Friday, November 25, 2011

Hello, Holy Spirit!!

I'd mentioned that I had wanted to get back to basics and do some blog entries on the foundational things. The Holy Spirit is near and dear to me, and I pray to Him daily. But He is often overlooked in the Trinity, in favor of prayers to Almighty God and to Lord Jesus. But the Holy Spirit has an important ministry we'll take a look at in this essay. We'll also see how He is prophesied to minister in the last of the last days and in the Tribulation.

The last days are the entire Church Age. They began at Pentecost and they will end at the Rapture. So Paul was in the last days. Martin Luther was in the last days. Charles Spurgeon was in the last days. We are in the last days. But I believe we are in the last of the last days, the moments remaining perhaps but few. However the ministry of the Holy Spirit has been with us since Genesis 1:2 where we're told "the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." Don't you visualize Him as a dove, his wings outstretched and fluttering over the waters almost hugging the world as it was being formed? He is referred to again in Genesis 1:26 when God said "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..." Therefore we can conclude the Holy Spirit is God.

He has a personality. In Genesis 1:2 and Job 33:4 we read that He creates life. He directs where to preach and where not to preach. Remember Paul's seeking of direction for where to go next in his mission fields? The Spirit stopped him from going north, then south, and eventually directed Paul to go to Greece, blessedly bringing the Gospel from the Middle East to Europe. (Acts 8:29; Acts 10:19-20; Acts 16:6-7).

He comforts (Acts 9:31) and He teaches (John 14:26). He imparts the love of God to the saints and joy too. He maintains the church in edification (Acts 9:31). There is so much more I could write about the Spirit, books have been written, but turn to this one,

"Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." (Proverbs 1:23). He is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding! (Isaiah 11:2). And we need Him for that, desperately. Without Him we cannot understand the Word.

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Without Him we cannot understand the Word.

God reveals the things God wants us to know and to have by His Spirit. That is huge. God revealed Himself to us in creation, then He revealed Himself to us in Jesus on earth as His Son, now He reveals Himself to us through His Spirit bringing understanding of the Word, which is Jesus. Kind of circular, you say? Yes, that is the Trinity. They are God but they each are a Person distinct from the other, with different ministries, which are harmonized perfectly and completely in holiness in One. If you don't understand that, it's OK, I don't either! It is one of the mysteries of God that He can be three in one...

His ministry in some ways remains the same and some ways changes throughout the course of the covenants. In most cases in the Old Testament, the Spirit "came upon", He did not indwell. John the Baptist is an exception. John the Baptist is considered an Old Testament prophet because he died before the cross. Nevertheless, John was filled with the Spirit in the womb. Another example of God filling someone with the Spirit prior to the cross is Exodus 31:1-2, filling Bezalel to know how to build the temple. But normally, the Spirit came upon them for the period necessary to fulfill the task set before them (2 Chron 24:20, Judges 3:24).

God could and did take away the Spirit. The Spirit came upon Saul as King (1 Sam 10:6) but God removed it when Saul rebelled (1 Sam 16:14). David begged God not to take away the Spirit in his rebellion with Bathsheba. (Psalm 51:11).

When Jesus told the Disciples that He was going away but He would send a Comforter, it was the Spirit He was referring to. The Spirit descended on the Apostles at Pentecost, filling them. (Acts 2). However that portion of the Spirit's ministry changed, He now indwells us permanently. He is the deposit of guarantee of our inheritance and His seal of ownership on us. (Ephesians 1:14 and 2 Corinthians 1:22). If we confess our sins and believe by faith Jesus is Lord, He sends the Spirit into us and we can never lose Him (John 10:29). This doctrine is called "Once Saved, Always Saved" and I believe in it. If we could lose the Spirit as in OT days then there would be no guarantee, would there? If God sends the Spirit to indwell but takes it away, He breaks His own seal, doesn't He? No, it cannot be so!

But remember the Tribulation is actually a return to the Old Testament days, finishing up those last decreed 7 years as punishment of the Jews and the world for unrighteousness (Daniel 9:24). Therefore the way I read it, the Spirit will return to the ministry of 'coming upon' but not indwelling. It is why they will sacrifice in the Tribulation, also.

Jack Kelley explained it this way:

"The only passage that describes the requirements of Tribulation believers is that they obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus (Rev. 14:12). It means they will have to keep the commandments as best as they can, trusting the blood of Jesus to cover them when they fall short. Old Testament standards were essentially the same, except they didn’t know the name of their Savior. Except for taking the mark of the Beast, the Bible doesn’t identify any red lines beyond which salvation would be revoked, but based on what it does say more weight will be given to maintaining their faith than anything else."

One ministry the Spirit inhabits is the restraining ministry, and it is that one that I'll finish with. In Genesis 6 we read that God tell us that "My spirit will not strive with man forever..." This is the chapter of the conditions leading up to the worldwide judgment of the Flood. It seems to be telling us that at a certain point, He removes the restraining ministry from man when sin has reached a certain point, or that he removes Him prior to a worldwide judgment. However, He never removes His Spirit from the earth completely because how would we be drawn to the cross, otherwise? The verse goes on to say 'nevertheness his days are 120 years'.

We know He is the restrainer of lawlessness because Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8.

"And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming."

He restrains Lawlessness. The Greek word is defined "lawlessness, iniquity, disobedience, sin". He restrains sin.

Doesn't it seem like things are getting worse and worse in terms of morality, crime, greed, apostasy? I'm 51 years old (well, I will be in three weeks :) and I look back and think on the formative images I saw on the news during the 1960s and 1970s. I saw the riots, the homosexual agenda, political upheaval, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the Viet Nam war. Women's rights and abortion and Planned Parenthood and the Pill came in too. When I saw the Democratic National Convention riots, I thought the world was coming to an end, literally. It seemed to my young eyes and heart that everything was crashing down. It looks to me now from the vantage point of half a century on earth, that each new generation was exponentially worse than the previous one, and that lawlessness is compounding.

I believe America in the early to mid 1960s there was an influx of demonic activity. I believe that was allowed to happen because the Restrainer was slowly lifting His hand.

Now, this idea of the Restrainer being removed is biblical, Gen 6 and 2 Thess speaks of it. But I have no clue if He is lifting His hand fast or slow. I do not know at what rate the restraint is being removed. But my opinion is that the sudden change in society in the 1960s is evidence that He had lifted it some, because such a flood of lawlessness came in all at once. I believe that 9/11 was another indicator that He had lifted His hand some more. And in the last year, the cravenness of apostasy and false doctrine in the church is another indicator to me that His hand is going up, faster and faster now. Just look at the headlines on Drudge this Black Friday morning:

Woman pepper sprays other Black Friday shoppers 'to gain an upper hand'...
'Competitive shopping' turns into chaos...
VIDEO: Mayhem over $2 waffle maker...
Woman shot, robbed in SC after midnight shopping trip to WALMART...
NC police use pepper spray to break up melee...
GUNFIRE ERUPTS AT MALL...

And these persistent commercials of the blond woman training for Black Friday are off the charts gross.

I think the worldwide judgment is very close, and one of the reasons I believe so is that the lawlessness (sin) has increased to such a degree, and that is because the Restrainer is restraining less and less until the moment in 2 Thessalonians He does not restrain at all. The Thessalonians verse says the antichrist will not be revealed until the Restrainer is removed, and that is in the middle of the Tribulation, but if things are this bad now, you can get a clue as to how much worse they will be then.

And also, this shows us how bad and destructive sin is. One little sin is the first gangrenous cell in your body desiring to contaminate every other cell near it and march up every limb you have and turn it black from putrefaction. That is how the world will be at the revealing of the antichrist, iniquity having been made full. (Dan 9:24). You can avoid being on earth, and be purified and refreshed if you appeal to Jesus. It is the Spirit that brought you here to read this, He draws one and all to the cross, and then convicts you of your sins. Read Galatians 3:1-5, and this commentary says of it, "The two are linked: the cross opens the door for the Spirit, and the experience of the Spirit is the result of faith in the message of the cross of Christ." Kind of circular you say? That's the Trinity, of which the Spirit is a part!

If you are an unbeliever, appeal to Jesus for your sins to be forgiven. This is repentance. You're sorry for your wrong things you do and you understand that they are crimes against Jesus. He will forgive you if you are sincere, and then He will send the Spirit to come inside you and help you resist more sinning. This is called regeneration, literally being born again as a new creation.

You can never escape sinning but when you do (and we all do, Christians too) appeal to the Spirit for help resisting them and apologize to Jesus for them. We repent after we are saved, too. As you submit more deeply to the Holy Spirit's ministry, though, you will find that you want to sin less and less. The Spirit is making you a new creation, in His likeness and in holiness. This is sanctification.

So when you share all this with someone and they say, "Man, you're not crazy, you're possessed!" you can proudly say yes, "I boast in the Spirit that is in me! Praise Jesus!"

21 comments :

  1. We do live in exciting times. I too feel like things are "speeding up". I think you wrote about the sand in the hourglass awhile ago. God has been speaking to me about that too - time is running out. All we can do is cling to Him and share the gospel message of repentance and God's amazing saving grace through Jesus Christ. The closer we draw to Him through reading and studying the Word and prayer, He changes our heart and the old life and desires seem to fall away and we just don't crave the things of this world so much.
    Blessings, Tracy

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  2. You are 51 & remember your formative images of the 60's & 70's?

    I'm 32 and already feeling like a dinosaur.
    1997 seems so distant! Things are moving so fast that i can't keep up! Ahhhh......back in the day when we had bulky brick-like handphones & dial-up internet on the 486 :)

    All i can say is that you had your turn on this earth.....i might just have half a turn or less, but i'm still glad Jesus is coming real soon! Can't wait to go home !

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  3. After the gulf of mexico last year & fukushima this year......Not long to go now.........

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  4. Hi Anonymous, yes, I remember vividly...My very first memory at aged three years two months is the Beatles performing on Ed Sullivan. I was annoyed that the screaming was so loud that I could not hear the music, lol!

    Growing up in American suburbia, my mom would boot us out the door and we'd roam the neighborhood. My fondest memories are of playing down the road at the brook, and of playing in the cemetery under the trees. We went even further on our bikes, here, there, and everywhere. And I was 6, 8, 12 years old. Could never do that today.

    I can't wait for His coming to get us, that's for sure.

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  5. I'm still learning to discern the voice of The Holy Spirit...

    Sometimes it's a nudge or a feeling to do or not do/say something, one that I never ever experienced before becoming a Christian but I feel I'm doing something wrong by assuming a feeling/nudge is The Holy Spirit. I've started to rely on that "feeling" and I don't know how I can be sure it's always The Spirit and not just me.

    I can say I know and understand clearly when He's speaking through The Word of God. It's powerful and unmistakable when He does.

    But sometimes if I commit something to God like a health issue or emotional problem like anger, I will get those "nudges" or something holding me back when I'm in the midst of those things. I hope this all makes sense! Is this what you experience? I was wondering how you have learned to discern The Holy Spirit speaking to you? I really do love your blog and love it even more now because many don't talk so much about The Holy Spirit...Thanks and God bless!!

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  6. Hi Debbie,

    The Holy Spirit is like the forgotten orphan of the Trinity. But He is equal to God and Jesus and carries out an important ministry on earth and in our lives. I'm so glad you are speaking of Him and to Him!

    He speaks to us through the Word. The Word is the final revelation of God to us (the first being the earth & universe, (Romans 1:18-20), the next being the Law and the Prophets, then Jesus while on earth and finally Jesus as the Word (Hebrews 1:2).

    Discerning the Spirit's voice is important because our own feelings and desires will try to sneak in. Our heart is deceitful (Jer 17:9) and the mind can be blinded if we let unrepented sin linger too long (John 12:40, Romans 9:18).

    This website has a good listing by scriptures of the Holy Spirit's ministry
    http://carm.org/holy-spirit

    Another short essay on Who the Spirit is:
    http://www.gotquestions.org/who-Holy-Spirit.html

    What does the Spirit do for us? He hears and responds to our prayers through which we have immediate, instant, intimate access with God who supplies all our needs. He gives revelation to us as we have not only the Scripture but the resident Teacher in us who explains the Truth of Scripture to us. He is a model of authority for our own lives in the glorious Christ, and He gives to us personal intimate daily direction in terms of God's will.

    I learned to listen to the Holy Spirit through prayer, which brings me close to God, reading the bible, which is Jesus speaking back to me, and daily submitting to the Spirit's ministry in prayer and in action. The closer I walk with God-Jesus-Spirit the more I can discern Him.

    I also have learned my spiritual gift and usually He has me doing things that are consistent with the gift(s) He has distributed in me.

    James 1:5 says "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" and I do ask. The key is also to listen for the answer, in prayer, from the Word, and in circumstances in life.

    Be patient and go slowly, being careful not to mix our own desires with His. But ultimately, if we are consistently walking with Him in the ways I described above, He will send us desires that match His!

    One little pamphlet-book I have is really good at answering this question, which is really asking "How do I know I am in His Will?" is from John MacArthur. It is really short and readable. You can order it here for $1.50
    http://www.gty.org/products/Booklets/451004/Found-Gods-Will

    Other resources are
    "How doe we walk in the Spirit?"
    http://www.gotquestions.org/Spirit-walk.html

    How do I identify my Spiritual Gift?
    http://www.gotquestions.org/spiritual-gift.html

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  7. Wow Thank you so so so so much for all that information Elizabeth! I really do love yearn to learn about The Holy Spirit because I feel I know so little about Him. The only preacher I know that really places emphasis on the Holy Spirit is Pastor Charles Stanley. I wanted to get his book called "The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life" and was wondering if you had read it.

    Anyway, you are so awesome, reliable and full of God's wisdom, I pray our Father will bless you richly in Jesus' name.

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  8. Hi Debbie,
    Thank you for your prayers and calls for blessing! I have not read Charles Stanley's book but he is a good resource. Good for you! Keep praying, keep studying, keep asking, and all will be added to you!

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  9. uh oh. I have read your blog on Beth Moore and totally agreed with you about her. But I have a small dispute with praying to the Holy Spirit. I even have a problem praying TO Jesus. We pray TO God the Father THROUGH the Holy Spirit BECAUSE of Jesus. They all three have different offices and titles and duties. Although they are one they are three seperate personalities. In Matthew when Jesus was instructing his disciples on prayer by giving them a pattern, he only mentions praying to THE FATHER. He only prayed to THE FATHER. He instructed to ask the FATHER in MY NAME, not simply tack "in Jesus name" to the end. Not once did he instruct to pray to the Holy Spirit. Read all of Paul's prayers. He never mentions talking to the Holy Spirit but to God the Father. This is a false teaching much as Benny Hinn taught in his erronious book, GOOD MORNING HOLY SPIRIT.
    Your dsicenrmnet of Beth Moore was sopt on. Please research praying to the Holy Spirit as closely as you did her. Arnold Fruchtenbaum from Ariel Minitreis has a wonderful teaching on prayer. I used that for an entire summer with three other women as a study. I suggest reading it. There are several topics and one addresses whom we actually pray to. It is the best and most informative teaching on prayer I have ever done.
    Also we need to be careful when we interpret "hearing the voice" of God, the Holy Spirit or any other spiritual entity.

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  10. Blessed sister, we pray to God directly but we also pray all three. And what a blessing THAT is!

    The Spirit teaches us, aids us in the war against the flesh, intercedes for us, seals and secures us, guiding us away from the path of temptation, empowers us in the face of sin. Why WOULDN'T you want to pray and thank Him?

    Don't be so legalistic, dear one. God is One in three persons. They all deserve praise and prayers of thanks but they all are One. Here is a biblical teaching on the indispensable ministry of the Holy Spirit http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/90-418/the-indispensable-ministry-of-the-holy-spirit You can listen or read it.

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  11. I can't help but think of the times prior to Noah entering the ark. Could it have been much different than it is now? It doesn't matter that technology has advanced so much. What matters is that hearts are still evil. Sin has a hold on the human race. I can't imagine what this world will be like once the Spirit of God is taken away. But of course we know that God's Word goes out and accomplishes that which He desires.

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  12. Dear Elizabeth,

    Thanks for your sharing on the Holy Spirit. I have reading and trying to understand the works of the Holy Spirit, in particular its role in deliverance and healing. Today, in my church, the work is preached in reference to

    Mark 16:15-17

    New International Version (NIV)

    15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;


    I also read

    Matthew 12:28

    New International Version (NIV)

    28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

    However, I understand that some Christians do not believe in healing and deliverance in today's context.

    It would be great if you could do a blog post on the works of the Holy Spirit and explore this subject further.

    Thanks so much!

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    1. thank you for your comment and also your suggestion. I'll consider it. Meanwhile, I can offer the following resources that point to your question:

      "What is deliverance ministry, and is it biblical?"
      http://www.gotquestions.org/deliverance-ministry.html

      Can a Christian be demon-possessed?
      http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-demon-possessed.html

      Here are over 20 two-minute videos all discussing the work of the Holy Spirit
      https://www.tmstrangefire.org/media#.UklN41NjHFI

      As for demons and our dealings with them, we must be cautious of going beyond scripture or to assigning to the Spirit things He has not done, because of this verse which reveals that on His Day many who thought their deliverance ministry was genuine...was not,. nor were the people in it

      "On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" Mt 7:22-23


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  13. I cannot begin to tell you how much comfort and understanding your article has given me. Thank you so much.

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  14. Thanks for your reference to the Grace Community Church. I would love to attend it to hear the messages. However, I'm on the other side of the world.

    I wonder if the full sermons of those mini video clips would be on its website in days to come.

    By the way, are you from that church too? :)

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi CT,

      I only WISH I was at that church! No, it's in southern California. I am on the other side of the US in CA. However they have an active media ministry which you can hear their messages or see them in video, and after a short while all their sermons transcripts are posted too. And the pastor there has a blog, which is online and other things which are online like women's ministry bible studies. He also runs a wonderful seminary called The Master's Seminary and all their teachings are online too! Here are some of their website addresses for you to check out

      Grace To You is their media outreach website
      www.gty.org

      Grace To You blog:
      http://www.gty.org/Blog/

      Grace To You sermons
      http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons

      As for the sermons, the pastor there has been preaching at Grace Community Church for 43 years. He preached thru the New Testament verse by verse. All those sermons are at the above site!

      Here is their church website, and a link to woman's ministries
      http://www.gracechurch.org/media/?filter=ministry&id=68

      Here is the Master's Seminary, with complete online library. There is MUCH here that is free
      http://www.tms.edu/

      and here http://www.theologicalresources.org/

      You could spend 100 years and not get thru all that is available for your edification and encouragement at these sites. They are all under the umbrella of Dr John MacArthur :)

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  15. Hi Elizabeth,

    I have watched the videos and noted the constant highlight on how dangerous private revelations through prophecies etc. can be. I understand the reasons and can say that my church does caution members on always checking the released words and works against the word of God.

    However, as the videos pointed out problems with the works of the Holy Spirit, I'm trying to reconcile that with my church's belief in the works of the Holy Spirit in healing, speaking of tongues etc, My church (though not called a Charismatic Church, in fact is a Baptist one) also allows sharing of vision and believes in deliverance and teaches it through spiritual warfare sessions. These sessions are based on biblical verses such as the Mark 16:15-17, Matt 12:28 I mentioned earlier. I'm trying to understand how these are not 'right' according to the videos.

    I am also trying to reconcile Mark 16:15-17, Matt 12:28 with Matt 7:22-23.

    Could it be that Matt 7:22-23 refers to a specific group of false teachers (which does not include those who perform miracles according to the word as stated in Mark 16:15-17 and Matt 12:28)?

    I pray I could have the wisdom of God to discern what is right and what is almost right. I thank God for people like yourself who is able to shine the light for those who are still seeking, including Christians.

    CT

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    1. Hi CT, At the GTY.org website there is a new short video discussing the fundamental flaw of the Charismatic movement. It is that they depreciate the word of God by adding to it.

      http://www.gty.org/Blog/B131001

      It all comes down to the fact that they take so many verses out of context. There are many false religions that are thriving, seemingly even Christian religions, where they are based on bible verses but are still false. The Catholic church is one such of these, claiming that Peter was the first pope based on Matthew 16:18. So just because something is based on the bible isn't necessarily true. Look at how satan twisted God's word at the Garden, and made Eve doubt. Satan USES the bible for just this purpose.

      Keep praying to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment. He will deliver it. He will.

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  16. What's with the rainbow flag over the cross (of Jesus?) ? I find that troublesome considering that the gay movement using the rainbow flag as their symbol..

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    1. You mean from my avatar? It was Christian wallpaper from a link provided by Tim Challies. It's not a flag. I'm sorry you find it troubling. I find it beautiful. To me it represents that life in abundance and joy abounding comes from Jesus and Him alone.

      Genesis 9:13, "I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth"

      Yes it's troubling that the gay movement has co-opted the rainbow, but they don't own it.

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    2. O.K. thanks for explaining. I do wonder why such deep colors are used sometimes to represent the rainbow, when rainbows are naturally more like pastel colors. I love the dark colors, but they remind me more of Joseph's coat of many colors :)

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