Concerning the Conscience

2Good Conscience

Despite the efforts of many to ignore bad behaviour by suppressing or explaining away guilt, it is important for us to be asking questions like, “why am I feeling guilty” or “why am I filled with shame?” By asking such questions we are attempting to get to the source of problems rather than simply shifting the blame and thus ignoring the problem. Continue reading Concerning the Conscience

Resources for Spiritual Growth – Part 2

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In my last post we saw the importance of the priority of prayer and the permeation of Scripture in spiritual growth. In this final instalment of of posts on resources for spiritual growth I will consider the final two: the power of the Spirit and the presence of fellowship. 

The Power of the Spirit
If we are going to serve the Lord with our highest love, reverence and obedience we are in need of Divine help. For this reason we need the power of the Holy Spirit. This power will help us apply what we learn in the word of God. Both the permeation of the word and the power of the Spirit work hand in hand. How does this power work? We need to be filled with the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is a  straightforward command in Scripture, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The word “filled” in this verse means “to make full” in the sense of permeation or control. The idea is that the believer’s life is to be under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit. This control leads to conduct that is in conformity to the word of God (cf. Col. 3:16).

Continue reading Resources for Spiritual Growth – Part 2

Who are You? Sealed with the Spirit

SealIn this post I will considering the final blessing the Christian needs to know about their identity. Of course, there are many more blessings we could consider, but this is the final one in the passage of our consideration (). What is this blessing? The Christian is sealed with the Holy Spirit (cf. , and 4:30). The basic meaning of the word seal is “to stamp” or “to mark.” A seal in ancient times was placed on a document, object or person revealing either, authenticity, identification or security. In , we learn about two binding marks of one who has been sealed with the Holy Spirit. These marks reveal who you are if you are a genuine Christian.

The first binding mark of being sealed with the Holy Spirit is identification with Christ (). This act of identification occurs the moment the individual is in Christ. He is your owner and you belong to Him! You have been spiritually marked, and that mark is the Holy Spirit. He testifies of your identification with Christ. This is who you are if you are a child of God – you are identified with Christ. Continue reading Who are You? Sealed with the Spirit

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

How to be Filled with the Spirit

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In my previous post I discussed the meaning of being filled with the Spirit. The next question that I want to address is, how does the believer receive this filling? It is important to point out that the means in which one is “filled with the Spirit” () has nothing to do with self-achievement, speaking in tongues, or being a part of some super-spiritual experience – whatever that may be.

In order to understand the means in which we can receive this filling, it will be helpful to consider what Paul wrote in his epistle to the Colossians. is a parallel passage to . Both of these letters were written by Paul at around the same time, and were delivered by the same person to the destinations (; ).

Continue reading How to be Filled with the Spirit

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

4:1 Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

21 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything.

Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?

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Many people talk about the need to be filled with the Spirit. This is understandable because it is a biblical concept. What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Some make this refer to an experience limited to a select few whereas others ignore its importance completely. What does it mean? In we have this straightforward command, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit“. The word “filled” in this verse means “to make full” in the sense of permeation or control. The idea is that the believer’s life is to be under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit. This control leads to conduct that is in conformity to the word of God (cf. ). Let us consider four features concerning the notion of being filled with the Spirit.

Unlike other references to filling (the sovereign fillings in Luke-Acts), the filling in is a command. The implication of this is very serious – to not be filled with the Holy Spirit is disobedience. Furthermore, because this is a command, it is clear that this ought not to be confused with the baptism (; ; ; ; ; and ), sealing (; ) or indwelling ministry (; ; ) of the Holy Spirit. All of those take place once and for all at the beginning of every believer’s salvation and then have ongoing effects. Nowhere in the Scriptures is the believer commanded to receive the baptism with the Spirit, or to be sealed with the Spirit, or indwelt by the Spirit. However, to “filled with the Sprit” is a command. Continue reading What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Acts 11:16

16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Calvinistic and Charismatic – Do they Mix?

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There is a large and influential group who would be classed as Charismatic Calvinists (or reformed continuationists). There are many from this group who have been faithful in their proclamation of the gospel and have served as examples of Christian piety. For this I am thankful and grateful for what I continue to learn from them. However, the question I ask in this post is, can you be Calvinistic and Charismatic? I ask this question because there are those who preach that the reformed must be charismatic.

The Charismatic Calvinist is a novel combination that has come to most prominence in recent years. In fact, the majority of Calvinistic teachers in the history of the church have been cessationtionists (a cessationist believes that the miraculous gifts were limited to the early church).

What is Calvinism? Being a Calvinist goes beyond the embracing of the five points (TULIP – Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of Grace). The five points are important (and Scriptural), but they are not all there is to Calvinism. Burk Parsons argues that Continue reading Calvinistic and Charismatic – Do they Mix?

Attitudes and hostility to Christian faith

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Check the detailed infographic above of Australian views. Australia is probably similar in religious attitudes to most European countries, and Canada.

There are similar figures available for Europe from the Eurobarometer and Gallup Polls – unfortunately these do not measure animosity/hostility as such, though this may overlap considerably with the percent of non-theists in their research results.

The USA is numerically very different, but George Barna Research recently reported that over the last decade, as a Continue reading Attitudes and hostility to Christian faith

The Sinfulness of Sin

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Fallen man can have no idea what a vile thing sin is in the sight of God
“I do not think… that mortal man can at all realize the exceeding sinfulness of sin in the sight of that holy and prefect One with whom we have to do… He is the One who reads thoughts and motives as well as actions… The very animals whose smell is most offensive to us have no idea that they are offensive and are not offensive to one another. And man, fallen man, I believe, can have no just idea what a vile thing sin is in the sight of that God whose handiwork is absolutely perfect… Continue reading The Sinfulness of Sin

Does the Bible call Jesus God?

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One day, not long after I’d become a Christian, a Jewish friend of mine (not a believer), challenged me as follows. He argued that Jesus never called himself God and that the church had much later made Jesus into a god. He said that the Bible nowhere called Jesus God. Is that true?

All good lies need an element of truth to them, or they wouldn’t be believed. It’s remarkable in fact that the Bible hardly ever calls Jesus God. Why doesn’t it just come out and say it? Why didn’t Jesus just come out and say: “I’m God”? Could my Jewish friend be right?

Well, the Bible actually does just come out and say that Jesus is God, and frankly, so does Jesus. But the whole topic of Jesus’ deity is more complicated than just saying that he is God. To say Jesus is God is actually ambiguous! Does that mean that the Father isn’t God? Or that Jesus is the Father come to earth? Saying “Jesus is God” could be misunderstood in many ways, even though it is true. There are in fact much more accurate ways of saying that Jesus is God.

The Bible actually does just come out and say that Jesus is God. In Paul says that we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ”. Likewise and . However these references are surprisingly few. Why is that? I think it’s because Continue reading Does the Bible call Jesus God?

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

But of the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”