But You Will Receive Power When The Holy Spirit Has Come Upon You…

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 1:8 – Scripture of the Day (March 24, 2014)

Have you built your ark yet?

Seriously…have you?

No?  Why not?

I mean, you want to follow God, right?  Didn’t he command that an ark be built in Genesis?  He sure did (Gen. 6:14-16).

So again I ask:  Have you built your ark yet?  If not, you better get cracking, don’t you think?

What’s this you say?  You’re not Noah?  What’s that got to do with anything?

Oh, I see.  You’re saying that God gave that command to Noah, not you.  So it was Noah, not you, that he required to build an ark.  I get it now.  Thanks.

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The above dialogue is an illustration of how ridiculous our conclusions can be if we read passages of the Bible and don’t practice the simple hermeneutic of taking into account who is talking, to whom they are talking, and the circumstances surrounding the conversation.  Millions of Bible readers practice this hermeneutic every time they read the Genesis account of Noah and conclude that God wanted Noah, not them, to build an ark.  That’s why we don’t see numerous arks popping up all over the world (and where would they get the gopher wood, anyway?)

Yet when it comes to the topic of the Holy Spirit, so many of those same people fail to practice the same hermeneutic.  So many professed followers of Christ talk regularly of “being moved” by the “power of the Spirit,” “being filled with the Spirit” to do this or that, “being led by the Spirit” to say this or that, etc., and point to passages in the Bible like today’s Scripture which talk of such things.  However, the questions must still be asked.  In these passages, who was talking, to whom was he talking, and what were the circumstances surrounding the conversation?

In today’s Scripture, a survey of the context surrounding Acts 1:8 shows that it is Jesus talking to his apostles after his resurrection and immediately before his ascension.  They had asked if he would restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6), still not understanding that Christ’s kingdom was spiritual in nature (John 18:36; Luke 17:20-21) and would come in the form of the church (Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:4, 6, 9; Matt. 16:18-19).  Rather than directly answering their question, he prophesied to them what would happen to them ten days later on the day of Pentecost, the day the church began and the day when the Holy Spirit would come upon the apostles and grant them miraculous power (Acts 2:1ff).  Starting on that day, Acts records that the apostles and those whom they converted would bring the good news of Jesus throughout the world.

A further study of Acts, along with 1 Corinthians 12-14, reveals that miraculous power from the Holy Spirit was given in various measures to the early Christians whenever an apostle laid their hands upon them.  These miraculous gifts were prophesied to cease when God’s Word became complete, something which happened centuries ago.  Thus, miraculous power from the Spirit – being miraculously led by the Spirit, called by the Spirit, doing miracles by the Spirit, having the Spirit “speak” to you in visions, etc. – does not happen today as it did in biblical times.  Rather, we are led by the Spirit in a more indirect sense: when we follow the Spirit-inspired Word of God, the Bible.

Granted, this is a deep study…but it is an understandable study, especially if one remembers to take into account the context of each passage which talks about miraculous power of the Holy Spirit like today’s Scripture reading.  Be on the lookout for a more in-depth series of posts about the Holy Spirit coming soon, Lord willing.

You Adulterous People!

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James 4:4 – Scripture of the Weekend, one day late…sorry… (March 22-23,2014)

The Laodicean church was strongly rebuked by Jesus for basically wanting to have it both ways:  to be recognized as followers of Christ while still embracing the sin of the world.  That’s why he called them “lukewarm” and wanted to spit them out of his mouth (Rev. 3:14-22).  The Christians addressed by James seemed to be following a similar path.

What was a problem two thousand years ago is still a problem today.  The temptation to conform to the world (Rom. 12:2a) is strong.  The power of influence cannot be overlooked.  We are influenced by the people around us every day in numerous ways.  The clothes we wear, the way we comb our hair, the cars we drive, the food we eat…these choices and more are made by us as a result of the influence of the society around us.  Yet, God calls us to be different from the world, so different that they will notice, wonder why, and malign us (1 Pet. 4:2-4).  Well, no one likes to be mocked.  And so Satan tempts us very subtly, just as he did with the Christians of James’ day, to conform.

What we need to remember is that we became part of the bride of Christ when we obeyed the gospel and he added us to his church (Rom. 7:1ff), and we are basically committing spiritual adultery by unrepentantly embracing the sin of the world rather than striving to live as God would have us to live.  By doing so, we become the enemies of God.  Is that really worth “the fleeting pleasures of sin”?  (Heb. 11:25)  Read Revelation 21:8 and decide for yourself…