August 11, 2019 Equipped to Work in the Kingdom of God

Equipped to Work in the Kingdom of God

Before the “devout and God-fearing men from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2.8-11, Amplified Bible, 2015) returned to their home countries after the Feast of Harvest (Pentecost), the Holy Spirit made sure that the 3,000+ who had received Jesus Christ as Savior were “baptized into the Name” Jesus and were taught “to observe everything” (Matthew 28.19-20) they would need for evangelizing their homelands (Ephesians 2.10; Matthew 10.7-8Luke 10.1-9).

That is, through the Holy Spirit’s teaching, through more-experienced believers, in Solomon’s Portico and in believers’ homes (Acts 2.42, 5.19-21a), they understood that:

They had become equipped to work in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 10.7-8; Ephesians 2.10). The Holy Spirit was their teacher (1 John 2.27) through the Apostles in the Temple and through the hosts in their places of ‘room and board’ (Acts 2.46-47). The Apostles had become equipped by observing firsthand with Jesus (Matthew 10.7-8), then had experienced personally the Holy Spirit (Luke 10.1-9, 17-19), and, lastly, had become ‘trainers of trainers’ for their fellow countrymen who would believe and repeat the protocol first learned in Jerusalem at Pentecost.

The ‘power’ of the Holy Spirit is, even, acknowledged by the snide remark of the new believers in Acts 2.7-8: ”’Look! Are not all of these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears in our own language or native dialect?’” They would learn that the Holy Spirit would give them the right words in whatever context He directed them; see Matthew 10.19-20 for Jesus’ general principle (applied narrowly here) and Acts 7.1-56 for Stephen’s illustration (showing the faithfulness of God and the rebellion of the Jews).

The Apostle Paul informs us that the work of the Holy Spirit is to broadcast the truth that “Jesus is Lord” (1 Corinthians 12.3). This is just as Jesus had declared to the Apostles in John 16.13-15: He will glorify Me and take from Mine to give it to you. After all, Jesus is the Head of His body, the church, as Paul states in Ephesians 1.22-23. And, this is how John 17.18, 22-23 become reality.

Let me illustrate this from the human body. The head sends signals through twelve pairs of nerves into the spine and out through 32 other pairs of nerves to every part of the body: every follicle of hair, tissue of skin, fiber of muscle, and area of organ. The pairs of each nerve are the outbound motor signal from the brain and the inbound sensory signal to the brain—a continuous flow of information. Thus, we might think of the Holy Spirit as this nervous system, as might be inferred from Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus in John 3.8.

We will consider in the update the various ‘motor and sensory stimulations’ that Paul discusses in the Gifts of the Spirit, from 1 Corinthians 12.1-27 and Romans 12.3-8. We need the Spirit’s Gifts for our daily work in the Kingdom of God; see Jeremiah 9.23-24.

Equipped to Work in the Kingdom of God 190811 (* = update)
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com. !2

August 4, 2019 Only Two Communities to God

Only Two Communities to God

“Unity from diversity is only possible in community with the Trinity”, said Ravi Zacharias during a radio sermon. The decision of the 3,000+ who were expelled from their communities (artificial, secondary environments; cultures) when they were saved at or just after Pentecost illustrate the truism reflected in this quote: that there are only two communities to God’s understanding—the lost and the saved (Acts 2.41; 2 Peter 3.8-9).

It matters not what state or country we are from or what section of that state or country or what subgroup or any other cultural division with which we may affiliate. All that matters is John 3.16-21 & John 14.6. Paul comments about this in Ephesians 2.4-10 and in Galatians 3.28. Is your faith for eternal life resting only upon Jesus’ shed blood as your substitute (2 Corinthians 5.21)? If not, you are lost…no matter how ‘good’ others tell you, you are (Micah 6.6-8)!

Your concern for and evangelism of the lost should become more urgent as you mature in Christ Jesus, as Paul implies in Ephesians 4.11-16. Your maturity in Christ is dependent upon your personal growth in knowledge (of God from the Bible; 2 Timothy 2.15, 3.16-17) leading to understanding (meditating upon the Scripture with the Holy Spirit for application in your life; Jeremiah 9.23-24, 7.23) producing faith (convinced of the truth of Philippians 2.9-11; John 14.6) and carrying out His righteous requirement by word and deed (John 14.26; Ephesians 2.102 Corinthians 5.20).

Importantly, spiritual maturity is enhanced within a community of believers who are led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8.14) while growing through levels of knowledge and understanding of Christ through life’s experiences (John 10.10; Colossians 2.8-10; Matthew 6.33; Jeremiah 9.23-24). That community is what the 3,000+ new believers found in the early church in Jerusalem, as is explained in Acts 2.41-47.

Experienced Christians took in those, whose families, friends, and employers deserted them, to disciple them continuously in the Temple portico and in their homes before the foreigners returned to their nations and countrymen as evangelists. Perhaps, “various private homes” (Acts 2.46, Amplified Bible 2015) reflects, even, providing ‘room and board’ for these, previous strangers. There are no strangers among followers of Christ, as Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5.17 and Galatians 3.28.

So, how much love to you have for new Christians? Enough to sell your assets to support them during their transition from “lost” to “found” (Romans 12.2)? Enough to disciple them in the ways of Christ? Remember that Matthew 28.19-20 applies to the “lost” described in 1 Corinthians 6.9-10/Revelation 21.8, 22.15/ Ephesians 5.5; Galatians 5.19-21; and 1 Timothy 1.9.

Providing “community” will require lots of work with people you would neither have trusted nor associated with just a few days earlier. How deep is your love, to repurpose an old song lyric (Bee Gees, 1977 version; (Romans 5.6-8)? Would you share your assets with those from a different tribe? What is “maturity” in Christ, anyway (Ephesians 4.13)?

Lots to review with the Holy Spirit and learn in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps chief is what comprises a curriculum for new believers. This is especially important when we remember that may would return to foreign countries, named in Acts 2.5-12. Let’s examine what the Holy Spirit said through Peter to the crowd that brought some to faith in Jesus.

Let me illustrate the foundational point with a brief story. An American friend went to India on a mission trip last year. He states that he gained the right to talk about Jesus when he informed his listener that he had traveled halfway around the world just to speak with him about Jesus. Rapt attention for understanding connected my friend’s words to those which the Holy Spirit had planted in the Indian.

Acts 2.21-23 states that the Holy Spirit spoke similar words through Peter; that God sent “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you” for the “determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” that He would pay the price for sin. The Eastern ear heard that God care very deeply for them. Paul gives us a practical rationale for this in Hebrews 2.14-15.

Peter’s quotation of Joel 2.28-32 gave such knowledge great understanding, especially Acts 2.21: “’And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” Perhaps, it was verse 24that convinced them: “’ God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that [Jesus] should be held by it.’” That is the same powerful message that Paul uses with the philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece, in Acts 17.30-31. Peter states this same in Acts 2.36, calling for action in verse 38.

These would be the initial messages that these ‘new evangelists’ would take back in their native tongues. But, before they returned, they would witness the Holy Spirit healing a paralytic through Peter and John (Acts 3.1-10) and hear Peter explain that healing comes from faith in the name ‘Jesus’ (Acts 3.16 & 4.12, 19-20; Acts 2.21). Also, the daily teaching in Solomon’s Portico and in the houses of believers would discuss the fundamentals of John 3.16-21 (another message about God’s love and about individual accountability) and John 14.6( the exclusivity of faith in Jesus for eternal life; the traditions of man—artificial, secondary environments—do not count) and that Jesus fulfilled OT prophesies (Matthew 5.17-20)

In the foreknowledge of the Holy Spirit, He knew that the hospitality for new believers would burden their hosts who provided room and board. So, He called upon those He had already prepared with financial capabilities (Acts 2.44-47). Acts 4.32-37 introduces Barnabas as an illustration of this; one who owned property, perhaps, in Cyprus. Another reality about the Holy Spirit is revealed here; that He organized the distribution of funds through the church. Perhaps, the church leaders had asked experienced followers of Christ to provide space and food for one or more new believers. The point: there is no disorder with God (1 Corinthians 14.33).

But, some new believers, Ananias and Sapphira, thought they might get the glory through dishonesty. Their sad warning is in Acts 5.1-11. The warning was that the new believers should never try to outsmart the Omniscient God! Neither should we. Our motives must be pure, because God already knows (Proverbs 20.27: “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart (mind)”). He sees in the dark and knows lies from truth! Proverbs 4.23!

There is another warning for Christians in A&S’s example. Remember that artificial, secondary environments/cultures still occupy much of the mindset and thinking of new believers. They have not yet displaced the cloud of the artificial to reveal God’s natural and unalienable environment. Jesus warned of this in Matthew 13.18-22. Such nefarious schemes of satan must be pointed out to new believers, as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 2.11 and Ephesians 6.10-20.

Remember that Jesus’ Great Commission says that new believers are to be baptized “‘into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’” Then, and equally important, they are to be taught the meaning of ‘into’ the name ‘Jesus’ (Matthew 28.19-20; Romans 5.1-5). This is what happened immediately following Pentecost. This must be our model, especially, for socially-distracted youth and adults today.

Only Two Communities to God 190728-0804 (* = update)
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.

 

July 21, 2019 From Community To Community

From Community To Community

What a powerful message was preached by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter: “‘Be saved [escape] from this crooked (perverse, wicked, unjust) generation’” (Acts 2.40, Amplified Bible, 1987)!

Grudem reminds us that the Kingdom of God is “the active presence of God in the world.” (Grudem, W., Systematic Theology, Chapter 30, intro., olivetree.com). He either speaks of acts through mankind. See Nehemiah 6.15-16 and Exodus 31.1-5 for other examples.

Years later, He would repeat this warning through Peter in 2 Peter 1.2-4. Escape what? Matthew 25.31-46 and Revelation 20.11-15: Judgment for rejecting God and His offer of salvation; see John 3.16-21 and Acts 17.30-31. Escape to where? Escape to Jesus, as He had proclaimed in John 6.48-51 and 8.31-32.

Escape how? Acts 2.38-39, Peter confirms what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3.1-8: we receive the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as Savior! We need the Holy Spirit to fulfill Jesus’ promise in John 14.12-14. Rabbi Jonathan Cahn writes: “The law can tell us the will of God, but only the Spirit can give us the power to live it” (Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 110, 2016, Frontline).

Three thousand of the people gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Harvest accepted Jesus as Savior and received the Holy Spirit when Peter gave the invitation! See Acts 2.41. Rabbi Cahn writes an interesting observation that these 3,000 replaced the same number of wandering Jews who perished in disobedience; see Exodus 32.28 (ibid). And, Acts 2.47, 5.14, 6.7 say people kept coming to Christ and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit! Read what Apostle Paul says about this in Romans 8.14. “The new covenant was empowered by God’s Spirit” (Cahn, ibid).

However, the families of the new believers kicked them out! So did the religious leaders. John 9.18-23 presents a similar situation. The believers lost their community—their old identity and security. But they gained a new community—a new identity and security; sisters and brothers in Christ who took them in and met their needs.

The Holy Spirit presents this in Acts 4.32-37, 5.1-16, and 6.1-7. The church actively ministered to them because of Jesus’ warning in His Parable of the Sower, in Matthew 13.18-22. The 3,000+ new believers needed to be nurtured by the Christian community. Whose responsibility is it, today, to see that new Christians are discipled to keep them from turning back? Remember Jesus: Matthew 28.20.

Apostle Paul describes this result as Jesus’ call for his ministry. In Acts 26.18, Paul repeats Jesus’ words: “‘I am sending you, to open their [spiritual] eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.’” Paul established churches and strengthened them through regular visits and appointed co-workers. How would this be a reversal of God’s observation in Jeremiah 13.10?

Dr. Richard Niebuhr explains this as removing an “‘artificial, secondary environment’ which man superimposes on the natural” (Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, p.32, 1951, Harper & Row). He writes that this artificial environment “comprises language, habits, ideas, beliefs, customs, social organization, inherited artifacts, technical processes, and values” (ibid). Artificial environments are cultures developed by families, communities, governments, corporations, schools, and religions to produce conformity among members supposedly for the ‘greater good’.

So, Peter’s “devout” converts to Christ from Judaism or philosophies had ‘scales’ (like Paul, Acts 9) or coverings removed from their eyes by the Holy Spirit. This is His work; see John 16.8-11. They left their tribal communities and came into the body of Christ, as Paul discusses in Galatians 3.28.

If the artificial is removed, what, then, is the natural environment that Niebuhr infers? The Founders of the United States wrote in the Declaration of Independence certain “unalienable rights” or natural rights, meaning “unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor” (Apple Dictionary). This is so because natural rights are given by God. The Founders included equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as natural rights.

Are there others that you would add? Judges 13.1-12and Jeremiah 1.5-10& 29.11-13remind us that God has a mission for us. And, John 1.4-9 & 16-18say our natural rights include grace, truth, enlightenment, and the revelation of God, our Father. Man’s “artificial environments” have sought to diminish these for selfish ends; 1 John 2.15-17and Colossians 2.8-10.

What is “natural” for the Christian? Paul includes “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” as characteristic of the Kingdom of God (Romans 14.17). Christianity, then, is going from community to community.

This idea might be explained in a picture. Draw a person as a stick figure on paper. High above the person’s round head draw the Sun with its beaming rays. Between the Sun and the person draw a dark cloud. The cloud represents Niebuhr’s “artificial, secondary environment” which distorts, diminishes, or blocks the nourishing rays of the Sun onto the person.

“To guard against the creeping counterfeiting that threatened to erode the integrity of the Christian message, the leaders of the movement (in the late 300s) created this concise restatement of what it means to bear the name ‘Christian’ (the Apostles Creed): I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father almighty. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. (*In the Creed, “catholic” means all-inclusive; it does not validate the exclusivity of the church system of the same name.)” (Copied from Bob Shank’s weekly email for July 15, 2019, titled: Are you an American? Are you a Christian? Shank is Founder of the Master’s Program. bob.shank@mastersprogram.org.)

How can Christians discourage return to the ‘artificial’? One way to accomplish this might be to prefer the Son’s rays and to judge the world by the Bible. Use the Bible to identify the natural environment and the clouds of distortion in each of Cunningham’s “Seven Mountains of Influence:

  1. The home;
  2. The church;
  3. Schools;
  4. Government and politics;
  5. The media;
  6. Arts, entertainment, and sports; and
  7. Commerce, science, and technology.

‘These seven spheres of influence will help us shape societies for Christ” (Seven Mountains of Influence, Loren Cunningham, 1988, google.com).

Another way to discourage return to the ‘artificial’ is to question the source and the content. Who wrote this man-made information? What was his or her agenda for sharing it? From where did s/he receive it? What was the agenda of their source? What information is misinformation (partially true), disinformation (wholly untrue), or a ‘straw-man argument’ for the real motive (like ‘climate-change’ may have been hijacked in an attempt to exert a controlling agenda over others’)? Do you find any of these in the tenets of the organizations to which you belong? Questions the symbols, heroes, and ritual practices of the ‘artificial’ to discover the values they represent. You might even apply this protocol to the Bible. It has passed many such tests!

Most importantly, use the Bible as your standard for examining the ‘artificial’. How closely does the man-made ‘artificial’ correlate with the teaching of God in the Old and New Testament? And, what happened in the Old and New Testaments to people who decided to follow the ‘artificial’ instead of the ‘natural’? Philosopher George Santayana (1905) wrote originally: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (Quote, google.com). I might change ‘cannot’ to ‘will not’. Could this be why God continually encouraged the nation Israel to ‘remember” His leadership?

Reversing what got us into the mess is, often, the best way to get out of it. Thus, consider what God says in Jeremiah 13.10He gives the way to peace and joy.

Authors Cameron and Quinn write that cultures—normal or artificial— include four levels, with the bottom two unseen and the top two observable, as follows: Implicit Assumptions lead to Conscious Contracts and Norms lead to Artifacts and Behaviors (one above the other). The Apostles Creed, for example, expresses Implicit Assumptions which led to Conscious Contracts between the new and experienced Christians at Pentecost. Their communal prayers, Bible studies, and worship were the Artifacts (symbols, heroes, and rituals), and the satisfying of the needs of the dispossessed and unemployed by Christians with means exemplified Christian Behaviors. (Cameron and Quinn, Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture, Based on Competing Values Framework, 2011, Wiley & Sons)

Is it worth the rejection of the old to gain the new? The 3,000+ who were saved at and following Peter’s sermon thought so. That is the question of cultural change for every person. 1 Peter 1.15-16! “Instead of struggling to accomplish the will of God, live, move, and be moved by the Spirit of God—and you will fulfill His will” (Cahn, ibid).

From Community To Community 190714-21 (* = update)

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.

 

July 7, 2019 Entrance of the Holy Spirit

Entrance of the Holy Spirit

Acts 2.1-4 (NKJV & hereafter unless stated) presents the coming of the Holy Spirit Who Jesus had promised in John 14.16-17. The Holy Spirit has not left us, as Jesus promised, but is very much alive and at work among Christians today. He is fulfilling the Kingdom of God that Jesus taught about (Matthew 6.33 & 10.7-8, John 3.8, Acts 1.1-3) by giving “gifts” (1 Corinthians 12.1-11) of abilities to individual believers and bearing “fruit” through them (Galatians 5.22-23).

“We may define the work of the Holy Spirit as follows: The work of the Holy Spirit is to manifest the active presence of God in the world, and especially in the church” (Grudem, W., Systematic Theology, Chapter 30, intro., olivetree.com). Compare to John 1.18. Notice Grudem’s emphasis on the “active presence of God in the world” as the work of the Holy Spirit. Grudem continues:

“It is also possible to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18; cf. Luke 1:15, 41, 67;4:1; Acts 2:4; 4:8; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9). To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the immediate presence of God himself, and it therefore will result in feeling what God feels, desiring what God desires, doing what God wants, speaking by God’s power, praying and ministering in God’s strength, and knowing with the knowledge which God himself gives.” (ibid, my italics, Matthew 10.7)

Of course, we see this most clearly in Jesus (John 1.18Matthew 10.7-8Mark 16.15-20 John 5.19-20 & 12.49). Easton’s Bible Dictionary enhances our understanding of the Holy Spirit:

“His divinity is established (1) from the fact that the names of God are ascribed to him (Exodus 17:7 Psalm 95:7 comp. Hebrews 3:7 11); and (2) that divine attributes are also ascribed to him, omnipresence (Psalm 139:7 Ephesians 2:17, 181 Corinthians 12:13); omniscience (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11); omnipotence (Luke 1:35Romans 8:11); eternity (Hebrews 9:4. (3) Creation is ascribed to him (Genesis 1:2 Job 26:13Psalm 104:30), and the working of miracles (Matthew 12:28; 1 Corinthians 12:9 11). (4) Worship is required and ascribed to him (Isaiah 6:3 Acts 28:25; Romans 9:1 Revelation 1:4 Matthew 28:19).” (olivetree.com)

The coming of the Holy Spirit had been prophesied by God through His spokesmen for centuries, as in the following: Ezekiel 36:26-27 & 37:14 & 39:29 and in Joel 2:28-29. Understand that God is the One putting His Spirit within and upon the people who choose Him (John 1.12). And, He has chosen you who have accepted His Son as Savior (John 3.16), as Jesus infers in Acts 1.8 with His disciples and Paul states in Ephesians 1.3-14. The Day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of Joel’s words. Practically, Christians need the Holy Spirit’s power to complete Jesus’ assignments in John 17.18and Matthew 10.7-8, 19-20.

In Acts 1.8, Jesus promises empowerment of His disciples by the Holy Spirit. To “empower” is to “make stronger and more confident, especially in controlling [one’s] life and claiming their rights” (Apple Dictionary). We will see empowerment of the characters of Acts and should understand that the Holy Spirit makes Christians “stronger and more confident in…claiming their rights” as followers of Christ (Hebrews 5.14, Colossians 2.8-10Ephesians 1.15-23 & 3.14-212 Timothy 3.16-172 Corinthians 10.4-6).

We are empowered to overcome satan (John 8.31-32James 4.7, 1 John 5.4) and put off “every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us” (Hebrews 12.1, AMP), including the traditions of men which make the promises of God unproductive (Mark 7.6-8Colossians 2.8-10).

When Elijah ran from Jezebel, God led him to Mount Horeb (the Mountain of God; Exodus 3.1) for security, refreshment, and instruction (1 Kings 19.8-18). God announced His meeting with Elijah by “a great and powerful wind [that] was tearing out the mountains and breaking the rocks in pieces.., an earthquake.., [and] a fire” (1 Kings 19.11-12). Then, God spoke: “the sound of a gentle blowing” (ibid, Amplified Bible, 2015). This “still small voice” (ibid, NKJV) was appropriate for Elijah but not for Job; see Job 38.1-3 for the reason. Notice, also, the howling “whirlwind” that God Job’s attention. Likewise, it was a howling “whirlwind” that separated Elisha from Elijah, whom God took straight to Heaven (2 Kings 2.11-12). In Exodus 34.10, God declares that we will know it when He shows up! See John 2.19, too.

Just so, the Holy Spirit, Third Person of the Trinity of God, was announced with a “whirlwind” in the upper room of the 120 in Jerusalem (Acts 2.2). But, instead of speaking immediately, He “appeared to them [like] divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them” (verse 3); all 120! See Matthew 3.11 and Luke 3.16: Jesus will baptize with fire! That is, the Omnipresent Holy Spirit separated Himself into multiple duplicated of Himself so that each follower of Jesus became empowered for the task that was about to be given them. This was the “advantage” that Jesus stated in John 16.7. [Just think; now there are hundreds of millions of duplicates of the Holy Spirit!]

Their immediate task, all 120, was “to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2.4; see Grudem’s comments above about the “active presence of God”). So, the disciples preached “the wonderful works of God” (verse 11) to the “devout men, from every nation under heaven” (verse 5, 9-11), who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Harvest. Peter’s sermon focused God’s wonderful works upon “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst” (verse 22). Note that the Greek word for “tongues” also means languages, as is apparent here.

The Holy Spirit “‘dwells with you and [is] in you’”, who follow Jesus (John 14.17). That is, the Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent God walks alongside you (John 14.16) and indwells you for “feeling what God feels, desiring what God desires, doing what God wants, speaking by God’s power, praying and ministering in God’s strength, and knowing with the knowledge which God himself gives” (Grudem, above). Can you fathom this thought?

Where does God want His “active presence” (Grudem) known in the world through Jesus’ followers?

In Cunningham’s “Seven Mountains of Influence” in our lives — “1. The home; 2. The church; 3. Schools; 4. Government and politics; 5. The media; 6. Arts, entertainment, and sports; 7. Commerce, science, and technology. ‘These seven spheres of influence will help us shape societies for Christ’” (Cunningham, Seven Mountains of Influence, 1988, google.com).

In every link of the commercial ‘value chain’, which links producers to processors to shippers to wholesalers to retailers to consumers (and those who clean up after them). Each adds value to benefit the next in line.

In the Implied Assumptions of cultures that lead to our Conscious Contracts and Norms among our groups which form a foundation for and are expressed in our Artifacts and Behaviors among other people (Painter, Marks of the Kingdom, 190609)

The Holy Spirit will give you Gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.1-11, 27-31; Romans 12.1-8) and His Fruit (Galatians 5.22-23) for demonstrating the “active presence of God in the world” (Grudem). The Holy Spirit activates these in believers who are available to Him. Are you courageous enough for Him to display these to the people in your contexts?

Entrance of the Holy Spirit 190630

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019.www.sozoclass.com.

June 23, 2019 Day of Pentecost

Day of Pentecost

Questions for study:

Why a gap of 10 days between Jesus’ Crucifixion and Ascension?

Why did God choose Pentecost for the arrival of the Holy Spirit?

Should Christians celebrate Pentecost? Why or why not?

What are MacArthur’s two perspectives of Pentecost?

What does the Apostle Paul mean by “sealed”?

Forty Days

This is the number of days between Jesus’ Crucifixion and Ascension (Acts 1.9). The Apostle Paul gives us the only details about Jesus’ activities, in 1 Corinthians 15.3-8. This passage is one of several in which Paul states or implies that Jesus dialogued with him, including Galatians 1.12, 2.2;Ephesians 3.3;1 Thessalonians 4.15; 2 Corinthians 12.1, 71. Of course, these dialogues began in Acts 9.1-19a, which Paul describes in greater detail in Acts 26.16-18. Perhaps, such dialogue with the Holy Spirit is what Paul means by “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5.17). Further, Apostle John (20.30) implies that there were more events.

In 1 Corinthians 15.3-8, Paul outlines a chronology of Jesus’ events that confirms His Resurrection (“according to the Scriptures”) and the instructions of the Holy Spirit regarding the Kingdom of God (Acts 1.1-3). Paul’s mention of Jesus’ meeting with James, His half-brother (Matthew 13.55) infers that James was chosen to be head of the emerging church, not Peter. Dr. Luke includes Paul’s confirmation of this in Acts 12.17, 15.18-21, and 21.18. (A related apology substantiating this would be the Apostles’ earlier argument about ‘who is the greatest among us’ [Luke 9.46-48]. Jesus would not have acceded to their immaturity, I believe, by appointing Peter above his associates.) Thus, Jesus was conducting Kingdom business during His 40 days—organizing them and gathering them for work, as we see in Acts 4.32.

Ten Days

Pentecost would not be for another ten days after Jesus’ ascension. I have not found any explanation for these ten days. So, I offer my thoughts that ten is the sum of seven and three. In Biblical numerology, Seven is the number for God, Who consecrated the Seventh Day of Creation as Holy (Genesis 2.1-3). Likewise, Three is the number for Completion, Perfection, Wholeness, and identifies the Trinity (google.com). King Solomon reminds us that “a cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” (Ecclesiastes 4.12, NASB). BTW, the other combinations of numbers totaling ten have no Biblical significance.

40 Days + 10 Days = Pentecost

Paul emphasizes the significance of this Holy day as his explanation for not returning to encourage the Christians at Ephesus (which is most unusual) and for meeting with pastors and overseers at Miletus (Acts 18.21, 19.21,20.16). The coming of the Holy Spirit on this day had occurred about 20 years earlier. Perhaps, Paul’s regular conversations with Him created a desire to celebrate His ‘special day’, maybe like Jesus’ Virgin-birth day. Have we minimized an important event? Should Christians celebrate Pentecost? See Joel 2.28-32 and Acts 2.14-18.

Why did God choose Pentecost for the arrival of the Holy Spirit? Some rationale is gained from understanding that Pentecost (Greek for 50 days, after Passover/Jesus’ Crucifixion) was chosen by God “to commemorate the completion of the grain harvest” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary, google.com; Leviticus 23.15-17). It was the second of three important feasts when all Israelite males were to assemble with a gift in Jerusalem (Exodus 23.14-17, Deuteronomy 16.16). They were to bring an offering representing God’s blessings on their crops (Numbers 28.26, Exodus 34.22a). The offerings were termed “First Fruits”.

So, this Pentecost was the celebration of another “Harvest” of “First Fruits”. Jesus had begun His ministry with this idea in mind. Matthew 9.37 records Him saying, “‘The harvest truly is plentiful.’” His words concerned the lost and leaderless crowds before Him (verse 36; see Numbers 27:17, 1 Kings 22:17, Ezekiel 34:5, Zechariah 10:2). Jesus ended His ministry by paying the ultimate price for the ‘sheep’ (John 3.16, Hebrews 9.26-28, 1 Peter 1.19-21). As He said, “‘It is finished’” (John 19.30). “Those gathered into the church then were also the first-fruits of the full harvest of all believers to come after” (MacArthur Study Notes, Acts 2.1, OliveTree.com).

MacArthur, also, give us a different perspective of Pentecost: “The Holy Spirit came on this day as the first-fruits of the believer’s inheritance (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:5Ephesians 1:11-14)” (ibid). Paul refers to the Holy Spirit as our “guarantee” of better things to come. Jesus had discussed this with the disciples in John 14.16-17, and in 26 (fulfilling John 1.9).

The Holy Spirit came to “seal” Jesus’ followers for eternity (Ephesians 1.13-14). Kings of old would place wax from a candle on their documents and stamp them with their rings for identification and authority. Thus, Jesus gave us authority over satan’s strongholds (Luke 10.17-19) as part of our “better things to come” and for fulfilling God’s command at Creation to “have dominion” (Genesis 1.26). MacArthur writes: “Four primary truths are signified by the seal: 1) security (cf. Daniel 6:17; Mathew 27:62–66); 2) authenticity (cf. 1 Kings 21:6–16); 3) ownership (cf. Jeremiah 32:10); and 4) authority (cf. Esther 8:8–12)” (ibid, Ephesians 1.13-14).

The Pentecost of Acts 2.1 was quite a day! We will consider the unusual events in our next study.

Day of Pentecost 190623

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.

June 16, 2019 Marks of the Kingdom

Marks of the Kingdom

Jesus ended His earthly ministry talking with the disciples about the topic which He discussed at the beginning of His ministry—the Kingdom of God (Acts 1.1-3). In Matthew 6.9-10 NKJV, Jesus presents the proper mindset, thinking, and behaviors of believers. He emphasized this importance later in His Sermon on the Mount; Matthew 6.33: seek the Kingdom so you won’t find yourself in a mess!

Question: why is a mess the natural result from not seeking the Kingdom of God first?
Consider: Jesus discusses this in John 10.10. Note His natural progression of satan: steal leads to kill leads to destroy. Our ‘mess’ results from satan stealing our attention from God by the means of Matthew 13.18-22. Once our attention is off of God, satan slowly kills our allegiance to God (seeJeremiah 13.10also). Changing allegiance from God to satan leads to destruction (see Hebrews 6.4-6).

Illustration: satan seduced Solomon’s attention, first, with the daughter of Pharaoh (1 Kings 3.1; why an alliance when David had conquered all of the surrounding nations? 1 Kings 5.4. satan got his attention with fear.). Solomon’s lust led to wives and affairs that killed his allegiance to God over time (1 John 2.15-17; 1 Kings 11.1-9). What was Solomon’s destruction?

The proper mindset for Christians hallows the Name of God (Matthew 6.9), which we know is “Jesus” (John 17.6,11,12,14,26; Philippians 2.9-11; Hebrews 13.8; NASB). To hallow is to make holy, to venerate, to sanctify (Jesus asked God to sanctify the disciples by His “Word” {John 1.1,14}; John 17.17; Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, g0037). So, we are to set apart as holy the Name “Jesus” because it sanctifies or sets us apart (distinguishes us; Jesus said disciples would be hated because of His Name {Matthew 10.22; John 17.14}). Our mindset is to be different from that of the world. Anticipate opposition, as Apostle Paul instructs in Ephesians 6.10-17.

The proper thinking for Christians should establish the Kingdom of God through our influence on earth (Matthew 6.10a). Jesus emphasizes this in Matthew 10.7: “‘And as you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”’” We will study in Acts that the work of the Kingdom of God is directed by the Holy Spirit and produced by us, disciples, in the contexts of His leading. We can safely say that the Holy Spirit led Jesus in His work; Isaiah 11.2; John 5.19-20; John 12.49; Matthew 12.28. Jesus told Nicodemus that the Holy Spirit leads the followers of Jesus; John 3.1-8. He is the developing Spirit of Christianity; not the debilitating spirit of mysticism. Distinguish using 1 John 4.1-4as a test.

The proper behaviors of Christians should demonstrate the Kingdom just as the will of God is done in Heaven (Matthew 6.10b). Paul discusses this in Ephesians 2.10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Jesus summarizes these in Matthew 10.8: “‘Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.’” This is what first characterized followers of Jesus, as is seen in Acts 11.26. We might generalize by identifying the Christian behaviors as those performed by the Holy Spirit through Christians, as we will see in the Acts of the Holy Spirit Through the Apostles, a better name for the Bible book. He may not lead you to heal the sick, but He will lead you to use His gifts (1 Corinthians 12.1-11) in the contexts where He leads you (John 3.8; Romans 8.14); always to bear witness to Jesus (Matthew 10.19-20).

Question: what is the proper mindset of Christians? the proper thinking? the proper behaviors? Why is this so important?

Write this in a statement, like: I will hallow the name Jesus in the Kingdom of God everyday by doing the work of the Holy Spirit wherever He leads me.

So, to repeat, Jesus ends His earthly ministry discussing the Kingdom of God with His disciples before His ascension. Acts 1.1-3 is Dr. Luke’s introduction of his second letter to Theophilus, (who might have been a Roman official at Paul’s trial. Luke’s two books would have, thus, been an explanation of Paul’s defense which he had earlier offered to Roman Governor Festus and Israel’s King Agrippa {Acts 26.1-32}). Note that Jesus gave instructions—“pertaining to the kingdom of God”—through the Holy Spirit to the disciples and others during the 40 days after Jesus’ Resurrection. Paul gives details confirming Jesus’ Resurrection activities in 1 Corinthians 15.1-8.

That the Kingdom of God is important to Jesus is, as I expressed, found in a later verse of Matthew 6, verse 33: “‘But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also’” (Amplified Bible, 2015). This is because the Kingdom enables everything else!

Remember John 1.9 that “Jesus” is the Source of all human knowledge (Nash, 1982, The Word of God and The Mind of Man, p. 67). God emphasizes this in Jeremiah 9.23-24: brag about knowing God! So, Jesus, later, says: “‘all these things [wealth, wisdom, strength] will be given to you also.’”! Solomon is our example, in 1 Kings 3.5-15. How do you know God better through your work?

Question: why is the Kingdom of God to be considered before acting on thinking (the will influenced by the mind or emotions; 1 Thessalonians 5.23; Matthew 6.31-32)?

Question about Culture: why is the Kingdom of God the best of the Implied Assumptions that lead to our Conscious Contracts and Norms which form a foundation for and are expressed in our Artifacts and Behaviors? (Think of an iceberg, with only the Behaviors and Artifacts seen above the surface of the water.)

Question about Influence: why should the Kingdom of God be the foundation in each of Cunningham’s “Seven Mountains of Influence” in our lives — “1. The home; 2. The church; 3. Schools; 4. Government and politics; 5. The media; 6. Arts, entertainment, and sports; 7. Commerce, science, and technology. ‘These seven spheres of influence will help us shape societies for Christ’” (Seven Mountains of Influence, Loren Cunningham, 1988, google.com).

Question about Work and Career: how much better would be your contribution to any ‘value chain’ if the Kingdom of God was your first thought of the day and remembrance during your workday? ‘Value chains’ link producers to processors to shippers to wholesalers to retailers to consumers (and those who clean up after them). Each adds value to benefit the next in line.

For my Kenyan friends, abundant crops and sufficient revenues come from seeking God’s Kingdom before, while, and after you plant. FIRST and MOST IMPORTANTLY! He is a jealous God and will not share any credit with ancestors (Isaiah 34.14, 42.8, 55.6-11).

Mindset>Thinking>Behavior! Matthew 6.33 is true for all Christians.

Jesus commanded us to pray for the Kingdom of God to come (Matthew 6.10a) in and through us. The Holy Spirit leads us in the work of the Kingdom, as Jesus informed Nicodemus (John 3.1-8). In Romans 8.14, Paul reminds us that the Holy Spirit will do through us the will of God on earth, as it is done in Heaven (Matthew 6.10b).

Think “Kingdom of God”!

Marks of the Kingdom 190609/16 (* = update)

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.

June 2, 2019 Substitutionary Salvation

Substitutionary Salvation

My point: Jesus not only substituted Himself for us at Calvary; His Name is our authority—our substitutionary salvation—over satan and his power of evil…everyday (Matthew 6.13).

Question: when does “Jesus” overcome sickness, poverty, strife, etc?

Question: why don’t Christians, individually and collectively, exercise 2 Corinthians 10.3-6 and Luke 10.17?

Question: why should Christians never feel alone, since we are “within” the Name, “Jesus”, as Jesus states in John 16.32 & 17.21, 26? See Acts 17.28 (Colossians 1.17-18; Hebrews 1.3a&b) also.

Question: why is being “within” the name “Jesus” “eternal life”, as Jesus states in John 17.3 and infers throughout His prayer and in John 1.12-13? See 1 Peter 1.3-5 also.

Jesus’ Atoning Death was His act of substituting Himself for us. Of this Apostle Paul writes: “For [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we [who knew no righteousness] might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5.21, NKJV; my insertions for clarity and emphasis]. Jesus will speak up for us when we are called to account by God (Isaiah 45.23; Romans 14.15). This is because we understand what Paul informs (Matthew 12.36-37).

The Name “Jesus” is most powerful (Philippians 2.10-11)! In John 17.12, Jesus “kept” His disciples “in” God’s Name, “Jesus”, which God had given Him (John 1.1, 14; Luke 1.31; Matthew 1.21). We are baptized “into” the name Jesus (Matthew 28.19), and Jesus “keeps” us within the Name above all names, like He did the first disciples! Again, Paul helps our understanding of these two special words of Jesus in writing Romans 8.31-39, summarized in 31b: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” “Who” makes this statement all inclusive!

But, Who would keep the disciples after Jesus’ departed for Heaven? The Name “Jesus” that sanctified them, as Jesus states in John 17.17. They would be continually “kept”, i.e., continually set apart (definition of sanctification as “bringing the whole nature more and more under the influences of the new gracious principles implanted in the soul in regeneration”; Easton’s Bible Dictionary, www.olivetree.com), by the Truth of the “Word” (Jesus) into which they were baptized (John 1.1, 14). They would witness to the “Truth” that protected them from all liars and their lies (John 17.15). In John 17.18. Jesus reasserts this reality; He has the Name “Jesus”!

Note the inclusive nature of the Name “Jesus” “into” which they, and we, are baptized (John 17.12; Matthew 28.19). In John 17.20-23we learn that “unity from diversity can only come in community with the Trinity”, as Ravi Zacharias has crafted the phrase (Christian apologist in radio message}. The Name “Jesus” is the “glory” from God which Jesus received and which He gave to the disciples, including you and me. Can there be any greater glory?

These verses from Jesus’ prayer in John 17 expand the substitutionary salvation at the Cross to include the daily walk of His disciples, including us. Paraphrasing Paul: if the Name “Jesus” is upon us, who (of satan’s followers) can oppose us (Romans 8.31b)? And, paraphrasing another of Paul’s statements about this: we always triumph in all things through the name “Jesus” that keeps us (2 Corinthians 2.14). Do you believe this? Since the name “Jesus” is our mindset and Romans 8.31b is our thinking, how should we behave every day toward satan’s kingdom? Like 2 Corinthians 10.3-6and Luke 10.17? What does Jesus mean inLuke 10.19?

Thus, “Jesus” is substitutionary salvation from sickness and disease. This is shown by the healing of the paralytic in Acts 3.1-10, as Peter explains in verse 16. He explains his point in Acts 4.12: “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” He is applying this statement of all salvation to the specific case of the healing of the man whom satan had kept bound for so long. Consider Jesus’ similar description in Luke 13.16; “‘think of it’”!

Jesus does the same with the healing of another paralytic (Luke 5.23Mark 2.9, Matthew 9.5). “Which is easier to say” is Jesus question to doubters. Both eternal life and healing salvation have the same requirement: faith in the Name “Jesus” and in God Whose name this is (John 1.1; Hebrews 13.8; Philippians 2.9-11)! We, too, are “kept” (John 17.12) from sickness because of our faith in “Jesus”.

So, Jesus repeats today to you and me the words that preceded His prayer: “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16.24). Jesus has substituted His name of salvation, “Jesus”, for every sickness, disease, poverty, strife, envy, contention, frustration, depression, and stress in your daily life! But, you must ask, no even “demand” (Isaiah 45.11; Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, h7592; www.olivetree.com), relief from the persecuting demons in order to receive the salvation (Hebrews 4.2; Luke 18.1-8). Follow the protocol of the disciples in Luke 10.17.

Jesus has give us assurance of temporal/daily salvation in John 16.33: “‘In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’” No doubt that troubles will come, and no doubt that salvation overcomes trouble!

This continues for us through His Name, “Jesus”! For tough ‘stains’, rub harder, adding in more ‘Rebuke-All’!

Substitutionary Salvation 190526
Praise God!!!

Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.

5-19-19 Present-day Kingdom of God

Present-day Kingdom of God

Mankind has always lived in the Kingdom of God; mostly without realizing it, however. For, we have viewed the environment with but not through our eyes. What distortions do you see today?

“This life’s dim windows of the soul

Distorts the heaven from pole to pole

And leads you to believe a lie

When you see with, not through, the eye.” (William Blake).

Adam and Eve saw God through their eyes; that is, they were aware of His presence in the Garden of Eden and conversed with Him (Genesis 3.1-24, NKJV). We might say that Moses looked through his eyes to see God’s plans for the Tabernacle and its furnishings (Exodus 26.30). And, we might say the same about King David receiving the plans for the first Temple (1 Chronicles 28.11-19). These were special occasions; not the general rule in the Old Testament. Should we see through our eyes everyday?

Nicodemus sought to understand Jesus’ miracles (John 2.23) and learned about the need to be born again so he could see through his eyes (John 3.1-8). With his eyes, Nicodemus only saw the result; but through his eyes, he would see the Spirit of God performing through Jesus the “good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2.10; Matthew 10.7-8). Miracles are God’s ‘normal’ activities to become our reality by faith (Hebrews 4.2).

The world is condemned, like Nicodemus, to only see with the eyes the miracles of God and, then, to wonder what happened. Apostle Peter’s second sermon (Acts 3.11-4.12) illustrates this;Acts 3.16and 4.12 describe the view through the eye. Regrettably, most Christians are as blind as the crowd and Sanhedrin because we have not been taught to live in the Kingdom of God. This was Philip’s message in Samaria and, probably, with the Ethiopian eunuch on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8.12). We fail to see that God brought the recent rains to Kenya to overcome the prolonged drought. We fail to credit Him with providing the healing in response to our prayerful requests. We thank the employer for our compensation but not the Epistemological Logos Who enlightens our competence to excel at the work assigned (John 1.9); The Will of God and The Mind of Man, Nash, 1982, p. 67).

From the beginning, God has proclaimed a mindset of righteousness and critiqued His followers’ behaviors in the Kingdom of God through the writing of the prophets (Hebrews 1.1-2). Righteousness was taught by priests of Aaron’s line until the time of the last and greatest of the Old Testament priests, John the Baptist. God told him to transfer the priesthood to Jesus by washing in the Jordan River, just as Moses had washed Aaron at the entrance to the Tabernacle (Luke 3.2b-3; John 1.29-34; Leviticus 8.6-9).

Persons looking with their eyes only saw Jesus as one of many who were baptized. But, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn sees through his eyes that Jesus’ baptism by John was a “cosmic changing of the guard”, a passing of the torch, “the old priesthood bearing witness of the new and declaring it the greater” (The Book of Mysteries, 2016, Day 153). Have you ‘eyed’ Jesus’ baptism this way before now? Probably not.

Likewise, you probably have never considered another meaning of your baptism in addition to the obvious symbol of the new life from Christ Jesus (John 1.4). When we are baptized into the name of Jesus, we are ceremonially ‘washed’ with the Holy Spirit into the priesthood (Matthew 28.19;Mark 1.8;1 Peter 2.9). The ancient Hebrews disdained becoming priest preparing the world for the arrival of Highest Priest Jesus (Exodus 19.6). But now, we attest to His coming by following His ways (Matthew 10.7-8 & 27; Acts 11.26;1 John 4.1-4).

Later, as He was leaving earth, Jesus instructs the disciples that they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit shortly (Acts 1.5, 2.1-4). This fulfilled John the Baptist’s declaration about Jesus ‘washing’ believers with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1.8). Apostle Paul states that believers are “sealed with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1.13-14; “sealed” is an interesting picture of Him wrapping around your spirit/soul/body which have been immersed and baptizoed (Gk.) or changed by His saturation).

Thus, Apostle Peter charges us a “royal priesthood” with the same charge as Jesus (1 Peter 2.9 {fulfilling Exodus 19.6}; John 17.18; Matthew 28.19-20; Acts 26.16-18). Was Jesus putting God’s Name upon the people, like Aaron (Numbers 6.22-27: “’ So they shall put My name on the children…and I will bless them’”; Psalm 5.12)?  Are we to repeat this placing of “Jesus” upon people? (Hebrews 13.8; Philippians 2.9-11)? Consequently we become part of the “cosmic changing of the guard” (Cahn, ibid) has occurred by followers of Christ being washed by the Holy Spirit (Mark 1.8)!

Today, we “live, move, and have our being” in the Kingdom of God (Acts 17.28). This was Jesus’ message to Nicodemus; John 3.8, NKJV: “‘The wind [Greek; same word for spirit] blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Paul echoes this in Romans 8.14.

Jesus describes the work of the Holy Spirit in John 16.8-11. This is what He is doing by leading us from context to context. [Later, we will study the Gifts of the Spirit for use in these various contexts.] This—John 16.8-11—is what He was leading Jesus to do on earth. This is what God was leading Moses, David, and others to do in the Old Testament.

Consider these examples from the Old and New Testaments.

  • Elijah stops and starts the rain; James 5.17-18& 1 Kings 17-18(Elijah, also, feeds the widow and her son and raises him from the dead; then, Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal).
  • Elisha floats an iron axe head in water (2 Kings 6.17) and blinds the Syrian army that surrounds his and open his servant’s eyes to see through them a Heavenly army protecting them; 2 Kings 6.15-18; this was after he heals Naaman of leprosy; 2 Kings 5.1-19.
  • Jesus heals the leper, the Centurion’s servant, and Peter’s mother-in-law by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 8.1-15; John 1.29-34).
  • Peter and John heal a paralytic by acknowledging his faith in Jesus’ name; (Acts 14.8-10), raises a young man from the dead (Acts 20.7-12), and is, himself raised from the dead (Acts 14.19-20).

This is normal in the Kingdom of God! We find great benefits when we realize that we live within it (Matthew 6.63; John 14.26& 16.4).

Can you see it? No; then, look through, not with your eyes.

Present-day Kingdom of God 190512

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.

May 5, 2019 “‘Receive the Holy Spirit'”

“‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”

Jesus’ bodily Resurrection is a certainty and one of three foundational beliefs of Christianity; the other two are His virgin birth and His atoning death. Each event, in order, shows the Omniscience of God (Isaiah 53.6, Jeremiah 13.10, John 3.16; ESV), His Omnipotence (Exodus 34.10, Deuteronomy 18.18, Isaiah 7.14 & 9.6-7, Luke 1.35, Hebrews 2.14-15), and His Omnipresence (2 Chronicles 16.9a, Psalm 32.8, John 17.12, John 14.15-18).

Even after He gave up His body (the better reading of John 19.30; see James 2.26a; Ecclesiastes 12.7), Jesus evidenced these qualities of God by taking the ‘good’ thief with Himself to the Paradise of Hades (Luke 23.43) and, I believe likewise, satan to the Pit of Hades (John 12.31 fulfilling Isaiah 14.12-15). Remember that Jesus had illustrated this separation in the story contrasting the deaths of a man named Lazarus (meaning man whom God helps [Easton’s Bible Dictionary; olivetree.com]) and the rich man who did not respond to Lazarus’ plight (Luke 16.19-31, especially verse 26).

Side Bar: Apostle Paul presents several other events of Jesus’ earthly life between His bodily resurrection (John 20.1-9) and ascension (Acts 1.9). Paul, apparently, learned of the events in the order of his presentation in 1 Corinthians 15.3-7. Jesus appeared to Peter (note Peter’s account in Acts 10.41), then to the Apostles, then to 500+ men and women at the same time, then to James (Acts 15.13-21, especially verse 19), and then to the Apostles (Luke 24.50-51; perhaps, as Jesus lifted off from earth; Acts 1.9 is same author). Where was Jesus between these events? Probably in the Paradise of Hades with those who met God’s previous requirements. Perhaps, even in Heaven, depending upon when He may have heard Father God repeat the words of Psalm 110.1 (AMP): “‘”Sit at My right hand
until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet [subjugating them into complete submission].’” Jesus was purposefully busy!

After Jesus repossess His, now glorified, body and reveals Himself to Mary in the Garden near the, empty, Tomb, (John 20.11-16) Jesus appears to the Apostles, minus Thomas, on that same evening. John 20.22 records that He “breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”. Was Jesus referring to the Third Person of the Trinity, Whom the Father would send (John 14.26), or to Himself? Why does the distinction matter?

We might presume that Jesus is continuing His instruction of them (John 14-16) about the time when the Father would, in fact, send the Holy Spirit. This occurred 50 days later at the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23.16), a celebration of the first fruits called Pentecost in the New Testament (Acts 2.1-4). But, since Jesus knew everything except the end of the Age (Matthew 24.35-37), why would He remind them at this early time to expect the Holy Spirit in fifty days? Dr. Luke reminds us, in Acts 1.4-8, that Jesus repeated this instruction as He was rising from earth.

Let me posit a theorem which, I believe, the Holy Spirit prompted in my reflections before bedtime last Monday night; that Jesus was speaking of Himself in His instruction to “receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20.22). My rationale rests upon the word “receive”. John 1.12 establishes the importance of this word to our faith. The disciples had received, that is believed in, the embodiedJesus (John 1.14). They had walked, literally and figuratively, with Him for three years and felt His hand upon their shoulders and put theirs upon His (1 John 1.1-4).

But, now the Apostles had to receive, that is believe in, Jesus as Spirit, Who suddenly appeared before them, and disappeared the as quickly (John 20.19 & 26). His body had the same visible features as that which had been entombed (John 20.20); these confirmed Jesus’ identify to them. Now, He was the same but different.

The disciples HAD TO receive Jesus as Spirit. Jesus’ discussion with Thomas explains why; John 20.26-29. Jesus’ contrast of seeing with physical eyes versus spiritual eyes is the contrast of believing only in what we can see with the eyes that came with our physical bodies. You and I have believed in the written account of Jesus’ earthly life with the disciples and in the three fundamental tenets of our Christian faith: Jesus’ virgin birth, atoning death, and bodily resurrection. Thus, we have believe in Jesus as a Spirit.

Similarly, we MUST believe that God saves today as effectively as we are convinced He will save us in eternity. Apostle Peter illustrates this in the healing of the paralytic in Acts 3.1-10. When called to explain this, he points to the man’s faith in the unseen person of Jesus by believing in Jesus’ name to produce his healing; verse 16. Then, Peter responds to the Sanhedrin’s question by proclaiming that Jesus continuously heals through faith in His name; see Acts 4.12, which is about temporal salvation and not about eternal life.

So, the answer to my query, was Jesus speaking of Himself or of the coming Third Person of the Trinity (John 20.22), is Jesus speaking about Himself. We must receive Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10.14-24) and continual presence through His powerful Name. Mark’s record of Jesus’ Great Commission (Mark 16.15-18) concludes with the declaration, in verse 20, that Jesus did, in fact, go with the disciples to heal the sick and cast out demons. Mark may be writing about events which are not included in Scripture. These events might have prompted the residents of Antioch to call Christ-followers ‘Christians’ (Acts 11:26).

However, after Jesus ascended into Heaven (Acts 1.8, Psalm 110.1) and the Third Person of the Trinity appeared (Acts 2.1-4), we should understand that the Holy Spirit continued the work begun by Jesus, as Jesus states in John 16.13-15. Thus, He still goes with disciples who receive that Jesus saves everyday!

Jesus “breathed” on the Apostles before He told them to “‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20.22). There are several understandings from this. First, God told Ezekiel to bring the dry bones of discouraged Israel to life by calling breath into them; Ezekiel 37.1-14. In verses 4-5, God says that breath He sends will give them life. Ezekiel’s role was to call the breath by speaking. Likewise, Jesus had told Nicodemus the Spirit would deploy him with understanding of his mission and with enlightened eyes once he accepted Jesus as Messiah; John 3.1-8. His acceptance would be the ‘new life’ we speak about. The Hebrew ‘breath’ and Greek ‘wind’ mean spirit! Both Ezekiel and Nicodemus would “call into being that which does not
exist” (Romans 4.17 AMP).

Second, Adam’s earth-suit only came alive after God breathed into him (Genesis 1.26-27, 2.7). So, is the ‘death rattle’ (“terminal respiratory secretions”; google.com) when someone dies the reverse; that is, the spirit giving up the body and returning to God (James 2.26; John 19.30)? Dr. Luke includes Paul’s discussion of this in his speech at Mar’s Hill; see especially Acts 17.24-25, 28. Perhaps, we live within God’s Breath.

Third, God gave the Aaronic Benediction or Blessing in Numbers 6.22-26as a means for putting His name upon the Israelites (verse 27). Jesus conveys the same meaning in John 6.63by speaking words of “‘spirit and life’’ to the people. This context is that which He implies in His continued statement of John 20.23: the sins of people who believe your witness to Jesus are forgiven, but the sins of those who reject are not forgiven (and will be judged at the Great White Throne by God; Revelation 20.11-15).

So, let me tie these together to comment on Jesus “breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20.22). In addition to emphasizing that the Apostles must
“receive” (John 1.12) Him in Spirit as they had “received” Him in the flesh (John 1.1, 14, 33-34), the Apostles should understand that they would be affirming or offering “life” to any who received their witness about Him (Matthew 28.19, “into”) and would be blessing believers with the Name of God (John 17.12 [AMP, ESV, NASB]; Philippians 2.9-11; Hebrews 13.8).

When you received Jesus as Savior, you received the right to use His Name everyday. This is His encouragement in John 16.24: “‘Until now you have not asked [the Father] for anything in My name; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete.’” You are entitled!

Receive the Holy Spirit

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.

April 14, 2019 What do you expect?

What do you expect?

Some ‘experts’ tell us that our disappointments may be caused by false expectations that we set for ourselves. As the saying goes, God is never late but rarely early in bringing salvation. Ephesians 3.20 (Amplified Bible, 2015) states that God may even do more than we expect! But, persecution from the world is one thing that Jesus said we should expect (John 15.18).

It’s not about being fair, as some may object. It is about answering correctly when each person will be asked by God: why should I let you into My Heaven? A ‘relative’ world would like for any answer to satisfy, but our ‘absolute’ God will listen for only one Word, “Jesus” (John 3.16 & 14.6)! This contrast is one way to express the sin of our fallen nature. We want to be god (Genesis 3.4-5; Romans 1.20-23; Colossians 2.8)!

Jesus discusses the world’s hatred for Himself and for us in John 15.18-27. Verses 26 & 27are His point: we are to testify to the world about what we have seen and heard (resulting from Matthew 28.19-20; 2 Timothy 2.2). You and I are the spiritual progeny of those who taught us about forgiveness of sin through Jesus’ blood (Hebrews 9.22-28 & 10.11-14), eternal life through His name (John 14.6), and temporal salvation through our faith in His power (Luke 10.17 & 19, Acts 3.16 & 4.12; Psalm 138.2c [NASB]; Romans 15.19; 1 Corinthians 4.20).

The apostles with whom Jesus is speaking in John 15.18-27—at the end of their training and pending deployment—had been warned about what they should expect—at the beginning of their basic training after selection, in Matthew 10.16-42. He was not stating what might possibly happen; Jesus was stating the reality that the deployed apostles would face. Perhaps, Luke 10.1-12 was such an experience as part of their training.

You ARE a problem to the world! Jesus points this out in John 15.18-19 and Matthew 10.34-36 (quoting Micah 7.6). Apostle Paul reminds us of this reality in 2 Corinthians 2.15-16: we remind antagonists that they are dead in their trespasses and sins! We may not have to say a word, but simply live out righteousness before them.

However, this is the purpose for which you and I were chosen! We have been “chosen out of the world” (John 15.19) “so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2.9). Paul describes this as Jesus’ choice for him in Acts 26.16-18.

This very purpose was what Jesus said to the first apostles, in Matthew 10.7-8, and the reality which they acknowledge in Luke 10.17: “’Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’” This is our testimony to the world: the name “Jesus” (Psalm 138.2c; Acts 16.31)! Jesus assures us that the Holy Spirit will “testify and bear witness” through us (John 15.26; Matthew 10.19-20).

Rest assured that God will only send you into skirmishes with demons over which you have sufficient power by faith in the name
“Jesus” (Hebrews 5.14). With each victory, you will “grow [spiritually mature] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3.18). Thus, you will look more like Jesus to the world (Ephesians 4.13-16). You will breakdown satan’s strongholds (2 Corinthians 10.4-6; Jeremiah 1.9-10)!

There are several stories in the Bible of people who expected and experienced victory over their enemies. What do you learn from each of the following?

1 Samuel 14.1-15: King Saul’s son, Jonathan, against the Philistines.
This knit his heart to David’s; 1 Samuel 18.1.

1 Samuel 17:45-46: David defeats Goliath at Elah.

Judges 15.14-16: Samson assaults the Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey.

Judges 7.1-25: especiallyverses 2-7, 19-22: Gideon’s 300 routs the Midianite and Amalekite invaders.

Luke 10.1-19: especiallyverses 17: Jesus’ disciples subjugate demons who are harming people.

Hebrews 11.32-34: additional illustrations of victory.

Revelation 12.1-12: you are saved eternally by Jesus’ blood sacrifice for sin; you are saved temporally by the powerful word of your testimony; that is, ‘Jesus’ (Psalm 103.20)! 2 Corinthians 10:4-6Philippians 2:9-11!

Genesis 3.14-15: satan and his demons are forever condemned and are under your feet (Ephesians 6.13).

2 Corinthians 12.10: Paul’s summary understanding.

John 16.33: Jesus’ assurance of victory in His name!

2 Corinthians 2.14 is what you should expect! After all, Philippians 2.9-11 is true: “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father” (my emphasis)!

Armor up (Ephesians 6.10-18) and expect to win the fight assigned! Jesus did; John 10.10!

What do you expect? 190407
(* = update 190414)

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.