Hank’s Questions about the Personal Indwelling of the Spirit, Part 4


But, I don’t understand the position of those who believe that at baptism, the Spirit “personally” relocates himself inside of the new Christian, and from then on, is able to help said Christian, in ways not possible, if he were not personally in them. Which, brought me to my questions for you. For, if the Spirit must “personally” be inside of a person to help him produce fruit, help him pray as he ought, help him obey and love God more, etc. – then those who do not “have” the Spirit, wouldn’t have any such help(s). Right?

Which, would mean that all innocent and unbaptized youth, are not able to produce any (actual and genuine) fruit of the Spirit. Nor, would they have any help in the times when and where they know not what to pray. And, how wrong does that sound? As if, in order for an innocent and pure person to get help in praying and producing any (real) fruit of the Spirit, he or she must first separate themselves from God by sin, and get baptized?!

Right. But help is help and not the same thing as enablement. Again, because of the influence of Calvinist thought in our history, we insist on pushing everything to the extreme: either the Spirit helps me or I can’t do it at all. Calvin said that. The Bible does not. Continue reading

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Hank’s Questions about the Personal Indwelling of the Spirit, Part 3

spirit3Email 2

Just so you know, in case you were/are curious, I believe that the Holy Spirit is in us in the same way that Jesus was in his disciples, when he told them that he was in them in passages such as Jn. 15.

Let’s look at that passage briefly.

(Jn. 15:4-7 ESV)  4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

If this were all we had to go by, one could make a fair argument that Jesus abides in us solely through his words. But it’s not. The preachers who used this (and similar) passages to build a case denying a personal indwelling in favor of a representational indwelling through the word utterly ignored the OT background. And the whole point of the OT and NT passages I cited in previous posts of this series is that words are not enough. Continue reading

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Hank’s Questions about the Personal Indwelling of the Spirit, Part 2


3) When Jesus said that the greatest command was to love God and their neighbors with ALL of their heart, did he believe that they could do that back then (without yet “having” the HS), as much as we can today?

The scriptures answer this question directly. I’ve covered the critical passages many times. We begin in —

(Deut. 6:4-6 ESV)  4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

(Deut. 10:12-16 ESV)  12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,  13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?  14 Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.  15 Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day.  16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.”

These parallel teachings require Israel to love and serve God with all their heart and soul. it’s a heart command. It’s not fulfilled by mere externals. It requires a certain state of heart: “circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart.” Continue reading

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Hank’s Questions about the Personal Indwelling of the Spirit, Part 1

spirit3I get emails. These are two emails from long-time reader and commenter Hank.

I answer at some length because they hit on themes I’ve been covering in other contexts, and give me an excuse to tie these themes together.

Email 1

I’ve been reading your articles for years, with special attention to the ones pertaining to the Spirit. I have a couple of questions:

1) Were the children of God in the OT who did not “have” the HS, able to produce the fruit of the HS?

Well, no. By definition, “fruit of the Spirit” is fruit produced by the Spirit. Even if it’s the same thing but produced by other, more natural means, it’s not fruit of the Spirit.

But can someone achieve “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22b-23a ESV) without the direct operation of the Spirit on their heart? Certainly. I’ve seen it. Continue reading

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On Sojourners, Walls, and Illegal Aliens, Part 7 (Tying It All Together)


Tentative conclusions

  • So is it right for the federal government to make certain that immigrants — even refugees — have no criminal history or otherwise pose no threat to the safety of the US?

Absolutely. It would be a failure of the government to protect its own people to be so naive or foolish as to assume that merely because someone is seeking asylum or immigration status that they are not criminals or otherwise dangerous. The government today sits in gates of the city, as it were, to judge such things. It’s what governments are supposed to do.

  • So should we have open borders that allow millions to enter the country without any sort of clearing process?

Should Jerusalem have had no walls at all? Walls are good. Some way to police the borders is essential. (It doesn’t have to be a literal wall.) But this truth does not mean we should oppose immigration in general or be unwilling to be hospitable to those who come into our country.

But could the nation, consistent with scripture, come up with a rational system for allowing some immigrants in and keeping some out? Of course. Continue reading

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The Revelation: A Different Kind of Apocalypse, by Ben Witherington

lion-dove-lamb-yeshuaIn a recent post, Larry Hurtado, writing for Ben Witherington’s blog, points out how the Revelation differs from other apocalyptic literature.

I’ve not seen these points made in the commentaries and other books I read in putting together the recent series on the Revelation.

I would have included these observations in my introductory posts, but it’s too late now. I have nothing to add to Larry Hurtado’s comments other than “amen.” Enjoy.

(And, yes, I have insomnia from my monthly Remicade infusion. Nothing to do but catch up on some old posts. I’m still pretty drugged from the procedure, and so I apologize for anything  I may say that is, you know, stoned-ish.)

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On Sojourners, Walls, and Illegal Aliens, Part 6 (Bridges and Walls)

walls-of-jerusalemSo let’s return to where we began, with the Pope’s declaration —

A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel.

We need to avoid slogans, catch phrases, and spin doctoring. These merely anesthetize us against the truth.

Where we typically err is by beginning with our political or religious views and then reasoning from scripture to affirm our existing views. We are much better followers of Jesus when we let the scriptures speak to us before we adopt a political position. After all, it’s far better to obey God rather than man.
Continue reading

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On Sojourners, Walls, and Illegal Aliens, Part 5 (Hospitality in the Early Church)

walls-of-jerusalemPaige Gutacker has written a nice summary of hospitality as practiced in Greco-Roman society, the Jews, and the early Christians. I skip to her comparison of Christian hospitality to that practiced by the other groups —

While the provisions of Christian hospitality remained so similar we need not discuss them here, I will argue that Christian hospitality differentiated itself in profound ways when it came to its motive, the identity of its host, and the identity of its guest. Continue reading

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C. S. Lewis’ Radio Broadcasts with Line Drawings

I found these thanks to my friend Robert Lingle, who uses these in teaching teenage Bible class.

There are several other C. S. Lewis line drawing presentations on YouTube, easily found. May God bless those who teach the Bible to teenagers!

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On Sojourners, Walls, and Illegal Aliens, Part 4 (Hospitality in Scripture)

walls-of-jerusalemThe Torah’s encouragement of sojourners in the Promised Land is a natural consequence of the hospitality expected in the Ancient Near East.

Abraham was legendary for his hospitality, as evidenced by his treatment of three strangers, one of whom turned out to be God–

(Gen. 18:1-5 ESV) And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.  2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth  3 and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.  4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree,  5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on– since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”

Although Abraham addresses the leader of the group as “lord,” he does not yet know that he is addressing God incarnate. Continue reading

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