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The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions VI

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Question #1:  

Why do you believe the Holy Spirit is part of a Trinity? Never once did Jesus pray to or talk to, or with the Holy Spirit. Also every time there is a glimpse into heaven there seem to be only two thrones seen, that of the Father and that of the Son. Is the Holy Spirit not the Power of God bearing witness of God?

Response #1: 

The Holy Spirit is most definitely God. He is not the object of prayer because of His self-selected role in the plan of God, one of empowering behind the scenes (whereas Jesus is the visible face of the Father). As it is sometimes said by way of a loose analogy in explaining the Trinity, if we compared their roles to light, as with radio waves, the Father is heard but not seen, as with infra-red, the Spirit is felt but not seen, and as with visible light, the Son is likewise visible. It's imperfect, as any physical analogy to the Trinity must necessarily be, but it may be of some help. In any case, scripture is clear:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2nd Corinthians 3:17 NIV

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2nd Corinthians 13:14 NIV

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:14 NIV

Here are some links where this subject is discussed at great length:

The Trinity in the Bible

The Trinity in the Old Testament

The Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Bible Basics 5: Pneumatology: The Study of the Holy Spirit

Peter #7: "The Ministry of the Holy Spirit "

Peter #16: "Leadership of the Spirit"

The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions V

The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions IV

The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions III

The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions II

The Holy Spirit: Pneumatology Questions I

Question #2:  

Hello Bob,

One of my associates is a Methodist and believes that it is possible to blaspheme the Holy Spirit today by attributing the works of Jesus to the devil. I thought that this can only happen when Jesus was physically present during the time of His ministry. He also said that if someone publicly, explicitly, rejects Jesus as professing their faith in God, they no longer are saved. What does the bible say regarding this, and is my associate wrong?

God Bless,

Response #2: 

This is a very common mistake. The "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" is rejecting the Spirit's witness to the gospel. The context in the gospels is one of unbelievers viewing miracles produced by the Holy Spirit and saying that the devil did them instead of the Holy Spirit. That blasphemes the Spirit and also rejects His witness to the truth of the gospel – and only by believing the gospel can a person be saved. So this particular "unpardonable sin" is the sin of rejecting Christ. That is by definition something a believer cannot do without first having his/her faith completely die off. All believers are saved; only unbelievers are not saved. A believer cannot lose salvation as long as he/she continues to have faith in Christ. Apostasy is the loss of faith, the complete death of any desire to have anything to do with the Lord. It is not that common and it is not something that can happen overnight or by accident or on account of committing some "terrible sin". Make no mistake, there are terrible sins and believers who commit them suffer correspondingly terrible discipline for them – but they are not lost as a result unless they completely abandon their faith. Important links:

Apostasy and the Sin unto Death

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (see response #2 which has also further links)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:   

Dear Dr Bob,

I've just stumbled upon your materials and I've downloaded most of your materials to study. Wow! It is indeed important to study and learn the Word of God from the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

I would like to know your knowledge according to the Written Word and your personal encounters with the Holy Spirit if any about Living in the Supernatural or in the Power of God, Having Holy Spirit Encounters etc.

I believe because I serve The Living God Who also Is my Heavenly Father, it should be natural that I have encounters with Him since I am a living being, created in His Image and having His Spirit living inside of me.

Thank you and much blessings.

Response #3: 

Very good to make your acquaintance – and thanks so much for your encouraging comments.

As to your question, I don't think it's possible to be a Christian who is actively seeking God for any length of time and not experience the ministry of the Spirit. The one point I would stress however is that His ministry is not composed of obvious pyrotechnics, nor is it furthered or indicated by the loud outbursts of human beings, nor does it manifest itself in publicly celebrated signs. The voice of the Spirit is still and small, but powerful beyond understanding (1Ki.19:11-12). Learning to listen carefully is sign of spiritual maturity, and His voice can easily be missed whenever we lean towards our own understanding or give precedence to our own ways. But for those who set themselves to listen, He is our faithful guide and will empower us to do all that the Lord Jesus has called us to do.

Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts."
Zechariah 4:6 NASB

For much more on all this please see the extensive part 5 of Bible Basics: "Pneumatology".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:   

Dear Dr Bob,

Thank you for your immediate response to my question. It speaks volumes about your dedication to your Calling.

Thank you very much for this website. My prayer is that God will continue to widen your knowledge of Him and His Word.

I am beginning with your Academy Intermediate Training Lesson 1 for personal reasons and I'm already bawling like a baby studying through the Parable of the Sower.

I have not found in all my life a study of the Word so thorough, and FREE...this has to be God revealing His Love to humanity and of course using yourself as His Chosen Vessel.

Thank you so very much for taking the time to study and opening this FREE Website for everyone, including myself, to freely learn in DETAIL and receive. Indeed your recompense is great for this marvellous work, but most especially for your obedience to the Call of Christ regarding this great contribution to humanity.

The Lord bless you and your team always.

For His Kingdom together

Response #4: 

You're most welcome, my friend.

I appreciate your good words about the Ichthys ministry very much – but I should also note that it sounds to me as if you are also accessing and enjoy Pastor-Teacher Curtis Omo's Bible Academy (link; as you reference "Academy Intermediate Training Lesson 1"). Good for you! I highly recommend that ministry (but it is separate from Ichthys).

Thanks for your prayers!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:    

Hey Bob

We are in the process of working on the Schaeffer book - 25 Basic Bible studies

Two questions came up:

One of the members said that the Hebrew Bible (written before our Bible) says the Spirit is a woman - your comments

When does Redemption happen? your comments

Response #5: 

On the Spirit, He is masculine in gender:

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter (masc.), that he may abide with you for ever.
John 14:16 KJV

But the Comforter (masc.), which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he (Gk. ekeinos – masculine gender here) shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
John 14:26 KJV

But when the Comforter (masc.) is come, whom (masc.) I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he (Gk. ekeinos – masculine gender here) shall testify of me.
John 15:26 KJV

Howbeit when he (Gk. ekeinos – masculine gender here), the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
John 16:13 KJV

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he (masc.) who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
2nd Thessalonians 2:7 KJV

Confusion about this issue sometimes arises because of the word "spirit" (see the link). Since the word is neuter in Greek (pneuma) and feminine in Hebrew (ruach), the grammar in the respective languages often assimilates to the gender of the title noun "Spirit"; but very clearly from the passages above He is a He.

On redemption, all believers have been redeemed from our sins (positional redemption); we will be fully redeemed in terms of our bodies (ultimate redemption) at the resurrection (please see the link: "Redemption"):

[Christ,] in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:14 (cf. Rom.3:24; 1Cor.1:30; Eph.1:7)

Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
Romans 8:23 NKJV (cf. Eph.1:14; 4:30)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

It is popularly held that the Restrainer is Holy Spirit, a position you seem to hold from your site. I have been reading old commentaries and I realized most commentators as well as the primitive church held the Restrainer to be something else, Roman Empire, Papacy etc.

Could you be having an idea as to when the idea of the Restrainer was introduced to Theology?

Thank you.

Response #6: 

Hello Friend,

The Restrainer is in scripture, after all:

Even now you know what it is that restrains [antichrist's arrival] so that he will be revealed [only] in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work – [and] it is only the Restrainer [who keeps things in check, and will] until He moves out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed . . .
2nd Thessalonians 2:6-8a (cf. Jn.8:36)

This is my translation but there are many which are similar. The Holy Spirit is also seen to be "restraining" in the very first chapter of the Bible, and as you may have seen at Ichthys there are many such instances (link: "The Restraining Ministries of the Holy Spirit").

So perhaps what you are asking is "when did theology start to get this wrong?". To which I would reply that theology (depending on whose we are talking about) has been getting things wrong since the beginning. As our Lord says to the church at Ephesus, representing the first post-apostolic generation, "You have forsaken the love you had at first" (Rev.2:4 NIV) – that "love" being a love for the scriptures and the truth they contain, a love for learning and believing and living the truth. When that goes out the window, all manner of questionable "theology" bubbles up in its place.

So yes, I am aware that there are many false doctrines taught on this subject in the name of "theology", but the scripture quoted above is pretty clear, for anyone who wants to delve into the truth.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Thank you.

Nobody has ever understood the Restrainant to be Holy Spirit since Paul penned those words.... until quite recently.

We must be highly favored to be getting it 'right' after centuries of 'error'.

Response #7: 

Hello Friend,

The church fathers run to millions of pages. Perhaps you are correct, but it is difficult to prove a negative. Of course something else to factor in is the fact that there are lots of other interpretations and only one of them could be right but they could all be wrong.

Also, what has been written down outside of the Bible constitutes a very small part of what has been taught by teachers of the Word over the last two millennia.  So saying that "nobody understood" this doctrine until recently is assuming a great deal, given that we are not omniscient.

Finally, the Thessalonians, I'm pretty sure, understood. If they failed to pass the correct interpretation along, that is too bad. I will also say that "until quite recently" obtains regarding a very great deal of correct teaching which can be drawn from scripture. What the reason for that is, I can only surmise: not too many people in the history of the Church have really ever been interested in the truth, even if a lot of books have been written, and many people who have been interested to some degree in the truth have also often been willing to give more respect to their tradition and what was traditionally received than to the scriptures themselves.

(1) Before all else, God created the heavens and the earth. (2) But the earth came to be ruined and despoiled – darkness lay upon the face of the abyss while God's Spirit brooded over the surface of its waters. (3) Then God said, "Let light be!", and there was light.
Genesis 1:1-3

Here we see the ministry of the Spirit in the very first paragraph of scripture. Here too, it perhaps has "only been quite recently" that the ins and outs of the Genesis gap have been understood and appreciated (see the link). But there it is.

The only important question I see in matters of this sort is "what is actually the truth?". That is what I want to know and share with others.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Thank you for your detailed response;

I start with the end and say that I doubt any alternative interpretation imagined theirs was nothing but the truth. To your first point; this is no negative. The body of the Fathers work is well known, and widely read and disseminated so much that it is highly doubtful that any new discoveries can be had regarding their beliefs. It is true that writing was extremely laborious but we have more than adequate writings on the subject and it anyone believes there was a strand if interpretation of the subject verse that escaped the pen, burden of proof lies with them. I agree many are more interested in propagating their traditions as opposed to the truth, and that has not changed even now. There is little to convince that modern Christian literature is more honest or better than primitive writings. The gap theory has been amplified and excited by Darwinism but I digress. That the Restrainant, widely and well known to Thessalonians lay hid for centuries waiting for modern craftiness to be discovered as the 'truth' is amusing.

But WHY would the Apostle be intentionally vague about the Person of Holy Spirit?

Thank you sir.

Response #8: 

Hello Friend,

I don't find it vague at all. Who else could be described with both neuter and a masculine . . . except for the Spirit who is a Person (masculine) whose name/designation is neuter (pneuma)? And who else would be capable of restraining the devil and preventing the coming of antichrist except God Himself?

But if previous invention is the standard, where do we find that the pope is not the "vicar of Christ" before the Reformation? So by this canon, all Protestants must be suspect on account of ancientness of the heresy.

I am happy to discuss the ins and outs of the teaching of the Holy Spirit as the Restrainer . . . if that is what you wish. Here are the places where the doctrine is taught at Ichthys:

The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit I (in SR 2)

The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit II (in CT 2B)

"Out of the way?"

Exegesis of 2nd Thessalonians 2:6-7

Who is capable of restraining antichrist except the Spirit?

As I say, my one and only interest is the truth, and the truth is what is written in the Bible. What the Bible says and means may be a matter of interpretation, but that is not guess work: it can be shown and defended in every particular case, if the right gifts, tools, and hard work are employed.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:  

Hi Bob,

I've never understood why some Christian denominations like using the words "filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18) as it refers to some sort of second baptism of the Holy Spirit where it causes the believer to speak in tongues. They speak as if some believers are at times NOT filled with the Spirit as if they can be "partially filled" with the Holy Spirit. When I read that verse, the bible seems to be making a contrast between something we can continually do (i.e., "walk in the spirit") to not cause us to do something contrary to what is pleasing in the Lord's sight. What exactly does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?

I was watching the news where doctor's and physicians did a scientific experiment where they did a brain scan on people during the period where they were speaking in tongues. The scan showed the frontal lobe of the brain which is linked to our speech (broca's area), and it was empty or greyed o ut when the person was speaking in tongues. I found that to be very bizarre because that would seem to indicate that the speech area of the brain is not active, otherwise that area of the brain would light up when functioning properly. The patient said that it was because the Holy Spirit was filling that area of the brain and taking over. That doesn't make any sense to me. If the Holy Spirit is taking over, then why is that part invisible? Wouldn't that imply that all of our body would be invisible under a scan when we are walking in the Spirit? Also, that would also mean that the person is not THINKING about what words to say next, otherwise that area would show activity. To me, that means maybe they are under the influence of demons or some spirit. I don't know for sure...

God Bless,

Response #9: 

There is no speaking in tongues going on today (not the biblical version); whatever was "tested" was some person making noises, but not in a genuine language and not through the Spirit (see the links which will lead to others:

The Gift of Tongues: Part 3

The Gift of Tongues: Part 2

The Gift of Tongues: Part 1

The baptism of the Holy Spirit as distinct from speaking in tongues.

An Extended Conversation about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

As to Ephesians 5:18, the verse is better translated "be ful-filled by the Spirit"; that verse and other such "full / filling" passages are speaking of the Spirit's influence which in turn corresponds to the believer's response to Him. While there are times in the book of Acts, the time of the unique transition between the Age of Israel and the Age of the Church, where the Spirit more or less "takes over" regardless of the person's response, in the Church today if we would be more "filled", that is, more directly influenced and more closely guided by the Spirit, that requires long term and short term obedience: long term, because unless we are growing in the truth we are offering the Spirit very little to work with in terms of the requisite truth stored in our hearts which constitutes the Spirit's "fulcrum", so to speak; short term, because at any given moment we either are or are not responding to the Spirit's still, small voice and obeying Him. He works with us in our hearts through the truth therein (see the links: "The Guidance of the Spirit" and "The Leadership of the Spirit").  All of the other terms and distinctions are likewise discussed and explained in BB 5: Pneumatology: the Study of the Holy Spirit.

Happy reading!

In Jesus our dear Savior

Bob L.

Question #10:  

I'll get straight to the point and won't hold back. So two of my questions, or more like concerns that need to be addressed, well, I have asked before and you answered them.

Roughly two weeks ago I got really serious about my walk. Colossians 3:15 was a big inspiration and comfort to me and really helped get me going. Not only that but your study on peripateology as well as Mr. Omo's lessons have been EXTREMELY helpful, so much though that I have so much scripture and quotes written and taped to my wall. Yeah, I don't take notes I write things down on 3X5 cards and then tape them on my wall. As I pray I casually glance at them and quote them, and then next thing I know their stuck in my head hidden in my heart. Great! It was like a truth smorgasbord reading through your study!

Those two weeks were great for me, wasn't just taking in the word but was living it out. I had great peace and joy, but then [details omitted].

I appreciate ANY wise and Biblical insight you may give.

In His name

Response #10: 

A couple of things in terms of preliminaries.

First, if ever in doubt, confess. Sin is deceitful. In my view, there is no harm in confessing. After all, the prayer the Lord gave us to pray daily includes "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us" – and our Lord doesn't say, "well, if you haven't sinned, you don't have to pray this part". That is because we all sin much more than we have any idea. So please confess. It is folly in my book ever to be wondering, "should I confess this?". If in doubt, confess . . . and move on.

Second, one potential problem here, a problem common to all human beings, is the danger of becoming prideful in regard to things we ought to be doing anyway. OK, I'm studying hard. Great, I get an A+! That was my goal and I feel great about it. And I'm really special for accomplishing this! Wrong. You just did your job. Getting a swelled head for doing your job is opening up another area for problems.

“In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are worthless servants; we've only done our duty.' ”
Luke 17:10 CSB

Our "job" as believers in Jesus Christ is to live completely sinless lives of perfect sanctification. Did we avoid getting angry at anyone commuting to and from work today. Great! That's what we were supposed to "not do". But we need to avoid making the very grave mistake of being too focused and fixated on avoiding sin as an "accomplishment". Don't sin. Did you sin? Confess and move on. Did you fight off temptation? Great! That was only what you were supposed to do. Don't make it into something it's not or when you do fail (and we all fail) you will undermine your whole walk because of attributing an incorrect value to "victory".

Third, marriage is marriage. I think it is fair to say that married couples who are not in a dysfunctional marriage are far less likely to commit sexual sin, especially if they are believers diligently attempting to grow and walk with the Lord. The outlet marriage provides is sufficient for that, though the price paid is large as Paul in the Spirit tells us very clearly (1Cor.7:28-35). So such people do not constantly "burn" with passion (that is what the verse means), but they have in exchange all of the "tribulations" of a married life – and these are significant.

Fourth, God knows all things and can do all things. Furthermore, He loves you so much that He sacrificed His beloved Son for you that you might have life eternal. The cross answers all questions. A heavenly Father who gave up His Son for you is not going to forget about you and your needs. But on the other hand we are all tested, especially believers who are trying to grow as you are doing. That generally means we have to wait longer than we would like and often longer than we think we can possibly manage it to have whatever problem we are facing solved. God could solve "the problem" (whatever it is) instantaneously, but then where would there be any place for faith? Faith is patient – or learns to be so in the case of mature believers. We know that God will take care of us, take care of all of our needs, so we are willing to wait as long as it takes – or at least we certainly should be. Is that easy? Not at all. But then the crown of life is not given to spiritual weaklings.

Fifth, God can do all things. If there were only one single woman of the right age and spiritual constitution fit for you left on the entire earth, God would have no problem bringing her to you – just like He brought Eve to Adam. You think this looks like a long-shot for you? Adam didn't even know women existed – because they didn't (yet); but God provided for him, and perfectly so.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Galatians 5:16-17

This is very clear. If we sin, it is because we are NOT walking in the power of the Spirit. That means that every time we fail, it is our fault. We are the ones who have chosen to ignore what the Spirit is telling us and instead respond to what the flesh is telling us. Is the flesh troublesome? Indeed. Does it receive help from the devil's followers and from the whole world system that he has put in place to cause us to stumble and become ensnared? Indeed. Are we also inclined to stumble because of past bad decisions and habits and experiences and liberties taken? Indeed. Are we guilty when we sin, mitigating factors notwithstanding. Indeed. Is the Spirit capable of countering all such disadvantages and weaknesses even so. Indeed!

It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit is God. He is all-powerful, omnipotent. He restrained the entire universe in darkness until the day that the Lord Jesus was given the command to remake the heavens and the earth. All the powers of darkness in the heavens and on the earth couldn't budge Him a millimeter if they combined as one to try to do so. He is God. And He indwells us. So if He wanted to keep us from sinning, who could sin in despite of Him? But what believers often fail to take into account is that this life is all about free will. We are the ones making the choice. The Spirit aids us, but He does not compel us. If we are seeking His help, He helps us; when we are not setting our will to do so . . . well, He will not violate our free will.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14:28-31 NIV

This passage illustrates the believer's situation exactly. Just like walking on water, resisting sin is impossible – without the help of God. But we do have the help of God to resist sin; we have the Spirit of God indwelling us. Peter exited the boat just as we ought to exit our predisposition to sin. But the Lord did not take away his free will. When Peter experienced the pressure of the waves and wind, he CHOSE to believe what he saw – and to fear it – instead of believing what he knew to be true by faith, namely, that our Lord is all-powerful, loved him, and was not going to let him sink. What was Peter's problem? He chose to believe his eyes and ears and feelings and not the truth. That is why our Lord reproves him with these words: "You of little faith . . . why did you doubt?" Likewise, if we doubt the Spirit's ability to help us, that doubt is a lack of faith and a decision NOT to believe. We will thus fail. If when under pressure we imagine that the pressure we are facing is something we are not going to be able to handle, that is just another way of saying to ourselves that the Lord either cannot or will not help us. That is a decision. A decision to doubt and not to trust Him. We will fail. But if instead of letting ourselves get rattled we hold our ground no matter how heavy the shot and shell, no matter how loudly and terrifyingly the enemy is screaming for our blood, calmly mowing them down in complete confidence that God is our Helper, then we honor Him and gain the victory . . . which is only what we are supposed to be doing in the first place.

Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
Exodus 17:9-13 NIV

As long as the Israelites rely on God – tangibly illustrated by Moses holding up his hands -- they win; whenever they fail to do so – tangibly illustrated by Moses letting his hands drop – they lose. Likewise, as long as we are reaching out for the Spirit's help, we win; when we fail to do so for whatever reason, doubt, fear, lack of serious commitment, we lose. There is relying on the Spirit and there is not relying on the Spirit. How can we tell the difference? If we are winning, we are doing so; if we are not winning, then we are not doing so. How do we start doing so? First, we have to have faith that He is in us and that He is able to help us and that He is helping us when we rely on Him to do so. As we grow, we will become better over time at discerning His "still, small voice" as He speaks softly to our conscience in the depths of our heart, and we will draw comfort from His words of guidance and encouragement, choosing (one hopes) to follow Him and rely on Him . . . and not give in instead to lust, to doubt, to fear, to guilt, to laziness, to self-indulgence . . . and to all of the other winds and waves of negative emotion stirred up in the sin nature by the world, the flesh and the devil.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
James 1:2-7 NIV

We know that the Spirit is all-powerful; we know that He lives in us; we know that it is His will for us to abstain from all non-sanctified behavior; we know that He is willing to help us and able to help us in every way; and we know that if we fail it is we who are to blame for not listening to and for not following Him and His guidance, for not appropriating the gracious help He is offering, for not reaching out for Him and His power but giving in to doubt and fear and lust instead. If we need more help, we can follow James' advice above and ask for it (as you have no doubt done – and I hope that this email is in some small part an answer to prayer). But it still all comes down to trusting Him (as James also makes clear), and spitting out every trace of doubt.

We can be joyous in this fight, even in the grace that is showered upon us even in defeat. But at some point we do need to get better at fighting it.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:  

You have spoken correctly Mr. Luginbill. I agree with everything you have said. It is my duty, a joyful one it should be at that, knowing I'm glorifying my creator. I did give your response much thought in a short time, and I read it a couple times over just to see whether I understood everything correctly. I almost responded on some of what you said, but stopped because I misunderstood and or didn't quite comprehend to begin with, but understood once I gave closer attention. One last thing though. Does this mean that upon reaching maturity serious sin pretty much no longer exists?

I know I'm totally overthinking all this, not to mention dragging it out. But in the end I look at the benefits. I'm learning, your helping me do that. Hopefully I'm not wearing you out (I hope I'm not by the way).

I don't even want to guess where I'm at in my walk as there as so many variables. Not to mention I want to avoid falling into pride and thinking of myself more highly then I ought to think. But I would like to say that I'm in the "application phase" as you put it in your study in the sense that I'm attempting more than ever before to get out of my bunker and charge into battle. I know very well that we will always be learning till we go home to be with the Lord, but obviously there has to be a point where I start applying what I learn as opposed to just learning, and I want to start doing that.

What really stuck out to me in your email was the confess, forget, and move on process you spoke about. I have read that on your site many times but it never really sank in until now. Its like you've known something for a while but it doesn't hit ya until later. Makes me think of the verse that says that just as the sufferings of Christ our ours in abundance so is the comfort from Christ ours in abundance. I guess one could also say that about confession and forgiveness. They are both ours in abundance. Where sin abounded, grace/forgiveness abounded much more.

I have always had this bad habit of looking back at my past mistakes wishing I could have done better. This does nothing good for me whatsoever as it does nothing but put a chain of guilt around me which makes moving forward difficult, especially when that guilt is over excessive. But your right. Confess, forget, move on. Only satan would try to tell me its not that simple. Just as long as that confession goes hand in hand with a repented mind set of course. Even can be a joyful process and one not to be despised as the Word says.

Again, I thank you for your time and Christlike love you have given. You do not understand how much you have helped me. May the Lord be praised!

In His name

Response #11: 

On your question, John tells us the following:

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
1st John 1:10 NKJV

Seems pretty clear. The problem for many believers is that they do not understand enough about sin (see the link: BB 3B: Hamartiology: the biblical study of Sin). Sin is generally divided up as things we do, say and think. Hopefully, as we grow, what we "do" that is sinful will fall off precipitously to the point of mostly vanishing. The Bible has a great deal to say about the virtues of keeping one's mouth shut (read the book of Proverbs), and James tells us that otherwise taming the tongue is nearly impossible; so getting to the point that we never err in anything we say is a much higher bar, and I would be suspect of anyone who claimed never to stumble in that regard.

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.
James 3:2 NKJV

When it comes to our thoughts, that is where the true battle for mastery takes place in the case of mature and maturing believers. What we think results in our speaking and also in our doing. And who can claim never to get angry, never to doubt, never to be fearful, or jealous, or envious, or covetousness, or peevish, or arrogant, or proud, or to have foolish thoughts, silly thoughts, evil and blasphemous thoughts, lustful thoughts. We may knock them down quickly, but these infiltrators have a tendency to slip under the wire despite our best efforts. Sin is sin. Still, if we are fighting the fight mostly in our hearts, we are at least defending the hill; if we allow our mouths to become mobilized for ill, we are getting pushed off; and if what we do is sinful, we have relinquished our position and will have to fight our way back up (i.e., confess, forget, move on, and dig in for the next battle which is likely to be harder since we've switched momentum from the good way to the other way – but with the Spirit we can do it). Every believer goes through this fight – every believer who is determined to grow, progress and produce for Christ. Such a believer is one who is going to be vigorously opposed by the evil one. Those who are stagnant don't rate the same sort of attention. We who are positive are glad to be moving forward and ever closer to the Lord, and we accept the greater pressure as part of the bargain – but we do have to learn to deal with it correctly. That doesn't happen overnight, and no one ever achieves perfection. Just about the time a great fighter ace gets to thinking he's all that, he gets shot down. Blessedly, the Lord sees to it that we get another plane and another chance. Our job is to take up the new chance with a joyous heart, not diminishing our failures but also not neurosing about them morbidly, looking ever ahead, not behind.

Keep fighting the fight, my friend. And remember: the offensive portion of spiritual growth cannot be left out; that is what empowers the defense in the end. No one ever achieved any serious level of sanctification by merely trying to bat away temptation; we only learn how to do that effectively by drawing closer to Jesus Christ through the truth.

In our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

Hi Bob,

I am afraid of how easy apostasy is. I'm not talking about the "Oh, I was a Christian but then something bad happened so now I'm agnostic and disbelieve God." That might be hard for some people to overcome, but it isn't for me.

For instance, a cult is still causing me an intense fear of death and damnation and the faith in Christ which used to be the source of my assurance. And this has really "knocked the wind" out of me. But what if I cave in and join them to alleviate fear? Then I really might be taking a risk of damnation, because there's no guarantee that you will find the willpower to escape and return to your previous state of spirituality.

I am putting all of my effort into spiritual growth. I don't want Satan to use the fear of death in order to claim my soul.


Response #12: 

Apostasy is actually extremely hard and difficult – in contrast to salvation which is the easiest thing in the world (for us, since Christ paid the price for us). But people tend to make the easy hard (by resisting God out of pride) and the hard easy (by failing to trust Him when things go sour).

You should know that "caving in" never eases things except momentarily. Giving in to any temptation only results in putting us into an even worse situation than before and a more uncomfortable one as well.

Please remember this: the Holy Spirit indwells you, and He is all-powerful. The Spirit is more powerful in His little finger (so to speak) than all of the rest of the "power" in this world from beginning to end. The Spirit can resist whatever needs resisting. You just have to listen to His still small voice, relax, and allow Him to work on your behalf, ceasing from the energy of the flesh and relying instead on the power of the Spirit.

Continuing to give ear to groups and individuals whose words torment you is NOT what the Spirit is telling you to do (of that I am sure).

You are going to be OK, my friend. Your salvation is not resting on "pins and needles".  Have a little faith in the Lord, and listen to the Spirit.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:   

In one question about the Holy Spirit, our friend asked about the Holy Spirit and how those who did not have the Spirit were fighting against sin. In his question he has put unbelievers and Old Testament Jews together and although it is true that neither possessed the Spirit (barring few exceptions in the Old Testament where the Spirit would come upon a believer), I still would distinguish between the two categories, with believing Jews having a relationship with God, being able to ask Him for help, confessing to Him, etc.

But the question still remains as to how an Old Testament believer would battle his sin and how different would this be from what an unbeliever was doing?

Response #13: 

Having the Spirit is a great advantage (David's plea not to have the Spirit taken from him speaks volumes). Unbelievers have no contact with the Spirit except in His witness to the truth of the gospel, and that was true in Old Testament times as well. There isn't a lot of scripture on this, but here is the best way I know to explain the difference in the case of believers. Our Lord said to the disciples regarding the time before Pentecost that the Spirit "abides with you but will be in you" (Jn.14:17). Being in us now, the Spirit speaks to us constantly in a still, small voice (one which all too many believers ignore all too often); but in the Old Testament it seems that believers had to initiate the interaction. Theoretically, a believer in OT times walking a perfect walk could thus have an experience just as close to the Lord as believers today. Practically speaking, we are all sinners and all fail all the time, so having the Spirit within us makes responding to the Lord much easier for us – not easy, and certainly not automatic. In the OT, one reached out to Him; now, He reaches out to us, from within us.

Question #14:   

Dear Teacher

Thank you for your answer. It makes perfect sense to me. In Igbo, a month is literally called "a moon". We measure in lunar cycles too. But I've never really chased down the historical questions involved and we have not really preserved our history all that well either.

Thank you also for your very welcome encouragement too. I'm very happy to see that you approve of how I handled the discussion. There are some things though in what I said that I have wondered if I stepped too far out on a limb about:

1. "The Tribulation is a special period when the Lord will focus almost exclusively on Israel's spiritual Salvation. Since we the Gentiles have already responded to the Gospel over the last nearly 2000 years in such overwhelming numbers while Israel has been partially hardened with a small minority believing in the Lord Jesus over the same time, it will be their turn to listen to men who have been specially ordained by the Lord to bring the Gospel to them. These men will actually recreate the Jewish religious system in a manner that properly communicates the Gospel to them. Because this will all be a very novel affair, their authority will need to be verified and it will be with miraculous signs such as have never been seen since the days of the apostles and prophets.

So, it is still about laying the foundation but for the Jews, not for everybody. And it is necessary for the Jews because unlike the Gentiles, they have a unique system of worship commanded by God which sets them apart in the world as God's firstborn among the nations."

Is this a correct way of explaining things? Am I stretching it when I say that the Lord will be focusing almost exclusively on Israel's salvation during the Tribulation? Or that the work of Moses and Elijah and the 144 000 will be like laying the Foundation again but this time for Israel?

2. "But in the Millennium, after the Victory of our Lord at Armageddon and the removal from the Earth of all His enemies, the Lord will renew the Earth and the Spirit will be poured out like He has never been in all of human history. Even unbelievers still in the Earth will have Him restraining some of their worst impulses in a manner very different than what He has been doing until now since the beginning of human history. This is to celebrate the joining of the Church to the Lord in Resurrection in perpetuity and the Restoration of the Nation of Israel to the Lord and to her place of supremacy over the nations of the Earth."

Is it right to say that the manner in which the Holy Spirit will be restraining human sin nature during the Millennium will be very different from what He has been doing hitherto? Would it have been better to say that He would be doing it to a far greater degree than He is now but in much the same way?

3. '"Perfect" and "mature" are English words that tend to mean different things for us. But they translate a Greek word in the New Testament which embraces both concepts.'

I think I read this somewhere but I don't remember now and it makes sense to me. But was I correct about it?

4. '"those who truly belong to God do not persist in sin because they keep themselves safe (by diligent confession of every sin and failure and thus maintaining fellowship with the Lord and the whole Church, see 1 John 1:6 - 2:2) so that the evil one cannot harm them."'

I'm sure I've seen your translation of this verse somewhere and if memory serves me right, the above is close to how you rendered it. Is my memory right? I was really just trying to make sense of it according to what I learned from Ichthys and how 1 John works, so I wasn't trying to render exactly your translation of that verse. But I figure that if my sense of things was right, then I did something close to what you did. But, for example, the ending clause, was that right?

5. "As for the disciples of the Lord Jesus, they were believers so it wasn't so much about hardheartedness as it was about their lack of the Holy Spirit indwelling them. The Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, the calling out of the Gentiles to join the Church and the Second Advent were all a mystery of epic proportions to even the greatest Old Testament prophets, so, of course they couldn't understand so very much of what the Lord was teaching them. They did not until they received the unique Gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit and even then it still took several years before they really got it. This all had nothing to do with not being believers."

Is the above correct? Were they unable to understand because they did not have the Holy Spirit living inside of them? I feel strongly that that is the case and that it was also why no one before the Cross understood the mystery of the two Advents and the calling out of the Gentiles.

How is the joint, Sir?

Your student in the Lord Jesus Christ

Response #14: 

You're so very welcome, my friend!

On your questions:

1) Sounds good to me.

2) It's certainly different. See 2nd Thessalonians 2:9-12 for the details (my translation is at the link in the context where this is discussed; and see commentary at this link).

3) That's right too. Recently treated in BB 6A in the section "Spiritual Maturity"

4) Confession is surely part of it. Here's my translation:

We know that everyone who is born [again] from God is not [continually] sinning, but the one who is born [again] from God guards himself [against apostasy], and [so] the evil one is not [able to] lay hold of him.
1st John 5:18

5) I wouldn't say "couldn't" but the fact that they "didn't" before and "did" afterwards is deeply significant. After all, there were many great believers of the past, Moses, David, Elijah, e.g., who did so much without the indwelling of the Spirit being permanent. They did have the Spirit, however (Deut.34:9; Ps.51:11; 2Ki.2:15; and compare Saul before and after the Spirit: 1Sam.10:6 vs. 1Sam.16:14).

Cranky . . . so thanks for your prayers!

Praying for good things for you, my friend! God is in control of everything.

In Jesus whom we trust.

Bob L.

Question #15:    

Dear Professor

Thank you for your kind reply. I had a question or two on clarifying some things from an email of yours, but will do further reading of your site to see if I can sort it out in that way. If I can instead relate what My OT friend said today. A friend of his said that grief can be a cause of us not hearing the Spirit speaking to us. He had related how Mary Magdalene went to the empty tomb to find the place where Jesus had been laid, did not have his body there on. Instead an angel at head and foot (the space between the two now representing, I think he said the throne of God, being earlier the sacrificial alter of Christ). After conversing with the angels she turned and spoke to Jesus, supposing Him to be the gardener. After Jesus saying her name, Mary, then realised it was the Lord. This friend of his suggested it was the grief which barred Mary from recognising Jesus. Likewise he suggested, our grief can prevent us from hearing the Spirit today. Just on the spot, I really did not analyse it too well; partly agreeing and also suggesting more mundane things like, the tomb being darker than outside in the early hours (is that possible with two angels there?; if Mary faced the light to look at Jesus, it may have been difficult to see his face. Yes it is difficult when crying and grieving to be “ultra observant”. It seems Mary may have recognised the way Jesus said her name affectionately. My OT friend suggests that we should be of good cheer to hear the Spirit. When time permits, I would appreciate your view of this.

Your student and friend in our Risen Lord.

Response #15: 

I don't think there is anything wrong with grief/grieving per se. It's a natural human reaction to loss. Even Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus – and He was going to raise him from the dead forthwith. As long as we are not "grieving as those who have no hope" (= not putting our loss into perspective as believers who will see our believing loved ones again: 1Thes.4:13), then there is nothing to ashamed of worry about (nothing based on the Bible, that is).

The guidance of the Spirit is easily missed, even by mature believers. Whenever we let our emotions (positive or negative) get out in front of us, we are likely to miss His promptings. But is all part and parcel of the moment by moment fight we are all fighting down here – and will continue with as long as we are in this world. There's a lot about all this in the BB 6A: Peripateology: the Christian Walk.

On Mary Magdalene, she was the only one who "got it" before the fact, and that is why she and her story are part of the gospel forever (Matt.26:13; Mk.14:9). There are many natural reasons why Mary might not have recognized the Lord, but after His resurrection He seems to have been deliberately "not recognizable on several occasions. In addition to this one, see also Luke 24:31 and John 21:12.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Dear Professor

Thank you for your response. I read the references you gave and also look forward to BB 6A. I find I am moved to tears fairly often these days, perhaps it is just getting older. Scripture has this effect on me at various times. The account of Mary Magdalene at the tomb, I find particularly moving. Her emotions must have been overwhelming. Her devotion to Christ during His ministry is inspiring. While you are doing all the hard work, I am plodding along with my knitting the little index, with some lengthy diversions into some of your writings. Our long weekend in the city was great and the Lord even managed us to bless the lives of a few people in the process. Whilst driving around to various things, an older widow friend (not knowing we were in the vicinity) rang and I stopped her talking with “I’ll be there within the hour”. While with us she explained she was all dressed ready to go out with friends and she was so disappointed when they cancelled at the last minute. I have made it my intent to give her some of your teachings, mainly over the phone, as she has resisted buying a laptop. Though a mormon she does not believe in all their teachings.

A big farmer down here who had been to a funeral recently was a bit shaken by it. When I spoke about the impending death of us all and our only salvation is in the Lord Jesus, the farmer replied that he will keep busy and try not to think about it!

I keep having hope for them all in my efforts and prayers. The intellectual discussions tend to leave us both where we started.

Thanks for letting me have access to all your writings so that I can do my little thing which is helping me so much in my understanding of the gospel.

I value your courage and generous teaching to the glory of our dear Lord Jesus.

Your student

Response #16: 

I admire your plodding – that is what I do too, plod. It's the only way I've ever gotten anything long and difficult done in my life. More a marathoner than a sprinter. And I admire your sharing of the truth. Not easy to do, especially with those whose response you can probably anticipate. Takes some guts.

Keep fighting the fight, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:  

Hi Doc!

I have but one question. What toes the bible mean when they mention grieving the Holy Spirit?

God Bless!

Response #17: 

Hope you are doing well, my friend.

From BB 5: Pneumatology (at the link):

(i) Grieving the Spirit:

But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 63:10a NKJV (cf. Ps.78:17; 78:40)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for a [future] day of redemption (i.e., the day of resurrection).
Ephesians 4:30 (cf. Rom.8:26)

Causing the Spirit "mental anguish" in "grief" for our bad conduct is clearly an anthropopathism (inasmuch as the Spirit is God and cannot actually be "pained" in any way); it is also clearly a bad thing and not a good thing. The Spirit's "grief" is His "mourning" over our refusal to respond to His guidance and our determination instead to rebel against His will expressed directly to our consciences, and indirectly through His illumination of God's will to us in His Word. The Spirit is "grieved" when we sin and commit ourselves to a sinful course. We reject His advice, given through His prompting of our hearts and the Word of God, at our spiritual peril.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hello again Dr. Luginbill,

I noticed that the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in 1st Corinthians chapter 15 at verse 28, but I am assuming that the verse would include Him, as He is indeed part of the God-Head. Just wondering why no mention. Would appreciate your thoughts.

Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
1st Corinthians 15:28 NKJV

Thanks as always for your excellent advice and help.

The Lord Bless you richly,

Your friend,

Response #18: 

Of course you are correct about the status of the Spirit. Why things are not in scripture where they might well have been usually has to do with economy. If the Bible included all the explanations, caveats, additions and clarifications that we would sometimes like, it would probably have to contain as many large volumes as the Encyclopedia Britannica, and in that case, very few people could afford one and no one could carry one around.

The point Paul is making in the context is the relationship of the Son to the Father, so while a few verses explaining that the Spirit is part of the situation in eternity would be nice, it would also be off topic. We see the Spirit clearly in the heavenly description John gives us in Revelation:

And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Revelation 4:5 NKJV

Herein we perhaps see another reason for the omission you ask about. The Spirit is the invisible member of the Trinity, He who is neither seen (as the Son is) or heard (as the Father is) but is definitely felt by us in all of His ministering to us. The Spirit, who inspired Paul's words in the passage you ask about, generally keeps in the background as much as possible in order that the issue may be Jesus Christ and His witness to the Father (Jn.7:18). See the link in BB 5: "The Holy Spirit's Chosen Role in the Plan of God"

Hope you are doing well! Keeping you and your family and your ministry in my prayers daily, my friend.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:  


Thank you for the Christian walk material. I am reading / working through it, enjoys the methodical system to it and the Biblical truths reflected.

However, if you could clarify your motivation for focussing more on the legalistic stance of others and giving a reprieve against ", judging others for engaging in it most definitely is a sin". I think i am in line with you when it is done legalisticly! For "GRACE" is paramount!! But, what if it becomes a matter of "... your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit...; "...glorify God in your body..." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Again, for "GRACE" is paramount in acknowledging the "work of Christ's" cross to engage in victorious living. Would you allow the same teaching to the Priest's in the Old Testament, to enter into the most holy place with an unclean thing or even a different kind of holy garment as directed by the Lord? "Proscribing" a wrong as not sinfull or not focussing on the higher good of overcoming something of which the person has become a slave off, is confusing! Romans 6:12-18 defines that by which you become a slave of; the lust after something is thus also included as a sin. For smoking and drinking does not lead to "..obedience leading to righteousness' (V16c). We are to be "...slaves of righteousness" (V18) and ".. as slaves of righteousness for holiness." (V19). Being 'body of Christ' should be the semblance of our Lord Jesus Christ as our growing process towards glorification!! Church for that matter can accommodate your stance. But 'body of Christ' (1 Corinthians 12:27) should not promote matters as 'alcohol and smoking', an acceptable norm.

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceedingly joy, To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power both now and forever. Amen.

Response #19: 

I absolutely agree that the issue is grace, not works. And I for one am thrilled to be part of the dispensation of grace with that of the Law now defunct. So we don't need to worry about the physical – as long as we are crucifying the old man by turning away from sin. In terms of things that are not sinful in this life, each believer has to prioritize for themselves, because while much is permissible, many things are not profitable. How we get to the point of deciding to "give up" whatever it is we decide needs to be cast by the wayside is very important, however. If on the one hand we think we are getting points with God for giving up, e.g., caffeinated drinks, or if we do so on the other hand of out misplaced guilt that they are somehow sinful, the false motivation in both cases will compromise the decision and lead to a legalistic viewpoint that, like a little leaven, will soon permeate the entire loaf. But if we decide that we don't need to spend the money or that we don't need the stimulant or do this for whatever personal reason for the glory of Christ without either of the false motives above, then there is no problem with doing so. But if we don't use the money or the time/energy that the more balanced diet provides, then there is no particular benefit to go along with the "no particular harm".

Apologies in advance if I have misread your objection. If I have, then please get back to me in terms one of my readers sent my way one time: "Please explain so a fourth grader could understand it".

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Ever since I read the scripture in Ephesians 4:5 about there being only one baptism, I continue to be a bit confused by certain scriptures. In Acts 1:5 it says: "for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit no many days from now." Now, I do believe that there is only one baptism because scripture states that. But, in Acts 2:4, it says: " And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit", it does not use the word baptized as Jesus said in Acts 1:5. These are two very distinct and different Greek words used in these references. In Acts 8:17 uses the receiving the Holy Spirit, not the word baptism. There are also other scriptures that I noted that don't says baptized with the Holy Spirit: Acts 9:17, Acts 10:44 the Holy Spirit fell on them; Why?

Wondering. I know you can unconfused me.

Thanks for your great efforts and studies you provide for everyone. They are a blessing.

To Him who can do all things,
To Him who knows all things,
Be praise.

Your friend,

Response #20: 

Note this example: "He graduated!", "our son finally got his diploma!", "well, she finally finished college!" These all mean the same thing, even though different words are used. The Bible very frequently uses different words and phraseologies to refer to the same concept: "saved", "possessing salvation", "believing", "being a believer", "transferred from darkness into light", "born again", "reborn", etc., etc.

The baptism of the Spirit is even more conducive to a variety of descriptions because 1) there are two key aspects of it: "by" = the Spirit places us into union with Christ; and "with" = the Spirit takes up residence within us, and because 2) in the early apostolic days this baptism was often accompanied by dramatic demonstrations produced by the Spirit while such is not the case today.

In Acts 2:4, where it says "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit", moreover, we have a case of those being so baptized already being believers. If Luke had been led to write "baptized" no doubt many people would assume water was in view; by saying it this way, just what the baptism of the Spirit is – taking up residence inside of believers and, early on, manifesting this by His production of these signs – is very clear to see. Peter describes what has happened here in Acts 2:4 later in the same chapter:

"Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear."
Acts 2:33 NKJV

The pouring out of the Spirit is thus another way to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Same chapter:

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Acts 2:38 NKJV

So ". . . receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" is clearly also the same thing, having the Spirit poured out on/into us, being filled with Him permanently, being baptized with Him so that He is in us.

AND Peter later explains what happened at Cornelius house (Acts 10) in terms of what had happened in Acts chapter 2, notably making it clear that both are instances of the baptism of the Holy Spirit:

“And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
Acts 11:15-17 NKJV

So according to Peter here, the Spirit "falling" on them, and the "gift given to believers" is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In other words, these are just different ways of saying the same thing.

Theology very often gets terminology-bound and that can lead to many problems. Not uncommon in theology is the recognition of a concept (which may or may not be completely understood) and the invention of terminology to express it; but then using the terminology to logically develop doctrine . . . wrongly. And ofttimes in so doing instances where there is no direct vocabulary link are missed.

I hope I have "unconfused" you, my friend!

Do let me know if you'd like to discuss this further.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:  

Hello again Dr. Luginbill,

Well, yes you have "unconfused" me, but . . . why do they have to do this, do these Theologians deliberately intend to confuse their audience or what? This concept is most likely not understood by most who have not studied, which is in my opinion the majority of those who call themselves Christians. I am by no means that I have a corner on scripture and that I fully understand, as you can see from this question, the more I study the more I realize I don't know.

Now I fully understand the terminology about using different ways to describe being born again, born from above, born of God, etc. as that is very plain to me.

But to use filled instead of baptized among other words to have the same meaning just doesn't make sense to me. It seems logical to me that If these Theologians would use the same word everywhere then it would avoid untold confusion. It just does not make sense to me that they do this. I wonder how many of these different words that have the same meaning are used in the translations, particularly when different Greek words are used in each case?

Still believing regardless of the Theologians? Ha Ha.

Your friend

Response #21: 

My riff on theologians should not be taken to mean that I have "issues" with the way the Bible states things; I'm merely trying to point out that your reaction is a common one, and that unlike you (who are trying to find answers in a legitimate way), theologians often try to impose a Procrustean system on the Bible, either based on the vocabulary that is already there or, as is more often the case, inventing their own terminology and trying to force the Bible to comply. The "rapture" is a good case in point, or "original sin" – neither of which word / phrase is actually in scripture.

In terms of "filled with Spirit" vs. "baptism of the Spirit", there are always good reasons for the differences in the way scripture puts things. As I pointed out in the last email, since Peter describes the events of Acts 10 in Acts 11 in terms of the baptism of the Holy Spirit by linking to what happens in Acts 2, we can be sure that this is what is being described in Acts 10. But in Acts 10, Luke is not giving an analytical or academic treatment; rather, he is describing what happened as visible to the observers: those who believed in Cornelius' household began speaking in tongues and praising God in a way that made it clear that the Spirit was controlling them, described biblically very often as being "filled with the Spirit". That is the sign and the evidence that they had had the Spirit come and take up residence in them which is one part of the baptism of the Spirit, namely, His indwelling presence (the other part being His uniting us with Christ so as to be "in Christ" forevermore). By directing Luke to write it this way, the Spirit actually gives us more information – not less – than would be the case if Luke had been directed to say "they were baptized with/by the Spirit". Because of the way Luke puts it, we understand first that the baptism of the Spirit produced immediate visible results in the times of the apostles (the results today are visible too but not as obviously dramatic), and second that such results are proof of the Spirit's indwelling (which is/follows His baptism). There is much more about all of this at the link in BB 5 Pneumatology: "Baptism".

Hope you are your wife are doing well, my friend (keeping you in my prayers).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:  

Hello Professor,

The verse that gave me joy today was Isaiah 65:17.

Isaiah 65:17 (NASB)
"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind"

I hope this is part of our eternal happiness.

As for John 7:37-39 - I remember you answer my question on this first problem before. As for the current one, do you then take the words of verse 39 as referring to the fact that the waters are "welling up" and "flow out"? If I understand correctly - the water is the water of the truth and the Spirit, rather than being described as the water (which is why I found this verse difficult - first it seems that Jesus refers to the Word, but the in verse 39 John explains that Spirit was meant), is the agent causing the waters to "flow our"?

As for our friend - you are right in all your comments and it has been, as you can imagine, a difficult progress with him. I do believe he is in Christ, but his approach has really stultified his growth. I still hope he can make a contribution to the body of believers (particularly with his explanation of general revelation and the world having clear marks of being created by the Creator), but I don't know if He grows to maturity.

Talking about which, maybe you can take a look at this short response on baptism that I wrote for him. I had to deny our Lord's need to be Spirit baptized a few times in this response - are there any verses that would show that our Lord had the Spirit before the symbolic descending of the Spirit as a dove after baptism? My understanding is that Jesus had the Spirit from the beginning, but at the moment I'm not sure how to provide evidence for it scripturally.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #22: 

Hello my friend.

An excellent application of scripture! And, yes, that is what I mean about the Spirit and the water flowing out: He is the One who empowers our intake and output of the Word of God in ever way.

This verses – in addition to the ones you referenced (Matthew 12:18; Luke 4:18; Isaiah 66:1) – also came to mind:

For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.
Luke 1:15 NKJV

It's hard to argue that what was true of John, the forerunner of the Messiah, would not have been true of Jesus, the Messiah Himself, and this passage confirms it in my view:

(34) For the One God sent speaks the words of God. For the Father does not give [Him] the Spirit in a sparing way. (35) He loves the Son and has given everything into His hand.
John 3:34-35 (cf. Jn.6:63)

As to your piece, another very fine effort, my friend. You hit all the points I thought to make and did so in a very persuasive way. When the premise we are opposing is "there is no proof here anywhere that we shouldn't water baptize", that is a difficult lift, after all! I would probably respond to words like that: "before we do something like engage in a potentially legalistic ritual, lets first see if there is any proof that the scripture is telling us to continue water baptism now that Christ has come".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:   

Your argument regarding our Lord having the Spirit based on Luke 1:15 is strong and thank you for bringing this reference.

I still wonder though if I am not going beyond what is written by stating things the way I do in my text, even if I take the same interpretation as you do. The evidence is against thinking that our Lord received the Holy Spirit after the baptism, but the verses describing the baptism still say what they say and while the event is clearly symbolic, it's hard to argue against those who take it literally as meaning that the Spirit descended on our Lord then and remained on Him.

I suppose I can just word things differently and write that I don't believe Jesus received the Spirit after the baptism based on what we know of John. And even if we were to say that it's possible that Jesus did receive the Spirit after the baptism, I'm not sure in any case whether we should call it, as he did, "Spirit baptism".

Response #23: 

Just because the Spirit was given to be seen descending upon our Lord in bodily form after His water baptism does not mean that Christ was not already indwelt by the Spirit – as He was. This was a dramatic demonstration for the sake of those looking on. It's along the lines of what is heard directly after His water baptism:

And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:17

We certainly should not concluded that Jesus was not the Father's beloved Son before this pronouncement, or that He was not well-pleasing to Him before this, but this "voice" was given for the sake of the listeners:

Jesus answered and said, "This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes."
John 12:30 NASB

And that is the case with the descent of the Spirit as well:

Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One."
John 1:32-34 NIV

John apparently sees the Spirit "remain on Him", so this is "just" a physical manifestation of the preceding spiritual reality.

Question #24:   

When Jesus was baptized by John, who was able to hear the voice of the Father and see the Spirit as a dove? Matthew and Mark make it sound like only Jesus saw the Spirit and leave it nebulous as to who heard the voice; John proves that John the Baptist also saw the Spirit, but says nothing about the voice of the Father; and Luke is ambiguous about who saw and heard. Did Jesus and John see the Spirit as a dove, but only Jesus heard the voice of the Father? What about the other people who would have been nearby? Did they notice anything supernatural occurring?

Response #24: 

Since we are told that the Spirit descended "in bodily appearance like a dove", it seems to me that there is no ambiguity at all. The only reason to go to such lengths (beyond Matthew and Mark) to describe the appearance as not only dove-like but also "physical" (somatikos) is to tell us that the event was visible. Nothing in any of the contexts leads us to think that only John saw this. As to the voice, we are told what the voice of the Father said, and based on the following passage it seems to me that we should conclude that all heard the voice, but, typically of those who were not fully receptive to the truth (cf. Mk.6:52), it was possible to shrug off this miraculous event:

Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.”
John 12:28-30 NKJV

Question #25:    

Hi Bob,

The bible uses water symbolically many ways in the bible (Hab. 2:14; Isa. 12:3; Jer. 2:13; Jn. 4:14; 7:38; Rev. 22:17; etc.) and some have suggested that "living waters" refers to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. If that is so, then why are the saints "led" to fountains of living waters? It seems to me that in this context it may refer to "spiritual knowledge" from God that is yet to be revealed.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall [lead them unto living fountains of waters]: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
(Revelation 7:17)

For the earth shall be filled with [the knowledge of the glory of the Lord], as the waters cover the sea.
(Habakkuk 2:14)

I heard a bible teachers said that there is NO "learning" in Heaven, or teaching, or praying. I don't know where in the bible he gets the idea that there is no learning or being taught by God and the Lamb. I am quite sure that the angels do not know everything, so it makes no sense that we will have ALL knowledge once we're glorified. Can you send your response to my other email address. Thanks!

God Bless!

Response #25: 

I agree with your analysis completely. Perhaps you should consider sharing your good understanding of the truth with others, not merely by evangelizing but by teaching.

On water meaning truth and the relationship with the Spirit, since the Spirit is the One who teaches us the truth and uses the truth we have learned and believed to guide us, the two are nearly inextricable for practical purposes and sometimes expressed that way in scripture:

“He who believes in Me as the Scripture has said [to do], out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
John 7:38-39 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.


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