alone in a boat

Listening for the Spirit Within Us

Hashem descended in a cloud and spoke to him, and He increased some of the spirit that was upon him and gave it to the seventy men, the elders; when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, but did not do so again.

Two men remained behind in the camp, the name of one was Eldad and the name of the second was Medad, and the spirit rested upon them; they had been among the recorded ones, but they had not gone out to the Tent, and they prophesied in the camp.

Numbers 11:25-26 (Stone Edition Chumash)

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Acts 2:1-4 (NASB)

As at least some of you may know, the first quote is from Torah Portion Beha’alotcha, which was read in synagogues all over the world last Shabbos.

The second quoted scripture is the famous Pentecost event when the Apostles received the Holy Spirit of God and began speaking in many different languages, languages they did not normally know.

As Christians, we are taught that anyone who comes to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) immediately receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and that the Spirit will guide us in all things. Yeshua said something to this effect.

These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

John 14:25-27

However, in each and every scripture I’ve quoted, the objects of receiving the Spirit and the audience of Yeshua’s words are Jews. So far, all we know (if we knew nothing else) is that Jews receive the Holy Spirit under certain circumstances, perhaps like the seventy elders and the Apostles, to prepare a specialized population for a highly specific set of duties.

But then there’s this:

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

Acts 10:44-48

cornelius
Peter and Cornelius

Obviously the Roman (Gentile) Centurion Cornelius and all those other Gentiles in his household received the Holy Spirit. Peter and the Jews who were with him were direct witnesses to the event and it was something that was obviously apparent to them in a physical manifestation.

“These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house. And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

Acts 11:12-18

Peter reported all this to the “apostles and the brethren” in Jerusalem, and after hearing his testimony, they glorified God saying “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

This was even confirmed later by Peter at the legal proceeding held by James and the Jerusalem Council for formally establishing the status of Gentiles in Messianic Jewish community:

After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.”

Acts 15:7-9

Clearly, God intended for non-Jews to enter into the community of faith and be saved in a manner identical to the Jews, receiving the Holy Spirit, just as the Jewish believers did.

More than that, it was foretold long before these events that many nations would turn to the God of Israel:

Many nations shall become a people unto Me, but I will dwell among you — then you will realize that Hashem, Master of Legions, has sent me to you.

Zechariah 2:15 (Stone Edition Chumash)

Every Knee Shall Bow
Photo credit: art.jkirkrichards.com

The Tanakh is replete with prophesies regarding the nations turning to God at the dawning of the Kingdom of Heaven, a Kingdom Yeshua’s advent inaugurated into our world, but I’ll only quote this one as it was part of last week’s Haftarah portion.

It seems my last blog post caused a disturbance among some of my non-Jewish readers relative to the uncertainty of our status in modern Messianic Jewish community. It was never my intension to upset or disturb anyone. Actually, quite the opposite.

I wanted to emphasize that even though, as we saw in the passage I quoted from Zechariah, God will dwell among Israel, even as He rules the entire world, Gentile lives matter, too. We’re not just an afterthought in God’s redemptive plan. We are not just God’s left-handed, red-headed step-children, the ones you hide in the closet when company comes over. We have a very specific purpose in the Kingdom.

But it’s sometimes easy to get the idea that Gentiles are indeed an afterthought given all the emphasis on Jews and Judaism on Messianic Jewish websites and blogs, and in such publications, and sermons.

However, I also brought up some uncomfortable ideas regarding our existence in my previous article: we don’t have a very exact roadmap regarding mitzvot or lifestyle, at least nothing as detailed as do the Jewish people.

I decided to focus on the Holy Spirit in today’s “morning mediation” for a few reasons:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My spirit within you, and I will make it so that you will follow my decrees and guard my ordinances and fulfill them.

Ezekiel 36: 26-27 (Stone Edition Tanakh)

This is part of the New Covenant promises Hashem made to Israel, the giving of the Holy Spirit, which we saw fulfilled in Acts 2 when it was given to the Jewish Apostles, and in Acts 10 when Peter witnessed it being given to the faithful Gentiles in the household of Cornelius.

But it’s interesting that a promise made exclusively to Israel somehow was transmitted to those Gentiles who came to faith in Yeshua as the foretold Messiah.

Actually, we have another giving of the Spirit that needs to be included.

Then Yeshua came from the Galil toward the Yarden to Yochanan, to be immersed by him. But Yochanan tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be immersed by you, and yet you come to me?” Yeshua answered and said to him, “Permit me, for so it is appropriate for both of us to fulfill the entire tzedakah,” so he permitted him. When Yeshua was immersed, he quickly came up out of the water. Heaven was opened to him, and he saw the spirit of God descending in the likeness of a dove, and it rested upon him.

Matthew 3:13-16 (Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels)

hebrews_letterPart of what I learned in listening to D. Thomas Lancaster’s sermons on the Holy Epistle to the Hebrews is that Yeshua, as the arbiter of the New Covenant, came, in part, to deliver “samples” of the New Covenant blessings to Israel, and apparently through them, to the Gentiles. This was to be evidence that God will indeed keep His promises to Israel (and somehow some of those promises also apply to the nations) at the appropriate time.

We see the New Covenant promise of the giving of the Holy Spirit in Ezekiel 36, we see Yeshua receiving the Spirit in Matthew 3, the Apostles receive the Spirit in Acts 2, and some faithful Gentiles receive it in front of Jewish eyewitnesses in Acts 10.

This should be pretty encouraging to some of the people who were dismayed at the content and discussion regarding my chopped liver blog post.

There’s just one problem:

The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:34-39 (NASB)

The Ethiopian eunuch (a subject worthy of his own study), who was (in my opinion) most likely a Jew, did not receive the Holy Spirit, or at least Luke didn’t record it. But why, if he received the Spirit, would Luke have omitted this important point? If it was just assumed by Luke, then why did he include that the eunuch was baptized, which also could have been assumed?

Furthermore:

It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in 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 Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.

Acts 19:1-6

Apparently it’s possible to come to faith in Yeshua, to receive a water baptism, but not to receive the Holy Spirit.

tongues of fireI’m just shooting in the dark at this point, but as a believer for many years, while I can recall the moment I came to faith, no specific physical event occurred indicating that I had received the Holy Spirit. I was baptized in the Boise River along with my wife and children in August of 1999, but nothing like the Acts 2 or Acts 10 events occurred (although Acts 10 does not describe what Peter witnessed that told him Cornelius and his household had received the Spirit except that they spoke in tongues  and praised God).

Is it possible in the community of faith for some of us to possess the indwelling of the Spirit of God and others to not possess it? Further, with no physical evidence of the Spirit resting upon us as described in the multiple Bible quotes I’ve offered, how can we say the Spirit is on us or in us at all? Did you speak in tongues and utter prophesies? I didn’t.

I know that there’s a general consensus in Evangelical circles that the “age of miracles” ended when Christian Biblical canon was closed, but there are all sorts of anecdotal stories other Christians tell of spiritual manifestations and even miracles that happen all around us (though they seldom if ever make it into mainstream news reports).

I don’t have a definitive answer to all this. Maybe someone out there does. I have to take it on faith that I do possess the Holy Spirit, only because Christian tradition says I must if I’m a believer.

On the other hand:

Not everyone who says to me, “My master! My master!” will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but rather the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. It will be that on that day many will say to me, “My master, My master, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name do many wonders?” Then I will answer them, saying, “I have never known you. Depart from me workers of evil!”

Matthew 7:21-23 (Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels)

That’s rather sobering.

Think about it. There’s a class of believers who are capable of performing actual supernatural acts, apparently in the name of Yeshua, and yet, the Master does not know them and even calls them “workers of evil”.

How about this?

But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”

Acts 19:13-15 (NASB)

I’m not sure this is an example of what Yeshua was talking about, but just paying the Master lip service, so to speak, doesn’t seem to be enough to get you “into the club,” as it were.

So what do we do as faithful Yeshua-followers?

Yeshua said to him, “Love HaShem your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your knowledge.” This is the greatest and the first mitzvah. But the second is similar to it: “Love your fellow as yourself.” The entire Torah and the Prophets hang on these two mitzvot.

Matthew 22:37-40 (Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels)

I know Yeshua was speaking to a Jewish audience, but I think that it is appropriate to consider this a commandment that also applies to us, that is, we non-Jews in Messiah. Why shouldn’t we also love God with all of our resources and love other human beings as we love ourselves? It would seem this “Torah” is one that also forms the core of our existence as disciples of the Master and worshipers of Israel’s God.

I still feel like I’ve opened a can of worms I can’t seem to close again. With all of this, what are we supposed to do next, particularly if we, in some way, exist either directly or tangentially in Jewish community?

That might take a long time to find out. Certainly an inventory of each and every instruction Paul gave in his epistles to the Gentile disciples, as viewed from a Paul Within Judaism perspective, would be in order.

109
Messiah Journal 109

Actually, back in February 2012, First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) published an article written by Toby Janicki in Messiah Journal issue 109 called The Gentile Believer’s Obligation to the Torah of Moses. Unsatisfied with my original review which I wrote at the time, I wrote another one over a year later (which was nearly two years ago now).

It doesn’t answer the conundrum regarding the Holy Spirit or how some people could sincerely believe they were serving Yeshua and yet be so horribly wrong, but as far as getting some sort of handle of who Gentiles are supposed to be in what is essentially, a Jewish religious form, it might be a good place to start, at least for those of you who are experiencing a crisis of community.

The rest will have to come along by the by.

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25 thoughts on “Listening for the Spirit Within Us”

  1. Hi James. I think that the answer for your question “Further, with no physical evidence of the Spirit resting upon us as described in the multiple Bible quotes I’ve offered, how can we say the Spirit is on us or in us at all?” is found in 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 13:

    Main verses to have in mind (on this matter) within these chapters are:

    “4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues*, and to still another the interpretation of tongues*. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

    1 If I speak in the tongues* of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

    (* tongues and/or languages)

    In other words, it is not all about speaking in tongues or prophecy. There are other gifts, but all of them under the power of love. If there is not love in us for HaShem and for our fellows, nothing is important.

    Shavua Tov!

  2. “It was never my intension to upset or disturb anyone. Actually, quite the opposite.

    “I wanted to emphasize that even though, as we saw in the passage I quoted from Zechariah, God will dwell among Israel, even as He rules the entire world, Gentile lives matter, too. We’re not just an afterthought in God’s redemptive plan. We are not just God’s left-handed, red-headed… ones you hide in the closet…”

    Hey! My dad is left-handed, and I know some very good Jews who are red-headed. Just what are you getting at?

    Actually, I liked this meditation… and the other, and the comments sections here (this particular one only having one response so far, before mine) as well as at Ro Pinto’s site.

    It seems to me that the disciples Paul encountered who had been baptised by John didn’t know much if anything about Yeshua (besides the Holy Spirit), as Paul reminded them John had said to look for the one after him who was promised.

    Speaking in tongues and prophesy after (OR before) baptism. That is a hard one; I know a lot of pastors (and others) expect this or are disappointed if they don’t see it when they have baptised someone. I agree with “alfredo” that it isn’t specifically necessary (at the very least, not necessary at a precise time for others to see as if to prove to judges looking on) and that there are other gifts. Also, I’m not sure why this would be, but, there can be gifts that many might think should be for show (to or for other people) but aren’t always. I experienced an immediate healing one day, praying for my own understanding, and everyone plays it down if I tell them (and they wouldn’t have been able to SEE the precise healing even if I’d been right in front of their faces when it happened).

  3. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.”

    –Acts 15:7-9

    Something else I have been finding difficult lately; God chose Peter/Simon. But Paul is “the” apostle to the nation’s?

  4. Hi Marleen. I think that Peter is only saying that he had that specific call to go to “these specific gentiles” (Cornelius and his family and friends) when he says “that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe”, because in the same phrase he says “testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit”, where “them” is obviously referring to Cornelius and his house. I don’t recall reading in the Apostolic Writings that Peter was chosen to go to all gentiles the way Paul was. But I might be mistaken…

  5. A possibility: Acts 2, confirms Yeshua belief; 10, 11, and 15, confirms efficacy of belief for gentiles; 19, confirms Paul as an apostle even though he wasn’t one of the twelve disciples [I’m not looking at acts right now to see exactly what happened with Paul and other people and this kind of proof of the Spirit before this].

  6. Those that are Believers in Yeshua, and walk in lawful behavior, as written in the Brit Chadashah, as backed by the commandments in Torah have the Ruach haKodesh, or they wouldn’t seek righteousness. If they do not seek righteousness for its own sake, they need to pray, and ask for the Spirit to fall. It is a readily G-d given gift…one asks, and one receives. Asking for specific gifts is not a good idea unless you are willing to turn over every moment of your life to G-d to use you as an instrument from that point onward.

    No one seeks G-d unless G-d draws him, nor is able to obey G-d, unless the Holy Spirit works in him. We can’t…we are human, and we cannot do good things of our own effort consistently, and certainly not in a way that bears fruit that can be checked by looking into one’s life, and the effect that one has upon other people. It is true that some people are taught to love well, and thus do righteousness very readily without knowing any commandments.

    The gifts as written that the Ruach gives are given as needed, and the gifts that gain one the most spiritually is the gift of service, and the gift of faith, yet people want dreams and visions, and to be able to heal people, and prophesy. That is perfectly natural in humans, but the gifts are not given to make us feel good, but to accomplish things in us and others.

    I have dreams and visions of a non-prophetic nature, and although interesting (actually fascinating), they are not useful except for my instruction and preparation to do G-d’s work. I pray over other’s well, or for others well, because I am short, to the point, and the Ruach gives me the words. I don’t want to prophesy, and I don’t want to know what will happen before it does, but I doubt that G-d cares what I want if it becomes useful for Him to have me so gifted. I hear the Ruach easily, but have only been given two very short bat kol’s…’word’s audible, and directly from G-d, one coming with a full 3D vision, and both orders to me, and were about me becoming a different me.

    I speak in one tongue, and sing in another, and am not even prompted to use either much, unless blocking bad vibes, so to speak. I have friends who get words for people…not really a big deal except for those getting them, and the people who give them don’t enjoy the burden of when and how to tell near strangers to change something. Two people I know see demons readily…not my idea of fun. I only see spiritual traces when fasting and praying for understanding…one’s senses are heightened, which is the point of depriving them. Others have terrific gifts of discernment of spirits, and the actions of spirits, which is a lot more to the point, from a defensive point of view. Certainly I would love to be able to channel the Ruach and heal people as Yeshua could, but I don’t have the faith, and I don’t know how to Amen such a command as ‘Get up and walk!” because I have never seen anyone do it. I know it happens…I just have not seen it. As for healing, it happens to me, in odd lumps and jolts, in recovering from a very nasty auto accident 20 years ago, and not for my use or relief, but for G-d’s use of me…it’s how I can tell it from natural healing, that, and the speed in which it happens.

    From a spiritual point of view, knowing one has the Ruach can be seen best in oneself by the urgent desire to seek and know Yeshua, and the Torah, and to understand G-d and the universe, to learn wisdom, and apply it. One can look to see if one has grown, and changed in ways that are unexpected, because you know you would never have had the sense to do the things you did to get to where you have gotten. All the rest is a matter of asking for the gifts, because if you don’t ask, you don’t get. But if G-d wants you to do something for Him, you can be sure He will arrange it, whether you know it or not, and you will see the fruit of those actions by turning around, and looking over the pattern of your life.

  7. Hi James,

    I don’t think you opened a can of worms, at least not one that wasn’t already sitting there waiting for someone to look at it. 

    I, for one, like these discussions. As I mentioned in other places, it causes us to drop to our knees and seek Yeshua’s face to make sure we are still standing on the rock, and not ventured out into unstable sandy places. And I think this is because we, coming from the Christian church, have long believed some false ideas about who Yeshua is and what he accomplished, and what Rav Shaul said about it.

    Can I also put something out that is in no way meant derogatorily, but a thought I had while considering these conversations. For the Jewish believers, is it possible that some of the rabbis’ teachings (to counter Christianity) have influenced their thinking on some things (just as our desire to be included might influence our thinking)?

    I did a teaching years ago that presented a box with different pictures on each side, held it up for everyone to see, and of course we all saw different pictures. Our point of view oftentimes influences what we see in Scripture.

    And it is at these times that we seek the Ruach, asking that everything that is false be burned away, leaving only the truth remaining. And I believe it is that seeking, that desire to know the truth about who HaShem truly is, and what His will truly is, that proves we have His Spirit in us.

  8. [Chapter] 19, confirms Paul as an apostle even though he wasn’t one of the twelve disciples [I’m not looking at acts right now to see exactly what happened with Paul and other people and this kind of proof of the Spirit before this].

    And even though he wasn’t “one of the men” who had been with the eleven “the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, [22]beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us.”

    15In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16and said, “Brothers and sisters,d the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”

    18(With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

    20“For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:

    “ ‘May his place be deserted;
    let there be no one to dwell in it,’e
    and,

    “ ‘May another take his place of leadership.’f

    21Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

    http://biblehub.com/acts/1-26.htm
    25to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

    Do we hear any more about Matthias after this?

  9. Peter may have been chosen to go to Cornelius’ home in order that he be shown the way leading to who really [instead of the way taken when Peter spoke up in the first chapter of Acts] was to take Judas’ place.

  10. I think it’s assumed in the Christian Church that if one “confesses Christ,” the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is automatic. I don’t necessarily believe this is the case. As far as I can tell, the evidence of this indwelling is that a person leads a transformed life relative to who they were before they became a believer.

    This doesn’t mean the person suddenly becomes perfect, but there’s a drive to improve behaviorally and spiritually that previously didn’t exist. I think for many people, that drive represents a continuing struggle between their humanity and their holiness, between the mundane and the divine.

    For people who are highly spiritually developed, you’ll witness a person who is at peace even in very stressful situations or circumstances, a person who really is giving, compassionate, charitable, and devoted to God. I’ve met people like this, though in my experience, they’re not terribly common, even in church.

    I think two people can both have this indwelling but can still look behaviorally different. One might be at a lesser stage of spiritual development (and keep in mind, that development doesn’t have to be linear and can even plateau) and continue to struggle with the yetzer hara (evil inclination), while the other, more spiritually elevated person, may not appear outwardly to struggle at all (though inwardly may be another story).

    It still puzzles me though that there can and will be people who authentically believe they are serving Jesus and who are in for a rather rude awakening when the Master himself rejects them. How can a person believe they are a “saved” Christian and yet be called an evildoer? Are some believers that self-deluded or is the Church not teaching its members what it is to lead a life of righteousness?

  11. @James. Great comment. I 100% percent agree with it. Specially the last paragraph with those two questions. Now, with all due respect, I think we all should go and have some time to evaluate ourselves on these matters. I know I surely need to. 🙂

  12. There was at least one thing Paul said was worse than being an infidel [and it wasn’t being gay, btw]. So it’s not enough to be in the worship of the One God or to believe in Jesus (even though there are verses that can be pointed to in order to argue that is the crux of the matter) — and it’s fairly easy these days for sociopaths (or evildoers) to see that Christianity (or whatever social or formulaic setting) is what will get them access to or power in what they want in this world.

  13. I think you hit the nail on the head, James. Improved behavior, perhaps not in all areas, but progression toward right living.

    Also, like you, I disagree with the church regarding the immediate indwelling.

  14. By “access to or power in” I wasn’t referring to anything like the Holy Spirit. I was referring to imposters easy accepted.

  15. JJames said “It still puzzles me though that there can and will be people who authentically believe they are serving Jesus and who are in for a rather rude awakening when the Master himself rejects them. How can a person believe they are a “saved” Christian and yet be called an evildoer? Are some believers that self-deluded or is the Church not teaching its members what it is to lead a life of righteousness?”

    Someone who professes belief in Yeshua, but does not follow through on what that belief should incline them to does not have the connection through the Ruach haKodesh as they have never had, nor desired, the real relationship with G-d. They desired salvation, certainly, and to belong to a particular church or community, but the Ruach haKodesh does not fall simply because of a baptism. In the house of Cornelius, the Spirit fell before the baptism.

    The laying on of hands, the prayer that is prayed over one being baptized in the name of YHVH, Yeshua and Ruach haKodesh is much like an anointing, but being spiritual, has to be received. Once received, that deposit of the Ruach into a person can begin to do the work necessary to draw that person into righteousness. Thus the Ruach becomes one’s best teacher, comfort, and guide, and draws one to seek out others like themselves.

    It is unfortunate that the ground necessary for the seed of faith to be implanted and to grow is not always ready to be sown in, and churches mostly do not teach anything in the way of preparation. People’s hearts can get in the way of salvation, and block the word sown as a seed. The Parable of the Seeds is very apt, because it shows that one can begin with Yeshua, but not always continue. One’s faith or interest in Yeshua can wane, or dry up when diverted by more exciting worldly pleases, can be starved by lack of appropriate teaching, be choked by the cares and difficulties of being a Believer in this current time, and so on.

    Few churches these days even teach enough to prepare the ground for a decent sowing, much less the receipt and nurturing of the Ruach by deliberate action…studying the Word, and attempting to walk in obedience. This is particularly true of Christians now because only grace is taught, and the receiver of grace in rarely informed about what is required to be blessed by G-d. Grace churches do not encourage anything but a few lines of scripture taught each week at the church service, and their members are not taught how much they can learn on their own by simply reading all the Scriptures.

    Consequently, when not blessed instantaneously, their “I want it NOW!” attitude can push them off in search of getting what is deemed the blessing of G-d in their own strength. Hence the name it, claim it, prosperity teachings tend to actually be a hedge of thorns thrown up by the Adversary to prevent any real connection being made with G-d. And then there is the sheer luke-warmness of belief that causes one to be rejected by Yeshua. When lukewarm, a believer does nothing to please G-d, and simply drifts away from the relationship, even though they may outwardly do what they have always done, and thus think themselves secure. Add to that lawlessness encouraged by a grace only message, and you will have a lot of people not knowing they have already lost everything…unless they truly repent, and act on that repentance.

  16. James said,

    *There’s just one problem:

    The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.

    –Acts 8:34-39 (NASB)

    The Ethiopian eunuch (a subject worthy of his own study), who was (in my opinion) most likely a Jew, did not receive the Holy Spirit, or at least Luke didn’t record it. But why, if he received the Spirit, would Luke have omitted this important point? If it was just assumed by Luke, then why did he include that the eunuch was baptized, which also could have been assumed?*

    I (Marleen) don’t see a reason why baptism would have been assumed. I think the writers were establishing that baptism specifically in the name of Yeshua was a good sign. Also here in this later example:

    *“No[…]” [….] “Into John’s baptism.”

    Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in 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 Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.

    –Acts 19:1-6

    [James said:] Apparently it’s possible to come to faith in Yeshua, to receive a water baptism, but not to receive the Holy Spirit.*

    And James said (and I agree): *I think it’s assumed in the Christian Church that if one “confesses Christ,” the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is automatic. I don’t necessarily believe this is the case.*

    However, I don’t agree that these examples show that one can come to [real] faith in Yeshua but not receive the Holy Spirit. I don’t agree with the implication that speaking in tongues and/or prophesy are synonymous with or always happen with receiving the Holy Spirit.

  17. @Questor: You make good points about a person desiring redemption and yet being unwilling to conform to the will of God. It’s possible that such a person could even fool themselves to believe they’re serving God when in fact, they are only serving their own requirements.

    Of course, even the best of us struggled, has more faithful times in our lives, has less faithful times. I suspect spiritual growth is not linear and most of us probably hit a plateau at some point that requires a lot of work to overcome.

    So what’s worse, a lukewarm Christian or a faithless one?

    @Marleen: Still, it’s puzzling that ignorance, knowing only of John’s baptism, might inhibit the Holy Spirit. What about people in the world who desire to be Christians but, because of Government restrictions, Bibles and teachers are not readily available?

  18. “@Marleen: Still, it’s puzzling that ignorance, knowing only of John’s baptism, might inhibit the Holy Spirit.”

    It is puzzling, that’s true. I can only guess God had held back certain visible signs (the one with foreign languages and others in general) and displayed them to punctuate certain points — at that time

  19. @Marleen and @James — I’ll hazard a guess that the outpouring of HaShem’s Spirit, in the manner described elsewhere in connection with those who received Rav Yeshua’s message, was not actually inhibited by the lack of complete info in those who cited having received only Yohanan’s message and immersion for repentance. The fact that they offered that as an explanation doesn’t mean they were correct, though certainly Rav Yeshua’s message held special emphasis on the spiritual intimacy implicit in the kingdom-of-heaven perspective.

    Perhaps an analogy might be drawn from experiences I observed in the 1960s among new “Jesus people” (before the rise of either MJ or the so-called charismatic movement). They were not all exposed right away to Pentacostal phenomena (as they were called at that time), though there was certainly no lack to their zeal and joy. Many became aware of such phenomena of the Spirit only at some later period, when they asked for the outpouring of spiritual giftings, and received them at that time. For those with open minds and hearts, rather than predetermined expectations, the act of speaking in unknown or foreign languages was not the sole “sign” of such an outpouring. There were other forms of ecstasy or empowerment that were equally visible indicators of the Presence of HaShem in a renewed heart. However, if you had asked them whether they had received the Holy Spirit when they were immersed, they would not have understood exactly what you were asking or how you expected them to respond, and they might very well have answered similarly to those ancients who said they had known only Yohanan’s immersion for repentance. They simply wouldn’t have known that the joy they had experienced was one of the symptoms that should indicate a positive response to your question.

  20. …the point with those disciples who had been baptised in repentance and taught by John, to look for the one coming after him who would be greater than himself, that Paul was an apostle of the gospel.

    Also puzzling, had gentiles been baptised by John? Or were these Jewish people who Paul was baptizing even though he was an apostle to gentiles? I know there are stories of his preaching to Jews too.

    Wait. So, now, do we actually have any stories of gentiles speaking in tongues, or being in congregations where this is ostensibly happening, without having to be told to get their act together about it too?

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