Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Blogtext: Come Holy Spirit, come.

“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.” 

You may have read that particular quote before, and even know that it was said in the 19th Century by the founder of the Salvation Army, "General" William Booth. In one of many moments of insight he foreknew and foretold what is today in full flow. Lots of "Spirituality" with not a hint or taste of the Holiness of God. Lots of spiritual events that never show forth the work of Jesus Christ for us, but focus on mans self-improvement by allowing his "spiritual" side to flourish in anything from Eastern mysticism to Western sales techniques for enhancing your own potential 'looking after yourself' and caring for "the inner you".

The business of plumb lines.

Being in the business of spending my time in holding up the eternal plumb-lines of God rather than finding the faults of this and that system of thought, I will do what I find most satisfying to my own soul. To eke out and deliver, as best I know, how what the Spirit of Truth has said about the working of the Spirit of God. Then any body can hold up that to the things going on around him or her and judge, discern and evaluate for themselves. (If you should be unfamiliar with that idea you might like to read a portion in one of the major minor prophets: Amos 7:1-8) I may have a naive faith, but here it is: if it is dark: hold up a lit candle against it.

This is crucial: If we cannot be sure of the truth content of what the Spirit has told us by the Word of God, then all hope of knowing any truth at all will be shattered. Should the word of God, the written revelation  be untrue then we have no hope, no saviour, and no faith to speak of. Woah! Wait! Is the written word written with the Spirit of God as it's selector, presenter and final arbiter?

Everything in the old testament is given, selected and presented to us by the Holy Ghost, or if you prefer, the Spirit of the Holy God. It is said to be "theopneustos" which is greek for "god-breathed" and the Hebrew and Greek words for Spirit are "Ruach" and "Pneuma" respectively. Both terms being  a tad ambiguous because they also refer to the breath in living beings, to the wind whom no-one can direct or control, and to various physical expressions without physical source, such as flames of fire on the people gathered at Pentecost, or indeed the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night over the wandering nation of released slaves from the nation of Abraham.

But this apparent reticence about the identity of the Spirit is totally explained by the fact that everything the Father and the Son do is done by the Spirit as the acting force.


"All scripture is given by inspiratie.on  (theopneustos)of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."2 Tim 3:16

"And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.  We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Pet 1:18-21

What has been given us to understand has no man's own interest as it's mode of becoming. The initiative is from God who makes man able to speak, think, read and write, and commands man: "Write what I give to you".  See Exodus  17:14, 34:27, Isa 30:8, Jer 36:2, 17, 28, Hes 43:11, Hab 2:2.
The connection between the written word and the Spirit is further clearly described: "Wherefore as the Holy Ghost says, Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness." Heb 3:7-8  referring to the events in the exodus, and written in psalm in Psa 95:8f. Another example is in Heb 10:15 "Whereof the Holy Ghost is also a witness to us, for after he had said before. "This is the covenant that I will make with them". Referring to Jeremia's prophecy about the new Covenant to come.

No mention can be made of the Spirit of God that does not also identify the Spirit of God with the Spirit of truth. Most notably told us by the Lord Jesus Christ in his farewell teachings about the work and role of the holy Spirit after His own death and resurrection:
"These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." Joh 14:25

"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.  Howbeit when he, 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. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." Joh 16.12f
A spirituality or a talking much about the Spirit this and Spirit that which does neither lead to Jesus Christ nor to an understanding of what "Christ both began to do and to teach" (Acts 1:1) is then by definition contrary to what the scriptures, those footprints of the Spirit of truth, actually say. Likewise any focus on the Spirit as if He either demanded worship, acted on his own or desires our attention apart from the Word living and the Word written  is also contrary to why God the father and God the Son sent him to be with us, live in us and make Christ known through us.

None of the early church people prayed to the Spirit, because all prayer that is more than the wheezes of agony from an unrepentant sinners heart, are the working of the Spirit in us. The Spirit gives utterance to the deep things of the heart in various ways. Sometimes with groans beyond words, sometimes in words of understanding and sometimes in words that no man understands. But prayer is the work of the Spirit in us and He  is as unlikely to pray to himself as the eye sees itself while looking at someone else. No body can say "Christ is Lord except by the Spirit, nor can anyone in whom the Spirit lives curse Christ." The work of the Spirit is so intensely the task of making Christ known that Paul can write this: Having introduced us to the understanding that the Word of God must become flesh in us and not merely be the ability to repetitively say the right words, he then tells us how this work is done.

"You are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, ministered to you by us, but not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stones (or reams of paper) but in the tables of flesh in your heart... Now, the Lord is that Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there liberty is also. So now, we all, faces unveiled, we see the glory of the Lord as through a glass, and in that viewing of Him we are changed into the same image. Going from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord."2 Cor 3:3,17-18  We would do well not to treat the Holy Spirit as if He had his own agenda.
The acomplishments of the Spirit are many. 
And make no mistake, the ambiguity as to the Spirit that may arise from the words describing him, does not detract from His true  personhood. As is seen in many ways. Recall for instance how the scriptures speak of the ill-advised possibility of blaspheming the Holy Spirit.  Matt 12:31-32  "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."  How serious is it to call the work of the spirit "demon-work"? And how serious is it to deny the work of the Spirit and simply brush it off as "hysteria"? How serious is it to call fleshly manifestations which neither promote the good news nor change peoples character nor build up the fellowship of believers "the work of the Holy Spirit"?
Why are so many "manifestation oriented events" so blatantly bereft of both Respect for God whilst giving evidence of a lack of discernment between the Holy and the Unholy? William Booth said it: religion without the holiness of the Holy Spirit.

(Note :When speaking with representatives of the Watchtower organisation I often come to the work and person of the Holy Spirit. They deny that the spirit is a person. When asked how then could the Spirit be spoken against blasphemously to the eternal loss of them that do so, their theology crumbles completely. To them the spirit is no more than the notes a piano makes or the sound of a wind in the trees. How do you blaspheme against a tune?)
The Holy Spirit can be lied to. This is the experience of the early church. Acts 5:1ff When it is done the effects are devastating. The unwise pair to do so fell down dead on the same day. Not understanding the truth about the spirit of truth leads men do attempt a hoodwinking of God, pretending to be more generous, more "spiritual" than they have any cause for.  Having a form of godliness but not wanting anything to do with it's real power, is a sure way to self-destruction.

A corollary to this is the misunderstanding that the attending blessings and gifts of the Spirit can be bought for money and /or used by us for our own end. This is the importance of what happens when Simon, the (ex)wizard tries to buy the gift of laying on of hands for the distribution of the Spirit to people. Acts ch 8:17-25  "Peter said to him: Your money perish with you, because you thought that your money could buy the gift of God. You have no share whatsoever in any of this because your heart is not right in the sight of God."  That just about obliterates a great number of the churches in the world.

The Holy Spirit may be grieved. Eph 4:29  " Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you." What grieves the Spirit? What causes sorrow to Him?  Not hard to identify from the context. If the Spirit is grieved, one must not only think in terms of our actions against each other, being an offense to that which is holy, but also a diminishing of that ministry of the Spirit which gives a godly grief, a grief to repentance. And whoever remains unrepentant will of course not be sanctified nor holy. "Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.  For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." 2 Cor 7:9-10

Sorrow before joy: not at the expense of it. It is the manifest task of the Spirit to make man unhappy before man can enjoy the Peace and Joy of the Lord. "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me;  of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;  of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." Joh 16:8  There is no way to the  wellsprings of salvation from which man will draw the waters of eternal joy unless that man or woman has also been through the virtual valley of the shadow of  death which is the realization of our dreadful estate outside of Christ. That leads to the pain of repentance and recognition of the judgement of God of all sin and the self-willed life. Tears on the night before the joy in the morning.
Outpouring and infilling.
People may be forgiven for finding it hard to think of the Holy Spirit as a person when they read passages like Joel 2:28 and Acts 2. It is not common for any person to have the ability to be "poured out over all flesh" or to be able to "fill all the assembled with himself". It is outside our recognition of what personhood means. Possibly one step in the direction of understanding it would come if the reader went back to the Greek words "per" and "sona" which are the two words making up our idea of  "person". "Per" is what we know from "perforation", i e penetrating something and "sona" is  "sound". It comes from the Greek theatre where the actors played several parts and only changed face masks to become the other person. The  mask was handheld with a stick handle protruding under the chin. Each mask being different and therefore easily identified by the audience was a 'persona', something through which the sound travelled, that came from the new person that was indicated by the mask. It is when we limit "person" to "body" that the problem comes. Such limitation is not the problem for the "HaRuach kadosh", the Holy Spirit, even when spooking our minds.

It is the distinct promise made by God that whereas the Holy Spirit of God  was only selectively present under the entire time of the former Covenant, it will one day be available and indeed come indiscriminately over all kinds of people. Whereas it was specifically attributed to various  servants and workers, sometimes with high levels of unmeasureable practical skill, the coming of the Spirit in the new covenant would be of an inner and more "charismatic" kind. Look at the contrast between just these two passages: Exodus 31:1-11 and Joel 2:28-29.  But although the way the Spirit operates may differ between the two Covenants, both are for the same purpose: building the House of God. Physically in the OT, spiritually now. (Charismatic= a gift of Grace)

Half and half.
The outpouring is half the story, that is indiscriminate and universal, the infilling however, is individual and personal. It is a matter of personal and conscious reception of the gift of God. The promises made by God about the outpouring did not end in that, it was the first half. The second half was what that would mean to those upon the Spirit was out-poured. They received the gift of God which would result in the springs of living water now coming into flow through them, to be a service for God, to the world which God loves and is not willing to see go they way it is already going: to destruction.

Illustrative is the two-element issue of Baptism. John baptised in water for the visible remission of sin, following the law and the ordinances of the Old covenant, but he  said that after him one would come who would baptize in Spirit and Fire. There is no christian baptism without both those elements. There is no such thing as a believer who has not been baptized in both water ad Spirit. And no such thing as a person baptized in water without faith. For baptism is faith enough to die with Christ and willingness enough to receive the gift of God unto the new life.


" Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."Acts 2:38-42

Salvation without regeneration, said Booth.
Attempts to live a christian life without the presence of the Holy Spirit is entirely  guaranteed to fail. It is natural to fail to be spiritual if all you have is the natural. That which is  of the flesh cannot receive the things of the Spirit and that which is not born both of the water and the Spirit has no access to that which is from heaven and leads to it. Christ died not to bring us to heaven but by preparing us for heaven, now bring the kingdom to earth to be manifest in the world now and here. The kingdom of God would therefore be within us and among us. A kingdom in waiting within us for the manifestation of it in the World at the coming of Christ.


The reception of the Gift is done once, but the continued infilling of the Spirit is an ongoing and encouraged way of life. It is the root of all worship, to be filled with the spirit: " Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  (lit; keep on being infilled) speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 
Renewed  "topping up", as it were was, experienced by the apostles in response to extraordinary challenges. See how the witness Stephen is spoken of in Acts 6 and 7. Apart from being initially baptized in the Spirit, he was also full of the gifts of the Spirit and was again full of the Spirit before he was stoned for what they thought was blasphemy against God.
Gifts and Service.
The coming of the Holy Spirit into the World was packaged with miraculous and spectacular gifts from God. Initially those miracles testified to the resurrection of Christ and became the evidence that the new Covenant had begun. The command of Christ was to now do what Adam had been told: fill the earth! "Go into all the world"with this message. "Be my witnesses in  Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the World."And every time the gospel breaks into another tribe or tongue or nation, the same signs "as on us at the beginning" keep occuring. (Notice that the initial events were markedly different than the ongoing daily business) The signs of confirmation of these beginnings are then developed by the Spirit as gifts for the continuing building of a spiritual temple. The signs "at the beginning" become material for the building.

The church of modernity has more people seeking to follow after the signs than living in such a holy manner that the signs follow them that believe.


The gifts are distributed along two lines: a) by the sovereign decision of the Spirit himself, b) in response to the needs that the serving Church meets. The gifts are not given for those who are collectors of spiritual medals to be sported on the uniforms of the indolent and lazy.  (The christian soldier is not decorated with a fruit salad of spiritual experiences.) They are the tool of the workers. They equip for service in the valleys of the shadows of death, among the demon-possessed and the lost. They are not rewards for good evangelical behaviour. We are said to be justified by faith, not by experiences.

No character, no gifts!
The fruit of the spirit is the primary requirement for anyone wanting to serve with the gifts of the Spirit. In other words, where there is a good tree, the fruit will be good and result in Christian character.  "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.  O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.  And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." That is character, not emotional bling bling. That is not "feeling", that is acting out love whatever the pain involved. It is a love that knows no borders. And it is always a love for God first, and love is shown by obedience.

The building of character does not ever in the holy scriptures come by anything but steadfast faith, meeting life full on with all the grace of God so that there is endurance in hardship, enjoyment in poverty and glad generosity in times of abundance. It is faithful and consistent work and making choices to heed God more than man. And it is a life that never sets its eyes on the things of earth but on the things that are above. Character is not built by miracles or the spiritual gifts, it ought to preclude the use of a gift. They may well grow together so that the gifts will vary as we mature. 

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience: in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."


Orwellian confusion.
Looking across the field of christianity and trying to take in what is happening leaves at least me speechless. The lack of distinction, of discernment and the mixing of unmixables leaves a bewildering impression of all lines being blurred and all rights now being wrong and everything beforehand forbidden being elevated to the highest heights of so called worship. I am sure it is worship, but I do not recognize the object as the God of Abraham, Isac and Jakob, nor the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is because I read the scriptures of the Spirit of truth.

For sure I have also read many other books. One is the prophetic (i. e. predictive) description contained in the English Novellist Geoge Orwells dystopian tale in "Animal Farm". The last scene is one that strikes at the heart of every saint.

The remaining and surviving farm animals are standing outside the house that used to be the human's dwelling. But it has now become the home of the pigs, looking in on a party celebrating the new pact made between pigs and humans. " And the animals looked from face to face, and could no longer tell any difference between the one and the other." (lightly paraphrased)
Instead of the fruit of the spirit we now see the ego vaunting it self in the worship place, and every trick in the common book of human seduction and demagogic manipulation is used by people claiming to be the voice of God in our time.   "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." Gal 5:16-18  But: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Gal 6:8
The Spirit and the Bride
To run afoul of the Spirit of God is the best way of being excluded from the marriage supper of the Lamb. Many who today call the Lord by name will be astonished to find that "He knew them not". And many who will come dressed in their own finest garb will be without the proper clothes at the wedding between the Lamb and His Bride.

How unwise those virgins are whose oil is run out and whose concerns are not the Lord but only the party after the wedding.


Frequently you can hear the preacher or the worship leader come towards the end of the meeting and after two hours of what is called worship calls on the Spirit to come down on the people. They plead for infilling and overwhelming and for Him to do miracles of their chosing. You can find a thousand such events on Youtube.
Where has the Spirit been until then? Is it not true that where two or three are together there Christ is in their midst? And where Christ the Spirit is also by necessity! Seemingly not?  They shout for a new outpouring of the Spirit, but the Spirit has already been poured out, and there are no repeats of that  in God's plan or purpose. In the present age it is more than common that the church orders the Spirit to do this and that, often in absolute and abject ignorance of the fact that the Spirit is the agent and executive of God and not that of mankind, not even of the church! We have "worship" without reverence.

If truth be told, it is often contradicted.
The ways of direct contradiction of what the Spirit has said to all the church can  only be known where the Spirit is honoured by the deliberate reading of the Word, and the committed attitude of all believers to honor the word given by the Spirit of truth. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly!"


The smiley generation has no time for the Word of God, it only wants a selfie with Jesus. 


But without the Word and the Spirit, the Jesus they seek will be another Jesus. And there are plenty of those about ever since the days of the apostles. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby we know the Spirit of God: Every Spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not so confess is the spirit of Antichrist, of whom you were told that it would come, and now already is in the world."

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. 2 Cor 11:13-15


"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
The Spirit and the Word say Come! But let us not think that we can come then unless  we keep Holiness and Spirit and Truth together now. 

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:" Heb 12:14

...

Teddy Donobauer  Doncaster 25 April 2018




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