6:56-57, Jesus included "meat" and "drink" saying, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him."  (Some misrepresent this today as the Lord's Supper.)  The Jews were offended by this walking away and saying, "This is a hard saying; who can hear it?"  When Jesus saw this He gave a clear explanation of it by saying, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life," verse 63.  This means that Christ dwells in us, and we in Him, if we feed on Him.  How is this done or possible?  We must receive His Words, discern them with understanding, digest them well and allow them to become a vital part of our walk with Him here on earth.  They will produce abundant spiritual life if we abide in them and live by them following Christ all the WAY.  Peter understood this well when he asked the Lord, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of Life,"  verse 68.

With all this being said, let us take to heart that man cannot save himself apart from God through His Word.  Man can never achieve compatibility or fellowship with God by his own means, in spite of how hard he tries.  Nor can he ever summon the Spirit of God by intellectual means of Christ's teachings.  Notice that without the blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins, there could be no "indwelling."

Let us take notice that the answer to man's problem is not a man made religion.  The commandments, teachings, philosophies, human laws and decrees of man cannot make us compatible with God.  There is no compatibility between God and the kingdom of darkness, "This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."  I John 1:5-7.  We have no fellowship with the Father if we continue in sin, "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."  I John 2:1.

It is ONLY through Christ that this "indwelling or fellowship with the Father" is made possible which could not otherwise exist.  It is important to grasp and understand that our spirit must find compatibility or fellowship with the Spirit of the Father in order for this indwelling to exist so that they both may bear witness together,  "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him."  Romans 8:16, 17.  This is the only way the Spirit of God will dwell in us.

Notice also that verse 9 of Romans 8 uses "the Spirit of God and "Spirit of Christ" interchangeably.  Verse 10 of that same chapter continues by saying, "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."  Therefore, the "indwelling of the Holy Spirit" is the close fellowship that exists between God and men whose primary desire and purpose is to "partake of the Divine Nature," II Peter 1:4 by means of becoming partakers of His Holiness, "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings."  Hebrews 2:10 and through the forgiveness that there is through Christ Jesus, made whole again, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."  II Corinthians 3:18.

Finally, our ultimate destination, after living a righteous life, will be heaven where we will be accepted and will enter into our heavenly habitation, our "heavenly dwelling" where God the Father will dwell with us, and we with Him THROUGHOUT ALL ETERNITY.  TO HIM BE THE GLORY.

May the Lord help us to walk with Him in a manner that will allow Him to dwell in us and we in Him:  the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  May we all one day spend eternity with Him in Heaven, our final dwelling place.


Luci

Thursday, July 24, 2014

THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: THE GIFT - PART FOUR

"Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"
Acts 2:38


There is great joy when we give gifts to those whom we love.  It demands time and a lot of thought to find just the perfect gift for that someone special in our life.  We want to make sure we give them the right gift so that they may be able to put it to the best use.  Of course, we want a gift that they will value and will benefit from.  Just imagine how disappointing it would be to give the wrong gift and find no pleasure or joy in the faces of those to whom you gave the gift.

This is how our God must feel when many of His Children don't have a clue about what is meant regarding the "gift of the Holy Spirit."  I wonder how our God feels when His Children tell Him this "gift of the Holy Spirit" is something other than what He intended?  

Acts 2:38 is one of the most controversial texts in the Bible.  The promise of the  "gift of the Holy Spirit" is by nature just ambiguous enough to be controversial in meaning and application.  Do we know for a fact what "the gift of the Holy Spirit" is and to whom it was promised?

There is a wide variety of differences on this subject among brethren. I will be considering some common interpretations.  Along with each presentation of the facts, I will be offering some criticism.  You, therefore, will be the judge when this lesson is over, which position is in harmony with the Scriptures or the TRUTH.

Let us consider a few interpretations or views examining the text along with its context.  We will examine what other passages say on this subject allowing ONLY the Bible to explain Scripture:


FIRST INTERPRETATION


I.  THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT HIMSELF:

Let us first consider the view that the gift is the Holy Spirit Himself:  That at Baptism we receive the bodily indwelling of the Spirit.  In this view, the "gift of the Holy Spirit," along with the forgiveness of sins, was not confined to the first-century Jews on the day of Pentecost.  The promise was "For you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself," Acts 2:39. The "gift" of the Holy Spirit is a present reality.  He is received when one is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  Let us look at a number of passages that would support this view:

  1. Romans 8:9-11:  "However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him… But if the Spirit … dwells in you, … through His Spirit who indwells you."
  2. I Corinthians 6:19:  "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"
  3. 2 Corinthians 1:22:  "Who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge."

    It is clear that in some sense, the Holy Spirit dwells in those who are Christians.  There is some disagreement over the sense in which the Holy Spirit dwells in us.
      • One position is that the Holy Spirit is present in some physical way.  There are two positions that grow out of that interpretation:
        1. One is that the Holy Spirit is present but does not do anything supernatural either to the will or to the understanding apart from the hearing of the Word of God.  
        2. The other position is that the presence of the Holy Spirit carries with it supernatural effects either to the regeneration of the sin damaged heart or to the working of miracles of healing and gift of tongues. 
      • Finally there is the position that the presence of the Holy Spirit in us is the influence of His teachings as found in the Bible.  The "indwelling" according to this last position would be the fellowship which the Christians have with the Holy Spirit and through Him also with the Father and the Son.

        SECOND INTERPRETATION


        II.  THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE:

        This second interpretation says that the "gift" is eternal life.  It is similar to the last of the above positions. Grammatically, it would interpret the "gift" as something that the Holy Spirit gives.  Sometimes this "gift" is described as the promises of God, as described in Acts 2:39; 13:32; Galatians 3:29.

        The difference between this second view and the first view is that the "gift" is not the Holy Spirit Himself, but rather the seal of the Holy Spirit pledging the promises of God.  The following are texts used to support this view:  
        1. John 4:10:  "Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”  In this particular case Jesus was the "gift" as the One who had come to give His life.
        2. Ephesians 4:7:  "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift."  Paul here is speaking of the gifts our Lord and Savior gives.  The language of the above texts is similar to Acts 2:38.  Let us look at three comparisons regarding this:
          • John 4:10:  "The gift of God"  (A gift from God)
          • Ephesians 4:7:  "The gift of Christ"  (A gift from Christ)
          • Acts 2:38:  "The gift of the Holy Spirit"  (A gift from the Holy Spirit)

        Notice that in these 3 examples the promised "gift" is not the person Himself.  Instead, this "gift" is given by the person.  Let us consider the following texts:
          • Acts 2:38:   "Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
          • Acts 3:19:  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."

        Notice that there are similarities between these two texts.  Both speak of repentance, having sins forgiven or wiped away.  The word "return" in Acts 3:19, is related to Baptism; both are speaking or receiving something.  So based on these two similarities it has been concluded that the gift of the Holy Spirit and the times of refreshing are the same exact thing.  This view or interpretation seems to have more Biblical and grammatical support that the first view.  I strongly agree with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit only through the INSPIRED WORD.  The following would be my texts to support this:  


        HOLY SPIRIT
        THROUGH MEANS
        OF
        THE WORD
        John 3:5
        Born again
        I Peter 1:23
        2 Cor. 3:6
        Begets
        James 1:18
        Nehemiah. 9:30
        Instructs
        2 Tim. 3:16-17
        John 16:8
        Convicts
        Titus 1:9
        Titus 3:5
        Saves
        James 1:21
        I Cor. 6:11
        Sanctifies
        John 17:17
        I Cor. 6:11
        Cleanses, purifies
        John 15:3
        I Cor. 6:11
        Washes
        Eph. 5:26
        Gal. 5:16-18
        Walk
        Psalm 119:9-10
        Rom. 8:14
        Leads
        Psalm 119:105
        Acts 9:31
        Comforts
        Romans 15:4
        John 6:63
        Makes alive
        Psalm 119:50, 93
        Psalm 119:50, 93
        Edifies, builds
        Acts 20:32
        John 6:44-45
        Draws
        2 Thes.. 2:14
        Rom. 8:9
        Dwells
        Col. 3:16

        Now getting back to this second view the following are texts that speak to us of the "seal" of the Holy Spirit:
        1. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22:  "For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.  Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge." 
        2. Ephesians 1:13-14:  "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory."  
        According to the ancient use of  "seals," kings and great men who wanted to send a written message by courier would roll the document into a tight roll and melt wax onto it.  They would press a uniquely configured signet ring into the soft wax leaving a unique impression.  In some cases they would use wet clay in place of the wax and perhaps press a specially configured cylinder leaving the mark of the owner as a sort of signature.  The seal would identify the document as belonging to the owner of the signet ring or cylinder because it had the unique markings of the owner.  The nature of this figure highlights the effects of the Holy Spirit on the Christians, who are taught by the Words of the Holy Spirit.  The Words will leave their effect only if one listens to and obeys those Words.  Some argue that the effect of the Holy Spirit is wholly miraculous and that the seal indicates the miraculous change of the will or a miraculous power to heal and speak in tongues.  This brings us then to the third view.


        THIRD INTERPRETATION


        III.  THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS THE MIRACULOUS GIFTS 
                OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:

        1.  The Biblical and historical context:
        "Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  Acts 2:38.
        These argue that the miraculous "gift"of the Holy Spirit was only given to believers by the laying of the apostles hands.  Hence each one would need an apostle to lay his hands on him. Notice that in Acts 2:43; 4:33; 5:12, we are told repeatedly that the miracles were performed only by the apostles.  In Acts 6:6, the apostles laid their hands on the seven servants and prayed for them and they began to work miracles as well, verse 8.  Since not every new believer received this "gift" on the day of Pentecost and since there are no apostles today, there is no way any believer is able to receive this "gift" today.

        2.  Acts 2:17-18 is used as a historical argument:  
        "And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; 18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy."' 

        They use Peter's words of  Acts 2:17-18 to support a historical argument. According to this interpretation, the phrase "in the last days" refers to the last days of the Old Testament as found in I Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 1:2; 8:13; 9:26; James 5:1-3; I Peter 1:20; 2 Peter 3:3-4.  They would argue that in the last days the promise of the Spirit being poured out was for all mankind in the sense that both Jews and Gentiles would receive the "gift," but only in the last days(the first century).  These were the last days of the Old Testament.  Therefore they would deny that the "gift" of the Holy Spirit is for us today since according to them this historical period is long gone.  Hence making it unreasonable  for anyone today to expect this kind of work of visions, dreams and prophecy performed by the Holy Spirit through believing men and women.  They argue that with the death of the apostles this "gift" of the Holy Spirit to perform miracles or distribute the miraculous gifts also died.

        Let us consider the Scriptures that are used to support this interpretation:  

          "But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!"  Acts 8:20

        The "gift" of God here is the Holy Spirit which has to do with the authority to impart miraculous gifts that were given only through the laying on of the hands by the apostles.
         "All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also."  Acts 10:45

        The Holy Spirit was given to the Gentiles as a miraculous sign prior to their obedience to the Gospel.  The power was given to be a "sign" that the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, as we read in Acts 11:17:  "Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?"

        Some argue that the "gift" of the Holy Spirit was illustrated in Acts 10:44-48 when Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit.  However when Peter described the event in the next chapter (Acts 11:15-18), he implied that the phenomenon had not happened since the beginning when the Holy Spirit fell on the apostles on Pentecost.  Peter treats that "gift" of the Holy Spirit as a special sign given by God to take away all doubt that God would accept the Gentiles by Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ just like he did the Jews. Nothing about this incident suggests that it ordinarily happened to Christians when they were baptized into Christ during the time between Acts 2 and Acts 10.  If all Christians were promised the "gift" of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38, then it was a different "gift" than that of Acts 10.

        Let us do a side by side comparison of the text used in this argument:

        Mark 16:16-17 Acts 2:38
        "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who have believed:  in My tame they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink and deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."  "And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.'"

        They would use similarities from these two texts to support their view:

        Mark 16:16-17
        Acts 2:38
        Believed
        Repent
        Baptized
        Baptized
        Saved
        Forgiven
        Signs
        Gift of the Holy Spirit

        They do not disagree regarding what we must to do to be saved.  However, they would say that Mark 16:17 is speaking of the "signs" that were confined to the first century only therefore making the "gift" inactive today.

        CONCLUSION

        With all these three views or interpretations considered, I find that the second view is the most consistent with the inspired WORD.  I disagree with the view that the "gift" of the Holy Spirit was the miraculous power given by the Holy Spirit only in the first century.  All humanity had two pressing needs as they cried out to Peter in Acts 2:37:

        1)  The forgiveness of the past sins and 2)  victory over the threat of sins in the future life that a forgiven Christian must face on this earth.  Thegift of the Holy Spiritwas the promise that God would be there to help us and the result would be that He would leave His seal of our lives, His mark of ownership as described in Ephesians 1:13-14.
        "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory."

         Let us look at some texts that express some parallel sentiments:

        I.  Comparison of "gift of the Holy Spirit" texts:

        Remember what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman who was drawing water in John 4:10,  "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."'   On the other hand in Ephesians 4:7 Paul said, "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift."  In Acts 2:38 we read, "And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  Notice that in all of these previously mentioned passages we have what God(Father), Christ(the Son) and the Holy Spirit would give.  God(Father) was not the "giftbut rather the "giver;" by the same token Christ(the Son) was not the "gift" but rather the "giver;" and likewise, the Holy Spirit was not the "gift"either, but rather the "giver."  Don't you think that a gift implies having a giver?  One cannot receive a "gift" without having a "giver" and a "receiver." So my question is then, If the Holy Spirit is the "gift" then who is the giver?  The idea of the Holy Spirit being the gift and not the giver makes the so called "gift" ONE and the SAME.  But, my question again is, How can that be possible?  Well, the answer is simple since the "gift" of God was not the Holy Spirit, but rather "living water" that He would give or offer.  Likewise, the "gift" of Christ was not Christ, but rather the "gifts" named in the text.

        II.  "Gift of the Holy Spirit" as the immediate context:

        The text of Peter's first sermon given on the day of Pentecost was this:  "And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32.  Peter explains the reason why they must call on Him and how they were to do it.  In this text, "whosoever" is equivalent to "all nations" in similar texts.  The apostle Paul made it clear that there was no distinction between Jew and Gentile.  He also stated that  "The same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for 'Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."'  Romans 10:12-13.  Therefore, Paul was clearly indicating that the Prophet Joel was saying that both Jew and Gentile would have the same right to invoke God's blessing by doing His will.  Notice well what Peter says, "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." Acts 2:39.  What promise is the apostle Peter talking about?  He is referring to the "promise" spoken of in Acts 2:21 which includes "whosoever" as in the case of both Jew and Gentile, Romans 10:12-13. So my question is, Who are the receivers of the "promise" given in Acts 2:39?  Notice that it says the "promise" is to you(Jews) and to your children(Jews) and to "all" that are far off(The Gentiles),
        "But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."  Eph. 2:13.  Salvation is promised in Acts 2:21 to both Jews and Gentiles.  "And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

        The promise of inheritance that we read of  in Galatians 3:7-14 given through Abraham is parallel to the salvation of Joel 2:32.  Notice that in Galatians 3:15, "In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."  This "inheritance" is said to be the "promise of the Holy Spirit" or that which the Holy Spirit promised through Abraham in the Old Testament.

        III.  Let us consider the immediate context, Acts 2:33:

        In Acts 2:33, Peter declares that Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God, and received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit.  This indicates that He did not receive the Holy Spirit Himself but that He received that which the Holy Spirit had promised.  So my question is then, What was the promise of the Holy Spirit?  Well, the "promise" was that He was going to sit on David's throne, Acts 2:34-35.  Notice that this statement was made in Acts 2:38.  Hence, the "promise" of the Holy Spirit is what obviously the Holy Spirit had promised.  And the "gift" of the Holy Spirit is what the Holy Spirit gave.

        IV.  Let us consider another remote context, Acts 26:16-18:

        Remember what Jesus said to Paul in Acts 26:16-18?  He said, "But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;  rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,  to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me."   

        This inheritance was promised by the Holy Spirit.

        V.  Let us consider the context of Salvation being the "gift"of the Holy Spirit

        In I Peter 1:3-5, he wrote to those who are the elect of God saying, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."  Notice that these brethren were called "children of obedience" in I Peter 1:14, "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance."  These "obedient children" had been redeemed by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus (verse 19).  They had purified their souls by obeying the Truth (verse 22).  They had been born again to a living hope by the Word of God that lives and endures forever (verse 23).  I cannot fathom any other description given regarding the "gift" of the Holy Spirit.  Being born again only by the Word of God becoming obedient children, having a living hope mainly based on a living Savior and being promised an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and that would not fade away.  Being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  Such beautiful and great promises!

        Again, Peter states in I Peter 1:10-12, "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look."

        Let us consider the work of the Holy Spirit enabling men to prophesy concerning this salvation, "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,  for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."  II Peter 1:20-21.  It is obvious when we read this that the Holy Spirit enabled men to preach this message of salvation, "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look."  I Peter 1:12.  The Holy Spirit was able to validate the message of this great salvation by signs and wonders, "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.  For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,  God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."  Hebrews 2:1-4.  

        Let us acknowledge that Salvation was prophesied by means of the Holy Spirit.  Likewise, Salvation was declared by those who proclaimed the Gospel by means of the Holy Spirit.  Their message of SALVATION was confirmed by the Holy Spirit.  The promise of the "gift" of the Holy Spirit that we read of in Acts 2:38 was not given just to those present in the early century but rather to "all" who would truly and sincerely repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.  And to "everyone" who would obey and observe these conditions mentioned in Acts 2:38, would receive the "gift" of the Holy Spirit and that "gift" is indeed SALVATION.

        Those who were being baptized here in the name of Jesus observed all the conditions of Acts 2:38 and were able then to receive the "gift" of the Holy Spirit.  I heartily believe after reading, discerning and understanding that the "gift" of the Holy Spirit is SALVATION which embraces all of God's provisions that SAVE US.  I also believe that  to receive this "gift" of the Holy Spirit does not necessarily imply to receive the Holy Spirit Himself but that which the Holy Spirit gives.

        In my next study I want to consider the ramifications of the "indwelling" of the Holy Spirit.


        Luci


        Friday, July 18, 2014

        HOW TO BECOME LIKE GOD

        Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.  Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
         II Peter 1:3-11 

        God has shown His righteousness to us by His Son through the knowledge of the Gospel.  He has also given us everything  pertaining to life and godliness through that same Gospel that we may be complete lacking in nothing.  He called us through the Gospel in order that we might glorify Him with all excellence.  Likewise God has given us precious and glorious promises.  Consider ALL His promises:

        1. The promise to supply us with our daily needs, "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19.  
        2. God has promised that His Grace will be sufficient for us, "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast  about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.'"  II Corinthians 12:9.
        3. He has promised us access to SALVATION by that same Grace through FAITH in Christ to ALL who will believe in Him and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins, "Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"  Acts 2:38.  "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."  Mark 16:16.  But that Grace is conditional since we must obey ALL of His commandments.  It is only through an OBEDIENT FAITH that we will have access to that same Grace of God,  "Through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God."  Romans 5:2.
        4. He has promised to help us overcome sin and temptation giving us a way of escape, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."  I Cor. 10:13.  "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy."  Jude 24
        5. He has promised victory over death, the resurrection from the dead.  He will resurrect us the same way He did our Lord and Savior, "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses." Acts 2:32. "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive."  I Corinthians 15:20-22.  "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."   I Corinthians 15:3-4.  "For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.  But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.'" I Corinthians 15:53-57.  For further reading I Corinthians 15:26; Luke 20:34-36.
        6. God has promised that all things would work together for good to those who love and serve Him faithfully, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28.  It is hard to comprehend this in our weaknesses, but He has promised it, and He will carry it out.
        7. And finally God has given us the promise of eternal life, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27-28.  "This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life."  I John 2:25.  "In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began."  Titus 1:2.  "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."  Matthew 25:46.  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."  John 3:16.  "For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."  Galatians 6:8.

        All of these promises have only one purpose and that is to make us partakers of His divine nature.  God wants to dwell in us but in order to be able to do this we must escape the corruption of this world caused by sin.  We are able to be partakers of His divine nature by adding to our steadfast faith moral excellence and to this moral excellence knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and finally love.

        By doing all these excellent things, we can make certain our call, bearing abundant fruit for His glory.  By putting into practice all these moral excellencies, we will keep from stumbling and make certain our entrance into heaven, our final dwelling.

        May our Lord help us to live an excellent life for His glory.


        Luci