Daily Archives: September 16, 2014

Questions about the Holy Spirit: How Can I Recognize the Guidance of the Holy Spirit?

 

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told His disciples that He would send one who would teach and guide all those who believe in Him (Acts 1:5; John 14:26; 16:7). Jesus’ promise was fulfilled less than two weeks later when the Holy Spirit came in power on the believers at Pentecost (Acts 2). Now, when a person believes in Christ, the Holy Spirit immediately becomes a permanent part of his life (Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

The Holy Spirit has many functions. Not only does He distribute spiritual gifts according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:7–11), but He also comforts us (John 14:16, KJV) teaches us (John 14:26), and remains as a seal of promise upon our hearts until the day of Jesus’ return (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). The Holy Spirit also takes on the role of Guide and Counselor, leading us in the way we should go and revealing God’s truth (Luke 12:12; 1 Corinthians 2:6–10).

But how do we recognize the Spirit’s guidance? How do we discern between our own thoughts and His leading? After all, the Holy Spirit does not speak with audible words. Rather, He guides us through an inner voice (John 16:13), our own consciences (Romans 9:1), and other quiet, subtle ways.

One of the most important ways to recognize the Holy Spirit’s guidance is to be familiar with God’s Word. The Bible is the ultimate source of wisdom about how we should live (2 Timothy 3:16), and believers are to search the Scriptures, meditate on them, and commit them to memory (Ephesians 6:17). The Word is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17), and the Spirit will use it to speak to us (John 16:12–14) to reveal God’s will for our lives; He will also bring specific Scriptures to mind at times when we need them most (John 14:26).

Knowledge of God’s Word can help us to discern whether or not our desires come from the Holy Spirit. We must test our inner voice against Scripture—the Holy Spirit will never prod us to do anything contrary to God’s Word. If it conflicts with the Bible, then it is not from the Holy Spirit and should be ignored.

It is also necessary for us to be in continual prayer with the Father (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Not only does this keep our hearts and minds open to the Holy Spirit’s leading, but it also allows the Spirit to speak on our behalf: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26–27).

Another way to tell if we are following the Spirit’s leading is to look for signs of His fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22). If we walk in the Spirit, we will continue to see these qualities grow and mature in us, and they will become evident to others as well.

It is important to note that we have the choice whether or not to accept the Holy Spirit’s guidance. When we know the will of God but do not follow it, we are resisting the Spirit’s work in our lives (Acts 7:51; 1 Thessalonians 5:19), and a desire to follow our own way grieves Him (Ephesians 4:30). The Spirit will never lead us into sin. Habitual sin can cause us to miss what the Holy Spirit wants to say to us. Being in tune with God’s will, turning from and confessing sin, and making a habit of prayer and the study of God’s Word will allow us to recognize—and follow—the Spirit’s leading.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Characters in the Bible: What Should We Learn from the Life of Luke?

 

The men who were called to be part of the “inner circle” that surrounded Jesus were a very diverse group of men that hailed from every type of social background and occupation. These twelve men, other than the traitor, Judas, formed the foundation of what is today known as “the church.” One of the men who is not listed as an apostle but had a tremendous effect upon the documenting and spreading of the gospel was a physician named Luke. He was evidently devoted to science and research before he came to know the Savior. There is no evidence that Luke ever personally met the man, Jesus, just as Paul never had the privilege of meeting Him when He walked the earth in the flesh. Luke’s intellect shows through his writings, and his deep knowledge of things pertaining to the physical make-up of man is evident in his Gospel.

Luke was a companion of Paul, who called him “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). Colossians 4:10–11, 14 indicate that Luke was not “of the circumcision,” which means that he was a Gentile. It appears that he hailed from Antioch, which may be the reason Antioch seems to be at the center of the book of Acts. This means that Luke is the only writer in the New Testament who is not an Israelite (Jewish). Not only did Luke write the Gospel that bears his name, but he also was privileged and inspired by God to write the book of Acts.

Luke’s writings focus on the preaching of the good news, which indicates his joy over the plan of salvation. He uses the term “good news” ten times in his Gospel and fifteen times in the book of Acts, while it is used only once in the other Gospels. Luke was given the privilege of explaining the process of salvation and how God controls the mind and the heart, in both his Gospel and in Acts. Luke 24:45 says, “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” Acts 16:14 says, “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard [us]: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”

The date of Luke’s death is not known, but the fact that he did not mention the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 or the persecution of believers under Nero that began in A.D. 64 or the martyrdom of James in A.D. 62 leads to the belief that he passed away sometime before these events. From the life of Luke it is clear that no matter what course we set for ourselves in life, when God has other plans, He changes our direction. Luke is an example of an open-minded man, which was unusual for an educated Gentile in his day, but he is a lesson for all who are so focused on their own personal agendas and positions that they are firmly glued in their comfort zone. Luke probably had social status in his community as a physician, but when confronted with truth, he not only recognized it, but he realized that nothing is more important than pursuing it, no matter what the consequences. Luke recognized that Jesus is truth, and his life was forever changed.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Christian Life: How Interested Are Christians Supposed to Be in the Spirit World?

 

The simple answer to this question is “very interested.” A human being is comprised of body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23; 3 John 1:2; Psalm 16:9). However, human beings tend to rely on the body for input and the soul for decisions, while ignoring the spirit. This is unfortunate. The human spirit without God is like a deflated balloon. A disregard for the spiritual often results in depression and emptiness. When a sinner repents and turns to Jesus for salvation, God sends His Holy Spirit to dwell within the spirit of that believer (Luke 24:49; John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Spirit breathes life into that deflated human spirit, and a new creature is born (2 Corinthians 5:17). The more room a person gives to the Holy Spirit, the more power he or she experiences in living for God.

God is spirit (John 4:24). If we want to know God, we must experience Him spiritually. Although God works in tangible, physical ways through His creation (Psalm 8:3; 107:24), we come to know Him personally through the union of our spirits with His (Romans 8:16). As we allow the Holy Spirit free reign in our lives, we learn to live by the Spirit, rather than by emotion, impulse, or fleshly indulgence (Galatians 5:16, 25; Romans 8:14). We learn to discern the voice of God as distinct from our own thoughts (John 10:27). All of this takes place within the spirit, invisible to the other senses, but as real as touch, taste or smell.

However, the term spiritual does not necessarily mean “godly.” Satan is also a spirit and does his evil work by attacking our minds (James 3:14–15), our bodies (Luke 9:42; 2 Corinthians 12:7), and our spirits (Matthew 16:23; 2 Corinthians 10:3–5). Some have delved into an exploration of the spirit world to their own destruction. The seven sons of Sceva are a case in point. They were assuming a knowledge of the spiritual realm and an authority they did not possess. They learned the hard way that spiritual warfare is not to be taken lightly; it can only be fought successfully by those who are in Christ and equipped for battle (Acts 19:13–16). Also, many people consider themselves “spiritual” while completely bypassing the true God who is the King of the spirit world (Mark 3:11). Such people are deceived by the “god of this age [who] has blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The Bible is clear that the spirit world is every bit as real as the physical universe (Ephesians 6:12). There is an unseen battle taking place around us every moment between God’s holy angels and the forces of darkness (Daniel 10:12–14; Ephesians 6:10–17; Jude 1:9). If we are vigilant as the Lord commands, we will not be caught unprepared by Satan’s attacks (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 2:11). And we have the promise of God that His Holy Spirit is stronger than any of Satan’s schemes (1 John 4:4). God has given His children everything we need to stand firm against any spiritual attack of our enemy. The apostle Paul calls this the “armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11).

The spirit world is very real, but an unbalanced focus on demonic powers is not healthy and does not glorify God. The Holy Spirit is the only Spirit we should ever invite into our lives, and He has all the power we need to overcome anything Satan uses to defeat us (Isaiah 54:17).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

A Bad Theology of False Religions in Contemporary Evangelical Missionary Thought?

The Domain for Truth

religions and mission method

Introduction

This is the kickoff post for what Lord-willing will be a week long series on “Missions, Culture and Being Biblical.”  What prompted this series is the concern that while modern Christian missionary endeavor have encouragingly made progress with the Gospel among unreached people group at an unprecedented scale in the history of Christianity, nevertheless some of the leaders and intellectuals of today’s missionary movements have a weak theology and a problematic view of culture that hinders the effort of biblically faithful missions work .  One such serious theological problem among some missiologist is a defective understanding of a “theology of world religion” that is contrary to what the Bible teaches.  Here in this post I want to document that such a problem does exists among prominent missiologist and examples will be cited from several essays found in the important anthology on missions titled Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (4th Edition).

Are there examples of…

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Hillary Clinton confidants were present to “separate” damaging documents before Benghazi probe

WINTERY KNIGHT

The best reporter in the universe is Sharyl Attkisson, and here’s her latest up at the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

As the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing this week, a former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to “separate” damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the first time Maxwell has publicly come forward with the story.

At the time, Maxwell was a leader in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, which was charged with collecting emails and documents…

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All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

35 Jesus said to them, “ I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. (John 6:35-37 NASB)

Human reason, which is worldly wisdom, is useless for anyone to rely on in order to be saved. Our salvation is a work by all three persons in the Holy Trinity. God the Father chose his people before the foundation of the world. He set into motion all of the circumstances that would result in all of them becoming part of the Family of God. The Son, Jesus Christ, became the God-Man. He became flesh and…

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