Tag Archive for 'Holy Spirit'

Me, Myself and The Holy Spirit

Some Christians have a disdain for commentaries, scholars, books, and even Bible teachers. I used to dislike study Bibles, because the notes were “just someone else’s opinion.” Although what bothered me the most is when people viewed the notes as if they were part of the Bible, which is another matter.

I came to my senses and have read through many commentaries in their entirety. They are just one man’s “opinion”, but that person has been gifted by God to help people read and understand the Bible better, fallible as they may be, as opposed to Scripture (so I’m not misunderstood).

It’s very arrogant (as Spurgeon says) and dangerous for people to think that they can interpret and apply Scripture just by themselves and with the Holy Spirit. Some of them have commented on this blog, but may have been offended too many times by quotes like the ones below. The Holy Spirit is our great teacher, among so many other things, but God has designed the church to have various parts to help each other learn and grow together. See what these two people have to say.

While we turn to the Holy Spirit throughout the process of interpretation, we still have our work cut out for us. There are things that the Spirit does not do. The Spirit does not give out new revelation on par with Scripture, guarantee that our interpretations are infallible, or give insights that no one else has ever had and with which no one will ever agree. The Spirit does not miraculously enable us to read biblical Greek and Hebrew and analyze it grammatically without having studied those languages. Above all, the Spirit does not force us to obey God in applying Scripture to our lives.

–Craig Blomberg, A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis

In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. My chat this afternoon is not for these great originals, but for you who are content to learn of holy men, taught of God, and mighty in the Scriptures. It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries. If there were any fear that the expositions of Matthew Henry, Gill, Scott, and others, would be exalted into Christian Targums, we would join the chorus of objectors, but the existence or approach of such a danger we do not suspect. The temptations of our times lie rather in empty pretensions to novelty of sentiment, than in a slavish following of accepted guides. A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences. Usually, we have found the despisers of commentaries to be men who have no sort of acquaintance with them; in their case, it is the opposite of familiarity which has bred contempt.

–C.H. Spurgeon Commenting & Commentaries—Lecture 1

And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head–Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.
Ephesians 4:11-16 HCSB

Is The Holy Spirit Necessary for Salvation?

Well, yes!

Jesus answered Nicodemus, “I can guarantee this truth: No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Flesh and blood give birth to flesh and blood, but the Spirit gives birth to things that are spiritual. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that all of you must be born from above.
John 3:5-7 GW

Jesus said this about the Spirit, whom his believers would receive. The Spirit was not yet evident, as it would be after Jesus had been glorified.
John 7:39 GW

he saved us, but not because of anything we had done to gain his approval. Instead, because of his mercy he saved us through the washing in which the Holy Spirit gives us new birth and renewal.
Titus 3:5 GW

Do you think this passage means nothing? It says, “The Spirit that lives in us wants us to be his own.”
James 4:5 GW


The Holy Spirit and Good Works in Reformed Theology

N.T. Wright, Interview with N.T. Wright – Responding to Piper on Justification

Trevin Wax: What is at stake in this debate over justification? If one were to adopt Piper’s view instead of yours, what would they be missing?

N.T. Wright:
What’s missing is the key work of the Holy Spirit in enabling the already-justified believers to live with moral energy and will so that they really do ‘please God’ as Paul says again and again (but as Reformed theology is shy of lest it smack of smuggling in works-righteousness again).

Michael A. G. Haykin, Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism (to be reviewed here in the future):

Historically, the Reformed tradition has had a passionate interest in the Holy Spirit. A key source for this pneumatological passion was John Calvin himself, who had ‘a constant and even distinctive concern’ with the person and work of the Spirit. B. B. Warfield, the distinguished American Presbyterian theologian, even spoke of Calvin as ‘preeminently the theologian of the Holy Spirit.’

In the English-speaking world, Calvin’s deep interest in the Spirit and His work was passed on to that Reformed tradition associated with the names of the Puritans and their successors, and the Calvinistic Dissenters and evangelicals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In discussing the work of the Spirit, Calvin’s heirs emphasized the Spirit’s sovereignty in every area of the salvation of sinners. The early Stuart Puritan, John Preston, for instance, maintained that spiritual fortitude comes from the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, who is ‘the only means to strengthen the inward man.’ But he also could argue that there are various means of godliness that the Christian must be diligent in using to attain this spiritual strength, such disciplines as ‘hearing the word, receiving the sacrament, prayer, meditation, conference, the communion of saints, particular resolutions to [do] good.’

ARTICLE 24, Belgic Confession:


We believe that this true faith, worked in man by the hearing of God’s Word and by the operation of the Holy Spirit,1 regenerates him and makes him a new man.2 It makes him live a new life and frees him from the slavery of sin.3 Therefore it is not true that this justifying faith makes man indifferent to living a good and holy life.4 On the contrary, without it no one would ever do anything out of love for God,5 but only out of self-love or fear of being condemned. It is therefore impossible for this holy faith to be inactive in man, for we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls faith working through love (Gal 5:6). This faith induces man to apply himself to those works which God has commanded in His Word. These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, since they are all sanctified by His grace. Nevertheless, they do not count toward our justification. For through faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do any good works.6 Otherwise they could not be good any more than the fruit of a tree can be good unless the tree itself is good.7

Therefore we do good works, but not for merit. For what could we merit? We are indebted to God, rather than He to us, for the good works we do,8 since it is He who is at work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). Let us keep in mind what is written: So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty (Luke 17:10).” Meanwhile we do not deny that God rewards good works,9 but it is by His grace that He crowns His gifts.

Furthermore, although we do good works, we do not base our salvation on them. We cannot do a single work that is not defiled by our flesh and does not deserve punishment.10 Even if we could show one good work, the remembrance of one sin is enough to make God reject it.11 We would then always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be constantly tormented, if they did not rely on the merit of the death and passion of our Saviour.12

1. Acts 16:14; Rom 10:17; 1 Cor 12:3. 2. Ezek 36:26-27; John 1:12-13; John 3:5; Eph 2:4-6; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet 1:23. 3. John 5:24; John 8:36; Rom 6:4-6; 1 John 3:9. 4. Gal 5:22; Titus 2:12. 5. John 15:5; Rom 14:23; 1 Tim 1:5; Heb 11:4, Heb 11:6. 6 Rom 4:5. 7. Mat 7:17. 8. 1 Cor 1:30-31; 1 Cor 4:7; Eph 2:10. 9. Rom 2:6-7; 1 Cor 3:14; 2 John 8; Rev 2:23. 10. Rom 7:21. 11. James 2:10. 12. Hab 2:4; Mat 11:28; Rom 10:11.

Question 86, Heidelberg Catechism:

86. Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace alone through Christ, without any merit of our own, why must we yet do good works?

Because Christ, having redeemed us by His blood, also renews us by His Holy Spirit to be His image, so that with our whole life we may show ourselves thankful to God for His benefits,[1] and He may be praised by us.[2] Further, that we ourselves may be assured of our faith by its fruits,[3] and that by our godly walk of life we may win our neighbours for Christ.[4]

[1] Rom 6:13; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Pet 2:5-10. [2] Mat 5:16; 1 Cor 6:11-20. [3] Mat 7:11-28; Gal 5:22-24; 2 Pet 1:11-21. [4] Mat 5:14-16; Rom 14:17-19; 1 Pet 2:12; 1 Pet 3:1-2.

1 Corinthians 3:18 as applied to serious students of the Bible

1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 3:18
Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. (NLT)

I memorized this to give myself a reminder not to think I’m all that and a cup of tea. However, God convicted me on a deeper level.

According to what’s written in 1 Corinthians 1:17-31 and all of the first four chapters, I can become like the Corinthians in that I can read my commentaries, use my interlinear etc. and think I’m wise because of my studiousness. I’m now on a higher plain because of this. However:

1 Corinthians 4:7
For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?

This all came about last night. I was feeling burnt out on the studying I was doing and was afraid that my spiritual zeal was waning. I was thinking, “What now God? Take a break? Direct my focus elsewhere for a while?” This break in the action allowed God to speak to me. He let me know that all this is to get to know Him better and focus on Christ and Him crucified, which I knew, but had to slow down to really ponder it.

And also the conviction of pride as described above. Although it can be painful, I love being convicted by the Holy Spirit because it is God speaking to me.

I hope to write more about general observations and questions on 1 Corinthians 1 and 2.

What Is Revival?

A revival is a time of quickening or impartation of life. As God alone can give life, a revival is a time when when God visits His people and by the power of His Spirit imparts new life to them, and through them imparts life to sinners dead in trespasses and sins. We have religious excitements gotten up by the cunning methods and hypnotic influence of the mere professional evangelist; but these are not revivals and are not needed. They are the devil’s imitations of a revival. New life from God–that is a revival. A general revival is a time when this new life from God is not confined to scattered localities, but is general throughout Christendom and the earth.

…revivals also have a decided influence on the unsaved world.

First of all, they bring deep conviction of sin. Jesus said that when the Spirit was come He would convince the world of sin (John 16:7-8). Now we have seen that a revival is a coming of the Holy Spirit, and therefore there must be new conviction of sin, and there always is. If you see something men call a revival, and there is no conviction of sin, you may know at once that it is bogus. It is a sure mark.

–R.A. Torrey, How To Pray

Marks of Revival – J. I. Packer
Revival-and Renewal – A.W. Tozer
Revival Conditions – A.W. Tozer
What Is a Revival? by C. H. Spurgeon

The Spirit of Revival (pt. 1) – R.C. Sproul
The Spirit of Revival (pt. 2)
The Spirit of Revival (pt. 3)
The Spirit of Revival (pt. 4)
The Spirit of Revival (pt. 5)

Test Revival with Doctrine – John Piper


Psalm 19:7a HCSB
The instruction of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;

Treasuring the Trinity

Pitchford’s Ramblings has a good, concise article on the Biblical basis for the Doctrine of the Trinity:
Treasuring the Trinity

Regeneration and Spiritual Disciplines

Many Christians have lost or never learned a sound doctrine of regeneration. They believe that the only thing that matters is their standing with God or with the church. They assume that a past decision for Christ or a decision to affiliate with a congregation determines their standing with God. Having made that decision, they make no effort to allow the Spirit to renew them. The Spirit is not imposed upon us, and Christians must engage in spiritual disciplines that make the Spirit’s work possible in changing our lives at the fundamental level. God’s Spirit empowers us to do what we want to do and makes what we want to do to be what is right so that Christlikeness flows from us naturally.

–David Garland, 2 Corinthians

Related Scripture:
Philippians 2:12-13, 2 Peter 1:3-10

Knowledge of the Holy

In the last chapter of A.W. Tozer’s book Knowledge of the Holy he spells out six conditions. I’d like to summarize them with just a few added Scripture references. (Click on Scripture references.)

“…this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them.

Let me present a brief summary of these conditions as taught by the Bible and repeated through the centuries by the holiest, sweetest saints the world has ever known:”

“First, we must forsake our sins.”
Isaiah 55:7, Acts 3:19

“Second, there must be an utter committal of the whole life to Christ in faith.”
Psalm 63:8, Psalm 84:1-2, Luke 9:23

“Third, there must be a reckoning of ourselves to have died unto sin and to be alive unto God in Christ Jesus, followed by a throwing open of the entire personality to the inflow of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 6:3-4, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:25

“Fourth, we must boldly repudiate the cheap values of the fallen world and become completely detached in spirit from everything that unbelieving men set their hearts upon, allowing ourselves only the simplest enjoyments of nature which God has bestowed alike upon the just and the unjust.”
Psalm 1:1, Romans 12:2

“Fifth, we must practice the art of long and loving meditation upon the majesty of God.”
Psalm 1:2, Psalm 63:6, Psalm 145:5

“Sixth, as the knowledge of God becomes more wonderful, greater service to our fellow men will become for us imperative. This blessed knowledge is not given to be enjoyed selfishly.”
Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 2:4, Titus 3:8, Titus 3:14, James 2:17-18

Free Will

This is an idea I’m still grappling with. Here is a good compilation of quotes and Scripture:
…is there such a thing as “free will”?

Scripture mentioned:
John 6:37, John 6:44, Ephesians 2:1-3, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:4-7