Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Indwelling Spirit

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, ESV)

It comes as a shock to many Christians to learn that, in the above quoted verse, it is the church, not the individual Christian that is being called the temple of God’s Spirit. There is a sense in which individuals are called the temple of the Spirit. That is taught elsewhere (1 Cor 6:19, for example). But we make a terrible mistake when we emphasize the indwelling of the Spirit in individuals over that of his indwelling the church.

The Spirit first came to the church when they were “all together in one place” (Acts 2:1ff). The Spirit’s gifts were granted to Timothy through the laying on of an apostle’s hands (2 Tim 1:6), and this was done in company with the church elders (1 Tim 4:14). The Christians at Corinth received the Spirit in their baptism (1 Cor 12:13), something that one does together with others. Even Jesus received the Spirit as he was in company with other believers, and was carrying out the will of the Father in baptism (Mt 3:13-17).

Why should we think that it will be any different for us? Why do so many Christians seem to think that the Spirit of God will come to dwell in them individually, apart from our joint participation in study, worship, and work?
I believe that Andrew Murray was correct when he wrote,

“…the disciples received the Spirit not singly, but when they were with one accord in one place. Band thyself with God’s children around thee to work for souls; the Spirit is the power from on high to fit for that work; the promise will be fulfilled to the believing , willing servants, who want Him not for their enjoyment, but for that work.”

Friday, January 20, 2017

At This Difficult Time

At this difficult time in our nation’s history, I would ask that every Christian remember certain fundamental biblical principles.

1. No matter who is president, Jesus is still king. I know that the Bible never puts it that way, but the principle is there. “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Earthly leaders think that they are accomplishing their own will, but in the end the Lord will use them to accomplish his will (Isa 10:5-12).

2. We should be praying for our leaders (1 Tim 2:1-4). We have had some really terrible leaders in recent years, but perhaps few worse than Nero, for whom Timothy was being told to pray.

3. We should not gossip against our leaders (or anyone). I doubt the truthfulness of some of the things we have been told about our leaders (including both the outgoing president and the incoming one). Even though I may disagree with many of the policies of the incoming president, and almost all of the policies of the outgoing president, I still should not gossip against them. We cannot place full trust in our news sources. They like to stir controversy, and are not above stretching the truth to do so. Please do not repeat as fact claims that may not be factual. It would be better to not repeat such claims at all.

4. The government is NOT the most important institution. God authorized three fundamental institutions. Placed in chronological order they are the home, the government, and the church. Of the three, the government is of least importance. It is also the one we can do the least to correct and improve. Why not spend more of our time where we can have greater hope of having a positive and lasting effect? Let’s work on our home and on our church to bring improvement where it will count most, and where the improvement will be of eternal consequence.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Spirit Made Me Do It

People used to justify their disobedience of God with the excuse, “The devil made me do it.” The more recent excuse has been, “The spirit led me.” Countless times I have heard people justify disobeying God’s word with this excuse. It is a lie.

Now I do not mean to deny that a spirit may have led them to disobey God, but it was not God’s Holy Spirit who so led them. The Holy Spirit gave us the scriptures (2 Peter 1:21). God does not change (James 1:17). His Spirit is not going to contradict in person what he told us in his book. But there are other spirits at work in the world besides the Holy Spirit. That is why we must “test the spirits to see if they are of God” (1 John 4:1).

God gives his Spirit to those who obey him (Acts 5:32). Those who are not obeying are not being led by his Spirit. They are perhaps being led by the spirit of the age, or the spirit of darkness, or the spirit of their own evil passions. But they are not being led by the Holy Spirit.

Do not be deceived. The Holy Spirit will not lead you to do what he has forbidden in the scriptures. If a spirit seems to be so leading you, it is a false spirit, a demonic spirit.

And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32, ESV).

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 1:7, ESV).

“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14, ESV).

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Day's March Nearer Home

For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:2-4 (ESV).

I do not recall ever seeing my father cry, but he did admit to having cried once. He said that when the transport carrying him (and hundreds of others) to Korea passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, “There was not a dry eye on the ship.”

How different the reaction when making their return journey. On the last day of their sea journey they anchored a mile off the coast of Washington. The ship’s captain posted Marines all around the railing to keep the young men from trying to swim that last mile, they were so eager to get home.

James Montgomery penned a hymn containing the words,
Here in the body pent,
Absent from him I roam,
Yet nightly pitch my moving tent
A day’s march nearer home.

I am a day older today than I was yesterday, a year older than I was last year. Is that the right way for us to look at life? Should we not rather say, “Tonight I pitch my moving tent a day’s march nearer home”?

Whether we like it or not, it is true -- we are a day nearer the end of this life than we were yesterday. But are we a day nearer to something we dread, or a day nearer home? Are we journeying home, or drifting toward an eternal precipice?