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Archive for Christians

Ministry of the Holy Spirit: Equipping

More ponderings from the Ponderosa. Today, we will ruminate (meditate) on the equipping ministry of the Holy Spirit. It’s going to take more than one session to adequately cover this matter. Remember that God provided those who built His original temple with gifted artisans. There were engineers, carpenters, brick masons, and other specialists (Exodus 35:10; 36:1).  They were all specialized to make all that the Lord commanded. This may come as a surprise, but God has likewise equipped a group of gifted artisans to build His temple now. God is the great genius! Remember, His temple now is the living body of Christ.  The contrast is clear. Just as God selected and equipped gifted craftsmen to build the old physical temple, Jesus Christ has selected and equipped gifted craftsmen to build His new spiritual temple, the church (Ephesians 4:11).

When Christ ascended back into heaven, He began this selection. “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:7–11). It is not Paul’s intent to name all of the gifts here. Others are mentioned in Romans 12:3-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.

Apostles and New Testament prophets were the first communicators of the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the world. An apostle was one sent with a message. During His short time on this earth, Christ poured His life into His disciples. A disciple is a learner. After Christ’s resurrection, these learners became Christ’s apostles – sent with the message of the gospel.  God’s living church began to be built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).

During the early years of the church (just as today), Satan has his deceivers positioned among the church claiming to be apostles and prophets of God. They were and are used by Satan to distort the message of God and to deceive the nations (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Peter 2:1). They claim to be believers and look very much like them. These wolves in sheep’s clothing were not easily spotted. The imposters looked and sounded pretty much like the genuine teachers. How were God’s sheep to know the difference?

God gave His apostles and prophets special miracle-working power as ID cards to verify their identity and the importance of their message (Hebrews 2:3–4). The signs of true apostles were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs, wonders, and miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12). Signs were miracles that no doubt shocked and amazed those who witnessed them. The identity of the real apostles was verified by these miracles. The miraculous signs were meant to say, “Hey, listen! I am who I claim to be and what I am about to say is indeed the very Word of God. Pay close attention!”

The Bible was then completed and contains all the necessary info to determine the good guys from the bad.  These early miracle workers slowly passed from the scene when the need for them no longer existed. They had done their part of the construction. As the living, spiritual organism of the church began to grow, a new group of workers came on the scene (1 Corinthians 3:9–15; Ephesians 4:7–16). These workers could be compared to carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and brick masons in a construction business. Until the day of His return to establish His promised kingdom, Jesus Christ will continue to build His church through gifted people, proclaiming the power of His word.  These gifted craftsmen are continuing to this very day to build on the prepared foundation. Stay safe and stay tuned!

The Big Picture

by Dick Hill

Image result for image jigsaw puzzle

The Bible is an inexhaustible source of amazing wisdom and insight. And there is always more to learn, always moreto understand. One will never plumb the depths of its truth this side of the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ. Paul said that at best in this life we will only have partial knowledge.

There will come a time, however, when partial knowledge will give way to full knowledge. Paul said that when he was a child, he spoke as a child and understood as a child. But when he became a man, he put away childish things. He then made this point: 


For at this present time we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now we know in part, but then we shall know just as I also am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12).

When believers, those who have the Spirit of God living inside, begin to study the truths of the Bible, it is as though they are looking through a dimly lit corridor. They just catch glimpses of God’s amazing truth here and there. But there is coming a time when God will draw back the curtain and allow us to really see. Our dim mirrors will then become bright and crystal clear.    

Full knowledge of many things will eventually prevail. I do not think, however, that we will ever come to a complete understanding of God. God is, after all, incomprehensible and unfathomable. However, some day we will finally see God in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ – the King of all Kings.

God has used many different Bible teachers throughout my life to add to my knowledge of His word. But without a doubt, my greatest teacher by far has been the third person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. Notice how Jesus introduced Him to us. Speaking to His disciples He said:

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15) 

Christians profit from the writings of different people and have throughout the years of history. God placed in my heart to write books on Bible truths that some may consider difficult.  It has been my desire to make these difficult Bible doctrines understandable to those who have the desire to know them. It takes time and the desire on the part of the listener and clear teaching on the part of the instructor to make the truth understandable.

In the book, A Glimpse of the Christian, I sought to answer the question, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” What does the word Christian mean? It means “belonging to Christ” or “connected to Christ.” Some of the most exciting glimpses into God’s invisible domain are the ones that teach us exactly how we are connected to Him.

First and most importantly, Christians are Bible people. For most readers, this would appear glaringly obvious. “Well, of course,” you might respond. “What else would we be?”

Then again, you may not understand exactly what I mean by “Bible people.” Christians believe the Bible to be God’s inerrant, infallible Word. Christians are to be faithful to study the Bible, seeking to find the correct interpretation so we can do what it says and teach it accurately. But there is much more to the Bible than most people understand.

When I was young, I came into the possession of some old hand-me-down puzzles. These were definitely not children’s puzzles. Some of them had well over a hundred pieces and most of these pieces were very small. I simply had no clue where to begin. After the decision to try, I would begin by looking intently at the picture on the box. In fact, I would look at it over and over again trying to etch that picture in my mind. I found myself constantly gazing at the image, trying to visualize what this puzzle was to look like when completed.

The more familiar I became, the easier it was to zero-in on the location of various objects in the picture, like buildings or mountains or people. Then came the colors with their various shades. I studied all the pieces and their shapes – some had square corners, some rounded corners, etc. – all the while, keeping the picture on the box in mind.  Then piece by piece, ever so slowly, paying close attention to the colors and shapes, through much trial and error – I began to find where the pieces fit. I gradually began to make a little progress. Hours turned into days, and the picture began to take shape. As this happened, I was more motivated to go back and work on it. Though agonizingly slow, the picture on the box began to come into view in the puzzle. Finally, when the last few pieces were inserted, there it was! The puzzle became the picture on the box. When the last piece was laid in place, and the picture was complete, it was time to celebrate.

It is very much the same when attempting to understand the big picture behind the Bible. When we begin to put the pieces of truth together and catch a glimpse of God’s end game, His big picture, we are more motivated to study it. 

The apostle John was used by God to give us a glimpse of this big picture as well as some important truths to help us understand the way forward.  John was a prisoner, exiled on a deserted island for nothing more than believing and teaching that the testimony of the Bible is true.  John taught that the Bible’s main character is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth (including Caesar at that time).  John boldly said that Jesus loves us and washed us from our sins in His own blood (Revelation 1:2, 5). John was charged as a criminal, found guilty, and later exiled to a desolate island called Patmos.  He had already realized that this world was not his final home. He was a pilgrim and a stranger here. He was just passing through (Hebrews 11:13). He knew also that he was completely in God’s hands and that God had placed him on that desolate island for His purpose.

Jesus Christ gave John a magnificent view of the big picture. John testified that he had seen a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. 

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God iswith men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and betheir God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:1).

I have tried to visualize in my mind exactly what that old grace champion must have seen, that is, what this new heaven and new earth will be like. The last two chapters of Revelation must have become for him his glimpse at the picture on the box of God’s final puzzle. This must have given him the added assurance that this world was not his home and his view of that new heaven and earth became for him the final piece of the puzzle. This, no doubt, was at least a part of his thinking when he wrote:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that isin the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-18)

Bible People

Image result for bible imagesThe very first time the word Christian is found in the Bible is in the book of Acts where it says that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). King Agrippa said that Paul almost persuaded him to become a Christian (Acts 26:28). Peter said that if anyone suffered as a Christian, he should not be ashamed but should glorify God (1 Peter 4:16). That’s it. Those three references are the only times in the Bible the word Christian is mentioned.

What does the word Christian mean? It means “belonging to Christ” or “connected to Christ.” Some of the most exciting glimpses into God’s invisible domain are the ones that teach us exactly how we are connected to Him.

True Christians know quite well that we are connected to Christ by faith and faith alone (Ephesians 2:8–9; Romans 4:4–5). Some still erroneously believe that to be saved, human works must be added to faith. This is not the case. We receive God’s gift of forever life by placing our faith alone in the person of Christ alone.

First and most importantly, Christians are Bible people. For most readers, this would appear glaringly obvious. “Well, of course,” you might respond. “What else would we be?”

Then again, you may not understand exactly what I mean by Bible people. Christians believe the Bible to be God’s inerrant, infallible Word. Christians are to be faithful to study the Bible, seeking to find the correct interpretation so we can do what it says and teach it accurately. There is much more to the Bible than most people understand.

There are books considered by many to be holy books, including the Hindu Veda, the teachings of Buddha, the Muslim Koran, the Book of Mormon, and the Bible. People become Hindus because they are taught out of the Veda. Buddhists study and attempt to follow the teachings of Mahatma Buddha. Muslims believe and follow the teachings of the Koran. Mormons form their beliefs from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

However, there is no book equal to the Bible. There is only one God, and He has spoken to us only through the Bible. The apostle Peter said, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20–21).

The teaching contained in the Bible is not a record of man’s thoughts about God. It is, in fact, God’s Word about Himself. The Bible says that all Scripture is inspired of God. The word inspired means “God breathed.” Every word recorded in the Bible is the very breath of God revealed in written form (2 Timothy 3:16). Since this is true, the Word of God is living and powerful. The words are spiritually alive, and when wielded by the Holy Spirit, they make a spiritual impact upon readers (Hebrews 12:1–2).

The Holy Spirit moved special men to write down God’s Word as He dictated it to them. The writers’ human minds were active, but the Holy Spirit was in complete control of everything they thought, spoke, and wrote. They used their own words, but their words were guided through the directing hand of God.

God used forty different writers to pen His Word over a period of some 1,600 years, yet it tells one story from beginning to end. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, with a short portion in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek. The Bible has been translated from its original languages into many languages, allowing God to speak to many nations and peoples around the world. From Genesis through Revelation, God’s Word, the Bible, is complete and completely truthful. God preserved and protected His Word and brought it safely down to us today.

The result is that the Bible that we hold in our hands includes all the words with all their proper meanings that God intends for us to have. Every word matters. The Bible in its original language is inerrant and infallible. Every noun, verb, adjective, adverb, participle, infinitive, conjunction, and prepositional phrase is in the Bible by God’s design. The Bible contains 1,189 chapters; 41,173 verses in the Old Testament; 33,214 verses in the New Testament; 593,393 words in the Old Testament; 181,253 words in the New Testament; and 774,646 total words.[i]  The longest chapter is Psalm 119, and the shortest is Psalm 117. The longest book in the Old Testament is Psalms, and the longest in the New Testament is Luke.

Let’s ask a most searching question. Why did God choose to make His Word known to us? It is because no other book on earth can do what this book has the power to do. Stay tuned!


[i]Roy B. Zuck. The Speakers Quote Book.Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997, 33.

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