FREE CHRISTIAN REPRINT ARTICLES
Christian Articles for All of your Publishing Needs!
Word Count: 13861
|Send Article To Friend||Print/Use Article|
A STUDY ON SANCTIFICATION THAT BUILDS ON THE INFLUENTIAL TEACHING OF WILLIAM H. DURHAM (AD 1873-1912), PART 6
by Karl Kemp
4/14/2019 / Bible Studies
11.1. The Epistle to the Galatians Demonstrates One Reception (Not Two or Three Receptions) of the Spirit when a Person Becomes a Christian; it Includes Being Born of the Spirit, Being Sanctified by the Spirit, and the Charismatic Dimension of the Spirit's Work. I'll quote and discuss some key verses from the epistle to the Galatians: Galatians 3:2-3. This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing with faith? [The answer here is obvious: They received the Spirit when they repented and submitted to the gospel in faith. These Gentile Christians certainly did not receive the Spirit through listening to the Judaizers, who were telling Paul's Gentile converts that they must be circumcised (and do other "works of the Law") to be saved.] (3) Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit [The fact that the apostle Paul spoke of "having begun by the Spirit" confirms that he is including the life-giving work of the Spirit that starts with the new birth. (I'm not denying the work of the Spirit that precedes the new birth, as He convicts, draws, etc.)], are you now being perfected by the flesh? [[It is clear that submitting to the message of the Judaizers and the works of the Law/flesh, like circumcision, would not "perfect," or "complete" these Christians. They already had everything they needed in union with Christ in the Holy Spirit; the works of the Law/flesh, like circumcision, are not included in the gospel of the new covenant. The apostle Paul makes it clear in this epistle that we are also sanctified through the Spirit that we received when we became Christians (assuming of course that we walk by the Spirit, as we are required to do [see Gal. 5:16, which I'll quote as we continue]), and that we also are enabled to function in the charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work through that one reception (see Gal. 3:5, which is quoted next). This one primary reception of the Spirit is the typical pattern found throughout the New Testament.]]
Galatians 3:5. So then, does He [God] who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by works of the Law or by hearing with faith. It is obvious that God's giving the Spirit and the miracles that result from His giving the Spirit are tied to new-covenant salvation that is received by grace through faith, not "by works of the Law." Note that the miracles and other charismatic works of the Spirit flow out of the one reception of the Spirit that takes place when we become Christians and are born again. There is no idea here of a need for a second reception of the Spirit to enter the charismatic dimension of the outpoured Spirit's work. The charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work was manifested from the time the Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost. And the charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work was manifested among the Christians at Galatia from the time they became Christians.
Galatians 3:13-14. (These verses are discussed in more detail on pages 24-26 of my book Holiness and Victory Over Sin.) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law [The "curse of the Law" speaks of the curse that came on those under the Law through breaking the Law: I'll quote Gal. 3:10, where Paul quoted Deut. 27:26: "For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse, for it is written, 'CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW TO PERFORM THEM.' " God always planned to solve the sin problem and make believers righteous and holy through the Sacrifice of His Son and the outpoured Life-Giving, Righteous, Holy Spirit. Those who were believers under the Law are ultimately saved through the Sacrifice of Christ Jesus. The new covenant is different than the old covenant (which was established on the Mosaic Law) in that we are totally forgiven AND enabled to fully keep God's moral law through having received, and then walking in, the Righteous, Holy Spirit of Life (cf. Gal. 5:5, 16-25; 6:8; Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:25-27; Rom. 2:26-29; 8:4; 1 Cor. 7:19)], having become a curse for us [in His all-important atoning death. Based on Gal. 4:5, "for us" could be limited to the Jews (those who were under the Law), but apparently Paul was including both Jewish and Gentile Christians here. If so, the "us" earlier in this verse would include Gentile Christians too. (Gentiles weren't under the Law, but we were under spiritual death and in bondage to sin and desperately needed to be redeemed.) Anyway, we must understand that Christ, the Lamb of God, bore all of our sins (Jews and Gentiles) with the guilt and the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin, and we must submit to new-covenant salvation with repentance and faith.] - for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE [cf. Deut. 21:23]." (14) in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles ["The Gentiles" here probably should be translated the nations. If so, "the nations" would include the Jews. These words build on Gal. 3:8. I'll quote Gal. 3:8-9: "The Scripture [Gen. 12:3], foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles [or, probably better, "the nations"] by faith [From Paul's perspective it was clear that the fulfillment of this promise would not come through the Mosaic Law and the old covenant, but through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and new-covenant salvation.], preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.' [Significantly, the same Greek words, ta ethne, that are translated "the Gentiles" by the NASB in Gal. 3:14, which would probably be better translated "the nations" in Gal. 3:14, are also used twice in Gal. 3:8.] (Gal. 3:9) So then those who are of faith [all Christians, Jewish and Gentiles] are blessed with Abraham the believer (see Gal. 3:6-8)."], so that we ["We" here has to include the Jewish Christians, including Paul, along with the Gentile Christians.] would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. And as I have emphasized in this paper, the prophecies/promises of the Spirit put the emphasis on the life-giving, sanctifying work of the Spirit which are necessary for our salvation - being born of the Spirit and sanctified by the Spirit is a big part of what new-covenant salvation is all about - but they also include the charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work that enables the Body of Christ to function as it should, including taking the gospel to the world. The words "the promise of the Spirit" here are surely used in that full sense here in Gal. 3:14. There is no hint of any second experiences in receiving the promise of the Spirit (in order to be sanctified or to enter the charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work) in the Epistle to the Galatians. Of course this does not mean that God does not, on occasion (as He wills) give special anointings and gifts of the Spirit to Christians after they have become Christians.
Galatians 3:21. This verse doesn't directly mention the Spirit, but it is extremely important, and clearly refers to new-covenant work of the Life-Giving, Righteous, Holy Spirit. Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? [["The promises of God" of new-covenant salvation - through the Sacrifice of His Son and by His giving/pouring out the Life-Giving, Righteous, Holy Spirit - dealt, in large part, with solving the foundational problems of spiritual death and bondage to sin: He gives His people (believers) spiritual life (starting with the new birth) by the indwelling Life-Giving Spirit, and He makes His people righteous and holy through the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit. The Law is not contrary to the promises of God. They both came from the same God. The Law (the Mosaic Law, which was the foundation for the old covenant) was good and from God, and it prepared the way for the new covenant, but it must be understood, as this verse makes clear, that that the Law was not able to "impart life" or make believers righteous with the imparted "righteousness" and holiness of God.]] May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life [But the Mosaic Law, which was the foundation for the old covenant, or any other law, was not able to overthrow the spiritual death that originated with the fall of Adam and "impart life" to those who were spiritually dead.], then righteousness would indeed have been based on law [That is, if the Law had been able to impart life by giving the Life-Giving, Righteous, Holy Spirit to dwell in His people (believers), it would also have enabled them to appropriate and walk in the "righteousness" and holiness of God. However, the old covenant was not able to overthrow spiritual death or the bondage to sin and demons that come with spiritual death.]
Galatians 4:6. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba ["Abba" is an intimate Aramaic word for father; Aramaic, a sister language to Hebrew, was the dominant language used in Israel at that time. The indwelling life-giving Spirit enables us to be born again and to be able to cry out "Abba! Father" in sincerity and truth, since we have been accepted in Christ and born again and live by the Spirit.]! Father!" Compare Rom. 8:15. This sending forth of the Spirit is the Spirit received in Gal. 3:2, 14; in Gal. 3:5 Paul speaks of God's having provided the Spirit; Gal. 4:29 (born of the received Spirit); Gal. 5:5 (have the righteousness of God by the received Spirit); Gal. 5:16-18 (walk by the received Spirit with victory over all sin); Gal. 5:22-23 (good fruit produced by the received Spirit); Gal. 5:25 (have life by the received Spirit); and Gal. 6:8 (sow to the received Spirit and reap eternal life). There is only one giving and receiving of the Spirit spoken of in the Epistle to the Galatians, and this is typical for the New Testament.
Galatians 4:29. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh [referring to those like Ishmael (see Gal. 4:21-25) who were born according to the flesh; they were not children of promise.] persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit [[Note that the words "who was born" are in italics; they were not included in the Greek. Those added words tend to confuse the issue, because a prominent, necessary point that the apostle Paul frequently makes is that the life-giving, sanctifying, new-covenant Spirit was not available to believers under the old covenant, very much including the all-important new-covenant new birth (see Gal. 3:21, which is quoted and discussed above). It is clear that Paul was saying something was special about those "like Isaac, who are children of promise," (Gal. 4:28), but I don't believe he could have said that they were born again. We could translate "persecuted the spiritual son" with the New English Bible here in Gal. 4:29, or "persecuted the 'spiritual' son" with the New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips.], so it is now also [That is, (some of) those who were born according to the flesh in Paul's day, including Jews and Gentiles, were persecuting Christians. That persecution has continued, but God is still on His throne; Jesus is still Lord; the infinite Spirit of God dwells in His people; and we will be glorified in the very near future.]]
Galatians 5:5. The apostle Paul speaks of Christians being made righteous through the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit, who was received when these believers became Christians. This is a big part of what Christianity is all about. I'll quote this verse from the Amplified Bible: For we [not relying on the Law] [The apostle is speaking of those, like himself, who understood the gospel and rejected the false gospel of the Judaizers.] through the Holy Spirit's [help] by faith [not by works of the Law, like circumcision] anticipate and wait for the blessing and good for which our righteousness and right standing with God - our conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action - [causes us] to hope. The received Spirit enables us to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God, along with being forgiven and having a right standing with God. Having submitted to God, His Son, and new-covenant salvation and living for Him "in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action" we have a super-solid basis for the "hope" that we will inherit the fullness of eternal life and glory at the end of this age. Hope deals with the future, but that doesn't mean that we should have any doubts about these things coming to pass (assuming we are being faithful to God and His gospel, including being quick to ask forgiveness if we should sin and making it a priority to refrain from further sin).
Galatians 5:16-18. Galatians 5:16 is one of the most powerful verses in the New Testament calling Christians to walk with the victory over all sin, by walking by the Holy Spirit, by faith, on a continuous basis. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not ["you most certainly will not"; the Greek has an intensive double negative here] carry out the [sinful] desire of the flesh ["The flesh" is the equivalent of the old man here, and often. The NIV translates "sinful nature" here, and often, and "sinful nature" communicates the right idea here. The sinful desire of the flesh is to do the sinful works of the flesh. In Gal. 5:19-21 Paul lists many of the sinful works of the flesh. Man in the flesh is fallen man without the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of life.]. (17) For the flesh sets its [sinful] desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit [the Holy Spirit who indwells every born-again Spirit] against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another [But we must understand that the infinite Spirit of God doesn't lose any battles against the flesh, and we won't sin as long as we continue to walk by the Spirit by faith, which is far from being automatic.], so that you may not do the [sinful] things that you please. [In other words, Christians may not yield to, and do, the sinful desires of the flesh that Paul just mentioned at the end of 5:16. These sinful desires will not become sin if we always walk by the Righteous, Holy Spirit by faith. These sinful desires are not compatible with the idea of the eradication of the sinful nature/the flesh/the old man.] (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. ["If you are led by the Spirit" and "walk by the Spirit" (5:16), you will be living in the righteousness and holiness of God, with the victory over all sin. The apostle made the statement that "you are not under the Law" to back up his insistence that Gentile Christians are not required to be circumcised, or other such ceremonial works of the Law. We are required, and enabled, to do the works of righteousness that the grace of new-covenant salvation, very much including the sanctifying work of the indwelling, Righteous, Holy Spirit enables us to do (cf., e.g., Rom. 8:4; Eph. 2:10). We clearly are required to keep God's moral law, which cannot change. God's moral law originated from His knowing what is right and wrong for His people.
Galatians 5:22-25. But the fruit of the Spirit [Some of the righteous fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in us and through us as we walk by the Spirit] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. [In fact, doing such things goes along with putting God first and keeping His moral law.] (24) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [Having "crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" is the equivalent of the old man having been crucified in Rom. 6:6. This is a big part of what new-covenant salvation is all about. It is not an aspect of our salvation that must await a subsequent, second reception of the all-important outpoured Spirit of God. We must understand that the flesh/old man will not be crucified, and kept crucified, unless we walk by the Spirit by faith on a continuous basis, in agreement with the Word of God.] (25) If we live by the Spirit [if we have life, as born-again Christians, through the life-giving, indwelling Spirit.], let us also walk by the Spirit. [The Greek uses a different verb for "walk" here than in 5:16. A translation like "let us follow the Spirit" or "let us keep in step with the Spirit" of the NIV would be better here.]
Galatians 6:7-8. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. (8) For the one who sows to his own flesh [instead of sowing to/walking by the Spirit; the NIV translates, "The one who sows to please his sinful nature."] will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. [To sow to the Spirit is to live for God in accordance with His Word and walk by the Spirit in the righteousness and holiness of God by faith. As born-again Christians we have eternal life, but the fullness of eternal life will not become available until we are glorified at the end of this age.]
11.2. First I'll List Some Passages that Demonstrate that the All-Important New Birth by the Holy Spirit of Life Is Very Much Included in God's Promised Pouring Out of His Spirit in New-Covenant Salvation. ((These passages are listed, quoted to some extent, and discussed in the next section of this paper (11.3). I won't list any passages here that don't specifically mention life/birth or the equivalent, but it must be understood, as I believe I demonstrate in this paper, that the promise of the outpoured life-giving Spirit speaks of the same new-covenant-salvation reality as the promise of the outpoured Spirit who sanctifies/makes righteous. Both aspects of the Spirit's work are required to accomplish new-covenant salvation, and the charismatic dimension of the Spirit's new-covenant-salvation work is required for the Christian church to function as it should, and to be equipped to take the gospel to the world)): John 3:3-8; 6:63; 7:37-39 (John 7:38 specifically mentions that the life-giving Spirit indwells Christians; so too does Rom. 8:11; but I believe the indwelling of the Spirit is applicable to all of the passages listed here, and to all of the passages included in the following section (11.3) that deals with the all-important sanctifying, making righteous work of the Spirit.); Rom. 8:2, 10, 11; 2 Cor. 3:6; Gal. 5:25; Titus 3:5-7.
11.3. Now I'll List a Large Number of Passages (Passages that Are Listed, Quoted at Least to Some Extent, and Discussed in this Section Along with the Passages Listed above in Section 11.2) that Demonstrate that the All-Important Sanctifying/Making Righteous Work of the Righteous, Holy Spirit Is Very Much Included in God's Promised Pouring Out of His Spirit in New-Covenant Salvation:
Isaiah 32:15-18 (with Isa. 45:8; 46:12-13; 56:1; 60:21; 61:1-3; Jer. 31:31-34; these passages are quoted and sometimes discussed below). Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high.... (16) Then justice will dwell in the wilderness And righteousness will abide in the fertile field. (17) And the work [or, "fruit" (NIV)] of righteousness will be peace, and the service [or, "effect" (NIV)] of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. (18) Then My people will live in peaceful habitation, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places. Isaiah 32:15-18 prophesied of God's pouring forth the new-covenant Spirit which will result in His righteousness being manifested, manifested especially in the hearts and lives of His people. We are enabled to live in the righteousness of God by the outpoured, indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of new-covenant salvation. These verses also apply to God's salvation of the end-time remnant of Israel (cf., e.g., Rom. 11:25-27).
((I'll quote and sometimes comment on the passages I listed with Isa. 32:15-18 from Isaiah and Jer. 31:31-34. None of these passages specifically mention the Righteous, Holy Spirit of life, but He will be very directly involved in the fulfillment of these very important prophecies that deal with new-covenant salvation: Isaiah 45:8. Drip down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I the LORD [Yahweh], have created it. Isaiah 46:12-13. Listen to Me, you stubborn-minded, Who are far from righteousness. (13) I bring near My righteousness, it is not far off; And My salvation will not delay. [God's prophesied new-covenant salvation will bring forth His prophesied righteousness, that, for one thing, makes His people righteous.] And I will grant salvation in Zion, And My glory for Israel. Isaiah 56:1. Thus says the LORD [Yahweh], "Preserve justice and do righteousness [Righteousness is something Gods' people do.], For My salvation [new-covenant salvation that will, for one thing, make God's people righteous] is about to come And My righteousness to be revealed [or, manifested, referring to God's new-covenant salvation and righteousness being manifested; for one super-important thing His imparted righteousness will be manifested in the hearts and lives of Christians (cf., e.g., Rom. 1:17; 3:21-22; 6:13, 16, 18-20 with all of Romans chapter 6, and 1 John 3:7),]. Isaiah 60:21. Then all your people will be righteous; They will possess the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands [cf., e.g., Eph. 2:10], That I may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3. The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me [Me. This is the Son of God, the Messiah, speaking. See Luke 4:16-21, where the Lord Jesus quoted from these prophetic verses and said He had come to fulfill them.], Because the LORD [Yahweh (referring to God the Father)] anointed me [Me; Hebrew Messiah means the Anointed One, as does Greek Christ] To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me [Me] to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty [release] to captives [[All of us were captive to spiritual death, sin, and the world, whose god is the devil. This release (freedom, liberty) and redemption of slaves is a very big part of what new-covenant salvation is all about. Forgiveness of sins is included, but Jesus came to set us free from being spiritually dead sinners living in the kingdom of darkness. It is very significant that In the Greek version (the Septuagint) of Isa. 61:1 and in the Greek of Luke 4:18, where Jesus was quoting from Isa. 61:1, the Greek noun that is used for "release" (or the equivalent) is aphesis. This use of aphesis in Isa. 61:1 and Luke 4:18 is very important in that it helps demonstrate that aphesis need not always be translated "forgiveness" (or the equivalent) which so often happens in New Testament translations. As discussed in this paper, a translation like "release" of sins with the guilt and penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin is required in Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Heb. 10:18, and a few other verses. The translation "forgiveness" or the equivalent fails to communicate a big part of what was intended by the author/Author. We are not just forgiven and given a right standing, or having Christ's righteousness imputed to us (as important as that is): We are released from our sins with the guilt (forgiven) and their penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin that came to mankind through the rebellion of Adam.]] and freedom to prisoners [and not just literal prisoners. We had all been taken captive.]. (2) To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD [Yahweh] [when He saves us, starting with new-covenant salvation. In the quotation of Luke 4:18-19 Jesus stopped here.] And the day of vengeance of our God [The "day of vengeance" will take place at the end of this age.]; To comfort all who mourn, (3) To grant those who mourn in Zion [The idea here is that it is a good thing for God's people to mourn over all of the sin taking place among God's people (and in the world) and the chaos that comes with sin, all of which brings a reproach on God.], Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD [Yahweh], that He may be glorified. [God's new covenant salvation enables His people to be "oaks [strong trees] characterized by righteousness." God's making His people righteous with His imparted righteousness, through the atoning death of His Son and His outpoured, indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit, as we cooperate with His saving grace by faith, results in our being righteous with the victory over spiritual death, sin, and Satan and his hosts. God gets all the glory (is glorified) for our salvation and righteousness because it came from Him; it is His work.] Jeremiah 31:31-34. Jeremiah 31:31 specifically mentions the "new-covenant," and 31:31-34 show that the sin problem is solved through being forgiven AND GOD'S WRITING HIS LAW ON OUR HEARTS, WHICH SANCTIFIES US. It is significant that these words are quoted in Heb. 8:8-12 and quoted in part in Heb. 10:16-17 of new-covenant salvation. I'll quote Jeremiah 31:33, "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD [Yahweh], "I will put My Law within them and on their heart I will write it, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." As the next listing (especially Ezek. 36:27) shows, God changes our hearts and makes us righteous and holy through the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of life, as we appropriate His saving, sanctifying grace by faith.))
Ezekiel 36:25-27 with 11:19-20. I'll just quote Ezekiel 36:27. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. It must be understood that we must cooperate with God's saving, sanctifying grace by faith or we won't be sanctified, which includes keeping His Law/commandment [statutes and ordinances], but God must be given all the glory for our salvation that comes through the Sacrifice of His Son and His outpoured, indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of life. We do not earn any aspects of our salvation by cooperating with God's grace by faith (see Rom. 4:16). Our salvation is 100 percent dependent on God's grace. (Ezekiel 37:14 prophesies of end-time Israel being brought to life by the indwelling Spirit of life.)
Matthew 3:1-12. I'll just quote Matthew 3:1-2, 11-12. Now in those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, (2) "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." In other words, the Day of Judgment is at hand. I'll skip down to verses 11-12, where John the Baptist prophesied of the very much greater ministry that he came to introduce, the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, who, like John the Baptist, would call for repentance, but whereas John the Baptist was only sent to baptize in water, the Lord Jesus would baptize in the infinitely powerful, Righteous, Holy Spirit of life, who would bring life and sanctify the repentant believers, making them fully ready for the Day of Judgment. Matthew 3:11-12. As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with [in (Greek en)] the Holy Spirit and fire. [To be baptized in the Holy Spirit ((which is sometimes spoken of as receiving the Spirit, receiving the gift of the Spirit, God's giving the Spirit, having the Spirit poured out upon, the Spirit falling upon, etc. [cf. Acts 1:5 with Acts 2:4, 17, 18, 33, 38; 10:44, 45, 47; 11:15, 16, 17; being baptized in the Spirit is also mentioned (along with Matt. 3:11) with the same meaning in Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5 and 11:16; all six of these verses refer to the prophecy of John the Baptist; the only other use of these words is found in 1 Cor. 12:13, which is discussed below in this list of passages)) includes being born of the Spirit; sanctified by the Spirit, and in other passages we learn that it also includes receiving the charismatic dimension of the Spirit's new-covenant work. The Spirit provides everything that is needed to solve the spiritual death, sin problem, very much including setting us free from bondage to sin and making us righteous with the righteousness of God, and to enable the Body of Christ to function as it should and to take the gospel to the world. "Fire" sanctifies (cf. Acts 2:3), but fire is also used of judgment (cf., Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:14-15; and see Matt. 3:12).] (12) His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather the wheat [His born again, sanctified believers] into the barn [in His end-time judgment of the world], but He will burn up the chaff [those who do not repent and submit to God and His offer of salvation; God cannot allow rebels to have a place in heaven] with unquenchable fire.
John 3:3-8. (I could have skipped listing this passage here because these verses don't specifically mention being made righteous and holy, but these things are clearly included in being born of the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of life.) Jesus spoke of the need for Nicodemus (and for all people) to be born again by the life-giving Spirit, which would become available when Jesus poured out the promised Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (cf., e.g., Acts 2:33). I'll just quote John 3:5-6. Jesus answered [Nicodemus]. "Truly, truly [Amen, Amen], I say to you, unless one is born of water [[In agreement with a large number of commentators, I believe that the words "of water" refer to water baptism, which was quite prominent in that setting. John the Baptist was baptizing in water - even Jesus was baptized by him - and Jesus (through His disciples) was on the verge of baptizing in water (see John 1:25-34; 3:22-26; and 4:1-2). I should mention that the baptizing that Jesus was doing through His disciples was transitional in that Jesus would not have the life-giving, sanctifying Spirit to pour out (to give) until after He was crucified, resurrected, and taken up in glory: He didn't pour out the Spirit until the Day of Pentecost. The baptism in water of John 3:5 is a baptism of repentance and faith; if it isn't a baptism accompanied by true repentance and faith it isn't a valid baptism. And typically in the New Testament water baptism is presented as a preliminary step to being born of the life-giving, sanctifying, charismatic-gift-dispensing Spirit. See, for example, Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:21-22 [(This bracket continues for two paragraphs.) These first three passages speak of Jesus being baptized in water and then immediately receiving the Spirit. This sequence established a typical pattern. ((There is room for exceptions in this sequence (baptism in water before receiving the Spirit) in the New Testament, as Acts 10:44-48 demonstrate, but it is easy to see why God gave the Spirit to those Gentile believers, who were the first Gentiles to become Christians [Acts 15:7-8]. If God had not clearly demonstrated His acceptance of those Gentiles by giving them the Spirit, as on the Day of Pentecost, Peter probably couldn't have baptized them in water. He got in trouble with the Jews as it was (Acts 11:1-18).
I realize that many Christians do not follow the sequence of being baptized in water, then receiving the Spirit, which includes the new birth by the Spirit. I am not suggesting, nor do I believe, that people cannot be born again and become totally solid Christians before, or apart from, water baptism, but I am saying that in the typical New Testament pattern water baptism precedes being born of the Spirit. (Water baptism is the most appropriate Biblical occasion to complete the transactions of putting off sin [being forgiven], being united with Christ, dying with Christ, and being buried with Christ (cf., Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3, 4; Gal. 3:27; and Col. 2:12); these things clearly would take place before being resurrected spiritually and born of the Spirit. Most of the Christians I have fellowshipped with the past thirty years don't follow this sequence, and my own experience didn't follow this pattern. I'll briefly discuss this important topic after finishing the discussion under John 3:5-6 and later in this paper.)) Jesus didn't need to be born of the Spirit like we do, but He needed to receive the Spirit to become the Anointed One/the Christ/the Messiah.]; and see Ezek. 36:25-27; Acts 2:38-39; 8:14-17; 19:5-6; and Titus 3:5-7 (The last four passages listed here will be discussed as we continue with this paper, and Ezek. 36:25-27 has already been briefly discussed.)]] and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. [[(This double bracket continues for two paragraphs.) It is very clear that we must be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God. And it is very clear that we must repent and submit to the gospel in faith before we are born again. And it is clear to me that (according to the pattern established in the New Testament) water baptism is the most appropriate occasion for us to complete the transition, through repentance and faith, of becoming Christians. This assumes that we receive the Spirit right after, and in close association with being baptized in water. It is clear that we cannot become Christians without receiving the Spirit of life, righteousness, and holiness (cf. Rom. 8:9). I believe it is obvious that we must have a solid, Biblically based, assurance of the truthfulness of the gospel and our full acceptance of, and submission to, the gospel before we are baptized. This assurance includes the work of the Holy Spirit who draws, convicts, enlightens, helps us understand the Scriptures, etc. The Spirit can do a whole lot before the new-covenant new birth takes place. Nobody was born again before the Day of Pentecost, including the apostles who were effectively ministering before the Day of Pentecost, including calling for repentance and submission to new-covenant salvation, healing, and casting out demons by the Holy Spirit who was "with them": In John 14:17b Jesus said to His disciples: "but you know Him [the Holy Spirit] because He abides with you and will be in you [starting on the Day of Pentecost]."
I don't want to stir up controversy regarding water baptism. I have already mentioned that most of the Christians I have fellowshipped with, and myself, did not follow this sequence. We were born again before we were baptized in water, and I'm confident that we were born again. For one thing, God is merciful. Water baptism is important, but there are other things more important, very much including loving God and living in accordance with His Word in His righteousness and holiness with the victory over sin. I'll list some things that are totally necessary to become born-again Christians: We must hear the gospel and understand it (at least we must understand the basics); we must repent and submit from our hearts to God, His Son, and the gospel in faith; and we must have all of the work of the Holy Spirit of life, who convicts, draws, helps us understand the gospel, and WHO MAKES US ALIVE AND RIGHTEOUS AND HOLY WHEN HE COMES TO DWELL IN US IN NEW-COVENANT SALVATION.]] (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh [Man in the flesh (not having received the life-giving Spirit) can only give birth to offspring in the flesh.], and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit [[First I'll mention a popular, but I'm sure is wrong, interpretation of these words: They say it means that the Spirit gives birth to our spirit. (It's true that the Spirit gives birth to our spirit, but that isn't what Jesus was saying here. For one thing, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit now [1 Cor. 6:19], and our bodies will be glorified, along with our entire being being glorified, at the end of this age). What Jesus was saying here is that it is only that which is born of the Spirit that becomes spirit, using the word spirit here of that which can "enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). We enter the kingdom of God in a preliminary sense when we are born again, but we will not enter the kingdom in the full and final sense until after we (our entire being) is born into the fullness of eternal life and glorified at the end of this age. I'll quote the NAB translation for John 3:6, "Flesh begets flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." The NIV has, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit."]].
I have spent a lot of time seeking God for the balanced truth (we desperately need the balanced truth) of what the Bible teaches about water baptism and baptism in the Spirit (and many other topics, with an emphasis on righteousness, holiness, and victory over sin and on the end times). Many Christian groups have formed their viewpoint on water baptism in part in reaction to what other groups were doing (like the Baptist reaction against the Roman Catholic view of sacramental, baptismal regeneration, including the baptizing of infants. The Baptist viewpoint, which is followed by large numbers of Pentecostals, charismatics, and others, is that we are born again by the Spirit, then baptized in water. As I mentioned, it is clear that we must repent and submit to God the Father, the Lord Jesus, and the gospel in faith and have a solid Bible-based assurance that we know the truth and are committed to the truth before we are baptized in water. Becoming Christians is serious business! We are saved by grace through faith, not by works, but when water baptism is rightly understood it totally fits our being saved by grace through faith (not works), which includes all the necessary work of the Holy Spirit. (Water baptism is not a work in any wrong sense of the word "work.")
I want to make it very clear that I am not suggesting, nor do I believe, that it is of crucial importance for those who hold a Baptist view of water baptism to change, but we ought to be open to change if, after prayerfully considering this topic, we believe God would have us change. For one thing, we have greater problems to deal with in the Body of Christ, with an emphasis on all of the sin, including quite a bit of serious false doctrine that is taking place among Christians, very much including ministers/leaders. Another view regarding water baptism is that held by the Salvation Army (and others). They don't baptize in water at all. They noticed that large numbers of "Christians" assumed they were Christians because they had been baptized and may have their names on a church role. The Salvation Army decided that they wouldn't offer people anything but the reality of becoming true, born-again Christians and living as born-again Christians are enabled and required to live. I think they are making a mistake here, but I am confident that many of them are true, faithful Christians, and they put an emphasis on holy living.
John 6:63. Jesus said: It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit [or, Spirit] and are life. We cannot experience spiritual life apart from the Spirit of life dwelling within us.
John 7:37-39. These verses don't specifically mention being made righteous and holy, but these things are clearly included in what it means for new-covenant believers to receive the Righteous, Holy Spirit of life who was not given until after Jesus was glorified (taken up in glory [cf. Acts 2:33]). Now on the last great day of the feast [Feast of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. (38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his inmost being will flow rivers of living water [by the indwelling Holy Spirit of life],' " (39) But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Jesus had to be crucified and taken up in glory before He received the Holy Spirit from the Father to pour out, starting on the Day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:33).
John 14:16-17. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever [starting on the Day of Pentecost]; (17) 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. I believe this clearly includes the new birth and the sanctifying work of the indwelling Spirit along with the powerful charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work.
John 20:19-23. (This listing doesn't fit very well under this heading, but it is very important for this study.) John 20:22 is very relevant to this study because many believe that the disciples were born again when Jesus appeared to them on the evening of the day of His resurrection. (19) So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week [Sunday], and when the doors were shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." (20) And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side [His hands (feet) and side had been pierced]. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (21) So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." [He was commissioning them to take the gospel to the world.] (22) And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. (23) If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them [We have the authority to tell people who repent and submit to the gospel in faith that they are forgiven. However, if they don't genuinely do what God requires of them (and God knows the hearts) they will not be forgiven.]; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."
It probably is relevant that the Greek does not include the words "upon them" in verse 22. For one thing, it seems clear that He did not breathe on them individually. D. A. Carson asks, "In short, are there contextual reasons for thinking that this is a symbolic act that anticipates the future imminent bestowal?" And he discusses at length that he believes this is the correct viewpoint. I agree with him. (Gospel According to John [Inter-Varsity Press, 1991], pages 652-656.)
It seems clear to me that what the resurrected Christ did when He breathed (on them) and said "Receive the Holy Spirit" helped prepare the way (by this prophetic act) for them to receive the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. In John 20:20-23 Jesus was commissioning His apostles to take the gospel to the world. The Scriptures make it clear that they did not begin to take the gospel to the world until they had received the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus was sending them as the Father had sent Him (see John 20:21).
For one super-important detail, as I have mentioned, Acts 2:33 shows that Jesus did not have the life-giving, sanctifying, charismatic-gift-dispensing Spirit to give until after He was exalted to the right hand of God the Father forty days after His resurrection (Acts 1:3). Also very significant is the fact that the disciples did not tell Thomas, who wasn't there when Jesus breathed (on them) and said "Receive the Holy Spirit," that they had received the Spirit when He breathed (on them), which would have been a really big deal if they had received the Spirit, which they hadn't (John 20:26-29). And there is no mention of Thomas (or anybody else) receiving the Spirit when Jesus appeared to them a week after His resurrection. (Note that a week later they were still staying "inside" the same room [John 20:26].) It is also very significant that the New Testament doesn't give any indication that their lives were transformed by their having received the Spirit of life and righteousness and holiness on the evening of the day Christ was resurrected: See John chapter 21, and it is quite significant that the eleven apostles drew lots to determine who would replace Judas (Acts 1:15-26), which hardly fits new-covenant Christianity in the Spirit. It was very different after they received the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost some ten days after Jesus was taken up in glory when He poured forth the promised Spirit that He had received from the Father (Acts 2:33).
Many believe the disciples who were gathered behind doors that were shut for fear of the Jews when Jesus appeared to them on the evening of the day of His resurrection (John 20:19) were born again when Jesus breathed (on them) and said "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). If that happened, and I'm confident that it didn't, being born again didn't change them. Being born again by the outpoured, indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of life for the first time since the fall of man is a big deal, a very big deal. If we cooperate with God's grace by faith, we will be transformed/sanctified.
Acts 1:4-5. (This passage doesn't specifically mention being sanctified, made righteous by the Spirit, but it does speak of waiting for what the Father had promised, which, as I demonstrate in this paper, puts a strong emphasis on the sanctifying, making righteous work of the outpoured new-covenant Spirit. It is clear that this Spirit was first poured out on the Day of Pentecost.) Gathering them [the apostles (see Acts 1:2)] together [This took place just before Jesus was taken up to heaven after forty days; Jesus didn't receive the Spirit from the Father to pour out, starting on the Day of Pentecost, until after He was taken up to heaven, to the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:2-3, 9-11; 2:33).], He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "You have heard from Me [cf., e.g., John 7:37-39; 14:16-17, 26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15]; (5) for John baptized with [in] water, but you will be baptized with [in] the Holy Spirit not many days from now." I believe it is necessary to see (as I am demonstrating from many passages in this section of this paper) that the promise of the Father put the emphasis on the life-giving (being born again and having eternal life), sanctifying, work of the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of life. This is the heart of what the desperately needed new-covenant salvation is all about. It is clear to me, and many others, that they did not receive the Spirit before the Day of Pentecost (see above under John 20:21-23). There is, however, an emphasis in the book of Acts on the powerful charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work that will enable the Body of Christ to function as it should and to take the gospel to the world (see Acts 1:8, which is quoted and discussed next).
Acts 2:33, which I have mentioned and will quote and discuss as we continue with this section, also speaks of the Spirit being given on the Day of Pentecost in accordance with the Father's promise of the Spirit. It would be extremely difficult to exclude the super-important life-giving, sanctifying work of the Spirit from the Father's promise: Most of the listings in this section of this paper emphasize the promised all-important life-giving and/or sanctifying work of Spirit. See under essentially all of the passages listed above in this section for a start: Isa. 32:15-17; Ezek. 36:25-27; Matt. 3:1-12; John 3:3-8; 6:63; and 7:37-39; 14:16-17, and many more such passages are listed as I continue with this section; on the other hand, very few passages prophesied of the powerful, charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work (but Joel 2:28-29 with Acts 2:17-19 is significant). There is an emphasis, and rightly so, on the glory of new-covenant salvation.
Acts 1:8. but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. (Compare Luke 24:49.) Acts 1:8 certainly puts some emphasis on the powerful, charismatic dimension of the outpoured Spirit's work that enables the Christian church to adequately function as the Body of Christ and to take the gospel to the world (much of that work is readily observable to the senses of non-Christians), but it also includes the even-more-important powerful, life-giving, sanctifying work of the indwelling Spirit of God. Without that super-important, totally necessary, dimension of the Spirit's work, we wouldn't have the gospel of salvation from spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons to share, and we couldn't be "witnesses" of the reality of that salvation that has come to us through the all-important atoning death of the Lamb of God and the outpoured Righteous, Holy Spirit of life. Without the "power [Greek dunamis] of God unto salvation" of Rom. 1:16 that makes us righteous with the imparted righteousness of God, we wouldn't have the gospel to bear witness to and share. (On dunamis, also see Eph. 3:14-21; dunamis is used in Eph. 3:16, 20.)
Acts 2:2-4. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind [Jesus mentioned "wind" and being born of the Spirit in John 3:8.], and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. (3) And there appeared to them tongues as of fire [purifying, sanctifying fire (cf. Matt. 3:11)], distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. The charismatic gift of speaking with tongues is frequently mentioned as the New Testament continues, mostly in the book of Acts and 1 Corinthians. The charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work was prophesied in Joel 2:28-29, which is quoted in Acts 2:17-18. The prophesying of Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17 undoubtedly includes speaking with tongues. For one thing, those hearing the Christians speaking with tongues in their own languages on the Day of Pentecost heard them speak of the mighty deeds of God (Acts 2:11). (There are no other examples in the New Testament where Christians spoke with tongues/languages that were understood by a person(s) hearing the tongues, but I have heard of this happening quite a few times.) And tongues, with the attendant gift of interpretation of tongues that we read about in 1 Corinthians 12-14, is equivalent to the gift of prophecy (cf. 1 Cor. 14:5).
Acts 2:33. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God [after forty days (Acts 1:3)], and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He [the Lord Jesus] has poured forth this which you both see and hear. One reason this verse is very important is that it demonstrates that the Lord Jesus didn't have the Spirit to impart to His disciples when He appeared to them the evening of the day of His resurrection. (I discussed this important point above, under John 20:19-23.) Another reason it is important is that, as I have discussed already, the words "the promise of the Holy Spirit" very strongly confirm that the pouring out of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost includes the often-promised giving of the Spirit to bring life [the new birth that overthrows spiritual death] and to sanctify/make righteous believers. As I have demonstrated, these were the two things that were so often promised and are at the heart of what new-covenant salvation is all about. There is no new-covenant salvation to take to the world (or to take us to heaven) apart from the life-giving, sanctifying work of the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of God.
Acts 2:37-41. (The apostle Peter exhorted those Jews who were convicted on the Day of Pentecost to repent [and submit to God, His Son, and the gospel in faith], be baptized, so they could receive "the [promised gift of the Life-Giving, Righteous, Holy] Spirit," which is a very big part of what new-covenant salvation is all about.) Now when they heard this [When they heard what the apostle Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost], they [some of those gathered on the Day of Pentecost] were pierced to the heart [strongly convicted], and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, What shall we do?" (38) Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit [[All of the emphasis in these verses, including what the apostle Peter said to the gathered crowd on the Day of Pentecost, is on repenting and, by faith, entering into new-covenant salvation, which includes receiving the promised gift of the life-giving, sanctifying Spirit, and entering into the charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work. I'll quote a sentence from what F. F. Bruce said under this verse: "This gift may comprehend a variety of gifts of the Spirit, but first and foremost 'the saving benefits of Christ's work, as applied to the believer by the Spirit' " (The Book of Acts [Eerdmans, 1998], page 71; he was quoting from N. B. Stonehouse). Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit goes with waiting for what the Father had promised of Acts 1:4 and being baptized in the Spirit mentioned in Acts 1:5; Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 11:16-17; and 1 Cor. 12:13. All of the emphasis in these verses, including what the apostle Peter said to the gathered crowd on the Day of Pentecost, is on repenting and, by faith, entering into new-covenant salvation, which includes receiving the promised gift of the life-giving, sanctifying, charismatic-gift-dispensing Spirit.)
When we study what the New Testament teaches about water baptism, it seems clear to me that baptism in water typically took place before receiving the Spirit: Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16 speak of being forgiven and washing away sins in water baptism. Romans 6:3 speaks of being baptized into the death of Christ; Rom. 6:4 and Col. 2:12 speak of being buried with Christ in baptism; Gal. 3:27 speaks of being baptized into Christ. You would expect that these things would typically take place before the life-giving, sanctifying Spirit would come to indwell believers. However, I want to make the important point that I am not at all saying that we must practice water baptism this way in order to be saved, or sanctified, or enter into the charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work. But we should prayerfully consider this topic.
As I have mentioned, most of the Christians I know (and this includes my experience) follow what could be called the Baptist procedure of being baptized in water after the new birth has taken place through the Spirit who has come to indwell believers. We certainly must make sure that people have truly become believers before baptizing them in water. We must understand that the Spirit does a lot of work convicting, drawing us to Christ, helping us understand the gospel, etc. before He comes to dwell in us in the new birth.
Acts 2:38-39, 41 strongly supports the idea that water baptism would typically take place before receiving the Spirit. Later in this paper, I will briefly discuss Acts 8:4-17, where the Samaritans received new-covenant salvation (They were baptized in water before they received the Spirit, but their receiving the Spirit was delayed for a few days, which fit that special (atypical) situation as we will discuss); Acts 9:1-18, where Saul/Paul, who became the great apostle, became a Christian ((It is not clear whether Paul received the Spirit with the laying on of the hands of Ananias before he was baptized in water or right after he was baptized, and Acts 22:12-16 doesn't help answer this question. The issue is complicated because Dr. Luke's account put the emphasis on the healing of Paul's very temporary blindness. Luke made it clear that Ananias' laying his hands on Paul before he was baptized led to the healing from the blindness that was caused by the great brightness of the light that flashed from heaven when Paul met the Lord Jesus as he was approaching Damascus. Paul could have received the Spirit with the laying on of the hands of Ananias at the same time his eyes were opened, but as I mentioned that point isn't clear. I prefer the viewpoint that Paul received the Spirit after he was baptized in water. I'll quote what John B. Pohill said on this point: "Paul's receipt of the Spirit is not narrated. It did not seem to come with Ananias's laying his hands on Paul. Recovery of his sight followed that. Perhaps it accompanied his baptism, since the two generally are closely connected in Acts" (Acts [Broadman Press, 1992], page 238)); Acts10:1-11:18, where Cornelius and his household and friends (all Gentiles) became Christians (It is clear that those Gentiles, the first Gentiles saved, received the Spirit before they were baptized in water, but that perfectly fit that special situation (the first Gentiles who were saved); and Acts 19:1-7, where some converts of John the Baptist became Christians. (Paul shared the gospel with those disciples of John the Baptist, baptized them in water, and then laid his hands on them and they received the Spirit and spoke with tongues and prophesied). All of these passages mention water baptism and receiving the Spirit.]]. (40) And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" [[It is clear that Peter was inviting his hearers to repent, to be saved from that perverse generation, and become Christians, which clearly included receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, which included being born again, sanctified, and entering the charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work. Peter clearly put the emphasis on the need to be born again and sanctified, which is at the heart of what new-covenant salvation is all about, but the charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work was/is an important and necessary part of the new-covenant-salvation package too. The charismatic dimension of the Spirit's work enables the Christian church to function as it should (for one thing, the ministries God sets in the church are dependent on the anointings of the Spirit), and the charismatic dimension of the Spirit work helps the Christian church take the gospel to the world.]] (41) So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. [Luke didn't mention that these believers received the Spirit, but that must be understood. It is clear in context that they had become real Christians, which has to include being born again and the sanctifying work of the indwelling Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:9). There is no new-covenant salvation apart from receiving the Righteous, Holy Spirit of life.]
Acts 15:7-9. (God cleansed the hearts of Cornelius and his household by faith, not by works. Much of that cleansing took place through their receiving the life-giving, sanctifying work of the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of Life.) 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 [see Acts 10:1-11:18]. (8) And God who knows the heart, testified to them [[God testified to the fact that He accepted the faith of the Gentiles of Cornelius' household when the apostle Peter preached the gospel to them by giving them the Holy Spirit as He had given the Spirit to the disciples, including the apostles, on the Day of Pentecost. Those Gentile Christians were not circumcised. What happened on the Day of Pentecost was totally relevant to the issue described in Acts 15:1-35: Some of the Jewish Christians (Acts 15:6 shows that some of the Pharisees were involved) came to Antioch and said that the Gentile Christians there (or anywhere else) couldn't really be saved unless they were circumcised and submitted to other ceremonial laws of the old covenant. Paul, Barnabus, and some others went up to Jerusalem to discuss this very important issue with the leaders at Jerusalem. Acts 15:28 shows that they, very much including the Holy Spirit, agreed that the Gentile Christians did not have to be circumcised to be saved.]] giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; (9) and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. [This is one more strong confirmation that the giving of the Spirit (or you could say baptizing them in the Spirit [cf. Acts 1:5 and 11:15-18]) on the Day of Pentecost very much included the life-giving, cleansing/sanctifying of their hearts (and lives) work of the Righteous, Holy Spirit of life. It is clear that being forgiven and born again and cleansed/sanctified by the indwelling Spirit, on the basis of the all-important atoning death of the Lamb of God, is at the heart of what new-covenant salvation is all about.]
Romans 2:26-29. (In Rom. 2:26 and 27 the apostle Paul speaks of uncircumcised Gentile Christians keeping God's Law, His moral law, obviously excluding the Old Testament ceremonial laws which included circumcision. In other words they were enabled to walk in the righteousness of God through new-covenant salvation. Of course Jewish Christians were also enabled to keep God's moral law. In Rom. 8:4, which is discussed as part of Rom. 8:1-17 below, Paul speaks of the requirement of the Law being fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. And in 1 Cor. 7:19 he said: "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God [which equals keeping God's moral law]."
Significantly, Rom. 2:29 shows that our hearts are circumcised (which cuts away everything that is sinful and not in accordance with God's will and His moral law from our hearts and lives) by the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of life, which enables us to live in the righteousness of God with the victory over sin (ideally over all sin; we are called, and enabled, to walk with the victory over all sin). As I am demonstrating in this section (11.3), the New Testament makes it clear that the all-important new birth and transformation to a life of righteousness and holiness is wrought by the Spirit who indwells all true Christians. It is also clear that we will still be sinning to the extent we do not walk by the Spirit, by faith (a faith that must be based on what the Bible teaches), on a continuous basis.
I'll quote Romans 2:29. But he is a Jew [a real Jew] who is one inwardly; and [real] circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter [of the Mosaic Law, which was the foundation for the old covenant]; and his praise is not from men, but from God. To fully appreciate these last words we must know that the Hebrew word "Jew," which is short for "Judah," means "praise." We must live our lives to please God, by grace through faith, with top priority: He is the Judge!
Romans 7:5-6. For while we were in the flesh [speaking of Jewish Christians before they became Christians and received the Holy Spirit of life, righteousness, and holiness], the sinful passions, which were aroused by the [Mosaic] Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit [sinful fruit] for death. (6) but now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound [They died to the Law (old covenant), but much more importantly, they died to being spiritually dead and in bondage to sin.], so that we serve in newness of the Spirit [who made us alive and enables us to live in the righteousness and holiness of God] and not in oldness of the letter [of the Law].
Romans 8:1-17. (These verses are extremely important. The word "Spirit" is mentioned 15 times in these verses. Some would count a little less than 15 uses in these verses.) There is a strong emphasis on the indwelling [see Rom. 8:9] Spirit's enabling us to be righteous and holy in these verses, with the victory over sin (see 8:1-8, 12-14). There also is a strong emphasis on the Spirit's making us alive with the spiritual/eternal life of God (see verse 2 ["Spirit of life"], verses 6, 10 [I would translate "the Spirit is life" with the KJV; NKJV.], verse 11 [referring to resurrection life], verse 17 ["Spirit of adoption by which we cry out 'Abba! Father!' "] There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [As the apostle Paul will go on to demonstrate in the verses that follow (at least including verses 2-4), there is no condemnation for Christians. Paul is assuming, of course, that Christians walk in line with what the verses that follow say, by grace/the Spirit through faith.] (2) For the law [or, governing principle] of the Spirit of life [The Holy Spirit is the "Spirit of life." All who are indwelled by the Spirit of life leave spiritual death behind and are born again and live in the dimension of God's spiritual/eternal life. (We must understand that although we are called and enabled to walk in the life of God by the Spirit of God on a continuous basis, this walk doesn't take place automatically. We must cooperate with God's grace and walk in the life of God by the Spirit of God by faith on a continuous basis.) The new birth first became available on the Day of Pentecost, after Jesus had dethroned spiritual death (and sin and Satan and his hosts) through His all-important atoning death and by His pouring out the Life-Giving, Righteous, Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.] in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law [or, governing principle] of sin and of death. (3) For what the Law [the Mosaic Law, which was the foundation for the old covenant] could not do [The old covenant could not dethrone the sin and spiritual death that came upon mankind through the rebellion of Adam (see Rom. 5:12-21). But, for one thing, Jesus, the Lamb of God, bore Adam's sin (and our forefather's sins and our sins) with the guilt and the penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons).], weak as it was through the flesh [Man in the flesh, without the indwelling Spirit of God, doesn't have the strength or ability to live in line with the Law of God in the righteousness and holiness of God.], God did: [The apostle goes on to show how God set us free and saved us from sin and spiritual death:] sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh [The eternal Son of God, who always was with the Father, condescended to become a man, the God-man, who would live a sinless life then die His all-important atoning death that saves us from spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons.] and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh [Now, instead of us being condemned by sin, sin (spiritual death and the kingdom of Satan) has been condemned, and we have been set free.], (4) so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. [The indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of God enables us to fulfill the requirement of God's Law (His moral law, not the ceremonial law) in our daily lives. Christians are not required to keep the ceremonial laws of the old covenant, like circumcision), but we are enabled, and required, to walk according to (by) the Spirit and keep God's moral law. In Rom. 2:26-29 (discussed above) Paul spoke of Christians keeping the requirements of the Law; and in 1 Cor. 7:19 he said that "what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God." Those who walk in the imparted righteousness of God are, by definition, keeping the requirements of the Law (God's moral law).] (5) For those who are according to the flesh [That is, all those who have not been born again; for this part of his teaching the apostle is assuming that all born again Christians are thinking and walking by the Spirit, which they are called and enabled to do, but which, as he warns later, isn't always being done.] set their minds on the things of the flesh [[I prefer the translation think the ways of the flesh. To think the ways of the flesh/old man/sinful nature includes not putting God and his truth and righteousness first place in our hearts and lives. We can only think and live right in a full, adequate sense when we think and live by the enablement of the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit. In Rom. 8:7-8, for example, Paul states that those who think and live in the flesh are not able to think right or live right or please God. Paul made it clear that all people need new-covenant salvation. For one thing, the day of judgment is coming.]], but those who are according to the Spirit [all born-again Christians are called, enabled, and required to be (and live) "according to the Spirit"] the things of the Spirit [I prefer the translation the ways of the Spirit. Those who are according to the Spirit are enabled, and required, to think and live for God and His truth and righteousness and holiness.]. (6) For the mind set on the flesh [I prefer the way of thinking of the flesh] is death, but the mind set on the Spirit [I prefer the way of thinking of/by the Spirit; the way of thinking of/by the Spirit, in contrast with the way of thinking of the flesh, makes God top priority, and His truth, righteousness, and holiness; in view here is the thinking we do in our hearts/spirits; if we think right in our hearts we will live right; faith is of the heart] is life and peace [If we think and live right we will have "peace" with God and we will maintain our life-flowing relationship with Him]. (7) because the mind set on the flesh [I prefer the way of thinking of the flesh] is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so [If we don't think right in our hearts (including things like attitudes, motives, and priorities) we will be hostile to God, not being subject to Him or His moral law/commandments. We must be born again and indwelled by the Righteous, Holy Spirit to be enabled to live in the righteousness and holiness of God.], (8) and those who are in the flesh cannot please God [We cannot please God when we are not living for Him in His truth, righteousness, and holiness]. (9) However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ [which refers to the Holy Spirit], He does not belong to Him. (10) If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin [The words "because of sin" refer back to the rebellion of Adam that led to the spiritual death and bondage to sin of Adam and all of his descendants (see Rom. 5:12-21). Christians, even though we have been born again, still have the all-too-real potential to walk in the flesh and to sin, and we will sin if we do not walk by the Spirit, by faith, on a continuous basis, which we are called, enabled, and required to do. It will be different after we are glorified: Romans 8:23 shows that our bodies will be redeemed then; however, we must understand that sin originates in the inner man (see Mark 7:17-23), not in the physical body. The sin problem originates in the "flesh," where the flesh equals the old man/sinful nature, not the physical body. Sometimes, as here in verse 10 and in verse 13, Paul uses the "flesh" and "body" with the same meaning.], yet the spirit is alive [I believe the translation the Spirit is life, with the KJV and NKJV, communicates Paul's intended meaning. And because the Spirit of life, righteousness, and holiness dwells in us, we are enabled, and required, to walk in the life, righteousness, and holiness of God, with the victory over spiritual death, sin, and the demons.] because of righteousness [[These words are explained by the "one act of righteousness" (Rom. 5:18) of the totally righteous Lamb of God, who in His all-important atoning death overthrew spiritual death, sin, and Satan, and set us free to be born again and walk in the righteousness and holiness of God. I'll quote Rom. 5:18, which confirms what I have said under Rom. 5:10: "So then as through one transgression [Adam's] there resulted condemnation [which included spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons] to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life ["justification of life" includes our being forgiven and declared righteous, which brings the "life" of God to us through the indwelling Spirit of life AND ENABLES US TO WALK IN THE IMPARTED RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD WITH THE VICTORY OVER ALL SIN, including everything that God would consider to be sin for us.]. (11) But if the Spirit of Him [of God the Father] who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you [and, as Rom. 8:9 shows, He does dwell in every true Christian], He [God the Father] who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you [Paul is referring to the end of this age when we will be glorified, including receiving glorified bodies (cf., e.g., Rom. 8:17, 23; Eph. 3:21.] (12) So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh [To live according to the flesh is to live in sin, doing the works of the flesh (cf., e.g., Rom. 8:4-8, 13; Gal. 5:16-17, 19-21, 24) - (13) for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die [Christians who choose to be unfaithful to God and the new covenant and live in sin "must die." They forfeit the spiritual, eternal life of new-covenant salvation. (See my paper Once Saved, Always Saved? on my internet site; Google to Karl Kemp Teaching.)]; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds [or, works] of the body [To put to death the deed/works of the body is the equivalent of not doing the "deeds/works of the flesh" of Gal. 5:19-21], you will live [You will maintain the spiritual/eternal life that you have as born-again Christians and inherit the fullness of spiritual/eternal life at the end of this age (cf., e.g., Rom. 8:11; 1 Tim. 6:12, 19; Titus 3:7).]. (14) For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. [Those who are being led (including being enabled) by the indwelling Spirit of God to put to death the works of the body/flesh of Rom. 8:13 and walk by the Spirit in the righteousness and holiness of God are the true "sons of God." Of course, when Christians repent and ask forgiveness for sin, they are forgiven, but Christianity involves so much more than sin, get forgiven; sin, get forgiven. Anyway, we are very thankful for forgiveness when, IF, it is needed.] (15) For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit [Spirit] of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!' [We have been adopted into the family of God through the Lord Jesus Christ and the indwelling Spirit of God, starting with being born again. And having been born again we can in sincerity and truth know God as our Father in a very personal sense. "Abba" is an intimate word for "Father" in Aramaic (a sister language of Hebrew), which was the primary language used in Israel in those days. The next verse strongly confirms that we are enabled to know God and that we are His children by the indwelling Spirit of God.] (16) The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God [This testimony by the indwelling Spirit is an extremely important confirmation that we have been accepted by God and become His born-again children, through the all-important atoning death of the Son of God, by grace through faith. It is very important for us to know that we have spiritual/eternal life (cf. 1 John 5:13).], (17) and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [The apostle is speaking of our inheriting eternal glory at the end of this age, which includes reigning with God and His Son forever and ever (cf., e.g., Rev. 22:5).], if indeed we suffer with Him [Being faithful to God and walking in His truth, righteousness, and holiness, by grace through faith, involves some suffering. The world, the flesh/old man, and the devil and his hosts are against us, but this is a small price to pay for ETERNAL GLORY, instead of being lost.] so that we may also be glorified with Him. There is no way to fully define the glory that is reserved for us in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 15:16. to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles [referring to the apostle Paul], ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit [my emphasis].
1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, not idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, (10) nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (11) Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God [my emphasis]. These words constituted a powerful warning to the Christians at Corinth (or anywhere else) of the need for those living in unrighteousness to repent. In the preceding verse (6:8) the apostle spoke of some of the Christians at Corinth being unrighteous by wronging and defrauding their brethren. These verses are discussed in my book Holiness and Victory Over Sin (page 123) and 1 Cor. 6:8-11 in my book Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin (pages 127-129). One primary point made in those discussions is that the Greek verb translated "you were justified" here is undoubtedly used in the full sense that includes being declared righteous and made righteous (with the victory over sin). This Greek verb, dikaioo, is often used in this full sense in the New Testament.
This study continues in Part 7 with a nine-page discussion under 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. This paper/study is finished with Part 7.
Copyright © by Karl Kemp (karlkempteachingministries.com)
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! Click here and TRUST JESUS NOW
Read more articles by Karl Kemp
Like reading Christian Articles? Check out some more options. Read articles in Main Site Articles, Most Read Articles or our highly acclaimed Challenge Articles. Read Great New Release Christian Books for FREE in our Free Reads for Reviews Program. Or enter a keyword for a topic in the search box to search our articles.
The opinions expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.