January 2019

“Many men live in the dark to themselves all their days; whatever else they know, they know not themselves.”  John Owen – great Puritan theologian and non conformist and one of the greatest Protestant theologians of all time.

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”  Matthew 7:3

This penetrating question of our Savior comes towards the end of what was probably at least a 45 minute sermon, (normally referred to as “The Sermon on the Mount”), given to a crowd of disciples, who presumably wanted to follow Jesus.  If you are reading this blog, I’m presuming you also want to follow Jesus. 

Since you want to follow Jesus, I hope you will not be offended when I say you are more than likely walking in some degree of spiritual blindness. This is especially true if you are a member of the church in America.  The way to know for sure is by answering some questions like these: 

  • Whose sins or problems or weaknesses do you give more attention to in a given day or week – yours or someone else’s?  
  • When you left the last worship gathering/service of fellow believers, and began your trek home, whose sins or need to change was most in your mind and perhaps reflected in your words – yours or someone else’s?   
  • When you read or listen to the news these days, do you walk away in any way aware of your own sins, or do you get caught up in the greatest American pastime –  focusing on our government leaders’ sins?   

Most Americans even most American Christians in most conversations talk about anything but their own sins.

We leaders of the church have created a church culture that basically says if you as a Christian and member of our churches are busy with church attendance and church activities, be they Bible studies or benevolence ministries or children’s or youth ministries or whatever, then you are a good Christian. And the busier you are in these things, the gooder you are!

Often in the church culture, the very things (programs and activities) that have been designed to help people become godly and holy Christians end up keeping them from it because their participation in them give them/us a false sense of accomplishment and standing with the Lord, and keep us so busy we have no time to listen to the Holy Spirit regarding sin areas in our lives He wants to clean up.

The Laodicean church was well off financially (and presumably had many other “good church” things in place)– which led them to believe that they must have been pleasing to God – yet Jesus said – “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, …” Revelation 3:17  

Jesus was speaking to the church in Laodicea whom He has just rebuked for being lukewarm in vs. 15,16.  Central to lukewarmness is that of being oblivious to one’s real spiritual need.  We in the West especially are easily fooled into thinking we are doing ok spiritually because we are doing ok materially/financially, and there is no apparent crisis going on in our lives or relationships, and we are busy serving the Lord in one way or another. Please note the stark difference in the way these believers thought of themselves in vs. 17 and how Jesus assessed them.  

One of the major lessons from Jesus’s letters to those seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 is there are things the church in all its busyness is blind to.  We may be seeing some things correctly. We may be doing some things that please Him. But there are often issues of the heart, attitudes or thought patterns that He is not pleased with, and that we need to repent of. And unless we learn to hear His voice re: these things and unless we come to a place in our walk with Him where we long to see these things, we will continue in spiritual blindness to one degree or another.

So what are some steps towards overcoming spiritual blindness?

Well here are a few things that have helped me (Randy) over the last year and a half wherein God has opened my eyes to much spiritual blindness and lukewarmness.

First, ask God to open your eyes on a daily basis for the rest of your life!  You might try praying some of the pertinent biblical prayers like:

“How many are my iniquities and sins? Make known to me my rebellion and my sin.” Job 13:23    (Now Job might have prayed this with a bit of an edge or with some cynicism or challenging God. But he prayed it and God did eventually answer it.)

“Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgressions.” Psalm 19:12,13   (Implied answer to this opening question – No One! Thus he turns to God to open his eyes and make him aware of what he himself was blind to.)

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23,24    (Clearly what David is after here is for God to reveal to him anything in his life that was harmful or displeasing to God that he was blind to).

“I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me O Lord, but with justice; Not with Your anger, or You will bring me to nothing.” Jeremiah 10:23,24   (Jeremiah was very aware of his limitations and blind spots. And He knew God would be faithful to point them out if he cried out to Him to do so).

What was Jesus’s prescription after informing the church in Laodicea of how blind to their own desperate need they were? “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed, and eye salve to anoint your eyes to that you may see.”  Revelation 3:18   Only by coming to Him repeatedly for the cleansing and illumination and revelation and discernment we need, can we escape this scourge of spiritual blindness.

Second, if you are a husband, give much more attention to living with your wife in an understanding way and honoring her so that your prayers will not be hindered. (see I Peter 3:7).  If prayer is key to overcoming spiritual blindness, we want our prayers to count! And often for husbands our prayers don’t count because of the way we are treating our wives. I was blind to this for years for many reasons. But one reason is because I was always around people whose marriages were seemingly worse than mine.  So it was easy to justify my lack of really pursuing and cherishing and honoring my wife by contrasting my marriage with theirs.

Third, ask God for the courage and obedience to confess your sins to other brothers or sisters. I John 1:5-10 is a crucial passage for the church to grapple with if we are ever going to get some traction in pursuing and attaining holiness and purity. 

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.                                                                                       If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;                                                                                                          but if we walk in the Light as he Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.                                  If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.   If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.                                                                                       If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”

Fellowship with God and with one another is dependent upon our ability to quit living secret lives, and to quit pretending like we do not struggle with sin, and to thus (when appropriate and not with just anyone) bring our darkness into the light and allow the blood of Jesus to bring not only forgiveness, but much needed cleansing. (See also James 5:14-16 regarding the role confession of our sins plays in our pursuit of healing).  

Well may the Holy Spirit give you very practical and tangible help with this journey into the light and freedom of the kingdom of God. Prayers for ourspiritual purity and holiness are always appreciated.

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Knowing Jesus as King in the now and experiencing the glories of His kingdom in the now is the privilege of every son and daughter of God. If this is true, then we can count on spiritual opposition to this truth in many forms, even through well meaning teachers in the Church. I present this simple and incomplete study for those who want to know for sure what the scriptures teach re: this all important question.

I. Old Testament prophecies re: the Messiah/King

In Psalm 2:1-6 we see the first (I think) prophetic portrait of Jesus as King.  God the Father in vs. 6 says He has installed (past tense) “My King”. The emphasis or relevance of His kingship in this passage is His rule over other kings/government leaders.

In Isaiah 9:6,7 we see the establishment of Christ’s government. Note in vs. 7 the timing, “From then on and forevermore”.  Isn’t the timing of -“…the government will rest (literally “be”) on His shoulders” and “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,…Prince of Peace” the same?  Should we stop calling Him the Prince of Peace on Christmas cards until the Millennium or until His return? 

In Isaiah 11:1-5 do we not see references to the earthly ministry of Christ? Granted vs. 6 seems to speak of the Milennium or the New Heavens and New Earth. But it is not unlike Isaiah to flip around like that.

In Isaiah 42:1,3,4 we see no reference to a future more perfect state; most believe this speaks of His earthly and present ministry on the earth.

In Zechariah 9:9 when he speaks of Israel’s king coming to them in the third line, does he (Zechariah) not describe how he will come in the fourth line (humble, and mounted on a donkey)?  Just because Israel as a whole rejected him (there were wonderful exceptions to this), His Kingship was not affected.

II. The wise men, Herod the king, and the “King of the Jews”

In Matthew 2 there is a wonderful contrast developed between Herod the king (little k) and Jesus the King (big K). These wise men wanted to know where is the one who “has been born Kingof the Jews”.   Does not Jesus Himself affirm this when he says to Pilate, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born(my emphasis), and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth…” John 18:37

III. Jesus Himself

In Matthew 18:23f when Jesus helps Peter and the disciples better understand why we must forgive as a lifestyle, does He not imply in speaking of a king of a kingdom that He Himself is one and the same?

In Matthew 22:1-14 was not the intended import of this parable the fact that Jesus Himself was a King of a kingdom, who was actively inviting folk to enter His kingdom, and who would deal severely with those who rejected this gracious invitation or who tried to enter His kingdom through some other way than the way He made available?

In Matthew 25: 31 and following certainly there is a final and complete inheritance (vs. 34) of His kingdom that those of us in His kingdom and who have as a lifestyle sought first His kingdom (Matt. 6:33) will receive, but our reception of it is based on how we operated in His kingdom in the now/in our lifetime.

See discussion above re: Jesus’s own words to Pilate in John 18:37

IV. Jesus’s Critics re: What Jesus Claimed of Himself in the Now

In Luke 23:2, please note Jesus’s critics’ accusation, “And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”

In John 19:12 we see a similar account, “As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a kingopposes Caesar.”

V. Those who knew and followed Him

Nathanael – “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the Kingof Israel.” John 1:49

The whole crowd of disciples – “…..the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (this quote as referenced in capital letters above is from Psalm 118:26

In Acts 17:5-7 the critics of the early church/apostles accused them based on what they knew they proclaimed about Jesus – “….saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

Paul’s proclamations to Timothy & those who would read his letters

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and

glory forever and ever. Amen.” I Timothy 1:17

“which He will bring about at the proper time – He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” I Timothy 6:15

Clearly Paul proclaimed Christ as King in the now, not merely in the future. 

     VI.          John’s proclamation in The Revelation

Revelation 1:5 “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth….” (this is not speaking of future eschatological events or times, and while he does not use the word “king” here, “ruler” has the same idea).  

The Holy Spirit, who inspired “The Revelation of John”, which is ultimately “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1), and who through this coveted book has sought to prepare His church for all that is to come before He returns, wants us to know the Son as the King, so we can trust Him when we see all the upheavals and godlessness and idolatry and rebellion in our human governments and among the other rulers of the nations. Sadly we have given more attention to timelines, than we have to the One who is “the beginning and the end.”

The resurrected martyrs of the Great Tribulation certainly knew Him and sang of Him as such as seen in Rev. 15:3.

The angel reassured the apostle John (and thus all His saints) that despite great attacks and evil schemes from rulers of the earth against the saints (17:6) and even against Jesus Himself (17:14), the Lamb would win “….because He is Lord of lords and King of kings,…”.

Clearly He wants us all to know Him as such since this name and title is on His robe and thigh for all to see, “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”  Rev. 19:16

VII. The Present Reality of His kingdom

Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Jesus preached this simple message wherever He went. The whole basis and motivation to repent or reason to repent is the King and His Kingdom had invaded their time and space and reality, and thus their sins and darkness were exposed, and thus they needed to bow to King and be delivered out of the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God (see Col. 1:13 below).

Matthew 12:28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

Luke 17:20, 21 “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

Colossians 1:13 “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”

CONCLUSION: So much more could be said about our glorious King and His kingdom especially from the book of Matthew wherein we see His kingship and Kingdom revealed more than in any other book. But hopefully this short study will make clear that we have the privilege of knowing Him as King and experiencing the joys and blessings of His kingdom in the now,  not just in the future, though granted our experience of Him and His kingdom will be far greater once Satan, sin, the flesh and the world are forever done away with. Come Lord Jesus, come!

      * Italics of the word “king” or “King” are my emphasis

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We are doing a six week or so sermon series on the Holy Spirit here at The Well – Los Osos, so I thought it might be helpful to see what leaders of the church down through the ages have said about the Holy Spirit. Enjoy!

“Without the Spirit we can neither love God nor keep His commandments.” – Augustine

“It is the Spirit that sheds the love of God abroad in their hearts, and the love of all mankind; thereby purifying their hearts from the love of the world, from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. It is by Him they are delivered from anger and pride, from all vile and inordinate affections.” – John Wesley

“The Holy Spirit illuminates the minds of people, makes us yearn for God, and takes spiritual truth and makes it understandable to us.” – Billy Graham

“The church becomes irrelevant when it becomes purely a human creation. We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives and churches can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God.” – Francis Chan

“The Christian’s life in all its aspects—intellectual and ethical, devotional and relational, upsurging in worship and outgoing in witness—is supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate and sustain it. So apart from him, not only will there be no lively believers and no lively congregations, there will be no believers and no congregations at all.” – J. I. Packer

“Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.” – Corrie Ten Boom

“Children of God should not make a general confession by acknowledging their innumerable sins in a vague manner, because such confession does not provide conscience opportunity to do its perfect work. They ought to allow the Holy Spirit through their conscience to point out their sins one by one. Christians must accept its reproach and be willing, according to the mind of the Spirit, to eliminate everything which is contrary to God.” – Watchman Nee


“We need, men so possessed by the Spirit of God that God can think His thoughts through our minds, that He can plan His will through our actions, that He can direct His strategy of world evangelization through His Church.” – Alan Redpath


“To the individual believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit there is granted the direct impression of the Spirit of God on the spirit of man, imparting the knowledge of His will in matters of the smallest and greatest importance. This has to be sought and waited for.” – G. Campbell Morgan


“The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people.” – A. W. Tozer


“Christians ought to eliminate their folly. They ought to adopt God’s view of the absolute impossibility for their natural walk to please Him. They must dare to allow the Holy Spirit to point out to them every corruption of the soul life. They must exercise faith in believing God’s estimation of their natural life and must wait patiently for the Holy Spirit to reveal in them what the Bible says of them. Only in this manner will they be led in the way of deliverance.” – Watchman Nee


“If you do not understand a book by a departed writer you are unable to ask him his meaning, but the Spirit, who inspired Holy Scripture, lives forever, and He delights to open the Word to those who seek His instruction.” – Charles Spurgeon


“Confusion and impotence are the inevitable results when the wisdom and resources of the world are substituted for the presence and power of the Spirit.” – Samuel Chadwick


“We declare, upon Scriptural authority, that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, and so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful, supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained towards Christ.” – Charles Spurgeon


“The root-trouble of the present distress is that the Church has more faith in the world and the flesh than in the Holy Ghost, and things will get no better till we get back to His realized presence and power.” – Samuel Chadwick

“Read whatever chapter of scripture you will, and be ever so delighted with it – yet it will leave you as poor, as empty and unchanged as it found you unless it has turned you wholly and solely to the Spirit of God, and brought you into full union with and dependence upon him.” – William Law


“I can say, through the power of the Spirit that wherever God can get a people that will come together in one accord and one mind in the Word of God, the baptism of the Holy Ghost will fall upon them, like as at Cornelius’ house.” – William J. Seymour


“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference” – A. W. Tozer


“Forms and rituals do not produce worship, nor does the disuse of forms and rituals. We can use all the right techniques and methods, we can have the best possible liturgy, but we have not worshipped the Lord until Spirit touches spirit.” – Richard J. Foster

  • “Since the days of Pentecost, has the whole church ever put aside every other work and waited upon Him for ten days, that the Spirit’s power might be manifested? We give too much attention to method and machinery and resources, and too little to the source of power.” – Hudson Taylor


“Oh! yes, (the prayer meeting) is the place to meet with the Holy Ghost, and this is the way to get His mighty power. If we would have Him, we must meet in greater numbers; we must pray with greater fervency, we must watch with greater earnestness, and believe with firmer steadfastness. The prayer meeting…is the appointed place for the reception of power.” – Charles Spurgeon

“What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men, men of prayer.” – E.M. Bounds

“The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Power helpeth our infirmity in prayer. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Life ends our deadness in prayer. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Wisdom delivers us from ignorance in this holy art of prayer. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Fire delivers us from coldness in prayer. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Might comes to our aid in our weakness as we pray.” – Leonard Ravenhill


“Breath in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.” – Augustine


Men ought to seek with their whole hearts to be filled with the Spirit of God. Without being filled with the Spirit, it is utterly impossible that an individual Christian or a church can ever live or work as God desires.” – Andrew Murray


“If revival is being withheld from us it is because some idol remains still enthroned; because we still insist in placing our reliance in human schemes; because we still refuse to face the unchangeable truth that, ‘It is not by might, but by My Spirit.'” – Jonathan Goforth


“The Holy Spirit cannot conquer the world with unbelief, nor can He save the world with a worldly Church. He calls for a crusade, a campaign, and an adventure of saving passion. For this enterprise He wants a separated, sanctified and sacrificial people.” – Samuel Chadwick


“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.” – Augustine


“Spirit filled souls are ablaze for God. They love with a love that glows. They serve with a faith that kindles. They serve with a devotion that consumes. They hate sin with fierceness that burns. They rejoice with a joy that radiates. Love is perfected in the fire of God.” – Samuel Chadwick


“The chief danger of the Church today is that it is trying to get on the same side as the world, instead of turning the world upside down. Our Master expects us to accomplish results, even if they bring opposition and conflict. Anything is better than compromise, apathy, and paralysis. God, give to us an intense cry for the old-time power of the Gospel and the Holy Ghost!” – A. B. Simpson


“Wise leaders should have known that the human heart cannot exist in a vacuum. If Christians are forbidden to enjoy the wine of the Spirit they will turn to the wine of the flesh….Christ died for our hearts and the Holy Spirit wants to come and satisfy them.” – A. W. Tozer


“It is impossible to overestimate the importance of being filled with the Spirit.” – Smith Wigglesworth


“The church that is man-managed instead of God-governed is doomed to failure. A ministry that is college-trained but not Spirit-filled works no miracles.” – Samuel Chadwick

Much of today’s church relies more on a book the early church didn’t have, than the Holy Spirit they did. – Bill Johnson

If you engage with the Holy spirit because you want to merely be effective in ministry, then you’re developing professional intimacy and what do we call people who are intimate as a profession? – Bill Johnson

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My objective below was to try to find as many scriptures as I could that speak to the authority and reliability of scripture. Like many of my surveys from Genesis to Revelation, this is not exhaustive. And I’m sure I will add to it over time. But hopefully there is enough below to help one see that you can bank your life and eternity on the scriptures.

Old Testament:

 “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.  Deut. 12:32

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.  Psalm 12:6

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.  Psa. 19:7-11

“Your testimonies are fully confirmed…..” Psalm 93:5a

“….All His precepts are sure.” Psalm 111:7

 “All Your commandments are faithful;…” Psalm 119:86

 “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89

“…Your commandment is exceedingly broad.” Psalm 119:96

“…..that I will keep Your righteous ordinances.” Psalm 119:106

“My eyes fail with longing for Your salvation  And for Your righteous word.” Psalm 119:123

“Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way.” Psalm 119:128

“Righteous are You, O Lord, And upright are Your judgments.”  Psalm 119:137

“You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness And exceeding faithfulness.” Psalm 119:138

“Your word is very pure, Therefore Your servant loves it.” Psalm 119:140

“Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.” Psalm 119:142

“Your testimonies are righteous forever;….” Psalm 119:144

“You are near, O Lord, And all Your commandments are truth.”  Psalm 119:151

“Of old I have known from Your testimonies  That You have founded them forever.”  Psalm 119:152

“The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”  Psalm 119:160

“Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous ordinances.”  Psalm 119:164

“Let my tongue sing of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.” Psalm 119:172

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. Prov. 30:5,6

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isa. 40:8

New Testament:

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Matthew 5:18

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” Matthew 24:35

But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” Matthew 26:56

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,  John 5:39

If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— John 10:35

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, II Tim. 3:16

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Heb. 4:12

The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. I Peter 1:25

For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. II Peter 1:21

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INTRODUCTION – Over 40 years ago Billy Graham wrote an article called  “Challenge for a Floundering Church”. He cites about seven or so major changes he believed needed to happen in the floundering church in America. These observations came from all of his travels and interactions with church leaders throughout our nation over many years. Here’s his third suggestion for change:

“Third, I would teach the necessity of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were nothing before Pentecost. They were everything after it. When we read about famous Christians down through the centuries, we cannot escape the tremendous emphasis of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The church today has all the tools for conquest—money, edifices, organizations, education and methods. But we lack the God-given spark to ignite these things into a spiritual fire that could sweep the world and help bring peace to our desperate world. That spark is the personal infilling of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer, without which the church has no spiritual power.”

A.W. Tozer impacted the church in America like few others in the first half of the 20thcentury. He pastored in Chicago for 30 years and then in Toronoto until he somewhat retired. He wrote 40 books including the classics “The Pursuit of God” and “The knowledge of the Holy”. Some called him a modern day prophet. He said re: the church and the Holy Spirit, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference”

Samuel Chadwick, one of the greatest ever Methodist preachers and a champion for revival in the late 1800’s said re: the church and the Holy Spirit, – “The root-trouble of the present distress is that the Church has more faith in the world and the flesh than in the Holy Ghost, and things will get no better till we get back to His realized presence and power.”

Francis Chan in an interview in March of 2018 said, – – “There is a big gap between what we read in Scripture about the Holy Spirit and how most believers and churches operate today. In many modern churches, you would be stunned by the apparent absence of the Spirit in any manifest way. And this, I believe, is the crux of the problem.”

So that’s a bit about our problem. But here’s the thing. If the lack of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power is our problem; then His realized or manifest presence and power is our solution!  Throughout church history there have been times where the problem seemed insurmountable, but a remnant of sons and daughters of the king didn’t give up, and kept crying out for more of the Holy Spirit, and God the Father granted them their request. 

Isn’t that what we see in the book of Acts?  Thousands of people had been following Jesus – absolutely awed by His miracles and His teachings as seen in the four gospel accounts. But when He was unlawfully arrested and then ruthlessly crucified, the movement He had started seemed all but over. But the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead after three days the scriptures tell us. And He appeared over a forty day period to about 500 people helping them all understand that it was always part of God’s plan for Him to die for our sins and then to rise from the dead to continue to lead His disciples forward. Before He ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven He gave final instructions to His closest band of disciples – the 12 minus Judas and some women who often traveled with them and some other disciples. He instructed them to gather in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit, which they obediently and somewhat fearfully did for days before the Holy Spirit invaded their room and supernaturally enabled all of them to speak in foreign languages they had never learned, which drew a huge crowd, which caused formerly fearful and timid Peter to stand up and preach a sermon so bold and so powerful that 3,000 people repented of their sins, and embraced the risen Christ as their personal Savior and Lord, followed by baptism.

If you’ve read the book of Acts you know almost every page speaks of the mighty works of the Holy Spirit through a group of people who used to argue among themselves about who was the greatest,  and who dissed children and who dissed women and who dissed emotional displays of worship and who fell asleep when they were asked by Jesus to pray, etc.   It is an amazing and thrilling story of what the Holy Spirit can do in and through His people, and probably the primary reason why these leaders I quoted to you earlier said the things they said. 

My contention this morning is the Holy Spirit is yearning to do even greater works than these in and through you and me.     So to pave the way for that I would like to review with you who He is and what He is like.  Because as Joshua taught us last week, the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force or a vibe or an energy field, or a cosmic genie; rather He is a person; a person that Jesus Christ went to great lengths to reveal to His disciples in those last hours He had with them.

We are going to look at four aspects of His person this morning rather quickly, because I want us to spend some time in prayer afterwards. And the first one is this:

He is fully God – The Holy Spirit is equal in deity with God the Father and God the Son – 

Jesus said these words to His disciples, after He had risen from the dead and right before He ascended to heaven,   “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19,20

Clearly new believers in Jesus were meant to know God as the triune God that He is. Clearly their new identity as disciples was to be grounded in the knowledge and experience of God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit.

When Peter rebuked Annanias and Sapphira for lying and pretending to be someone they were not in the early church in Jerusalem, he said these words, “…Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spiritand to keep back some of the price of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God?”  Acts 5:3,4; 

In Peter’s mind, the Holy Spirit and God were one and the same.

So this means that when the Bible says “Nothing is too difficult for You” this is true of the Holy Spirit; and when the Bible says “Nothing will be impossible with God” – this is true of the Holy Spirit; and thus when the Bible says He will convict the world of sin and judgment and righteousness, no amount of post modernism or central coastianity or new age fluff or any other ism will prevent Him from accomplishing His convicting work.  Or When the Bible speaks of His sanctifying work in the lives of we believers, no amount of sin or corruption or defilement in our past will keep Him from accomplishing this precious sanctifying work – making us more and more like Jesus.

Well not only is He fully God; He is also HOLY.

The Spirit of God has a number of names or titles in the scriptures, but by far the most prevalent one in the New Testament is He is the Holy Spirit. 92 x’s He is referred to as such in the New Testament.

So what does it mean when the scriptures say He is the HOLY Spirit?

Well the greek word translated Holy has the idea of “distinction” or “apartness”.  One theologian spoke of Him as “Wholly other”.  Another scholar put it this way: “God the Holy Spirit is apart and distinct from all that is impotent and impure. He is distinct and separate from all created beings and false gods; there is no one like Him in any way or in any place.  The evidence for this is found in His righteousness and His power; He is not sinful and impure as man or gods, neither is He impotent as man or gods.”  

Thomas Watson, the prolific Puritan writer of a few centuries ago spoke of the holiness of God as follows: “Holiness is the glory of the Godhead. It is primarily and originally in God as light is in the sun; you may as well separate weight from lead, or heat from fire, as holiness from the divine nature; God’s holiness is that whereby His heart rises against any sin, as being most diametrically opposite to His essence, “You are of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.” Hab. 1:13  

Thus when the apostle Paul commanded the Corinthian believers to “Flee immorality” in I Cor. Ch. 6,  He supported that command with two reasons. First we should flee all forms of sexual immorality because of the destructive effects this sin has on one’s body.  And second because of the reality that the Spirit who dwells within us is the HOLY Spirit, and our body belongs to Him now.

“Flee immorality.  Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” I Cor. 6:18, 19

Were the Holy Spirit merely a force or energy –  what you do with your body probably wouldn’t matter. But because he is a person who is holy through and through, and because He lives inside of you, what you do, what you think, what you say matters greatly.

I’ve had to come to grips with the reality in recent years that a major reason we believers struggle to experience the power and vibrancy and reality of the Holy Spirit in our lives is because we are blind to His holiness, and thus very weak in our own holiness.  This was certainly true in my own life.

And I think one of the reasons we so struggle with this is because we see the Holy Spirit use unholy people – even ourselves, and we therefore conclude their lack of holiness  (or ours) is no big deal.  One of the things I used to justify my own lack of holiness was the fact that God was using me in people’s lives. Therefore He must have been pleased with me. 

One of the men God used in a powerful way in my life 30 or more years ago when I began to get acquainted with the Holy Spirit was John Wimber – the founder of the Vineyard movement. God used the Vineyard in a huge way in our nation in the late 70’s and 80’s and early 90’s to help the evangelical non charismatic arm of the church in the West rediscover the gifts of healing, prophecy, tongues, and rediscover that our God is a supernatural God who has always performed signs and wonders and always will. But He could have used them in far greater ways if they had known the Holy Spirit as the HOLY Spirit.

Listen to John’s own words, “…If the time of the Lord’s return is close (and he believed it was), doesn’t He expect us to prepare ourselves with righteous acts, so that we might be a bride fit for the wedding with the Lamb of God (Rev. 19:7-9)? If His return inaugurates our being in His presence forever, shouldn’t our highest priority today be seeking God’s face?

Perhaps this is why I have sensed God saying, “Get ready; Get ready; Get ready.” Call the people to account. Prepare them! They must be clean. They must be holy.” I’ve never known such urgent leading from the Lord.

I’m particularly sensitive to the call to righteousness, because for years I have been aware that few people in the Vineyard are truly holy. Very few lives are set apart – set apart from sin and impurity, and set apart to God.

When the Holy Spirit first came on the Vineyard I shook my head and said, “Wait a minute. I’ve been taught all my Christian life that God doesn’t use an unclean vessel, yet look at this thing: it’s unclean.” I knew our church was unclean, because I was pastoring it. I couldn’t’ understand how the favor of the Lord could be on a people like us.

In the early years of the Vineyard (and this was after it was known nationwide for miracles of healing and other miracles taking place) people asked me, “Do you and your people have a strong prayer ministry in your church?” “No,” I’d say, “only a few people pray. Very few.”

Then they’d ask, Surely your people endeavor to be holy, don’t they?” 

“Well only a few are. Many of them could care less. They’re more interested in the cares of the world than in God’s affairs.”

Oh we responded to the Lord and had some great meetings. But there was very little consecration on the part of the people. During this time a brother in the church prophesied, “We’re riding on someone else’s credit card.” Looking back, I believe that’s accurate; …” I assume someone else prayed for us….. And we received the blessings.” (end of quote)

One of the Holy Spirit’s passions is to prepare the bride of Christ to meet her groom without spot or wrinkle.  The great revivalist – Leonard Ravenhill said it best, when he exclaimed, “The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back in to that unholy world and keep him holy in it.”  I firmly believe He is going to do that increasingly with our congregation, and with His church in this region as we get to know Him as He truly is!

He is God; He is the Holy Spirit; and thirdly He is Spirit.

Jesus said of God and thus the Holy Spirit, – “God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24

The Holy Spirit is not confined or limited to a body like Jesus was while He walked and ministered on the earth. Thus He can minister to millions of people at the same time. Thus when Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:7, 8 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;”  The advantage the Holy Spirit had and has is He is Spirit. He can be everywhere at once. He has no time or space limitations.

Finally He is the Spirit of Truth

Jesus said to His disciples, “ I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14:16,17

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spiritof truthwho proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,” John 15:26

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”  John 16:13

The apostle John goes even farther in his first epistle and states, “…..It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” I John 5:6

Do you want to be intimate with the Holy Spirit?  Do you want to filled with all His fullness?  Do you want to be the kind of vessel or temple or instrument that the Holy Spirit can do those greater works through that Jesus promised?

Then we are going to have to allow Him to purge and cleanse us from all the rationalization, and minimizing and embellishing and stretching the truth and falsehood that we have walked in for most of our lives.  I don’t know about you but I learned to lie and stretch the truth and beat around the bush and divert attention from my sins as a child and really got pretty good at it. It sadly became a way of life for me.

But even David knew as he prayed in Psalm 51;6, “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,….” Perhaps that’s why a little later in that passionate prayer he pleaded, “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”  

Now thankfully in this New Covenant relationship we believers have with and through Jesus Christ and through what He has done for us on the cross, we do not have to plead with Him not to be taken from us.  But we should be pleading for Him to purify us of all of our corruption and defilement and falsehood so He can fulfill His highest purposes in and through your life and mine.

Being a temple of the Holy Spirit and a temple of the Spirit of truth is a great privilege and honor. It means each of us has the potential to be used by Him beyond our wildest dreams. But that doesn’t happen automatically. 

Perhaps that’s why the great church father Augustine, prayed prayers like this re: the Holy Spirit – “Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.”

“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.”

Jesus’s promise for His church is this: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”    Let’s ask Him now!

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