30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
February 13, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" This morning we are continuing our study that we began last week on "The Holy Spirit." Hello, I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine this valuable truth of God's word. Last week we began a study on "The Holy Spirit" and will continue with this study for the next two weeks here on WAVE 1450. It is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things religiously that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour, "The Holy Spirit", I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you. I also want to encourage you to have a pen and paper ready to make notes and for this lesson and the next two, you may also want to consider taping these lessons. If this is not possible, you may request a transcript or audio tape of today's lesson and any past or future lesson by writing to the Clarksville church of Christ, 407 W. Hwy 131, Clarksville, Indiana, 47129, or you may call 944-2305. As we study the lesson together this morning, it is my hope that each one of you will possess the kind of heart that the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). By looking at the Bible passages, you can see for yourself that what I am teaching this morning can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about this subject of the Holy Spirit. If you have a question or a comment regarding today's lesson, please forward them to me. I will provide you with the address and phone number again at the conclusion of today's message.
In last week's lesson I discussed several aspects concerning the Holy Spirit. We discussed: (1) "Who is the Holy Spirit?" We found out that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Godhead. He is of divine nature; He is called God. (2) We discussed how the Spirit communicates. He communicates with words, words that can be understood. Words which impart knowledge and information. From this we learned that the Holy Spirit does not communicate with man through dreams, hunches, inner feelings or emotional outbursts. (3) We discussed "What the Holy Spirit has communicated to man." We learned that it was the Father's revelation which the Spirit gave that contains all things necessary for the salvation of man. (4) We also learned that the Spirit's communication is found in the "inspired word of God." That word which completely furnishes man with everything that is needed for his or her salvation. We also found out that those who claim direct revelation from God in this age are faced with some basic difficulties. No one has offered to answer how the Holy Spirit could talk to two people and come up with two different messages. Can you explain this for us? And yet, that is exactly what we see in the world today by those who claim to have a direct revelation from God.
In our study this morning, I want to first determine: "When are we led by the Spirit?" What do the scriptures say with reference to this important and much misunderstood question? In Hebrews 4:12, we read, "For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword..." The inspired writer calls the word of God the "sword of the Spirit." It is the instrument which the Spirit uses to accomplish His mission or work. Let me illustrate. A man uses an axe to chop down a tree. It is the man who supplies the energy necessary to cut down the tree; but, it is the axe that actually hits and cuts down the tree. The axe is the means by which the man cut down the tree. The axe has no power or energy of itself. You have never seen an axe jump up by itself and cut down a tree. Neither can the man cut down the tree without the axe or some other instrument being used. We might say the man cut down the tree. Another might say the tree was cut down by the axe. Both statements are true, for it was the man who cut down the tree, using the axe to transmit his energy or power to the cutting down of the three. In like manner, the Holy Spirit, works upon the human spirit in conversion; but, He does His work through the medium of the word which is His instrument. Thus, we can say, when one is converted, he or she was converted by the Holy Spirit. We can also say that he or she was converted by the Word. The Spirit uses the word to convert mankind unto Christ. It is through the message or words of the Spirit that men come to know God, to love and to obey Christ Jesus. But, note just here: as there is no direct impact between the man and the tree, neither is there any direct impact between the Spirit and the human heart. Conversion is brought about by means of the word of the Spirit, "the sword of the Spirit." Listen to Ephesians 6:17, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." No, my friends, man is not converted by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, separate and apart of the revealed truth of God's Word. When man is converted to Christ, it will be through and by the teaching and belief in the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit. Remember, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Isn't it good each scripture agrees with all other scriptures. There is no scripture that differs with any other scripture. And by scripture, we mean the Word of God that we call the Bible. You see, when the Holy Spirit spoke, He agreed with everything else that He had spoken. He did not say one thing to one person and something entirely different to another person. Yet, this is exactly what we see today in the lives of those who claim to have a direct revelation from God, a revelation separate and distinct from the revealed truth of God's Word.
Every influence which the scriptures assert to be exercised upon us is also affirmed by the scriptures to be done by the Word. In every instance, that which the Spirit is said to do TO us, the word in other places is said to accomplish the same result. Is this to say the Spirit and the word are the same? No! It is to say that the manner in which the Spirit operates on sinner and saint alike is by MEANS of the word. There are many examples of this, but I shall mention just two of these examples at this time:
In the book of 1 Corinthians 12:3, we read, "No man can say, Jesus is Lord, but by (in) the Holy Spirit." Yet, note the language of John 20:30, 31, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name."Do these two verses contradict each other? NO, they do not. How may we know that Jesus is Lord? Paul says by the Holy Spirit. John what do you say about this? It is through the written word. Do they contradict? NO. Of course not. They are saying the same thing. The Deity of our Lord is established by the testimony of the Holy Spirit through the inspired writers. Thus, the Holy Spirit, through the word, makes known the Deity of Christ Jesus. And, in no other way might this information be learned or known. If the Holy Spirit came down and in some miraculous way revealed some truth about Jesus Christ, what would He say that had not already been said by those inspired writers of the first century?
Our second example of this can be noticed in Ephesians 5:18, 19, "And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." The words, "be filled," in this passage involve, not a promise, but a command. A command makes it imperative, something which the individual must do. We are commanded to "be filled with the Spirit." How is this done? Reading now from Colossians 3:16, we find, "Let the word of Christ rule (dwell) in you richly; in all wisdom teaching admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God."
In the passage we read from Ephesians 5:18, we are admonished to "be filled with the Spirit." In Colossians 3:16, we are told, by the same apostle, and in an identical passage, to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." How, then, may we obey the command, "Be filled with the Spirit?"By allowing "the word of Christ" to "dwell in us richly." Is this to say that the word and the Spirit are the same? By no means. It is to say that the manner in which the Spirit leads, guides, directs and dwells in us, is by the means of and through the word. As the man could not cut down the tree without using the axe, so the Spirit cannot dwell in our hearts without the use of the Word. Remember, the Spirit teaches us. The Spirit is leading us, when we follow the message of inspiration which He gave. In no other way does the Holy Spirit guide man. Paul said, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14). The obvious meaning to this statement is that the evidence of sonship to God is to be seen in a life dominated by the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit. But, only those who faithfully follow the teachings of the New Testament are faithful children of God. Therefore, the manner in which the Spirit leads us as sons of God is by means of the teaching of the New Testament (the Bible) which the Holy Spirit gave unto mankind. It then follows, that when one yields one's life to the word of truth, that one is submitting to the Holy Spirit who provided the word, since the word is the Spirit's message to man. To obey that word is to obey the Spirit; to reject that word, is to reject the Spirit. How is one led by the Spirit? By following the revealed truth of the gospel, the word of the Holy Spirit.
I'd like to present an illustration at this point in the lesson: We find a son, in a distant land, that received a letter from his father, containing instructions which he desires his son to discharge. The letter becomes the instrument through which the father influences the son. The son, by obeying the instructions set out in the letter, is led in the matter by his father; the son, by rejecting the instructions, rebels against his father. The letter is the instrument through which the father influences his son. So it is of the Holy Spirit. The New Testament is the letter which the Holy Spirit gave us. When we follow it, we are following the Spirit; we are being led by the Holy Spirit. To reject it, is to reject the Spirit, who gave it. And may I emphasize this point strongly. In NO OTHER WAY DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT LEAD US. Contrary to what modern man would have you and I believe, we are ONLY led by the Holy Spirit through the written word. Every influence that comes upon us by the Spirit; every blessing which the Spirit bestows, every spiritual need heaped upon us, from the time we first heard the gospel until we die, comes through faithful obedience to the Word which the Holy Spirit gave, and not through an operation apart from and independent of that word. The message is the same for each person. God does not give one direction to one person and something different to another. All have the same message, and that message is found in the New Testament, in the book we call the Bible.
The Holy Spirit strengthens -- Ephesians 3:16. The Holy Spirit sanctifies -- 2 Thessalonians 2:13. The Holy Spirit saves -- Titus 3:5. The Holy Spirit justifies -- 1 Timothy 3:16. The Holy Spirit witnesses to us -- Hebrews 10:15. The Holy Spirit prompts us to love God -- Romans 5:5. The Holy Spirit leads us as God's sons -- Romans 8:16. The Holy Spirit does all of these things by the means of the word of truth, His instrument. He strengthens us by providing the "whole armor of God," which includes the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:10-17; 2 Timothy 2:1. The Holy Spirit sanctifies by the truth, which is God's word -- John 17:17. The Holy spirit saves by supplying the"engrafted word," which is able to save our souls -- James 1:21. The Holy Spirit justifies "by faith," which comes by hearing God's word -- Romans 5:1; Romans 10:17. The Holy Spirit witnesses to us by the scriptures which testify of Christ -- John 5:39. The Holy Spirit leads us by providing a lamp for our feet, and a light for our path --Psalm 119:105. All that we know about how to live the life of a Christian is set forth in the New Testament, God's revelation through the Holy Spirit. My friends in this radio audience, there is simply no directives the child of God needs which has not been supplied by and through the Word of God, the word of the Spirit. We are strengthened with might "by his Spirit in the inner man" -- Ephesians 3:16, by being "rooted and builded up in him," and the word of God is fully "able" to accomplish this -- Colossians 2:7; Acts 20:32. Hence, the Spirit strengthens by means of the word which He gave. Jehovah God did not leave man to flounder without any instructions, without any information from Him. He has spoken as the Holy Spirit revealed His message through those inspired men in the first century. And that word continues to be able to furnish us unto every good work -- 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
We have seen so far in our study of the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit is a Person. He is a Divine Person. He motivates solely and only by means of the inspired word which He gave through the writers of the New Testament almost 2000 years ago. But, someone says, "Are there not passages which assert that the Holy Spirit dwells in us?" And my answer is yes, there are passages that state that very language. Romans 8:9, states, "But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you..." Galatians 4:6, reads, "And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father." 1 Corinthians 3:16, "Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" There is then, a sense in which the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Who would deny this in view of these passages? But, do these passages tell us the manner or mode of such indwelling? Do they tell us how the Spirit dwells in us? NO, not from these passages of scripture! They assert a fact, but they do not indicate how it is accomplished. Do these passages teach us that the Holy Spirit dwells in us personally, Literally, Bodily? Again, no! What do these passages tell us, then? They simply say that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian. Must it be concluded then that it must be literally, personally? We have already seen last week and so far this week that the Holy Spirit works through and by the revelation of the message which He revealed. As we allow His Word, or message to enter our hearts, the Holy Spirit guides and motivates us to do the will of the Father. Thus, we are led by the Spirit, and the Spirit dwells in us in exactly the same way, through His message, through His Words.
But, the objection is heard, "You do not really believe that the Spirit is in us at all." I believe that the Spirit is in us in exactly the same sense that God, the Father is in us. Does God dwell in us? The scripture says, "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God" (1 John 4:15). Does God dwell in us? The scriptures teach that He does. But, how does He? Does Christ Jesus dwell in us? The scripture says, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). God's Word says that Christ dwells in us. But, how does He? The scriptures teach that, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian exactly the same way in which the Father dwells in us; exactly the same way that the Son dwells in us. Not in a literal, bodily sense, but through their Word, through their teachings, through their message.
I have not heard anyone who actually teaches that God the Father is literally and actually in our bodies. He is said to inhabit us "through the Spirit," because it is through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, in the word, that His will is known and followed. Hear the apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:22, "in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit." No one believes that our Lord, Jesus Christ, has left Heaven and returned to the earth and literally, actually, and personally enters the bodies of all of his followers. Nonetheless, Paul states that Christ is in us. He is, indeed; but not literally. He is in us, as His teaching enters our lives, and His characteristics can be seen in us. So, likewise the Holy Spirit is in us; not literally, or actually, but through His teachings He enters our lives and His characteristics can be seen in us by the way that we conduct ourselves, the way that we live.
It is indeed a strange doctrine that says the Father and the Son are in us, dwelling is us, representatively; yet, the Holy Spirit dwells in us actually, bodily. It is a doctrine that results from the misunderstanding of the personality of the Holy Spirit. One person, though he may be in another by his teaching and influence, cannot literally inhabit another. And we have already seen that the Holy Spirit is indeed a person; a Divine Person; the third person in the Godhead.
Let us notice another aspect just here. In the case of Jesus, Deity literally and actually inhabited human flesh. The gospel of John states in chapter 1, verse 1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Then in verse 14, we read, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth." It was entirely proper and in order, yes, obligatory, that people worship Him. He was not worshiped because he was in a sinless human body; he was worshiped because He was Deity, personally and actually present in the flesh. Christ accepted worship. It was proper to worship Him. Those who recognized Him for whom He was, did indeed worship Him. If the Holy Spirit is actually and literally in children of God today, as is now being taught by many, why is not the Holy Spirit, also Deity, equally entitled to worship? Jesus in the flesh was entitled to worship. Why is not the Holy Spirit, if He is indeed in the flesh, entitled to worship also. If the Holy Spirit is bodily in the fleshly life of someone today, why would it not be proper to worship that person. And if the Holy Spirit indwells all Christians literally and actually, why are not all Christians to be worshiped? To ask the question is to answer the question. Of course, such would be wrong. Nevertheless, if the Spirit literally inhabits a person today, such would be permitted. NO, the Holy Spirit does not personally and literally indwell the Christian today. He indwells the child of God through His Word, through His teaching. And each person who has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will speak the same things that others who have the indwelling of the Spirit will speak. Paul states, "Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10).
"But," someone says, "Was not the gift of the Holy Spirit promised to all who repent and are baptized, as stated by Peter in Acts 2:38?" By this, the questionnaire is concluding that the gift of the Holy Spirit is the direct, literal, indwelling of the Spirit. But, is that what the gift of the Spirit really involves? We have seen that the Holy Spirit is a person. Are you telling me then, that the gift of the Holy Spirit is the person of the Spirit that enters into the body of everyone who repents and is baptized? There are at lease two cases in the book of Acts that show that such is not the case.
In Acts, chapter 8, we learn of the Samaritans, who, "when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12). Here are some men and women that heard, believed and were baptized. According to Christ in Mark 16:16 and to Peter in Acts 2:38, these men and women were saved from their past sins. And yet, they did not receive the Spirit. Beginning in verse 14, Acts 8, "Now when the apostles that were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: for as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." reading through verse 17. To "receive" the Spirit then means a miraculous measure thereof. The Samaritans were saved by their obedience to the truth of the revealed message of the Holy Spirit. But, the miraculous measure of the Spirit was received by the laying on of the apostles hands, the only way that miraculous gifts were bestowed. To insist otherwise is to abuse and misuse this passage. If the reception of the Spirit, apart from the word, always follows obedience to the gospel, as some would teach today; since the Samaritans had obeyed the gospel, they had received the Holy Spirit. And yet, we have it on the testimony of inspiration, that such did not occur. It follows then, that the reception of the Spirit does not necessarily follow the obedience of the gospel. The miraculous aspect of the Spirit was received through the laying on of the apostles hands.
Another example clearly agrees with what has been stated. In Acts 19:1-6, we read, "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples: and he said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? and they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied."Here is another example of those who heard, believed, and were baptized. According to the promise of our Savior, they were thus saved from sins. But, these saved men, twelve in number, had not received the Holy Spirit. Upon these men, Paul laid his hands, and they received the miraculous aspect of the Holy Spirit, as manifested by the speaking in tongues and prophesying. You will note once again, that the reception of the Holy Spirit came through the laying on of the hands of an apostle. And might I say, that is the only way that the miraculous aspect of the Holy Spirit was ever received -- through the laying on of the hands of the apostles.
Do we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Indeed we do. It is through the acceptance and obedience to the truth of God's Word, the message of the Holy Spirit. Do we have the miraculous aspect of the gifts of the Holy Spirit today? No, there is no longer any need for these gifts in our lifetime. But, since our time has once again escaped us, we must leave this subject for our study next week. Be sure to be with us next week as we continue with our in depth study of "The Holy Spirit". Thank you for listening and I trust that you will do everything possible to ensure that you search for and practice the truth of God.
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"