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Archive for March 2020

Ministry of the Holy Spirit: Sealing

More Pondering from the Ponderosa.  We are thinking about seven ministries of the Holy Spirit.  We have gone through regeneration, baptism, indwelling, and now we will consider the Holy Spirit’s sealing ministry. Does a Christian truly have eternal life or do we receive probationary life from God, until we commit a serious sin? It should be obvious to the most casual Bible student that if eternal life can be lost, it was never eternal life to begin with.  

 A truly amazing characteristic of God’s Holy Spirit is His sealing ministry. Speaking of Jesus Christ, Paul wrote that inHim (Christ) you trusted after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation (one is to respond to the gospel by faith in Christ), in whom also, having believed (one first hears the gospel and believe in Christ) you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).

What does it mean to be sealed with the Holy Spirit? One of the most cherished teachings in the Bible is the life of Noah and the great flood. God judged and destroyed the entire civilization of man, sparing only one family. You remember that God placed Noah and his family and all the animals in the ark, and He shut them in (Genesis 7:16).  God alone was the doorman! He saw to it that the door remained securely closed until all were safely deposited in the new world.

When the flood was over, Noah and his people and all the animals exited the ark safely onto a new world. Why? God guarded that door. After the flood, God promised never to destroy this world again—by water. But He did not promise never to destroy this world again (2 Peter 3:3–5).

Scoffers are here today! They are asking, “Where is your God? What about His promise to once again engage this world with His judgment?” Evil is rampant. The Bible’s view of marriage has been compromised. Babies are being slaughtered by the millions. We are immersed in a sexual revolution, and a civil revolution, and now this pandemic.  Many thought that these events would never happen, but they are here.  Once again, people are asking, “Where is your God?” Centuries have passed and still no Christ. Things continue to get worse. The scoffers are once again doing exactly what they did before Noah’s flood.

Just as Noah and his family were spared from God’s wrath by being positioned in the ark, those who will be spared from God’s coming wrath must be positioned in the body of Jesus Christ (baptism of the Holy Spirit) (1 Corinthians 12:13). He is our Ark. Those who are “in Christ” will never perish (John 10:28).  Once in Christ, we can never get out of Him. Just as God shut Noah and his family safely in the ark, He, by the sealing ministry of His Holy Spirit, also shuts us safely in Christ.

With no postal service in the ancient world, important documents were sent by runners. These documents had an official seal pressed upon the folds of the document. If the seal was broken for any reason before the letter was delivered, the carrier was arrested and punished, and the contents of the document rendered of no value. The seal could be broken only by the one to whom the letter was addressed.

Believers in Christ are sealed forever in Him (Ephesians 1:3-4). We are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of our redemption. “Until” is a time word. We are sealed until the redemption of the purchased possession. We are sealed until God Himself breaks the seal by taking us to be with Him. He opens the door into His kingdom. Wow! This sealing ministry of the Spirit is said to be a guarantee. This is the Greek word, arroban, a pledge, which can be translated engagement ring. An engagement ring is a symbol that a promise will be kept. God the Holy Spirit’s seal becomes the guarantee that our position in Christ is forever secure. “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).  Stay safe and stay tuned.

 

Ministry of the Holy Spirit: Indwelling (part 3)

More Pondering from the Ponderosa. Here is the final post on the Holy Spirit’s indwelling ministry. The church is not a building made of physical material. It has never been. It is a spiritual house. Peter says that we are living stones—rejected by men but chosen by God. We are precious in His sight. We are actually a living spiritual priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices to our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4–5).

This is truth invisible to human eyes, and silent to human ears, and never before has it entered the mind of man. This is God’s invisible reality revealed. Luke said that when persecution began in Jerusalem, the church was scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1). This is obviously not speaking of believers rushing out, busily drawing up blueprints, and putting up physical buildings in these regions with communion tables, podiums, and stained-glass windows, and steeples.

Before Paul’s conversion to Christ, it is said that he ravaged the church, entered house after house, and dragged off men and women, putting them in prison (Acts 8:3). Saul persecuted the church, but it is extremely evident that he was not taking vengeance on a physical building. He was entering houses and other places where the church was meeting and was persecuting people.

Before Saul changed his name to Paul, he became the most feared enemy of the church of Jesus Christ. Singlehandedly he attempted to destroy this entire movement. It is interesting that when the Lord Jesus Christ called Saul of Tarsus to Himself, He asked this stabbing question: “Why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). Was Paul persecuting the body of Jesus Christ directly? Yes, he was! He was attempting to destroy believers, and believers are the body of Christ.

Ask yourself as you read the following portions of passages if the word church is speaking of a physical building or of people:

  • The church is pictured by the husband and wife relationship (Ephesians 5:25–32).
  • The church enjoys peace (Acts 9:31).
  • The church has ears (Acts 11:22).
  • Peter met with the church at Antioch (Acts 11:26).
  • The church faced physical persecution (Acts 12:1).
  • The church prays (Acts 12:5).

Jesus Christ did not die on the cross for a physical building made of brick and mortar with stained-glass windows. Physical buildings do not enjoy peace. They do not hear. Steeples and stained glass do not pray. All of the following passages speak of the church as the living temple of God, not physical buildings: Acts 13:1; Acts 14:23; Acts 14:27; Acts 15:3–4; Acts 15:22; Acts 18:22; Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28; Romans 16:1; Romans 16:5; Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 5:15; 1 Corinthians 6:4; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Corinthians 11:18; 1 Corinthians 11:22; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 14:12; 1 Corinthians 14:19; 1 Corinthians 14:23; 1 Corinthians 14:28; 1 Corinthians 14:35; 1 Corinthians 15:9; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 3:21; Philippians 1:2; Philippians 3:6; Philippians 4:15; Colossians 1:18 Colossians 1:24–25; Colossians 4:15; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:5; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Timothy 5:16; Hebrews 12:23; James 5:14; 3 John 1:6; 3 John 1:9–10; Revelation 2:1; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 2:12; Revelation 2:18; Revelation 3:1; Revelation 3:7; Revelation 3:14.

If you have read all these posts, lights should be coming on. How did we ever begin to get so far from this? The answer is the invasion of the church by Babylon around 300 AD. Stay safe and stay tuned.

 

Ministry of the Holy Spirit: Indwelling (part 2)

Pondering from the Ponderosa, continues. It is true that there was a time when God made Himself known to the Jews by revealing His presence in a temple made with hands. This temple was to be a very special place. God handpicked craftsmen to build it. Each of these builders was adequately equipped and given special wisdom and talent. There were engineers, carpenters, brick masons, and other specialists. They were all gifted artisans who came together to make all that the Lord commanded (Exodus 35:10; 36:1). They were to follow an exact blueprint that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:9).

God made it abundantly clear why such great care was to be taken on the physical earthly dwelling. He was going to meet with the people in that tabernacle (Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 6–8). That must have been an incredible sight. People stood in awe and watched as the cloud came down and rested upon the temple. The God who created them, the God who created this entire universe, visibly revealed Himself to fallen human beings. His presence made known in this way is called “the glory of the Lord” or the shechinah glory. In the Old Testament, these manifestations of God were in the form of the angel of the Lord, light, fire, or a cloud, or a combination of these.

God continued to manifest His presence to Israel in the temple for many years, but the Jews began to rebel against Him. Their rebellion became so blatant that Ezekiel wrote that God’s presence eventually left the temple. This extremely sad scene is described in Ezekiel. God is shown as leaving in stages, each one showing His reluctance to go. He went from the mercy seat and paused over the threshold of the temple and then moved above it (Ezekiel 10:4).

From the threshold of the temple, He moved above and beyond the temple and stood at the eastern gate (Ezekiel 10:18–19). Next the glory of the Lord went up from the east side of the temple and stood on the mountain (Ezekiel 10:22–23). At last, the word Icabod,which means “for the glory of the Lord has departed,” was etched over the temple. God had departed from the temple. What a horrible day that must have been!

Hundreds of years passed. Then one day, it happened. Catch this glimpse! God moved into a new temple, a temple not made of wood or stone or bricks. It is a temple not filled with pews or laden with carpets or with windows filled with stained glass or beautiful rooms with hanging chandeliers. Fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God sent the Holy Spirit who located His presence within the bodies of all believers. “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1–4). The church of Jesus Christ—believers from every nation, kindred, and tongue—became the dwelling place of God that day. The bodies of Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in us, and we have been bought with the price of His precious blood. Therefore, we are to glorify (shed light upon) Him (1 Corinthians 6:19–20; 2 Corinthians 6:16).

Paul’s letter to Roman believers makes clear the same truth (Romans 5:5). The moment we become a Christian, God the Holy Spirit comes into our bodies and takes up permanent residence. In fact, the Spirit’s presence is absolute proof that we are connected to Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9).

Paul called the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of Christ.” This is one of the miraculous things about the Trinity. The members of the Trinity are coexistent. When one member is present, all three are there (Colossians 1:27). All of Christ’s prophetic words in John 14:20 are fulfilled. Christ is now seated with His Father, we are in Him, and He is in us! What an incredible thought! What an amazing glimpse into the unseen realm of a holy God. Stay safe and stay tuned.

 

Ministry of the Holy Spirit: Indwelling (part 1)

Still Pondering at the Ponderosa. Hope your family is hanging tough. Seven ministries of the Holy Spirit should be known by every believer. We have covered regeneration and Spirit baptism. Our next ministry is indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This subject will take a few days to explain. It all begins with these remarkable prophetic words of Christ found in John 14:20. “At that day you will know that I am in my father and you in Me and I in you.” Three spiritual transactions are covered. Let’s focus on the last part of the prophecy: “I in you.” Jesus meant that there would come a time when He would personally dwell in His disciples. This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. On that day, the church of Jesus Christ was born.

There are great family traditions in the South, and church is one of the greatest of all. Heard in thousands of homes every Sunday morning is the question “Hey, you goin’ to church today?” Church may be a huge brick or concrete structure in a large city or a simple wood-frame building in the country. It may be identified as Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Pentecostal, to name a few that we are familiar with.

Church is where preaching and singing are heard and, at times, where one is inspired, convicted, and even converted. Church is where families watch children grow up, get baptized, and marry. It is where friends and family meet and eat and talk about life. It is a momentary reprieve from the stresses of the world.

The kind of church one attends or what religious denomination one is part of likely depends on one’s upbringing. Most seem to prefer a church with an air-conditioned and heated building, a steeple of course, organized meetings, Sunday school classes, great music, and dynamic age-appropriate programs.

This brings up an interesting question: is the true church of Jesus Christ a building? The fact according to the Bible, it is a building. However, it is not a building made of brick, wood, or steel. Nothing could be further from the truth. Catch this glimpse! The church is a building made of people.

The word church in the original language is formed from two Greek words. The little preposition ekmeans “from” or “out from.” The word kaleo means “to call.” When put together, the word ekklesia means “to call out from.” The church is made up of people whom God has called out from the world to be His very own possession. The church is God’s people who have received the ministry of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The God revealed in the Bible is infinite. This means that He goes far beyond our human ability to understand. We cannot begin to wrap our thoughts around Him. This entire universe with its countless billions of galaxies cannot contain Him. He exists outside of that which He created. That is an incredible thought!

Stephen made this point clear in his testimony before the Jews. He recalled the fact that Solomon built God a temple. But God does not dwell in temples made with human hands. Since heaven is God’s throne and earth is His footstool, what house could a human being build that could contain Him? He made everything that is made (Acts 7:48–50). Stay safe and stay tuned!

 

Ministry of the Holy Spirit: Baptism

I am still pondering from the Ponderosa. I realize that we live in a culture of soundbites, but here comes more strong meat from God’s Word.  There are 774, 646 words in the Bible and every word matters. God’s Word contains wisdom that human eyes have never seen, nor ears heard, nor wisdom that has never entered human minds before (1 Corinthians 2:9-14).  It is wisdom that is taught to us from God’s Word by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us eyes to see and ears to hear. I pondered yesterday the Spirit’s ministry of the new birth and how He births us into God’s Kingdom, which forever changes our destiny. Today I want to ponder the Spirit’s baptizing work which forever changes our identity.  

The moment we hear the gospel and trust Jesus Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit does many invisible works in our lives that change us forever. He immediately immerses us into the King (no water involved) (1 Corinthians 12:13).  This is the real baptism for which water is just a symbol. Paul wrote that there is one faith, one Lord, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Water baptism is important, but it is just a symbol of this amazing work. What an incredible thought! At the moment of our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit not only births us into God’s Kingdom, He baptizes us into God’s King. This is what is referred to as “Spirit baptism.”

Every believer instantly becomes a new creation; old things pass away and new things come (2 Corinthians 5:17). We receive a new life, His life, eternal life (1 John 5:11-13). We receive Christ’s relationship to His father, meaning that we become sons of the living God (Galatians 3:26-28). His righteousness is placed on our account (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9). We need a righteousness equal to God’s in order to live with Him forever. Someone has written that God’s righteousness is the righteousness that His righteousness requires Him to require. Whew! 

And finally, we receive a new unity with the Body of Christ (Galatians 3:27-28).  Every wall that potentially divides us as human beings is removed. We become one body in Christ. And, oh by the way, this is how we get into our Ark, who will one day jettison us to a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1; 22:1-5). And as in Noah’s day, the Holy Spirit seals the door shut, and we cannot be lost (Ephesians 1:13-14). That is a good point to end on. Stay safe and stay tuned.   


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