(Ver 1.1) This is Part 1 in a series of basic Bible lessons on the infinitely important subject of God’s Divine Grace. The subject of Divine Grace is by far one of the most significant found and emphasized by God in the New Testament but also one of the most misunderstood, overstated, exaggerated and unbalanced modern messages that I have found on TV, the internet and in many churches. Any subject in the Bible can be taken to a position of errant inaccuracy causing the underlying true message to become lost. Departing from a well-studied, thoroughly balanced, rightly divided, sound doctrinal view of God’s Word is a very dangerous but prevalent reality found in the church today. The subject of Divine Grace is just one of these subjects found in the present church that has experienced this sad fact of extremism. Many modern extreme Grace Bible teachers only teach a slanted selected fragment of the complete subject ignoring the rest of the Bible concerning sin, repentance, forgiveness, the fear of God, judgment, faith, holiness, sowing and reaping, deception, spirituality, carnality, being sprit led and the many other N.T. subjects which all must be taken into the full discussion equally. Instead of doing this these Bible teachers are working very hard to explain these complementary subjects away or totally ignoring them all together. I refuse to take that kind of narrow minded approach to such a broad important subject with so many other associated and linked matters being overlooked. I will warn you up front that this will be one of the most significant Bible lessons never taught by many modern Bible teachers on the subject of Grace. In fact, it will be so different that I may expect to receive several negative comments from my religious carnal readers who do not wish to see the spiritual truth of God’s Word. I ask that you open your mind and spirit to receive from what the Bible has to say on this subject.
INTRODUCTION TO THE FEAR OF GOD
I’m going to begin this Grace Bible lesson series with an introduction to another very important Bible subject called “the fear of God”. In this part of the Bible lesson I will be using a personal testimony from my life experiences that God used to help teach me to see things differently in the Bible about the subject of Grace than many other Christians. Why am I starting a lesson on God’s Grace with the subject of the “fear of God”? That is a great question and the reason that I do this is because this subject is so consistently ignored that it has become lost to the modern Christian. In teaching with this approach I will have to battle an apparent Biblical surface text contradiction. The subjects of the “fear of God” and “Grace” appear to be in direct opposition to each other. Why should I fear God if God has given to me this free gift of divine grace and forgiven all of my sins? Because people do not know how to correctly balance two opposing subjects is the primary reason they choose to ignore the one they do not like. You are about to learn what these two directly opposing subjects mean when joined together correctly if you decide to continue to read the rest of this lesson.
The teaching of the “fear of God” is dramatically lacking and at times non-existent in the modern church. It is a well-known fact that Christians today disregard this subject called the fear of God and have no driving desire to learn it. The “Grace” message appeals to our flesh and that is more highly desirable for the normal Christian to seek after. However, I’m one of those different types of Christians that likes to believe that we must balance all of the subjects found in the Bible together in order to correctly understand any of them? This is why I have chosen to teach Grace by giving you an introduction and an overview to the subject of fear. Let’s begin this part of the subject by determining how God defines “fear”? Here is one N.T. Greek Word from Strong’s to begin with:
From a primary φέβομαιphebomai (to be put in fear); alarm or fright: – be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.
This Greek word occurs in 44 verses of the New Testament. There are 14 verses in the Gospels, 5 verses in Acts, 3 verses in the apocalyptic book of Revelation and the rest (22) in the letters written to the church. G5401 is not a superbly popular word but it is well distributed throughout the N.T. and therefore should not be ignored. I will begin my discussion of this Greek word by saying that I believe God’s definition of fear is based upon human awe and respect of His great power but that is not a complete and accurate definition based upon this Greek word’s usage. I certainly do believe that a reverential fear of God is a very healthy part of a real Christian’s relationship with God. I also believe that this reverential fear of God is a requirement and not just an optional condition placed in the mind of those that do not wish to see the truth. Those that wish to explain away the subject of the fear of God do so by stating this fear is nothing but “reverence” and that is by far not an accurate representation of the word’s definition as you can see.
Reading from the Greek word definition given to us by Dr. Strong this Greek word means more than just giving God respect and goes to a deeper human response level of being afraid, to become fearful or even to be in terror of. How does that fit your relationship with God? I personally believe that if you have no real fear for God or of God then you really do not know Him very well. God is described to be omnipotent and this simply means “all-powerful”. Do you believe anyone else is more powerful than God? I certainly do not believe that anyone else is even close. Since you or I are not omnipotent it would be very foolish of us not to be in total awe of Him that is.
The Greek word G5401 or the Hebrew word H3374 translated as “fear” can be researched in the Strong’s dictionary/concordance to verify how they are defined and used. Doing this research, will help us to better understand what these words mean. For example, when Jesus came walking up to the boat with the disciples on the water in the darkness of night, they were described by God to be in “fear” (G5401) crying out “it is a ghost”. Can you put yourself into their position and think how you might have reacted? Does that story help you to see what this word “fear” means? This word “fear” means to be un-expectantly terrified because this is not a normal/natural situation found in this life. Matthew 14:26 describes this event and God uses this same Greek word G5401 to describe how the disciples reacted. This Greek Word we will soon discover in the other parts of the N.T. is used by God to describe how we should react to God. I will give you several examples to help you learn how God uses this word when speaking of Himself and our reaction to Him and His works. It would be very wise of you to verify everything that I will say to you today for yourself using your own Bible and Strong’s dictionary.
Is “fear” always a negative or can it ever be viewed as a positive emotion or reaction? What about physical pain? Is physical pain a positive? Can we agree that God created fear and pain as possible human benefits? If God created the response of fear and the feeling of pain do they have a purpose for existence? Is this purpose for our benefit or for our harm? I believe that fear and pain should be viewed as positives and not a negative aspect of our life or our relationship with God. You see if you did not have the sensation of pain you would not know to take your hand off of the hot stove. Likewise if you do not fear big trucks and step out in front of one moving very fast, you could be found dead in just a very few moments. Having fear of a greater power is healthy and normal and we should respect anything or anyone that is bigger than we are if we want to live a long well life. But, this subject fear and terror is still a potential major conflict for the God revealed to be Love who displays and extends us Grace in the New Testament. How do we balance “fear” with “love” and “grace”?
Perhaps you were raised by strict parents that loved you? Did your parents ever discipline you when you did wrong? Did they do this because they were bad parents or only because you were being bad? Could it be that they were good parents for spanking you? Love was always my motivation for disciplining my child to instruct him which way to go. You see the Bible says “He that spares the rod, hates his child” (Prov 13:24). It is only a parent that does not discipline their child that proves to God they do not love their children. This is the main reason we have a generation of bad grown-ups doing evil in the world. No one took the time to train them in the right ways to live. Because I was bigger and stronger than my child, my child’s respectful fear for his loving father was a positive influence and this fear of getting a spanking was a positive influence and not a negative. This is the way that we should become with our own God and spiritual heavenly Father. Let me take you to a New Testament verse written to the church and see what God says on this subject:
- Heb 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
This description is exactly what I was attempting to teach. We should learn to respect our God because He loves us enough to bring us correction. This Greek word for reverence is not “fear” but it contains implied fear in order to give someone reverential status. God is basically informing us that we need to become aware of His correction in our lives because this is just a normal part of the healthy relationship between the teacher/master to a lesser student/disciple in need of guidance. Perhaps you do not believe that you need any divine guidance and that will become your downfall soon. The Bible very clearly tells us that “those that are LED by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). How can anyone lead someone else without also bringing correction when they stray from the instructions? I do not see how that is possible so pay attention to what God is teaching us. We need to learn from the parent analogy that fear, correction and judgment coming from God is a necessary and healthy part of divine power, grace, love and guidance. Without all of these subjects being found present there is no need for any of them. I’m not sure if you understand what I just said, but it was very profound and important.
Numerous teachers today in the modern Grace message teach that every sin is completely covered by the shed blood of Jesus (TRUTH) and that there is nothing that they or any other Christian can do by omission or commission, good, bad or indifferent that will cause them to depart from God’s Grace or to fall under God’s divine judgment (LIE). In other words they are teaching Christians that God never judges them because He has judged Jesus and therefore, God does not love them enough to bring them any correction for their ways. They have foolishly taken the truth reality of the perfection of Jesus to mean that they are now perfect because of what Jesus has done for them and that is definitely not a sound Bible truth. This very popular belief places all of the responsibility of us remaining a Christian on God and omits any human influence, participation, contribution, responsibility, freewill choice or satanic involvement for deception. This extreme grace doctrine is simply a newer modified version of a very old doctrinal lie called “Once Saved Always Saved” (OSAS). They have placed salvation and eternal security totally and completely in God’s hands while ignoring what God says in His Word for us to do after we are saved. I always ask them, if God controls the outcome of the Christian race then there is no need for our effort to run in it (Heb 12:1). Therefore, there are no consequences for quitting, no disqualifications for cheating, no need for correction and certainly no need to fear God. That doctrinal belief sounds satanically inspired to me and I pray that you begin to see it in the same light.
Eternal security and divine personal safety are both valid parts of the N.T. Gospel message but they are not everything that the Spirit of God taught me from my life experiences or from what is written in the Holy Bible. Try not to misunderstand what I just said. We do not base our faith or our beliefs of God solely upon our personal experiences in this life, but we can use them as examples if they align with the words of God in the Bible to teach others a lesson. That is what I will attempt to do today. I’ll tell you about what happened to my family and then you can judge if I am speaking the truth or if I am just here trying to deceive you. Will you do that? Can I count on you to be an unbiased, just and fair judge of what I teach you today?
When I was a young man my father and mother went to a Bible school here in the United States. They were in their second year of Bible training with a great man of God teaching the class when suddenly the Holy Spirit interrupted the class giving the Bible teacher a supernatural spiritual vision. This Bible teacher saw a cloud of death hovering over the head of just one student in class and that man was my father. This vision from the Holy Spirit was a warning sent to my father. The Bible teacher being very concerned stopped the class and called my father to the front and prayed for him and asked him to come see him privately in his office later. My father basically did not understand the importance of what God had just tried to do for him and he ignored the request to come see the man of God privately. My father’s refusal to become obedient was the continuation and not the beginning of the downfall of my father. You see when the man of God gives anyone a message from God and they disobey it, they are not disobedient to the messenger but rather to God and His message. A few weeks later my father collapsed at home, was rushed by ambulance and went into a coma at the local hospital. The doctors did the best they could to save him but my father died suddenly in the hospital as a young man in his forties and never finished that year at Bible school. All of this happened despite the fact that my father was a Christian, the pastor of several churches, the graduate from one 4 year Bible College going to another Bible school to further his education of God and the Bible and all of us living in the church age called the dispensation of God’s Grace.
I do not believe that my father was not a Christian or that he did not go to heaven when he died. I am convinced that he was born again and a Spirit-filled preacher man. But the fact that God gave another Spirit filled preacher man a clear vision to help warn my father of what was going to happen weeks before it happened is a major problem for the modern “no fault”, “no fear of God”, “no responsibility”, “no sin”, “no repentance” and “no judgment” Grace message. Every time I hear some preacher trying to tell me what people do today doesn’t matter for them being a real saved Christian living long in this world causes me righteous anger knowing what I know now about my father, God and the Bible. I believe you can see why I feel this way but let’s continue to read the end of the story.
My family and I learned the rest of the story after the funeral. The man of God that was given the vision’s warning told my mother privately that God had showed him that my father was in sin not walking in love towards certain people. This man of God was shown what to tell my father to instruct him to change in order to not die this premature death. My father being a young man was definitely not in the season or time for his death. Since my father showed no fear and ignored the warning and did not humble himself to go and get the message from God, he died exactly as it was shown to the man of God. Some will try to say this was not a warning but a prophecy for something that could not be changed. Others will try to say the preacher lied about the vision or that my father was not really a Christian. Some will try to tell you that my mother lied to me and that none of this really happened this way. That is what one extreme grace preacher tried to tell me and then he unfriended me on Facebook like a real Christian brother would do walking in love. He definitely did not want to hear the truth but that is his choice and it will become yours shortly. I stand by everything that I just said, and I can show you the death certificate, let you listen to recorded testimonies and name every name that was involved giving dates and locations, but what difference would that make if you don’t want to see the truth.
Does this story of my father’s death sound like any other Bible story to you? When I heard this being described by my mother and later learned more of the Bible it sounded exactly like a story given to us by God in the Old Testament with very similar circumstances. I’ll use this story found in the Bible to help us see how God aligns the Bible with the story of my father:
- 2Ki 20:1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
Have you ever studied this Bible story? Isn’t this basically what the Lord tried to do for my father? God sent a prophet with a vision that said you are going to die in both cases. What happened to this king after Isaiah the prophet visited him with this very comparable message of pending death sent from God? You did know that my father was a king, didn’t you? Perhaps I did not mention that in my testimony. Maybe you have read in 1Timothy 6:15 that Jesus Christ is called the “King of kings”. Who exactly are these kings that Jesus is King over? If you don’t understand who these kings are go read Revelation 5:10 and find out it is God’s church who will reign with Christ Jesus during the millennium. If you think that God does not still send His prophets to His kings when they do wrong you better wake up and learn you’re not God and He is still the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). Notice what King Hezekiah did that my father did not do and then see what God does in response:
- 2Ki 20:2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,
- 2Ki 20:3 I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
The king seeks his God with his whole heart. Notice that the king’s response was “fear based” and precisely what my father should have done. What exactly do you believe would have happened if Hezekiah would have not feared the message of God or would have ignored the prophet’s warning like my father did? Not taking the warning of God seriously and giving God respect will always result in what was warned to happen, occurring. God is omniscient and that simply means God knows the future before it occurs, but that does not mean that the future cannot be changed. What did I just say? Did you know that your future is not set in stone? That is what I am trying to teach you today. People like to think there is an appointed time for a man to die and nothing will change that, but that is just not what the Bible says. My father’s future outcome was not set in stone either and if he would have made the right choices he would not have died. We learn this fact from this profound story here in 2 Kings. God states emphatically that the future for King Hezekiah was going to be his quick death. God offered the king no deals nor made any other options available to him. But Hezekiah seeks God’s face and notice what happens next:
- 2Ki 20:4 And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
- 2Ki 20:5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.
- 2Ki 20:6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
I hope that you can see that the previously prophesied demise of the king was changed and Hezekiah’s life on the earth was extended by a further allowance of God’s Divine Grace. God said to His prophet to go back and tell the king that I have heard his prayer and saw his TEARS! That was a clear sign of the king reaching out to God with an attitude of repentance asking for forgiveness. Didn’t God initiate His divine grace to Hezekiah by first warning him about his death before it happened? If God would have kept silent and given him no warning the king would have died and that would have been justice for his sins. It is very clear to me that it was not the warning sent from God that was going to kill him. It was the warning sent from God that was designed to help the king make the necessary corrections. This is exactly the same truth for my father’s story. God’s warning was intended to turn my father around like King Hezekiah. Do you understand this point of the existence of God’s grace in these warnings? You will find this truth becoming clearer as we continue to study this subject. Grace will always be God’s initiated involvement in our life especially when we do not deserve it.
What happened after the warning was initiated by God? Isn’t the continuation of further Grace placed into the hands of the men that were warned by God? You see I view the subject of Grace to be like a heavenly/earthly tennis match. I see God always serving the first Grace Ball at humans, but then it is the correct human response to this serve that determines another round of Grace. Please do not accuse me of blasphemy for reducing God’s Grace to be like a tennis match. I am simply attempting to teach you the fact that there is always God’s Grace that is extended first, followed by man’s reaction to that grace and then if it is appropriate in God’s eyes, God will extend them more grace. Didn’t God show the king additional grace and mercy by changing his prophesied future? I believe He did. This lesson of Hezekiah is definitely a valid story of indirect or unstated divine grace and that is why I am including it today in this lesson on grace and the fear of God.
Can you agree with me that what God did for this O.T. king was an undeserved gift and an act of His divine grace designed to help avert disaster? If yes, what was missing from my father’s life story that was different from this King’s story? Both men were in a covenant with God and both were sent a prophet from God with a message for their coming death. But one man in the Bible believed the message in fear and sought God diligently and the other obviously did not. You have to throw the Bible away and simply call me a liar for telling you this story that happened to my father well over 30 years ago. The man of God must have made up the vision to his Bible class, my father, and my mother which started this whole chain of alleged deception. My mother then propagated the alleged lie to me and the alleged deception of Satan is continuing by me telling you the same story. That is certainly one way of looking at it attempting to explain it away if you do not want to believe the truth. I give you no proof or evidence for what I just told you other than this corresponding lesson from 2 Kings.
You are now going to be forced to judge if these stories that I just told you are true or not. Start with the Bible story and determine if God lied? Then review the links of the Bible to the story of my father. Finally, consider the following questions. What is my motivation for telling you this story of my father? Can you think of any benefit that I gain from it personally? If I do not gain anything from telling these stories then consider how or what you would either gain or lose from knowing them and believing them or rejecting them? How, would these stories cause you to be deceived to not know the real truth? What benefit would be gained by Satan over you if what I said is true and you don’t believe it? Then reverse that question and say what benefit would Satan gain over you if the story is false and you do believe it? You really need to use your brain and think when you read my Bible lessons. I just can’t do your thinking for you! What advantage does Satan gain if you believe the modern extreme Grace message that teaches us nothing we do matters in this world? I can see that Satan’s major advantage is your ignorance of the truth. You need to learn the truth or this lack of knowledge might be the open door that allows Satan to take you down.
I believe what we must discover from these stories is the fact that both Hezekiah and my father were warned by God’s initiation of Grace but because Hezekiah made the wiser choice to fear God the outcome of his death was stopped by God’s additional extension of divine grace. The story of Hezekiah teaches us a lot about the modern subject of grace found in the New Testament. What we are learning is that further grace from God is given out to men conditionally based upon the correct actions of these men and their attitude of respectful fear for God, His Word and His prophets. This same Old Testament pattern is found in more than one place. For example, Jonah another prophet of God was sent to warn Nineveh of their coming destruction. The city of Nineveh repented and changed their ways and their destruction was also prevented by their wise actions. What were the determining factors for the change of the prophet’s prediction not coming to pass in Nineveh? I believe that we can draw from these examples several facts starting with all the warned people needed to possess the “fear of God” in order to obtain any further grace from God. If no one would have feared God’s words, no one would have given the warning any second thought. The next factor for receiving God’s grace was belief in God’s words of warning. If no one believed what the prophet said then no one would have bothered to take the next step to seek God. Finally, there was the factor of humility being present in the people warned that played a major role in them asking God for forgiveness with an attitude of repentance to change. I am going to keep saying the same things in different ways to make sure you are grasping them. These are the facts again that I learned from these Bible stories:
- The fear of God must be present to receive God’s initial grace.
- Faith in God’s Words must be present to receive God’ initial grace.
- Faith in God’s messenger/prophet is also a requirement to receive God’s initial grace.
- The humility to admit your error must be present to receive God’s initial grace.
- Asking God for forgiveness must be present to receive God’s additional grace.
- Repentance and change must be present to receive God’s additional grace.
- God’s grace is conditionally extended to man based upon their correct human response.
- Greater extensions of God’s grace are a progressive reality based upon correct human attitudes, responses and corrections.
- Grace can be rejected and lost by no fear of God being present, wrong human beliefs, wrong attitudes, and human pride.
The first eight truths in my list were factors apparently missing from the life of my father and you need to learn from them to make your own wise choices in this life. Number 9 in the list was my father’s mistakes and again you need to learn to not repeat them. I just gave you two O.T. examples where they made right choices and lived a longer life and my father’s N.T. example where he failed to receive correction from the Lord and died. This is about the time I can hear people try to say “we are not under that covenant and the Old Testament does not apply to me”. Don’t be ignorant and speak where you have no knowledge. There are too many things that you don’t know to say the O.T. does not apply to you. Everything that was revealed by God in the New Testament was first concealed in the Old Testament. The O.T. is nothing but the N.T. covered and the N.T. is nothing but the O.T. exposed! They are practically identical in many corresponding ways with one being totally a natural pattern in the Old and the other being a totally a repeated spiritual pattern in the New. What I am attempting to teach is that if the fear of God existed in the O.T. it clearly must exist in the N.T. or God has changed.
THE FEAR OF GOD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
If you still believe that we should not have any fear of God in the New Testament you seriously need to reread your Bible more closely. God says too much for this subject to be ignored. For example let’s continue this subject discussion transferring to the scriptures on the subject in only the New Testament. Read these next four verses written to the people in the church and take note to what they say:
- Act 13:16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
- 2Co 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
- Eph 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
- Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The Bible teaches us to let every truth be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Therefore, I wanted to show you that the “fear of God” is directly mentioned in the New Testament in more than one place. Pay close attention to see that these verses were written to Christians living in the age of Divine Grace and that they were written for us to learn from and to follow. Did you notice what the first verse in my list in Acts 13:6 said? Wasn’t Paul one of the first “Grace” preachers? Who was Paul preaching this message of Grace to? Did you see it? Paul was preaching grace to Christians in the church that first and foremost “feared God”? I thought Paul was the ultimate grace preacher that everyone today likes to claim to preach like? I have heard more than one of these modern day Grace preachers say that Paul got blasted by people in the church for preaching grace claiming that he was giving them a license to sin. However I noticed a major problem that is not lining up in the N.T. with this modern day grace message, did you see it also? Why are these modern extreme grace preachers NOT following Paul’s example in Acts? Why do these modern grace preachers speak to men that do not fear God and still claim to be like Paul? I believe that is one of the most profound things that I have taught you today. Is your preacher teaching people that fear God? If not the preacher is wrong or the people are wrong and do not fit the pattern given.
Did you notice that the other three verses that I listed were also all written by Paul? Make no mistake that the fear of God is still a major factor in the true complete N.T. gospel message. Consider why God sent a warning to my N.T. preacher father the same as he did to those in the O.T. like Hezekiah and Nineveh? Didn’t God extend them all the same Grace filled opportunity to change? Was not the same warning sent to my father that could have permitted him to turn and live? If you are not understanding yet that God does not change and what has already happened in the past is that which will occur again you either need to open the eyes of your heart to see the truth fast or go read someone else’s Bible lessons that will scratch your itching ears. It is just abundantly clear to me that the subject of the “fear of God” is still important for us to know. But, for those that are still not believing Paul here is one command from the mouth of Jesus, God in the flesh spoken right before the beginning of the church age:
- Mat 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Jesus Christ is the revealed Head of the Church (Eph 5:23). If you do not believe my words or Paul’s words that the fear of God is still a factor for your salvation, why don’t you begin to believe the words of your God? In this verse Jesus clearly says “fear God” and do not “fear man”. Do not fear those that can only kill the body but not your soul but fear Him that is able to do both. This command will become significantly more important as I continue to teach. Remember these words! This verse is a statement not addressed directly to a people by name but rather by implication applies universally to every human saved or unsaved. Those that do not wish to believe the “fear of God” command was spoken to them will attempt to explain it away as a statement spoken only to unsaved Jews. However, if you read the context you should be able to see that this statement was made to the disciples of Jesus and that means the words apply to the future church more than they apply to the lost world or Jewish people but both are still relevant since none of the disciples were yet saved when this was said. Consider the audience that received this message was mixed with those that feared God and those that did not. Was not Judas present with the 12 when this was spoken? Eleven of these disciples of Jesus became founders of the church but one betrayed Jesus because he lacked this quality called the “fear of God”. Judas witnessed the same miracles of Jesus as the other 11. Judas heard all the same preaching and teaching messages that the other 11 heard. Judas saw Jesus walk on water, calm the storm and so much more. But clearly Judas lacked the important feature of the fear of God and regrets that eternally in hell today.
People are free to ignore these words of Jesus or to explain them away but they will be judged for that error someday. Ask yourself, do you fear God? If not why is there no fear present within you? Is it because of the modern grace teaching? Did you know that anyone that is ignoring the fear of God command is being disobedient to God and not man? The words spoken to “fear God” came from the one that was going to die for your sins and the giver of all grace, so do whatever you like. But be further warned that Jesus the head of the church also said “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not the things that I say” (Luke 6:46). So what did Jesus say and why are people not following this command to become obedient? Let’s take a look at an important subject verse that is popularly ignored or explained away by the modern extreme grace message teachers:
- Act 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
What did this verse just say? Not only was there “fear” in the early church there was a “great fear” and that just intensifies the terror of God level to a much higher plateau. The Greek word used here in this verse is again G5401 that was used to describe the disciples in the boat observing Jesus walking on the water. Clearly from the verse context this was a result of what just transpired within the church. What caused the early church to be in such excessive terror of a loving gracious God? Ok, maybe I should first ask you who were these fears in the church people directed at? The verse does not state directly who or what this fear is of or for, therefore these words can be explained away to be a fear of something else besides God. This is where one grace preacher unfriended me on FB. I simply told him that he knew how to read the Bible but that he could not see what the Bible really said right in front of him. In order to answer this question we need to study the context of the verse and find out what God teaches in the surrounding verses. Taking verses out of their context will allow Bible teachers to make them say what they want them to say but using the context to explain them is a wiser approach to correct Bible study.
Go study the entire context of this verse. We should back up to begin reading in chapter 4. I’m not going to go through everything said verse by verse but I will give you a synopsis overview of what is occurring and what is important to notice. Reading in Acts 4:1 it begins with a description of the disciples preaching to the people of Jerusalem. They preached the resurrection of Jesus to the people and were put into prison in verse 3. In verse 4 you can clearly see that many people believed the Gospel and at least 5000 men were saved. Therefore we are observing the church is growing by preaching the Gospel. What was this Gospel message being preached? We need to go back further in the context to chapter 3 to see if it contained any message for the fear of God. Read chapter 3 and in verse 23 tell me what it says? Peter tells the people that Moses told them to look for another prophet from one of their brothers and this one will have a greater message for them to hear. Peter then says the words of this prophet called Jesus is for you to believe or to be destroyed. Do you believe that this message was a warning to the people? I can see where Peter says believe or perish and that was a clear warning statement of fear. What happens when a warning is given by a messenger sent from God like Isaiah or Jonah? Does fear play a role in the people receiving the message? Please observe what the message was that Peter was preaching and then try to figure out if that is anything like what is being preached in churches today. Peter very clearly says for these people to believe or to be destroyed in verse 23 and I never hear modern grace preachers saying anything like this. I guess they just don’t want to offend them into heaven so they flatter them into hell. Let’s go back to chapter 4 of Acts.
If you continue to read down in chapter 4 of Acts you will see the leaders of the temple commanding Peter and John to never preach or teach in the name of Jesus anymore. Peter looks at them and says “Whether it is better to obey you or God, you judge” in verse 19. Clearly Peter was telling them we fear God more than we fear you and we will not stop. Isn’t this an example of Peter and John being a doer of the commandment of Jesus that I just gave to you? Do the disciples fear the leaders that can throw them into prison or do they fear God? The leaders of the synagogue finally relent and let them go and they return to the other church members and tell them what has transpired as a warning to them from men. They immediately stop and all pray together in one accord saying in verse 29 “Behold their threatening”. The disciples asked God for boldness to proclaim the truth in spite of these human threats to their life. It is very clear to me that these people in the early church feared God more than they feared man because in verse 31 it says God answered their prayer by shaking the place they were in. Let me explain to you what God was saying to them by shaking the ground. God was saying can these men that threatened you do this? That was God’s answer and I believe that is enough evidence to inform us who the early church feared and who they did not fear. So I’ll go back and ask you this question again about Acts 5:11, who did the early church fear in this context story? It was not any man, so it was either Satan or God. We could go through and prove that it was not Satan, but I am spending too much time trying to counter these false teachings so let’s just focus on the words that are written. Look at verse 33 in Acts 4 and find the subject of Grace.
- Act 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
Here we have another exponential growth in the Grace of God given to His church. Not only were they shown “grace” but God has increased the level of His grace to a greater degree. What we learn from this verse is that Grace is delivered in stages. If there can be “great” grace then there can also be “little” grace or even “no” grace. What do you believe is the main factor for the presence of this greater level of God’s grace in the church? I believe it was a combination of factors beginning with the presence of a “great fear” of God. The church being in fear of God while not fearing what man could do to them, increased the level of God’s grace being offered to them. Of course there are other factors that are also involved in this grace being given but we will learn those as we continue to study this subject.
- Act 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
- Act 4:35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
Verse 34 of Acts 4 is the opening of the story of Acts 5. Clearly the translators made a poor choice to divide the chapters at their current locations. Start reading in verse 34 and you will see God speaking directly about the church. He says those that were in the church lacked nothing because those that had were generous to give to those that did not have. That is the foundational context of what we need to know in order to understand chapter 5. We can clearly see who God is speaking of and speaking about in chapter 4 and this just continues in chapter 5. Man divided the chapters not God. So do not believe the chapter heading five starts a brand new story.
- Act 5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
- Act 5:2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
- Act 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
- Act 5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
- Act 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
- Act 5:6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
- Act 5:7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
- Act 5:8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
- Act 5:9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
- Act 5:10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
One modern TV extreme grace preacher tried to explain away this story of the early church by teaching what happened was God’s protection of the early church from the deception of two unsaved people. That was a very creative attempt to explain what was happening so that all of the words on the pages are totally ignored. Since this TV preacher could not give us any scriptures to back that opinion I call that a private interpretation unworthy for consideration. Go back and read Acts 5:1 through verse 10 carefully again and again until you see what is actually said. Attempt to confirm that this is just one example of what was explained in Acts 4:34-35 given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. We can see clearly from reading Acts 4:34-35 that Ananias and his wife Sapphira were both Christians doing what all the other Christians were doing with only one major exception being omitted. It is very clear to me that neither Ananias nor his wife feared God. Otherwise they would not have lied to the Holy Ghost as was revealed to us by Peter in Acts 5:4. Peter also said they “tempted” the Holy Ghost in verse 9. Peter was very clearly telling Ananias and his wife that they did not lie to men or tempt men, but God was the one that took offense at what they did and they both then fall dead in church.
You do understand that this was a church service going on that lasted for hours and that Peter was given a Word of Knowledge by the Holy Ghost when God interrupted the service to bring judgment? Do you believe that both people just coincidently dropped dead in church at the exact appropriate time of rebuke of the preacher? What do you believe killed them? Was it a heart attack? I want you to notice something else here in this story. Both of their names are given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost as examples for us not to follow. Do you recall in Luke 16 where Jesus gave us the story of Lazarus and the rich man? The name of the rich man in hell was never revealed. Why was that? Was it because the rich man’s name was not known by Jesus? I do not believe that is the case. I personally believe the rich man’s identity was protected so that his relatives would not know he went to hell. Why then does God give the names of Ananias and Sapphira if they go to hell? You see that is a problem to me. I do not believe that they went to hell. I believe they were saved by grace but that they were judged by God that shortened their time here on the earth. That explanation would fit more precisely with what I learned from my father’s life. Clearly God took the sin of Ananias and Sapphira personally and had to bring judgment so that those that remained living in the church would learn a lesson. After all what was the result of this event? Was it not the spread of a “great fear” in all of them that heard it in the CHURCH? Look at the results and tell me who caused this fear. Was it God, Satan or man? I can only attribute it to God by careful observation.
Acts 5 is a major problem for the modern extreme Grace preachers that do not attempt to correctly balance grace with the fear of God and judgment. How can a God of such infinite Grace cause a Christian to fall dead in church when this sin was clearly covered under the blood of Jesus? Do you see the conflict this raises with the modern Grace message? God was teaching us that if Ananias and his wife would have feared God they would not have lied or tempted God. Do you understand that analysis? The key factor missing today in the modern church is the message concerning the fear of God. Before I conclude this grace study please allow me take you to another very important part of the Bible to consider concerning the modern “no fear of God” grace message being preached in many churches and on TV today:
- Rev 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
- Rev 14:7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
What do these two verses say to you? I read them and they literally spoke volumes to me. After the church is taken up from the earth, the angels during the tribulation period will come to preach “the gospel” to the people still living on the earth that remained left behind. Did you notice what this Gospel message started with that was preached by the angels? Look closely again at verse 7 and see the angels commanding the people of the earth to change their attitudes and to finally begin to “fear God” before it is too late. It is very clear to me that these people on earth have no fear of God if the angels warn them they are lacking this quality. Then notice that there is coming a proclaimed judgment from God and both of these subjects are hardly ever preached or even mentioned by modern grace extremists. Why are the modern grace preachers teaching a gospel that is different from what the angels of God will preach? Who do you think is preaching right? Why have the modern grace preachers departed from the words of the Lord Jesus who established the church by His shed blood commanding us to “fear God”? Why have the modern grace preachers left the full teachings of Paul who preached to those that “fear God”? If the church age begins with a message of “the fear God” from Jesus, Peter and Paul and God ends the church age with the angels proclaiming the same message to “fear God” where is this message in all of the church services this Sunday? If your preacher never preaches about the “fear of God” you have the wrong preacher. People seriously need to wake up and see the truth. I do not understand or tolerate irresponsible people very well, but clearly many of today’s preachers are either very unwise, ignorant or extremely deceived. Since I did not call anyone’s name do not accuse me of speaking about you! However, if the shoe fits wear it. I’ll probably not make many new friends with this grace lesson introduction, but I am writing it from my heart. Look beyond your offense and learn what God says on the subject of the Fear of God and His judgments.
I think I have gone long enough in this Bible lesson and will end it here. I hope that you understand why I introduced the subject of the fear of God in the study of the grace of God more clearly now. In the next lesson on grace we will expand the subject and learn God’s definition of Grace by studying additional displays of His Grace. I pray that you will help me spread this very important message to those that need to learn it. If that is your preacher point him to my website and ask him to read it. If that is your congregation then preach it boldly to them so that they hear the message clearly. Learn to fear God and not man and watch God’s Grace increase in your life. If you want to see “great grace”, learn to do what God says. Until next time may the knowledge of the truth of God continue to increase in your life. God Bless you!
(Ver 1.2) Today’s lesson is Part 2 in an advanced Bible study series about one of the most potentially controversial subjects in the New Testament Bible of “Understanding the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues”. If you read the first lesson then you already understand that these lessons will be very different types of Bible teachings than what you might have expected when you started reading. However, I believe that the first lesson was a really good introduction to the topics and that it was certainly firmly based upon what the Bible says on the subjects. If you did not get to read Part 1, I would highly recommend that you go back and start there because it contains the basic foundational information for everything else that comes after it. To ignore it, would be like someone attempting to take a very advanced math course in college without first sitting through the basic math course prerequisites. I guess you can tell that it has been a long time since I posted any Bible lessons. I would love to tell you that I was on vacation, but that would not be correct. Satan has been attacking my family for the past several months in many new creative ways. I guess Satan is just not happy with anyone sharing the Gospel truth for free to everyone on the internet. Some people think that ministers of the Gospel never have any problems but that is not Biblical. Paul was beaten five times with 40 – 1 lashes, three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned, was in ship wrecks 3 times and on and on I could go. A real minister’s life is not a life free from opposition. Satan is still alive and well in the world trying to kill us all. I would appreciate your prayers whenever the Lord places us upon your mind. I greatly appreciate your efforts in Bible study and the loyal time that you spend reading my website. Thank you for everything!
In the first lesson I introduced the subject by providing some very straightforward definitions for the Greek words “tongues” and “baptism” and introduced some brand new Bible study concepts and methods on how to approach the subject research. I have attempted to outline that the steps for correct Bible study is like solving a very complex jigsaw puzzle with a sequence of logical phases and processes to follow and I really hope that everyone fully grasped those concepts. I continued this Bible study by searching for every occurrence of the Greek word G1100 translated as the English word “tongues” and I believe that this is always an important first step to any Bible Study. Then I analyzed the information given in each of these verses within their context of the surrounding verses to learn what they say and how they apply. I know I did not include every one of those 47 verses in that first lesson, but that would have caused me to write an entire literal book in one Bible lesson and that lesson was already the longest lesson that I have ever done on this site. Fortunately 47 verses are not very many verses to read and to study and we will get to several more of these verses as we continue later in this series. Today’s lesson will be a more in-depth study of the subject verses found in the first two chapters of Acts along with several new verses on the subjects from other books of the Bible in the New Testament.
The key to understanding any subject in the Bible is always dependent upon us searching, finding, reading, assembling and studying every verse in the Bible that contains it, references it, describes it, defines it, or even implies it indirectly. I call this becoming a Sherlock Holmes type of Bible study Christian. This change in attitude to become a Bible detective causes us to look for every hidden clue in every verse that we can find. It causes us to have to assemble all of the facts and then to put them together correctly like the puzzle. It is a very complex and detailed oriented approach to try to see everything that God has revealed in His Word and this is why so many fail to understand the Bible. If we do not make this type of diligent search effort to perform these detailed study discovery steps, we will end up with a very limited scope of selective theological knowledge based more upon our human ignorance of the subject rather than on the full revealed truth of God’s Word. Limited knowledge of any subject in the Bible is a basic reality for every Bible student both novice or experienced. I heard this analogy of the Bible the other day and it warrants repeating in this lesson. The Bible is not a book of word trail mix that we can select from and eat only the words that we like and then ignore the words that we do not care for or do not want to believe in. This is why it is essential to learn to eat the entire package of God’s word. You still can only do this by taking one bite at a time.
We all begin to study the Bible because we desire to overcome our human ignorance. The primary problem with having limited knowledge is that this will always result in a discriminatory doctrinal teaching that lacks the important completeness and uniform scriptural balance of the subjects. If anyone of us knew everything in the Bible on a specific subject we would not need the Bible, Bible teachers or the Holy Spirit to help guide us into knowing His wonderful truth. Only after learning the whole truth can we eliminate our ignorance enough to understand a subject but until then we all still need to study to find some more clues to munch on. Do you desire to become a true Bible study detective? I hope that you do! Taste and see that the Lord is good. Let me go through one more analogy of Bible study before we get into the subjects of “tongues” and “baptism”.
Learning the truth is comparable to climbing a very tall mountain like Mt Everest. We all start out at the same bottom ground level of Truth Mountain in absolute ignorance not knowing anything about what waits ahead of us to learn or how difficult the climb might become. As the Holy Spirit guides us up the mountain side and we study to learn the subject, we are attempting to rise to the higher informed spiritual level of the information presented. This is what God calls “renewing your mind” (Eph 4:23) with a new spiritual perspective of how God understands the subjects. Mind renewal is nothing but a transformation from your old carnal way of thinking to see the spiritual point of view of God’s hidden information. We will all struggle during the climb and each will need to possess spiritual, mental and physical endurance in order to climb this complex truth mountain; taking it step by step learning every new fact that we can grasp. If we do not tire or give up and quit along the way simply because we think that we have arrived at all of the truth that we need to know, then we will all eventually rise to reach the summit peak of truth and thus for the first time achieve the same uniform complete view of the entire subject. Until we all reach this summit peak of complete knowledge and understanding, we each will have our own limited perspective view of the subject from the side of the mountain that we have chosen or were hopefully led to climb up on. This is exactly why there are currently thousands of Christian denominations today in the world with every one of them disagreeing with the others on the opposing sides of the mountain. Each denomination has climbed up only part of the way on their side of the mountain of truth leaving them in an incomplete viewing position and many have stopped moving forward and upward to see any other new perspectives on the subject. Still others like myself continue to climb and learn and we will become the ones that will know the truth and this knowledge of the truth will be what sets us free (John 8:32). I also believe that this is why we need to extend some love and mercy for those that do not see the same verses of truth exactly like we do. It could be that they just need to rise higher to see our viewpoint or it could be we need to rise higher to see their view point, so it does not do any good to criticize them or call them liars because that only reflects upon our own ignorance and our own lack of arriving at the summit peak. Many Christians are doing the best that they know how with their limited knowledge. I just wish we would all keep climbing.
During this Bible study I have been attempting to teach you my Bible study techniques while I am teaching the subjects. I call this my attempt at teaching you how to fish rather than just giving you a one-time fish dinner to eat. This makes my teaching job considerably more challenging but I believe it will be a worthwhile endeavor for both us. It is funny that this approach to teaching will eventually put me out of a job. If I give you all of my secrets, methods and techniques you will be able to do exactly what I do using the same approaches. However, God told me “freely you have received therefore freely give” (Mat 10:8) so that is what I am doing. I am withholding no secrets, no hidden techniques or any hidden methods. The only thing that I cannot teach you is what I have learned from over 20 years of experience. I can however teach you some of my mistakes and help you not to do likewise. After you learn how I study the Bible you should become a very similar clone Bible teacher applying your personality to it and together we can all reach the world with God’s Word.
CONTINUING THE STUDY OF BAPTISM AND TONGUES
The two primary keywords that initiated the study were “baptism” (G908) and “tongues” (G1100). From these two direct words, I showed you that there are other related words such as “baptize”, “baptized”, “baptizes”, “mouth”, “languages”, “lips”, “sounds” and some other variations of synonyms of the base form of these words that also need to be included in the complete search. I further said that baptism implies water, emersion and I linked in several other concepts like rivers that also should be included in the complete study. I believe that as we find these related verses containing these subjects we will observe still other related keywords that are also important to include in the study in order to understand their association to the primary subjects. For example, we talked about the subject of fire in the last lesson and we will definitely expand on that subject in more depth today in this lesson.
I want to re-emphasize that we cannot always depend upon the English translations of words to relate two verses together. When I search the Bible I many times start with the English words just to find a verse but then I usually switch and continue the search for related verses using the original Hebrew or Greek words. As I stated in the first lesson, some Greek and Hebrew words are translated into many different English words. Some different Greek and Hebrew words are translated into the same English word. God chose specific words for very specific reasons. Every word found in scripture is not placed into the verse by accident, chance or by human selection. We must view every scripture as the inspired Words from God given to man for a direct purpose. Then we need to find what the purpose was for that word to be placed into the verse. It sounds easy but it can get rather difficult.
This next part of the lesson might be a partial review of several points in the first lesson, but I believe they are essential to understand so I wanted to go through them with some new subject emphasis. As part of this review process I want to explore the main subject verses found in Acts 1 and 2 again to point out what else we need to know from them since this was the beginning of the church age and the first manifestation of a brand new type of Spiritual Baptism sent down from heaven and the first major spiritual experience poured out upon the entire church. The primary goal of this part of the study will be the accumulation of all of the important scriptural facts (clues) on the subjects of tongues and spiritual baptism. Let’s start with Acts 1:4:
Act 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
Act 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Here we have Jesus directly speaking to us in the church, so this is very important information. Jesus begins by telling us that this is the “promise” of the Father that He has told us about. Right there we understand that this was a previously prophesied future event written from a long time ago based upon Amos 3:7. God says in Amos 3:7 that nothing will be done without Him first revealing it to His prophets. That would actually be a great study to do. Where, was this promised spiritual event prophesied and how did God state it so that it was not clearly presented or understood by the casual reader. Did you notice that Jesus had to tell them about it and describe it to them in order for it to be understood? Did you ever ask yourself how did John the Baptist know about this coming spiritual baptism and the disciple understudies of Jesus did not? Clearly John must have known based upon something that the Spirit of God had shown him that was written in the Old Testament. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus ever told John about this fire from heaven that was to come. You can however find verses that the Spirit of God filled the mother of John when he was still in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15 & 41). Remember what I just said, because this is where we will be going later in this lesson.
This is a very good time to stop and ask why? Why, was it necessary for Jesus to tell us what was written? Why could it not be read by anyone directly in the O.T. and automatically understood by everyone? According to things like this found in the Bible, we can easily see that people really do not have much of an understanding about what the O.T. is about, do they? Jesus told the Jews to search their scriptures for in them they believed they had eternal life but then He said these are those that testify of me (John 5:39)! Why didn’t they already know this? Can’t they read? They had most of these O.T. books for 1500 years. What Jesus was saying to them, is that I’m found there but I’m hidden and you will not locate me unless you search for me diligently. Uh oh, here comes the stated need for us all to become the Sherlock Holmes type of Christian again. This concept pattern is repeated for every spiritual truth and subject in the O.T. None of them are self-evidently presented so that they can be understood by the unsaved reader, the casual reader or the natural mind unless God opens it up to them for them to see it and God does do this if their hearts are honest in their intentions to know Him like John the Baptist.
In verse 5 Jesus contrasts two different types of baptism truths using this one statement. I know I introduced you to this concept in lesson 1, but this is so critical that I’m going to say it again. Discovering spiritual things correctly in the Bible is the greatest stumbling block to carnal minds. Jesus just clearly stated that there are two revealed kinds or types of baptism found in the scriptures. Which one God is speaking of where is one of the greatest challenges to rightly dividing the Word of Truth? I’d like to say this as gently as possible. This is one of the greatest reasons why people do not understand things in the Bible correctly. God calls several different things by the same name and that makes them significantly difficult to separate. For example, if you have read my other lessons you already know that there are three separate distinct cities named “Jerusalem”. The name Jerusalem occurs in around 767 verses of the Bible. How do you know which Jerusalem that God is speaking of by reading any one verse? One Jerusalem is a natural earthly city in the Middle East. One Jerusalem is a heavenly spiritual city where the throne of God is located. Still another coming New Jerusalem is both of the other two cities combined into one new one. Multiple cities named Jerusalem makes it very complex to determine the correct city being spoken of when reading any isolated verse. I do not have the time to explain this, so if you want to learn about this concept more completely go and read the Bible lessons on “Hiding the Truth in Plain Sight” and the “Spiritual Family of God” to help get you started.
This information from Jesus in Acts is some of the most important that you can find on this subject of baptism because He is revealing the existence and the difference between two opposing realities of truth. One baptism truth was described as John’s natural water and the other baptism of truth being the promise of the Holy Spirit’s baptism where there is no natural physical water substance present. Clearly they are not the same and clearly what was coming is greater than what has already been in the past. Both are named types of “baptism” and that is the challenge that most face with their incorrect interpretations thinking only naturally ignoring the greater spiritual side of the truth. We cannot fail to understand the spiritual truth and continue to believe that the natural truth will save us. I know a lot of people that are heavily focused in on the natural truths and almost completely blind to the spiritual truths of the Bible. From these two verses we have the following basic facts given:
- This was a commandment directly from the mouth of God spoken to the church.
- This spiritual baptism was a hidden O.T. promise of God in Heaven for His N.T. people.
- The Spirit of God will be the one that baptizes us and not any human man.
- This Spiritual baptism is not a water baptism but it is still called by the same name.
- The Spiritual is clearly greater than the former water baptism experience and contains implied supersession.
- At the time of this spoken statement by Jesus no one being spoken to had yet experienced this type of baptism before since they were required to wait for it in Jerusalem.
Reading down in chapter 1 you will see some more important information about this coming event. Jesus stops to answer an unrelated question from his naturally thinking disciples in verses 6 and 7 but then He continues in verse 8 to tell them about the coming spiritual baptism that He needed to speak of:
Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Here is another key verse with very specific instructions. Jesus made four important points here and I’ll start with the third point first. Jesus said to them “after the Holy Spirit comes upon you”. This means that they had not already had this experience even though Jesus had already breathed on each of them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit in John 20:22. Therefore this is further confirmation that this is something brand new that had not ever been given to them before. Then notice the part of the phrase that says “come upon you”. That is directly and inversely not an entering into them. Do you understand the difference between drinking water and wearing water? That is exactly what is being stated here. I’ll talk about this a little more in a bit, but just take note of the stated detail fact here.
Let’s back up to the first significant point in this verse. Jesus begins the statement by saying “you will receive”. Receiving is the correct counter action response to someone giving you something good like a valuable gift. If there is no willing giver or good gift then there is no need for any receiving action. What if I handed you a rattle snake and said this is for you. If you do not like snakes then that is nothing that you will want to receive. Therefore Jesus has just implied that this gift from God is worth you receiving and thus a very good gift from God. Wow I believe that was worth you reading the entire lesson for if you have never received this experience.
What if the giver does not give you a choice but to receive? Can the gift given still be “you receiving it”? I do not see how this is possible, any gift must be freely given and freely received or it becomes an act of forced acceptance. Therefore God must be the one that is going to freely give us the gift and we must be the ones that freely receive this good gift. This statement from Jesus presents both a personalization for the gift and accountability to receive the gift. In other words this gift is for me personally if I choose to accept it. There are always at least three possible responses to every free good gift that is presented to you. 1). You can receive it gratefully, enjoy and use it, 2). you can receive it reluctantly, not being impressed and not use it, or 3). you can simply ignore it, walk away and not accept it all. The attitude of the precipitant will always matter in any gift exchange. The gifts from the Holy Spirit are also this way in your life today. Evaluate your attitude and check up on what you think about the gift that God is offering you before you walk away or receive it.
This statement “you will receive” is an example displaying God’s infinite loving character and divine nature. God does not ever force a man or a woman to take what He has freely given to them as a gift from His divine sovereign grace. Forced gifts are never actually true gifts. I think you understand that don’t you? Obamacare in the U.S. is nothing but the forced gift of health care whether you want it or not, can afford it or not and that is not a freewill choice of any American to receive it as a free good gift. Salvation is a free gift from God presented to all of humanity that can be freely rejected by anyone in that group. In order for a person to be saved, that gift of free salvation must be freely received to make it effective. If you have not received salvation the Bible way, then you are not saved. In other words, you have a major answerable part to play in order to possess the spiritual gifts of God. The gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is this exact same way. God’s Spiritual Baptism, if not received by the saved Christian will also be easily missed.
I would highly recommend that you go and read the Strong’s definition for the Greek word (G2983) translated as “receive”. The definition for this powerful word literally means “to take” or “to get hold of”. Both of these definitions denote personal actions that are required for possession to become effective. It would be like me placing a package on the table and saying this gift is for you. You are now required to come, take hold of it, open it and possess it. If you choose to walk away from it instead then the gift is not known to you and you will do without. Therefore the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an automatic event that God is responsible for making happen in a Christian’s life. If you want this gift you have something to do to get it or take it.
Here is the time for the second point in Acts 1:8, which is also critical to understand. Jesus said after the Holy Ghost comes upon you and you receive (take hold of) Him, He will give you a new never before possessed power from on high. Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit there is no significant power of God in a believer’s life to help change them or to help others. Without this power people are easily influenced, swayed, deceived, defeated and controlled by the devil. This power from God is critical to have as a Christian. Without the power of God, you are a natural human working in only your own ability and no match for Satan and his abilities. Let’s study the Greek word dunamis (G1411) that is translated as “power” in this verse. We get our English word “dynamite” from this Greek word. This Greek word has the meaning of “force”, “mighty work” and “ability”. It can also mean “miraculous power” which is always greater than natural power. It gives us the implied meaning that this is how miracles from God can occur. That makes perfect logical sense to me since this is a spiritual gift from God’s Holy Spirit who is all powerful and omnipotent. Are you lacking the power of God to help people? If you are you need this gift immediately.
Now we get to point 4 from Jesus, the reason for God giving us this power and I already implied it in a preceding statement. Jesus said with this newly acquired power, you will become my witnesses in the whole earth. The antithesis truth would be “without this power you will not be able to witness to anyone”. Now do you see why I said you will not be able to fully help other people see the truth without first receiving this gift from God? You see this gift of spiritual baptism is a partnership arrangement where God’s Spirit works in us and through us to help the people in the world to see the truth. Every preacher of God needs this gift or they are going to fail. Every Bible teacher of God needs this gift or they will have nothing of value to say. Every evangelist of God needs this gift or they will not reach the world. I’ll go one further and say every believer in Christ needs this gift or they can fail to overcome the enemy. So let’s recap the major points from verse 8:
- The Holy Spirit’s Baptism must be received (taken) by the Christian or they will never possess it.
- The Holy Spirit Baptism is a separately received experience from the initial believer’s experience of being born again of the Spirit of God.
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a very good gift worth receiving.
- The Holy Spirit’s Baptism is an external coming upon of His Spirit as opposed to the entrance within the spirit of man experience at the New Birth.
- After being baptized with the Holy Spirit a Christian will receive “power” (ability to do miracles) from God.
- This power is not natural or physical power but rather God’s spiritual power.
- The primary reason for God giving us this gift was so that after receiving this power from God people could become God’s “witnesses” to every nation.
- Therefore the number one reason for the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for you to bring the light of the Gospel and God’s power to get people saved and delivered from this world of darkness.
All of this that Jesus prophesied in Acts 1 is exactly what occurs in the church age beginning in Acts 2 and continuing until today. After God poured out His Spirit on the church and they received power, this was the beginning of the global church outreach ministry. The Gospel was first preached in Jerusalem and then spread to the rest of the world. If you have not experienced this baptism in a similar Bible way that they did then you have failed to be obedient and follow in what Jesus commanded the church to do and receive. No I’m not saying that you have to go to Jerusalem and tarry or wait for the power of God to be poured out again. What God did for the church there at the first, is still available for everyone, everywhere in the church still to receive! God’s timing and your physical location are no longer relative factors for receiving the gift. Let’s quickly review a few important verses from Acts 2 to see the recorded facts in this gift that was given and their receiving again:
Act 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Act 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Acts 2:1 says that the church was all in place in one accord on the day of Pentecost. They were being obedient to God’s Word and this is always the beginning of receiving God’s promise. We should know by now that this was the prophesied Baptism that was sent down from heaven as Jesus had foretold to them in Acts 1 and before. This baptism came at first like the sound of a rushing mighty wind. That is actually very relevant information. A “rushing wind” is a synonymous term for a moving spirit in the Bible. In fact the Greek word G4151 (pneuma) translated as “Spirit” in the Bible has the definition in Strong’s as being a “current of air” or “a breeze”. Clearly God is using figurative language in verse 2 to describe a spiritual outpouring experience sent down from heaven. You might or might not hear the same sound today when you receive. More than likely you will not since the Spirit of God is here already on the earth in this gift capacity and He does not need to be poured out in this same manner again. However there are verses in the Bible that imply God will pour out a greater portion of His Spirit during the end of the Church age like He did during this beginning of the church age. These are verses that speak of the Spirit falling like rain from heaven on the early church as the former raim and upon the end of the church as the later rain (James 5:7). Therefore I believe that the Spirit of God was initially poured out to get the church started and that He will again be poured out in a greater measure to help the church go out victoriously.
I did not hear this rushing mighty wind when I received, so that is definitely not an important factor for you receiving today. I believe that God was simply announcing the entrance of the Spirit from Heaven into the church that day. Then notice again the key word in verse 3 of “tongues” G1100 being connected directly to the new keyword fire (G4442). As you may recall I showed you where John told Jesus that he needed to be baptized of the Lord and John claimed that this experience was to be done with God’s spiritual fire (G4442). I find it very fascinating that God’s spiritual baptism experience is described as spiritual fire which is a direct antithesis or contradiction to John’s natural baptism of water. Natural fire is always quenched, suppressed or extinguished with water. However, you must also realize that God has also called the outpouring of the Spirit rain. So we have another challenge to resolve. God is giving us a paradox of is it rain or is it fire or can it be both depending upon the perspective? The baptism of the Spirit of God must be a spiritual rain of God’s spiritual fire. Why is God sending spiritual fire? That is a really excellent question. When you study the Bible if you do not ask God andy questions, you will never learn the truth.
I think that this would be an excellent time to describe fire. Natural fire is a very hot substance and a major source for natural heat. Fire can be a consuming force that also eliminates all of the consumable substances. I guess I should rephrase that because fire is a transforming substance that converts solid wood fuel into various gases and ashes. This consumption is more of a transformation process from a solid substance into gases leaving only the loose reduced solid ash. God is described to be a “consuming fire” (Heb 12:29) in the Bible. The same Greek word G4442 is used in both Hebrews 12:29 and Acts 2:3, so they are directly connected together by God’s word selection. If God’s Spirit is a consuming fire and He was poured out upon the church as the spiritual form of fire, for what purpose would this have been done and what was accomplished by this work? What can be found in the natural human experience that needs to be burnt up, consumed, and eliminated with God’s baptismal fire experience? Wow, we could preach on that for a long time. The human life is weighed down with self-indulgent works of the flesh. Before being saved and baptized with the Spirit of God, people are entirely focused upon “what is in it for me”. I believe that you can begin to see that there are numerous old habits that need to be dropped from your life in order to fulfill what God wants you to be. That is the beginning of what I am talking about with God consuming and transforming you by His Spirit.
Peter as you may recall went from denying Jesus three times nearly 50 days earlier to standing up before thousands in Jerusalem after experiencing this spiritual baptism and receiving the witnessing power sent from God in heaven. What was consumed, burnt up, taken away from Peter that allowed this rapid transformation from coward to bold preacher? I believe that it was the removal of his fear mostly. Suddenly his spiritual eyes had been opened to see God, Jesus and the truth differently. Suddenly the Spiritual things of God became more real and of greater importance than his fear of death, the Jews, the Romans, etc. Peter would eventually be crucified upside down because he felt he was unworthy to die like Jesus did. That is firm confirmation that he was no longer afraid of death to deny his Lord in public again. That is pretty awesome stuff. I am getting ahead of myself in this chapter but you can read ahead in the chapter to see that it happened this way.
What I am attempting to do is to show you a simultaneous multiple work from one spiritual experience from God. This demonstrates that God is multi-talented and more than powerful enough to accomplish concurrent actions with one spiritual action. I learned this concept when studying the Bible quickly. If you only look at God as being single-threaded you will miss the majority of what is accomplished. Take the death, burial and resurrection of Christ for example. If you believe that Jesus died to only save us and that is all then you have just ignored the many other things that were accomplished in the same work. Let’s review a verse that I quoted to you in the first lesson but also now show the following verse in context to see how it fits with the subject of this fire sent from God:
Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Mat 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
John as we know said God will baptize us with fire, but then does not stop talking. John continues the subject in the next verse and this is a very interesting new symbolic association to bring into the symbolic fire subject spiritual baptism discussion. God is being described now as the Supreme Judge. But, God is also the one that will purge or eliminate everything that is not desirable or righteous in His eyes from our lives. This symbolic representation is much different than the separation of the sheep from the goats given to us by Jesus in other parables. God is not speaking of the evil people being separated from the good people here in Matthew 3:12. You see a single wheat plant is a large stalk of various useable seed components called the wheat and unusable waste by-products called the chaff. The good parts of the plant need to be separated from the bad pieces of the plant and the bad parts were usually burnt up or consumed by a fire. Since no human is yet perfect, God is saying we are the wheat plants that need to have the chaff burnt away from the good fruit that will be gathered into God’s barn and saved. Do you understand the separation now and why the fire of God is being used symbolically? Now we need to go and find what these chaff parts are defined as in the Word of God to see what will not remain with us throughout eternity. If we search for the key term of fire (G4442) in the N.T. we should find the following descriptive text describing something being burnt up from a believers life:
1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1Co 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
1Co 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
The central theme in this discourse is the subject of Christian works. That understanding eliminates the works of evil people or non-Christians from the equation or discussion. Thus God is discussing Christian works (good and bad from a single plant) like He was talking about two types of substances similar to chaff and wheat in Matthew. Works is one of those complex subjects found in the Bible that confuse many Christians. We are told that no Christian is saved by their works (Eph 2:8-9), however the Bible appears to say that we were saved by grace through faith so that we can do good works for God (Acts 9:36). According to these verses, these good works that we should be doing build upon the foundation of Christ’s works. Uh oh? That makes us (the Christians) co-laborers and the common builders of the same spiritual house of God established by the Lord Jesus Christ. God says our works will be placed into the fire (Spirit of God) and what remains will be what we are rewarded for. What we see being developed here is that the Holy Spirit was given to us in the church in Acts 2 to help us produce these good works that will last. This corresponds with our ability (power) to become witnesses for God from Acts 1:8. If you have never been baptized with the Holy Spirit since you have become a Christian, how can you expect to do any lasting good works without His direct guidance and assistance? That is one of the main problems with carnal Christians today. They are trying to do good works in their own human efforts apart from God and God says these will be consumed with fire leaving no eternal rewards. That is a major problem for some. Let’s see another verse statement from Jesus about works:
Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
According to this verse Jesus is expecting good works from the church. God says for us to let our light shine so that our good works may be seen before the nations and these works should bring glory to God (and not us). Here is still the problem, doing some good works is not necessarily doing God’s works. How would you define good works? It is a very relative term that can be viewed from many different perspectives. What is good to you may or may not be what is good to God. We must go to the Word of God in order to determine the definition for good works. Bill Gates gives large sums of money to help fight disease in world countries. Is that the good works of God? Or will those works be burned up and not remain? I do not know if Bill Gates is a Christian but I can observe who gets the praise and glory for his works and it is not the nations glorifying God that I can see. I think I have spent enough time in this lesson on the subject of God’s fire and your works. I tried to introduce you to something new to think about in this lesson and I believe that I opened the door for a lot more study on these subjects later. Let’s get back to Acts 2 and continue with verse 3.
Act 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Notice in verse 3 of Acts 2 that this Spirit of God sat upon them and did not enter into them. This is further confirmation that matches what Jesus said will happen to them in Acts 1. This is technically a new very complex subject since the Spirit that “sat upon them” is from a relative unstated perspective that can be adjusted depending upon application or definition of who “them” is describing. The Greek word translated as “sat” is very literal and it is used many times in the Bible when someone would sit on the ground or in a chair, seat or a throne. This act of sitting is of course symbolic for another greater spiritual truth. Jesus is described in the Bible as being seated on the throne in heaven. This denotes a position of rest and power. The Bible says God waits for His enemies to be made his footstool (Heb 10:13). The preceding verse in Hebrew 10:12 again states that Jesus is seated and uses the same Greek word (G2523) that was used in Acts 2:3. Therefore God is connecting the verses together to inform and teach you something new. If God sits upon you what is the symbolic message given? God is stating that we are now His kingdom where He reigns. Jesus is now seated in heaven, but His Spirit is now seated upon us. Do you understand that message?
Let’s do a quick review of the human triune make-up of a man/woman. A man was created as a spirit being that has a soul that lives in a physical body. We understand this concept from many verses in the Bible, but one is from Genesis 2:7 where God forms the body of the man Adam from the dust of the ground to be the physical container and then God breathes His Spirit into his nostrils to cause his body and soul to become alive. That single verse mentions all three human component parts of a created man. Now using that information if God sat upon a man, what part of the man did God sit down on? According to the Bible we know that God is a Spirit (John 4:24). Therefore, God is not flesh, even though God became flesh in the man Jesus Christ (John 1:1-14). However, flesh Jesus is now seated on the throne in heaven and is not physically present on the earth at this time. So Jesus is not physically sitting upon me today and has never sat upon anyone in the Gospels. That only leaves the Holy Spirit as a possible candidate for who sat upon me when I was baptized and that actually matches the scriptures that we have been studying precisely. This spiritual baptism is performed by the Holy Spirit in the unseen spiritual realm. Therefore the Spirit of God is the entity that sits upon us and we must define where this occurs more completely.
If the Spirit of God sits upon the triune designed human being, where exactly does He sit? Was it externally upon the flesh container, internally on the intermediate mind/soul layer, or deeper inside upon the core of the human spirit of the man/woman? I will tell you plainly that it was upon our spirit. The carnal flesh is a temporary dwelling place holder for the eternal spirit and soul and the current body will not be saved. It would make little sense to me for God to sit upon our flesh if your spirit does not gain any benefit being inside the flesh. Understand and apply the symbolism given, if God is sitting upon your flesh then God is now in control of your flesh and you should know from you own physical actions that this is not true. What you do in the flesh is still your personal responsibility. Do you understand that? I could give you a lot of Bible verses to confirm that statement but let’s move on for now. This is also why Christians can be entered and attacked by demons in their flesh.
The human mind/soul is an internal intermediate component placed between our external body and our internal spirit that we are commanded by God to renew (Rom 12:2). Therefore the mind is mostly a thought realm designed for human management. I do not see any logical reason for the Holy Spirit to sit upon our thoughts it would make God the ruler of our mind and that will conflict with Romans 12:2. God is not a mind, God is not a thought, God is still a Spirit and therefore the soul of man does not fit where God is ruling either. That only leaves the inner eternal spirit of man as the only other possible location for the Spirit of God to be sitting upon and ruling. I therefore have concluded that the Spirit of God now sits between the internal core spirit, soul and the external human flesh. In order to understand these spiritual concepts we are going to have to stop thinking naturally. Jesus stated something very important that should be included in this discussion of where God is located in a human.
Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Jesus reveals to us new spiritual information from a human perspective where the kingdom of God is now located. Jesus said if you are looking externally for God’s kingdom you are searching for Him in the wrong place. God is now inside of us living in our spirits seated upon our spirits if you have been baptized with the Spirit of God. Your spirit is the location for the eternal kingdom of God. I found another very important verse that is also very relevant to this discussion of where the Holy Spirit sits during the spiritual baptism and I want to introduce you to what it says right here:
Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Keep in mind what water baptism is. Water baptism was the body putting on and wearing water externally. Therefore, this spiritual baptism of the Holy Spirit would be of the same type but internally within us by us “putting on” Christ. Wow, did you see what that verse says and how it fits precisely with our study at this point of the lesson? If you are putting on Christ in baptism as this verse states what does that literally mean? Let’s examine the definition of the Greek word translated as “put on”. This Greek word is the Strong’s number G1476 and it means to “invest in clothing” or “to sink into a garment”. Did you hear that? What happened to you when you were water baptized? When you were water baptized you sank into and under the water and put on the water externally as your clothing or covering. That is what is being described to us in this verse precisely. Keep in mind what the people in the Bible wore predominantly. They walked around in robes that went from the shoulders to the ground. These garments were slipped into and then worn externally as a covering. That is what is being described by this verse.
We have been baptized into the Spirit of Christ Jesus and now wear Him as our robe of righteousness. That is a very great profound truth presented to us in the Bible. To be baptized into Christ in this verse is clearly not a natural water experience. But, the natural water experience describes the unseen spiritual experience that we can now understand more clearly. Therefore water baptism further defines the spiritual experience to help us understand what is taking place internally in the unseen spiritual man. I really hope and pray that you are getting these concepts built into your spiritual understanding on what God is doing. Are you wearing Christ today? Have you been baptized into Christ today? If you haven’t ever spoken in tongues before, I can tell that you are not and have not and thus your spirit is walking around naked.
I hesitate to tell you about my personal experiences, but I believe that this will be a benefit to some. You should never base your faith on the experience of a man, but should only learn to believe what the Word of God says and expect that to be what you experience. My personal experience of the Holy Ghost baptism was based upon what we have just read about in all of these preceding verses. Therefore I have scriptures to back what I am about to tell you that happened to me. I spent my early Christian life powerless and I tried to do things in life in my own power. I quickly found out that life was getting out of my control and that I needed help from God. I had grown up with people speaking in tongues all of my life in church. God tried to get me to receive at a church camp one year and I was really close but resisted out of ignorance. When I finally came to the end of myself, I asked God to fill me with the Holy Spirit. I started listening to cassette tapes on the subject of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and how to receive the gift. I prayed and sought God for several days. One night going to bed with my wife I was laying in her arms with her hands on me and I felt the strangest new sensation. Something (God) new inside of me became like a river that was overflowing and it came out from my belly in the form of words that I had never learned or spoken before. You see I did not know that my wife had received this gift a short time before me. She did not tell me about it or say anything to me about it. The Spirit of God had been working to answer my prayer a long time before I even knew it. God had led my wife to two Christian ladies and they prayed for her and she received the gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
After I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, the Spirit of God manifested inside of my body in the form of tangible perceptible heat, fire like a spiritual flame. In the center of my chest region I could sometimes feel this heat or flame of the Holy Ghost fire so strong that it was distracting to the extreme. At this time I can only conclude that I needed this natural experience to teach me about what was occurring spiritually since I hardly understood any of these scriptures at all. Before I was baptized in the Holy Ghost I understood barely anything of the entire Bible. After the Holy Spirit came upon me and I felt this internal spiritual flame inside of me I started seeing new things in the Bible that I had never seen before. This experience of God changed me more than anything else that I have ever experienced from God. Do not misunderstand what I just said. Being born again was the first most important factor for my eternal security, but without the second baptism experience of the Holy Spirit I would not have had the power or ability to teach you about either of them.
I cannot guarantee you that God will do for you exactly what and how He did it for and to me since I’m not God. I can guarantee you based upon His word that He will come upon you if you ask Him and that you will speak in tongues when He does this. I do not know if everyone feels the flame of fire like I did or if I was a unique case. If you would like to tell me about your experience, I would be glad to learn about it and how it was either similar or different than my experience that I just shared with you. I have felt this fire in my chest now for well over 20 years and still do on many occasions like right now as I type. I value the manifested presence of the Spirit of God inside of me and I know you will also if you ask Him to clothe your spirit with His Spirit.
We have been going through a lot of new spiritual information on these subjects using many of the verses that I have already touched on in the first lesson along with some new verses that were not found in the first lesson. I hope that you are following why I am doing this to teach what the Bible says. But, here now is one of the key verses that I was working up to for you to see today:
Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The Bible says that “they” were “all” what? God says they were “filled” with the Holy Ghost and that is the brand new keyword phrasing that we will need to grasp, fully, understand and add to our search list of topics to study. Normally when we think of something being filled we think of the natural concept of an empty pitcher or a cup that we can pour water into until it overflows. When the formerly empty pitcher or cup overflows we know that it has been filled to capacity. It is the same principle when putting gas into your car. You do not technically know that it is actually full until it spills out and you cannot put any more into the tank. Here is where we begin to get into new complex aspect of the baptism subject using a brand new perspective and description of a fresh creative process of the Spirit of God. Keep in mind that this is just a new perspective to the same subject of external baptism that we have previously looked at. If water baptism is an outward immersion and not the internal filling how can we resolve that definition and balance it with what we are observing with this statement of being “filled” to overflowing. Can you see the potential conflict and paradox that is being presented? We need to ask God a really deep question right about now. How can the Spirit of God both sit upon us and fill us at the same time? Wow, I think this is going to be tough to explain and probably harder for some to understand.
I’m going to ask you to think again and try to visualize and answer this question, how can you fill something and sit on something simultaneously? The only way that this is logically possible is when what you are filling and what you sitting upon are two different things. Think of it this way. What if you had a pitcher container within another pitcher container? Could you fill one outer pitcher container while sitting upon the other inner pitcher container? Let me ask you to think of your body as being one outer container with your mind being another in between container and finally your spirit being the inner-most container. Earlier I described your body not being alive until the inner spirit container has been occupied by your spirit. But, using this analogy we must also consider your mind as an empty container which would be void of knowledge until information is placed in it either good or bad. I can also see where each container compartment can be filled separately and not effect the other. Ok, I warned you that this was going to get deep.
Using my analogy of multiple levels of containers within containers I can see where Satan can attack a human at potentially three levels of human existence. Physical attacks of Satan may occur with manifestations of sickness and disease and this will be the outer level of his oppressive attack realm. The mind is a secondary level and he can cause you mental illness here in this realm or simply cause people not to be able to see the truth using vain imaginations and contrary or opposing thoughts against the Word of God. Now spiritual possession would be the utmost control of an individual. This level of control is not possible for Christians since our spirits are the dwelling place for the Spirit of God. You see in the Bible God says “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 Jn 4:4). Did you notice that God says I’m in you here and that this is different than being upon you in Acts 2? Did you also notice that God says I’m not in those that are in the world and someone else is? This someone else is the devil. Let me try to clarify some of these statements using more verses in the Bible.
1Co 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Here we have a statement of unity that occurs between the born again man and God as they become one spirit. If we are “one in spirit” with the Lord God then no devil can enter into our spirit to dwell also. Spiritual demon possession is not possible for a real born again Christian. This is also why I said that the in-dwelling of the Spirit of God is not the same thing as the “sitting upon” baptism of the Spirit of God that we are studying. It also helps us to understand why the sitting upon is necessary. We need the power of God to help us in both the soul and physical body arenas. This does not mean that we cannot be attacked in our mind or our body, but again greater is He that is in us that he that is in the world. We draw upon the God that is inside of us and rest in His ability to deliver us. Since we are now on the subject of being “filled” with the Spirit of God I want to tell you that this act of filling is nothing new just occuring in the church age. We have already observed where John the Baptist was filled from his mother’s womb with the Spirit of God. So being filled is not the new part for the church, the speaking in tongues is the only new part that was never given before and we will talk about that more as we go. Let’s go to the Old Testament and see more men filled with the Spirit of God and what occurred when this happened to them:
Exo 28:3 And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
These are types and shadows of what was coming to the church. These were said to be wise hearted men filled with the Spirit of God. What does that mean? It means that God gave them an ability that they did not previously possess. It means that God’s Spirit sitting within them was able to give their mind and their bodies’ supernatural power to accomplish the plan of God. Remember that none of these men are born again with the Spirit of God living in their spirits (one spirit) like the church. Wisdom is a form of knowledge application that produces great or positive results in the world. I am describing a mental process that allowed these people in the O.T. an ability that they could not have achieved without God’s direct help. We can see that the Spirit of God gave to them knowledge, understanding and wisdom to create things in this world with their hands in work and labor. Wow, I think we are tying up many of the loose ends that I have left hanging today in this lesson. We are beginning to see why the Spirit of God desires to baptize us. Can you see it? Let me give you another O.T. verse that helps to confirm my point:
Exo 31:3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,
God again says this, but much more directly in this statement. God says they have been given knowledge, understanding and wisdom by the Spirit of God for all manner of work. Wow, again and double wow! God is saying it is my Spirit that will help you to do good works on the earth. Apply these Old Testament examples and extend the pattern into the New Testament church. Take these natural abilities and make them spiritual abilities. God is saying it is His provided knowledge that we require. It is His provided understanding that we must possess. Then God says it is His provided wisdom that will allow us to become the good workers, laborers and witnesses to every nation.
I have gone very long in this lesson and I believe I need to wrap it up here. I pray that you are grasping the concepts. I believe the Spirit of God gave me this message for you and that Satan is not very happy with me doing it. I think I will end with a synopsis of the Acts 2 concepts that I just went through.
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament was an event that had never taken place at anytime previously in Biblical or human history.
- As stated before this spiritual baptism was given to the church by God to be the fulfillment of the promise that He made to His new covenant people.
- The Baptism of the Spirit of God was sent down from heaven by Jesus after His ascension into heaven.
- The first recorded occurrence of divine Spiritual baptism in the church age was described in Acts chapter 2. But also this was not the last.
- This experience was described by God as cloven tongues of fire that sat upon each of them.
- God’s spiritual baptism is the outpouring of His supernatural spiritual rain called the fire from heaven.
- God’s fire was given to the church to help us to eliminate and overcome the works of the flesh and teach us how to do the good spiritual works of God.
- The experience was given to the entire church for the corporate benefit of the whole body of Christ to achieve a greater purpose of God’s plan.
- Being filled with the Spirit of God is the same as being baptized with the Spirit of God they are just two different names, perspectives and views of the same event.
I know I said more than those few points, but you can go back and reread it again to get more out of it. Thank you for reading and studying the Bible. We will explore more of God’s word in the future. Keep us in your prayers and be blessed in all the works of your hands as the Spirit of God fills you with the Spirit of Wisdom.
(Ver 1.5) Today’s lesson is Part 1 in a brand new Bible study series about “Understanding the Subjects of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues”. This will be a very different lesson today for I will change my approach in how I teach in this lesson to give you some new additional information that I have never gone into before in any depth. While teaching you this subject I will simultaneously teach you how I studied this subject in the Bible. You will learn about many of my basic Bible study methods and tools. I think this will really help some people to learn how they can improve what they are finding in the Bible. Have you ever thought or felt like you do not have enough power or ability to do what God has called you to do? Have you ever thought or felt like you lack the ability to be a witness for Jesus to lead people to the saving grace of Christ? Do you struggle with your Christian walk and feel frustrated when you read the Bible not understanding what the words are saying? If you ever have felt like any of those then it is very possible that what you lack is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I pray that you will read this lesson in its entirety before you write it off as a matter not from God. I will warn you up front that this will be a long lesson, simply because I need to cover a lot of information.
I often ask myself, do I want to be popular with everyone on the internet or do I want to tell people the truth no matter what it costs me? Today’s advanced spiritual lesson will either enlighten you or highly offend you. I am about to find out very fast how spiritual you are and how hungry you are to know more about God, His Spirit and His Truth. I could also learn how carnal you are to know more about Satan and his lies by you unsubscribing from my lessons. Nevertheless we will find out for sure one way or the other. I will either loose many carnal readers and subscribers today, or I could also help you to learn something new about the greatest single thing that has happened to me and helped me more than anything else since I was saved and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord many years ago. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the only reason that I am even able to do this Bible study website for you today. Without the awesome gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit I would be void of any of the knowledge of God, I would be lacking the teaching anointing of God to share His word and I would be completely unable to understand anything spiritual found in the Bible. Therefore, I am totally dependent upon God’s gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and His anointing for anything that I accomplish that brings a blessing to you on this website. I hope and pray that you can see my sincerity in giving the Spirit of God any and all of the credit and all of the glory for everything that I teach you, because it is not about ME!
INTRODUCTION TO THE TONGUE
This subject today has divided many churches while creating many other new ones. I have never directly addressed this subject because I knew it was so controversial and offensive to so many people. I personally never want to offend anyone and I could have sent this Bible study to the one person that asked me a question on the subject in private. But, I know when one person asks me a question there are many others with the same question, but not the bravery to ask. Therefore, since I received the brave question directly on this subject, I will be bold and brave enough to attempt to answer it for anyone else that wants to learn about it from the Bible spiritual perspective. My reader sent me this question “where in the Bible does it say that tongues come from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit”. From this question we need to first ask “what is speaking in tongues”, “where does it come from” and then ask “what is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit”. Finally we need to determine if speaking in tongues is related to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So in this lesson series I will attempt to answer these very difficult, complex and controversial questions to help you to understand that God has something greater for you if you have never been baptized in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Let’s begin by looking up the word “tongues” and find the definition found in the Strong’s Concordance for this Greek word:
G1100 – γλῶσσα glōssa
Of uncertain affinity; the tongue; by implication a language (specifically one naturally unacquired): – tongue.
This Greek word that is translated in the N.T. as “tongue(s)” is defined literally as a “tongue”. It is very difficult to miss that from what was written in the definition. However, the definition is brave enough to extend the literal definition to also include a figurative meaning that is much deeper. The reference is given to us in this definition that a tongue refers to a spoken language and further goes into more depth to break it down into a naturally acquired language versus an implied antithesis supernatural gift of language. But, we are not ready to go there yet, just remember what Strong’s just said to you. Let’s get a dictionary definition of the literal definition of the word “tongue” to see what that reveals to us:
Anatomy. the usually movable organ in the floor of the mouth in humans and most vertebrates, functioning in eating, in tasting, and, in humans, in speaking
You can observe by the definition that this word “tongue” refers to the human organ found in the lower part of the mouth of humans and vertebrates. As you can also read, this mouth organ called a tongue is one of the central components necessary for human speech and thus providing the reason why it was figuratively used to imply a language spoken as we read from the Strong’s definition. Therefore either definition is a possible application depending upon the Greek word’s usage and the context found in the surrounding Bible verses. This Greek word G1100, occurs 50 times in the N.T. in 47 verses. Therefore, “tongues” is a definite subject found in the Bible. However, 47 verses is not a great number of occurrences for any dominant subject of the New Testament that includes 7959 verses. 47 verses is less than one percent of the New Testament and all this teaches me is that this is not a dominant subject of the New Testament. However, some of the least mentioned subjects in the Bible are the most important ones for you to know, like the virgin birth. You cannot find but a very small number of scriptures that describe this virgin birth, yet this single event is the foundation for the rest of your salvation. Without the virgin birth of Jesus you are not saved and Jesus was just a man like any other man. Take the Greek word translated as “resurrection”. This word only occurs 40 times in the New Testament, so “tongues” occurs more frequently than the word “resurrection”. Therefore, do not ever judge by the number of occurrences in the Bible of a subject to try to determine if it is a subject that is important or not. There are just too many Bible subject exceptions found to try to make the frequency of occurrence the factor for the dominance of a subject.
Let’s analyze the usage of the word G1100 in the New Testament. This Greek word G1100 is used in both the plural sense and the singular sense again based upon the context. In some verses this Greek word is clearly used as a reference to the literal human mouth organ (Mark 7:33, Luke 16:24) and in many other verses it is clearly used as a reference to a single spoken language (John 5:2, Acts 26:14). Finally the Greek word is also used to describe a group of languages that many people speak using this organ (Rev 10:11, Rev 17:15). I have just given you 3 examples of English word variance from a single Greek word and any of them are potential correct interpretations depending on the context and usage. Therefore, this means we need to use a certain level of deductive reasoning and logic to understand what is being communicated in each verse where this word is found. We of course must also use the guidance of the Holy Spirit every time we study the Bible (John 16:13). Never omit God from your Bible study and always allow Him to guide and direct you into all truth.
The exact English term “speaking in tongues” is not found in the Bible. However there are several variations of this phrase that are directly found in several scriptures (Mk 16:17, Acts 2:4, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6). These verses also give us a fourth usage of the word “tongues” in the Bible. The implied meaning in these verses is that people can speak in many different languages and not just the dominant one that they were taught when they grew up as a child. As we can clearly see, “speaking in tongues” is definitely a subject found in the Bible. To attempt to preach that speaking in tongues is not found in the Bible would clearly be a fallacy or fantasy approach to the Bible based upon the scriptural evidence that I have just presented to you.
From our definitions found in the dictionary and the Strong’s Concordance we should be able to understand that the term “speaking in tongues” can also be transferred or interchanged with a synonymous phrase “speaking in languages”. A spoken language will be an important aspect to consider when studying this subject of tongues. If I ramble, stutter or stammer out sounds that are not recognizable words to anyone, there is no way that you can call my sounds a language. Any viable language must incorporate grammatical rules of structure and understandable recognition by a hearer. Do you understand what a language is? A spoken language always requires someone to listen and to understand or it cannot be defined as a language. It goes back to what an old proverbs says about “if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound if no one is present to hear it”. I know people can talk to themselves, but even in talking to yourself, you must understand the words that you just spoke for it to be a known and valid language. The reason I am introducing this concept to you is because the Bible presents us with a new concept when people speak known verses unknown languages. I guess that is not a rocket science statement that I just made. If I don’t know Spanish and you and your friend are speaking in Spanish, then I know that you two understand it, but I do not. Therefore Spanish might be just an unknown language to me, but not to you.
The Greek word translated as “tongues” is a noun and it can be and often is further qualified with restrictive or limiting adjectives such as “known” or “unknown” to describe a type of language that can either be understood or not understood respectively by the hearer. I hope that you understand the usage of adjectives in the grammatical syntax. An adjective is used to describe a noun and how it is related to a specific type of the noun. The net result of this adjective usage is the elimination of all other types of the noun that are not being included or mentioned in the statement. There are actually many verses that have adjective modifiers before the noun “tongues” and these are all very important to note because they convey descriptive qualities that limit the broad scoped definition. You will observe God’s use of adjectives in several verses of the Bible. For example, the known Hebrew tongue (language) is referenced directly in 6 different verses in the New Testament in John 5:2, Acts 21:40, Acts 22:2, Acts 26:14, Rev 9:11 and Rev 16:16. But, also note this fact in the Bible, that some adjective qualifiers were added by the translators and are not found in the original text and these should be considered more carefully before your acceptance. For example, the translators added the word “unknown” before the noun “tongues” in 1 Corinthians 14:2, 14:4, 14:13, 14:14 and 14:27, because they believed that this was the implied meaning of the Greek word context and I would have tended to agree with them if we were only viewing the statement from the human perspective. Clearly what is being stated in 1 Corinthians 14 is about people speaking in unknown human languages and we will learn this when we get to them later in this series. However just because someone speaks in a tongue that is unknown to men does not mean that it is unknown to God. This is exactly why God could not put the adjective word “unknown” in front of the word “tongues” in these 6 verses. We need to begin to learn to see the Bible from the author’s perspective and leave the human perspective as of secondary importance. I just went though some very basic information that will become the foundation to the rest of this lesson series. I hope you are grasping the basics, because this subject only gets more complex from here. For example, let me introduce another new concept to you in the next section.
GUARD THE GATE OF MY MOUTH
Psa 141:3 Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
I once did a Bible lesson about spoken words and their relationship to human gates and spiritual guards. If you have not read this series of lessons about spoken words I would highly recommend it. You see, the human body was designed by God as a physically structured unit of limitations which keeps your spirit hidden on the inside while keeping other things on the outside. The body is like a walled barrier but it also has portal openings that I call gates that allow access into and out of this natural world. Without these God given gates we (our spirits) would not be able to survive or live on this physical planet. In this verse in Psalm 131:3, God refers to one of these gates as being your lips. If your lips are closed nothing exits and nothing enters. The Hebrew word in this verse translated as door literally means a swinging gate with hinges. Depending on how you count the human gates you will find that most bodies normally have between 6 and 10 gates. The number varies depending on how you count or combine the gates and if you are a male or a female. Females always have one gate that males do not possess. Where the variation of count comes from is how we count our ears as either being one sound receiving gate or as two separate gates that provides us with stereo reception. The eyes are also a stereo gate concept that produces a three dimensional image and could be counted as two eye gates, but both eyes could also be labeled as our vision and counted solely as one gate. The nose also has two openings but they merge internally into a single air passage and these two units could be called the human smell organ. Therefore the number of human gates will vary depending upon your perspective. Do you understand my introduction to human walls and gates? If you do, then you should be able to define what a gate is now.
A gate is an opening in a structure like a building, a wall, a fence, that allows something or someone entrance or exit depending on the type of gate and the design of the gate. For example, when I crossed the border into Mexico from San Diego, I passed through a one-way gate that would not allow me to re-enter back into the USA through the same opening. Therefore this gate was purely one way only and I could only pass from the USA to Mexico through this gate. That is exactly what I am teaching you about the gates in the human body. Some of the gates of the human body are entrance gates, some gates are exit gates and still other gates are both. The human body gates are either one way or two way openings by God’s designed pattern. This means certain human body gates allow entry only like the eyes and the ears, while other body gates allow exit only like the body parts that eliminate human waste and still other human gates permit two way accesses for the entrance of something and the exit of something else that is usually different. For example let’s take the mouth. The mouth is definitely one of these two-way types of gates found in the human body that some things enter in and other things exit out. We can breathe oxygen in through our mouths but, then exhale carbon dioxide out also from the same mouth gate. What entered in is not exactly what came out. We can also drink in water through the mouth as well as take in food to our stomachs through our mouth gate which is supposed to be a one way path to our stomach. However, there is one more very important thing that exits from the mouth and these are your words that you speak. Where do spoken words come from? That is something you may not understand fully and that is another part of this lesson that you need to grasp immediately. Let’s find out from Jesus where your spoken words come from:
Mat 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
I pray that you can receive what Jesus is teaching you. Your spoken words come from your inner being and Jesus called this your heart, but that is just another concealed term for your spirit. The Greek and Hebrew words translated as “spirit” can also be defined as “wind” or “breath”. Both wind and breath are moving air particles. How do we speak? We breathe air in and then this air moves out from our lungs to produce vocal sounds. Therefore, moving voiced air and spirits are clearly connected together. Keep that in mind as we continue our study. The heart cannot be a reference to your blood pump organ since words do not originate from there directly. Therefore, the term heart must be more a reference to the “center” or “core” of your being. It would be like me saying the heart of an apple, the heart of a tree or the heart of a watermelon. It is the spirit that makes you a human and very different than any animal on the planet. What am I trying to teach with this part of the lesson? My point is to tell you that your spoken words exiting out of your mouth gate are an external expression point for your internal unseen spirit. That is an extremely important concept found in this subject on speaking in tongues. Spoken words will always come from your spirit no matter what the words are. Where then do you think the words that are spoken came from if someone spoke in tongues right now and you could hear them? If you said their spirit, you would be exactly correct, but also don’t forget a person’s spirit is joined to God’s Spirit and He dwells in them if they are born again. Uh oh? Now where do you think these words could potentially come from if I speak in tongues? I think I’m shaking you up to change your perspective on things, if you can see what I am saying. We will eventually get to this in our study, but we must wait to learn a few more things first.
We should be able to see now that God created the human mouth as a multi-purpose gate. One of the primary purposes for the existence of our mouth is to allow what’s on the inside in our spirit to come to the outside in the natural realm. I just gave you the foundation for why speaking in tongues, is so important and why Satan does not want you to do this under any circumstance. This is why Satan fights speaking in tongues and even uses deceived Christians to do it. Let’ talk briefly how Satan fights against tongues in the church next.
INTRODUCTION TO FALSE TEACHINGS ON TONGUES
I’m not going to go into any great depth on the myriad numbers of false teachings surrounding this subject of “speaking in tongues”. There are just too many of them and their doctrinal backing in the scriptures is just too weak for me even to mention them as being legitimate. However I will briefly mention a couple of prominent erroneous teachings found today. There are a few modern carnal churches that teach an erroneous doctrine that speaking in tongues occurred in the Bible, but it has since ceased after the end of the initial church age. Therefore, in this doctrine of tongues no one today should be speaking in tongues for any reason. I honestly do not have a clue what they base their beliefs upon but that is what I heard them say. Of course there are other churches that teach speaking in tongues is a gift from God given to only a select few people to communicate with the people in other countries like a missionary traveling to Africa and they like to quote verses, out of context found in Acts 2 to help verify this doctrine. Therefore, in this group only certain Christians need this gift and this explains why they don’t have it or want it. Finally, there are other churches that take the whole subject of “speaking in tongues” to another extreme level and try to say that this only comes from the devil and only people full of the devil will ever speak in tongues. That is one of the stupidest beliefs that I have ever heard taught in a church. Clearly they do not know God nor understand their enemy the devil. To ignore parts of the Bible to believe something else entirely not found in the Bible is very foolish. You cannot find one scripture that says Satan causes people to speak in tongues. Therefore throw this belief away quickly.
In all of these false teaching the net result is the elimination of tongues from the believer. I personally do not care what these false teachers teach because I know differently from the Word of God and from my own personal experiences with my God that “speaking in tongues” is very real and it is for me today. You of course can do whatever you like and believe anything else you like. As I stated earlier I’m not going to go through any verses that these people try to take and explain them in this lesson. If you believe in one of these false doctrines and you want to tell me why, I probably will not even read your comment because I know the truth. When you know the truth, the lies are made extremely obvious.
I guess I will address one more false teaching that is prevalently taught in some churches today. Some churches that do not understand the Baptism of the Holy Spirit teach that when you are saved you receive the Spirit of God into your spirit and this is all of the Spirit of God that there is. Therefore they stop seeking for anything else from God after salvation. This is actually one of the greatest deceptions taught by a church. This teaching keeps people from the greatest event from God since their salvation and it will keep them in a state of Christian wilderness existence that does not allow them access into the Promised Land. Using the O.T. typology of the children of Israel coming out of Egypt as a pattern of our salvation of Jesus saving us from the world, we can observe many truths in this story. Just as Moses led the children of Israel out of natural slavery, Jesus saved us from the spiritual slavery of Satan. However, being saved from Egypt, Satan and the world did not end the story, did it? Unless you learn to fight to enter into the Promised Land you will be destined to die in your salvation wilderness not achieving the victory that God had already given to you. Where were the children of Israel for 40 years? They were in the wilderness lacking water. What is baptism? Does it not involve water? Do you see any connections here? Was there any lack of water in the Promised Land? Are you seeing what I am saying in making this comparison? This is exactly why the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the next step after your salvation from Egypt. Do you want to be victorious? If not, stop reading now, leave my website and go find some other Bible teachers to scratch your itching ears.
HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE AND THE SUBJECT OF TONGUES
People need to first realize that there is no single verse in the Bible that states any of God’s most important spiritual truths plainly, clearly and obviously. If you want one single Bible verse that says speaking in tongues is the baptism of the Spirit of God and this comes after your salvation you will be very disappointed that this is not in the Bible. However that does not mean that the truth is not found in the Bible in multiple verses and that is why many fail to find the truth because they do not search for all of the occurrences of a given subject being studied in the Bible. Reading the Bible is NOT studying the Bible, but studying the Bible does involve you reading. Spiritual truths are certainly found in the Bible, but they are all cleverly concealed from the natural viewpoint of the human mind by God’ design (1 Cor 2:14). If God and the Bible presented every spiritual truth in a plain self-evident text book format with bullet points and itemized lists of prioritized information, man would have no choice but to believe the truth of God. However, God created man to have freewill and since man was created with this predominant feature, no spiritual proof or written evidence in the Bible was clearly given about God’s existence or any other truth that would override this human right of choice. If you do not understand that God conceals things for us to find in the Bible I would recommend that you go and read Proverbs 25:2 to start with and then go find all the other verses that confirm this truth.
Every spiritual truth given to us by God is concealed in multiple layers of natural word verses and historical information in the Bible that must be searched, found, assembled together correctly and understood spiritually. I just described Bible study to be a known process with steps. Do you know what Bible study is like? Bible study is exactly like putting a complex natural jigsaw puzzle together. If you have ever put a complicated natural puzzle together, you should be able to transfer these skills, this basic knowledge and this puzzle experience to your personal spiritual experience of how you should be studying the Bible. If not, go and buy yourself a complex puzzle of at least 1000 pieces and see how long it takes you to solve. If you want the jigsaw puzzle to be more like the Bible, make the puzzle at least 5000 pieces with different front and back pictures. If you can learn to solve natural puzzles you can learn to study the Bible. The same concepts and challenges presented in puzzle solving are incorporated by God in a written word format puzzle. God gives us many spiritual facts randomly in some very isolated distributed verses in the Bible and these are the individual puzzle pieces needed in solving the bigger mysteries.
Did you solve the puzzle yet? If not why are you still reading my Bible lesson? I’m serious you need to stop and solve a natural puzzle before you continue reading my Bible study. To begin solving a natural puzzle you should usually lay out all of the pieces face up or picture side viewable. Of course if both sides are printed with different pictures then this further complicates the solution process. A double sided puzzle is more like the Bible since the Bible contains both natural truths and spiritual truths using the same words. I will liken this initial step of taking out the puzzle pieces and laying them on the table to be like you reading the Bible without studying it. Most new Christians only read the Bible and that is the entire effort that they extend with understanding it and that is why they are greatly confused and easily deceived. One of the next steps in puzzle solving could be to study the big picture on the box to learn it intimately the best that you can from memory. The more you can remember the more the Holy Spirit can bring certain verses up to you when you are reading other verses in the Bible to show you how they are related pieces of the puzzle. Only by understanding the big picture can you begin to try to understand the finer detailed pieces of the puzzle and where they fit. I believe seeing the big picture in puzzle solving is like the part of Bible study where you learn and list all of the known central basic themes of the Bible. For example, one of the greatest central themes of the entire Bible is God and Jesus and therefore the entire Bible must relay or convey this information in some way. Another central theme of the Bible is love and there are many reasons why I say that. Another central theme found in the Bible is faith and again there are many reasons why I say that. You see if you don’t even know all of the main themes in the Bible, how can you learn to solve the details like “speaking in tongues”? The next logical part of puzzle solving can be to begin to sort or organize all of the pieces. This is the beginning of the time consuming work part of Bible study. It is definitely a detailed oriented step and it is not always fun, but the benefits are very great when you understand why are you doing it.
As you then begin to sort through each of the 5000 pieces of the puzzle this is like you searching for related verses in the over 31,000 verses of the Bible that contain the subject that you are studying. In puzzle solving you might look for the shape of the piece to be a straight edge or not a straight edge piece as your first basic sort. After finding all of the straight edged pieces then you could look for non-straight edge pieces that have similar colors or patterns and begin to further organize these pieces into smaller groups of categories together. In Bible study sorting verses is a word based effort and not picture, shape or color based. You will discover related verses if God uses the same Greek or Hebrew word in both verses. Notice that I did not say the same English words. There are just too many translation problems for you to use the words of human translators to relate verses together. This is why we look up the Greek words and the original Hebrew Words to see where they are used by God. God selected and designed the original text, the translated text is man’s ideas of what they thought God said and many times they got it wrong.
You can also find related subject verses if God quotes the Old Testament verse in the New Testament. The repetition of the same words is one of the dominate ways that God links subject verses together. Also note that where the New Testament quotes an Old Testament verse, it many times will explain what the Old Testament meant and this is always very important information. Here is another secret that I will let you in on. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek. Why did God do this and how do we find related subjects that cross between the Old and New Testaments? This is where you must find a verse in the New that quotes a verse in the Old. Now using this quote you can legitimately tie Hebrew words directly to Greek words using a one for one correlation. We now can see everywhere a subject is repeated in both predominant sections of the Bible using this technique to link them.
But, God is also very tricky and He can use a totally different word to describe the same subject. For example, God uses approximately 6 different names for the sun in the Bible. The sun is a concealed reference to Jesus in the Bible and He is a well hidden subject using word titles like “day star”, “the greater light”, “dayspring”, “morning star”, “Sun of Righteousness” and “the true light”. This is how you must study the Bible and if you do not study the Bible this way you are probably very lost in what you know. Learn and understand that every piece of information given to us by God only fits correctly together in one way to give us the correct big picture solution. Many preachers have tried to take and force unrelated Bible facts and pieces of information together but their big picture doctrine will always fail the truth test. Preachers that try to make two unrelated topics fit together by forcing them are never going to produce the correct harmonious big God TRUTH picture of what God was attempting to say to us. I pray you are learning something about Bible study and God.
What I am doing today in this lesson is an attempt to help you by giving you some clear clues in how to study this subject in the Bible. I have been doing this from the beginning of the lesson without mentioning all of the steps, but now I am trying to teach you using a step by step approach to Bible study in order to tell you what we are doing so that you can learn to look for some of these new methods that might help you to see God’s Word more clearly in your personal studies. So I have two goals in this single Bible lesson. I want to first teach you how I study the Bible and learn a new subject and then I want to teach you what God reveals on this subject of tongues and baptism in the Bible. In other words I’m going to teach you how to fish first rather than doing all of your fishing for you and feeding you the fish that I have caught on the subject of what to look for in the Bible on “Speaking in Tongues” and the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”. Let me help you correlate the Bible to be a very complex puzzle by giving you some more known facts. Remember what I said earlier, that a very complex natural jigsaw puzzle will have at least 1000 pieces or more and one more like the Bible will have at least 5000 pieces. The more pieces the larger the puzzle and the more potentially complicated it will be to solve. I think if you own a Bible, you can understand that it is not a small book with limited information. But, let’s review some of the known facts about the KJV Bible that you need to consider in your future Bible studies:
BIBLE STATISTICS (King James Authorized):
- Number of books in the Bible: 66
- Chapters: 1,189
- Verses: 31,102
- Words: 783,137
- Letters: 3,116,480
- Different Hebrew Words: 8,674
- Different Greek Words: 5,624
- Different English Words: 12, 143
Reviewing the facts of the Bible reveals this is definitely way beyond the level of an extremely complex puzzle based upon the numbers alone. Searching in over 31,000 verses that contain over 700,000 words for related words and subjects is going to take you a lot of time. I believe that each verse is like one piece of a puzzle. But how do these 31,000 verses fit correctly together and what do they mean individually or by combining them correctly does that ever change the invidivual understanding of the single piece? Now we must also understand that there are more levels of complexity than the sheer numbers of words and verses involved in the search. These other complexity factors are also not as easily calculated or recognized. For example, there is God’s use of riddles, parables, symbolism, allegory, typology, shadows and I could go on and on. The complexity found in the Bible is by far over the heads of many readers and it can be as overwhelming as you trying to solve a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle without ever solving a puzzle before in your life.
CONTINUING OUR BIBLE STUDY
How would you begin to study this subject in the Bible? Has your approach changed since I introduced you to the puzzle solving approach? There are probably more approaches to Bible study than there are to anything else in the church and thus the main reason for the confusion that exists in the church with the existence of thousands of denominations. Rarely can you find people teaching this subject of how to study the Bible correctly; therefore everyone is forced into learning by a trial and error approach. This is actually a great mistake; it is like learning how to parent as your kids are growing up. Trial and error is never a great approach to doing anything and we all do it because we are forced to by our ignorance. The wiser approach to Bible study is to learn from someone that you can see has achieved a level of sound methodology from what they teach. By them being led by the Spirit of God and through many years of trial and error study they can quickly teach you the mistakes to avoid and the secret things that will help you not to repeat them and waste your time. If what I teach appeals to your spirit, then the way that I study my Bible might also appeal to you. You are the judge of what I teach and how I arrived at what I teach, if anything I say fits you then use it, if not no harm done.
When I do any Bible study now, I always do it using my computer exclusively. Before PC’s were invented and became cheap, I previously studied using my leather bound paper Bible book and a very large heavy book concordance, but now I have learned that computers are the most efficient study tool available to man. The digital power of the computer allows us to do things that were not possible using paper books only. A Bible program can contain 12 or more different translations and present them all to you for you to read and compare. Every good Bible software program uses a database format to store the information and every word is indexed and can be searched and referenced immediately. You can search the digital copies of the Bible using specific key words, phrases, Greek words, Hebrew words, definitions, synonyms and combinations of any of the above. If you don’t have a Bible program on your computer, get one now because many of them are FREE! I recommend one called eSword and you can find it easily if you Google it. Downloading it and installing it is not that difficult. Just do it!
Beginning any Bible study I always list the subject key words that I am attempting to study. The primary key words in this Bible lesson might be “tongue”, “tongues”, “speaking”, “speak”, “baptism” and “Holy Spirit” to name a few of the obvious words. Of course Bible study is way more complicated than this and beginning your study correctly only comes from repeated experience and being led by the Spirit of God. I have also learned from God that He uses multiple names, titles, descriptions, symbols and even many indirect references for the same subject in the Bible. This technique makes finding every reference considerably more difficult. For example, let’s analyze the subject of the human tongue. As we have already learned this literal word for the human tongue organ can also be used by God as an implied language or even multiple languages. So right there we need to expand our Bible search to include that additional subject and all the possible synonyms. Do you know what a synonym is? This is like God using 6 different names for the sun with them all being correct simultaneously. Synonyms are interchangeable words that have very similar meanings. Finding all of the possible synonyms for a subject is one of your greatest challenges.
There are also other parts of Bible study that make learning God’s truth an extended effort of deep research because of the hidden intelligence and complexity of our God. Depending upon God’s desire to hide the spiritual information the wording of certain subjects in the Bible can be easily missed reading the surface text only by the use of indirection. Indirection is the lack of specific straightforwardness when speaking words. I am describing to you that God wrote many indirect hidden references to many subjects found in the Bible. For example, what produces sound from the human body? You can come up with many names or descriptions for this sound producer and we could call it a mouth, a tongue, your lips, your voice, your speech, your vocal chords and probably several other terms that you have not even thought of yet. These would all be examples of direct references using synonymous terms. However, God can also hide information in the Bible using indirect or implied statements that do not have any of these direct keywords that you are searching for in the Bible about the mouth but the verse can still be about this subject. How do you search for scriptures on “tongues” when it does not mention tongues directly? That is just one more of the challenges presented to us in the Bible for us to overcome. Let me give you a quick example of a verse with indirection that you could read over and over and never see what God is saying and how it is related to the subject of “speaking in tongues”:
Joh 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Do you believe on Him? According to Jesus in this verse, you should be speaking in tongues if you are a believer. Oh, I know you don’t see it, but that is what this verse is about. This verse is simply a hidden indirect reference to the subject of speaking in tongues and because you do not understand what it says you miss it. Jesus said out of your belly or the inward part of your physical being, which is another hidden reference to your spirit, will flow rivers of living water. What exactly do you think that God is talking about in this verse? It is impossible to take this verse as being a literal statement from God. Therefore, it must be a symbolic statement from our God with concealed information presented in it. As a general rule of Bible interpretation you always take the Bible literally except when you cannot, like in this verse. Jesus was not saying that you are going to throw up your dinner or your beverage even though this is where those substances go after being swallowed. However, Jesus was definitely saying that something will come up and out from your mouth that will produce life. Words and air are the only two substantive things that can legally exit from the human mouth by God’s design. Anything else that exits or comes out of the mouth was not by God’s design. Therefore, these “rivers of life” that exit must be related to our spoken words. Since my mouth is connected to my belly this verse must be about my words that I speak, but not just any words will qualify, these words must produce life. I could try to explain this verse, but I really do not have the time in this lesson. Just try to understand for now that this verse is a hidden indirect reference about you speaking in tongues and when you finally receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit you will finally know by your own experience what God was saying to you in this verse. Until then you are not going to have a real clue about it and you will have to either reject what I just said or believe it by faith.
WHAT IS BAPTISM?
Let’s shift the focus and subject from tongues, language and spoken words to the subject of baptism. What is baptism? If you are a Baptist you know at least partially what it is because they teach a part of the baptism truth very strongly. Baptism is a New Testament revealed concept. There are some hidden references to it in the Old Testament but they are usually cloaked in symbolism, typology or allegory. Baptism was introduced for the first obvious time by John the Baptist in the Gospels. John was of course the prophesied forerunner of Christ that led the way to Christ. John would go into the river Jordan and take people with him and there he would fully submerge them under the water raising them back up again for the remission of their sins (Luke 3:3). I find it very interesting that the Holy Spirit led me to end the last section talking about rivers coming out from our mouth to now John standing in a river to baptize someone. Do you think this was a accident? Do you see a potential connection? This water baptism of John was an act of outward repentance of the sinner participant that was being baptized. In fact this statement about repentance is found repeatedly in the Gospels and “repentance” and “remission” are two new words that we might need to add to our complete study of this subject. The act of repentance will always be a forerunner to salvation. The act of remitting our sins was an accomplished work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ok, here is where we again need to come up with all of the related subjects and synonymous words to search for in the Bible. If baptism is one of the main subjects, what other related words are also important to include in the study? We must include “baptizer”, “baptize”, “baptized”, “baptizing”, “Baptist” and probably several other related words like “water”, “bath” and “washing”. By searching our Bible for these words, we will learn how they are used, where they are used and why they are used; expanding our knowledge of the complete subject. By doing this type of research we will potentially find many related clues to learn from God’s word, helping us to solve the greater puzzle. Every verse containing any subject content is a possible puzzle piece that you need to research to learn how and where they fit in the big picture. Keep this in mind as we continue. Since I have already done this research I will skip this part of searching the many verses and give you a few of the important ones that I found. If you don’t believe me, you should do the steps that I omitted and verify them. Try to see what God says about the subject baptism here in this verse:
Act 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
When I searched for the 5 Greek words that are related to baptism, I found approximately 100 verses with this subject in it. How did I find the 5 Greek words? I searched the Bible dictionary for a partial word “bapti” and told it to give me all of the Greek words that contain this partial word in the definition anywhere. Perhaps you did not know that you could do that, but that is the power of computers at work. The 5 Greek words that have “bapti” in the definition are G907, G908, G909, G910 and G3067. This search of the dictionary covered many of the words that I was looking for about “baptism”. I then took these 5 specific Greek words and searched the entire N.T. and said give me any verse that has any of these 5 words in it. I’m not going to go through each word and discuss them here; you can do that for yourself.
Out of the 100 verses that were returned with one of these Greek words being present, I found that over 50 of them are found in the Gospels and this makes sense to me because John first introduces us to this subject there. The next most popular book with this subject content is the book of Acts with 23 verses and then the rest of the verses are spread out in the letters written to the church. It is important to read them all, but it is also important to see what other information is given in each of these verses to help you to learn the more complete subject. For example, here in Acts 11:16 is found one of the most critically important verses about the entire subject of baptism that I found. This verse is located in one of the most unlikely places in the N.T. Hidden here in the middle of the book of Acts, God reveals and compares two separate variations of one named noun truth called “baptism”. If you had not searched your Bible for all of the variations of the word “baptism”, you might have easily bypassed this verse and missed one of the most important new revelations from God on the subject.
Here in this verse God is revealing that there is more than one kind of “baptism”. Did you know that? If you did not know this then you just learned something that will change you forever. One was called “John’s Baptism” and one is called the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”. One baptism was done by the hands of human men and one is done only by the hands of almighty God. One is totally natural in water and the other is completely spiritual. This single truth alone changes almost every other place in the N.T. that speaks of “baptism” and forces us to rethink what we are seeing. Do you understand what I am saying? You see if there was only one kind of baptism in the whole Bible, then it is extremely simple for us to understand it. However, God just introduced us to a new type of baptism that is different, done differently, performed by different individuals and suddenly the complexity has more than doubled even if they are both called “baptism”. Are you learning anything yet? I am about to rock your Bible study world. God is revealing that there are two dimensions of truth. Wow, did you hear what I just said? Can you even wrap your mind around this concept? One truth realm is called the natural and this visible truth parallels but also reveals to us the other truth realm called the spiritual which is unseen by human eyes.
I had some people write me a comment a while back trying to tell me that people can’t be saved and go to heaven unless they are fully water baptized in the name of Jesus like the Bible clearly states. I told them NO that is not what the N.T. clearly teaches us and I based my statement upon my knowledge of verses like this one that they must be either unaware of or ignoring because it does not fit with their beliefs. I said the Bible says “We look not at the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen, for the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:18). If you can see someone getting water baptized that is an external inferior temporary thing that God commands us NOT to even look at now. Why then do some Christians still want to look at this temporary external water baptism as being a requirement for their eternal salvation if it should not be viewed according to God? They love to look at the external things because they are carnal, naturally thinking individuals being people who are ignorant of God’s spiritual internal truths. God told the prophet Samuel “Look not on the outward appearance of the man, because the Lord does not see men as men see them, I look upon their heart” (1 Sam 16:7). I tried to argue with them and ask why are you looking at the outside to determine what is saved on the inside, are you God? Obviously they are not God, because God is only viewing the inside of the man to determine his salvation. But, I learned quickly that I was wasting my time arguing with an un-teachable brick wall type of Christian.
These temporary naturally seen things were created and given to us by God to teach us about the unseen eternal spiritual things, that we have never seen and can never prove exists. That is the absolute truth and there are no other hidden reasons for the natural to exist that are relative for this discussion. Therefore, quit looking at the natural realm and giving it your priority over God’s Spirit, what He does or has done and accomplished in the spiritual realm. Your natural water baptism is not ever going to save you and if you think it is you might be on your way to hell already. I know I just lost a bunch of readers with that blunt statement. But I would rather standalone telling you the truth than stand in your crowd on the way to hell with you. You see I know this because I have been baptized by the Spirit of God. Since my God did this for me and to me, I now completely understand that there is nothing that you can ever try to do with your natural water baptism that is greater than what He did for me with His Spirit. Again if you have not experienced this work of God you will not understand what I am saying and you can be happy with your natural water and miss the Spirit of God. Since the Bible commands us to establish every truth in the mouth of two or three witnesses, we technically need another verse that states there are two kinds of baptism that exist, so I’ll give you another verse found in the Bible spoken to us by the Lord Jesus Christ:
Act 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
I believe that you can read this verse and see that Jesus is again comparing what was coming in a few days to that which has already been in the past. Which one do you believe is greater? Which one do you believe is more important for your salvation? Why do you think Jesus did not tell them to wait to be baptized in water so that they could be saved after His resurrection? Which one did Jesus command them to wait for? I know probably all of the disciples were technically baptized before by John so they have already experienced the natural water type of baptism, but that still does not prove that the spiritual baptism of the Holy Spirit is dependent upon the natural occurring first. Since I have found no verses that reveal a dependent relationship between the two, it would be wrong to create a doctrine of baptism dependence without literally two or three verses stating this direct dependence. But, you can still believe whatever you like.
Also notice that what Jesus was describing in this verse to His disciples was a baptism that had not taken place for them or to them. Therefore I can legally call this a new baptism and that would be a completely truthful statement. Do you understand this point? The baptism that was about to happen in a few days later from this statement was not the baptism that had occurred in the past to them. However, since this new baptism is to be done by the Spirit of God, it is only understandable by us observing what was previously done externally in water. Being baptized by the Holy Spirit is clearly a spiritual experience and when Jesus spoke these words to His disciples it had never occurred before to them. These are very important points, and that is why I am repeating myself. I guess I should clarify that this spiritual baptism was one that Jesus had personally experienced before, but no one else in the Acts 1 and 2 had this experience that I have found. I know this truth from two facts found in the Gospels. First, when Jesus was water baptized by John in the river, immediately after coming up from the water, the Spirit of God descended from heaven upon Him in the form of a dove. Therefore, Jesus was baptized spiritually immediately after being baptized physically by water. Let me show you the verse:
Joh 1:32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
This verse is describing an Old Testament form of one of the spiritual baptisms from the Holy Spirit as it was being experienced by the Lord Jesus who is the future stated head of the church. The Spirit of God is clearly observed by John to be descending out of heaven and in this experience the Spirit of God appeared as the form of a dove which rests “upon” Jesus. This is actually very important information to take notice of. This is describing a spiritual baptism from the Holy Spirit upon a natural man and this is exactly a pattern of what Jesus was describing that would be happening to the disciples in Acts 1:5. Therefore, the disciples had already technically witnessed a spiritual baptism even though they did not fully understand it before they experienced it in Acts 2. I want you to pay attention that when the Spirit of God came upon Jesus that Jesus was not yet risen from the dead and thus no new birth had yet taken place. I believe that this proves a form of spiritual baptism existed in the Old Testament prior to it being introduced to the church in the New Testament. I will discuss this further in future lessons in this series. I also said that there were two references in the Gospels to Jesus being baptized with the coming baptism and here is the other verse that you need to read carefully:
Mat 20:23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
Jesus told His disciples that they would soon be baptized with the same baptism that He had experienced. Wow, that is an awesome statement from God. This is one of those Bible references that can only be interpreted correctly using the new knowledge that there are two different kinds of baptism described in the Bible and Jesus had already experienced both of them, but no else could until Jesus was raised from the dead. In this verse I believe that Jesus was speaking about the coming spiritual baptism of the Holy Spirit, since everyone else present had already been water baptized at this point in time. Do you see it? Logically speaking, it is impossible for Jesus to be speaking about the natural water baptism, because it would not make any sense.
OK let’s recap again what we have just learned about baptism from all of these verses in Acts, Matthew and John. We have observed two references in the book of Acts where God describes two separate kinds of baptism. These are completely unique and distinct types of the same named action but being clearly a different kind of experience for each involvement or participation. The first baptism was one being entirely natural in water and the other coming baptism was one being totally spiritual done by God without getting physically wet. We just saw that Jesus experienced both of these, but no one else living in the church had this second experience until a few days after Acts chapter 1. This further reveals to us that what John did with water was not what God was going to do to the coming church even though they are both called baptism. The entrance of this information brings us knowledge about a new spiritual baptism that supersedes the old natural baptism. From the knowledge of these new facts, that means whenever we read a verse about baptism, baptizing, being baptized or any variations of these words we need to understand which experience God is describing. If God says it is “John’s baptism” then you will immediately understand it was the natural baptism done with water and the hands of men. If God says the baptism of the Holy Ghost, then we can also know with great confidence that this verse is about a spiritual experience done by our God. If the verse says only “baptism” without qualification, it could be either type of baptism being described or referenced especially if there is no mention of water. This part of the Bible study might have been some of the most important information that you have learned so far in this lesson, so hang on to it and don’t let it go. Let me show you one verse example that people like to quote proving we must be water baptized.
Act 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Do you see any problems with this verse now that you know that there are two kinds of baptism? If you back up in the chapter you will discover these men were previously baptized by John in water for the repentance of their sins. Why then would it be necessary for them to go back into the water again? Of course we can clearly see that it says that we need to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and this is why many people have reasoned the need for another water baptism that is necessary for their salvation to become valid to be done in the name of Jesus. But notice that no natural water is mentioned here in Acts 19:5, there is no mention of getting wet, there is no human man called to be the baptizer in this verse, and there is no qualification given to us of this being a type of “John’s” baptism; therefore to try to make this verse say that they were water baptized again in Jesus’ name is ridiculously creative human reasoning. That would clearly be adding to the verse and making it say what it does not say. Reading the context in the very next verse it says that Paul laid his hands on them and they spoke in tongues. Could that possibly be the baptism that they were given in Jesus’ name? I don’t have time to prove every scripture. Just read them and then notice what they say and more specifically what they don’t say. Don’t add your own definitions or interpretations to them; just see if there is any direct mention of water being present and then ask if it could be a spiritual baptism that was done by God. If you immediately see that they are speaking in tongues it cannot be anything but the baptism of the Spirit of God. Change your perspective and quit being so single threaded and narrow minded that there is only one kind of baptism mentioned in the Bible. We have clearly learned that there is not one but at least two types of baptism mentioned in the Bible.
ARE YOU SPEAKING IN A NEW TONGUE?
Let’s go back to the subject of “tongues” again since that is where my discussion of baptism ended. Let’s do a search again for this Greek word G1100 in the N.T. I will tell you that there are at least 5 Greek words that have something to do with the word “tongue” in the definition, but I am for now not going to address any of these other words. If you do the search for G1100, you will remember that this word only appears in 47 verses in the N.T. and that is not that many. This makes it much easier to go and read every verse to see what they are saying. If the subject of tongues appeared in 500 verses, that would be too many to read them all and remember what they said. One of the key verses that might stand out to you in your search is this one found in the book of Mark. Let’s read it carefully and notice what Jesus said to the church:
Mar 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Many have tried to take this verse and remove it from the Bible. However, I know for sure that it is an excellent statement from God and that it should be there. Jesus said we would speak with “new tongues” and this is definitely not us learning to speak a new language that we can understand as in going to language school. Therefore, we need to ask when does this occur and how does this occur? Before we go there, let’s examine two other Greek words found in this verse. The first Greek word is translated as “speak” and it means to utter words, talk, to preach or to say. This of course is the human mouth vocalization skill with articulated audible words. Speaking involves us producing sound waves that can be heard by those that are nearby. Therefore, the word “speak” introduces us to a new concept that involves producing sound and that is a whole new very important subject to put in your vocabulary. I believe that we need to include the keyword “sound” in our Bible study to see what clues are given to us by God on this subject. Does God link sound to our study anywhere? We could do a search and find out what God says or we can just remember that word and keep it in our mind as we go forward looking for links.
We have already looked up the noun “tongues” in this verse and it literally means “tongues” so I will not repeat that part of the introduction. But, notice the noun qualifier adjective that precedes this word “tongues” in this verse. This reference to spoken tongues in Mark 16:17 is restricted to or limited by the adjective “new”. “New” is the stated opposite or antithesis of something being “old”. This verse is not saying that we will get a physical tongue transplant; God is saying by the inclusion of the word “new” that we will begin to speak in new languages that we have not ever heard of or learned to speak before. The Greek word translated as “new” literally means a “fresh” language. This clearly distinguishes this language from any of the old languages that we might already know and speak right now. It would be like me saying I bought a new car today. A new car means it is not my old car that was sitting in my driveway yesterday. If you speak English today that means this new language that you will speak cannot be English. Do you understand what I am saying? Do you believe in Jesus? If you do, then Jesus said you should be speaking languages that you never spoke before, right now! So how do you do this? Are we supposed to go out and buy a new language course and start studying something new, learning to speak it? No that is not what God is saying at all. That would be the works of your flesh and not the works of the Spirit of God. But that is exactly how many carnal Christians try to interpret it. Let’s go find out how they did this in the early church and this should reveal how we do it today since we are in the same body and the church as they were. We can only find this information by continuing to search in the Bible for the keyword “tongues” or “G1100” and see where else it is mentioned in the N.T. and I found these verses almost immediately:
Act 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Act 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Act 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Let me recap quickly the context of these verses and why this is so important. In chapter 1 we already saw one verse where Jesus said the baptism of the Holy Spirit will be coming to you in a few days. Jesus actually commands His disciples in chapter 1 of Acts to wait in Jerusalem until they are endued with power from on high. This is actually more important than you know and probably why you do not have the power of God working in your life right now. After Jesus tells the disciples this, He ascends into heaven and there He remains until He comes to take His church out of this world. However, in chapter 2 of Acts this is the few days later that Jesus was describing. The early church was being obedient to Jesus and they had gathered together in an upper room in Jerusalem waiting for this supernatural spiritual baptism that was promised by God. We should now understand the context of these verses in Acts 2 and we should know that these people that were present in the upper room represent the entire church body at this period of time on the earth. Do you understand that? There were no other saved church members on the earth that were not present in Acts 2. Technically there are already saved church members in heaven during this event, but I do not have time to explain that. Just understand that everyone else in the world not present in the upper room represent the lost unbelievers that need to be added to the church and that would include you and me in future terms since we were not yet born during this event.
Reading these verses very carefully in Acts 2 you should be able to notice some things that I have already introduced you to. First,notice that this event was described as a “sound” that came from heaven in verse 2. This information gives us “sound” as a direct keyword link to what we learned about speaking audibly in tongues earlier in Mark 16:17. The location of heaven connects us to where this sound originated from and that is also very critical to understand the source as being from God. What we see is the mention of heaven just like the baptism of Jesus in Matthew that we read when the Spirit of God descended like a dove. So these verses have immediate relevance based upon our keyword association and our previous knowledge that God is in heaven. If a sound came from heaven what was the result of this sound after it entered into the earth’s atmosphere? What we begin to observe in these verses is another repeated pattern found in the Bible in more than one place. For example, in Genesis 1, you can see that God was speaking repeatedly and then something in the natural realm came into manifestation. For example, God saw darkness and said “Light Be” and then light was in the natural. This is exactly what is happening in Acts 2 whether you understand it or not.
God is revealing that being Baptized with the Spirit of God started with God sending a sound from heaven from the spiritual realm and this spiritual sound that was sent resulted in an external sound manifestation being heard in this natural realm. While this does not say that God spoke directly, I believe exactly that this is what occurred in Acts 2. Where do sounds from God come from? Perhaps it is time for a new Bible verse:
Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Here we have a verse spoken by Jesus revealing that God has a mouth and that He speaks words audibly. These words according to Jesus produce life in us. What did I quote earlier that Jesus said? Remember I said “Out of your belly shall flow rivers of life”. Uh oh? I think we are finding more puzzle pieces that are falling together in harmony. This river that comes out of our mouth that produces life has to be the Words that were spoken by God. I mean what else is there that creates life? So does this mean we memorize the Bible and speak these words to produce this life? That is certainly one interpretation or possibility, but not the whole truth either. How else can we speak God’s words? We’ll that is where speaking in tongues comes in and we will get there eventually.
Did you understand what I just said? Do you know that this is practically how everything from God works? God is a Spirit and what He speaks in the spirit realm will cause things in the natural realm to vibrate. Uh, oh? I really do not want to get too technical here but sound waves are the root fundamental substance to everything that exists in our world. If you can see it, touch it, taste, hear it or smell it, it has the root of being a sound wave created by God’s words. Sorry that was another side trip; but I believe that it was an interesting point to consider. What we are observing here in Acts is that a sound came from heaven and then something happened in the natural realm that was externally evident!
Before I go to the next point, let’s notice that this sound sent from heaven filled the physical place where the entire early church was assembled and that it “sat” upon “each” and “everyone” of them in verse 3. Isn’t this exactly what the dove did to Jesus in the Gospels? Learning this fact alone proves that whatever happened to all of them should be what happens to everyone else that comes into the church later since God did not omit anyone or selectively give this gift only to a few of them. Do you see that and can you agree? Are you in the church? Do you speak in tongues? This is why I called the church teaching of selective tongues to only missionaries a very false doctrine. If you do not speak in tongues now then you are missing what God gave to the whole church in Acts 2. If the entire church was supposed to speak in tongues in Acts 2, then the entire church is still supposed to speak in tongues in Acts 29. Oh maybe you did not understand what I just said, there is no Acts chapter 29 in the Bible; we are the church writing Acts 29 right now. Nowhere in Acts is it stated that speaking in tongues ceased or was terminated, so do not believe that it has or you will miss it.
This is really not complicated, but it is an easily missed truth and one truth that is widely ignored by many Christians. Then notice that this sound that fell from heaven is also described to us using some new descriptive phrasing called “tongues of fire” in Acts 2:3. Why, is fire so important and why is this word even included in these verses or even mentioned at all with the same Greek word G1100 tongues? Here is another secret clue that God is trying to teach you. “Fire” is directly linked to “tongues” in this verse and that produces a new “keyword” to search for in our Bibles for us to learn a totally new subject and see some more puzzle pieces and how they fit together. Are you learning how to study the Bible? It is much more complicated than you thought isn’t it? When I searched the N.T. for “fire” I found something that is definitely important and completely related to our subject discussion. Here is the reason that “fire” is so important to see and why God included it here in this chapter of Acts:
Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Here we have another hidden key to what is happening to the church in Acts 2. John the Baptist says “I baptize you with water, but He that comes after me, He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost fire”. Here again we have an additional confirmation to the existence of two different types of baptism. Since John is speaking in this verse we can clearly understand that one was his baptism that was done with water. The other future prophesied baptism was one that would be done by Jesus and this is not done with natural water but with spiritual fire from the Spirit of God. Fire and water are natural opposites but yet we can be baptized with either and they are called the same type of act. God directly connects the Holy Ghost baptism with the events that are happening to the early church in Acts 2 with the key word “fire”. Now we can see that was happening to the early church was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that Jesus told them to wait for in Jerusalem to receive. Since Jesus went back to heaven and sent this fire from heaven we can know that this was the prophesied baptism just spoken of by John the baptist. John was clearly pointing people to the coming baptism as being greater than what he was doing. This is exactly how you must study the Bible and every subject in the Bible looking for clues to connect together.
Why has God been comparing or contrasting between John’s water baptism and the spiritual baptism of fire that we just read about in Acts 2 that came from the Spirit of God? It is because the external water baptism teaches us what God was about to do in the internal part of us with His Spirit. We can only understand the internal by observing the external. Is this too complicated? Just understand that the fire being referred to in Acts 2:3-4 is the Baptism that was spoken of by John in this verse in Matthew 3:11. Now let’s go back to Acts and learn another confirmation for this truth by what God says to us.
Did you notice in Acts 2:3 that the Spirit of God sent from heaven as a sound and a fire did not enter into them, but rather “sat upon” each of them? This is actually a very relative distinction to observe. It is the stated difference as if I poured a cup of water on your head as opposed to giving you a cup of water for you to drink internally. Which cup of water experience is more representative of water baptism? Normally the water that you wash with is not the same water as what you drink? They both are clearly water, but one is for external use and one is for internal use. Both of these participations of water are two completely different experiences of the same substance. This is exactly what is being taught in this lesson about God’s Spirit. Being born of the Spirit of God internally is not the same event as being baptized with the Spirit of God and if you think it is you are deceived. This reference found in Acts 2:3 cannot be the New Birth when the Spirit of God entered into the man’s spirit to abide forever and I can prove that using the scriptures. Go back to the book of John and reread the events after the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus appeared to the disciples and He said and did this to them all:
Joh 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
You still have a lot to learn if you do not understand that what comes out of the mouth of God is from the Spirit of God. When Jesus breathed on these disciples He tells each of them to receive His Spirit into them. This is when they were born again and this occurs only a few days after the resurrection of Jesus and over 40 days before the day of Pentecost that occurs in Acts 2. Why if Jesus gave them the Spirit of God in John 20 do they still need to wait in Jerusalem for more of the Spirit of God in Acts 2? You really need to ask God some very specific questions when you read these little details in the Bible or you are going to miss out on the most important thing that could happen to you since being born again. What we are observing are two experiences of the same Spirit. One is a spiritual birth and the other is a spiritual baptism. Don’t confuse them and don’t mix them up in reverse order.
Acts 2:3-4 is clearly describing to us that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues is the same event but it is also not the indwelling of the Holy Spirit internally because it was an external spiritual emersion poured out upon them from heaven. The Spirit upon you is not the same as the Spirit within you even though He is the exact same Spirit in both experiences. This is no different than us washing with water or drinking the water, both are different water experiences of the same substance. One is for our external benefits and the other is for our internal benefits. Technically we can survive wihtout the external, but we will not survive without the internal. However without the external expierence, we will be stinky and smelly Christians. Therefore, God left nothing out and gave us both. I’ll end my current Acts 2 part of the discussion pointing out this fact. Did you notice that in Acts 2:4 that God used the exact same two Greek words that we just looked at earlier when Jesus was speaking to us in Mark 16:17? These two words were “speak” and “tongues”. God’s usage of the same two exact Greek words again connects this event to the other verse in Mark 16 directly. God does this on purpose to provide you with more solid clues for you to see and learn the truth. In Mark 16 Jesus said you will speak with “NEW” tongues meaning this was not any of the previous “OLD” tongues that you already possessed, knew or even understood. The term “NEW” means something not in your previous possession or it would not be new to you. That is exactly what happened in Acts 2. Here in Acts 2 God uses the adjective “other” tongues and that makes them different than previous tongues using a different but similar word statment. Jesus said it would happen before it happened and then it happened. Sound like God doesn’t it?
I really think I have gone long enough in this lesson even though there is so much more that I could teach you on this subject. I covered a lot of new information in this lesson. We certainly learned that spiritual things and natural things exist in unison, but the natural always precedes the spiritual so that we will be able to understand the spiritual. I also changed my approach in this lesson to include more study methods for searching the Bible to find God’s distributed clues. If you can learn how God has written the Bible it will greatly help you in all of your future study efforts. I hope that you understood how I linked God’s spiritual baptism to speaking in tongues. This event was actually the first thing that God did for the church in Acts 2. This heavenly baptism is why everything else in the book of Acts occurs. Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit and them speaking in tongues in chapter 2 no other chapters would have been written. I hope you understand how the Power of God was necessary for what is written. Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this power and we are also required to receive this power from God to accomplish what He needs us to do. Peter went from denying Jesus 50 days before to preaching to 5000 to get them saved. That was the result of the power of God being received by Peter. This same power will still do that for you also.
I will do another lesson in this series eventually, but first I want to see what the reaction to this one is to find out if it was really worth all of my time and effort that I spent on it. If everyone has been offended by this lesson and leaves, I am not sure if it was worth me teaching it. I do hope that you at least benefited with the parts of the lesson that dealt with my Bible study techniques and methods. If you have any questions or comments you are welcome to leave them and I will attempt to respond either in public or in private. Thank you for your time in reading and studying the Bible today, God will richly reward you for your effort. God Bless!
If you would like to continue to read in this series on the Holy Spirit baptism please go to “Part 2“.
(Ver 1.1) Today’s lesson is Part 6 in the Bible study series about “Understanding the Subjects of Healing, Sickness and Disease”. This is a very important Bible subject to study because it eventually affects everyone and you will need to know about it someday even if you are perfectly healthy today. Without understanding this subject in detail, you will not be able to pray and ask God for healing with any confidence that He heard you and has answered. Therefore, in this series we have been exploring the Bible foundations to recognize God’s truth and perspective on the complex subject of where does physical healing, sickness and disease actually come from! What are the sources to each reality? I have already covered a lot of information in this Bible lesson series that will not all be repeated exactly as stated before, therefore if you have not read every lesson from the beginning, I would recommend that you start reading with “Part 1” before you read today’s lesson. Today’s lesson is an attempt to answer a question that I received from the last lesson on healing. The question came from a reader and asked “Is God’s healing always instantaneous?” You see there are some common Christian misconceptions that if I pray and ask God to heal me today and it does not immediately show up externally, then nothing happened, or God did not hear me, or God did not answer me, or God said no, or possibly I just failed to receive. There are actually so many possible outcomes and explanations of the outcomes for prayer that I cannot fully describe them all here. There are so many questions placed in the minds of people by Satan to get them to not believe in what God has said to them in His Word. If you allow these questions to remain unanswered you will be easily defeated.
WE WALK BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT
I am going to start the answer to my reader’s question by teaching briefly on a related dependent subject called faith. Faith is a dominate theme subject found in every part of the Bible. The Old Testament references are largely hidden or not stated plainly, but they are there when you discover how to look for them. I have a whole series on the subject of Understanding Bible Faith so if you want to learn more about this subject you should go and read that because it is essential to receiving anything from God. Faith is a belief based system. Faith in God comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17). What we begin to see as we study the N.T. in detail is the failure of people to become a doer of the Word of God. The primary reason for not doing the Word of God is either ignorance or rebellion. Adam rebelled, but people today are mostly ignorant. God said in Hosea 4:6 that my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Therefore what you do not know today will cause you to fail and to be destroyed tomorrow. You see God gives you a very important instruction in the New Testament and you can ignore it or you can choose to learn what He said and then implement it in your prayer and Christian life here on the earth and this will help you to succeed. Read this statement of God:
2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
What does it mean to walk by faith and not by sight? Remember what I said earlier that faith is a belief based system based upon hearing God’s word. God is teaching you not to look on the outside in order to determine what exists on the inside of you. There are two distinct contrasting realities given in this one verse that are directly opposed to each other. These two conflicting things are your flesh and your spirit. Faith is an internal spiritual force and sight is an external physical reality. God is basically revealing your internal spiritual beliefs are by far more important than what you can see or feel on the outside in your body. I don’t know if you understand the point that I am trying to make to you yet. Where is your healing needed? Obviously the healing is ultimately needed in your external physical body. But where according to God does healing need to start or come from? Again, it is obvious to me that healing comes only from the Spirit of God by our internal faith. Therefore external healing must come from the Grace of the Spirit of God through your faith in an unseen internal God in order to be made manifest. What I am describing is an internal spiritual process that causes the external to be seen. Let’s verify the location for your faith as revealed to us by God in His Word and this might help you to understand what I am teaching:
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Here in this verse God says that your spirit is capable of believing things that your physical eyes cannot see. Righteousness is another Grace of God given gift. Can you see your God given righteousness? Technically it is impossible to see your righteousness with your physical eyes. Therefore the only way we know we are righteous is by reading it or hearing from the Word of God and that is called faith if you believe it. Therefore, righteousness is a spiritual gift concept and not a physical entity. But, yet God says with your spirit you can still believe that you are “righteous” regardless of what you feel or see on the outside. That is what God describes as “Heart Faith”. In this verse there is a powerful combination being described. Your beliefs working in conjunction with your spoken words can produce your healing and health in your physical body. You probably don’t see it but I have looked up the words in the Greek and know that this is what they say. The word translated as “salvation” is the Greek word “soteria” and this is an all-inclusive work of God that means to “to deliver, give health, and to save”. This saving and delivering work of God is part of a revealed process. It requires what God gave us by His grace first and then what you believe with your heart called your faith second and then finally the corresponding works that causes you to confess with your mouth unto your final accomplished “salvation”. Remember that “salvation” can mean “health”. Are you getting what I’m saying yet? Also notice that this is a defined process of implied duration and not an instantaneous manifestation.
You are a spirit being that lives in a natural physical body. This human body is a five sense dominated machine; these five senses are sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. However, to walk by faith is an internal spiritual belief in something that you have no proof or evidence of possessing (righteousness, salvation, healing, etc.) which is supposed to be independent from what your senses are telling you. Uh oh? What did I just say? If I prayed to God and asked Him for divine external physical healing what exactly am I supposed to not be looking at according to 1 Corinthians 5:7? If you said what it looks like from the natural doctor’s perspective, you are correct. Do not however misunderstand what I just said. I did not say to stop taking your medicine or stop seeing a doctor. However do not let what they say to you rule what you believe and confess. God is a greater physician than your natural doctor and He does not care what a natural doctor said to you. Your natural doctor could have told you that you only have 6 months to live. That report really means nothing to God. It only means anything to you if you let what your natural doctor said take precedence over what the Great Physician God said in His Word. I’m beginning to allude to a spiritual battle for your internal beliefs that will occur in between the time of prayer and the time that you actually see the answer from God. But we’ll get to that more as we continue.
WHY A DELAY IN THE ANSWER IS NOT A NO FROM GOD!!!
Do the answers of God come instantly or is there sometimes a delay or time lapse? We are going to attack the wrong belief of this potential wait time as being a non-answer from God using the Bible today in order to learn how to receive from God His divine healing power and promises. There is a certain example given to us in the O.T. of God giving the Promise Land to Israel. This example shows us the existence of two reports being presented to the children of Israel. Ten spies claimed that the land was not theirs because they were unable to possess it and they died in the wilderness with all those that did not believe with them. Two spies claimed the land was theirs because God had given it to them and entered into the land eventually as victorious conquerors. Was the Promised Land instantly obtained by the believers Joshua and Caleb? Obviously not, so why then do you believe that God’s promised healing must be instantly manifested? Was not the faith of Joshua and Caleb the determining factor for them entering into the promise? Are they not your examples to follow? We need to put things together correctly and learn the simple process of how faith works. Simple childlike faith in your Father’s words is also what is required for your victory. Faith is the answer to receiving anything from God. What God has given to us by His Grace is yours but it is not guaranteed to happen instantly even if you believe it. Let’s go back to the N.T. and understand this very important concept that I am teaching you for it is the basis for your answer from God:
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
This is the third verse that I have given to you about faith and God has many others if you want to learn about them. I feel like faith is one of the 3 most important basic subjects found in the Bible to know intimately. God teaches us why the majority of the Christian people on the earth do not receive what God has given to them in this single verse. God declares that “faith” is more than a simple suggestion. God speaks directly to you and informs you that this is how you are required to please Him. If you have no faith, then you cannot please God, it is a clearly stated impossibility. God then informs you what faith is based upon, in the next statement. He that has come to God must first believe that God exists and that He is a God that rewards them for seeking Him. God gives you a prerequisite for two things to believe before you ever come and pray and ask Him for healing. This means that believing these two things about God is essential for receiving anything from the omnipotent Spirit Being that you have never seen and cannot prove exists. From this verse, there are two kinds of people that are implied to never receive anything from God. First, those who believe that God does not exist will never on this earth be bothered by God. Second, those that believe in a punishing judgmental God will never receive anything good from that God either.
Jas 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
You can see that God informs us in this verse that the Prayer of Faith will save (heal) the sick. God is teaching you how to receive healing and declares that it is only by your faith and your prayer working together correctly that you will receive. The key word “save” is the Greek word “sozo”. This again is an all-inclusive work of God dealing with spiritual shortcomings, physical shortcomings, emotional shortcomings and mental shortcomings. What you were lacking in these areas has been given to you by the Grace of God. However, just because they are given does not mean that you possess them like the children of Israel in the O.T. Therefore, what you believe right now is the root for why you are either saved or not saved, or healed or not healed today.
What I am doing is establishing several perquisite factors before the prayer of faith can occur. You see if you believe wrong you will have no firm foundation for what you are praying and asking for. For example if you believe that God will heal you someday in the future then you are not in agreement with what God says in His Word. The Bible says “How can two talk together unless they agree?” (Amos 3:3) God is revealing that the His power works for those that are in agreement with Him. How do you get into agreement with God? You must first learn what He has declared or promised you in His word and then you must believe it with your whole heart and never doubt it again. This is called confidence that what God has said is true regardless of what you are feeling or seeing in your body. This principle is exactly what caused Joshua and Caleb to become winners and not dead men in the wilderness. They had confidence and were in agreement with what God’s Word had declared and they eventually possessed it. That is the spiritual battle that will occur in you today. Just understand that because there was a significant delay from when God told Israel the land was theirs to when they finally possessed it, did not mean that God was the reason for the delay. Delays do not come from God. God was not the reason for the delay. The people were directly responsible for their own outcomes and results.
WHY THINGS SENT FROM GOD SOMETIMES TAKE TIME TO SEE!
Does everything sent from God come instantly so that we can see them immediately? This is actually a very important concept to fully grasp and I think from my previous example of the Promised Land you can clearly see there was a major time delay that transpired. What we need to do today, is to determine from the Bible why delays occur and whose fault are they so that we can understand that it is not God’s fault for them not occurring. Let’s explore a N.T. verse very quickly to help establish the requirement of time in conjunction with our need for patience while continuing to have faith in what our God has said:
Heb 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
If time was not a factor for possessing the promises of God then there would be no need for our patience. I only need patience when I am standing in a long line of people that are ahead of me in line. I only need patience when stuck in heavy rush hour traffic and not moving forward. When I do not possess patience then I usually fail to receive what everyone else was in line to get. This could be tickets to a movie or the line to be interviewed for a job. We only need to have patience when there is a time delay for receiving what we desire or believe that we will receive. You can get into a line and ask the last person standing there if it is the line for receiving bread. If they said yes and you wait then you are basing your faith in a person you do not know and trusting they are correct and you will only find out if it was true if you wait to get to the front of the line. If after 5 hours you find out this is the line for vaccination shots and not for bread then you just wasted a lot of time using wrong faith. That is exactly why I teach so much about faith. If you base your faith on God’s word you should have confidence in His ability to perform what He has said and this is why you need patience.
Here is the main factor for why people believe wrong. It is what I call the omnipotence of God factor. If God is omnipotent (meaning all powerful) then why if we pray today do things not instantly happen tomorrow? Have you ever noticed that? I mean is God listening? Does God even hear us? Does God not care that I’m hurting today? Some prayers that I have prayed took weeks or months to see in the natural realm. Honestly some prayers I have yet to see. However, just because some prayers have not happened yet does not mean or prove that they will never happen. So I must continue to believe regardless of what I can see externally like a Joshua and Caleb type of Christian. Let’s investigate a new and very important Bible story example given to us by God and find out what other factors are involved in getting our prayers answered from God. We are going to look at the story of a praying man named Daniel. Come and read in Daniel chapter 10 with me:
Dan 10:2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.
Dan 10:3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
I want you to see the stated timeframe for this story first. God tells us that Daniel has been in prayer for 3 weeks of time. Do you ever pray for three weeks solid? Today that would be very tough to do with our busy lifestyles. I’m not teaching that this is what got the answer from God, I’m just saying there is a stated time lapse that has occurred for us to learn from. Don’t get all works based with me and think you have to do what Daniel did in order to get God to answer your prayer. That is a wrong motivational type of thinking and it should never be followed. We are led by the Spirit of God and not by what Daniel did. You are welcome to go and read all of these verses in Daniel 10 if you like but I’m going to skip down to verse 12 next:
Dan 10:12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
The speaker in this verse is the angel Gabriel and he declares that God sent him to Daniel because of Daniel’s words. Words of course are the important stated factor for any prayer request to God. If you have no spoken words present then you have no prayer. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God will answer your silent prayer without words. Daniel had been praying and asking God for wisdom and understanding and the angel shows up with God’s answer around 21 days later after Daniel first started praying. However the angel of God clearly says that he was sent to go to Daniel on the very first day. Why then was there a major delay of 21 days for the angel of God to arrive and tell Daniel the words of God if God sent him on day 1? Is heaven just 21 days from earth and it takes that long to travel between the two? I do not think that is what is stated, do you? Why then did it take so long for the angel to arrive on the earth? I believe that is an excellent question and we will see the answer if we read the next verse:
Dan 10:13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
Here we have a very important revelation given to us about why things from the Spirit of God often take time in the natural realm to manifest or appear. The angel of God with the message from God told us that he was sent the moment that Daniel prayed, but we are now informed that the “prince of Persia” withstood Gabriel for a period of 3 weeks. This “prince of Persia” is a code name for the angel Lucifer that also has great spiritual power and ability being an anointed cherub. It is stated fairly clearly that Gabriel and Lucifer fought for the duration of the three weeks until Michael another great angel came to help to get the message through to Daniel. What we see being revealed is a spiritual warfare that is unseen in the natural realm. Do you understand that this spiritual war occurs every time that you pray and ask God for anything in the natural realm? Satan is called the prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2. What God is saying is the earth’s atmosphere is Satan realm of domain and rule. Every time an angel is sent to earth from heaven, they must enter this realm of air. Therefore, there is a continuing conflict between these two kingdoms fighting for control. This is the kingdom of light that God rules versus the kingdom of darkness which Satan rules. This is about the time where religious people try to tell me I’m a fool because God is in complete control since He is omnipotent. However, if it is true that God controls what happens on the earth, then why did God have to send the other angel Michael to help Gabriel? Does it make any sense to you? If you don’t believe me that is really not my problem. Just try to understand that like Daniel, this clearly means you have a spiritual enemy working against your prayers to God today. There is nothing new under the sun, everything will continue as it was in Daniel’s day until Satan is finally cast into the lake of fire.
What can we learn from this story of Daniel praying and God sending the answer? We can clearly see that God heard the spoken word prayer immediately the very first day and sent the answer directly without any delay. We can also clearly see that you and God have a spiritual enemy that is trying to stop the answer from appearing to you. Therefore, we can clearly see that God’s answers require time to come because of this spiritual battle that is taking place. What we cannot see clearly stated in this story is the faith of Daniel that was required to keep the answer coming no matter how long it took. Remember Hebrews 11:6? God said we must have faith in order to be pleasing to Him. Daniel was obviously pleasing to God in this story and he received the answer even though it took time to come. Therefore, Daniel possessed the God pleasing kind of faith even though it is not directly mentioned here in this story. We can observe Daniel’s possession of God pleasing faith being indirectly referenced in Hebrews 11:33 as he still possessed it when he shut the mouth of the lions. In the New Testament God tells us that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph 6:12). God basically informed us in this verse that this spiritual war is still raging in the unseen realm after we pray today. Just try to accept the fact that Joshua had enemies possessing the Promised Land given by God. These enemies were shadows of the real enemies that you are facing today.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LEARNING FROM O.T. EXAMPLES!
There is a very popular Christian misconception (wrong belief) that divine healing is always consistently instantaneous and an immediate supernatural observable miracle or we must withdraw and believe that no one was healed based upon the observable circumstances. Uh Oh? That sounds a lot like someone is not going to enter into the Promised Land because they saw the giants again to me. That as I have stated is a contradiction to walking by faith believing in what God said instead of us walking by our sight. Many times this type of belief will cause certain people not to receive fully what God has clearly already given to them according to His Word. Go back and reread the Old Testament examples and understand how God gave the children of Israel the Promised Land back when He spoke to Abraham and yet they did not possess it physically for over 440 years. The first five books of the Bible were written by Moses and yet Israel did not fully enter into the Promised Land and take control of it until the book of Joshua. From this story I learned several things that I feel are very important for us as Christians to know.
- What the spiritual God had given to man from the spirit realm, man was still required to possess or take control of in the physical realm from the enemies that possessed it.
- Israel’s possession of the Promised Land was not an instant event, but was rather a process that took time to fully manifest?
- There were also very specific enemies that needed to be overcome and driven out of the land that were trying to keep the nation of Israel from God’s promise.
- What God said did eventually come to pass in spite of the stiff necked people that did not want to believe Him. However God did wait to get a new group of believing people that would have faith in His word first.
These are just four of the basic lessons that I learned from the children of Israel. Why is an Old Testament historical story so important for me to understand in the modern church? It is simply because God’s Word tells us that it is important. I am forming my beliefs based upon what God says and reveals in the N.T. and ignoring what people say. Let me show you something God says about Israel:
1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Reading the context you should be able to recognize that God is saying that the stories written concerning the children of Israel were written as examples for all of us that live at the time of the end to learn from. Since we clearly live in the last of the last days on earth we are exactly those people and they are my examples to learn from. However, we can learn from two types of examples. One is a positive example that we should follow and the other is a negative example that we should not follow. Which one was Israel in this story example? I hope that you can see Israel was being a majority negative example not to follow in this story. The time of the church age is closing around us very fast and the final curtain is about to fall. Therefore, we are those people that need to learn from their negative examples before time closes on us.
What can we learn from the Old Testament accounts? I believe the Children of Israel were a type of the people in the church. Israel was in bondage in Egypt for 400 years as a type and a shadow of the people of the earth that were in bondage to Satan for 4000 years. Just as God sent Moses to deliver them from their bondage in Egypt so Jesus came to the earth to deliver us from our sins and the dominion of Satan. There are just too many revealed type examples of the children of Israel for me to teach them all in this lesson. Let’s skip down to the Promised Land and what it represents in Christian typology. Think of the Promised Land as being healing since that is one of my main subjects today that you may not yet possess. If God’s Word declares that He has already given to you your healing and yet you still do not possess it or live in it, then you are technically the one at fault, not God. I know people don’t like that statement, but that is what God teaches us in His Word using the type of Israel. Everyone likes to blame God for them not being healed and God says I have already given to you this spiritual land of health why do you not possess it yet?
Before there was an Israel, God looked at Abram one day and showed him the stars in the heaven and said to him to look because this was his seed in Genesis 15:5. However, Isaac the promised child was not born until Genesis 21:3 many years later. Was the miracle promised birth of Isaac instant or a slow process over time? Why didn’t the words of God suddenly appear so that Abram could instantly see them happen? I believe you can see from just the two initial examples of Abram and Israel that not everything that God declares is always manifested instantly manifested on the earth. In fact there appears to me to be some type of unstated factors for their fulfillment to even occur. You see we often set the wrong beliefs from reading only partial truths found in the Bible. For example, in Genesis 1:3 God looked out over the darkness and says “Light Be” and suddenly and apparently instantly light was present and thus many try to take that isolated truth and exalt it to a universal truth to apply it to everything that God says. This is jumping to the wrong conclusions based upon limited information and Christians do it all the time. If that was how everything that God said works then there would be no other verses found in the Bible that would display anything differently. Since I just showed you that what God said to Israel and Abram did not work that way we have to now adjust our beliefs to include some new additional information, balancing both realities. There are so many examples in the Bible of God prophesying something hundreds or even thousands of years before it actually occurs and then suddenly it happens and is fulfilled. How then do we resolve this new variable time conflict in the factor of our beliefs? Do you understand what I am asking you? Why are God’s words not always immediately seen as fulfilled if God is omnipotent and all powerful and capable of doing anything? Let me try to tie my question to the mainline subject of healing today. When were, God’s Words of healing spoken and when will they be fulfilled or are they already fulfilled now in relation to the factor of time that we live within. For example, read this next verse about healing very carefully:
1Pe 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
Here we have another prime example of God saying to the church that we were already healed and yet many of the people in the church today are clearly not healed. Our hospitals are full of Christian people that are physically hurting and dying daily. This verse in 1 Peter 2:24 is a partial quote from a verse in Isaiah 53:5. The verse as written in Isaiah is translated as future tense as a porphecy that we will be healed by Christ’s work to come. However clearly in 1st Peter after Christ has died and was raised from the dead the work has been accomplished and it is referenced as a past tense done and completed work of God. Are there any direct connections of commonality found in this pattern with the observed statement spoken by God to Israel that “I have given you the Promised Land” past tense and yet they still did not have it physically in their possession? If you examine the phrasing here in 1 Peter 2:24 and look up the words in the Greek dictionary, everything stated is in the past-tense phrasing, like it has already occurred in the eyes of God. How can God possibly say we are healed when we are not? What we begin to observe is a major stated difference between two opposing points of view again. Two reports are being stated. You can believe the ten spies or you can be a Joshua and Caleb type of Christian and believe God. One statement is from God’s perspective looking at us spiritually saying we are healed and one statement is from our human perspective looking only naturally at the circumstances of things saying it is not yet fulfilled. How do we resolve this? I don’t have the time to teach you everything here in one lesson. This is where you must believe when you cannot see. I just want you to try to begin to see things differently from God’s perspective and that will start the change process on the outside to see it in the natural. Become a Joshua and Caleb type of Christian believing in what God has said while overcoming the natural observations that are conflicting with His word. Notice I did not say ignore them, I said to overcome them and that is totally different.
I think I will continue this lesson in another follow-up one to come. I have many more things to say on this subject but I have really gone long enough in this one. I so appreciate your faithfulness to study the Bible with me. I value your time and God sees our hearts and knows our motives for what we do. I think you can see that I spend a lot of time in writing these serious important Bible lessons. I do this for two main reasons. First I believe that God told me to do them so I am being led by the Spirit of God to teach. Second, studying the Bible helps me to learn from God and if it helps me to learn then I can certainly help someone else to also learn. God bless you tremendously and if you have any questions or comments on this or any subject please feel free to share them with me. God Bless you!
If you would like to continue reading in this series you may continue with “Part 7“.
(Ver 1.2) This is now Part 4 in the series of basic Bible lessons about an old religious philosophy labeled as “Once Saved Always Saved” theology. If you have not read this series from the beginning I would suggest that you go start reading with “Part 1“. The “Once Saved Always Saved” teaching has been in existence for well over 60 years so it is not a new Bible teaching. However, this old religious philosophy has recently been transformed into a more modern Grace extreme theological message called Eternal Security or Unconditional Security or even Unconditional Eternal Security. This has become a very popular message found on the internet and it is taught in many churches today. Christians buy into the message simply because it proclaims a universally safe no fail no fault approach to being a Christian. It makes being a Christian so ultra-simple. However, the message of Unconditional Eternal Security (U.E.S.) completely ignores the fact that there are any spiritual enemies still left in the world that are now trying to deceive or defeat us. The message of U.E.S. has total disregard for the fact that God gave to everyman freewill to choose to depart from their salvation at any time. It ignores any further Christian responsibility to remain a Christian or to live a holy Godly lifestyle. This teaching lumps every type of sin into a common category of all-inclusive forgiveness and makes them all irrelevant, inconsequential and removed from the equation of either the initial salvation process or the continued salvation process. In fact it technically denies there are any processes defined to salvation at all. They claim that by the removal of their sins by the shed blood of Jesus that God now provides us each with eternal security without any further attached conditions. These types of Christian believers think they have no further accountability thus denying the existence of any future judgments from God. They further deny human responsibility to do anything to remain saved. In other words in their minds their salvation was a onetime decision point event on the timeline of their life on this earth and that this one event has now guaranteed them eternal security with God forever. Since they have already accepted Jesus they assume that there are no further decisions to make, no more scriptures to learn, no need to hear from God, no need to listen to God, no need to be taught by God, no need to be led by the Spirit of God, no need to grow up spiritually and I could go on and on. All of this human reasoning allows them to live independent from anything else that God has declared in His Word on any subject. To me that logic does not make any sense and to base my eternal security upon anything so obviously shaky would really scare me.
I still run into this popular belief more frequently than I would like. This modern teaching of Unconditional Eternal Security is just a new type of the older extreme Grace message called “Once Saved Always Saved”. These teachings have departed from a balanced truth approach to Bible interpretation moving into the false realm of extremism simply by leaving out the other subjects that they do not agree with. These Bible teachers take only specific scriptures of truth found in the Bible that they like to see to base their message explaining away all the other verses of a conflicting nature. But, the problem remains that there will always be more than one or even two truths found in the entire Bible and we are required by God to take into account all of the stated truths given to us in the Bible so that we can know that we are preaching what God actually thinks of the subject of eternal security. Rather than give you all of the verses that these Grace preachers so love to exclusively teach on, I am simply focusing on in this series, what else the Bible says about subject of eternal security so we can see that God says there is more to being a Christian than just us getting saved once in our lives. I’m going to start today’s lesson talking about a subject called Christian Responsibility.
GOD’S DELEGATED CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY AFTER SALVATION
Unconditional eternal security is a belief that is based upon the irrelevance of man’s future actions. U.E.S. believes what a man does is independent from the process of their continued salvation. This type of belief removes the obvious freewill participation of the man from any further relevance. It also is a belief that proclaims that a man has no given responsibilities from God to do anything. Maybe we need to stop here and define the word “responsibility” to give us an equal foundation. How you view the definition of responsibility might be completely different to what I see it to be. Here is a definition that I found easily on the internet:
- The state or fact of having a duty to deal with something.
- The state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something.
- the ability or authority to act or decide on one’s own, without supervision
Here are three dictionary definitions for the word responsibility. I agree with every one of them and I understand them. But, do you understand them? On Facebook recently one of my friends posted a sign on their wall about something that I really liked. So I took the sign and put it on my wall and here is what it said. It said “I’m only responsible for what I say; I’m not responsible for what you understand”. Did you notice the word “responsible in that sign message twice? That is exactly what I am discussing here today. That saying from Facebook shows us I have a responsibility for what I say and you have a responsibility for what you hear. According to the Bible, God will hold me personally responsible for what I say when I teach, so I’m very careful what I teach. However, you are now also responsible to learn, but not to just learn what I said but more importantly to understand what I was saying. Any parrot can be taught to say anything repetitively, but the bird will never understand the words that he speaks. Don’t be a parrot type of Christian; learn to understand what is being taught and this will cause the knowledge to never be taken away from you.
Using the definitions of the word “responsibility” can you think of anything in the New Testament that God has spoken to you that reveals you as having any responsibility? Look at the first definition. It says you have to deal with something as a duty or a job. Has God left anything here on the earth for you to deal with? You bet He has! The second definition states that you will have accountability for having done something or take the blame for having failed to do something. Is that applicable for any Christian going forward? If you do not understand the coming judgment of God then you do not yet understand your God given responsibility and your accountability for doing it. Number three is also important to see. It states there was given some task assignment along with the authority to accomplish that job. How does that apply to us as a Christian, let me show you:
Luk 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Here is delegated authority given to the church from Jesus personally. The key word in this verse is the first Greek word translated as “power’. This word is mistranslated and should have been translated as the English word “authority”. This Greek word G1849 means “delegated influence”. Real authority can only be transferred or given to anyone by a higher authority. Since God is the highest authority this means He has the right to give us some of His authority. Anytime anyone gives away part of their authority they have now delegated their responsibility to them from which they will be now held accountable. For example, every police officer of a city is held accountable to uphold the laws fairly for that city. Therefore the police officer has been given direct responsibilities from a higher authority. If they fail to uphold the laws of the city then they will face the consequences for their failure. This is the exact same concept being transferred to us by God in the verse in Luke 10:19. You have been given responsibilities by God the highest authority and you will be held accountable for not doing them. In other words Christians have been given specific gifts, talents, tasks and assignments and these are not optional, but rather our God given responsibility to fulfill or they will not get done. Let’s talk about some more of our Christian responsibilities:
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Let’s begin our thought process on responsibility by considering how we got saved. Did we have any responsibility in the entire process of our initial salvation? We should know that we began the process by hearing someone preach about Jesus. We continued the salvation process by believing what we heard about Jesus or we ended the process by not believing and then walking away from Jesus’ salvation offer. However if we choose to believe what was being preached the process continues. For example we believed that Jesus was God in the flesh, that He died for our sins and that He was raised from the dead and we conintue on the path to being saved. Next, we must confess Jesus as our Lord and according to Romans 10:9-10 and God says we are now saved! So how did we just get saved? It was a process! In this process of initial salvation there are three realms of delegated responsibility that must be present and working together. First the preacher was given the responsibility by God to preach the Gospel to us or we will not hear it. Second the unsaved person was given the responsibility to hear, believe and confess or they will not begin to be saved. Finally, the Holy Spirit has the responsibility to confirm the Word of God spoken by drawing the unsaved individual to God and then to come into the spirit of the unsaved person after they have heard, believed and confessed. Clearly “initial salvation” is a multi-step and a multi-responsibility process. Any one party could fail in the process and there would be no salvation. Of course God will never fail you, so that is not the weak point or the weak link in the process. However, the human factors that are participating can always fail. Humans will always be the weak link in the initial salvation process.
I firmly believe that we must determine how we were saved in order to determine how we will remain in the state of our salvation. In other words what got us into God’s grace will continue to be exactly what keeps you there. If initial salvation and continued salvation are both mutually exclusive from each other that would represent a new scriptural inconsistency. Ephesians 2:8 states that we are saved by Grace through faith. Therefore salvation was conditional upon us believing in the finished work of Jesus with our faith. Then in Romans 10:9-10 God says we must not only believe that God raised Jesus from the dead but we also must confess Jesus to be our Lord. If we are required to do something like believe and to confess in order to be saved then that makes our initial salvation clearly conditional upon our faithful obedience. If our initial salvation is conditional upon our obedience then by direct association our continued salvation must also be conditional upon our continued obedience or God would be very inconsistent. Do you understand my logic so far? Ephesians 2:8 told us that our faith was a factor for our salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says we must continue to walk by our faith and not by sight after becoming a Christian. Therefore faith is still an ongoing factor for being a Christian. If continued salvation is only the responsibility of God like U.E.S. teaches, then initial salvation must also have been the full responsibility of God and that is clearly not the truth given to us in the Word of God.
The belief of unconditional eternal security after conditional salvation replaces the concept of any further human responsibility for continued salvation and places the full responsibility solely upon God. However God was clearly not the only factor for our initial salvation, so God just cannot be the only factor for our eternal security. If God was the only factor involved in our initial salvation then everyone would be saved today since 2 Peter 3:9 says God is not willing that any should perish. That however is another clear erroneous doctrine of many Bible teachers that want to believe in the invented concept called “Universal Salvation”. However when we study the Bible correctly we must balance more than one truth and see that just because God’s will is for everyone to be saved, that does not mean that everyone is saved. Clearly even Jesus taught us that people will be in hell with the story of the rich man in Luke 16. Clearly Jesus taught us that there will come a division between the sheep on the right hand from the goats on the left hand (Mat 25:32) and those not in His sheepfold will be lost and cast into the fire (Mat 13:40).
From my understanding and belief in a conditional salvation which is dependent upon my faithful obedience, participation and full acceptance causes me to believe in a conditional eternal security also based upon my further obedience, participation and acceptance. Otherwise we would all be saved by our willing participation but now kept safe independent from our participation by divine sovereign control. That type of belief would be completely illogical to me and very inconsistent with what I have observed in the scriptures. If man has no further responsibilities after his initial salvation then God has taken something away from him that he had before he was saved. If this is now missing from man, how can we claim we ever had it to begin with? Let’s examine the subject of continued Christian responsibility after salvation observing a basic truth taught to us in Romans:
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
We need to begin to understand that we have been given the responsibility as a Christian to remain a Christian. In order to do this we must begin to find our responsibilities given to us by God. Here in this verse God says my children are ONLY those that are led by my Spirit. Is that you? Did you know that this being led by the Spirit of God was a conditional requirement for your continued salvation? This verse was written to Christians and not to unsaved people. Did you hear what I just said? People sometimes simply don’t want to go to hell so they will get saved thinking that is all that is required to keep them from hell, but that is clearly not what God teaches us in His full balanced Word. This verse in Romans displays two separate divisions of people. The two divisions are those that are led by God and those that are not led by God. We can restate this truth by saying it includes those that are His children and those that are not His children. Therefore getting saved and not being led by the Spirit of God defines to us a new state of potential loss. Do you see how conditional your salvation can suddenly become? Today very few Christians understand this concept of even how to be led by the Spirit of God much less to be able to hear and obey Him. But, suddenly in the Grace unconditional eternal salvation message this being led by the Spirit of God to be His child becomes a non-issue. I don’t see it that way. God clearly places responsibility upon Christina to be led. If you do not know how to be led by the Spirit of God I have a Bible series of lesson on this subject “Understanding How to Be Led by the Spirit of God”. Let’s go examine some words spoken by Jesus on the subject of responsibility:
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Jesus said I will look at some and say to them “depart from me for I never knew you” and these were clearly people that thought they were saved and were even calling Jesus their Lord and thought they were doing many righteous good things that we see people in many churches do today. Do you understand that? I mean use your brain and think with me for a moment. Jesus is not talking to people who were in the bars, the night clubs and the strip joints of the world. God certainly does not know those types of people, no Jesus was talking to people who thought they were doing good things for God and they did not understand they needed to be led by the Spirit of God in what they did. In other words what they did for God they did independent from God and thus they failed to qualify for their continued salvation. In Matthew 7:22-23 Jesus was not talking about people or to people that never got saved! These are clearly people who got saved but went no further with their continuing salvation process to learn how to be led by God to become His child. Let’s look at the following verses in the context of those that Jesus was speaking to saying depart from me to find why they are being instructed to leave:
Mat 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Mat 7:25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
Mat 7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
Mat 7:27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Read these verses very carefully for they are talking about two types of saved Christians again. These two types of Christians are being compared and separated from each other in these verses. You can try to explain them away as being saved people versus unsaved people but that is not what is being stated. Both types of people had houses built and both heard the same Word of God. These are two types of Christians. First there are those that heard the Word of God and do what they heard and then second there are those that heard the Word of God but ignored what they heard. Both of these people had to sit in the same church services to hear the same word of God being taught. The wise man in this description is stated to be the doer of the word of God and the foolish man is he that is destroyed because he chose to only hear. If you cannot see the stated Christian responsibility given to you in these verses, of Romans 8:14 and Matthew 7:24-27 to become a doer and a follower of what God has said to you by His Word and His Spirit then you are deceived greatly. God has placed conditions upon your continued Christianity and your continued salvation. I could give you many other scriptural salvation conditions but I’m only going to end this lesson with some verses written directly to the church in Revelation spoken to us by the Lord Jesus:
Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Rev 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Rev 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Rev 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Rev 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
I just gave you seven verses from Revelation chapters 2 and 3 written to the church telling us that we must “overcome” something or someone in order to receive something else from God. What does that teach us? Any time that God promises you something and then tells you what you must do to qualify for it that changes the promise of God to a conditional requirement that is based upon your successful participation. Let’s get the definition for this word translated as the English word “overcome” in order to understand what it means. Here is the definition from the Strong’s:
From G3529; to subdue (literally or figuratively): – conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory.
Do you understand what subdue means? It means you have an enemy opposed to you. Do you understand what conquer means? It means you have a responsibility to win. Do you understand what “prevail” means? It means you can fail if you do not learn what you are doing. To be defeated as a Christian is as simple as you doing nothing. You are guaranteed failure for your lack of participation. The easiest way for any evil to prevail, is for good people to do nothing to prevent it. Do you know what “get the victory” means? It means God expects you to be a winner. To “overcome” clearly denotes responsibility to be victorious over your enemy and you will be held accountable if you do not do this.
What exactly is there left for us in the church to overcome if Christ has overcome it all already? I think that is a very excellent question that is being ignored by Christian Grace teachers of unconditional eternal security. Clearly we have just been given a major conflict with the belief for unconditional eternal security for all the church if we have anything left to overcome in order to qualify. God tells us repeatedly in these verses that we are to overcome in order to qualify for the participation of any further gifts. This is clearly God’s delegated responsibility that makes God’s gifts conditional. Several of these verses make it sound like even our salvation depends upon us being an overcomer. Read them closely for yourself. For example Revelation 2:7 says if you we overcome we get to eat from the tree of life. What would be the opposite of that truth? Would that be to eat form the tree of death if you don’t overcome? Uh oh? That is a potential problem isn’t it? Read Revelation 3:12 and see what God says to those that overcome He will give His name meaning to those that do not overcome He will not. Then understand that one name that is given to these overcomers is the name of the New Jerusalem and this is identified to be His bride in Revelation 21. Clearly if you do not overcome you are not His bride. If we don’t overcome, then Jesus implies we cannot eat from the tree that gives us life, we cannot be His bride, and we cannot have His name. This is really not that complicated, but it is an unexpected problem for those that believe in U.E.S.
Clearly to me our continued salvation and eternal security is not independent from our future decisions or actions. To me it is very self-evident that our continued salvation is totally dependent upon our continued faithful participation and obedience to God’s Word and His Spirit for the rest of the process of our salvation to make us overcomers. These truths that God gives us in the Bible make the reality of eternal security to be a completely conditional divine proposition. I only gave you a few great examples of continued Delegated Christian Responsibility after salvation. I could give you many others, but I believe I made my point and will move on to another topic that you need to understand in the next lesson in this series that I call the Deception Factor. Therefore, thanks for your time in studying the Bible today and I pray that you learned something that will be a blessing to you. Until next time if you feel like leaving me a comment, please do that. If you want to find me on Facebook and be my friend you are welcome to do that also. God Bless you until next time.
If you would like to continue reading and studying in this series, you may continue to “Part 5“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 11! Part 13
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 13 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. My foundational scripture verse for the entire series is “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). We have covered a tremendous amount of new information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this series from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. The last two lessons have been focused on what God reveals about the early church’s growth and expansion in Acts 10 to include the Gentile people of the earth. Chapter 10 of Acts was an awesome chapter of spiritual information, divine guidance and church growth and I believe that we have learned a lot from it. I view the early church to be in the group called “the children of God” and therefore according to Romans 8:14 they are being led by God in everything that they are observed to be doing. Today’s lesson will be more about the events in chapter 10 because chapter 11 is a further overview and explanation of what happened in chapter 10. This will be the third time that God describes the same events. Any time God repeats Himself twice it is critical that you fully understand the importance of what is being spoken. However, any time God says the same thing three times then it has just exponentially grown to a factor that is way beyond critical to know. So today I’m going to go through chapter 11 and see what God is doing and saying to us in the modern church.
One of the key realizations to what I have observed in studying Acts 10 and 11 is God’s focused purpose and plan to increase the church’s spirituality level. God of course began this process by raining down His Spirit upon the Jewish church in Acts 2 and then we saw this continue as God’s Spirit fell on the Gentiles in Acts 10. But that was only the beginning of a longer spiritual process. I equate this beginning act of God to be similar to a garden planting analogy where God has planted His seed in us His church garden. God then expects this seed in us to grow and to increase and eventually to produce real spiritual fruit. Therefore the God seed planting was only the beginning of the process for the expected final outcome. We are God’s plants today that are created to produce God’s fruits of righteousness in the world. Jesus taught us that we can only do this if we become the branches that remain in Him our Vine source of life (John 15:5).
As we continue to go through chapter 11 I pray that this spiritual plant and garden growth process will become clearer to your understanding also. I have become totally convinced from this study that in order to be led by the Spirit of God that it requires God’s people to grow to understand what spiritual things are and how they work. The more you know the more you grow. People today want to be led by God, yet many do not want to make the effort to grow or increase spiritually. The Bible says that God is clearly a Spirit (John 4:24). Furthermore, God reveals to us in His Word that His ways are not our ways nor are His thoughts our thoughts, but they are higher than ours as the heavens are above the earth (Isa 55:9). Since God’s intelligence is on a level that is so far above ours what is it going to take for Him to communicate intelligently with you? God can only come down to your human level of ignorance and lack of spiritual understanding so far. Let me show you a statement that Jesus said to a teacher of Israel:
Joh 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
Jesus is unscrambling and differentiating between two dimensional realms of reality within this statement. This God statement clearly causes new revelation to come to us, illuminating spiritual things to be higher and much more complex than the natural things of the earth. Jesus said I cannot tell you about heavenly things because you do not yet still understand these basic natural earthly things that I tell you. There is an implied necessary Christian growth process hidden in this statement. Jesus said you are basically incapable of hearing about any real complex spiritual things at this point in time. This would imply the need for something to occur in the man that was hearing in order for Jesus to be able to communicate the higher heavenly things to him. Is this too complicated for you? The thing that is required is called spiritual maturity or spiritual growth and this is combined with new increased spiritual knowledge and understanding of the God kind of things. All of these are contributing factors to being successfully led by the Spirit of God.
What Jesus was teaching us in John 3:12, is that we all need to develop spiritually in order to see something above our current natural capacity level to understand. You are going to have to rise up or grow closer to His spiritual level if you expect Him to give you something really useful. Think of it like this, what if a three or four year old human child wanted to talk to a great intellectual man like Albert Einstein and ask him for help to understand the theory of relativity. First the child would not even know what to ask of him and then there is the root of the child’s challenge called immaturity and ignorance that causes every complex statement revealed by Albert to be missed completely. What exactly do you think the child and Albert have to talk about? Sure Albert could come down to communicate on a certain elementary level about many things with the child. But, the deep things that Albert knew could never be transferred to the child no matter how much Albert would have loved to give them his vast knowledge because of the child’s inability to communicate on the Albert level. This is exactly the way it is with most Christians today and them asking God to help guide them. God will do the best at speaking to you on your level, but He would prefer that you came up higher to know Him better so that He can speak to you of the deeper complex things that He holds inside of Himself. Let me show you something else that Jesus said to us:
Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
You can clearly see that God says there are hidden things that come only from Him. These hidden things were given to us the “babes” in this statement. The people in the church are these “babes”. The wise ones that the things were hidden from are those like Satan, the angels of Satan and the people of the earth that follow him in darkness. Look up the definition of the word “babe” in this verse in the Strong’s dictionary. The Greek word translated as “babes” literally means an infant as in a non-speaking baby. That definition of “babes” has spiritual meaning hidden in it that goes very deep. This kind of a natural child is unable to communicate intelligently other than simple crying or laughing. These types of infants can only drink milk to grow. This natural reality corresponds to a spiritual reality that is on a very elementary level of spiritual knowledge, understanding and ability. This non-speaking spiritual baby level is where all Christians begin their life in Christ. In the eyes of God we in the church are just spiritual non-speaking children and God desires us to grow into speaking mature children. Spiritual growth is one of the greatest desired expectations of the heart of God for His children. However, the only way this is possible is if we continue to abide in Him and to listen. It goes back to what I said earlier about being a branch that is connected to Jesus the Vine.
Being a baby is exactly where we all start out naturally in this world, but this is also how we all start out spiritually when we are born again (John 3:3). To be born again is a “spiritual birth” process that replicates the natural birth process but in the unseen spiritual realm. This spiritual birth process results in a new spiritual baby being born into the spiritual family of God. This stated new spiritual baby can exist in the body of a fully grown mature natural man or woman. The external age of the human body is always independent from the internal age of the spiritual child (2 Cor 4:16). The body that is visible never reflects the condition or the age of the hidden internal spirit. Being a spiritual baby is exactly like being a natural baby. Like natural babies, spiritual babies need help to survive and to grow or they will die. Read this statement that Paul makes to the church at Corinth about the spiritual growth process:
1Co 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
Paul tells the church in Corinth I cannot speak to you yet about spiritual things because you are still spiritual babies in Christ. This word for “babes” is the exact same Greek word that Jesus spoke in Matthew 11:25. This was clearly written to church people that were fully grown enough that could read and write, but yet they knew nothing about the spiritual things of God. God says you need to grow spiritually to be able to see the real complex spiritual subjects found in the Bible and in God. The complex subjects are only available to be understood after personal spiritual growth has occurred. Paul was telling the church I cannot communicate to you closer to God’s level because you are still non-speaking children in Christ. Those are pretty strong words aren’t they? Let’s read the next verse in 1 Corinthians:
1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
God teaches us how spiritual growth occurs by using the very simple human concepts found in the natural baby growth cycle. If you do not understand natural baby things then you will never understand spiritual baby things as we have already seen by what Jesus was teaching us in John 3:12. If you read Romans 1:20 you will begin to see God telling us that His invisible spiritual qualities are clearly understood by the things that were created by Him in this world. You should be able to read 1 Corinthians 3:1 and 2 and see that God expects His spiritual babies to grow to eat meat. Meat symbolically represents the complex higher spiritual subjects of God. But in order to eat meat you must first drink the milk of the Word of God basics to grow. These concepts are critical and I pray that you are grasping them or you will never be led by the Spirit of God fully. Let’s read another witness of the truth in the Word of God:
Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
God reveals to us in these two verses that there are both simplistic milk subjects found in the Bible for spiritual babies and then there are also advanced meat subjects found in the Bible for the mature spiritual Christians. Clearly babies cannot take the really deep complex subjects because they do not understand even the simple milk subjects. That is what God is saying to the reader. Every complex meat truth found in the Bible is built upon several dependent layers of simpler milk truths that are necessary first to be understood. Hebrews 5:12 informs us that this understanding only comes from being taught. It is very much like learning to add and subtract as a school child using simple math concepts before you ever try to learn the algebra and calculus more complex math concepts. If you do not yet understand the simple it is impossible to grasp the complex. My Bible studies are normally intended for meat eating mature spiritual Christians. I recently had one person unsubscribe to my Bible study and I can only guess that it was because they did not like or could not take the meat that I was trying to feed them. That is OK, with me I’m not sent to teach everyone, if you cannot handle what I write you probably just need to go drink some more milk for a while and then come back later and try to eat the more complex topics from God. Don’t choke as a baby Christian trying to swallow spiritual meat when you have not yet developed any spiritual teeth to chew it. So while I lost one subscriber recently God blessed me and replaced them with 5 new subscribers. Praise God!
What I have just tried to describe to you is the spiritual growth process in a concise nutshell. God uses these things to teach each of us in the same way. This is exactly what I see happening to the church in the first 10 chapters of Acts. God was teaching the early church babies new spiritual things that were so much deeper than anything that they had ever seen or understood before. God is guiding them and giving them limited steps containing new ways to view the old scriptures to help them see God’s Word more through the spiritual eyes of God. Now with this new spiritual knowledge growing in them God can increasingly guide them by His Spirit to do even greater things with this new knowledge. That was my introduction so let’s get into the reality of chapter 11:
Act 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
This is an awesome verse. It helps to clarify many things we saw in Acts 10 by explaining to us that it was the Word of God that made everything else that happened possible. When the angel told Cornelius in the beginning of Acts 10 to go and get Peter it was for the sole purpose of Peter bringing the Word of God to Cornelius. This is the designed process from God and it is described to us in Romans 10:14. Peter came and Peter preached the Word of God and because Cornelius and his house received and believed the Word of God, the Spirit of God fell on them and they spoke with other tongues and praised God. Being saved, being filled with the Spirit of God or whatever you receive from God begins with you first receiving the Word of God that is spoken to you by a preacher sent from God. The Word of God is the foundational basis for everything else that you need, spiritual, mental, emotional or physical. After hearing the Word of God, you must believe it and then you must receive what was spoken to you. This is called receiving the Grace of God by your faith. I’m not going to teach you about faith and what it is and how it works, so if you do not understand this subject I have an in-depth lesson series called “Understanding Bible Faith” that you should go and check out.
Notice however what is happening here in verse 1, the brethren that are mentioned here are the saved Jews of the natural circumcision in Jerusalem. These are the men that were circumcised in their flesh by the hands of other men according the Law of Moses but they were also now circumcised by the hands of God in their spirits and they have not yet fully comprehended which one is the most important. They do not yet understand that the first natural was only given to teach them about the greater spiritual circumcision that occurred by the Hand of God. The fact is that the circumcision of the heart was just being revealed to the church and this means that they had not fully embraced the truth nor did they completely understand it. This was simply because they were all still babes in Christ growing up in the Lord.
Act 11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,
Here we have a potential firestorm division occurring in the church. This is a golden opportunity for the new baby believers of Jerusalem to depart the unity of the church body to create a new independent branch of believers called the Southern Jewish Church. Ok, that was a really bad joke on my part, but you understand what I meant. It is always man’s solution to create a new denomination when differences arise and it is always God’s proposed solution to resolve the conflict with new knowledge. The saved Jews in Jerusalem had heard about the Gentiles and they were not very happy Christians. In fact they were being very carnal, very jealous, very arrogant and very prideful types of Christians. It sounds a lot like some that I know of in the world today. It is very much like they felt themselves to be better or superior than those Gentiles because of something they had in their flesh that they could see. This is a dangerous approach to take before your fall and you will fall unless you change and release this attitude. Pride is always followed by the destruction of the individual (Prov 16:18). Any introduction of new Godly revelation to the people of God brings the opportunity to grow spiritually. It is also a potential opportunity to fail by rejecting it and remaining ignorant. Therefore, do not ever put yourself into a strict religious box of not being able to change, learn or grow from God’s new revelations. The Jews in Jerusalem in Acts 11 are about to reach a decision point as we continue to read through the chapter. They are going to be faced with some radical new spiritual information that is over their current spiritual level to understand it fully and they will have to make a choice to accept it or reject it. They will eventually learn that spiritual things will always take precedence over the natural external things but this is just a part of the normal growth process. We are about to explore the root of the problem being revealed to the early church:
Act 11:3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
Why is it important for a Jew not to eat with a Gentile? Why does this natural external action of Peter so concern the Jewish men at Jerusalem? That is an incredible thoughtful valid question that people today do not even consider or try to understand how to answer. People in the modern world eat with anybody, anytime, in anyplace without giving it considerable thought to the consequences of their actions. What did I just say? Are there really consequences for eating with people? You see because of your ignorance you do not know where I am probably going next but we are going to explore briefly some Old Testament Law that these Jews in Jerusalem understood better than you did:
Exo 12:43 And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:
Exo 12:48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
Exo 29:33 And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.
To an informed Old Covenant person, eating a meal with a Gentile was them making a covenant with a people that were not currently in covenant with their God. The Jews learned that the Passover meal was a covenant meal that was given to them while they were still in bondage in Egypt. Eating the Passover meal and placing the blood of the lamb on the doorpost allowed everyone in their house to live while the death angel took the firstborn of all that did not eat of the lamb and where the blood was not found on the doorway. God gives us these natural symbolic types to reveal the spiritual truths that have occurred in us in the church. In Exodus, God was telling the natural Jews that in order for a Gentile to participate with them in eating the meal, they must first be circumcised in their flesh. Did you not just read this? This was the Law of God that was being misapplied to the church in the minds of the Jewish believers in Jerusalem based upon their spiritual ignorance.
What I am saying is that eating with a Gentile was in effect the people of God joining themselves with their enemies. The sign of the circumcision was an external confirmation that they were in covenant with the same God you were in covenant with. However, that external sign of the covenant is now foolishness no matter who you are. The principle that was being taught to us is that you do not make covenant with anyone that is not in covenant with your God. That was the natural principle being taught to the Jewish people and that principle is still in effect in the spiritual realm today with the church (1 Cor 6:15). When you make covenant with a person not saved, the only advantage gained was given to the enemy that you covenanted with. Once you let your enemies into your house where you live you have just opened up your life to them for your complete destruction. What I just described to you has more spiritual relevance than what you probably understand right now, but I do not have the time to go there today. However, this was probably the driving reason behind the Jewish concern in Jerusalem extended to Peter. They were just in a state of shock that Peter had gone into a Gentile’s house and made covenant with them without them being circumcised in their flesh. They were in effect thinking very naturally and saying to Peter “What were you thinking?” “Why are you eating with these uncircumcised godless men?”
The natural Jewish believers were obviously not seeing things correctly through the eyes of God yet. They did not understand that Peter was being led by the Spirit of God in what he did and they for sure did not believe that the uncircumcised Gentiles were able to hear from God to do what they did. This is a grave mistake of people today that call themselves Christians. I saw a comment recently on Facebook from a Christian lady that is usually very sound in what she says. However she obviously got into the flesh with this statement and showed her spiritual immaturity. She was basically putting down people today that say they hear from God. I personally have more concern for people who do not hear from God than I do for those that say they heard from God. My Facebook friend even tried to justify her statement by using unfounded statements about Moses. She believed that even Moses never heard from God that much. I found her logic more than a little amusing. Moses after all wrote the first 5 books of the Bible and many of the Psalms so Moses obviously heard from God a lot. Do not get me wrong, there are people on the internet that say they hear from God and clearly they do not based upon what they say. If what is spoken contradicts the Written Word of God, then it is not from God. This is always an example of the real being counterfeited with the false. The presence of the false however proves that there is a real by implied antithesis. People in the world never counterfeit anything that does not already exist and is valuable or the counterfeit would have no value to anyone to deceive them. Satan will always introduce the fakes to discredit or distract form the genuine. God is speaking today in the world to His people and do not believe that He is not.
Act 11:5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:
Act 11:6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
Act 11:7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.
Act 11:8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.
Act 11:9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
Act 11:10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.
Act 11:11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.
Act 11:12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:
Act 11:13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
Act 11:14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
Act 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
Act 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Starting in Verse 5 and continuing through verse 16 in Acts 11 is now Peter’s account of what just happened in Acts 10 as it is replayed for the saved Jewish believers in Jerusalem. You might recall we got Cornelius’ account of the events at the end of chapter 10 telling Peter and now we are seeing Peter tell his side of the story to the other natural circumcised believers. You did notice that I said the “other” natural circumcised believers, yes? What is happening here? Why didn’t God speak to these believers directly like He did with Peter? Recall that Peter was dealt with on a personal spiritual level by God directly in Chapter 10. These Jewish men in chapter 11 were not. Why that was and what we can learn from it will now become more apparent. Revelation is never given to everyone in the church. Visions from God are never given to everyone in the church. Angels are never sent to everyone in the church. On and on I could go. These are all examples of divine sovereign choices of God and they are designed to help the whole body by allowing the one given the message to go and tell the others. That is exactly what is happening here in Acts 11. Peter was sent by God with the message from God to the natural Jewish believers in Jerusalem so they could hear what God has done.
Peter’s vision from God was not just for Peter’s personal benefit; it was for everyone else’s benefit in the church also that will hear it. Do you understand what I am saying? If Peter did not spread the message, the message would have died with Peter. God never gives one man any kind of revelation that is not intended for him to share with everyone else. I already tried to cover the difference between natural circumcision and God’s spiritual circumcision and I hope that you understand the differences. You can clearly see that this new spiritual way of thinking was causing a great division to occur in the church and if God does not deal with it then we would have the beginning of a new church denomination like I said before. Uh oh? God is actually working very hard to reverse the cause for the division by doing spectacular things like sending angels and giving visions, but the people in the church are still going to have to cooperate, believe and accept.
Act 11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God.
I love this verse! It is so awesome! What did Peter just tell these Jewish believers? This is the best advice that people today can still get a hold of if they humbled themselves and tried. Peter just said “I’m not stupid, it is not my place to tell God what to do”. Do you ever try to tell God what to do? I see it on the internet every day. I’ve seen it in churches repeatedly. People speaking against what they do not agree with and they call the others not in their group false teachers and liars. They do not understand that God could have given someone else a new revelation and this was also for them but they have rejected it because it was new. I’m not going to go through everything that Peter said to the Jews verse by verse, but I do want to point out the key factors again for emphasis:
- Peter says “I was praying” in verse 5.
- Peter says “I was in a trance and I saw a vision” in verse 5.
- Peter described the vision and says he then heard a voice say “arise slay and eat” in verse 7.
- Peter says back to the Lord “No Lord nothing unclean has entered into my mouth” in verse 8.
- Peter then says that God answers back to him “Do not call unclean that which I have cleansed” in verse 9.
- Peter then says that all of this happened three times in verse 10.
- Peter then says the Spirit of God spoke to him again and said “These men that I have sent, go with them doubting nothing” in verse 12.
Let’s just stop right here and analyze the facts given to us. How many times did God speak and how many times did Peter speak to God in this conversation? Peter prayed so that is the first time where the spiritual conversation begins with God. The vision then begins, so God is now speaking back to Peter in a trance. We have one for Peter and one for God. Now the voice of God tells Peter “Kill and eat” and Peter says “no”. That gives me a count of two for God and two for Peter. God then answered back “Do not call unclean what I have cleaned”. My count is now three for God and two for Peter because Peter had no reply. What God was pointing out to Peter was “you don’t know what I have done or what I can do”. God was in effect teaching the man Peter during this whole vision. Peter then tell us that this happens three times. According to my calculation that would give us a subtotal of God speaking seven times and Peter speaking back to God four times. However, Peter then says God told Him to go with the men and that makes the count, God speaking 8 times and Peter speaking 4 times. Did this not say that God just spoke to Peter 8 times in one conversation? I mean can you count? How many people today is there that do not understand that God still does this for everyone since He is no respecter of persons? Does God still speak? You bet He does! Does God speak a lot? You bet He does, if you are listening. Let’s talk briefly about verses 15 and 16:
Act 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
Act 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Here is further confirmation for what I was teaching you in the last lesson. God is revealing how things work in the spiritual realm by revealing to us little clues found within the natural realm. While Peter was preaching at Cornelius’ house the Word of God, the Holy Spirit was poured out exactly like He was in Acts 2 on the Jewish believers. We learned in chapter 10 this taught Peter that God was no respecter of persons. But, Peter also tells us when this was happening that he suddenly remembered something that Jesus had said to him. Do you think this was a coincidence or do you think this was also God speaking to him? I personally know it was the Spirit of God speaking to Peter. This is simply one way that God communicates with people and people do not understand it is God unless you learn to see what is said. The Spirit of God inside of Peter was giving Peter the thoughts to preach the message to Cornelius all along. God just revealed one thought of the many others that were implied. What was this thought that Peter just had? The thought was a memory recall of some of the words that Jesus spoke to him in the past. I have called this concept God drawing water out from a well. The thought was the water, God was the drawing out Spirit, and the well where the water was found is Peter’s spirit. The only reason water existed in the well was because it was placed there by Jesus’ teachings. This is not really rocket science kind of technical stuff here, but yet it is very profound if you get a hold of it. Jesus taught us “From the abundance of your heart, the mouth speaks” (Mat 12:34). Therefore put God’s Words into your heart if you want to get any of God’s Words to come out from your heart.
Do you understand what Jesus was teaching Peter and the other disciples from this thought in Acts 11:16 and how it applies to what is happening now with Cornelius? In other words why is God causing Peter to remember these words at this exact moment? Why is it relevant? Notice what Jesus was contrasting in the thought. Jesus was speaking of natural things like John and his water baptism to teach them of new coming spiritual things. Also understand that Jesus’ statement was a future prophetical reference to an event that had not yet occurred when it was spoken. If you research your Bible you will find that this statement was made by Jesus in Acts 1:5 right as He was about to ascend back to heaven. The Spirit of God was now revealing to Peter that this is the time of fulfillment of that prophecy. Jesus told them that John had used water to baptize, but now God will use the Holy Spirit to do the exact same thing in the spiritual realm. It is again an example of how external things are being represented to reveal internal invisible things. If you learn nothing else from me today I pray that you begin to understand the differences between natural things and spiritual things. Learn today that spiritual things are always greater than the parallel natural things. Learn how natural things are nothing but physical pointers to the hidden spiritual things from God. So we have had Peter describe the intimate workings of the Holy Spirit during the process to the Jews in Jerusalem and we are now at the time for their decision. Do they accept it or do they reject it?
Act 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Here is the model example of the appropriate Christian reactive response to any new revelation. These Jewish men in Jerusalem just showed you what you should be doing today. Peter has just preached to the natural Jewish believers in Jerusalem a message that came from God and they believed it and accepted it. There are literally too many other possible human reactions for me to list what could have happened. Instead of focusing on what did not happen, just notice that they kept their mouths shut except to praise their God. That is probably one of the greatest lessons to learn from what is happening in these two chapters. When and if you do not fully agree, fully understand, or fully embrace what is happening it is wisest to hold your peace and just praise God. Don’t fight against God, observe what He is doing and go with it. How could these men at Jerusalem do this? It is because they knew their God and they knew Peter. They had to have a certain level of trust for this man of God that he was not misleading them. They also knew that he was the one that got them saved in the first place by preaching in Acts 2. So we have many factors contributing to trust and their spiritual growth.
Act 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
You can clearly see the problem that God was addressing in the church in this verse. Those that were being scattered from Jerusalem’s persecution were only going to other cities preaching to the natural Jews. God was revealing to the early church that it’s much bigger than that, guys! You people are missing the largest harvest fields and only focusing on the select ones that you think are good. It goes back to a truth that God revealed in the O.T. that says “God does not see as men see, for man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). If people would only see things in the Bible like God sees them, there would be no divisions, debates or arguments in the church today and we could all reach a lot more people to get them saved.
This lesson is already long enough. Let’s just recap what else is revealed in this chapter to bring it to a close.
- Verse 20 says the Gentiles are now being actively preached to and converted.
- Verse 21 says the number of the Gentiles being added to the church is very significant.
- God also says in verse 21 that these Gentiles did two things to be saved. They believed the message and they turned to God for their salvation.
- Verse 21 also says the hand of the Lord was with them, proving God was leading them in what was happening.
- Verse 22 says the news of the church growth was spreading through the church and reached back to the church in Jerusalem.
- Verse 22 then says the brethren in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch to preach and teach them. This was God again sending a man with a message to help them grow spiritually. I told you a mature Christian was always necessary to keep a new born spiritual baby alive.
- Verse 23 says Barnabas saw the Grace of God and was glad and he began to exhort them. Exhortation is a comforting and an encouraging word sent from God telling them to continue in the Lord. Meaning they have the opportunity to turn back or walk away.
- Verse 24 describes God’s messenger Barnabas as being a good man that was full of the Holy Ghost. Two things I learn from this. To be a good teacher of God you need to be full of the Spirit of God. Finally a mature teacher needs to be sent by God.
- Verse 24 says many people were added to the church as a result of sending Barnabas.
- Verse 25 does not give us a time frame of how long Barnabas was present in Antioch but it says he left there for Tarsus to seek for Saul. I take this as God guiding him because of Romans 8:14. Galatians 2:9 teaches us that Barnabas becomes an apostle to the Gentiles with Paul.
- Verse 26 is one of my favorites. It gives us the reason for seeking Paul. Paul is brought back to Antioch to help and this verse says they stayed there for a year and taught many people. Verse 26 also reveals this is where people in the church were first called “Christians”.
- Verse 27 says Jerusalem sent prophets to Antioch. This proves God is still working to bring messages through men to other men.
- Verse 28 is a warning from the Spirit of God spoken by the prophet sent to Antioch. He tells them of a great famine that would come upon the world.
- Verse 29 the church at Antioch gathers supplies to give to help those in Judea.
- Verse 30 says Barnabas and Paul leave Antioch to take the relief to the church elders.
We could literally write a book about all of the things revealed in these few verses. If you meditate on the verses long enough you will see what I mean. There are many lessons that can be transferred to the days that we live in. There is God leading the church individually and corporately to grow and increase in significant numbers. There is God leading and teaching individuals to grow up spiritually. There is God bringing warnings of coming events and helping to prepare them through a prophet. There are times of famine now in many parts of our world. People have physical needs and these should be taken to the elders in the church to be distributed to those in need. I believe that the church’s number one goal is to add to the number of believers to help the body grow. But, then the number two goal is to help those that are new in the church to grow spiritually so they do not fall away and they can become teachers also. I finally see the last goal of the church as being to help the physical needs of the people. This was God’s stated order of mention in chapter 11. I see God’s emphasis in Acts 11 being spiritual first and then physical. However, the famine did occur after a year from when Paul was sent into Antioch so the emphasis might have changed if the circumstances were different. Nevertheless, I want to say that I can see God was working in Acts 11 to supply both their spiritual needs as well as their physical needs. Both are necessary components to continued growth. We saw great examples f God sending teachers to the new church members. We can easily confirm that God wants to save you first, but then He wants you to grow spiritually so that He can continue to lead you in the process to help others get into the same process and the spiritual life cycles continues and repeats. The spiritual cycles of spiritual church population growth duplicates the natural human cycles of population growth. The spiritual cycle of development and maturity parallels the natural human cycle of development and maturity. Just as math students in the natural can become math teachers to others as they grow, so it is with Bible students in the spiritual dimension. Non-speaking baby Christians after spiritual development and maturity should all become speaking Christians (AKA Bible teachers) for others.
While you may not fully understand how much you have learned today or how it applies to you being led by the Spirit of God, I will tell you that what you have learned has gone much further than you realize. Someday soon you will become a teacher and then these lessons will be in you to help others. God will draw them out when it is time and you will speak the oracles of God with wisdom. God Bless you until next time and I greatly appreciate your effort to study the Word of God with me.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 10! Part 12
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 12 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. These lessons contain critical spiritual information, instructions, and corrections that are essential and necessary for the spiritual growth of every Christian and they directly apply to all of us in the modern church because we are all in the same body of Christ serving the same God in the same ways as those in the book of Acts. My foundational scripture verse for the entire series is “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). That verse informs us that it is more than just a good idea, more than optimal, more than important, or more than just advantageous to be led by the Spirit of God over those that are not led. Romans 8:14 actually tells us that it is an essential requirement to be led by God or you cannot even be called His child. Jesus stipulated that “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). But commandments from God are more than just reading and obeying the written Laws of Moses. There will always be the written Word of God that we must learn, but there is also an implied direction to hear His current spoken words also. What was written to us thousands of years ago in the Bible still definitely applies and is very relevant, but I believe that what we may need to know is more specific for the right now. How do we grow and what do we still need to learn today, is there anything that we need to change, who do we need to speak with today or to witness to, who do we need to pray for today, where do I need to go today and on and on we could go. Personal direction from God can only come from hearing the Holy Spirit speak on an individual intimate level. That is why I’m teaching about how you can hear from God in the right now.
I believe that it is so very important for us to know this subject in great detail. Learn how God speaks, learn when God speaks and learn why God speaks and then expect Him to speak to you. If you are not expecting, then you are not listening. We have covered a tremendous amount of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this series from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In recent lessons, I have been moving through the book of Acts and observing the patterns and revelations of how God led the early church to grow and increase in great numbers. I believe that these are great teachings for the end-time church to go up and out on so that we can learn how to reach as many people as we can in the shortest amount of time. The Bible speaks of the outpouring of the Spirit of God as being like rain (James 5:7, Zec 10:1, Joel 2:23). The Bible also speaks of the Word of God coming down from heaven like rain (Isa 55:10-11). God called for the former and the later rain to fall in their respective seasons upon His people to produce a healthy fruitful spiritual crop. Two things happened in the Book of Acts former rain that stands out above all other facts to me. The Spirit of God was poured out on the Church and as a result God gave them such profound new revelation of His precious Holy written Word that it was unprecedented and beyond comparison. As a result of the Spirit of God being poured out like never before on everyone in the church and the knowledge of God increasing so profoundly, the church grew tremendously. It was a classic cause and effect reality from God. We are now living very near the time of the harvest and therefore we are abiding in the time of the later rain. We are currently writing the final chapters to the book of Acts today by what we do for God. I believe that what happened in the early church rain is what is reoccurring now in the later rain. This is the heavenly rainy season that we live in right now. Learn to get into the rain of God and see if He will not pour out on you a blessing that you cannot even contain. The revelation of God is increasing today like never before. We are to use this information to help the church to grow, to overcome and to unite in His purpose. Get involved in what God is doing and make sure you are standing under the spiritual rain cloud that is being poured out on the church today.
In the last lesson I was teaching on Acts chapter 10 and we did not get through the entire chapter. Let’s briefly review what we saw that was happening. I personally believe that chapter 10 of Acts is the most important chapter we have observed on this subject of being led. The chapter begins with Cornelius a Gentile man praying and suddenly seeing an angel sent from God. In this vision, the angel gives him a message from God and tells him to go and find Peter in another city in order to hear another message from God. That right there is a very strange request from God. I guess the angel was not told the real message. What I believe is happening is that God is revealing to us that we are living in the church age. The church was given the delegated authority and responsibility to go and preach to those on the earth to get them saved (Mark 16:15). There is coming a time in Revelation 14:6 where the angels will preach to the people on the earth because the church will already be in heaven. Therefore, I believe the angel in Acts 10 is pointing Cornelius to a church member to hear the Gospel. The angel tells Cornelius where Peter can be found and he sends three men to the city of Joppa where Peter is staying.
While the men are on the trip to find Peter, Peter is also said to be praying at the exact precise time and he also has a vision from God that is very disturbingly strange. Peter falls into a trance and sees a vision of a sheet being lowered from heaven with every kind of animal clean and unclean on it. Peter is then commanded by God to kill and eat, but Peter knows this will be an offense to his current understanding of the written Law of Moses and he refuses. Because of Peter’s refusal to participate, Peter sees the same vision three times and that is another interesting concept that visions may reoccur, but do not think that they must reoccur. I believe it is wiser to participate and obey the first time that God says something to you. Peter is still contemplating the meaning of the vision when all of the sudden the Spirit of God speaks to him in his spirit and tells him the men sent by God are here to see him. At this point in time Peter does not know what the vision means nor does he understand who the men are and why they are here to see him. So Peter goes down and meets with the men to find out what is going on.
What we have just observed is a divinely choreographed and well-orchestrated plan of God that has been unfolding in progressive steps and stages. This is a great example of the wisdom of God in manifestation. Every participant is given only very limited quantities of information to accomplish a single step of the greater unknown divine goal. No one at this point in time knows what God is doing or why they are doing it with Him. This is clearly an example of the people of God being led blindly by faith where God is the only one that understands fully what is happening and why. Of course if God knows what He is doing then we should not really care what He is telling us to do or even ask why. What is going on will always become apparent to us soon enough if we continue to obey. This is just called being a willing servant of God that walks by faith. We can clearly see how the factor of human obedience plays a significant role when yielding to a higher degree of wisdom than we possess. It is also based upon a factor that is called “TRUST” like a child trusts their parents to catch them when they jump into their arms. There is a further implied unstated factor of humility where we must acknowledge internally that we need to be led by God. The success of the whole plan of God is completely dependent upon the faithful participation of each individual involved being led and all of these qualities that I just mentioned play key roles in the successful outcome. If any one man in this chapter drops the ball and does not do or complete what God has instructed them to do, God would have needed to find some new church members to replace them to get the job done and thus the church would have not grown as fast or as efficiently.
THE PURPOSE OF GOD’S LEADING
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (NASB)
Here is a good time to confirm why God wants to lead us again. If you are being led by God it is not for your demise, harm, hurt or destruction. Jeremiah 29:11 teaches us that God is always working for your greater good and for a greater purpose than what might be apparent at the time. You should be able to recognize that in Acts 10 as we continue through the lesson to the fulfillment of the plan of God. In this chapter nothing but positive things happen to everyone participating. The Bible clearly informs us that God is FOR US and not against us (Romans 8:31). There are three different perspectives that we can use to see what is written in this verse in Jeremiah 29. First, it can be viewed corporately as a universal statement directed at everyone. Second it can be viewed from the perspective that it was written to others like natural Israel only. Finally it could be viewed as a verse that was written to ME personally. There are ways to reason away any one of the these three possibilities using human logic. However, because the verse does not say who it is written to using a noun qualification, I take it to be a verse that includes all of the above possibilities concurrently. The translators also thought this way because they used the personal pronoun as “you” being “me” the reader to state the truth. I take this verse as a direct quote from God spoken to me.
I can understand that this verse was originally written to the natural nation of Israel. But, I then can begin to expand my vision to view it to be a universal truth that crosses over from the natural realm into the spiritual realm to include everyone. Therefore, it is simple to me if I take the truth in this verse to be for me personally. You of course need to make up your own mind if it is for you and do with it whatever you like. If you can come to the realization that it is for you also, then you need to do something else. You need to believe that God has a good plan specifically for you like I believe God has a good plan specifically for me? Your plan is not my plan, and my plan is not your plan. They are both unique and separate while still being equally good for each. If you can believe that, then you have a strong basis of faith with the scriptures to stand upon when you pray and ask God what is your plan for me. Knowing this revelation will give you confidence that when God leads you it is for a positive outcome and for a greater good purpose.
Since I believe that this verse in Jeremiah 29:11 is universally true and for me as an individual I can conclude three new things from it that applies to why God was leading the early church in Acts 10. First, God is ultimately interested in the good plan for growing the church as the single whole body of Christ on the earth. This is what I will call a “ONE” church body approach to understanding the scriptures. Since I believed that Jeremiah 29:11 was for individuals and I view the body of Christ as an individual corporate body I believe God’s good plan must include us all as one group. I’m not going to teach you about the church being one body found in the scriptures today so if you do not understand that truth then you should do a separate study on the subject. Second, I believe that in order for God to grow the church that God must also be interested in helping all of the members in the church to grow up spiritually to learn how to be led by Him. What we have again is an approach that if one part of the body is ill, then the entire body is ill. You cannot cut off one part of your body and still be a whole person. Again I can see how God’s GOOD plans for the church are both individualized and simultaneously incorporated for the good of everyone for a unified positive purpose and outcome. I hope that you understand these concepts, because I do not have time to go into them in great detail. Last but not least I believe that God is interested in blessing you in the natural realm so that you can become a blessing to others on the earth in the natural realm to get them saved. Here is where church growth corresponds to human growth cycles. When a natural child is born into the world they are very small, weak and need assistance to survive. As their body develops they are increased in mass, strength and ability. These concepts can be transferred to the body of Christ. I believe that our church body is in a growth cycle right now and we are reaching out to those that are not a part of the body to help them to be added to the body of Christ. This is only possible while we are all still in the natural realm. If you die or they die then it is too late for each of you to participate in the increase to the body of believers. I can see all three of these things occurring in Acts 10 and I hope that you will also agree with me on them.
WHAT IS A GOOD PLAN FROM GOD?
Jeremiah 29:11 informs us that God has good plans for His people. What exactly is a plan? And what makes one plan good and another one not good? One definition of the word plan is a design or a scheme of arrangement. We might be able to view a plan as a set of project specifications. This is a concept that transfers to many things in the natural to be easily understood. A cook uses a recipe to create an edible delicacy which is tasty. A seamstress uses a pattern to create a dress that will knock your socks off when you see it worn. An architect creates a plan called a blueprint design with architectural diagrams to build a great building that we can live and work in. These are all designed stepped approaches to the creation of things in the world. These are all good planned approaches that benefit people in some way. No plan that I have just mentioned was intended for anyone’s harm or demise. However, you can clearly see how that any plan can be changed or modified to become evil. Good and evil are basic concepts found in the Bible. The Bible tells us that God is good and that Satan is evil. We should be able to conclude that God’s plans are for our good and Satan’s plans are for our hurt. This is really not that complicated, but Satan has used people’s human reasoning to try shift all plans to God’s control and that is a great error in judgment.
Does every plan on the earth automatically come to pass exactly as planned? If you have ever been a project manager you know that they do not. Rarely does a plan occur without a problem. Now, consider what if it is God’s plan for your personal life? Does that mean God’s plans for you will automatically come to pass just because God is omnipotent and controls everything that happens to you? Again, it certainly does not! If that was true it would be totally unnecessary to be led by the Spirit of God and we could just all sit back and let Him do everything. The requirement to be led by the Spirit of God dictates that every plan of God does not automatically transpire. All of this means that you need to first learn what the plan of God is or at the minimum learn what part of the plan that God wants you to do and then follow God’s instructions to fulfill it. What I am doing is attempting to go through some side trips that are informative enough to try to help you understand why things occur. Every plan is not good and every good plan does not always come to full fruition.
I have studied the Gospels and I have tried to observe what Jesus said and did in person for humanity in order to better understand what God in heaven wants to do for humanity today. I never did see Jesus kill someone, rob someone, hurt someone or do any evil to anyone. The Bible clearly says in Acts 10:38 that Jesus went about doing “GOOD” to all those oppressed of the devil. If Jesus wanted “good” for us on the earth when He was here physically then it is still the same today. This also teaches us that God is not the author of the evil and that Satan is the one doing evil to us. Read the Gospels and see that when people were hungry Jesus cared enough to feed them. When people were sick, blind or crippled many got healed and delivered. When people were in their ignorance Jesus spent vast amounts of time teaching them. Jesus even raised many from the dead. These were all examples of doing good things for people. How can you see anything but good coming from God since the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever? (Heb 13:8)
So why do bad things still happen to the good church members in Acts and to the people on the earth still today? We clearly saw Stephen being stoned and others being thrown into prison in Acts. There was definite persecution being leveled on the church by the Jews. I believe that there are possibly multiple reasons for bad things happening in the world to good church members. First the existence of evil in the world remains ever present and it will not be taken away until the time has been fulfilled. Understand that the world that we currently live in had a set beginning which requires a set ending by definition. Satan the initiator of all evil now understands the concept of the timed ending and he knows that his time left is growing rapidly shorter so he is intentionally stepping up the evil in the world and he is not trying to reduce it. Second, the whole concept of being led by the Spirit of God was a brand new idea that had just been initiated by God in all of the church in Acts 2. Previously in the Old Testament God would lead one man and they would hold the responsibility to lead everyone else. Today in the church we have a radical new concept where God says that He will lead everyone individually, corporately and simultaneously.
Being led by God is not an automatic spiritual skill that everyone understands when they become a Christian. In fact it is actually the opposite. Being led by the Spirit of God is an acquired spiritual ability or we could also say a learned spiritual skill as we can clearly see in the experiences of those in Acts 10. Normally humans are led by their senses, their experiences and their human reasoning. All of these are enemies to how God leads us by our spirit and we have to make the transition from these natural ways to be successfully led by the Spirit of God. No one in the book of Acts is yet an expert at being led by the Spirit of God. Everyone is still growing up spiritually as God teaches each of them. Keep in mind at this time there is still no New Testament Bibles that exist. Everything being taught by the church is from the Old Testament and these are concealed words about a hidden Jesus and the many other spiritual things that were just being revealed and taught for the first time by God. So the people in Acts are like the people today. We are all still learning to be led by God and we all still growing spiritually as we hear from Him. Like those in Acts we are all still imperfect men and women with faults, weaknesses, emotions, sense feelings, and the same oppositions, persecutions and distractions as they faced. Therefore, between the continued presences of evil in the world working with the fallible human condition of men in the world both continue to contribute to why bad things still happen to Christians.
What we have seen so far in Acts 10 is God’s usage of at least 4 or 5 different communication methods over the course of several days to accomplish the greater plan of God while simultaneously teaching the church how God operates to lead them. I have noticed that God is intelligent enough to multi-task and He is more than able to accomplish several stated goals with a single threaded process. This is one of the greatest examples in the Book of Acts that I have seen so far of how the Sovereign God works in conjunction with the imperfect people on the earth that have the freewill option and choice to listen, hear, understand, choose and to obey Him. We have clearly seen that God gives us all limited instructions in progressively sequenced steps to cause every participant to walk by faith and not by their own individual sight, knowledge or understanding. I call this God’s modus operandi or method of operation. It is how God operated with the early church and it is how God operates with us still today.
Think about the story in Acts 10. If God would have told Cornelius everything from the beginning using the angel there would have been no need for any messengers to go get Peter. There would have been no need for a Peter the preacher at all. If God would have told Peter everything that was happening, then he would have also not needed to go down and talk to the men from Caesarea or go and preach to Cornelius. Cornelius would have not needed a Peter and Peter would have not needed a Cornelius. These are clear examples of how the individual people in the church should be working together in unison to accomplish the greater goal of God. In other words no church member is an island that can stand alone in their own personal ministry isolation. God does not call any church member to live in solitary confinement. God called no Christian to be a Robinson Crusoe type of believer living in a monastery. If you think you can live a full Christian life like that then you are deceived. If you think no one else needs your participation then you are deceived. These are some of the greatest examples of God using ordinary people like you and me in the church.
WHY GOD LED THE CHRUCH IN ACTS 10
As you continue reading in the chapter we will finally begin to discover why God is doing what He has been doing. We will finally understand that everything that has occurred in Acts 10 is God causing the church to grow, expand and include the people of every nation and not just the people of natural Israel as it was found to be in the first 9 chapters of Acts. God is about to shake up the box of their religious beliefs and their understanding of God’s character and turn it all upside down. I guess technically I should say that God is turning things right side up, but you know what I mean. Read some verses found in the prophet Isaiah:
Isa 42:6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
Isa 42:7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Isa 42:8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
Isa 42:9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
Isa 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
If you search the Bible you will see that there are several prophecies in the O.T. like these that reveal salvation belongs to all nations through Jesus Christ. Here in Isaiah God says Jesus will be a light to the Gentiles and that His salvation will be displayed to the ends of the earth. God says this will be something brand new. What is a Gentile? From a natural O.T. Bible perspective a Gentile was anyone that was not of the circumcision of the flesh first given to Abraham. Every male descendant from Abraham on was circumcised as an outward sign of their covenant with God. This event usually occurred 8 days after a male child was born (Php 3:5) and it resulted in a cutting of their flesh, the shedding of some of the child’s blood, and it also hurt and was physically painful. Therefore a Gentile to the Jewish men in Acts 10 were any men that did not possess this physical mark in their flesh. Now a new problem is being revealed to those in the church in Acts 10. God is going to give them a totally new spiritual definition to an old natural understanding of what exactly circumcision was. God is revealing something so radical to them that it is very difficult for many of them to even accept. Here is a part of the new revelation that God would later write to the church at Rome:
Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
You see these are verses that people today ignore because they do not understand what they say or mean. God is teaching the church that the outward mark of the flesh is not what makes a man a Jew anymore. God is revealing that the outward circumcision was only given to teach them all about a new inward circumcision of the heart that makes us all a brand new kind of Jew. Uh oh? What did I just say? Do you see why people still struggle with this revelation? We will discover that the early church had this same difficulty when we get to chapter 11. There was a huge movement in the early church by some Jewish believers to try to get all the new Gentile believers that came into the church to be circumcised like they were in their flesh. These Jewish Christians were thinking carnally and naturally that in order to be fully saved it required everyone to do something externally to keep the law of God. What God was doing is revealing that the natural things that He implemented under the law with Abraham only pointed them to the real spiritual things that ONLY God could do in the spiritual realm. The Bible says that no one will ever be justified by the works of the law (Gal 2:16). The circumcision of the heart (spirit) first started happening in the beginning of the church age as men received the Spirit of God. This same circumcision of the heart that only the natural Jews had received is now being expanded in Acts 10 to include all of the Gentiles that believe on Christ also. You cannot see or even understand the spiritual things of God and how they work without first understanding the natural things and how they worked. This is why God does the natural first to teach us about the spiritual works of God. This is really not that complicated yet many Christians still stumble over it constantly.
THE CONCLUSION TO ACTS 10
These were just cleverly designed ways of God to say behold I do a brand new thing and it is now open to everyone that wants to participate. The early church did not really fully understand these verses were even in their Bible. That is why God is revealing them to the church in Acts 10 and His written word can be used to confirm what He said to them. Always remember that what God tells you by His Spirit will never conflict or contradict with what God has said to you in His written Word. God is giving the church new revelation knowledge of the old prophecies in Isaiah. Revelation knowledge is never a modification to the words that were written on the page, it is always just an adjustment to our spiritual eyesight that increases our understanding of what the words meant in the first place. Let’s complete the study of the verses in Acts 10:
Act 10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Here is a very classic example of how people can believe they understood what the Bible said and totally miss the real meaning until God reveals it to them. There was a strict literal natural interpretation of the law that said that no Jew could associate with a non-Jew. We could read this in the Gospels when the woman at the well was shocked that Jesus was talking to her a Samaritan (John 4:9). The natural Jewish religious leaders took this law to an extreme and fell into great error with it. Jesus understood what it said and knew it did not mean what they thought it meant. Taking any truth to an extreme is one of the greatest dangers to believing a lie. Peter in the presence of Cornelius begins to understand the vision from God. The new revelation from God was being taught that these uncircumcised men in Cornelius’ house were chosen by God and they were not the kind of men that God was saying not to associate with in the law. This was really an incredible new way to look at an old written rule. What God is doing is differentiating between natural truths and spiritual truths, natural laws and spiritual laws, and natural people and spiritual people. The natural Jews looked at this law as meaning one thing and now the church is being taught to see it with a completely new way of thinking spiritually. This quite literally proves that what we sometimes thought to be the truth is not always the truth in reality.
Act 10:30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,
Cornelius begins to recount to Peter what God had done and what was told to him by the angel. God is now connecting the dots to allow everyone to see the bigger picture plan of God. Notice again that there was a span of 4 days that these events have transpired on. As you read down you will see Cornelius explaining what the angel said to him and how he was instructed to go to Joppa to get Peter to hear the message. This is now the second time we are told what God is doing in this chapter. Whenever God tells you something more than once it means it is very important and you better learn what is going on. It is a lot like when Jesus said “Verily, Verily”. Anytime there is repetition there is intended importance and emphasis.
Act 10:33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
I like the term “immediately”. Immediately denotes the factor of timing to be potentially critical to the entire process. If timing did not matter, God would not have told you about it. I believe that many times if there is a delay in doing what God has said we might just miss what is happening in God’s plan. Of course God could change the course of timings and if Cornelius delayed sending men to Joppa there could have been a delay of Peter praying and getting the vision. However you may remember that Peter just so happened to be hungry when he was praying so the timing of events appears to be critical for the whole process. Both Cornelius and Peter prayed at the exact set precise time for each to accomplish the plan. The angel appears to Cornelius at the specific set time needed. The men are sent to Joppa and they travel a set specific time that corresponds with Peter’s prayer time. God gave Peter a vision about food and eating a meal at the precise time he was hungry. The men from Cornelius just so happen to show up where Peter is at after a day’s journey and their arrival corresponds exactly after the vision was just completed. God just so happens to tell Peter they are there and on and on I could go. I feel that timing was an essential factor to getting the plan of God to happen in the exact order and sequence of events. If any participant delayed and did not do what they were supposed to do, would the plan of God still have fallen into place so precisely? That is a very interesting concept to consider. It sounds like to me we need to become aware of God’s timing and try to follow Him very closely. For example, if God tells you to wait five minutes before doing something, it is probably best to do it. You do not know what will happen if you do not do it and that is the risk of being disobedient. If God leads you only for your good, not being led by God could result in something evil happening to you. If God tells you now to do something and you do not, you also just might be missing out on the blessing that God was awaiting to give you. Keep reading in this chapter and see the blessings of God that are being poured out as a result of everyone being led by the Spirit of God. In Acts 10:34 through verse 44 is Peter’s sermon to the house of Cornelius. I will not go over the sermon, because it is basically the Gospel of Jesus foretold through the prophets.
Here is a good time to re-emphasize a point that I tried to make earlier in this series. At no time does it say that Peter thought about or prepared what to say or to preach to Cornelius’ house before getting to them. At no time does it say that Peter stopped to review his notes, read anything or to even make notes. I’ll shock you a little more here and say that Peter does not stop and pray to ask God what to do either. What comes out of Peter’s mouth is the spontaneous response from what God has already previously deposited in his heart through the teachings of Jesus and the experiences that he has had up until this point in time. Do you understand this? You probably do not yet understand fully what I am saying. A preacher should always prepare to preach by diligent study and prayer, but a preacher should never have a set written statement to read from for anyone. Doing this puts God in a human box of constraints and limitations and denies that God has the ability to speak to you directly to give the people a fresh new Word from heaven. What I am trying to say is that God brought to Peter’s remembrance what was necessary to preach to Cornelius at a flashed instance of spontaneity. It is a classic well and water analogous concept. The preacher is the well that has the deposits of God’s water (word) within his spirit. The spirit of man is like the well of water. This is exactly what Jesus was teaching the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus said the water that I give will cause a man to never thirst again and she said to Him give me this drink. God places good deposits in our spirit by us hearing His word over and over and us meditating on it. The Spirit of God will draw out this water from the well to give to others when it is needed at that precise moment. Jesus taught Peter this concept when he was here on the earth. Read this verse and see if you can apply it to what is happening in Cornelius’ house:
Luk 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
Luk 12:12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
Jesus taught them not to think beforehand or plan what they will say, because He clearly said that the Holy Spirit that will be in them will tell them what to say. This again is a major faith proposition for the preacher to trust God to give him what is needed when it is needed. Wow, that is a tough concept for many to understand. But this allows God to flow and to change to be spontaneous to fit the ever fluid changing situation of humanity. I have been in church services and seen where the pastor has started out with his written prepared sermon outline notes and all of sudden he went off on a topic that the Spirit of God brings to him and this was a right now fresh word for someone in the audience that needed to be there to hear it and to be ministered to. There is no way that the preacher would have known this and been able to prepare for it. Yes God could have told him, but that would allow the preacher to walk by sight and not by faith. Let’s try to finish Acts 10 today. What I want to show you next is what happened as Peter was preaching:
Act 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
This was the same outpouring of the former rain sent down from God in heaven. The Holy Spirit was given to the Gentiles almost in the exact same way as He was given to the natural Jews in Acts 2. If you read Peter’s sermon he makes this revealed statement “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons”. What Peter was referring to was that it was not the external circumcision of the flesh that determined what the internal man could receive from God. To perceive is an inward increase in spiritual understanding. It was the revelation that God was revealing to Peter through the leading, the vision, the angel, the men in house of Cornelius and the other works that we have witnessed. All of this was the greater plan of God for the church from the beginning, but it has taken God almost 10 chapters of Acts to get it implemented.
Act 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Act 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Here we have the beginning of a new church controversy. The Jews that came with Peter, all being of the circumcision were blown away by what God has just done to those men that were never circumcised in their flesh. They all learned a great lesson with the house of Cornelius and all were blessed by what has just occurred. Notice that what is happening is almost a complete repeat of what happened to the natural Jews in Acts 2. The Spirit of God falls from heaven and they received and were all heard speaking in tongues and praising God. This is awesome information for us today. It means what they experienced is what we can still experience. In other words this was not a onetime event in Acts 2, it was a church age event that can occur over and over. Let’s review the sequence of events one more time:
- Cornelius Prays to God in Caesarea.
- Cornelius has an open vision of the angel.
- Angel was sent from God with instructions to go get Peter in Joppa for a message from God.
- Cornelius sends three men to Joppa to get Peter and takes over a day to get there.
- Peter was praying in Joppa at the precise time when the men neared the house.
- Peter was hungry while he prayed.
- God gives Peter a closed vision three times that needed interpretation to be understood about eating unclean animals.
- The Spirit of God speaks to Peter after the vision and tells him men sent by God are here to see him.
- Peter goes to Cornelius house and preaches the Gospel.
- While Peter is preaching the Spirit of God is poured out on the Gentiles and Jewish believers witness it and are amazed and perplexed.
- As a result God adds to the church the Gentile people.
Notice what is happening. God is never revealed to do the exact same thing twice in this entire process (with the exception that Peter was given the same vision three times because of his refusal to participate) proving God’s ways are not always our ways of doing things. People like to do things out of repetition or habit, but that is obviously not God’s way of doing things. God uses at least 5 different displayed methods to lead His people in one process plan. Everyone involved is required to walk by faith. Everyone involved benefits, learns, grows spiritually and the entire church of God also grows and increases in numbers. These are fundamental facts that are essential to grasp. These are some of the key ways that God will lead you and me to work together today. I go many times to listen to a man of God and will hear something new from them that helps me learn something else new from God. God will use one preacher to say one thing to someone and another preacher to say something else to the same person and all of this causes us all to grow together. If at anytime the people in Acts 10 wanted to isolate themselves and not participate with the plan of God it would have not been accomplished. Sometimes God’s plan will require you stretching out beyond your four walls to go to someone else to hear the complete message from God or give them a message from God. Begin today by praying and see what the Spirit of God says for you to do. If we are not praying we are probably not hearing from God as we should and getting directions that we need for today. Thanks for studying the Bible with me on this important subject and hopefully we can move to another chapter in the next lesson since we have spent so much time in this great chapter. Stay hungry and thirsty for more of God and God will bless you with more of Him.
If you wold like to cotinue reading in this series you may go to “Part 13“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 10! Part 11
(ver 1.2) This is now Part 11 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. These lessons contain critical spiritual information necessary for the spiritual growth of every Christian and they directly apply to us in the modern world because we are the same church body serving the same God as those in the book of Acts. My foundational scripture verse for the series is “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). That verse makes it sound essential to be led by God or you cannot be called His child. Therefore, I believe that it is essential to know this subject. We have covered a tremendous amount of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In recent lessons, I have been moving through the book of Acts and observing the recorded (direct and indirect stated) methods used by God to lead the early church. We are beginning to see a set of repeated pattern of the same methods being used by God to build up and grow the Body of Christ. We are also beginning to understand an emphasis of certain methods of God over others that I have mentioned of how God leads His people. In the last lesson I introduced you to some new concepts when I described the contributing factors of peace and joy to be necessary for hearing from the Spirit of God. If you are depressed then you are not hearing from God. If you are not in peace you are not hearing from God. We have also seen repeatedly that those in the church that are being led by God are always those that are in unity with the other believers surrounding them. This means they were not arguing, fighting or debating over what anyone wanted to do individually, but that they were more concerned with what God was doing corporately for the greater plan and purpose of the church. Those being led today in the Church should be no different. God is not going to lead one part of a group of believers differently apart from another group of believers so that they fight over who is right and who is wrong. This is another important key to being led by the Spirit of God. Hearing from God should always cause love to flow which generates a spirit of oneness, agreement, harmony and unity.
Today I am only going to teach in chapter 10 of Acts. It has just been making my lessons too long by me trying to teach on multiple chapters in one lesson. Acts chapter 10 is only 48 verses long but it is so rich with new information on my subject of being led by the Spirit of God, that this again will probably be a long lesson and I will probably only get approximately half way through the chapter today. I apologize in advance for the length of the lesson, but I believe this information is really important on the subject of being led by the Spirit of God. Acts 10 is probably one of my favorite chapters in the book of Acts and hopefully as we go through it today, you will see why I say that and maybe it will become one of your new favorite chapters also. Let’s start at the beginning with verse 1 and read down to verse 3.
ACTS CHAPTER 10
Act 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
Act 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
Act 10:3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
It is very interesting for me to see the connecting and developing factors being tied together in these verses. It is also clear to me that God gives us many new clues and details like the hour of the day that these events occurred in this chapter. These details certainly have direct meaning and are not there by chance. There is nothing found in the Bible that occurs there by accident. Every word has a designed purpose of God. In the first verse, God is speaking about an Italian man, a Gentile by the flesh. Up until this point in time, the church was widely a Jewish set of believers that have accepted Jesus. But, Cornelius is clearly described as a Christian man; he is being labeled as someone who feared God. To fear God is not an indication of being afraid or terrified of God, but it is more the concept of being in an attitude of awe for God with a great reverential respect for His position, His power, His knowledge and His ability. This same Greek word is used in Ephesians 5 when God talks about a wife’s attitude towards her husband. This is clearly not the type of fear that she is to be afraid that her husband will hurt her. You see the risen Savior Jesus is the husband in this relationship with the church and the church is supposed to treat God with awe and respect. However, God’s attitude of love was first demonstrated towards us and He treats us with great tender kindness like the very valuable wife that He has given His all to find.
You can learn this concept of God giving His all by listening to what Jesus said about the kingdom of God when He teaches the parable of a merchant man seeking valuable pearls. This merchant man goes and sells all that he has in order to buy the pearl of great value that he has searched for and found (Mat 13:45-46). The merchant man in this parable is a type of Jesus and the pearl of great value is a type of us, the church. The great purchase price paid for us was the payment of His blood and His life. This was God giving everything that He possessed to buy us out of our major predicament of sin. What we learn as the symbolic pearl from this information is that how we view God will determine if God will be able to guide us with His Spirit. If we view Him as a God that will hurt us if we do not obey or make a mistake, then that is going to affect what we can hear and how we can hear Him. If someone obeys God out of terror then that someone becomes a slave to that fear. If someone obeys willingly out of their love for their God then that person actions are founded upon His love knowing if they do make a mistake that He is there to help them. You see you do not understand how much God values you if you believe that God will hurt you if you do wrong. One of the most important verses in the entire Bible is the one that states “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8)! Not God has love for us, but He is that Love for us. God has not given to us the spirit of fear. Fear is being afraid or terrified which is really an opposing force to love. This is why I wanted to briefly try to explain the type of fear being mentioned in Acts that Cornelius possessed that allowed him to hear from God.
In the first three verses in Acts 10, Cornelius is also described to be a giver and this is a characteristic of most real Christians. Most Christians love to give to others. The United States gets accused of many things, but the majority of the charity poured out on the world comes from this Christian nation. Giving may or may not be a factor for what you think about God, the Bible and being a Christian, but giving is a huge factor for if you desire to receive anything from God. I’m not preaching works based giving; I’m teaching Spirit led giving. Obeying the law will not justify you, but obeying God will cause great benefits and blessings to occur. You see giving is tied to receiving everywhere in the Bible. You can see this as a stated spiritual law of God. It is called the law of sowing and reaping and it occurs everywhere in the Bible as a predominant theme from Genesis to Revelation. Sowing and reaping is not usually a popular subject and frequently ignored because people teach it only in regards to money, but this subject is found ever present in many areas other than money. There are over 10 things in the Bible referred to as seeds and if you don’t know them, then your ignorance causes you to potentially miss them. I have a series of Bible lessons on this subject so I will not repeat them in this lesson. If you want to read them you can go and see “Understanding Seeds in the Bible”.
As you can see in verse 2 of Acts 10, Cornelius is praying. What happens when we pray? I think I tried to teach you that God hears and will respond. Here is another very clear example of that in Acts 10. Cornelius has a vision, but this time it is of a spiritual angel. So we have the spiritual realm becoming visible to a man in the natural realm through God’s use of a vision. This is an example of a combined method approach of spiritual communication. God used both a spiritual vision and a spiritual being or an angel simultaneously. This is certainly different, but it does happen. Other times in the Bible, God sends an angel into the natural realm and people see them physically and God can do either. This is also another example of an open type of vision. The man Cornelius is wide awake and his eyes are wide open. These are amazing confirmations that God will still use visions and angels directly in the modern church to give to us a specific message.
I want you to see the stated order of occurrence in this manifestation of God. It is stated that Cornelius did three things first before God sent the angel and gave the vision. Cornelius feared God, gave to others and prayed before God gave him a vision and sent the angel with the message. Is that not God responding or giving back based upon what Cornelius gave and did first? Most of the time, I believe that this is the way that things have happened in Acts. Saul was the only example that I have observed in Acts to be different so far. Jesus appeared to Saul an unsaved man the first time without Saul asking or doing anything, but notice after that, it was only when Saul prayed to God that God said that He had given to him another vision. The Spirit of God can do things progressively different as you continue to learn to grow up spiritually. For, example when I was first filled with the Spirit of God, God spoke to me in an audible voice one time. He has never done that again since then. However, that does not mean that I do not hear from the voice of God daily. It only means that I have grown enough spiritually to discern how else He speaks. God treats unsaved and baby Christians a little bit differently than the mature Christians because He expects the mature Christians to know more. This is true for babies in the natural realm and this is true for babies in the spiritual realm. Let’s now see what God’s response was to what we have seen so far from Cornelius:
Act 10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
God declares that He has heard the prayers of Cornelius and has seen his giving and it sounds like God sees both of these as being positive things. Why else are they mentioned? One key word in this verse is the term “memorial”. A memorial in the natural is a way to remember someone or something”. This is what this word means, but it is easily taken the wrong way since God does know everything. What you do or say cannot cause God to suddenly remember you. God does not step back and say “Oh yea, I forgot about Jim, I guess I better do something. However, it is clear to me from these verses that God says the angel was sent and the message delivered because of his actions. What I want you to discover is that Cornelius’ actions and his words were observed by God and thus your words and actions are also viewed by God since God is no respecter of persons. I also want you to understand that if anything is pleasing in the eyes of God we need to remember clearly what it is that pleases God. It is not your giving and it is not your praying, but it is only your faith when doing both of these. You see the Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). So if you are giving without faith, you are still not pleasing to God and you do it in vain. If you are praying without faith then you are again not going to be pleasing to God and your words will fall empty. God places certain priorities on certain things and His Word is first and foremost above everything else and then your faith in His Word allows the connection to take place to access His Power. If you do things without learning about God’s priorities then you are more than likely doing them out of order. I do not have time to teach you about faith, but I have a series of lessons that will help you understand this critical subject called “Understanding Bible Faith”. I bring up faith because it is clearly Cornelius’ faith that played a role in hearing from God even though it was never directly mentioned. This is just another example of using the Bible to explain the Bible. If God is pleased with anyone, then God says that they have faith while doing what they have done. Let’s continue with the angel’s instructions from God:
Act 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
Act 10:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
The angel tells Cornelius to send men to Joppa for a man named Peter. Notice that Cornelius does not know Peter. Why didn’t the angel just show up where Peter was and tell Peter to go and see Cornelius? I find it very interesting how God does things in this chapter and that is why I’m spending so much time in talking about it. Here we have an angel sent by God with a message to tell Cornelius where to go and get another message from God. Wow, that is just mind blowing, to many Christians. God tells Cornelius to go find a man named Peter because Peter has a message for him but as we read down in the chapter we are going to find out that Peter doesn’t know this yet. Why is that? Do you see what is happening here? The man Cornelius has a vision and sees an angel but does not get the message from the angel but is told where to go to get the message from a very certain man named Peter. In other words if Cornelius tried to get the message from the apostle John, he would have missed it Was it only because the angel did not know the message or was it that God was teaching these people involved some new spiritual lessons on guidance, helping them all to grow? Both men of God are required to walk by faith and not by their sight. Cornelius had specific steps of instructions to get Peter and Peter will be given specific words of instruction for Cornelius. Using this information you should begin to understand how God is going to potentially lead you? He is not going to tell you everything personally all at once. Sometimes He will just tell others what to tell you. Sometimes I am used by God to speak to people and sometimes God uses other people to speak to me. Sometimes I hear directly from God and other times He does things differently with me reading His word or hearing a preacher or a teacher. There are so many ways that God can speak that you just need to be observant and attentive enough to hear Him when He does. That is just the way He does it. I just try to learn the best that I can to flow with Him and that is all that I can do by faith.
Act 10:9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
Act 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
Ok, we are about to learn several new things in these verses. First, Cornelius sends men to get Peter and while they are traveling Peter is described to go up on top of the roof to pray. So again we see prayer as a major contributing factor for hearing from God. But, we should soon notice that it is not just the fact that Peter prays, but it becomes more significant that Peter prayed at just the right time that makes all of this really work together. This is why God is revealing the time factor in this chapter and teaching you that timing is everything with God. You can be told by God to do something and then do it too early or too late and miss what God wanted you to learn. During this prayer, Peter falls into a trance. That is the beginning of a very different manifestation of the Spirit of God. This is what I call a closed vision. A closed vision is one where the individual is not necessarily asleep, but not necessarily awake either. A vision during sleep is called a dream and this is not a dream. In other words, if you were observing Peter praying you might seem to think that he looked like a statue because he appeared motionless and fixed in one place. The condition of his eyes could be either shut or open, but they will definitely not be blinking. It might look like that he was sleeping if was not for the fact that he might be standing up or even kneeling down. Nowhere in the chapter does it say that Peter was directly lying down. It does say later in verse 20 that Peter is told to arise and this implies that he was not standing. But there are a lot of positions other than standing that it could be. What you need to observe is if God does not tell us the position then the position is not important. Too many Christians get focused on external things and totally miss the really important spiritual things. There is an unnamed church denomination that is highly ritualistic. They think that they will be heard by God by their faithful acts and works. However, that is just not the truth. During prayer what is important is the inward position of your heart and not your outward external posture or stance. Saul saw a vision while he was traveling. Stephen saw a vision while standing and being stoned. Here in Acts 10 we now have seen the third and fourth mentioned direct occurrence of someone having a vision and both of these times it was while they were praying.
Act 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
I’m not going to go through every verse, but this one is very good because it tells you directly that Peter heard a voice and we will find out in the next verse that Peter recognized that it was the voice of God speaking to him immediately. Remember what Jesus said to the Apostles? Jesus taught them about Him being the Shepherd and them being the sheep in John 10. Jesus also said that He knew His sheep and that His sheep knew Him (John 10:14). All of this information in that chapter teaches us that God’s children will recognize His voice. So God does not have to say “Thus saith the Great I Am”, He just speaks and Peters knows who is speaking. This is the same way with you and I. I hear His voice and I recognized Him to be my God and the voice of a stranger I do not follow because the stranger I do not recognize. That is called spiritual discernment. The more you understand about the Bible the more recognizable His voice becomes to you. God will never speak in opposition to His Word, but Satan will. You see in the Bible voices are always spirits and spirits are always voices. You will either know it or you will be deceived to follow another voice and that is usually fatal.
Act 10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
As you can tell Peter understands who is speaking to Him because He calls Him his Lord. You may recall earlier that Cornelius had this same response calling the voice Lord. This was the Spirit of Jesus, the Great Shepherd the familiar known voice that was speaking to Peter. Here is where Peter’s problem begins, because he knows who is speaking and he thinks that his God is telling him to do something that was unlawful. Peter is greatly struggling with these instructions from God. What we learn from this is that God knows what He is doing and you don’t so you should not question, but should be obedient. As long you know the voice is from Him, you just need to do what He says. If you read down in the chapter God repeats these instructions 3 times, so Peter is on the verge of rebellion because of his lack of understanding of the purpose of the law. God says my people are destroyed for a lack of knowing (Hosea 4:6). So Peter must learn quickly or get left out. Why didn’t Peter just ask God to explain what was happening? Did you know that you cannot ask God any questions that are too hard to be answered? You can ask God a dumb question, but as long as it is not a question of doubt or unbelief then it is a valid question.
Let’s discuss briefly the vision of Peter. Did you notice that the vision was about food and in verse 10 it said that Peter was already hungry? Do you think that God can give you any physical feelings? I know the Bible says that God is a Spirit, but I’ll ask you again, do you think that the Spirit of God can give you a physical feeling like that of natural hunger? I know for a fact that God can manifest in these ways if He so desires. After all God invented natural feelings so it is not difficult to manifest them. Again I will tell you that this is God’s choice and not our choice. But, God can come into the natural realm to make Himself known for any purpose and in any way that helps to teach us.
When I was first filled with the Holy Spirit, I felt a strong heat like a fire from the Spirit of God inside of my chest and sometimes it was so strong that it was very distracting. I feel this heat of the Spirit of God in my chest right now as I type this lesson. This is clearly a physical feeling in my flesh caused by the Spirit of God residing in my spirit. If you do not believe me I’m sorry, I can’t prove it to you; this is for my benefit and not for yours. However, I do know that what I feel physically is scripturally based. Have you read the recorded words of John the Baptist? He said of Jesus that “I baptize you with water, but there will come one after me that is greater than I and He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire” (Mat 3:11, Luke 3:16). I can tell you about this fire from God, but I can’t make it happen for you and neither can you. However, there is a difference, you can pray in faith and ask God for this experience since it is a recorded promise found in His Word for you. If you want the fire of God ask for it now.
Let’s go back to Peter’s vision. What I found significant about Peter’s vision was the fact that he was feeling very hungry and suddenly God gives him a closed vision about food that needed an interpretation in order to be understood. Visions and dreams that required interpretations were given by God many times in the Old Testament. But, this is the first time we can see that God is doing this again in Acts. Realize that God is still the same God today as He was back then, and He can do whatever He likes. Just learn to flow and then learn that God still uses dreams and visions that need interpretation. Verses 11-16 in Acts 10 describe the vision of Peter and since this is not my direct subject I’m going to skip it. They basically give several symbols, a sheet carrying many wild animals of the earth that are lowered down from heaven. God tells Peter to kill and eat and Peter tells God I have never eaten what is common or unclean. God then tells Peter “Don’t call common what I have made clean”. Uh, oh? God is definitely teaching Peter something new. This was God teaching Peter to get out of his box because He was doing a new thing on the earth.
Act 10:17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,
Here is what I have been trying to say about Peter’s view of what was happening; that he did not understand what the vision meant yet even though God had just given it to him. This is what happens to Christians in the church still. Just because God gives you something does not mean you will understand it immediately. Peter had a conflict in his mind because he was attempting to interpret and judge the vision by his old knowledge of the law of God. God declares many things in the law to be unclean for human consumption but, now God has said to Peter to kill one of these and to eat it. This was a common problem for many converted Jews when they first become Christians. They tried to hold on to their old traditional understanding of the laws of God too tightly when God was clearly saying “those were only shadows of new coming spiritual things”. Paul taught this problem in Romans and Galatians and other places. There was a constant struggle for man to try to keep the law and God is teaching them to be led by the Spirit instead. However, what God was doing was using Peter’s knowledge of the scriptures in the Old Covenant to bring him a new revelation of what God was doing in the New Covenant. Go back and reread this chapter again very closely. It is actually a great lesson to learn many things. First see what timing plays in everything that occurs. Then realize that God must be guiding multiple people simultaneously to get all of these things to happen at just the right times. God gives multiple limited step directions using two types of visions, an angel and a voice directly from the Spirit of God and everything occurs at just exactly the right time. It is pretty amazing to me.
Act 10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
I want you to realize that the Spirit of God is directly attributed with speaking to Peter and that this is the second recorded direct example of God doing this in the book of Acts so far. I’m not sure if I pointed out the first occurrence, but there was one recorded in Acts 8:29 that said the Lord spoke to Phillip directly. I really do not believe that these are all of the times that God speaks directly, but I do believe that these are mentioned to teach us that God still does this. I want you to understand also that it does not say what kind of voice these men heard. It could have been an external audible voice or more than likely it was the internal still small voice of God within them. Again, how God speaks is not as important as what God says. I hope you understand that. You should not really focus or care about the method, but you should care greatly what God said. Also notice that God speaks while Peter is using his God given mental reasoning faculty to try to determine what the vision means. In other words Peter was focused in on the very important content of the vision and not the fact that he had just had a great vision from Almighty God. Wow, what a lesson to learn today. Don’t stand in awe if God gives you a vision and miss the message!
Act 10:20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
While all of this is happening to Peter, the men from Cornelius’ house just so happen to show up and the Spirit of God says they are here and to go down to see them because I have sent them. Notice God claims responsibility for what is transpiring. So is God doing it or are the men doing it, or is everyone doing it together? Take a look at what God is doing. God is teaching them all spiritual lessons by giving them many different limited steps to follow. These are examples of God teaching them using tiny baby steps of divine guidance. Things are beginning to fit together as each part of God’s designed plan is revealed and fulfilled. The men of God are definitely participating and this demonstrates clearly that they are all being led by the Spirit of God. What we are observing is men working with the Holy Spirit’s guidance to achieve a greater purpose. Without the participation of each man and the direction of the Spirit of God, we may not have any Gentiles in the church today.
Pay attention to the fact in verse 20 that God is directing Peter to not doubt and also to be obedient. Why is God doing this? What is doubt? Doubt is the opposite of having faith. If you have doubts then you are not fully in faith. I keep going back to faith, because this is the key factor for following God, being led by God and for being pleasing to God. Jesus taught Peter about doubt when Peter left the boat to walk on the water with Jesus. Because of Peter’s doubts God says Peter began to sink (Mat 14:31). So how does this knowledge that Peter possessed apply to his current situation? To me it is obvious that doubt causes people to go down or fail. That would mean the opposite truth would be that not to doubt would cause people to have a successful outcome. You have to understand that God has not told Peter who was at the door to see him. God only said, “Men are here and I sent them”. Here is the opportunity for Peter to doubt. These men sent by God were all Gentiles and that causes a problem of potential doubt in the mind of a man who feels special for being a natural born Jew. Peter could have looked at the circumstances and thought that these men can’t be from God. There was a great revelation coming that everyone is welcome in the New Covenant and not just the natural Jews and that was the plan of God to bless all nations in order to grow the church beyond the borders of natural Israel. But, Peter didn’t know this yet. Peter was about to learn a revelation that was hidden in God’s covenant with Abraham and this was how God chose to reveal it to him. I hope you understand the concept of revelation, I will do a separate Bible study on this subject soon.
Act 10:21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
Peter still does not know why they are here even though God had just given him a vision to why they are there. God even told Peter that He had sent them but, Peter has just not put all of the pieces of the puzzle together yet. Have you ever realized that God gives us many things using a puzzle format in the Bible? If you do not understand this then you do not understand the joys found when solving a divine puzzle. There is great satisfaction gained from solving the complex puzzles given to us by God. Maybe only computer programmers, like me understand this. It causes a sense of accomplishment and God uses it to promote your morale, confidence and self-esteem. God is interested in teaching you how to do things. It is an error to think that God wants to do everything for you. God wants you to grow in spiritual things so that you can come up to a higher level. Did you know that? I think that is a little bit controversial to many and it sounds like I’m contradicting what I said in an earlier lesson that without God we labor in vain if we do things independent from God. There is a huge difference from doing your own things in independence and doing specific God kind of things by faith expecting Him to work with you and guide you. A guide will never come to you and carry you; that would be them doing everything and you watching. A guide should give directions and show you the way to go and you should make the effort to obey and to follow them. Wow, that is unity and harmony of God working with you and you following God.
You see when I write Bible studies for you to read, I do it, but I am expecting God to show me what to do using my faith in Him. This is what is happening in this chapter of Acts also. If that was not true then God would not be doing what He is doing, the way He is doing it in this chapter. If God simply wanted to get new information into the hands of the church the fastest way possible, He could have done things in a much more simplistic direct manner with both Cornelius and Peter. They could have all immediately known everything instead of having to walk by their faith. However, walking by sight is just not what is happening here in this chapter. Everyone is working through the process and learning and this is God’s hidden plan. I pray that I am describing these things in a way that teaches you how God will deal with you.
Act 10:22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
I want to reemphasize that Peter still has no clue what is going on or what he is supposed to say to Cornelius. God has never told Peter that he was to go directly to see Cornelius either. God has only told Peter I sent these men to you. So what these men tell Peter is totally new to him and they bring words sent from God through a Gentile man. Peter is required to believe a message came from God from a Gentilie man. Cornelius is also required to beleive a message came from God from Peter. Do you really understand what is happening? God had just gotten through speaking to Peter directly but never gives any details to what is happening or why. Peter still does not have a clue what words he is supposed to share when he goes to Cornelius’ house to speak. Are you learning now what is happening? Do you see how everyone is required to walk by faith and not by their sight? I know I keep repeating myself, but that is so very important that I want you to really understand it. God purposely provides limited instructions in phases and stages of development that all will fit together eventually.
Act 10:22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
So this is all news to Peter. Peter hears about an angel appearing to Cornelius the Italian. Peter has just had a vision from God that explains the whole situation, but the vision needs interpretation to be understood. I think I‘ll end this lesson with this discussion. Let’s review the key points given today:
- Cornelius’ giving was mentioned as a key factor for getting God’s attention.
- Prayer mentioned as a connecting reason twice for having a vision from God.
- Faith is always a key to being Led by the Spirit of God.
- An open vision was given to Cornelius and he sees an angel with a limited message from God to go get Peter to hear the real message from God.
- Peter experiences physical hunger and is given a closed vision about food and eating that needs an interpretation in order to be understood.
- A clear vision was given to Cornelius that needed no interpretation.
- God gives Peter a symbolic cloaked vision that needs interpretation.
- The interpretation of the vision required Peter’s knowledge of the Word of God.
- God spoke directly to the spirit of Peter with a very clear voice but with limited details being given and Peter was required to believe the words of the men sent to him.
- Timing in every event mentioned is a key to the success of the whole purpose of God.
- Every man involved heard from God, obeyed and cooperated with the Spirit of God to accomplish God’s plan.
- The purposed outcome of the plan will be a new revelation from God and the continued growth of the church.
This is what is happening today in the church whether you realize it or not. God is revealing the Bible, the knowledge of His people is greatly increasing and the church will grow until Jesus returns very soon. Get into the plan or you will be left behind. Be in unity, hear His voice and be led and we will exit as the victorious church body of Christ. Thanks for taking the time to study the Bible today. I will continue this series soon, but please leave me a comment about how you have heard from God. I guarantee that He is speaking, just be attentive, pray and listen. God Bless you and thank you for your time.
To continue reading in the series you may go to “Part 12” now.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 8 – 9! Part 10
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 10 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. These lessons contain critical spiritual information necessary for the spiritual growth of every Christian and they directly apply to us in the modern world because we are the same church body serving the same God as those in the book of Acts. We have covered a tremendous amount of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. I have been moving through the book of Acts and observing the recorded (direct and indirecly statedt) methods used by God to lead the early church. We have already observed at least 7 different direct methods either being observed in action or described in words. These methods will be the same ones that God will use to lead us in these last days. I believe that the church today requires the Holy Spirit’s involvement just as much and even possibly more than the early church. The early church certainly encountered great physical opposition and persecution, jail, beatings and even death and these are beginning to emerge on the earth again today as Christians continue to proclaim the same Gospel of Jesus Christ. Living here in the United States it is often too easy to ignore what is going on in the other parts of the world and in other countries. But, Christians are being murdered, imprisoned and persecuted for doing nothing but claiming to be a Christian. The Muslim populations of many countries kill people for them just looking or acting like Christians and doing nothing but giving humanitarian aid to their people. Christians in Egypt are now under attack from the Muslim Brotherhood and they have burned churches and killed several Christians in the streets in name of their new laws. A recent Christian in Iran was jailed and sentenced to death for not denouncing his faith in Jesus. These are the types of things that the Holy Spirit’s guidance can be very beneficial to us to help us avoid. God already knows the end from the beginning but that does not mean everything that happens is set in concrete. It means we need to learn to hear from God and be obedient to allow us to be in the right places at the right times to help the right people. If God knows which flights will crash, it would be best just to not be on that flight, do you agree? I believe that persecution will increase in these last days as we get nearer to the return of Christ. Let’s continue to go through the book of Acts to study God’s spiritual leading of the early Church:
ACTS CHAPTER 8
Act 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
We should recognize what is happening in this chapter because it goes along with many other verses in the New Testament that are pivotal to your spiritual understanding. The religious Jewish leadership in Jerusalem came down very hard on the rapid expansion of the church of Jesus Christ because they did not believe in the God of their father Abraham anymore. That statement probably shocks many Christians today that still view Israel as God’s chosen people, but they obviously ignore who it was that hung Jesus on the cross when the God of Abraham came to them personally in the flesh. This was a clear failure to recognize their God and a direct rejection of their God. You should learn many things from that reality. First don’t put your God in a box that limits what He can do. Because the Jews believed that God was not a man, they failed to see Him when He purposefully chose to come to the earth in the form of a man. There is a great deal of difference between being a man and appearing to us in the form of a man. This was God thinking outside of the box and it was a radical approach to take. The Jews at this time of God’s visitation had replaced the worship of the God of Abraham with a manmade religion full of rules, ignorance and unbelief. During this time, the church becomes highly motivated to widely disperse from Jerusalem to flee the Jewish persecution and the certain death as we witnessed with the loss of the life of Stephen in chapter 7. This is a very essential part of my lesson to why it is important to be led by the Spirit of God today. If you do not see the growing persecution of the church in the modern world then you are living in an ostrich like isolated false reality with your head buried in the proverbial sand.
Do you believe that these people in the church in Acts fled Jerusalem out of fear or by the guidance of the Holy Spirit? What was their motivation? I personally believe that they were led by God to safer places to carry on the spread of the church’s growth in other regions. You of course can believe whatever you like, but only this interpretation fits with my verse that says “those who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God’ (Rom 8:14). So if God was not leading them to flee Jerusalem then they are no longer the children of God. Yes I know they still had free wills and that they could have been doing things independently from God, but why would God write about their independent actions in a book about the acts of the Holy Spirit? It just doesn’t make sense to me. This is the book of Acts written about God’s work in the church and for the church. Therefore, pay attention to what the church is doing and you should be able to see what God is doing for them.
Act 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Here is an obviously brilliant strategy move that was missed by Satan. If Satan would have not persecuted the church they may have remained only in Jerusalem and probably never have grown into the rest of the world. But, since they were being persecuted relentlessly by the Jews, this verse says they went preaching the Gospel everywhere that they traveled. If someone is preaching Jesus, is this not God working through them to get others saved? If they were running away from Jerusalem to hide, this would indicate “fear” based actions, but since they are going and preaching this demonstrates “faith” based actions. Sometimes Satan is just not that entirely smart in what he does and how he does it. He never should have killed Jesus on the cross and now Satan should have never persecuted the church and helped them to spread the Gospel to the rest of the world. Probably the church would have been led by God to go to the rest of the world eventually, but this attack by Satan certainly sped up the process tremendously. I believe Satan is making the same mistake today in persecuting the church. I believe this persecution will help motivate the people of God to get the message out before it is too late for all of the other people that have not heard about Jesus.
Act 8:6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
Here we again see the church in unity. It would definitely appear to me that being led by the Spirit of God will promote the spirit of oneness and agreement. This is the seventh time in the first 8 chapters of the book of Acts that the church is described to be in unity. I believe that this is a coming sign of maturity for the body of Christ to go out on. We must begin to unify and become one harmonious group of believers as the Spirit of God continues to teach us and to guide us. Expect this to happen or do not expect it to happen, but it will happen either way and you might be left on the outside looking in like the natural Jews. It is better to be in agreement than to be left out, being offended or not in agreement with God. I just cannot see the church being raptured as a divided body of believers, if we are not ONE BODY in complete harmony then Satan has won. You see in the Bible Jesus said a HOUSE DIVIDED will not stand (Mk 3:25). If we are God’s house and we are divided we will also not stand and that only leaves us defeated. Do you think the church ends this age defeated? If not, then you better start praying with me for unity and harmony. Of course what I am saying is that we should pray what Jesus prayed to get in agreement with His prayer. Go and read it in John 17 and see what Jesus prayed and then see if you can agree and pray with Him.
Act 8:8 And there was great joy in that city.
If you notice this verse says that the church is filled with joy even in the face of all of the persecution that has recently occurred. This has to be the work of the Holy Spirit! Joy must be a sign that God is doing great things, like healing the sick, casting out devils, setting the captives free through His saving grace and doing many other miraculous signs and wonders. Joy is said to be one of the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22). So Joy should be a fruit present in those being led by the Spirit of God today. I believe that God will lead His people to help others to spread this same joy. These are the benefits of being led by the Spirit of God. If you are in despair and in gloom, downcast, looking down at the circumstances around you, then you are not being led by the Spirit of the Almighty God. Do you understand that? There are many other examples of men and women being led by the Spirit of God in this chapter but I’ll end the chapter 8 discussion with one more example of the repeated involvement of angels:
Act 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
An angel again appears to Phillip and gives him exact directions from God. This is clearly an external manifestation of the Spirit of God helping to guide the early church. This is at least the third time that angels were directly used by God in just the first 8 chapters of Acts. Always expect the involvement of angels and God will use them today as needed. Let’s move on quickly to chapter 9 and I’ll end this lesson with what we find in this chapter.
ACTS CHAPTER 9
Act 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
In chapter 9 of Acts we can see the manifestation of spiritual guidance through God’s use of visions that were first mentioned by Peter in Acts chapter 2. You may recall that Stephen while being stoned had a vision so this is not God’s first usage of visions in the book of Acts, but we are about to see a new emphasis placed on this subject as a very direct selected method of God to communicate with men on the earth. Take note of this fact as this chapter begins; Saul is an unsaved man on the road to Damascus. Saul is not born again when this vision occurs and he doesn’t even believe in Jesus yet. Saul is traveling on the road to Damascus to persecute the church and then Jesus suddenly appears to him in a vision as a bright shining light from heaven. Spiritual visions are a very legal communication method recorded in the Bible for Christians and non-Christians and these will continue to occur as the Lord desires to get a message to those as He wills. There are different categories of visions, but this vision was an open type of vision. Meaning Saul was wide awake and his eyes were wide open while it was happening. Jesus basically tells Saul in this vision to go into the city and wait there for further directions. This is clearly an example of Saul being led by God directly using certain limited instructions for guidance. This is a very important part of learning to be led by the Spirit of God. God will rarely tell you everything that you need to know and He will normally lead you using a step by step instruction methodology or process. This method insures your faithfulness and your obedience and forces you to walk by faith and not by your sight (2 Cor 5:7). This was not a pun that I intended to make but, since Saul was struck blind during this encounter it does apply. Saul is learning some things from God the hard way because of his past actions. As you read down in this chapter you will see Jesus also appearing to a disciple in Damascus named Ananias and Jesus tells him what to do and where to go to see Saul. This proves that God can give a vision to even a lowly disciple as well as a future apostle. This informs me that even I am qualified to be have a vision if God chooses to do that. Let’s read about the vision of Ananias:
Act 9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
Act 9:12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
Jesus appears to Ananias in another open vision and tells him where to go, what to do, who he is going to see and what to say to Saul. Jesus also reveals that Saul is praying and has seen another vision. We can conclude from this information that visions can occur many times while you are praying in private since Ananias and Saul are both said to have had visions this way. This is now God’s display of three different visions in this one chapter. So visions must still be a significant way of leading people even in the modern church based upon the frequency of the usage in this chapter alone. I knew one modern day preacher that gave his testimony of how God had given him several visions and in these he was also praying when they occurred. Therefore, praying and seeing visions is a potential connecting manifestations of God. But, I want to reemphasize that none of these men asked to see a vision in this chapter; this was clearly God’s choice and not theirs. I’m just teaching that you should not be surprised if God still selects this method. Ananias obeyed Jesus’ instructions and goes to the house where Saul is waiting and tells him the Lord has sent me to lay hands on you so that you might receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. God is obviously working and leading the church to establish the greater purpose and plan of God and these are all examples of what God should be doing today in the church. Can you see how God is leading every church member in this book? I know some examples are only implied while others like Saul and Ananias are more plainly laid out. But, surely you can see how God is working to help guide and grow the church. Let’s move on to another manifestation of the Spirit of God at work in this chapter:
Act 9:24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
Here is another indirect New Testament spiritual concept of the background work of the Holy Spirit. The Jews were conspiring to kill Saul and Saul knew it. How did Saul know this? You could assume many possible explanations of the origination of this knowledge. For example, Saul could have based this knowledge upon his past experience with the Jews using him to kill the new members in the church. So this knowledge could have been based upon personal experience of the past. Now that Saul was a new member of the same body, he may have concluded that he was next on the list to be killed. However, this is still a mental thought process of reasoning and this could have still been God leading him. I personally believe that Saul heard from God, but that this hearing from God could have been his intuition at work. What is intuition? Females are often attributed with this feature, but it really is more a God quality or a spiritual quality than it is a female only quality. I really believe that females just normally have a greater sensitivity to listening to their intuition and this helps them more than males that ignore it and fall easily into troubles that God tried to get them out of. An intuition is like an internal knowing about something that has not yet happened. Of course an intuition does not mean that what you know will happen, it only means if you do nothing different then it will happen. In other words I believe that an intuition is a spiritual warning of what might occur if you continue to do nothing to change it. I have seen examples of this with mothers and their children many times. Perhaps you have also. I have seen this occur when one mother just has a sense that something is wrong and she goes and checks on a child and they needed her help. What do the disciples do with this knowledge of potential danger given to them by the leading of the Holy Spirit?
Act 9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
You can clearly see they were led to avoid the danger and not to confront it. This is actually a great lesson to learn from. Danger and evil exists in the world. It is often better to avoid these rather than to try to fight against them or to overcome them. To be led by the Spirit of God to be in the right places at the right times is a very relevant method of avoiding danger, harm or even death as in this verse in Acts. Learn to listen to your internal intuitions and this could potentially save your life. Intuition is just an inner state of knowing or consciousness that occurs without any explanation and it could be very easily ignored. There will usually be no voices heard by you, you just will know something and this is normally the Spirit of God giving you guidance and protection. What occurred in this chapter based upon this knowing? The disciples lowered Saul from the city in a basket in the middle of the night and Saul departs to go back to Jerusalem avoiding the eminent danger. Clearly this was spiritual guidance to me, but yet it is not directly called that so it is easily explained away.
You are going to have to lern how to read the Bible with your spiritual eyes open wide to see what is being stated at times. Just learn what I am trying to teach you, that this method of guidance that I am calling intuition from God can be an internal knowing, awareness, consciousness or perception of a coming event in the world that you can avoid if you choose to listen and obey. This is really not that strange if you think about it. It happens in the wild animal kingdom every day. Back before the giant tsunami hit the coasts of Asia and Africa in 2004 killing literally many thousands of people, the majority of the wild animals had already fled to higher ground. How many people do you think had the same intuition as the wild animals and ignored it and died that day because they were too busy, distracted or occupied with other worldly things? I think that is a very good question.
That might have been one of my most important points of the entire lesson today about intuition. This method of spiritual guidance from God is used extensively in the lives of every believer. It is only when believers ignore this spiritual knowledge that they find themselves regretting that they should have done something different. Here is another example of this intuitive action of God and it occurs in the same chapter:
Act 9:30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
Here are the disciples in the church being led by the Spirit of God again by an internal knowledge. This is not well described and I understand that there are many ways to interpret this information as it is given. But, that is just the way God wrote the Bible to give every man a choice in what they believe. Seeing the spiritual things in the Bible is probably the most difficult part of understanding what God has written. This Greek word in this verse translated as “knew” is an internal perception and awareness that I believe occurred by the work of the Spirit of God even thought this is not directly stated. We are not clearly informed that this information came from God, nor are we taught directly that this was God leading His church in this verse alone. That is why we use the Bible to help us interpret the Bible. These are implied meanings that were hidden within the text. After all if God would have written everything about every subject in every verse you would have nothing to search to find in the Bible. Perhaps the next verse will help us to establish the context and the direct association of God’s leading to what is happening in this chapter:
Act 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
There is great deal of information in this single verse about my subject of being led by the Spirit of God. It introduces you to two new radical concepts that I have not directly discussed. It also shows the purpose or the reason for the leading of the Holy Spirit in this verse and I’ll talk more about that in a minute. First, the Greek word translated “rest” means to be quiet and at peace. Wow, that is an important part of my subject to grasp. If you are not at peace then you are not being led by the God of peace (Col 3:15). Being in peace and at peace is a major factor for hearing from God. Remember what has happened to the church in the previous chapters. The Jews in the synagogues are plotting to kill the disciples, beat them and put them all into prison. Stephen was stoned to death by the Jews and Saul in chapter 7. Then in one recent Acts 5 church service a man and his wife both fell down dead because they lied to the Holy Ghost. How can anyone be “at rest” when these types of events are happening all around them? I hope that you are getting the concepts that are being taught by God in these verses. According to God it should not matter what is happening around you if you believe that God is guiding you. According to God there should exist an atmosphere of being in peace regardless of the external circumstances. Do you understand this concept of being in peace and its role in being led by the Spirit of God? If not I may try to get into that in more depth in a future lesson or even later in this lesson. Just don’t let the concept of “peace” get away from you. You should be able to judge your heart and see if you are in peace right now. This will help you to know if you are being led by the Spirit of God. The other word in this verse that I want to focus in on is the Greek word translated as “comfort”. Because this act of comforting is the stated work of the Spirit of God by direct association. Do you recall what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit’s coming?
Joh 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
The Holy Spirit is said to be another Comforter. That implies Jesus was the first Comforter for the human race because Jesus brought a light into the world that would help alleviate darkness’s dominion over man. So Jesus was a physical comfort to those that accepted Him while He was present upon the earth. But, Jesus also left this earth physically and He told us that it was better for Him to go than to stay (John 16:7). Why was that? Clearly Jesus leaving us physically left a void or a vacuum that needed to be filled for the church to continue. Jesus said that His departure was better for us because we would now have an even greater internal ever present comforter that was given called the indwelling Holy Spirit. You see the problem with a physical Jesus was that He was only one man in a world of millions and now billions of people. It would have been impossible for a physical Jesus to visit everyone personally and to listen to what each needed. However, in a Spiritual form He is ever present within every believer and able to listen to and to speak to everyone simultaneously. This was the wisdom of God being displayed:
Joh 14:26 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.
Can you read these verses and see the intimate working of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts? This verse describes some of the behind the scene and seldom mentioned works of God in Acts. The Spirit of God was poured out on the church in Acts 2 and this activity of God permits the words of Jesus in this verse to be fulfilled in every believer that participates. The Holy Spirit will teach us all things and then the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance what Jesus has taught us. Right here we have a major clue to how God led the early church in Acts and how He will lead us even today. Do you remember that the very day the Holy Spirit was poured out in Jerusalem in Acts 2? Peter stood up and spoke without being prepared to teach or preach anything? Peter had no notes, no prepared script, no Bible in front of him and yet he declared the precise right things for the moment to get many saved. How did Peter do this? This was clearly the Holy Spirit giving Peter thoughts on verses and words to preach to those that were standing around observing. This is clearly an example of the words of Jesus in John 14:26 being fulfilled. You can observe this occurring throughout the book of Acts several times. No one has any prepared notes; they just stand up and speak some very profound truths that came from within them. I do this all of the time in my Bible lessons. I start typing a lesson without a plan by faith and some of the lessons that I read after I have finished even I am amazed at what God has done and said. This is the Holy Spirit bringing to our remembrance what we have learned from the Bible. It is a mental process or a thought process, but yet it originates from the Spirit of God. It is very difficult to describe if you have never experienced it, you are either going to have to take my word for it or you are going to have to learn to listen for Him inside of you to learn how it works. Please note why this is so difficult to understand. Where do thoughts originate? They come from the soul realm which is also called your mind. But, there are three possible originations for every thought that you have. One possibility is you! You can have a thought. Two is God and God can give you a thought. But, three is Satan and he can also give you many evil and contrary thoughts. This is where discernment comes into play. If you have a thought about God, the Bible, Jesus, or things that are good, it probably originated from God. If you have a thought of lust, sin, or evil doing, then it probably came from the devil. God teaches us in John 14:26 that He will cause us to remember Him and His Words and therefore any other type of thoughts are probably something you should ignore especially if they are evil. I could talk a lot about thoughts but I do not want to get into that level of detail in this lesson today.
Let’s discuss briefly the term a “Comforter” or a “Counselor” and find the meaning of this word. If you research it, you will find that it means “intercessor” or “advocate”. Both of these are spoken word types of works. Someone who intercedes will speak words of intercession for someone. An advocate is a term many times associated with a lawyer. This is an occupation that is performed by an individual with a specialized education and ability to speak for you. Therefore, a comforter is always the spoken word based action of an individual to bring help to someone who is in need. Is that you? I know it is me; I would clearly have nothing to say without God’s help. Let’s go back to Act 9:31 again and review the “comfort of the Holy Ghost”. This Greek word is actually a different Greek word than what we found in John 14 when Jesus was describing the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter. However it is merely the difference between a noun in one place and a verb in another place. Let’s look at the definition of this word G3874 in Acts 9:31 found in the Strong’s:
From G3870; imploration, hortation, solace: – comfort, consolation, exhortation, intreaty.
Here is a word that is an awesome display of the divine character and nature of God. God gets accused of orchestrating everything because of His sovereignty, but why would a sovereign God have to “implore” anyone if God was causing everything to occur? Do you know what “imploration” means? It is the extended effort of an individual to plead to someone, to beseech someone and to appeal to them to do something. It is a calling out to come. How did I teach you that the Spirit of God leads His people? I tried to teach you that the Spirit of God uses the Shepherd and sheep method. God calls His sheep to follow Him, and He does this, using His kind and loving soft words of imploration, beseeching them to come and for them to follow where He wants to lead them. However, God does not ever force anyone to follow Him as I have already stated. Neither does God yell and demand that you follow Him. Both of those would violate the character and the definition of what the Bible says about God. This Greek word as you can see comes from another root Greek word and it has the following meaning:
From G3844 and G2564; to call near, that is, invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): – beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray.
This word means “to call to be near”. Wow, is that God or what? These are clearly the words and the works of a loving Holy Spirit and not a forceful God. These are clearly words of a spoken invitation, meaning people who hear the invitation have the choice to do what they want with it. Anyone can ignore it to do their own thing. But, by following the invitation, you can see that you will remain close to the one that you need to follow and this is the Spirit of God. Finally why did God do all of this for the church in Acts 9:31? I told you that this verse gave us the reason, but I did not tell you what that reason was yet. The verse has another Greek word that was translated as “edified”. Edified is a past tense declarative that teaches of a completed action. Let’s review the Strong’s definition of this word for clarification:
From the same as G3619; to be a house builder, that is, construct or (figuratively) confirm: – (be in) build (-er, -ing, up), edify, embolden.
Do you see what this word means? Is God building a house? If you do not understand this, then you have not read all of my other Bible lessons on God’s Spiritual Family. There is a new House of God being built in the spiritual realm and God is doing this with us His people. We are the individual building blocks in this spiritual house of Jesus (1 Peter 2:5) and collectively we are called the New Jerusalem in Revelation. I do not have time to explain all of that to you, so you will have to go and read and study the other Bible lessons on this subject in order to fully comprehend what I just said. Just take note that edification is a building work of God. God is building us up and growing the church and this is His purpose and His plan being fulfilled. Therefore I have concluded that everything we have observed so far in the Book of Acts is our God doing things to help us, to grow us and to build us up together in unity. I think I have gone long enough in this lesson so I’ll end it here.
I have been going through the book of Acts to find out how God lead the early church in order to see how God might lead us today. I have covered a lot of information given to us in only 9 chapters out of 28. So far we have only briefly looked at one fourth of the book and I’m not sure if I should continue going through every chapter yet. If you feel this is beneficial let me know and this might help determine how I continue with this series. Let’s review some of the key points from today so that you do not let them slip away.
God has used at least 7 different direct methods to guide the church in the first 9 chapters of Acts.
- The Written Word of God
- Dreams and Visions
- Inward Witness (Intuition, thoughts)
- Still small voice of the Holy Spirit
- Preachers with a message from God
There were also five key related subjects that I either reviewed or introduced you to today about the subject of being led by the Spirit of God:
- The Church will be in united harmony when they are all led by the Spirit of God.
- The Church will be in a state of Joy if they are being led by the Spirit of God.
- The Peace of God/Rest will rule the church in order to hear from God.
- The Spirit of God is our eternal Comforter and
- God will bring to our remembrance what Jesus has taught us.
From these works of God, I said it was the peace that allowed us to hear God speak and direct us. What I meant by that was if you are in a state of busy, fear, turmoil, or internal confusion, your mind is incapable of hearing anything that God says clearly. There is a verse that is very applicable to my subject of you having peace and hearing from God and it says “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). This verse infers that it matters how and even when you can hear from God. To be still is the opposite of being very busy. To be still is a form of quietness that crosses into multiple realms of dimension. There is the physical realm, the emotional realm, the mental realm and the spiritual realm and you can be busy moving around in each of these and miss out on God’s leading. God is a perfect Gentleman. Meaning God is not going to interrupt your thoughts to give you His. That would be the ultimate sign of rudeness and disrespect and God is not that way. If you want to hear from God you are going to have to be quiet and listen. This is not always easy, I know. But, you will be glad if you will try to develop it. I’m not talking about Yoga, meditation or any other metaphysical type of demonic activity. That is not what I am teaching you to do. These are evil acts of Satan designed to attempt to get you off into another direction of spiritual evil guidance. I guess I better stop here for now because I could talk a lot about the counterfeit that is intended to distract you from the real. In conclusion I wanted to re-emphasize why the Holy Spirits guides anyone. We learned today that it was for our edification. To be edified is to be built up in the Lord. It is a building process or a spiritual construction process that only God can accomplish. This is why it is essential to hear from the Spirit of God before you do anything. I’ll end with this scripture:
Psa 127:1 A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Did you see what God said in this verse about what He is doing? God is building a house and He even associates it to a city and this is not a physical house or city but it is rather a new spiritual house and city. He also says if we try to build it independently from Him, then we are laboring, working, extending effort, exerting or struggling in vain. This means that He must be directly involved in what we do or it is a worthless effort on our part. Now are you beginning to make the connection to what is happening in the Book of Acts? God is just doing a spiritual construction process and giving you some of the details to how it works in this lesson, but not every detail is clearly provided. However, this is why we are studying this subject today. Thanks for taking the time to read and to study the Bible with me and I pray that you were blessed with new spiritual insight and understanding. Leave me a comment or press like on this post if you understood the lesson. It will help me know that I am doing more than just casting God’s pearls before swine if someone actually acknowledges God’s work. God Bless you until next time.
If you would like to continue reading in this series you may go now to “Part 11“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 5 – 7! Part 9
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 9 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. These lessons contain spiritual information and not natural formulas so they are easily misunderstood by Christians. We have covered a tremendous amount of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. I am currently going through the book of Acts searching for the works of the Spirit of God to lead His people. Just in the first 4 chapters of Acts, I showed you 7 of my 12 guidance methods either displayed in actions or referenced by words. We are seeing God working through His church to guide them and direct them and by learning how God has done this in the past, it will help point us to how God will direct us in these last days. Christians today are in the same church, the same body of Christ, in the same covenant, we read the same Bible, have the same Holy Spirit in us and are the same kind of believers in Jesus Christ as all of those mentioned in the early church that we are reading about in Acts. The mistake many modern Christians make is thinking that God now does something different today than what He did with the early church or perhaps that those in the early church were superior and God did something special and different for them. Somehow these types of Christians have missed the point that the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). Not believing this Bible truth causes many today to believe God changed how He operates and what He does with His people. That is clearly a misguided teaching that attempts to explain away what God did in Acts as not applying to the church today. I refute that kind of teaching categorically and declare with boldness that I’m in the same Church as Peter, James and John. What they did, I can do, what God did through them God can do through me. But, you can choose to believe whatever you like. Let’s move in the study to read in chapter 5.
ACTS CHAPTER 5
The fifth chapter of Acts is a difficult chapter to comprehend because of the many types of things that transpire. In this chapter a man and his wife sold a piece of property and they brought some of the money to the church to give to others and they claimed that they gave it all, when in reality they withheld a portion for themselves. Here is where it starts to get complicated. This does not mean that they were supposed to give it all; it only means they were not supposed to lie to say that they did when they didn’t give it all. Here is what Peter said to what was happening in verse 3:
Act 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Peter reveals things that are impossible for him to know personally. Peter would have had to follow them around and to be invisible to know what they had done in private. How did Peter know what was going on? I think that is an excellent question and people ignore it because they do not understand God and spiritual guidance. Peter knew that Ananias was lying because of the work of the Spirit of God within him and a spiritual gift of discernment called the “Word of Knowledge”. This is a spiritual gift from God that causes people to know things in their spirits that they did not witness personally in the physical realm. In other words this type of knowledge did not come from the sense realm. Here is where we need to ask how then did Peter know this private intimate information if he did not observe what they did with his senses? Let me give you another direct verse that speaks of this very special gift from God to help us understand what is being spoken of in this chapter:
1Co 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
Clearly not everyone possesses these gifts. It is God’s work that causes these gifts to come and never man’s desire just to have them. Man cannot cause them to happen nor can he ask for them to happen. I want you to notice what Peter was doing when this occurred. He was in the middle of a church service and he was not praying but he was speaking to the people that were gathered. Therefore, Peter was clearly not asking God for the gift when it was given. You see that would be like me coming to you and asking you to give me a thousand dollars when I just saw you get 1000 dollars from the bank. What right would I have to do that? Why would you even consider giving me anything just because I asked for it? You would be very foolish and become very poor rapidly if you gave to everyone that came along and wanted a free hand out. The word would get around quickly that he is giving away free money and then you could never stop the onslaught of people that would knock on your door. Think of children. Children ask for many things constantly that they want. As a parent are we supposed to give them everything they ask for? I hope you can see that would not work. They would want every toy and every sweet thing to eat and would sit around doing nothing but play games. We are no different than children in the world to God. God is not going to give you something just because you asked for it. I guess that is getting too deep for this lesson, because there are promises in God’s word that He has already given to us many things and we still do not possess them because we have failed to learn how to receive things from a spiritual God.
Just as parents should not be foolish to give their children everything they ask for, God is not foolish either. God is all knowing and all wise and He will decide when to give a spiritual gift. Here in 1 Corinthians 12:8 God gives some the “word of wisdom” and others the “word of knowledge”. Both are different gifts and manifestations of the Spirit of God to lead you and to guide you and to guide those that are being spoken about or to. A “word of wisdom” occurs when you spiritually know what to do in a certain situation in your life when you would not have known otherwise. A “word of wisdom” is a future knowledge of something to do, unlike the “word of knowledge” which is a past knowledge of something that was done. The “word of knowledge” occurs when you know of something that has occurred in the past to someone other than you and you would have not known of it without God showing you what had occurred to them. This is normally sin related, but not always. One pastor said this happened to him many times while he was in charge of the church that God had sent him to. God would bring a word of knowledge about someone doing wrong in the church like someone that was committing adultery or some other sin. This was done to help bring correction to the situation. But, the word of knowledge does not always have to be a sin. Now the word of wisdom is slightly different. Another pastor once said that he was in preparation at home doing something and God told him that this certain member of his flock was going to die today. So this pastor went immediately to where the individual was to help him and to bring comfort. Both examples were God’s Spirit giving gifts of guidance to help the church. These gifts were examples of God leading His people by His Spirit. I hope you understand them, because they happen every day to those that cooperate with them. Let’s briefly go back and read the context of 1 Corinthians 12 and verify that God is speaking about spiritual guidance.
1Co 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
God is writing concerning the spiritual. The word “gifts” was added by the translators and it is not necessarily accurate but it is not necessarily bad either. Anything you get from God is a gift of His grace. But always remember that God is a Spirit (Jo 4:24). Therefore, whatever God has given to anyone first came from the Spiritual realm. Here in this verse God is declaring ignorance to be an evil. If God does not want you to be ignorant then why are there so many ignorant people in the world? Primarily they do not make the effort to learn about spiritual things so they remain in their natural thinking ignorant processes. Let’s look at the next verse and eliminate some of our spiritual ignorance:
1Co 12:2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
God is telling the church you use to be Gentiles that were previously led astray, but implies that the Holy Spirit is now leading them to know Grace. What we learn from this verse is that every human on the planet is being led by some spirit. Those that are in the world are being led by Satan and his demons, and those that are saved should be led by the Spirit of God. This verse is a very direct statement concerning being led, but we have to add our reasoning to determine who was doing the leading of the unsaved because it is not directly mentioned in this verse. If you read the next verse you will hopefully see that God is speaking and declaring that no one says Jesus is Lord except by the Spirit of God and the no one curses the Lord Jesus by the Holy Ghost either. Here are two contrasting works that proceed from humans. The Spirit of God says I do one but not the other. This is simply another implied reference to Satan vs. God’s work on the earth. Satan causes men to curse God and the Lord Jesus and God helps men to say Jesus is their Lord. I’m not going to go through every verse but here are the next 4 vreses in 1 Corinthians 12:
1Co 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1Co 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
1Co 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
What I wanted you to see in context is that God is speaking of leading the church and that He helps us to understand why He does this in these verses. There are three unique descriptions that are interesting to take note of. These are “diversities of gifts”, “differences of administrations” and “diversities of operations”. What are these speaking of? I personally believe they are simply informing us that God gives us different things at different times in different ways. In other words you can never put God in a box or try to say that He will always do things one way. The key words are diversities and differences. You are not God and you are not in charge of anything. Finally in verse 7, God tells us what it is that motivates Him to do things this way. God directly says it is for the profit or benefit of the entire church. That means God intends His leading to be a positive outcome for the church. Keep this in mind as we continue to study in the fifth chapter of Acts about Ananias.
Act 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Continuing in the fifth chapter of Acts Ananias falls down dead and is carried out by the church. I guess the lesson and the word of knowledge on this day was not for the benefit of Ananias the dead man, but rather for those that were watching and listening to what was said and done and they all learned that lying to the Spirit of God was not a very smart thing to do. They also learned that God knew when they were lying so it was impossible to get away it. They also saw the demonstration of the Word of Knowledge. This one act put the fear of God in the whole church and they got the message very quickly. What I want you to notice was that this was God leading the church through a spiritual gift called the word of knowledge for what we read was the greater good of the church. Even though we are never told this directly in the chapter, but that was what was happening. The Spirit of God spoke to Peter and Peter spoke what God had shown him to the church. I also want you to notice that Peter described Ananias as having Satan filling his heart and not God. That is an example of another manifestation gift of the Spirit of God called the “discerning of spirits”. It is also clear evidence that Satan was leading Ananias what to do and this was the wrong spirit to listen to. There are so many lessons to learn in this chapter that I really cannot spend the time to speak to them all. I do want you to understand that Ananias’ listening to Satan is why God did not correct Ananias, but allowed Satan to kill him and he fell dead immediately. You’ll probably ask me why I said Satan killed him and this is because Paul writes about another incident in the N.T. that is related.
1Co 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
I do not have time to talk about this verse in full or the context of this verse. But, I wanted you to see that a Christian was going to be turned over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit would be saved. Wow, that is pretty revealing. First you can see that Satan can cause physical death but not spiritual death. Spiritual death is separation from God. The sin of the Christian allowed Satan’s access to his physical body. I have concluded that this is potentially what happened to Ananias and his wife also. But, I’m not going to be able to go any further with this line of teaching today. Let’s continue going through Acts 5:
Act 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Do you see the effect that this event had on the church? What would happen today if things like this happened again when the church met? I believe the effect would be the exact same. It would promote an attitude of holiness where the church would see that doing right was a good thing and sin was a very bad thing. I’m not predicting that this will happen again, but I would not be surprised if it did.
Act 5:12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.
As you read in Acts chapter 5, the apostles continue to do many signs and wonders and preach the name of Jesus until they are thrown in prison in verse 18. If you read Acts 5:12 in isolation, it will give you the impression that the disciples were in control of what was happening, but this is clearly a misunderstood application of God’s works being made manifest through natural men using spiritual guidance, direction and His anointing. If the disciples do any great works they were done by the Gifts and the Grace of God’s power being made available to them and displayed through them. It is only by God’s direct power and man’s faith in His power that anything positive occurred in the book of Acts. I also want to point out that the church in this verse is again stated to be in one accord. This means there was a spirit of church unity and harmony which abounded in everyone and I am convinced that this is how the church will leave this planet very soon. Let me briefly describe the anointing of God and its role in what is happening in chapter 5.
2Co 1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
1Jn 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Here are just two verses that speak of God giving the church an anointing. Why the anointing was necessary and what the anointing is are two very valid questions? If you do not understand the concepts behind the anointing of God then you will not understand the book of Acts. In Acts 10:38 it tells us “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and power who went about doing good and healing all those oppressed of the devil”. The anointing of God was the power of God according to this verse and it makes available this miracle working substance to others that Jesus encountered. If God had to anoint Jesus (God in the flesh) to heal people in the Gospels, then God must use the same anointing power in the lives of the disciples to heal also. These are repeated patterns given from God to Jesus that was handed down to the members of the church. We in the church are called the “Body of Christ”. That title alone promotes the fact that the anointing is present upon us. The Greek word translated as Christ means “anointed one”. It corresponds to the Hebrew word for “Messiah”. God is clearly saying that it is My Anointing on you that caused anything good to occur. Let’s continue through chapter 5. Verse 18 tells us that the disciples are thrown in prison, but then in verse 19:
Act 5:19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,
Act 5:20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
We can again see the involvement of angels at work for the church. We are once more not told every detail. We do not know if the disciples prayed or if the church prayed, but nonetheless the angels show up and release all of them from prison. The angels come and shake the prison and release them to go back into the temple to continue to preach the name of Jesus. You can clearly see that the angels give them a message from God and tell them what to do. This is again very strong evidence that God is directing them and that they are being led by the Spirit of God. You have to understand that the disciples were new born spiritual babies in Christ less than a few weeks old at this time. They have much to learn about spiritual things and how God will lead them. Many times Christians want to be led like someone who has been a Christian for 50 years and they do not realize that these people grew to that level of spiritual maturity and awareness and that this was not how they were led by God from the start of their Christian conversion. Spiritual growth is a very basic principle to learning how to be led by the Spirit of God. Just as a new born natural baby is not independent from their parents for many years, so a new born spiritual baby is not able to do what a Christian of mature age and experience can do. That is just the way it works and you cannot sidestep the issue and jump beyond where you are right now just because you want to. You are going to have to grow and continue to learn. Let’s review briefly what we have observed and learned from chapter 5:
- God used Peter again to be a human messenger for other people to hear.
- The Holy Spirit gave Peter a word of knowledge concerning someone who was being influenced by Satan to sin.
- God also gave Peter the gift of discerning spirits to identify Satan’s involvement.
- All of this was done for the benefit of the church to teach them and guide them into holiness.
- Angels again are sent by God for deliverance of the church and for a message from God.
- Based upon other stories found in the Bible it is implied someone was praying but it is not mentioned directly in this chapter.
- Therefore, there are at the least three different direct methods of leading being taught in this chapter and a forth that was implied.
- We can observe the Holy Spirits involvement in this chapter, even though He is never directly mentioned.
ACTS CHAPTER 6 & 7
Act 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
Act 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Here in this chapter, we are going to see another manifestation of the inward work of the Spirit of God. I want you to notice that the number of the church has multiplied considerably and this is the first time that I know of in the book of Acts where the church is said NOT to be in complete harmony and unity. Uh oh? That is certainly not good. I think this is an example of what happens in any church as they grow. But what I want to do is to teach what God’s response to this disharmony was? If you continue reading in the chapter you will see that the disciples are led by the Spirit of God to elect a church organization with structure assigning certain men jobs within the ministry of helps. These men are selected, prayed over and hands were laid on them to also anoint them for their new roles of responsibility. I want to teach you what is happening by showing you a verse in the New Testament that proves this was God working through the disciples and not the disciples acting independently from God.
1Co 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Can we read? Can we see what it says? Who set up the ministry of helps and governments in the church? The Bible said that God did this yet we see the disciples only mentioned in Acts 6 like they were acting independent from God. Do you understand the dangers now of reading the Bible without using the Bible to interpret itself? Clearly this is one of the most prevalent errors in the teachings that many people listen to today. When the disciples set up an organized church structured government we were directly informed that God did this in Corinthians. We must therefore conclude that they were being led by the Spirit of God to do what they are doing in this chapter even though the Holy Spirit is not mentioned directly. Now notice the recorded reaction of the church to what is happening:
Act 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
Whenever you can get the whole church in attendance pleased over anything this has to be the Spirit of God’s direct involvement that is helping to influence the church. Can you see the problem of disunity within in the church and the solution that God has implemented to fix it? What does the Greek word translated as “pleased” mean? This Greek word means “to be agreeable”. It also means to be emotionally excited. Wow, here we go with more difficult spiritual concepts to relate with natural words and phrasings. Believe it or not this had to be an example of God leading the early church and helping to guide them. There is no mention of any angels, any voices, any external signs or any physical manifestations of God. No, you see the Spirit of God was present, but He was present in every believer having filled each of them with the Spirit of God a short time earlier. I want to show you something that Jesus said that is applicable to what is occurring in this chapter.
Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
If the church was gathered in the name of Jesus, then Jesus declares “I will be there with you”. Here we have another contradiction of information given verses information not directly mentioned in the book of Acts. You can clearly read in Acts 6 that there is no direct mention of Jesus being present, yet clearly Jesus was a liar in Matthew if He is not present Acts 6. Uh oh? It is very obvious to me that they were conducting church business and since Jesus is the Head of the Church therefore, Jesus has to be present in a spiritual form to oversee this operation, administration and to give them guidance, direction and instruction. Something is occurring internally within every believer that caused them to become excited and very agreeable together and I believe that both of these are signs of being led by the Spirit of that you can rely on today also. If what the Spirit of God does is not exciting to you then you are probably not saved. If you do not agree with what the Spirit of God is speaking to the church, then again you are probably not saved. Two signs of being led by God are that you will agree and that you will be excited about what He says. I am going to skip down to Stephen in verse 8 to continue:
Act 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
We can again see a bad translation or at least an easily misunderstood translation of the Bible demonstrated in this verse. It was not Stephen that was doing anything, but yet it was. Because Stephen was full of faith, God’s power was able to flow through Stephen to cause many miracles to occur. There is a clear connection that it was the partnership of a man’s faith and God’s power working together that causes the positive things to occur. We can clearly understand this was the anointed power of God that permitted the miracles and wonders to be performed. Stephen had no power in of himself to help anyone. It was only because Stephen was being led by the Spirit of God that Stephen could be at the right place at the right time to do anything. I do not know how to say that any more clearly and I hope you understand that God can and will use you the exact same way as He did Stephen if you cooperate, believe and expect Him to do it. In chapter 7 of Acts Stephen preaches with boldness the truth of the Word of God and as a result he is stoned and killed. It is very interesting to note that the Bible says that Jesus is seated at the right hand of majesty and in this chapter; Stephen sees a vision of Jesus standing up and watching the murder of a Spirit Filled church member by the ignorant overzealous misguided Jews. If it was God in heaven watching this event on the earth, who was on the earth causing the death of Stephen? It was definitely not God. Who was leading the Jews spiritually to kill this man of God? Based upon scripture it is Satan (Jo 10:10). It is very clear to me that Jesus took this action of the Jews very personally. I’ll think I’ll end here today since I have already gone too long. Let’s review what has happened in chapter 6 and 7:
- The church was meeting and Jesus said whenever you meet in my name, there I am also.
- God sees disharmony in the church and moves to solve the problem through spiritual guidance.
- God leads the church to organize and to create delegated levels of administrations and responsibilities.
- All of the church is well pleased and church unity is restored.
- God was working through many different people and in chapter 5 we read about God using Stephen a man not of the original twelve. Proving God can lead us and use us all mightily.
- In this information God has grown the church to some very large and significant numbers proving God’s involvement in what we are reading about.
- When disharmony breaks out God is involved in bringing correction proving God has our best interest at heart.
There are probably many other things to learn in these chapters but I believe we have covered many of the important ones that I wanted to emphasize on how and why God was leading His people. I also introduced you to the concept of God’s guidance being a gift from God given to us by His Grace. That is actually a very import concept to consider. Anything we get from God is not something we earned or even deserved. If God gave us direction, then it was His love that motivated Him to give it to us. I hope you are enjoying these lessons and I’m sorry I did not cover as many chapters as I would have liked to have covered today. We certainly learned several new concepts about spiritual guidance and I believe that was worth your time in reading and studying with me. If you would like to share a comment on this subject, I would really love to hear it. So feel free to be a blessing and share what is on your heart. God Bless!
If you would like to continue reading in the series to learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit you may continue with “Part 10“.