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Studies In The Spirit


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#31 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 10:12 AM

8) In the case of the indirect influence of the Spirit on us (in terms of the examples of guidance we have previously considered - Balaam, Elijah, Jonah), the purpose is to reinforce the revealed Divine commandment, and to lead us to a greater appreciation and understanding of it.

But there is no supernatural enhancement to provide us with an understanding or capacity which we could not have previously acquired through our own reflection on the revealed Divine commandment.

In the case of the direct influence of the Spirit on us (in terms of the examples of obvious direct influence on the bodies and minds of individuals - Samson, Solomon, Christ), the purpose is to reinforce the revealed Divine commandment by means of the demonstration of supernatural capacities which are quite manifestly Divine in origin, and which are completely unavailable to us apart from the direct receipt of them from God.

9) Given the instruction and examples from the Scriptural record on this matter, it is obvious that whilst we may well be unaware of the indirect operation of the Spirit on us, it is inconceivable that we might be unaware of the direct operation of the Spirit on our hearts or minds.

- If we have prayed for the Holy Spirit and God has blessed us with it, we will know.

It will be unambiguous to us, and clearly manifest to others - we have no indication in Scripture to suggest anything otherwise.

- If we have prayed for wisdom in the form of direct and immediate enlightenment and God has blessed us with it, we will know.

It will be unambiguous to us, and clearly manifest to others - we have no indication in Scripture to suggest anything otherwise.

- If we have prayed for a supernatural action to be taken directly on our mind and God has blessed us with it, we will know.

It will be unambiguous to us, and clearly manifest to others - we have no indication in Scripture to suggest anything otherwise.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#32 Fortigurn

Fortigurn

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 10:13 AM

Two of the most contentious issues within the Charismtatic, Pentecostal, and Evangelical communities are 'When do we know we have received the Holy Spirit?', and 'What is the evidence that someone has received the Holy Spirit?'.

The complete confusion into which individuals have been thrown by these two questions is a manifest contrast to the Scriptural record. Nowhere in Scripture do we find these questions posing the insuperable difficulty to men and women of God which they pose to the contemporary claimants to this gift.

The Charismatics, Pentecostals, and Evangelicals are riven with doubt over this issue.

Whether they are speaking of the Holy Spirit gifts, or of the direct influence of the Holy Spirit to increase faith, instill wisdom, and to cause spontaneous supernaturally instilled feelings of joy, peace, and love towards other people, the same vexing questions arise - and are answered in a dazzling range of different ways which only proves the complete confusion on this issue.

Lists, tables, and charts are arranged, informing you of the various different 'sensations' which herald the 'indwelling of the Holy Spirit', and relating them to various different 'ministries' or 'annointings' which you apparently may receive. Everything from the tingling of one's little finger (an 'outreach ministry' - you are being 'annointed' as a 'teacher'), to a person feeling compelled to bark like a dog (a 'watchdog' ministry of 'protecting the church'), is analysed, with some significant meaning being attached to it.

One could continue, but there is really no point.

The simple fact of the matter is that we find nowhere in Scripture who was wandering around wondering if they had the Holy Spirit or not, wondering if they had just performed a miracle or not, wondering if God had directly influenced them with His Spirit.

Individuals who had received direct influence from God knew that they had received such an influence, and did not need to speculate. Solomon didn't spend days puzzling over whether or not he was now the wisest of men. Christ did not have to speculate as to whether or not he was receiving unprecedented supernatural aid. The apostles were not left wondering whether or not they really understood Scripture better than they had previously.

We may believe that God has influenced us directly. We may believe that in answer to our prayer He has directly infused us with wisdom, with feelings of love for others which we were otherwise reluctant or unable to cultivate, with a sense of peace and comfort - but we have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that such an event has taken place, and we can certainly never be sure.

Why is this? I believe it is because we are not influenced directly in this way - if we were then the Scriptural example is that we would undoubtedly be very obviously aware of it, and it would be manifestly and undeniably supernatural in origin.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#33 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 10:14 AM

HOLY SPIRIT GUIDANCE IN OUR LIVES

Our study of the Holy Spirit is far from complete, but we have definitely covered sufficient material in order to answer the following questions:

1) When we pray for God's help in our reading and study (or pray for wisdom as in James 1) - what happens?

God moves and works in our lives in order to guide us and give us knowledge and understanding.

God has not ceased to operate in this way, and continues to do so in our own lives today. God uses the indirect operation of the Spirit to correct and guide our understanding in the various ways of which we have read previously.

2) How does God answer such prayers?

Through the indirect operation of His Spirit in our lives - that is, in a manner which does not involve the direct operation of His Spirit on our hearts/minds, is beyond our knowledge and/or capacity to understand and appreciate, and involves no compulsion of our will.

We have seen that this indirect operation of the Spirit does not always result in the immediate and complete understanding of the revealed Divine commandment by the individual being so guided. Three times God intervened in the life of Balaam in order to reinforce the commandment He had already given. But despite this intervention, Balaam either failed to understand or disobeyed willfully. Similarly, Job underwent enormous trial and pressure in his life as the Spirit of God influenced him indirectly, but failed to appreciate completely the guidance he was receiving.

It is evident therefore that this method of indirect guidance by the Spirit does not necessarily always result in the individual concerned understanding the message which they are being taught, or appreciating fully the knowledge to which they are being guided.

Nevertheless, despite the limitation of this means of guidance (a limitation which is the result of the limitations of the flesh, not the Spirit), it is the principal means by which the Spirit operates in our lives.

3) Does he answer it?

Absolutely and definitely yes. For thousands of years the indirect operation of the Spirit in the lives of men and women has been the method which God has used above all others, the method which He has chosen to use as the most common and almost exclusive means of instruction and guidance.

4) Is it answered by purely external means (providence)?

In times previous, no. In our dispensation, yes.

5) Does God at all act upon our minds to allow us to better understand His word?

Not to any discernable degree, no. If He did, it would be obvious, and we would both realise and appreciate it.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#34 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 10:17 AM

In the case of the direct influence of the Spirit on us (in terms of the examples of obvious direct influence on the bodies and minds of individuals - Samson, Solomon, Christ), the purpose is to reinforce the revealed Divine commandment by means of the demonstration of supernatural capacities which are quite manifestly Divine in origin, and which are completely unavailable to us apart from the direct receipt of them from God.

In contrast to the occasional incapacity of individuals to discern and learn from the indirect working of the Spirit in their lives, those moments in which the Spirit has operated directly on individuals have always been without any ambiguity whatsoever.

If we say that God's Spirit does operate directly on our hearts/minds, but without us being able to detect, discern, understand, comprehend, or appreciate such influence, and that it is never obviously, evidently, clearly, or unambiguously the Divine influence apart from any other influence, then what we are saying is that we haven't really experienced any benefit whatsoever.

The simple fact of the matter is that we find nowhere in Scripture who was wandering around wondering if they had the Holy Spirit or not, wondering if they had just performed a miracle or not, wondering if God had directly influenced them with His Spirit.

Individuals who had received direct influence from God knew that they had received such an influence, and did not need to speculate. Solomon didn't spend days puzzling over whether or not he was now the wisest of men. Christ did not have to speculate as to whether or not he was receiving unprecedented supernatural aid. The apostles were not left wondering whether or not they really understood Scripture better than they had previously.

We may believe that God has influenced us directly. We may believe that in answer to our prayer He has directly infused us with wisdom, with feelings of love for others which we were otherwise reluctant or unable to cultivate, with a sense of peace and comfort - but we have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that such an event has taken place, and we can certainly never be sure.

Why is this? I believe it is because we are not influenced directly in this way - if we were then the Scriptural example is that we would undoubtedly be very obviously aware of it, and it would be manifestly and undeniably supernatural in origin.

6) Is there any difference between the previous 2 questions?

Yes, most certainly - and that should now be abundantly apparent.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#35 Fortigurn

Fortigurn

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 10:19 AM

HOLY SPIRIT GUIDANCE IN OUR LIVES


We have discussed at some length the direct operation of the Spirit on the hearts and minds of individuals. Let's examine what we have found:

1) Where the Spirit has operated directly on the heart/mind of an individual, it has always been for a specific Divine purpose.

Particularly, the purpose is to reinforce the revealed Divine commandment by means of the demonstration of supernatural capacities which are quite manifestly Divine in origin, and which are completely unavailable to us apart from the direct receipt of them from God. Our examples have been Samson, Solomon, and Christ himself - and examples could well be multiplied.

2) Where the Spirit has operated directly on the heart/mind of an individual, it has always been known and readily understood that this is the case. Again, we have the examples of Samson, Solomon, Christ and the apostles, not to mention others.

3) Where the Spirit has operated directly on the heart/mind of an individual, their free will is never infringed, nor are they compelled to perform an action beyond their capacity to choose to do otherwise.

The case of Pharoah is an example of this, and it is clear that the hardening of his heart was the result of the indirect operation of the Spirit as the plagues were sent on Egypt.

Brother Jonathan Pogson comments helpfully:

All God had to do to antagonise Pharoah was to touch his pride and tell him what to do against his will, ie, let my people go, and enter into a competition with Pharoah as to who was the greatest.

Pharoah could have been impressed for good, but in his position, pride and prejudice would have been just too much, and so, without any special magic, God could quite easily harden Pharoah's heart.


Brother Dev Ramcharan adds this, which is also extremely useful, and agrees well with what Brother Jonathan has said:

But, perhaps the hardening was not just by means of plagues but by a plethora a circumstances directed/engineered by God's angels which all served in the end to increase the spiritual calcification of Pharaoh's wicked heart. Every story of Israeli production shortfall, inefficiency, provincial breakdown in the Egyptian "empire", every report of domestic and civil strife and unrest in Egypt together with the continual pressure to compromise which his advisors must surely have subjected him to, generated another step in the progressive hardening of his heart.

The full responsibility for, and ownership of, the hardening of heart was the man Pharaoh's, and not God's. If the reverse were true, if God directly manipulated P's thoughts and feelings, his condemnation of P. would have been unjust. God manipulated circumstances, not Pharaoh.

He did not create his thoughts, He revealed them.


That last phrase of Brother Dev's, 'He did not create his thoughts, He revealed them' is quite brilliant, in my opinion. It sums up the relationship between the operation of the Spirit of God in Pharaoah's life and Pharaoah's response to it in very clear and simple terms which are evident from the record.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#36 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 10:20 AM

Another example we have considered is that of David numbering the people.

Who was the adversary who caused David to number the people, we ask?

The answer, always, is 'God, of course'.

But this is not strictly true. David's numbering of the people was in direct response to the adversary - an adversary raised by God, but who was not actually God Himself.

Consider first the Samuel record:

2 Samuel 23:
1And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.


This verse says that God moved David to number Israel. The question we must then ask is how did He move David against Israel? A simple reading of the text would indicate that God simply reached out and caused David to sin - and indeed, this is the natural reading of the text.

We may object 'God does not cause people to transgress in this manner', but what else are we to make of the verse? At the very least it appears to indicate the direct operation of the Spirit beyond the knowledge of the individual, and at the compulsion of their will.

In fact, this incident did not involve the direct operation of the Spirit on David in this way, and very importantly it tells us how God does act in such situations.

Let's now read the Chronicles record:

1 Chronicles 21:
1And satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
2And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.


The Chronicles record tells us that an adversary opposed Israel, and that it was this opposition to Israel which provoked David to number Israel.

In other words:

1) An adversary opposed Israel...

2) ...And this adversary, though stirred up by God, was not God Himself.

3) David responded to the threat made by this adversary to Israel...

4) ...And did so of his own free will, undirected by God.

5) Thus the involvement of God in the numbering of Israel was completely indirect, rather than the direct method which appears to be the case on a superficial reading of the text.

So what was the opposition which rose up against Israel?

The answer is to be found in David's response:

1 Chronicles 21:
5And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.


2 Samuel 23:
9And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.


David numbered the people for war. What sort of activity would cause him to number the people for war? The hostile military activity of a foreign power, nothing less.

Thus, when we read this:

1 Chronicles 21:
1And satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.


...we understand that the adversary opposed Israel, and that David, far from being compelled by the Holy Spirit to act out of character, actually chose to respond to this threat in manner which resulted in transgression.

Interestingly enough, we have now learned that the adversary, strictly speaking, was not God, that God moved the adversary against Israel not David, and that David then responded in his own free will to a threat to the nation. The operation of the Spirit in this way was clearly indirect, but it is described in the Samuel record at least in terms which sound as if it was direct, even though we know it was not.

The Samuel record therefore describes the process in a 'shorthand' manner, rather than giving details of the event, whilst the Chronicles record provides the full account of the situation.

It is noteworthy that this record of events demonstrates to us that the indirect operation of the Spirit may be spoken of in terms which suggest that it was direct, even though it was not.

This is an important principle to bear in mind when we approach other passages of Scripture dealing with the operation of the Spirit.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics




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