Friday, July 14, 2017

Don't Judge Me!

The Shadow of Things to Come
"Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ." (Colossians 2:16-17, NASB)

 I have some good friends who believe that in order to follow Jesus / Yeshua, you must keep the Sabbath, the Jewish feasts and the Old Testament Law / Torah.  I saw someone post in reply to this verse that it does not refer to Jewish Sabbaths and Feasts, but to pagan feasts.  However, that would mean that:
1.  Paul would be teaching the Colossians not to let people judge them for keeping the pagan feasts, when he repeatedly tells Gentiles to abandon idolatry and come to Christ.
2.  Paul would be teaching that those pagan feasts are a foreshadowing of the Jewish Messiah, which also makes no sense.

 No, Paul was teaching the Colossian believers that the Jewish feasts, new moons and Sabbaths were the shadow of the Messiah.  The contrast is between the body of Christ and the shadow of the Feasts and Sabbaths.  They are only a insubstantial shadow compared to the substance, the reality, of Christ.  Believers who have trusted Christ for salvation follow Him by walking in the Spirit, obey His New Covenant commandments, and are under no obligation to observe the old shadows of food laws, Feasts and Sabbaths.   They were fulfilled in Christ and now we have the fullness of God in Him.

 "But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter."  (Romans 7:6, NASB)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Is the Holy Spirit a Person?

Some friends of mine asked in a blog post about the Holy Spirit "how can a person live inside you?" They do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a person, or in the doctrine of the Trinity. The word "Trinity" does not appear in Scripture, but is a theological term describing a number of Biblical truths. The definition of the Trinity is that "there is one God who exists eternally in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit."  My purpose in this post is to show where the Bible teaches the personhood of the Holy Spirit.

First, we have to understand what the term "person" means.  It does not refer to "a person walking down the street," or "the person who lives next door."  A person (this is not hard to understand) is someone who has a mind, will, emotions and can relate to others.  The Bible teaches that God is personal.  He is not like the "force" in Star Wars or some directionless cosmic energy, but He has a mind (Isaiah 55:8-9), the incredibly inventive mind that designed all of creation and knows the thoughts and intentions of every heart (Jeremiah 17:10).  He has a will (Mark 3:35), a will that chose to create mankind in His own image and that chose to send Jesus to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (Luke 22:42).  He has emotions, the emotions of anger (Numbers 32:13), joy (Zephaniah 3:17), jealousy (Exodus 20:5), grief (Genesis 6:6)) and compassion (2 Kings 13:23).  He is capable of relationships, evidenced by his relationships with the people of God in the Bible, like Abraham, Moses, David and now those who have put their trust in Christ alone for salvation.

Our own personhood is a large part of the "image of God" created in each of us and that which distinguishes us from the rest of creation.  Our own personhood and consciousness does not end when we die and are absent from our bodies (2 Peter 1:13-15), but our spirits go on to exist in heaven or hell (Luke 16:19-21) where we continue to think, feel and communicate with others.  We cannot equivocate on the term person to say that a person has to have a body when Jesus clearly taught otherwise.

Do these characteristics of personhood apply to the Holy Spirit?  Let's look at what Jesus taught in John 14:15-17, John 14:25-26 and John 16:8-15.

1.  The Holy Spirit has a mind.  Jesus said that the Holy Spirit " will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:26).  Teaching requires a thinking mind.  In John 16:8 Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit, says, "and when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment."  Sin, righteousness and judgment are deep topics, and convincing someone of their sin takes knowledge and intellect, just like guiding people and speaking to them as we will see in a moment.  (1 Cor 2:10-13).

2.  The Holy Spirit has a will.  "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come" (John 16:13).  The Holy Spirit chooses not to exercise His own authority in speaking to the believers, but to speak on behalf of the Father  (another distinction between Father and Spirit).  Even Jesus said, "The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority" (John 14:10).  Does that mean Jesus does not have authority?  No, it means that He was not speaking using the authority that He clearly has.  In the same way, the Holy Spirit chooses not to speak on His own authority, but on the Father's authority.  He has a will (Acts 7:51; 1 Corinthians 12:11).

3.  The Holy Spirit has emotions.  This passage in John does not teach that the Holy Spirit has emotions, but others do, including Isaiah 63:10 (the rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit), Ephesians 4:30 (do not grieve the Holy Spirit) and Hebrews 10:29 (insulting/outraging the Spirit).

4.  The Holy Spirit is capable of relationships.  In John 16:13, Jesus uses the verbs hearing, speaking, guiding and declaring which are all relational.  John 14:17 says "you know him."  The Holy Spirit can be known, not just intellectually, but personnally and relationally.  Interestingly, Jesus does not call the Holy Spirit "it" but "he," a personal pronoun, and describes Him as "another Helper."  In Greek, the word means "another of the same kind."  In Acts, Ananias and Sapphira lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4).  You cannot lie to an impersonal force, but only to a person.

On a final note, some might say that the Spirit of the Lord is just an extension of Yahweh or another way to refer to His action in the world, like "the arm of the Lord" or "the voice of the Lord."  Is the Holy Spirit distinct from the Father?  Jesus said that He and the Father would send the Holy Spirit to the disciples (John 14:16; 14:25, 16:7).  Can God send Himself?  In Hebrews 3:7, the author writes "as the Holy Spirit says, 'Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks!'"  In context, the "he" is God the Father.  If the Spirit was the Father, how could the Spirit say "listen as he speaks?"  In Romans 8:26-27, Paul teaches that the Holy Spirit intercedes for believers to the Father.  An intercessor is one who comes between two others and pleads the case of one to the other.  Biblically, the Holy Spirit is not an extension or operating mode of God the Father.

So, does the Holy Spirit dwell in believers?  Clearly, as Jesus taught about the Spirit, "you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:17).  I have demonstrated above that the Holy Spirit is personal, or in theological terms, "a person."  Therefore, the Person of the Holy Spirit can dwell in someone.

I will deal with the Deity of the Holy Spirit, the Deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity in other posts.  Please keep comments on the topic of the personhood of the Holy Spirit or the arguments I made above.  God bless you as you seek to grow in the knowledge of His Glory and Grace!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tim Hawkins - Atheist Summer Camp

This one is just too funny. I had to share it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Because Chuck Said So...

Chuck Norris' top ten (or so) reasons to register to vote. Just do it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Obama Walks Into a Bank...

This was so funny, sad and true at the same time, I couldn't help but post it.

President Obama walks into a local bank in Chicago to cash a check. He is surrounded by Secret Service agents. As he approaches the cashier he says, "Good morning Ma'am, could you please cash this check for me?"
"It would be my pleasure sir. Could you please show me your ID?"
"Truthfully, I did not bring my ID with me as I didn't think there was any need to. I am President Barack Obama, the President of the United States of AMERICA !!!!"
"Yes sir, I know who you are, but with all the regulations and monitoring of the banks because of 9/11, impostors, forgers, money laundering, and bad mortgage underwriting not to mention requirements of the Dodd/Frank legislation, etc., I must insist on seeing ID."
“Just ask anyone here at the bank who I am and they will tell you. Everybody knows who I am."
"I am sorry Mr. President but these are the bank rules and I must follow them."
"I am urging you, please, to cash this check. I need to buy a gift for Michelle for Valentine’s Day"
"Look Mr. President, here is an example of what we can do. One day, Tiger Woods came into one of our bank branches without ID. To prove he was Tiger Woods he pulled out his putter and made a beautiful shot across the bank into a coffee cup. With that shot we knew him to be Tiger Woods and cashed his check.”
“Another time, Andre Agassi came into the same place without ID. He pulled out his tennis racquet and made a fabulous shot where as the tennis ball landed in a coffee cup. With that shot we cashed his check.
So, Mr. President, what can you do to prove that it is you, and only you, as the President of the United States?"
Obama stands there thinking, and thinking, and finally says, "Honestly, my mind is a total blank...there is nothing that comes to my mind. I can't think of a single thing. I have absolutely no idea what to do and I don’t have a clue.”
"Will that be large or small bills, Mr. President?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Founders' "Assault Rifle"

The 1780 Girandoni Air Gun was the Founders' version of the so-called "assault rifle."  Gun-grabbers always want to argue that the Founders could never have envisioned 30 round magazines, repeating rifles, or anything other than a muzzleloading, single shot rifle or flint-lock pistol.  Well, from the pages of history, invented in 1789, and used by the Austrian army from 1780 to 1815, here is the Founder's assault rifle.  The tubular magazine held 20 rounds of .46 caliber ball ammunition, quickly reloaded from 20 round tubes carried in a satchel.  The stock used compressed air (800 psi or so) to fire the round, which had an effective range of 150 yards.  Being air powered, the rifles were also suppressed by the standards of the day.

The rifle predated the Bill of Rights by 10 years, and Thomas Jefferson gave two rifles to the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804, who used the repeating nature of the rifle in demonstrations to the Native Americans, who naturally assumed that the whole party was outfitted with them and wisely chose to be neighborly.

It could also be argued that the Founders could not have known about radio, television, the Internet, blogs, communications satellites and fiber optics, so the First Amendment must not mean what it says either.  Why, someone might prove to everyone that progressive arguments against the Second Amendment are historically inaccurate and without merit, and then publish it for the world to see instantly and without censorship.