“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Spiritual Formation and the Trinity

A new form of salvation by works has entered the Christian world. Really, it’s not new at all. It has been practiced by the devotees of the Church of Rome since it adopted the pagan practices of Egypt. This practice is more ancient than the Catholic Church, running parallel with Egypt in far eastern Asia.

What I speak of is the meditation methods of Hinduism and Buddhism; that of emptying the mind of everything so that the spirit world can come in and communicate. It offers a sense of power and specialness that the “gods” would condescend to spend time with a mortal. Out of it grows a spiritual pride and systematic atheism.

This form of spiritualism has lived in Christianity throughout the Dark Ages under the tutelage of Rome. And now since the New Age eastern mysticism introduced itself to the West during the 1960’s, Satan transformed it into a “Jesus”-centered western religion in the 1970’s, and now it has emerged in mainline, popular denominations around the Protestant world as well as a growing number of Christian colleges and universities. For a closer look at the insurgence of spiritualism into Christianity, read a first-hand account by one who was involved in its very transformation, in the book, Deceived by the New Age, by Will Baron.

Or read how its prime advocate, philosopher and speaker, Dallas Willard, describes it:

Spiritual Formation in Christ:A Perspective on What it is and How it Might be Done

“... until Christ be formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19)

“Spiritual formation” is a phrase that has recently rocketed onto the lips and into the ears of Protestant Christians with an abruptness that is bound to make a thoughtful person uneasy. If it is really so important, not to mention essential, then why is it so recent? It must be just another passing fad in Protestant religiosity, increasingly self-conscious and threatened about “not meeting the needs of the people.” And, really, isn’t spiritual formation just a little too Catholic to be quite right?

We could forget the phrase “Spiritual formation,” but the fact and need would still be there to be dealt with. The spiritual side of the human being, Christian and non-Christian alike, develops into the reality which it becomes, for good or ill. Everyone receives spiritual formation, just as everyone gets an education. The only question is whether it is a good one or a bad one. We need to take a conscious, intentional hand in the developmental process. We need to understand what the formation of the human spirit is, and how it can best be done as Christ would have it done. This is an indispensable aspect of developing a psychology that is adequate to human life.

Speaking of Spiritual Formation, Wikipedia says: “A study of various world religions such as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and others would enable one to understand specifically how each religion views spiritual formation or spiritual growth within its unique belief system…. In Christian Spiritual Formation the focus is on Jesus.”

In Spiritual Formation we have a melding of all world religions, with whatever emphasis you desire and whatever god of choice to follow, which of course in Christian churches would be Christ.

But notice a subtle, yet vast difference between the eastern style of meditation and the meditation authorized by Yahweh.

One internet site describes this New Age practice as “contemplative prayer”:

Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.

What do they mean by contemplative prayer? Another website defines it as:

So we have to find the ways of taking our body into solitude and silence, into service, as well as into worship, into prayer, as well as into study; and we have to plan our lives around this objective of fulfilling the vision that our intention has set before us. That, briefly, is how spiritual formation in Christ is done.

And in another website that offers moving photos to help bring on peace of mind:

In stillness, sit quietly in the presence of our awesome God. Take some time with these pictures, and with energy, intelligence, imagination and love, allow God’s Spirit to evoke a prayer within you.

Notice that meditation on God’s word is not encouraged. Yes, many quotations from the Bible are used to bolster and support this new westernized ancient eastern practice, but it capitalizes on silence, solitary, emptying of the mind and waiting for a voice to speak to the conscience.

Similar to the eastern method of imagining a picture and focusing on its different parts to create a mental atmosphere to channel the “astral planes” or the spirit realm, the new Spiritual Formation focuses on images of photographs to bring on mental relief and open up the soul to the spirits of devils who pose as the Holy Spirit or holy angels.

Now listen to the God of the Bible and His authorized form of meditation.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,… But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.” (Ps. 1:2). “O how love I Thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” (Ps. 119:97).“I delight in the law of God after the inward man…. With the mind I myself serve the law of God.” (Rom. 7:22,25).

Obviously, true meditation comes through the meditation on Christ and His righteousness, His grace and His Father's Law which He joyfully upheld perfectly.

This brings me to the Trinity. I’ve been bothered by the term over the past year. Not that I don’t believe in the heavenly Trio, but there are some things about “the Trinity” that have been festering in my mind.

One is the way it seems to have analyzed the Godhead and figured it out. It has defined the infinite, undefinable One. It has put God in a box. Corrupt man has conquered the mystery of the holy One who only hath immortality. It has simplified God and made Them manageable by blind, ignorant, fallen men. This revelation didn’t arrive by obedience to the gospel and inspiration by the Holy Spirit; it didn’t descend from above. It was completely manufactured by men of whom it could be said, “This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:8,9).

Another problem is the way the Trinity became a pillar dogma in Christianity. During the famous Council of Nicaea, all the church fathers were subpoenaed by Constantine to congregate and resolve some theological differences in the Christian religion. The “holy” fathers came together and fought amongst themselves so hatefully and violently over the idea of the Trinity that the pagan Emperor Constantine had to act as mediator. It was Constantine who made the final decision on that church doctrine. How can we accept as doctrine any supposed teaching that came out of that kind of hateful, demonic haranguing toward each other?

It’s as if they were blind to their own scripture; they had long lost the first love. “If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:14-18).

But what made the doctrine of the Trinity the cause of so much bitterness? Why be ready to kill someone for not believing truth, if indeed it were the truth? I believe the devilish conduct was due to the threat of losing a sensual dependency that was cloaked under the guise of the Bible; the Trinity was an addiction, a psychological form of idolatry. The Trinity had become a mental icon used in false meditation practices already adopted from Egyptian pagan ascetics. People will fight to the death when they have to give up a cherished idol.

And thus I look suspiciously on the concept of the Trinity now as it is being blended with Spiritual Formation, another pagan practice of emptying the mind and focusing on a single thought or repetition of words or a mental image. The following quotation comes from the website of a well-known fundamentalist evangelical university in Virginia Beach, Virginia as a course description it offers on Spiritual Formation:

This course uses the doctrine of the Trinity as a springboard to understand issues of personhood, de-personalizing views of sin and salvation, and the modern desire for/addiction to uniqueness. We’ll draw on a number of historical sources, focusing especially on those Reformation giants who, like us, found themselves at a time of radical change and social upheaval.

I can’t think of a more clever Mark of the Beast in the forehead than devil possession through meditating on the Trinity! How much more unsuspected could Satan be! Surely, he works under the radar of the sin-loving multitudes. Truly was it written of him, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” (Gen. 3:1).

What we need today are three things in order to find the God of peace, the Unknown God which the whole world desires. The first is feeding on the Bible as God’s word. The second is witnessing to His help and strength in order to uplift others who don’t know Him. The third is praying to Him for help in overcoming self and sin through bowing in faith to His unending love and Ten Commandment Law.

As the blood of sacrificed lambs was brought into the sanctuary and sprinkled on the table of showbread, the seven candlesticks, and the altar of incense, we need to have the gracious, self-sacrificing life of Christ poured out for us, in order to justify us and our past, to bring us to God, and to cleanse us through the three things listed above. Through those three we are brought into communion with the true God, our Father-Creator and Redeemer-Friend.

Otherwise, we will find our spiritual experience so dry and dusty that we will be driven to darkness—i.e. the same attempts to save ourselves without God that trapped the mystical, sacramental religions throughout all time, the opening of the heart to the enemy of souls and the final result—possession by one who plays hard ball when we desire to be freed from him.

“The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we can never resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin. We may leave off many bad habits, for the time we may part company with Satan; but without a vital connection with God, through the surrender of ourselves to Him moment by moment, we shall be overcome. Without a personal acquaintance with Christ, and a continual communion, we are at the mercy of the enemy, and shall do his bidding in the end.” Desire of Ages, p. 324.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What can we expect in the Time of Trouble?

Let me share an idea new to me on the Time of Trouble. Let's take the erroneous theory of the Rapture and superimpose on it the warnings of the last true prophet given us by Christ before He comes for His pre-Judgment Day. According to the wildly popular eschatology timeline of the evangelical denominations, after the rapture and the first 3 ½ years of the tribulation…

“There is a growing movement among the Jews to turn to Christ. Many of them convert, and become last-minute evangelists who prepare the world for Jesus to come in glory and establish His kingdom on earth. Faced with relentless persecution by the forces of the Antichrist, they must work in the world’s most trying circumstances. Finally, the power of the Antichrist is ultimately broken when Christ returns in glory and destroys him.” (Shawn Boonstra, The Appearing, p. 56.)

After Christ returns with His church from 7 years in heaven He sets up His kingdom on earth.

“The millennium will be a time of both political and spiritual rule. Politically, it will be universal (Daniel 2:35), authoritative (Isaiah 11:4), and characterized by righteousness and justice, with assurances for the poor (Isaiah 11:3-5), and admonition and judgment for the violators of Messiah’s rule (Psalm 2:10-12).

“This literal earthly reign of Christ will also have spiritual characteristics. First and foremost it will be a reign of righteousness in which Christ will be King, reigning in absolute righteousness (Isaiah 32:1). It will also be a time when the fullness of the Spirit and the holiness of God will be manifested (Isaiah 11:25)….

“Everything from work to worship will be holy. Sin will be punished (Psalm 72:1-4; Zechariah 14:16-21) in an open, just way.” (ibid. p. 59).

Does this description give us a pretty clear picture of what to expect during the great time of trouble? Satan will have pulled off some kind of major disappearing act or give the semblance of it happening, in the long expected “secret rapture.”

Everyone who realizes he or she is still on earth will feel very nervous about not being raptured with all the other really spiritual church people, (whoever they were). In all seriousness, in the times ahead this world will be full of wild and delusive people despairing of being left behind, obsessing about soon-coming judgment day, and of the even sooner coming, greatly advertised brutal Hitler-like Antichrist and the great world-wide time of trouble he establishes.

The Vatican is posturing for this event. The pope must feel wonderfully relieved that all the attention in the religious world is not on him while he strategizes to be that Anti-christ, but the attention of all is diverted to some fictitious character fabricated by evangelical erring theologians. The whole rapture and pre-, post-trib pseudo-prophetic explanations are satanic inspired.

The devil himself will impersonate the coming of Christ. “He maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.” (Rev. 13:13). Although every eye doesn’t see his descent from space, and there is no earth-shattering sound of a trumpet that literally awakens the dead, the whole world is mesmerized by the supernatural display of power and convinced that this is the very Second Advent of Christ.

Then finalizes the trouble for those who have come to know Jesus personally and long to escape a world that has pushed away the Holy Spirit. Probation has closed for the world at this point. Now begins absolute devil-possession over the whole human population.

As Shawn has paraphrased from the authors of the Left-Behind series, “Politically, it will be universal, authoritative, and characterized by righteousness and justice, with assurances for the poor, and admonition and judgment for the violators of Messiah’s rule.” By “authoritative” we may substitute “tyrannical,” “despotic,” “dogmatic.” Sound like the Papacy?

Other than the twin Papal-Protestant union, what organization has reinterpreted the meaning of righteousness and justice to suit their ends of self-preservation by touting Bible terminology? They know best how to use the Bible to “call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Is. 5:20).

“Admonition and judgment for the violators of Messiah’s rule.” This sounds like a recipe for “The Holy Office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” or previously known as the “Inquisition.” In the Dark Ages, if the heretics refused to be “admonished,” they were handed over to the civil government for torture and death.

“Everything from work to worship will be holy. Sin will be punished in an open, just way.” When a religious organization, such as the union of the Vatican and the fundamentalist Evangelical Protestants, can finally have its way, especially when Satan himself is posing as Christ and stands at their helm, everyone who speaks out against them will be swiftly and openly punished in a way they deem “just.”

When will all this take place? I don’t know. But I can say that at the rate at which the “rapture” theory is gaining acceptance in the Christian world and in the progress to unite church and state in America, signs of huge trouble loom bigger and bigger on our horizon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Lord's Spruce Goose Dispensations

The Spruce Goose was an airplane built back in WWII. Created and manufactured by the wealthiest man in the world, Howard Hughes, it was the largest of all sea planes, weighing in at 300,000 lbs; it was 218 feet long and had a wingspan of 320 ft with 8 engines, each producing 3,500 horsepower. From the mouth of Mr. Hughes, “The Hercules was a monumental undertaking. It is the largest aircraft ever built. It is over five stories tall with a wingspan longer than a football field. That's more than a city block.”

This monstrosity was designed to carry 750 soldiers or 2 Sherman tanks quickly to Europe to fight in the war effort. Before it was finished it was tabled because new directions in the war didn’t require such a plane, and also because of possible mismanagement. But Mr. Hughes continued to build it, out of his own funds. Finally, in the end, when it was flown for testing, it did fly.

“By 1947, the U.S. government had spent $22 million on the H-4 and Hughes had spent $18 million of his own money. Finally, on Nov. 2, 1947, Howard Hughes and a small engineering crew fired up the eight radial engines for taxi tests. Hughes lifted the giant aircraft 33 feet off the surface of Long Beach (Calif.) Harbor and flew it for one mile, for less than a minute, remaining airborne 70 feet off the water at a speed of 80 mph before landing.
The H-4 Hercules never flew again.”

That was the end of an era. Since that flight the plane has lain in state, a monument in different museums, the object of musings and amusement.

God designed a means to keep the light of truth in this world, fallen into moral darkness. He chose Abraham, he who God said is “My friend,” and the Lord slowly grew a great nation out of his descedents. But, later He decried to His people through His servant Jeremiah, “I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto Me?” (Jer. 2:21).

They had run their test run with David and Solomon and got off the ground for one generation. Once more under Ezra and Nehemiah, they got off the ground again, this time for only a few years. After seeing a great revival begun, Nehemiah returned from the Persian capital to find the moral state of his fellow Jews just like it had been before the revival when God’s curse rested on them for their unfaithfulness and perversity.

What about the new dispensation? Has it fared any better? Begun again with the gospel of friendship with God, Paul worked feverishly to keep the church on the right path. Writing, preaching, ministering, administering, exhorting, rebuking, suffering, mentoring, he carried the heavy weight of the churches on his heart and mind.

Yet, soon after his death, the church slipped away from the truth and became an enemy of God, the greatest feat of Satan’s genius. She got off the ground during the Reformation, but only for one generation. Then Protestant parents began to envy the classical education of the papal schools over the simpler, missionary form of education created by Luther. Romanism regained every inch of ground she lost in the sixteenth century.

Another revival began at the news of Jesus coming again and a soon approaching Day of Judgment. But that one petered out again after the passing of its prophet and left the church in dismal circumstances.

Why the pattern like we see? God’s movement, as a small beginning, glows white hot with purity and consecration. The momentum given by the messengers He sends provides for huge growth. But by the end of that growth spurt, the organizations He planted become huge lumbering Spruce Gooses that can’t even fly. Not until their demise—and then the resurrected body of old Israel flew heavenward in the Early Rain of the Holy Spirit, and the rejuvenated body of the church will rise to holiness in the soon coming Latter Rain.

“So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.” (Deut. 32:12-15).

Here is a key to all this. Not only does a lengthy period of time tend to expose human weakness, but it also exposes God’s strong mercy and justice. It reveals the depth and strength of His love.

“The strength of sin is the law.” (1Cor. 15:56). “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.” (Gal. 3:23). As “perception is reality,” so God’s grace isn’t grace to us until there is faith to recognize it. But faith must be God-given, wholly His creation, a faculty only He can bring to life and develop. It takes His hands, His attention, His effort, His suffering and the communication of that suffering. And it takes our willing admission to our inherent human weakness before we are ready to receive that gift of faith. Thus the long slide into deeper and denser darkness and captivity to Satan, before God acts.

Yes, the church is a lumbering behemoth destined for a museum. But at its entombment, Jesus will send His Spirit to revive the minority worldwide remnant who are presently sleeping, but who are wise unto salvation. Once again they will suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty stone. They will learn the foolishness of separation from God and His righteousness, and they will know full reliance on Him. They will suck His mercy and grace out of His justice and Law.

In the latter rain to come, they will gain such a rich experience in the love of God that the time of trouble will not be able to break them away from Him whom their soul loveth, and they will pass through the fiery day of His returning in power and glory. For them “mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (Jas. 2:13).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Justified—the major adjustment

Walking in a new world; the old world is past. The old gone, as if it had never been. Gone, for the child of God, almost as if it doesn’t exist. Walking like Jesus walked, His freedom to meditate on faith and righteousness, His conversation in heaven.

Walking in faith. Walking in a world of faith. Walking in faith in God. Walking with God. A God so big that we can think of nothing else. Walking in a worship wonderland, lost in His love.

Forgiven. The struggle with sin and shame is over. The devil is far removed. His voice to discourage and accuse is silenced. His power to tempt revoked. If he is mad about this, his fulminations are known only by his minions, because God has given the soul a deaf ear to the adversary and his world. The soul he no longer possesses, to steal and kill and destroy it at will; by combined human/divine power, God has returned to His rightful possession and rules it in love and righteousness.

Does this sound like justification? Or rather glorification? It does describe glorification, yes. But sanctification and glorification are both squarely set upon justification—that big major adjusting God accomplishes in our thinking through faith in His gracious love.

Justification is the big foundation upon which the rest of the temple is built. Glorification is the end result of our redemption, and sanctification is the in-between phase. They are both simply justification, a reconciling again to God, a fuller and fuller acceptance of the repentant sinner by Him, every step of the way.

As the wisest said, “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18).

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. 5:10).

Monday, June 09, 2008

When worship isn’t worshiping God

“Nevertheless they did flatter Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with Him, neither were they stedfast in His covenant.” (Ps. 78:36,37).

Flattering God. The people of Israel mustn’t have known that flattery would get them nowhere. But do we flatter God with our worship? Is our worship true? Is our heart melted and humbled in our words of praise to Him? Are they an expression of an ongoing communion, faith in Jesus?

Are we experiencing the faith of Jesus? are we following the divine recipe, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief”? “Lord I worship You, help my gross lack of heavenly worship, of which You are worthy.”

“Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.” (Jn. 2:24,25).

“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16). Although “Jesus beholding him loved him,”(Mk. 10:21) His answer dodged the aggrandizement and kindly cut to the chase, “Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.”

“Nicodemus… the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with Him.” (Jn. 3:2). The cold propriety tinged his words with hypocrisy. Gently but firmly, Jesus’ answer faithfully sidestepped the flattery and went directly to spiritual things, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God….”

At another time, “Then came to Him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him. And He said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto Him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on the left, in Thy kingdom.” (Matt. 20:20,21). Jesus didn’t answer the somewhat groveling woman, but His mild rebuke was to His two closest disciples, who had given in to her earthly ambitions. “Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

“And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.” (vs. 24). You know this must have set Judas on edge. Satan was making his mark in the show of his hellish fruit still implanted in Christ’s closest followers. So in spite of a show of obeisance from the mother, all this was the furthest thing from true worship. Love, inspired of repentance, was absent. Idolazation toward Jesus resulted.

Of the 7 things God hates the most are “a proud look, a lying tongue.” (Prov. 6:16,17).

To the multitude on the mount, Jesus cried, “Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46). Obedience to the Law, motivated by love, is the key to true worship of God. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” (Prov. 28:9).

Follow the steps below that brought David to true worship.

1)“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

2) “And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.

3) “Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, O Lord my God, are Thy wonderful works which Thou hast done, and Thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto Thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

4) “Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within my heart.” (Ps. 40:1-8).

First and foremost, David struggled to resist the devil and to submit to God. Something was warring to separate him from the Lord and faith and spirituality. But, like Jacob, “as a prince” he had “power with God and with men,” and prevailed. (Gen. 32:28). The result was firm faith and surrender. Out of that struggle his soul became God’s own fortress, and a new song flowed from David’s lips. Now his praise was divinely ordained, because he was a new creature in Christ.

Thus he saw that religious ceremony is empty and unacceptable to God unless the ears are opened to God’s will and the heart is enslaved by God’s love.

David also knew that his wonderful experience was written in the book of life, and he communicated to others of His God’s power to save from sin. “I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, Thou knowest. I have not hid Thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation: I have not concealed Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth from the great congregation.” (Ps. 40:9,10). “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. 10:10).

In the Samaritan woman Jesus found a true participant in service to God. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (Jn. 4:23,24).

Of one who sat at Jesus’ feet and learned of Him, He declared, “But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Lk. 10:42). Jesus’ appeal to Martha’s heart won her to humility while He vindicated Mary’s true worship of God through His word.

“Nevertheless they did flatter Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with Him, neither were they stedfast in His covenant. But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned He His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath. For He remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. How oft did they provoke Him... and grieve Him...!” (Ps. 78:36-40).

Escape for my life

I tool along Rt. 211. The city boasts itself behind me; God’s country lies before me. I have made my way through Warrenton, the western outpost of Washingtonian civilization. In my youth, this was small town U.S.A. Now it flaunts all the signs that it has come of age. Earth ripped up and dozed down. Shopping centers rise from the dust with all the latest look of 21st century avant-garde.

With great relief, my memory of the city vanishes and my eyes fall on the scenery before me. Fields of tall grass line the road, and large trees explode with branches and greenery, and tower into the sky in the neglected grassy median between the highway lanes. In random, assymetrical beauty all of their own, the trees are designed to most efficiently absorb every ray of life from the sun. In their ignorance to perfect proportion like those trees without any obstruction to sunlight, they have a funny charm, a delightfulness, anyway.

Since most people drive Interstate 66 anymore, that leaves the smaller highway to me, and practically me alone. So I slow down to 25 or 30 mph so I can take in all that God has given me this day; I can smell the smells and hear the sounds, even the quiet ones. This has become my tradition for the past 2 years when I come out this way. I put on my emergency blinkers when I see a car approaching; but otherwise, I want nothing to destroy the show my Maker has prepared just for me.

Oh! There’s that sound I never hear in the city—crickets whistling Dixie in the knee-high grass next to the highway. I know I’m home now. I sing along in the symphony, Chirp! Chirp!... Chirp! Chirp! What a sound to cure my home-sick bones! My blood pressure drops as I listen; well-being pours over my soul. My cup runneth over. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Cricket, and thank You, Lord of Heaven and Creator of the ends of the Earth.

Rotting mats of grass, damp with heavy dew, waft whiffs of wildness into my car, into my nose, and into my mind. I immediately remember part of the verse in Moses’ song, “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.” (Deut. 32:1-3).

“He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.” (Ps. 72:5-7).

A lone sycamore pirouettes slowly as I pass. Again and again I see these almost-humans perform their graceful spin, just for me. If on my left hand side, they twirl clockwise; if on my right, counter-clockwise. No matter how lonely in a cowless pasture, no matter how distant on a far hill, never do they fail me. And never do I fail to appreciate their performances.

A cardinal jets across the highway. He must have been moving faster than I. He had one thing in mind—that tree, yonder. Yellow, white, and brown little butterflies flit from flower to flower to flower. What’s on your mind, little fellows? A penny for your thoughts!

A mocking bird chases a flapping black bird for half a mile. Higher and higher they go, the catbird maintaining the altitude advantage. All the big bird wanted was an egg for breakfast. Not if Mother knows about it. Big bird better leave if he doesn’t want his noggin scrambled. So off they fly like an F-16 escorting a returning space shuttle.

Stones piled into walls make the farm scenes idyllic. Begotten from centuries of plowing these mountain foothills, there wasn’t a better place to put those rocks. Old and rugged, sometimes rotting, split rail fences stand royal guard around fields of grain and other growing produce.

Up and down I go, as the highway follows its own sinusoidal path. Sometimes I am higher than the fields, sometimes they are above me. It’s a home-grown roller coaster ride, a little mesmerizing but peaceful and perfectly wholesome.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

“O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches.” (Ps. 104:24).

“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Is. 55:12).

Friday, June 06, 2008

The mysterious Holy Spirit

Hi C_____,
I’m so sorry for the delay with this email. We lost power for two days because of that freak storm, but that’s no excuse.
Much is said about the Holy Spirit’s work since the beginning. This is a long email. So, get a cup of Postum, sit back, and ponder much.
You will get a deeper understanding of Him by His activity in the Old Testament, than by the New Testament alone. I find Him to be very illusive, pervasive, and wonderfully mysterious!
The concept of the Trinity bothers me a lot. Not that I don’t believe in three Persons of the Godhead, but that the Catholic church uses the Trinity to say that they figured out God—the infinite, indefinable God, Creator of the ends of the universe. Corrupted men in a fallen and corrupted religious institution defined the Holy Spirit. I don’t think so.

About the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. This was all taken from a nice Bible website,

The Holy Spirit was present at creation.
“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Gen. 1:2).

He was grieved by the antedeluvians.
“And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” (Gen. 6:3).
This sounds somewhat like Gal. 5:17, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

The Holy Spirit works in us to do more than just spiritual things. Even temporal things and talents are accomplished by Him. Our sanctification by the Spirit affects every facet of our person.
“See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.” (Ex. 31:2,3)

The Holy Spirit’s influence can be shared. I wonder if this wasn’t for effect. The people needed to know that the new wisdom and judgment of the 70 elders came from the same source as Moses’. In that band of degraded slaves, any room made for assuming could end up in mob riots and insurrection.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.
And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.” (Num. 11:16,17)

Two of the elders weren’t in the camp with the other 68, but the Spirit rested on them too.
“But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.” (vs. 26).

Joshua protested because things were getting disorderly. But Moses knew God’s real desire.
“And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His spirit upon them!” (vs. 29).

Later Joshua was recognized as having the Holy Spirit.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him...” (Nu. 27:18).

Still later, the nephew of Joshua’s closest friend in Christ received a special measure of the Holy Spirit. It seems that the Holy Spirit was active in making leaders, not only in converting them.
“And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.
And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the Lord delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.” (Ju. 3:9,10).

The Holy Spirit delivered Israel by Gideon and Jephthah.
“But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.” (Ju. 6:34).
“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.” (Ju. 11:29).
The Spirit takes charge of directing operations on earth that fulfill God’s will, as we see with the gospel work. “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia.” “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” (Acts 16:6;13:2)

Even miscreant Samson was moved by the Holy Spirit to deliver Israel!
“And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.” (Ju. 13:25).
“And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him [a ferocious, angry lion] as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.”(Ju. 14:6)
“And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.”(Ju. 14:19).
“And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.”(Ju. 15:14)

The Holy Ghost converted and consecrated king Saul.
“And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.
And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.
And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.” (1Sam. 10:6-10).

This “new man” experience of Saul’s is exactly what Paul spoke of to us in the New Testament: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Cor. 5:17). There can be no doubt Paul taught that the Spirit was the cause of this in man through all ages.

Saul was converted, consecrated, and then commissioned shortly thereafter.
“And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.” (1Sam. 11:6).

Of course, David also received the Holy Spirit which led him to become unstoppable to do the Lord’s will. “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” (1Sam. 16:13). Not many days after his anointing youthful David challenged giant Goliath and ran right over him.

“But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” (1Sam.16:14).
Here is proof that anyone, even if that person has received the special comfort and communion of the Holy Spirit, can lose the Spirit of God. Once saved, not always saved. That goes for me too. That also goes for R____. It goes for all of us. God is no respecter of persons. If we purposely stay away from those things that keep us close to Him, we can find ourselves far, far away from the Holy Spirit in no time at all. Saul found that out and never got the precious gift of God again.

But Saul was a special case. He didn’t receive the Holy Spirit because he sought God. He received it because he sought his donkeys. But because he was tall and good looking, and exactly what the idolatrous people of Israel wanted in a king, God gave them what they wanted. Saul was forced into conversion—temporarily. God doesn’t force anyone to come to Him; but evidently, Saul had a slight interest in God, being an Israelite and having a minimum knowledge of God’s character. That must have qualified him.

He was the perfect representative of Israel, since they all were half-hearted by the time they wanted a king like all the other nations. But for Saul, after having a special experience with God, when it left him, his soul was left darker than if conversion and prophesying and being commissioned had never happened.
“And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand.
And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.” (1Sam. 18:10,11).

Satan dogged Saul ever afterward. Again Saul wanted to kill David, if murder would remove the emptiness and ugly feelings. “And the evil spirit from the Lord was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin: but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night. ” (1Sam. 19:9,10).

Yet, in the presence of godly Samuel, Satan fled, and Saul was free again to yearn for God. “And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.
And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also.
Then went he also to Ramah, and came to a great well that is in Sechu: and he asked and said, Where are Samuel and David? And one said, Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah.
And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah.
And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1Sam. 19:20-24).

This episode was the last that Saul ever had. Soon after this he was visiting the witch at Endor for counsel he couldn’t receive from God. (1Sam. 28). But this episode sounds so much like what happened to Lucifer in the middle of his rebellion. He sought out loyal angels because the Son had not allowed him back to his former office. Lucifer united with the angels in worship and fell on his face in rejoicing of God’s righteousness. In their presence, he felt different. But rebellion had struck much deeper than he realized. And after the worshiping, he turned away more determined than ever to destroy God.

It must be a wonderful thing to be in God’s presence, away from the atheism that surrounds us, and be overcome with God’s love and beauty.

David had the Spirit of God.
“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,
The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” (1Sam. 23:1-3).

In his repentance because of destroying God’s reputation in the debacle with Bathsheba, David pleads in prayer, “Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.” (Ps. 51:11,12). In a similar thought, David gives us a good insight to his spiritual life and how he had such a measure of the Spirit of God, “I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:8-11).

The Spirit can do more than inspire us, He can literally move those who are 100% dedicated like Elijah was. “And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.” (1Ki. 18:12).

Finally, Elijah left with cherubims to God’s throne, and the sons of the prophets requested of Elishah to look for him. “And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send.” (2Ki. 2:16).

Asaph wrote many of the sacred psalms by the Holy Spirit, and his descendent also was privileged with It’s presence. “Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation;” (2Chron. 20:14).

By the Holy Spirit, Zechariah was compelled to convict the men of Israel of their unholy deeds and was slain between the porch and the altar for his courage of conviction. “And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you.
And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord.”
(2Chron. 24:20,21). Jesus listed him in His last call to Israel, “From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” (Lk. 11:51).

The Holy Spirit uses the human faculties of the people through whom He expresses Himself. He does not bypass their faculties. The prophet expresses his/her own thoughts through the inspiration from above, as we see Elihu about to do with the Spirit in his “spirit.” This use of the word “spirit” is very common throughout the Bible.
“I said, I will answer also my part, I also will shew mine opinion.
For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me.
Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.” (Job 32:17-19).

Elihu stating that the Holy Spirit is involved in turning us into His spokespersons: “The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job 33:4).

If God were to remove His Spirit from the earth, we would all die. “Who hath given Him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world?
If He set His heart upon man, if He gather unto Himself His Spirit and His breath;
All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.” (Job 34:13-15). Even when He removes it a little from us we feel like we are dying. This is what caused His Son to die. We have yet to know what this is like. Let’s never find out.

The Holy Spirit follows us around everywhere we go. Better yet, He is omnipresent and in Him we “live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:27,28). “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?” (Ps. 139:7).

Wisdom is used to personify the Holy Spirit. “Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:... Turn you at My reproof: behold, I will pour out My Spirit unto you, I will make known My words unto you.” (Prov. 1:20,23).

Again, the intellect and heart of man, his faculties which were made to respond to the omnipresent Spirit of God, are given to every person that comes into the world and return back to the Creator upon death. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecc. 12:7). The generosity of God has no bounds. Every son and daughter of Adam was supposed to be a prophet (Nu. 11:29), a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Imagine the sadness and consternation of God in our determined forgetfulness of Him. Again, a prophet assumes one to be holy, (wholly loyal to God) as in “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2Pet. 1:21).

Isaiah prophesied of Jesus that He would possess seven Spirits of God, “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” (Is. 11:2). These are not seven separate persons of the Godhead, but characteristics of the illusive 3rd Person.

Another inside view of what makes a prophet. “With my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early.” (Is. 26:9).

The Holy Spirit was expected to be poured upon His followers. “Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.” (Is. 32:15). The Latter Rain back in the Old Testament days? Yes Ma’am!

“Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counsellor hath taught Him?” (Is. 40:13). Paul, quoting Isaiah, compares the Spirit to the mind of God. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!
For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor?” (Rom. 11:33,34). Interesting.

Jesus had the Spirit without measure. “Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” (Is. 42:1-3). “For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.
The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.” (Jn. 3:34,35).

Here, God and the Holy Spirit are separate entities. ”Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and His Spirit, hath sent me.” (Is. 48:16).

“So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” (Is. 59:19). The Holy Spirit is its own independent Person.
Continuing, “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.
As for Me, this is My covenant with them, saith the Lord; My Spirit that is upon thee, and My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.” (vs.20,21).

Isaiah’s words under inspiration, which Jesus preached in Nazareth and probably all over the place during His whole ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.” (Is. 61:1-3).

Isaiah, in rehearsing the history of Israel, shows why Yahweh brought so many judgments against them. They had grieved the Holy Spirit. “But they rebelled, and vexed His holy Spirit: therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them.” (Is. 63:10). And His never-ending mercy, “Then He remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is He that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flock? where is He that put His holy Spirit within him?” (vs. 11).

The Holy Spirit even calms the animals, which must have been much more abundantly the case before sin, and which will again be the case after this great controversy is over. ”As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.” (vs. 14).

The day is coming, when this world will have so pushed away the Holy Spirit of comfort and conviction, that those who are possessed by Him will know great peace, and everyone else will find His absence to be the invitation for Satan to possess them. “Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.” (Is. 65:14). We don’t want to be in the latter group. We’ve already tasted of it and its no fun.

“And He said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.
And the spirit entered into me when He spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard Him that spake unto me.” (Ez. 2:1,2). The Holy Spirit made Ezekiel stand up from the ground.

The Holy Spirit physically picked up Ezekiel and moved him. Maybe the angels were involved in this also. “Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place.
I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing.
So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.” (Ez. 3:12-14). Again this phenomenon is mentioned in verse 24, in Ez. 8:3, 11:1,24, 37:1, 43:5.
This is also seen again with Philip in the NT. “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.” “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” (Acts 8:29,39).

Ezekiel prophesies by the Holy Spirit. “And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the Lord, Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them....” (Ez. 11:5). Another reference to Peter’s explanation of prophecy (2Pet. 1:21).

God’s promise to Old Testament Israel, claimed by New Testament apostles. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.” (Ez. 36:25,27).

A Babylonian corruption of the true Holy Spirit. “O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.” (Dan. 4:9).

This prophecy of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was used by Peter on the day of Pentecost. “And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and My people shall never be ashamed.
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.” (Joel 2:27-29). Carroll, we are Jesus’ people, Israel. He will make sure we are never ashamed and confounded, because we hold Him dear. We are awaiting His promise of the Latter Rain.

According to Micah, the Holy Spirit wasn’t restricted at all in his day. “O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?” (Mic. 2:7). And it gave Micah power he couldn’t have had, just like Paul and the other apostles later on and all the judges, patriarchs, and prophets before him. “But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” (Mic. 3:8).

The Holy Spirit works with our spirit, as it has always done, even in Haggai’s day when the Jews returned from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem. “And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God.” (Hag. 1:14). “According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.” (Hag. 2:5).

Long before, David had said, “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.” (Ps. 127:1). And Zechariah repeated. ”Then He answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6). “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Tit. 3:5; Phil. 2:13).

Again, attesting to the Holy Spirit working in the past prophets. “Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in His Spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 7:12).

A description of the Latter Rain. “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zech. 12:10).

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The tender heart of God

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant.” (Is. 53:2).

Jesus was different. If we are “made a spectacle ... to angels,” much more certainly Jesus was. 1Cor. 4:9. With the softest heart of the human race since Adam, He reflected the heart of His Father who begot Him and trained Him up in the divine way He should go. And the angels’ hearts sang again on earth.

He had communings with Him whose infinitely deep thoughts are not our thoughts, and whose infinitely pure ways are not our ways. His Father was always His confidant and counselor. As Jesus studied the Holy Scriptures, He distinguished the yearning of holy hearts for a rebellious nation and recognized the pathos of His own Father toward a fallen race. He heard the agony in His Father’s heart because of sin. By faith, He saw the depths of divine sorrow on His Father’s face.

Jesus had righteousness by faith. He loved the law; all aspects of it. More than the priests and the other religious leaders, He comprehended it all and the depth of it, and His strong appreciation of it reflected that comprehension. When He later told them, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God,” we see His intimate knowledge of scripture, and that He saw in the word of God the power of God, as He also saw it in nature. Matt. 22:29. Their misinterpretations began with the seeds of unbelief, but Jesus had had perfect faith in His Father since the dawning of His intelligence.

Thus, perfect obedience was His one motivation in all that He did. He not only loved the Law, He knew it; He not only knew the Law, He loved it. For Jesus, both heart and intellect motivated His holy life, and brought every action of body, mind and soul into captivity to the will of God.

His sympathy for the most wretched, the most untouchable, revealed the shrouded heart of the God of the Old Testament. Much of the action of Israel’s God toward them had come out as not only demonstrative and bold, but also as careless and without pity, interested in only one way conversations. This was necessary in dealing with uncontrolled passions and self-indulgent idolatry in the hearts of the nation called by the name of His Father’s holy love. High-handed divine warnings and justice were forthcoming to meet the high-handed pride and hypocrisy that misrepresented the principles of righteousness to the outside nations.

But, in due time, the God of primarily justice would come to show the true fullness of His love. He would come in the tenderness that had been His from the beginning, expelling every distrusting thought. The people of Israel and of the whole world now were in the most pitiful grip of Satan. Now they could be reasoned and pleaded with. At the end of their rope, they could only confess that disobedience to God equaled slavery to a tyrant.

Now the Father could send His beloved Son to a world that would listen. And many did. And “as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (Jn. 1:12).

“Ye have … seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (Jas. 5:11).