Posts Tagged Holy Spirit

Hebrews Bible Study Week 7

The goal for this week was to cover two chapters, but we only made it through chapter 8. I suppose it was a little ambitious to try and cover chapters 8 and 9, but 9 will just have to wait until next week.

In verse 1, the author is again referencing Psalm 110, a Messianic Psalm which the author has referenced repeatedly throughout the book of Hebrews. And he or she says:

Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. Hebrews 8:1-2 (NASB)

The high priest, who is also the Messiah, has taken his place in Heaven and in the true tabernacle. This is the end of the need for sacrifices. The high priest has now entered the heavenly sanctuary and is now the mediator of a better covenant, the old now being obsolete.

So that it is clear, this is not a reference to the Abrahamic land grant covenant, but to the Mosaic covenant. Until the high priest became the mediator of the new covenant, the law was written in stone. Now the laws are in the hearts and minds of the believers.

This principle actually led to the liveliest discussion of the evening in our effort to determine when and how this imprinting upon the hearts and minds takes place. Does it occur upon becoming a believer, at baptism, during the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Without reaching definite conclusions, I think the general consensus was that (1) the Holy Spirit is the mechanism, and (2) it happens when the Holy Spirit becomes activated by faith in Jesus (which we also believed was distinct from the baptism in the Holy Spirit – which could happen simultaneously, but doesn’t always, or even usually).

We again were landed with a ministry opportunity which consumed a fair amount of the time, but the tradeoff was well worth it.

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One of the Best Sermons on the Holy Spirit I’ve Heard

I just wanted to share this sermon on walking with the Holy Spirit. It is one of the best sermons on the Holy Spirit I’ve heard in a long time (and from a Baptist preacher, no less).

I think our mindset is backward. We think we (1) meet Jesus, (2) get saved, and (3) progress into the things of the Spirit, when it is the power of the Holy Spirit that can enable our walk with Jesus from the beginning if we allow it.

Disclaimer: We attended this church (Beltway Park Baptist Church) for a few years, and absolutely loved it. We attended through a satellite campus which closed, so we found a local church. Enjoy!

Beltway Media Player

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Note: the conference referenced is the Global Awakening School of Healing here and here (which my wife is actually attending as I’m writing).

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10 Things Churches Do Right

The web is full of stuff that churches do wrong, and a lot of it is probably right on. What disturbs me more, however, is our collective quickness to point out everyone else’s flaws, when we all have them.

If I am publicly critical of one of the flaws in the church, it is the church’s willingness to divide the body. So, rather than perpetuating division, I want to point out a few things churches do right.

I’ve taken the top 10 Christian denominations according to a The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life/US Religious Landscape Survey and want to give them each a pat on the back for one thing each does right. Note: I haven’t distinguished so finely as between “Evangelical” and “Mainline,” or this sub-group and that.

Denomination (% of US population) – The good stuff:

1. Catholics (approx. 24%) – Disclaimer: I was born and raised Catholic, and a large part of my family is still Catholic. Catholics do “reverence” better than any other Christian denomination. I prefer a more contemporary, laid back worship service, but I have a great deal of respect for the reverence Catholics give to the Church buildings, altars, services, and rites. They get that God is holy, and we should approach Him that way.

Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I (am) holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 (NAB).

2. Baptists (approx. 13%) – Disclaimer: I was “saved” while a member of a Baptist Church (Beltway Park) a few years ago, and I wouldn’t trade my time in that Baptist Church for anything. Baptists do “numbers” better than anybody else right now. They keep the calculators in heaven busy with the newly saved. Baptists get mission work and know how to evangelize.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

3. Methodists (approx. 6%) – Disclaimer: I graduated from a Methodist university (Southwestern University); the connection was tenuous but important. The Methodists were charismatic before charismatics were cool. The Methodists once did mission work better than anyone else. Now, Methodists bridge gaps better than anyone – gaps between traditional and modern, fundamental and progressive, liturgical and extemporaneous. Methodists get inclusion.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NRSV)

4. Lutherans (approx. 4.6%) – Obviously, Lutherans have historically done “grace” and “reformation” better than most. They do doctrine, confessions and creeds well. We should all have such well articulated beliefs. Lutherans get that you should be able to articulate and defend what you believe.

He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. Titus 1:9 (NRSV)

5. Non-denominational (approx. 4.5%) – Disclaimer: I currently attend a non-denominational church (Emmanuel Fellowship Church). Non-denominationalists do “worship” better than anyone. They let loose and worship shamelessly. Hands raised, banners waiving, and dancing in the aisles. Every church service is a party. Non-denominationalists get that God is to be worshiped.

Then David danced before the LORD with all his might…

Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. 2 Samuel 6:14, 21-22 (NKJV)

6. Pentecostals (approx. 3.5%) – Pentecostals do Holy-Spirit religion better than anyone else. They understand that we are spiritual beings first and foremost, and that we should live in a state of communion with the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals get that the gospel has to be presented not only in word but in power.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (KJV)

7. Presbyterians (approx. 2.7%) – Presbyterians do education well. I would guess that, per capita, Presbyterians are probably the most educated group of believers. Presbyterians get that you don’t have to check your intellect at the church door.

The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the minds of fools. Proverbs 15:7 (NRSV)

8. Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (approx. 2.4%) – Christian Churches and Churches of Christ do discipline and perseverance like no one else. I don’t think I know a more committed and determined lot. They get that the Christian life is a marathon not a sprint, something many Christians lose sight of.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)

9. Anglicans/Episcopalians (approx. 1.7%) – Anglicans and Episcopalians embrace diversity. This is not true for a lot of the Christian church, and it should be. There is, after all, a common thread which should bind all of us. Anglicans get that the body needs all of its component parts.

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; Revelation 5:9 (AV)

10. Holiness Churches (approx. 1%) – Holiness churches do non-conformity well. They actually try to live what many Christians profess. They get that an encounter with Jesus and the Holy Spirit should be a life-changing encounter.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)

On the whole, it sounds like a body of Christ I want to be a part of. Now, if we could get all of the component parts working in unison.

NOTE: My readers know that I allow and respond to virtually all comments and criticisms, but not on this post. If you leave a comment critical of a Christian denomination, please know it will be deleted. I know charismatics can take things too far, and I know other denominations can be legalistic. I get it. None of us are perfect, and there will be plenty of time and opportunity to discuss the problems later. You are, as always, certainly free to criticize me or my positions, but not the other members of the body. Not this time.

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Hebrews Bible Study-Week 4

We finally had the fourth week of actual study last night where we covered Hebrews chapter 6, sort of. We actually made it through the first six verses.

I knew once we got into this part of Hebrews, we would be able to cover less ground in our 1.5 hr meeting. Chapter 6 is challenging. It’s not necessarily the most intellectually challenging part of Hebrews, but it is definitely one of the most spiritually challenging. I don’t know many Christians who can read Hebrews chapter 6 and honestly say they are partakers of the “solid food” referenced in chapter 5, and not “milk.”

Do you wonder whether you are? Consider what the author is saying in the first two verses:

1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:1-2 (NASB)

Has the church (collectively) left the “elementary teaching about the Christ”? Hardly. We discussed each item listed individually. “Repentance from dead works,” still plagues the church – we battle with legalism continually, and repentance. There is simply no earning your way into heaven, yet we try our best to measure our salvation by work-related measurements.

How about “washings,” or baptisms. There is still plenty of in-fighting about when, where, who, how, and how often to baptize. Is there one baptism, two, three, or multiple? The author clearly intends to communicate multiple, so which is he or she meaning? We collectively determined the potential for three: (1) water baptism, (2) the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and (3) the baptism by fire. I, personally, had never made the distinction between (2) and (3) until after our discussion last night, but I do now. We also concluded that the list might not be exhaustive, but those were the three we were able to identify.

And “the laying on of hands,” how well is the church coping with that one? Do we? Don’t we? Why do we? Why don’t we? We determined four reasons for doing so still today: (1) healing, (2) commissioning or sending out, (3) impartation, and (4) baptism in the Holy Spirit. Not that the laying on of hands is necessary for each, or that the list is exhaustive, but these are certainly reasons for doing so.

Oh yeah, “and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.” As sophisticated as we have become in the Western church, we are regressing in matters of the Spirit. We are able to get the word out better than we ever have, but the word has lost its power. It’s no wonder there’s a problem with “faith toward God.”

I say only half jokingly, fortunate for us that so few of us “have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come otherwise we would be in danger of the condemnation contained in verses 5 and 6.

Hopefully we will finish chapter 6 next week and move into chapter 7.

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Kids’ School of Worship-Night 2

School of Worship (457 x 305)Wednesday night was excellent, or so I hear. I had to bail early because The Libster had about had it by 7pm. She was not enjoying being out of her routine.

The kids learned about “Postures of Praise” (kneeling, laying down, hands raised, etc.). The sessions were dancing, soaking and games. The reports about what some of the kids (and a few adults) experienced during the soaking time were pretty amazing.

One thing our pastor continually reminds us is that children do not get a “junior” Holy Spirit, and, even though I was already convinced of this before this week, I am thoroughly convinced of this now.

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Does This Really Say What I Think It Says?

I know that we all come across passages in scripture we have read numerous times, and then one day we read it again and say, “What? I never knew that was in there…”

This is my latest of those:

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. Hebrew 6:4-6 (NKJV)

Does this really say what I think it says?

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Give Me Some More Leviticus

Last week, I finished reading through Leviticus again. It was only the second time I’ve read through it start to finish. Which is a shame really. I think Leviticus gets a bad rap.

Off and on, I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying the feasts, but I’ve spent very little time on the remainder of Leviticus. The symbolism is unreal. And not that I’m claiming to grasp it all, quite the contrary. But, it’s good stuff.

Suggestion: if anyone is planning to tackle Leviticus any time soon, read the fall feasts for their eschatological significance, and, when reading about the offerings, think about God symbolizing the bull or offering from the herd, Jesus as the lamb or offering from the flock, and, of course, the Holy Spirit as the pigeon or turtle dove offerings.

I would be curious to hear anyone’s thoughts. If you know of any other resources relating to this, I would also be grateful if you would let me know.

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