QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 79
You ought to learn the doctrines of salvation for the CHURCH, which are NOT taught in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, acts, Hebrews, James, Revelations etc... but in Romans. Romans is the FIRST book that teaches the doctrines of salvation for the CHURCH, not the Jew in tribulation or in the Kingdom . . . I hope you'll take the time to understand the doctrines of salvation rather than run to Jewish, non church age verses to prove what you want to believe. I say this out of love for Jesus Christ and His glorious Word. Eternal Security Glorifies GOD, not the believer. We are kept by the POWER OF GOD once we are saved by faith.
The doctrine of salvation says, "are kept by the power of God THROUGH faith," not "once we are saved by faith." Or, is First Peter also one of the books you affirm do not contain the doctrines of salvation for the church? You are spouting your conclusions.
Please tell me what God's doctrine for the church says about NOT believing, being unfaithful, or the carnal mind (Rom 8). Are there any other books besides Romans that you affirm that contain "doctrines of salvation for the church? Where does God define "Jewish non-church age verses?" Are you foolish enough to think I will depend upon you to define such a thing, when ROMANS says even the things "things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Rom 15:4) -- or does patience, comfort, and the Scriptures have nothing to do with "the doctrines of salvation for the church?"
Like Jehudi of old, you are cutting out the parts of Scripture you do not like, or do not fit into your view. However, I will not join you in your folly, but choose to receive "all Scripture," which is not only given by inspiration of God, but is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim 3:16-17). Or does that also have nothing to do with "the doctrines of salvation for the church?" <
I challenge your very concept: "the doctrines of salvation for the church." How foolish it is! Jesus sent the book of Revelation to the churches, and seven times admonishes us to hear "what the Spirit says to the churches." But YOU say the book does NOT contain "doctrines of salvation for the church." It even closes with the words, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." But you say the book does not contain "doctrines of salvation for the church." I simply do not believe you. I choose to believe Jesus.<
If you want to further pursue this matter, very well. You may begin by providing a list of all New Testament books that do not teach "the doctrines of salvation for the church." I will then disprove your supposition book by book.
Also, please sign your messages so I will know your name, and can pray for your enlightenment by name.
The kingdom is a literal, physical kingdom with Jesus Christ as the literal, visible King. Well, Jesus was rejected as the King of Israel but He WILL bring in this physical kingdom at the second coming, the Millennial Kingdom. What Jesus was referring to in Matt 24:14 is the Tribulation when 144000 + 2 will be preaching the "Gospel of the Kingdom", then the END shall come. Just read the whole chapter and you'll KNOW He wasn't talking about the church age.
You have allowed unlearned people to thoroughly confuse you about "the kingdom of God." What makes the matter so inexcusable is that Jesus said so much about the kingdom. He was referring to the kingdom God Himself said He would set up, declaring it through Daniel (Dan 2:44). It is the kingdom over which Jesus would preside, as prophesied by Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6-7 -- a prophecy related to Christ's birth.
The following words of Jesus do not connote "a literal, physical kingdom with Jesus Christ as the literal, visible King."
1. Men are to seek the kingdom of God first (Matt 6:33).
2. The coming of the kingdom of God was evidenced by Jesus casting out demons (Matt 12:38).
3. Jesus spoke of the difficulty of a rich man entering the kingdom of God (Matt 19:24).
4. Jesus spoke of publicans and harlots entering this kingdom before the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees (Matt 21:31).
5. Jesus told His generation the time was fulfilled, and the kingdom of God was at hand (Mark 1:15).
6. Jesus said the kingdom of God was like a man sowing seed which produced a rich harvest (Mark 4:26-29).
7. Jesus said the kingdom of God was like a mustard seed that started out small and grew exceedingly large (Mark 4:30).
8. Jesus told those who followed him that some of them would see the kingdom of God come in power (Mark 9:1).
9. Jesus said the kingdom of God was like little children who unhesitatingly came to Him (Mark 10:14).
10. Jesus spoke of men receiving the kingdom of God like a little child (Mark 10:15).
11. Jesus told a scribe who responded favorably to him, that he was not far from the kingdom of God (Mark 12:34).
12. Jesus said the kingdom of God belonged to the poor in spirit (Luke 6:20).
13. When asked when the kingdom of God should come, Jesus told the people it was already in their midst (Luke 17:20-21).
14. Jesus said the kingdom of God could neither be seen nor entered unless a person was born again (John 3:3-5).
How do all of those references fit into the notion that the kingdom of God is "a literal physical kingdom with Jesus Christ as the literal, visible king?" You have made precisely the same mistake the Jews made.
The book of Acts, written by Paul's companion, Luke, records what Paul preached. Nothing in Scripture suggests that Paul changed his preaching at any time, or moved in a different direction sometime during his ministry.
1. In Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, he preached that "we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).
2. In Ephesus, he reasoned and persuaded the people "concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 19: 8).
3. In Miletus, after calling the elders of the church at Ephesus, he told them he had gone among them "preaching the kingdom of God" (Acts 20:25).
4. In Rome, while held a prisoner, and after he had written the book of Romans, he "testified the kingdom of God," persuading the people about Jesus (Acts 28:23).
5. When in Rome dwelling in his own hired house, he preached "the kingdom of God, teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 28:31).
In the book of Romans, Paul provided a description of "the kingdom of God," saying it is "not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17).
In Colossians, Paul spoke of those who were "fellow workers for the kingdom of God" (Col 4:11).
Neither Jesus nor Paul spoke of the kingdom of God the way you have been taught to speak of it. Therefore, I reject your reasoning on the matter.
What Jesus was referring to in Matt 24:14 is the Tribulation when 144000 + 2 will be preaching the "Gospel of the Kingdom", then the END shall come. Just read the whole chapter and you'll KNOW He wasn't talking about the church age."
The 144,000 are mentioned in Revelation 7:4, and are defined as "all the tribes of the children of Israel." Revelation 14:1-3 adds that they were "redeemed from the earth." This perfectly correlates with Paul's statement in Romans 11:26: "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins" (Rom 11:26-27). The association of these texts with "the tribulation" is a purely human supposition, and is nowhere clearly declared in Scripture. Further, it is nowhere said that converted Israel will preach "the Gospel of the kingdom." That is something Jesus did (Matt 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14). He further said that Gospel would be preached in all the world (Matt 24:14). He did not connect that with the conversion of the Jews. That is an association uninspired men have made.
When speaking of the 144,000, Revelation expressly says what would be preached following their identity with Christ would be "the everlasting Gospel" (Rev 14:6). There is not the slightest suggestion that this is some other Gospel – some new Gospel. In fact, Paul wrote to the Galatians that even if an angel from heaven preached any other Gospel, they would be cursed (Gal; 1:8-9).
Acts 10:13 is the FIRST time that Jesus reversed the command to not go into the way of the Gentiles.
This is not true. Before he ascended into heaven he told His disciples THEY would be His witnesses "in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Furthermore, during His ministry He told the people He had other people who were not among the Jews. Those, He said, He had to "also" bring. "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be ONE flock and ONE shepherd" (John 10:16). This agrees with the mystery revealed, or opened up, to Paul: "That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel" (Eph 3:6).
Acts 2:38 was preached ONLY to JEWS. ONLY JEWS WERE SAVED IN ACTS 2:38. SCRIPTURE PLEASE.
This is not true. Peter said in the very next verse, "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to ALL WHO ARE AFAR OFF, as many as the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:39). It did require a special revelation to Peter to confirm this was true, and Peter did receive the revelation. When opened to Peter (Acts 10:10-36), Peter did not see it as something new, but something that was in place along. Even though he declared it on the day of Pentecost, the truth of it had escaped him. When describing the whole experience to Cornelius, Peter declared there had really been no change in God's purpose or character. The thing was new to him, but it was really an old truth. "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:34-35). He also said what Cornelius heard was "The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:)" (Acts 10:36). Thus, Peter did not speak as you are speaking.
Peter was taught by Jesus for 3.5 years!!! But he thought Paul's doctrine was hard to understand??? Because Paul was teaching something that was NEW to Peter.
Peter did not say HE had trouble understanding what Paul wrote. Rather, it was those who wrested his words that had the difficulty. When Paul conferred with Peter, John, and James the Lord's brother, they gave no suggestion that Jesus had shown Paul was any teaching that was different than was shown to them. In fact, they PERCEIVED the grace of God in him, and gave him the right hand of fellowship. He did not preach a different Gospel, but went to a different people. They saw no conflict between their ministry and that of Paul (Gal 2:9-10).
Acts chapter 9 is when Jesus revealed the faith that is available today in the church age.
Although a considerable amount of erroneous theology is built upon the term "church age," it is not mentioned a single time in all of God's word. I therefore reject the term, and all of the man-made theology that is tied to it. God has His own vocabulary.
In acts chapter 9, this mystery, which was KEPT SECRET, was revealed to Paul for the first time. That's why Paul calls it "my Gospel". That's why Paul Magnified his office over Peter, James and the rest of the Jewish apostles.
This is a serious malignment of the Apostles of Christ. Paul nowhere magnified his office "over James and the rest of Jewish Apostles." He said he "labored more abundantly than they all" (1 Cor 15:10), but claimed no superiority over them.
1. He spoke of Andronicus and Junia, who were "of note among the Apostles" (Rom 16:7). This he cited as a commendation, not a sign of inferiority.
2. He classified himself with the Apostles when referring to opposition. "For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men" (1 Cor 4:9).
3. He identified himself with the Apostles in reference to his rights. "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" (1 Cor 9:5).
4. He taught that God had placed the Apostles in the first ranking position in the church. "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" (1 Cor 12:28).
5. He recognized himself, the Gospel, and the Lord Jesus Christ as associated with the other Apostles. "After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time" (1 Cor 15:7-8).
6. Rather than claiming to be superior to the other Apostles, he said he was the least of them. "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God" (1 Cor 15:9).
7. He showed that his Apostleship was of the same order as the other Apostles. "Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus" (Gal 1:17).
8. He referred to twelve Apostles as the "other Apostles," part of the same essential group, not another differing group of Apostles (Gal 1:19).
9. Paul said the church is built upon the foundation put in place by "the Apostles and prophets," not a single Apostle (Eph 2:20).
10. Paul said the mystery that was made known to him, was also made known to the Apostles and prophets. "Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Eph 3:5). That mystery was that the Gentiles would be made fellowheirs with the Jews, not isolated from them. "That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel" (Eph 3:6).
11. The gifts Jesus gave to the church included a plurality of Apostles. "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers" (Eph 4:11).
I have taken the time to answer your correspondence in some detail because I see your personal knowledge of Scripture is driven by what you have been taught, rather than a personal acquaintance with the Word of God. Like many, you have accepted a canned theology that uses unscriptural words and terms. That theology, with all of its unscriptural jargon, has been superimposed upon the Word of God. The result is that a view has been promoted that has filtered out proclamations that should have been very obvious. You have thus been robbed of truth that belongs to you in Christ Jesus.
I speak as one who has labored in the Word for fifty-five years. Over that period of time I have heard a diversity of teachings, many of which were very deficient. The common factor in all of those deficient and unproductive doctrines can be summarized in the following.
1. They did not accent the Lord Jesus Christ, but gained their distinction by some other emphasis – all of them were an emphasis NOT found in Scripture.
2. That emphasis had to be developed by piecing together various Scriptures, and considering that compilation from a viewpoint not taught by Scripture itself.
3. Although God strictly warned people about adding to or taking from His Word, those embracing these strange doctrines found it easy to discard whole sections of Scripture. Their only reason for such a position was that those Scriptures did not support their erroneous postulates.
I did examine the website you suggested, and found it to be a haberdashery of confusion. The entirety of the message it provided was based on an unlearned and juvenile interpretation of 2 Timothy 2:15: i.e., "rightly dividing the Word of Truth." The verse does not mean there are divisions within the Word itself, for a house divided against itself will fall. Rather, in that text, "divide" is used in the same sense was when Jesus "divided" the loaves and fishes among the multitude (Mark 6:41), or the father in the account of the prodigal son "divided" his living to his two sons (Luke 15:12). It is the kind of dividing involved when Joshua "divided the land" of Canaan to the tribes of Israel (Josh 19:49).
In contradiction of this inaccurate view of Scripture, Paul said, "Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, SAYING NONE OTHER THINGS than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles" (Acts 26:22-23). Thus God had revealed to Paul something that was already written, yet had not been expounded. That simply does not blend with the nonsensical view that there are "divisions" within the Scriptures themselves. Jesus said "the Scriptures" testified of Him – that He was the underlying message in all of them (John 5:39). Peter said the prophets "testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (1 Pet 1:11). John was told by an angel from heaven, who was certainly sound in his theology, "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev 19:10). Paul said the "revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began," was made manifest, or made known, "by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (Rom 16:26). These things do not fit into the small theological box declared in the website of question.
I am assuming your sincerity. That is why I have taken the time to deal with these matters. But I do want to be quite clear. I reject what you have said about the kingdom of God, the church age, the gospel of the kingdom, and the Apostle Paul. I do not do it because of a favored or sectarian position, but because of my knowledge of the Word of God and the Lord Himself. I will not forget or minimize anything God has said – particularly to embrace a dogma He has never unquestionably affirmed in any way or at any time.
In all of this, I do not condemn you. If you are believing on the Son of God, I commend you for it, and encourage you to continue in the grace of God, fighting the good fight of faith. But I will also forewarn you that endeavoring to defend a position that requires all manner of human explanation, as well as the rejection of words and books inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, is not good, and thus no good can come from it.
My weariness comes from my imperfection as a fallen human. How I long for the day when I will know for sure that I am walking in the way the Lord wants me to!!! I want to do what is right in the Lord's sight . . . Your thoughts and prayers on this would be most appreciated and will bless me tremendously.
Your sensitivity is good, and it is a token of your Divine acceptance. What you are experiencing is the war between the flesh and the Spirit. It is described in a few words in Galatians 5:17. "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish" (Gal 5:17). Paul mentions this inner conflict extensively in the seventh chapter of Romans, where he described his own inner battle (7:15-25). Read that section with your own experiences in mind. The eruption of evil Paul mentions is not in external deeds of immorality, for Paul was not even guilty of such things before he was in Christ (Phil 3:6). The battle described is one of the mind, where desires are found (7:7).
The point made in this seventh chapter is twofold. First, under the law, lusts, whether they were wanted or not, were soundly condemned. The Law offered no forgiveness, and no mercy (Heb 10:28). Now that Paul found himself in Christ Jesus, he also found the eruption of unwanted thoughts in his mind. He did not ask them to come. In fact, they were actually flaming arrows from the evil one (Eph 6:16). Notwithstanding, they were "evil," and he could not stop them from coming into his mind. His will was not strong enough to eliminate such thoughts (7:18). Whenever he determined to do good, the competing influence of evil rose from within him. It was a law, or principle, from which he could not escape (7:21). Now, under the Law, he would be condemned for even having these thoughts, carried out or not. At this point, deliverance from the Law becomes a great treasure (Rom 7:6).
Paul's sensitivity to sin, much like your own, caused him to be alarmed that contrary thoughts and feelings could even arise in him -- things he did not want. However, rather than allowing them to condemn him, which is what Satan designed in them all, he saw in them proof that he had been justified. The very fact that he did not want these thoughts and feelings to occur confirmed something very wonderful had taken place in him. There was actually a nature in him that was repulsed by evil, and it was nothing less than the Divine nature (2 Pet 1:4).
Paul cried out for deliverance in verse 24, knowing that when he was finally rid of his vile body, he would be finished with struggle. In the meantime, he also confessed it was not really him that was responsible for these unwanted thoughts and feelings (7:17,20). Rather, it was the remnants of the old nature, or "old man," that remained in him -- like the Canaanites that were in the promised land when Abram came into it (Gen 12:6), and when Israel did as well (Num 33:55).
While he waited for deliverance from the body, and the termination of the consequent lusts that erupted in it, he described his warfare in this way. "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" (Rom 7:25).
In one sense, in Christ, we are really two people, and not just one -- an "old man" and a "new man" (Eph 4:22-24), or and the "natural" and the "spiritual man" (1 Cor 2:14-15), or "the flesh" and renewed spirit.
God has separated the flesh from our essential persons. This "operation" is called "the circumcision of Christ" (Col 2:11-12). However, while that unwanted part has been officially cut away from us, and no longer is part of who we are in Christ, it still lives in the house of our body. It is always crying out for attention, and Satan seeks to use "the flesh" to get a foothold in our lives. But the fact that this "old man" lives in our house does not mean he is really part of us. The fact that he is so different from who we are in our hearts really proves we have been born again, and have a new nature.
With this in mind, Paul fairly shouts out the response of faith to the dilemma of Romans, chapter seven. It is the conclusion to his account, and is found in the very first verse of the next chapter. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1).
You must now look at the struggle you are experiencing and conclude there is a part of you that has been born of God. God considers that part the real you, and the other part is really not you. It is NOT you because Jesus has cut it away from the real you, even though it lingers in the corners of your life. That is why the grace of God can effectively teach you to say "NO!" to its desires (Tit 2:11-12), and to hate them. If this was really you, you would not have the godly feelings that you do.
So, dear sister, you are having the same struggle as every child of God has had from the beginning. As he does with everyone else, Satan is trying to get you to take the credit for the flaming arrows he has hurled at you. Thank God that you hate the thoughts and feelings with which you wrestle. Rejoice that you can anticipate the day when they will no longer compete for your attention. If you fail at anytime, giving in to these temptations, immediately run to the Lord, confessing your failure. He has gone on record concerning His sure response. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Everything is really working for you.
Do you believe in such a thing as a second working of grace which results in sanctification ? I have always felt and I think that it fits into your belief and teaching, that salvation is a progressive thing and will last a lifetime. I have come to believe that after our initial believing and receiving of the Holy Spirit, that the Spirit leads us and as we follow his leading, we progressively become more like Christ.
The difficulty comes when men try and systematize spiritual life, then assign terms and names to their systemization. That is what has caused no small amount of confusion on these matters. Before going further, you are correct in saying life in Christ is progressive. This is stated in a number of ways by the Spirit.
1. "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom 8:29).
2. "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image FROM GLORY TO GLORY, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor 3:18).
3. "But speaking the truth in love, may GROW UP INTO HIM IN ALL THINGS, which is the head, even Christ" (Eph 4:15).
4. "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet 1:4).
5. "But GROW IN GRACE, AND IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen" (2 Pet 3:18).
The description which most nearly gives the idea of what men call "a second work of grace," is described by Peter. It is not associated with a stage, or phase of spiritual life, but with diligent attention to the word of he Gospel. "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, UNTIL THE DAY DAWN, AND THE DAY STAR ARISE IN YOUR HEARTS" (2 Pet 1:19). The idea is that we are actually changed by this powerful Gospel as we take heed to it, pondering it and ridding ourselves of competitive desires and influences. Peter is describing the experience when everything sort of falls in place, and we see more fully the greatness and effectiveness of this great salvation. From another point of view, it is spiritual maturity, when Hebrews 5:12 is accomplished in the individual.
Men have seriously erred in trying to regiment the "day dawning," or coming into spiritual maturity. Such efforts abort the work of the Lord, replacing personal attentiveness with a routine, and moving men to anticipate some sort of magical leap into conformity to Christ's image.
Any comment you could give regarding the Baptism of the Holy Spirit would be appreciated.
First, the phrase "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" is not mentioned in Scripture -- not in any version. In fact, neither is "baptism in the Holy Spirit" or "the baptism of the Spirit." In fact, the word "baptism" is never used in relation to the Holy Spirit. The word "baptism" is used twenty-two times in Scripture -- but never in regards to the Holy Spirit. We read of John's "baptism" (Matt 3:7; 21:25; Mk 11:30; Lk 7:29; 20:4; Acts 1:22; 10:37; 18:35; 19:3). John's baptism is also referred to as the "baptism of repentance" (Mk 1:4; Lk 3:3; Acts 13:24; Acts 19:4). Jesus referred to the baptism of suffering, that is, the suffering that would eventuate in His death (Matt 20:22-23; Mk 10:38-39; Lk 12:50). The Scriptures say there is "one baptism" (Eph 4:5). Colossians says we are buried with Christ "in baptism," (Col 2:12). Peter says that "baptism doth now also save us," like water saved eight souls in Noah's ark (1 Pet 3:21). Now that is how the Holy Spirit has used the word "baptism."
Both John the Baptist and Jesus spoke of being baptized "WITH the Spirit." John said of Jesus, "I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:8; Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). Before He ascended into glory, Jesus told His disciples, "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (Acts 1:5). When the Spirit fell on those of the house of Cornelius, Peter said he remembered what Jesus had said: "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 11:16).
When Paul confronted some disciples from Ephesus, he apparently suspicioned they were defective in their understanding and asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed. They responded they were completely unaware that there even was a HOLY Spirit. Paul then explained to them that John was preparing people for Christ, and was never intended to be an end of himself. The twelve men were then "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." Paul laid his hands on them, the Spirit came on them, and they prophesied (Acts 19:1-6). Some have said this is another example of "the baptism of the Holy Spirit," but no such association is made in the text, as it was in the case of the household of Cornelius.
There are some other considerations we should throw into the scenario.
1. No church of any Scriptural record was ever told anything about "the baptism of the Spirit," or being "baptized with the Spirit," or "in the Spirit." Not a single one!
2. In all of the Epistles, there is not a single reference the experiences that occurred on the day of Pentecost, or the events that took place at the house of Cornelius. They are recorded and referenced in the book of Acts, but never as subjects of preaching or exposition. It is inconceivable that this circumstance could exist if "the baptism with the Holy Spirit" is a key doctrine or a pivotal spiritual experience.
3. No believer of Scriptural record was ever told to seek "the baptism of the Holy Spirit."
4. No believer of Scriptural record was ever told they were deficient because they had not received "the baptism of the Holy Spirit."
5. We have a chapter in the Bible concerning faith (Hebrews 11). There is another one on love (1 Corinthians 13). One chapter in Hebrews is devoted to a great deal concerning hope (Hebrews 6). The Gospels open to us the Person and ministry of the Lord Jesus. But in all of the Epistles, written to the churches, and containing needful instruction, there is not so much as a syllable about "the baptism of the Holy Spirit." In fact, the only associations of baptism with the Spirit relate to our obedience (Acts 2:38; 1 Cor 12:13).
How is it, then, such an elaborate doctrine could have been developed and perpetrated so extensively among believers? This is my own opinion, but I will share it with you.
First, the fact that the doctrine itself has nearly supplanted the transcendency Jesus Christ and the Gospel suggests its origin is not of God.
Second, it represents the understanding of men, and is a dogma that declares what men THINK God meant by the references in which being baptized with the Holy Spirit is mentioned. It is not my purpose to condemn those who view the texts in this way. It is, however, incumbent that they not be allowed bind their views upon other believers, or insinuate they are in some way inferior because they have not received "the baptism" of reference.
Third, When the experience of a believer is not solidly undergirded by Apostolic doctrine, that experience cannot become a theological touchstone to divide the body of Christ, and bind such experience upon others.
As to the idea that a purely human concept of "the baptism of the Holy Spirit" (a term that is not found in any translation of Scripture) being "always accompanied by speaking in tongues," the Scriptures make no such affirmation. John the Baptist, who first mentioned Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit, made no such reference. Jesus, who is the only other person who spoke of it, made no such association either. It seems apparent that Christ's reference to the disciples being baptized with the Holy Spirit "not many days hence" (Acts 1:8) refers to the day of Pentecost. When the day actually occurred, and Luke recorded the events of that day, he spoke of it in this way. "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit." They did, in fact, speak in other languages "as the Spirit gave them utterance." But the languages were not unknown. Rather, they were understood, and their message defined as "the wonderful works of God."
In all of the Scriptures, the only other clear reference to this unique baptism of Jesus occurred at the house of Cornelius. Peter did not teach Cornelius about "the baptism." In fact, he said not so much as one word about it. Further, in this case, rather than being what men call "a second work of grace," it was the first one. As Peter "BEGAN to speak," the Spirit fell on Cornelius household as it did on Peter and the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Peter then "remembered" (with no record of saying anything to Cornelius about it), "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 11:16). In the eleventh chapter, Peter is recounting the events of chapter ten. It is interesting that in that recounting, he makes no reference to those of Cornelius' house speaking in tongues -- not a single word -- even though they did, in fact speak with tongues (Acts 10:46). Further, their speech was also understood by Peter and those with them, as they heard them speak "magnify God" (Acts 10:47). How could someone be so impressed with the household of Cornelius speaking with tongues, and Peter not even mention it in his eyewitness report of those events?
Furthermore, Peter again rehearsed the events at Cornelius' house at the conclave of Apostles and elders over the matter or circumcision. There he referred to that event in these words, "So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:8-9). Here Peter takes the occasion to declare God "purified their hearts by faith," and he is referring to God "giving them the Holy Spirit." He further related it to salvation itself, and not something that occurs separate from salvation. "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they" (Acts 15:11). I believe I can guarantee that is not at all how those advocating "the baptism of the Holy Spirit" would have reported those events.
Now those are the total number clear references to being baptized with the Spirit. To me, these texts do not permit the conclusions that have been drawn by many of my brethren. They positively do not justify dividing the body of Christ over the issue, or identifying a congregation by this dogma, or causing other believers to feel as though they are deficient because they have not have this purported experience.
Well, my good brother, I have spent too long on this. I know you can take it from here. As Paul would say, "Let each be fully convinced in his own mind" (Rom 14:5).
The "kingdom of God" is NOT the "kingdom of heaven." Heaven is Physical, God
is a Spirit. . . . The kingdom of Heaven IS physical.
You need to refrain from these foolish statements. You are revealing your ignorance of God's Word, and it is not becoming at all. God did not say the Kingdom of heaven is physical. Jesus did not say it. The Apostles did not say it. Why have you taken it upon yourself to say it? You will have to account for what you say.
Matthew records Jesus told the twelve to "preach the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 10:7-8). Luke, referring to the same occasion said Jesus told them to "preach the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:2).
Matthew said Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets would be seen in "the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 8:11) Luke, referring to the occasion said they would be seen "in the kingdom of God" (Luke 13:28).
Matthew records Jesus said the least in "the kingdom of heaven" was greater than John the Baptist (Matt 11:11). Luke, referring to the same statement, says the least in "the kingdom of God" was greater than John (Luke 7:28).
Matthew records Jesus told His disciples it was given to them to know "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 13:11). Luke says they were given to know the "mysteries of the kingdom of God" (Luke 8:10).
Matthew records Jesus saying "the kingdom of heaven" was like a mustard seed (Matt 13:31). Luke says the "kingdom of God" was like a mustard seed (Luke 13:18-19).
Matthew records Jesus saying "the kingdom of heaven" was like leaven (Matt 13:33). Luke says "the kingdom of God" was like leaven (Luke 13:20-21).
Matthew records Jesus said of little children. "of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 19:14). Luke says of the same saying, "Of such is the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:16).
Matthew records Jesus saying to his disciples following his dialog with a rich young man, "a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 19:23). Recording same event, Mark says, "into the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:23).
I suppose you could say Luke and Mark were wrong, but I would not believe that either.
Why does the bible say Jesus was the first fruits from the dead when He
himself had raised people from the dead-weren't they the firstfruits?
First, because Jesus took His own life back from the dead, as He was commanded to do. He said, "No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father" (John 10:18). The others were raised by someone else, and did not raise themselves.
Second, the others were not raised to an immortal state, or to be "alive for ever more," as was Jesus (Rev 1:18). He was the firstfruits of those who will be ultimately conformed to His image, according to God's determined purpose (Rom 8:29). That conformation will take place at the resurrection, when we will receive a body like unto His "glorious body" (Phil 3:21), and will be "like Him," for we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:1-2). None of the dead that were raised before Jesus received glorified bodies.
If we are chosen by God, and are therefore the elect, why do we pray for unbelievers? If God has not chosen them for salvation, will our prayers for them do anything to change Gods mind and draw them to Himself?
God works through appointed means, and not independently of them. Once He told Israel what He was going to do for them, then He added, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock" (Ezek 36:37).
The emphasis in Scripture is not praying for unbelievers, although it certainly is not wrong to do so -- Jesus did (Luke 23:34). The first means is preaching, by which God has ordained to save those who believe (1 Cor 1:21). Salvation is not cut and dried -- accomplished only through Divine decision. That should be apparent by the amount of things involved in our salvation. Jesus died for humanity. The Spirit convicts men. The angels minister to men. Preaching is addressed them as well. These are all appointed means through which God accomplishes His determinations. It is not a matter of whether God will change His mind about who is in or who is out, but if He will work independently of the means He Himself has ordained.
"Are we not all to a certain extent, going through recovery with our ultimate goal to be totally recovered as we become like Christ at the end of our lives ? . . . Would this not be recovery for him from a past which clearly wanted anything but knowing Christ ?
The "power of the resurrection" does speak of recovery. In the case of our blessed Lord, it was recovery from the grave, death, and all that are associated with them. In our case, that power begins with our initial recovery from the snare of the devil. But that is by no means the end of it, as you have well indicated. It is also apparent because Paul was continuing to seek the knowledge of, or participation in, this power long after he became an Apostle.
The "power of the resurrection" enables us to recover from any kind of setback, whether it is a sordid past, foolish lapses into sin, chastening, or even the opposition of others. Paul's words in Second Corinthians say it very well. "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor 4:8-9). The "power of the resurrection" is what enables us to not be distressed, not be in despair, not be forsaken, and not be destroyed.
This is rejuvenating power as well as recovering power -- although spiritual rejuvenation is a form of recovery. By rejuvenation, I mean the experience described in 2 Corinthians 4:16. "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." It is also involved in the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2).
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