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Friday, September 9, 2016

Could this be true?

This is controversial stuff and has led to some division in the Body of Christ and so I approach it as a question among brothers.  Can we examine this together and see if it might be true?  Can we put aside any opinions and approach this like the Bereans, listen to the presentation and then see if it lines up with scripture.
I believe that God has revealed a simple truth that has been attacked from two very different angles.  The simple truth is, there is a "second work of grace" in a believers life that is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Acts chapter 1 and 2, 10 and 11, 15 and 19, show how it was actually a point that unified and empowered the Body in the early gathering of believers, which, I believe is why Satan has attacked it so heavily on two fronts.
In studying this I pulled up these three pages for help in locating scriptures quickly.
http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Being-Filled-With-The-Spirit
http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Baptism-Of-The-Holy-Spirit
http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Sending-Of-The-Holy-Spirit
I see the two attacks as follows.  #1)  There is no such thing anymore or if there is it does not involve speaking in tongues or any "weird" manifestations.
#2)  It is for here and now and it is full, complete and done, all diseases are healed, all believers have tongues, all power is ours.
#1) is heavily based upon this scripture 1 Cor. 13:8-12  "Love never ends.
But as for prophecies,
they will come to an end;
as for languages, they will cease;
as for knowledge, it will come to an end.
For we know in part,
and we prophesy in part.
10 But when the perfect comes,
the partial will come to an end.
11 When I was a child,
I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man,
I put aside childish things.
12 For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
Now I know in part,
but then I will know fully,
as I am fully known."
John Piper does a very good job of using scripture to make the case here that "the perfect comes" is not the completion of the Bible, but the second coming of Christ.  In this teaching he is saying prophecy and tongues and the other gifts are still with us.  http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/when-will-prophecy-cease
I can not improve on his argument, so I will just leave point #1 right there.

Point #2 involves these 3 scriptures 2 Cor. 1:22, "22 He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts."  Eph. 1:13,14 "13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory." Lastly Romans 8:18-24 which basically says that suffering, longing, groaning and hope are experiences that we all are walking through in this present age.  The second attack propels us out of where we are, in a state of "down payment" and with bodies that are promised to be "decaying" and a creation that is "groaning" and it puts us in a place of "total fulfillment" that is simply not here yet.  It can not be here until the day of the Lord has taken place and the fullness of the gentiles has come in and all Israel is saved.  This is a very important principle and as usual in scripture if you lose track of "Israel" you go off track.  The "down payment" is available and it is ours and we are not nearly walking in all that that means, but it is also definitely not the time of fullness and completion, because we cannot reach that time without our brothers (Israel).  So to say everything is "on earth as it is in heaven" right now is simply not true.

I acknowledge my need of help from other parts of the body to come against these two attacks and it is ultimately a spiritual battle on both fronts and needs prayer to remove the veil in both instances.

Lastly, I want to go back to the examples in Acts of the early gathering of believers, the "sect of the Nazarenes", "the Way" as it was called in the book of Acts.
Acts 1:8 Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would come upon the believers and give them power to be His witnesses.  That is the "now" work of God in the earth.  Jesus was responding to the disciples question of when would be the time to "restore the kingdom to Israel", and he basically says, "That is not for now.  At this time and until that time, you are to be My witnesses."  This is the down payment that Paul speaks of flowing through weak, broken clay vessels. It points to the power and glory of God alone.  Reconciliation, restoration, calling people home, learning how to love, reflecting the mercy-filled heart of God and having signs following are all a part of this time.  The reality of the limits of this age should cause us to cry out for the age to come, Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus, the down payment has made us long for You even more!
Acts 2 gives us the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit on the Hebrew festival of first fruits of the wheat harvest, you get to this festival by counting 50 days from Passover.  The sacrifice of Jesus is tied to this event.  The physical unity that the gathering in the upper room had, was now made a spiritual unity as the Holy Spirit was poured out on "your sons and daughters" who were gathered there.  It was not a "total fulfillment" of the prophecy of Joel because there were no signs in the heavens and it was not the "great and glorious day of the LORD."  But it was a down payment. and it did bring unity and it was followed with signs and wonders.  
Acts 10,11 and a small part of 15 all speak of the first instance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Gentile believers.  This was such a monumental shift in the thinking of the early Jewish believers that it required a sovereign act of God.  With Peter and other witnesses present, the sovereign God chose to bring the Gentiles into the kingdom in a way that could not be refuted and that even years later spoke as a testimony to God's desire to graft them into the vine.  Acts 10:44-48 and 11:15 both state that Peter and the other witnesses simply saw the sovereign hand of God pour out His Spirit on the gentiles the same as "He did upon us at the beginning."  Years later when "religious arguments" were still going on as to what that meant, Peter just restated the facts and told his fellow elders to "get out of God's way" (my translation)  Acts 15:7-11.  
Paul in Acts 19:1-7 brings a gathering of believers in Ephesus up to date on all that is available to them and that message includes the Holy Spirit coming on them.

To sum this up (and it takes less than 7 minutes to read it)  Two attacks have come against the truth of the gift of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Body.  One says it is no more, and one says it is already heaven, a close look at scripture seems to reveal, the Holy Spirit is present in our lives as a down payment of all the fullness that is to come.  We desperately need Him to maintain unity and love and to be a gathering that makes the unbelieving Jew jealous as they see us dripping with the fruit of His presence.

Now "Bereans" I invite any who would take the time to read and consider this, lets discuss it further, tweak it, destroy and rebuild it, whatever we have to do to make this writing a thing that will bring glory to God.


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