WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT VISIONS OF GOD?

Those who claim to have had heavenly experiences have become all too common. Many of them portray Heaven as a “spiritual fantasy land”. Some even claim to have seen God, sat in his lap, and describe his appearance as if they had looked into the face of God himself.

Modern day charlatans are claiming more and more to have had many trips to Heaven as if its a common occurrence for them, yet they are peddling lies. They have not seen God. In Colossians 2, Paul says, Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,  puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind… ~ Colossians 2:18

Their claims are not consistent with the testimony of God’s holy servants in scripture who encountered the majesty of God and his glorious throne. In scripture those who had visions of God and his majesty were overcome with awe in the presence of God.

First, I want to draw your attention to the words of the apostle Paul who tells us that God dwells in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen. ~ 1 Timothy 6:16

The phrase “whom no man hath seen” is a reference to the person of God himself. Other Biblical writers also reference the light which Paul mentions. Consider the following from the book of Ezekiel:

In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. ~ Ezekiel 1:1

Notice that Ezekiel saw visions of God, and not God’s actual person, for no man can see God and live ~ Exodus 33:20.

Let’s continue:

On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the Chebar canal, and the hand of the Lord was upon him there. As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal. ~ v. 2-4

Notice the descriptions of brightness, fire flashing, gleaming metal in the midst of fire. These all match Paul’s statement that God dwells in light which no man can approach, and in Ezekiel’s first vision of God he describes God as coming in a cloud with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, with fire in the midst like gleaming metal.

Now notice the following descriptions elsewhere in scripture which match Ezekiel’s experience. First the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of his person ~ Hebrews 1:3. In Jesus we can behold the person of the unseen God, for Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), and this is the message that Jesus gave to us about God: God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. ~ 1 John 1:5.

In the book of the Revelation, the apostle John describes his vision of God on the throne:

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. ~ Revelation 4:1-3

Jasper and sardine stones are reddish. John may very well be describing the brilliance of the light he saw. Both Moses and the writer of Hebrews describes God as a consuming fire which matches the truth that God dwells in light which no man approaches and whom no man hath seen. Again, some in scripture have seen the brilliance of the light emanating from the presence of God, but no man has seen God’s person who dwells within the light of his glory.

When the Bible describes God’s throne, it is with reverence and awe. For instance, Hebrews 1:3 & 8:1 tells us that Jesus is seated at the right hand majesty.

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high… ~ Hebrews 1:3

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of
the Majesty in the heavens… ~ Hebrews 8:1

God is majestic and it’s truly telling that his majesty is absent from the testimony of those who promote their so-called Heavenly encounters. If one has truly been in the presence of God there is an awe of his beauty, splender, and holiness. That the world often has more honor for earthly Kings and rulers than some Christians seem to have for the majesty of the everlasting God speaks volumes to the infiltration of false teachers within the church.

In the book of the Revelation, John also observes lightning, thunder, and voices from the throne and seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which John says are the seven Spirits of God ~ v 6.

Lightning and lamps of fire burning are consistent with the theme of light, and in verse 7 John says, And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

The sea of glass like crystal also is consistent with the theme of God is light, and God dweling in light.

Now, let’s continue with Ezekiel’s account once again.

And from the midst of it (from the midst of the bright cloud) came the likeness of four living creatures ~ v 6a. John also saw four living creatures in the book of the Revelation.

And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze. ~ 6b-7

Sparkling like burnished bronze matches the description of God dwelling in light and God being an all consuming fire. The four living creatures emanate God’s light and glory. This is consistent with Moses’s experience when he saw God’s glory.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. ~ Exodus 34:29-30

Like the four living creatures in the presence of God, Moses’s appearance was an indicator that he had been in the literal presence of God.

Let’s continue with Ezekiel’s visions:

Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went. As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro among the living creatures. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. ~ v  8-13

Notice again, Ezekiel’s description of the four living creatures is consistent with the theme of light, fire, and brilliance.

And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning. Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. ~ v. 14-16

Now consider the glory of God’s throne which Ezekiel saw:

And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. ~ v 26-28

Consistently in scripture, those who encountered God in visions and saw his glory were overwhelmed by the power and brilliance of his majesty. Ezekiel fell on his face, and the apostle John fell to his feet like a dead man when he saw Jesus in the glory of his Father.

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. ~ Revelation 1:12-18

It would be impossible for one who has truly encountered God’s majesty in Heaven to return to life on earth to market their experiences like charlatans who make merchandise of God’s people.

If you want to know what Heaven is like, listen to the writers of scripture who testified by the Spirit of God.






THERE’S NOT A DEMON BEHIND EVERY BUSH

Recently I have written a couple of teachings addressing the fallacies of those who think Christians should go around casting demons out of one another. Why do some Christians think there’s a demon behind every bush? Why do they think any struggle in life or a constant temptation is a demon that needs to be rebuked or cast out?

I think the answer to that question is twofold.

First, I think there are Christians who are zealous and want to see the power of God but they lack real spiritual knowledge and maturity and they need to be taught the Word of God. They need to be grounded and built up in Christ with wholesome, sound doctrine. The second reason is people like to blame their problems on someone else rather than taking responsibility. It’s real easy to pass the blame for things like pornography, nicotine, alcohol, uncontrolled anger, etc., rather than taking responsibility.

You might find it interesting that there is not one example in all of the New Testament where a demon was cast out of anyone because of sin or sinful additions. Demons were only cast out of people who had either physical infirmities (diseases, blindness, deafness, etc.), or mental insanity (like the man in the country of the Gadarenes, see Mark 5) or those involved in some form of occultism. And never was a demon ever cast out of a Christian anywhere in the New Testament.

You will not find one example of Jesus, the apostles, or any  New Testament believer casting out spirits of adultery, homosexuality, lust, anger, rage, gluttony, lying, stealing, etc. The idea of casting out spirits related to such sins is foreign to the New Testament. These are individual sins and deliverance from these come through repentance and faith in Christ.

Jesus did not cast demons out of anyone who needed to repent. Neither did the apostles and neither did any believer in the New Testament. Yet there are those who teach that even though a person has been saved they still need deliverance, i.e., demons cast out. Such teachings are false doctrine.

Jesus is Lord and when God saves us from our sins, he does so with the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. God purifies us with the precious blood of Christ, delivering us from the power of darkness and translating us into the Kingdom of his dear Son.

As we grow in our faith we learn how to overcome temptation in our flesh (every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed ~ James 1:14). We learn to yield our members (our mind and bodies) to God as instruments of righteousness rather than sin. As we grow in Christ by yielding to the Holy Spirit, we become stronger in our faith by the grace of God.

There is a beautiful expression that Peter gives at the close of his first epistle, and arriving at this point in our lives should be our aim. After instructing us to to be humble, and to cast all our care on the Lord, and to resist the devil steadfast in the faith, he says the following:

But the God of all grace, who has called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. ~ 1 Peter 5:10

It is God’s desire to settle you. Trust the Lord with those areas in your life that your find hard to overcome. He will give you the strength and grace you need, and if you will only trust him you will get stronger and stronger in in due time it won’t be a weakness anymore!

The Lord be with you.

DOES THE BIBLE TEACH CHRISTIANS TO CAST DEMONS OUT OF OTHER CHRISTIANS?

Recently I came across someone teaching that Christians need to be casting demons out of other Christians. Before I address this I want to make it clear that I am not a novice in this area. I know the playbook of deliverance ministries quite well, and here is what you need to know about those who teach such things.

Generally speaking those who go around teaching that Christians can have demons that need to be cast out do not have a good understanding of the scriptures. Often they will downplay real knowledge of scripture to elevate their claims of spiritual experience, and when they do cite scripture they often spin the texts to validate their claims.

For instance, one minister cited three texts to justify his claims that demons were cast out of Christians in the Bible. He referenced Mark 1:39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. He then made this statement regarding the text: “Remember these were religious people Jesus was delivering and these people, and I want to tell you this, had a much higher standard than you and I. They had a much higher living standard than you and I…”

It is remarkable the extend people will go to to make the scripture say what they want it to say. They do this because there is no truth in what they claim to be so. There is absolutely nothing in the text or the whole counsel of scripture that supports the notion that Jesus went around casting out devils from righteous, God fearing Jews who were living holy before God.

Rather than speaking as a responsible minister and handling the Word of God with the utmost integrity, he was careless and dangerous with his interpretation of scripture because rather than building up vulnerable Christians in the word of truth, he is actually confusing people with destructive doctrine.

Christians need to have faith in God! They need to be rooted and build up in the truth of Christ. As Christians we are not to be seeking deliverance from demons, but to live as crucified with Christ, putting off the old man with the affections and lusts. Faith in Jesus is victory over the devil and the world!

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. ~ 1 John 4:4

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? ~ 1 John 5:4-5

When Jesus died and rose again, he spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it (Colossians 2:15). The believer’s victory over Satan and demons is in the power of the cross, through the blood of Jesus, and because this so, the least member of the body of Christ has as much authority over the devil as anyone else. You do not need another Christian to cast the devil out of you if you are a Christian. You simply need to stand in faith against the wiles of the devil. Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Making Christians dependent and on other Christians for deliverance from demons is not Biblical. It is spiritual manipulation, actually its a form of witchcraft. When the New Testament is surveyed, there is much instruction given regarding Christian interaction, but casting out demons is not one of them. We are instructed to care for one another, love one another, pray for one another, help one another and so on, but we are never instructed to cast the devil out of one another.

The minister mentioned above proceeded to give two more examples to support his claims that Christians should cast out demons from other Christians. He referenced Peter being rebuked by Jesus, and he referenced Judas.

First, when Peter spoke errantly in his zeal telling Jesus he would not have to die on the cross, Jesus did not turn around and cast the devil out of Peter. Instead, Jesus rebuked Peter for speaking and voicing the will of the devil, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. ~ Matthew 16:23

If we were truthful, we’d all admit that we have yielded to the devil at one time or another and said things that were contrary to God’s will. Does this mean we need the devil cast out of us? Certainly not! Instead, we needed correction or rebuke, coupled with repentance.

Secondly, Judas was not a Christian. Judas was the son of perdition and Jesus knew ahead of time that Judas would betray him. In fact Judas betraying Jesus was prophesied in the Old Testament. Judas was not a Christians and never had a faithful heart towards Jesus. Judas was set to betray Jesus from the beginning.

Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. John 6:70-71

Dear Christian, you have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. The Spirit of the Living God is in you and God is your Father. Trust in the truth of God and not the fallacies of man. Deliverance ministries and ministers come and go but the truth of god’s word stands forever, and it is God’s Word that will establish your faith in truth!

IS DELIVERANCE FOR CHRISTIANS A SCRIPTURAL PRACTICE?

Can a Christian have a demonic spirit in them that needs to be cast out?

According to the Bible, a Christian can be carnal (unspiritual in their behavior and thinking), a Christian can harden their heart, a Christian can commit sin, a Christian can be tempted and yield to Satan, a Christian can yield to the lusts of their flesh, but there is no example, instruction, or any hint anywhere in the New Testament of a Christian having a demonic spirit cast out of them – not a single text.

Christians have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13-14), and have been given authority over demons.

The authors of the New Testament epistles (the letters written to believers) address demonic influence in the lives of believers from the vantage point of repentance, instruction in righteousness, correction, sound doctrine, and submitting to God in obedience and faith. There is not a single time in which the authors of the New Testament epistles articulate the need for deliverance by having a demon cast out. The language is always that of articulating what God has done in Christ, and the Christian’s call to the obedience of the faith.

For example, Paul writes to the Corinthians describing them as carnal because of the envy, strife, and divisions among them. The Corinthians had all sorts of issues that modern day deliverance ministries would quantify as demonic activity in need of deliverance.

In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul gives a laundry list of sins prevalent among the Corinthians: quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder (2 Corinthians 12:20). Paul also addresses their indifference to sexual sin, irreverence for the Lord’s supper, and misuse of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Paul says the following regarding the Lord’s Supper:

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. ~ 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 ESV

Paul later tells them the following:

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. ~ 1 Corinthians 11:27-34

Paul never addresses the issues among the Corinthians from the position of deliverance from demons. Instead Paul addresses their sin, their carnality, their idolatry, and in his rebuke reminds them that they are the temple of God and that God will judge them if they do not judge themselves

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16-16

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:15-20

The Corinthians needed correction and spiritual discipline. They had already been delivered from the power of darkness but now needed to learn how to live holy and godly lives because God would judge them if they did not serve him with reverence and godly fear. In fact Paul does not speak of casting devils out of any of the Corinthians. On the contrary, Paul expressed that he had delivered one of them over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh so that their spirit could be saved in the day of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 5:3-5).

Paul had spiritual oversight of the Corinthians, and rather than casting the devil out of a believer living in unrepentant fornication, he turned them over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so they would call on God in repentance. The deliverance that a Christian needs is not that of having a demon cast out. It is that of repentance, renewing their commitment to God, renewing their minds, believing the truth, growing in faith, growing in grace, and growing in the knowledge of Christ.

With regards to any kind of oppression, depression, loneliness, fear, etc., among our fellow Christians, we are called to comfort the feeble minded and support the weak (1 Thessalonians 5:14) not cast devils out of them.

In 2 Corinthians 6 Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are God’s temple and not the devil’s.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. ~ 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Paul then tells the Corinthians this – Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 7:1

The Corinthians needed to understand that if they did not live for God in a manner that was reverent, God himself would judge them. Consider that Paul actually has to tell them that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed (1 Corinthians 12:3).

Throughout the New Testament we are given instructions regarding how we are to confront the devil. Never are Christians called on to cast out demons from other Christians. Instead, we are called to give no place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27), submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7) and resist the devil steadfast in the faith (1 Peter 5:7).

Those who go around doing deliverance on Christians are not promoting sound doctrine, nor are they promoting the truth in Christ according to the gospel.

Dear Christian, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit because you have been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. God is your Father and you have been delivered from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. If you are struggling with sin, fear, or any other form of oppression, you do not need a demon cast out of you. You need time with God. You need to grow in your faith, grow in his grace, grow in the knowledge of his word, and seek to live a godly and pure life before God, and God will help you.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. ~ James 4: 7-10

IS TRINITARIAN BELIEF A REQUIREMENT FOR SALVATION?

Recently I came across an article in which the author claimed that all Christians believe in the doctrine of the Trinity and anyone who doesn’t isn’t a Christian, but a heretic instead.

Consider the plight of the person who had just cried out to God for forgiveness and has no idea about any doctrine regarding the Trinity. All he knows is his lost condition without Jesus and thus he cries out to the Lord for forgiveness and salvation. Is he not saved because he has no knowledge about the doctrine of the Trinity?

In the book of Acts we read about a group of believers who had no knowledge about the Holy Spirit until Paul ministered to them.

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost… ~ Acts 19:1-2

Notice that these disciples had not even heard about the Holy Spirit, so obviously they had no doctrine of the Trinity.

And he (Paul) said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. ~ Acts 19:3-6

Notice that these were disciples but they had yet to hear about the gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul in no way discredits their faith in Jesus, nor does he attempt to persuade them to believe in Jesus. They had already believed the gospel John the Baptist preached concerning Jesus, and they had been baptized by John. If these disciples had died before Paul had gotten to them, they would have gone into the presence of the Lord because they had believed the gospel preached by John the Baptist – they had believed in Jesus!

Salvation comes through faith in Jesus and not through any doctrine of man.

I wholeheartedly affirm and believe in the divine attributes of God as revealed in the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, but I find many evangelicals have, at best, a very flawed understanding of scripture regarding the Godhead.

There is only one God, and he has a Son who is the Savior of the world, and he gives his Spirit to all who trust in him.

Lord willing, there will be more to come on this topic.

THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT

According to the Bible there is only one God and he has a Son, Jesus Christ.

In John 17, Jesus prayed the following words:

Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. ~ v.1-5

When the New Testament is surveyed, the overarching truth which comes up again and again is that the One true God is that the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and Christ is his Son in the fullest sense of the word, having the same divine and eternal nature as the Father. In the text above, Jesus prays to the Father to be glorified with the Father’s own self which is glory he had before the world was. Christ came from God and has always existed with God and in God. The apostle Paul refers to the deity of Christ as the mystery of godliness.

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. ~1 Timothy 3:16 

Christ is one with the Father in spirit, being divine, and in his eternal existence having always been with the Father. Jesus came into the world from the Father, who is God.

In 1 Corinthians 8, the apostle Paul declares, For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. ~ 1 Corinthians 8:5-6

Notice the language Paul uses: One God, the Father of whom are all things… and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things. This is consistent with Paul’s words elsewhere, that God created all things by Jesus Christ.

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ… ~ Ephesians 3:8-9

According to Paul, the unsearchable riches of Christ were hidden in God from the beginning of the world. Christ is indeed the revelation of God’s person who dwells in unapproachable light and whom no man has seen (1 Timothy 6:16). Christ is the revelation of God’s person to fallen humanity. 

The writer of Hebrews describes Jesus as the Son by whom God has spoken to us, by whom also God made the worlds. He then declares that Jesus is the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person. ~ Hebrews 1:3

In creation we see God’s outward handiwork, In Christ we see his inward glory and beauty – his love, his grace, his kindness, and his mercy. Christ brings us into fellowship with God and reveals to us his glory by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the One true God who gave his only begotten Son.

But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. ~ Matthew 10:19-20

And when the day of Pentecost was 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 all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance… But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy… ~Acts 2:1-4; 14-18

In the texts above Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of your Father (God), and Peter interprets the Holy Spirit coming on the Day of Pentecost as God pouring out his Spirit. Over and over again, the Holy Spirit is referred to as God’s Spirit.

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

He is also referred to as the Spirit of Christ.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. ~ Romans 8:9

Consider Paul’s words to the Ephesians: 

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. ~Ephesians 3:14-19

Paul bows in prayer before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is the Father to whom we pray through Christ. Paul says the whole family in Heaven and in earth are named from the Father. He then refers to the Holy Spirit as the Father’s Spirit: that he (the Father)  would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man…

Notice Paul’s expectation of the Father granting strength in our inner man by his Spirit is to this end – that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, that we be rooted and grounded in love, that we comprehend the love of Christ in all its vastness, and thus be filled with all the fullness of God.

In Christ the fullness of God is revealed. Through the Spirit Christ dwells in our hearts drawing us close to the glorious God who sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. In Christ, God is revealed to us. Through the Holy Spirit Christ lives in us. This is the fellowship of the mystery we are called into, and thus we come to know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. 

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9-16

THE COMMUNION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

In 1 Corinthians 13:14 Paul writes, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

These words of Paul are often used to help make a case in support of trinitarian doctrine, but I don’t think this is Paul’s intent here. Instead, the communion of the Holy Spirit seems to be a reference to fellowship among believers because of the love of God and grace of Christ. Only two short verses prior to this statement Paul writes, “greet one another with a holy kiss.”

Paul’s teachings are filled with exhortations of unity among believers as the household of God.

In Ephesians 4, Paul tells the church at Ephesus to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ~ Ephesians 4:1-3

Paul then says, There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling… ~ v. 4.

Paul’s doctrine regarding the Holy Spirit has far more to do with Christ in us, and the unity of the saints than attempting to prove the triune nature of the Godhead. Consider for example, Paul’s words in Ephesians 2.

For through him (through Jesus) we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access by one Spirit unto the Father.  Now therefore ye (Gentiles) are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2: 18-22

Paul is the only writer in all of scripture that gives us the concept that believers are corporately the body of Christ and the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. There are references to unity elsewhere in the New Testament but only Paul expounds on the church as the body of Christ in-dwelt by the Spirit of God.

THE HIDDEN WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. ~ Acts 5:38-42

In Acts 5 the apostles were beaten and rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus.

Who does that?! Those who have yielded to the hidden work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

The apostles did not cry foul that they had been mistreated, but embraced the opposition from their religious counterparts, knowing that it is God who would establish their testimony of Jesus, and if their suffering shame for his name was part of the call, then so be it. This was the hidden work of the Spirit in the lives of the apostles who had no ambition to promote themselves, but only the Lord Jesus who had died and risen again and was now the reigning King at the right hand of God.

Too many are looking for the work of the Spirit on the surface (through the arm of the flesh and uncontrolled manifestations) rather than the hidden work of the Spirit within. 

As the Word of God is planted like a seed and grows within the heart changing us from within, even so it is with the work of the Spirit in our lives. 

When Jesus was with his disciples he said to them, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he shall show you things to come.” ~ John 16:12-13

It was only a short time after this that Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus when Judas led a band of men to take Jesus into custody. Peter did not yet understand the power of the Spirt which Jesus walked in as he willingly journeyed towards the cross.

In due time he would understand. 

This same Peter, who had drawn the sword the night Jesus was arrested would later rejoice after being beaten because the Spirit had filled him.

After Pentecost, Peter learned to rely on the power of God which is real, genuine, and authentic. He no longer needed to draw the sword in the arm of the flesh. 

The hidden work of the Spirit had taken root in Peter’s life.

SALVATION IS OF THE JEWS

In Romans 15, Paul tells the Gentile Christians that they are debtors to our Jewish brethren (Jews who believe in Jesus the Messiah) because we have become partakers of their spiritual things.

For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. ~ See Romans 15:27

Being indebted is a reference to love and gratitude.

The salvation that God has provided through our Lord Jesus Christ has come through his covenant with Abraham and Abraham’s descendants. In scripture, the Messiahship of Jesus cannot be separated from his physical lineage to Abraham. Matthew gives us the genealogy of Jesus for this purpose and in Romans Paul links God’s promise in the gospel to Jesus as the seed of David.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead… ~ Romans 1:1-4

In Hebrews 2, the author of Hebrews declares concerning Jesus’s humanity: For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. ~ Hebrews 2:16

In the book of the Revelation, the heavenly messenger said to John, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. ~ See Revelation 5:5. And at the close of the book of the Revelation, Jesus himself declares, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” ~ Revelation 22:16

In Acts 7, Stephen preached the gospel before the Sanhedrin declaring how God fulfilled his promises through the death and resurrection of Jesus within the context of the narrative of the story of Israel. In fact, every gospel sermon in the book of Acts is wrapped in the story of Israel.

When Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “salvation is of the Jews”, it was within the context of seeking and worshipping the one true God. The one true God chose Abraham and his descendants to be his people forever and to make his name glorious and throughout the earth. The salvation that God has provided through his Son, Jesus Christ, cannot be separated from God’s call of Abraham and the story of Israel, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. ~ Romans 9:4-5

The mystery of Christ came through Abraham’s family and this is how salvation is of the Jews, Gentiles who are saved are grafted into Abraham’s family through Jesus the Messiah, and in this manner we are indebted to Israel. Whenever anyone separates salvation in Jesus from the story of Israel a false gospel is formulated. The gospel by which we are saved is forever united with God’s covenant to Israel which began with Abraham, for he established a testimony in Jacob ~ Psalm 78:5.

The God who has saved the Gentiles is the God of Israel, and for that we are to be indebted with gratitude and love.

In closing consider the words of Zacharias who prophesied by the Holy Spirit:

And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. ~ Luke 1:67-79

The salvation which we have in Jesus Christ, has come through God’s covenant with the father of our faith, Abraham.

REAL CHRISTIANITY

The apostle Peter tells us that besides the precious promises we have received, we are to with all diligence, add to our faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance (self control); and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love. 

Peter then tells us that if these things be in you and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he who lacks these things is blind and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 

These are the things that matter with God. 

Peter then links these things to our election and calling. He says, Wherefore the rather, brethren, give all diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fail.

Think about that statement – you will never fail! This is fail proof Christianity. 

Peter then tells us the following regarding these things taking root and abounding in us: For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

This is what truly  matters to God. These are the things he wants in our lives. 

See 2 Peter 1:4-11