The Holy Spirit: Romans 8:10-14

Rom 8:10

(Rom 8:10 ESV) 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Some have argued that “Christ is in you” means we are indwelt by the Spirit in the same sense we are indwelt by Christ — through obedience to the “law of Christ” or “law of the Spirit.” That reading, of course, is entirely out of context. Christ is in us because his Spirit is in us. The same thought appears at –

(John 14:20 ESV)  20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

– which is another passage dealing with the indwelling Spirit. But the most explicit statement is found in –

(Eph 3:14-19 ESV)  14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The thought is plainly that Christ dwells in our hearts via the Spirit’s work in us.

Therefore, Paul says, if Jesus lives in your body (through the Spirit) — which is dead under the law of sin and death — then the Spirit gives life (again, alluding to Deu 30:6). And this is all because of “righteousness.”

Now, scholars debate whether this is our righteouss living resulting from the Spirit’s power in us, or Christ’s imputed righteousness (we are credited with the righteousness of Jesus), or God’s righteousness, meaning God’s keeping his covenant promise.

N. T. Wright, and many others, argue that in Romans, “righteousness of God” refers to God keeping his promises, especially his promises to Abraham. Consider –

(Rom 3:21-26 ESV) 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–  22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

This is not the place for detailed exposition. The argument is laid out here –

The Cruciform God: Righteousness and Faith, Part 2

The Cruciform God: Righteousness and Faith, Part 3

The result isn’t critical to our understanding the Spirit — but I suspect Paul is referring to God keeping his promise to save us by faith, detailed in the preceding chapters of Romans. The answer absolutely is not that we have somehow become so righteous we need no grace.

Rom 8:11

(Rom 8:11 ESV)  11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Paul now moves to the topic of hope — the fact that the Spirit is in us assures us that we will be resurrected. Those with the Spirit will be resurrected. Those without the Spirit will not be. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus! All with the Spirit are saved.

Rom 8:12-13

(Rom 8:12-13 ESV)  12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

“You will live” again refers to Deu 30:6: “that you may live.” And here we see another aspect of the indwelling Spirit. It is “by the Spirit” we “put to death the deeds of the body.”

(Rom 6:6-8 ESV)  6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.  8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Clearly, “deeds of the body” means “sin.” Therefore, the Spirit helps us defeat sin in our lives. It helps us overcome our sinful natures in the struggle Paul described back in Rom 7.

Now, notice the parallels between chapters 6 and 8. In chapter 6, Paul speaks of the moment of our baptism, when we were buried and resurrected with Jesus, demonstrating that “we will also live with him.” This is also a promise we have in the form of the indwelling Spirit — received, of course, when we were first saved.

Our initial conversion is a new birth, and we are born of the Spirit, meaning we receive the Spirit through whom God washes our sins away by the power of Jesus’ blood — and which stays with us to defeat the “law of sin and death” and give us the victory at the end.

You see, God wants us to make it! All three persons of the Trinity are working to see that we make it to the end. Our future resurrection is pictured and anticipated in our baptism, and the Spirit works powerfully in us to help us get there. It’s a big, big deal. And part of what the Spirit does is work within us to help us defeat sin — the deeds of the body.

Rom 8:14

(Rom 8:14 ESV) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

By being baptized into Jesus, we take on his son-ness. We, too, become sons of God because we are “led by the Spirit.” This is obviously parallel to –

(Gal 5:18 ESV)  18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

So what does it mean to be “led by the Spirit”? Well, we’ll get there. But we already see some substantial parts of it. The Spirit helps us bear fruit for God. The Spirit helps us defeat sin in our lives. The Spirit pours the love of God into our hearts. The Spirit circumcises our hearts, that is, changes our hearts so that we want to obey his will. Indeed, the Spirit makes Deuteronomy 10 a reality in our lives –

(Deu 10:12-20 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. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.  18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.  19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.  20 You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.

It’s not that the Spirit makes us in-fact sinless. Rather, the idea is that the Spirit changes our hearts so that we obey from the heart. The goal is not perfect obedience or perfect understanding. It’s a circumcised heart — a heart that truly wants to obey.

You see, God began calling on his people to love him and to care for those he cares for — the orphan, the widow, the alien — not because we fear hell but because we’ve been re-made to have hearts like his heart, hearts that love God and love those who need help. This is the Spirit’s leading.

We got on the wrong path when the question became tongues vs. no tongues and special revelation vs. no special revelation. That’s not what Romans is about. Romans — which is the most detailed exposition of the Spirit’s work in the Bible — other than Deuteronomy! — tells us that it’s all about circumcised hearts. Understand that, and the rest falls into place well enough.

I say “well enough” because there will always be unanswered questions. The key is to get the biggest, most important questions answered. And the answer is: the Spirit’s work is mainly and most importantly about our hearts because the only obedience that matters is obedience from the heart — and that can’t be gained through a system of threats and punishments. It requires a new heart.

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About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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19 Responses to The Holy Spirit: Romans 8:10-14

  1. Jim Haugland says:

    AMEN!

  2. Jay wrote:

    Rom 8:11

    (Rom 8:11 ESV) 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

    Paul now moves to the topic of hope — the fact that the Spirit is in us assures us that we will be resurrected. Those with the Spirit will be resurrected. Those without the Spirit will not be. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus! All with the Spirit are saved.

    This is an excellent analysis – if you understand the resurrection here to be the resurrection to newness of life, as in Romans 6.

    The immediate context is putting to death the works of the flesh that make us dead in trespasses and sins. The later part of Romans 8 does deal with resurrection and redemption of the body, but 8:11 seems (to me, anyway) to reflect our resurrection to the new kind of life by the Spirit.

    Your series continues to be stimulating and on target!

    Jerry

  3. Laymond says:

    "The thought is plainly that Christ dwells in our hearts via the Spirit’s work in us."

    I can't understand why so many insist that salvation is a one sided proposition, when it is so plainly stated in scripture that it is a contract.

    "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–" Whose faith are we talking about here, your faith in Jesus and his word.

    The claim of some is we are given no control over what happens to us, even sinners will be saved, because John said we are all sinners. I don't believe that is what 1 John said but, look at Rom. 6 and read carefully, Paul said sinners are doomed, even if they have been baptised into Jesus, unless they walk as Jesus did. Jesus said the same thing "unless you do the will of God" salvation is not a dip in the water, and a romp in sin. It is a life time commitment to obey and serve God. Oh yeah we do have a say in what happens. Jesus Christ dwells in us through our faith, in him and God's word. Rom. 6 (in my opinion) explained both parts of the contract and who is responsible for what.

  4. Hank says:

    Hi Jay,

    Is it at least possible, that the contrast in these verses describing the battle between the flesh and the spirit to be between the human flesh and human spirit? Like when Jesus said that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak? It has always seemed weird to me to understand this great battle between my flesh and the Holy Spirit — I mean, why would my flesh ever be able to beat the Holy Spirit in a battle of wills?

    Also, if a believer cannot please, obey, and/or follow God without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, how did God's children accomplish such before Pentecost.

    Finally, Jesus clearly informed his disciples that he (Jesus), was "in" them well before Pentecost. If Jesus is only "in" us today to the extent that the Holy Spirit dwells in us….in what sense was he "in" his disciples before they ever "had the Spirit"?

    Why can't Jesus be "in" us today (and we in him), in the very same sense that he was in them then? And why cannot the Father and the Spirit be in us in the very same sense?

    Thanks

  5. Mary says:

    I have been given the understanding that the Spirit dwelling in us is a separate event from salvation. But when I read Acts 2.38, it sounds like they may occur very close together. Reading the account of Cornelius and his household and friends, it seems to also be close together, but in a different sequence.

    I was taught that when I was saved I didn't receive any spirit. I was just washed clean and saved. I learned later that I could receive the Holy Spirit and so I asked for him. That night I received him in a dramatic way that I couldn't mistake for anything else. You said, "This is also a promise we have in the form of the indwelling Spirit — received, of course, when we were first saved."

    So I am wondering, it could be as you stated for some, but for those who don't know or aren't taught about the Spirit could it be that they have the opportunity to receive at a later date? I think this would go along with what Jesus said, "…how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Lk 11.13b

    I enjoy your articles, thank you for sharing!
    Blessings

  6. Jay Guin says:

    Jerry,

    Thanks. I take 8:11 to speak of the future resurrection because of the verb tense: "will also give life to your mortal bodies." He's writing to Christians and isn't speaking of things past (becoming saved) but things future (the resurrection).

  7. Jay Guin says:

    Hank asked,

    why would my flesh ever be able to beat the Holy Spirit in a battle of wills?

    Actually, the Bible is quite clear on this point.

    (Eph 4:30 NIV) 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

    Isa 63:10 But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them.

    (1Th 5:19 ESV) 19 Do not quench the Spirit.

    Act 7:51 "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.

    The Bible plainly says that we can resist the Spirit. God does not take away our free will.

    Regarding your other questions, yes, it's possible for the Bible to speak of a member of the Godhead being "in" us in some sense other than a personal indwelling. In fact, it happens. But one does not exclude the other. Rather, we decide what happens from what is revealed — in faith —

    (Eze 36:26-27 NIV) 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

    Notice that God declares here that he will put his Spirit "in you" and this will change our behavior through a direct operation on our hearts via the Spirit. Of course, the Jews already had God's laws, which they read and studied. Many memorized the entire Torah! God's point is that he himself would change their hearts. If all he meant was that he'd reveal his will and expect us to change ourselves, well, that's not really a change from the way things worked under the Law.

    Rom 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

    "Dwells" is a word with considerable signficance to a student of the Torah. Paul doesn't merely say the Spirit is "in" you — he says the Spirit dwells in you, that is, that the Spirit lives in you in the same way that God dwelled with the Israelites in the tabernacle and in the temple — and that wasn't about learning and apply the word. It was a special, divine action. This is strongly reinforced by Paul's statement that our body is a temple of the Spirit. Well, if you remember the dedication of Solomon's temple, God literally made a dwelling for himself in the Holy of Holies. It certainly wasn't via word.

    (Joh 7:38-39 ESV) 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

    The Spirit = Living Water is to flow out of our hearts, Jesus says, and the Spirit is to be "given" following the glorification of Jesus to all who believe. It's not that the word flows into our hearts, but that the Spirit will flow from within. And if he is referring to the word only, why wait on the Ascension? Jesus himself was standing there, preaching the good news of the kingdom already.

    Acts 2:38 is relevant here, as well, and many other verses, too. The outpouring of the Spirit was prophesied repeatedly in the OT and was fulfilled at Pentecost — except Peter exclaimed that the promised "gift of the Holy Spirit" applies to "(Act 2:39 ESV) your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." Therefore, the "gift of Spirit" wasn't ended at Pentecost or with the apostles. It continues even today. And the context is Peter's statement that the OT prophecies about the HS being poured out are being fulfilled.

    Now, if you disagree with me, download an epistle of Paul of an internet site such as Bible Gateway and replace each reference to "Spirit" and with "word." The substitution will work sometimes, but it will often be laughable. Here's one experiment with every reference to "Spirit" in Ephesians —

    (Eph 1:13-14 ESV) 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised [word], 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

    (Eph. 2:18 ESV) For through him we both have access in one [word] to the Father.

    (Eph. 2:22 ESV) In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the [word].

    (Eph. 3:5 ESV) which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the [word].

    (Eph. 3:16 ESV) that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his [word] in your inner being,

    (Eph. 4:3 ESV) eager to maintain the unity of the [word] in the bond of peace.

    (Eph. 4:4 ESV) There is one body and one [word]–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–

    (Eph. 4:30 ESV) And do not grieve the [word] of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

    (Eph. 5:18 ESV) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the [word],

    (Eph. 6:17 ESV) and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the [word], which is the word of God,

    (Eph. 6:18 ESV) praying at all times in the [word], with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

    You see, to take a word-only view, you have to very selectively pick the verses to apply that substitution to. You can't make the change uniformly. Rather, you start with your assumption (Spirit = word) and then make the replacement when you subjectively can make it work, working hard to minimize, if not eliminate, the work of the Spirit in the Christian.

    But that's not good exegesis at all. Indeed, it's plainly an effort to read one's assumptions into the text. Why would Paul sometimes refer to the word as the Spirit and then a few verses later refer to the Spirit as the Spirit?

    Or it would likely be more fair to replace "word" with "Spirit working exclusively through the word, with no direct operation at all, so that it's really only the word" — but that seems to me to be a fancy way to say "word."

    Forgive me if I'm being unfair to your point of view, but I've often seen the argument made that "Spirit" refers to the "word" because I can make a word substitution and it still makes sense. No, it doesn't — and the argument ignores the OT background as well as many NT passages.

    I don't know of a denomination that agrees with the Churches of Christ on this one. The indwelling has been taught by all Christians in nearly all denominations going back to the First Century. The 20th Century Churches are nearly unique in their desire to read the Spirit out of the Bible — and the result has been to make nonsense of many central passages and to destroy the heart of the doctrine of grace. The Spirit and grace fit hand in hand because God gives the Spirit to change us — as prophesied beginning in Deu 30:6. Take away the Spirit and you're left with a humanistic religion that credits all obedience and understanding to man — and that's a huge mistake.

  8. Jay Guin says:

    Mary,

    There's a difference between the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit. We receive the Spirit when saved. We receive gifts of the Spirit when God is pleased for us to have them, which may be much later.

    Luke 11:13 is a reference, I believe, to the Jews' constant prayers for the Spirit to be outpoured as promised in the prophets. He's not saying that each believer will not receive the Spirit until specifically asked for. Indeed, Paul says in Rom 8:9-11 that all who are saved have the Spirit.

  9. Hank says:

    Jay, you wrote, "forgive me if I'm being unfair to your point of view…" Okay, I forgive you, because that is precisely what you were being. You argued against all types of claims which I never made. I believe you simply assumed you knew what I believe and then proceeded to argue against such…whithout first verifying your assumptions.

    I am writing this from my phone again (which is a slow process for me), but I will try to defend myself when I get a chance from much of what you wrote.

    P.s., that was the first time you ever did that to me bro.

  10. Hank says:

    Hi Jay,

    First, I know that the Bible "plainly teaches we can resist the Holy Spirit" and that "God does not take away our free will." That is my point. Conversely, we can obey the HS without God doing anything to our free will just the same? Too, this concept is nothing new. Jay, you are the one arguing that we cannot really obey God fully unless the HS himself personally and directly "changes our hearts so that we can obey…" You also put it this way, "The Spirit circumcises our hearts, that is, changes our hearts so that we want to obey his will." Thereby, implying that before Pentecost, believers would not even want to "obey his will." For why would we require the HS in a special way today if and when they did not need as much before? I mean, what then is it that makes us want to obey to beome Christians in the 1st place? Is it not the same HS "working on our hearts" then? Seems to me that either 1) the OT faithfull were not able to want to please God and obey his will (since they did not have deity personally indwelling them and thereby changing their hearts) OR 2) the OT faithful were in fact just as able to want to please and obey God as we are today (even without having said personal indwelling). Do you see what I'm saying?

    My whole point is that God"s children are able to either obey or resist the HS today, in the same way as they were throughout the OT.

    I have more to add but allow me at least the following: In your response, to prove that we can "resist the HS," you cite Eph 4, Isa 63, 1 The 5, and Acts 7. But, according to your view, how could people in Isa and Acts 7 actually resist the HS when they didn't even have him to begin with? And, assuming they were actually able to obey rather than resist…how could they even want to if such requires the HS being personally in the first? Basically, why would we require something today in order to obey God that our brethren did not need to have back in the day? Do you believe that you and I are more able to fully obey God today than were, say, Joseph and Zebedee?

    Lastly, while I believe that Jesus (and all deity) are "in" me in precisely the same way that they were "in" the disciples when Jesus said that he was "in" them in Jn. 15…that does not automatically imply that I believe God works in me (strengthens, convicts, etc.) ONLY "through the word." I don't believe that, you were wrong to assume as much. Nor do I believe that we can rightly replace "the Holy Spirit" with '"the word" throughout the NT and come away with the same meaning. That was just silly man. I actually believe that God can operate directly upon me according to his will to either make me remember, cause me to forget, strike me dead in my tracks or whatever he so desires.

    I just don't think he must first get inside me personally to do so. After all, God is spirit.

  11. Jay Guin says:

    Hank,

    I'm working on an extensive reply. It should show up as a post in a couple of days.

  12. Mary says:

    According to what you said, either:
    1) I had the Spirit when I was saved at 15 yrs old. So what did I get 2.5 yrs ago when I asked for the Spirit?
    -or-
    2) I wasn't saved until I asked for the Spirit and received it 2.5 yrs ago, then I was saved.
    -or-
    3) I received something other than the Spirit 2.5 yrs ago. Maybe one or more of the gifts of the Spirit…

    Acts 8.15-17
    …who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
    Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

    We teach that one is saved at the point of immersion…this passage seems to indicate that the people had been converted to the point of being immersed in the name of Jesus (this is as far as I got at 15 yrs old) it doesn't say they weren't "saved". BUT they sent men to these ppl of Samaria to make sure they received the Holy Spirit.

    Is Rom 8.9 saying that these ppl in Acts 8 weren't saved until the ppl from Jerusalem came and laid hands on them and they received the Spirit? Does this mean that we should we be sure to send ppl out to verify that all who are "saved" have the Spirit?

    It seems that both the Spirit and the gifts that he "apportions to each one individually as he wills" (1 Cor 12) can come at a later time than "when saved". What does this do for what Paul said? Could there be a translation inconsistency? or something?

    I'm just trying to gather a clear understanding, it's not my intent to argue, but there seems to be more to it than, just "We receive the Spirit when saved."

    Thank you for your discussion.

  13. Jay Guin says:

    Mary,

    I think 3 is the most likely case.

    The epistles and Acts reveal two different patterns for receipt of the Spirit. According to the epistles, all with the Spirit are saved and only those with the Spirit are saved. The Spirit is received when someone is saved and lost when they fall away. But Acts has a number of accounts where that pattern is broken.

    The correct analysis, I think, is to treat the epistles as normative but recognize that God is not bound by his own norms. He can make exceptions when it suits him to do so, and Acts has a number of exceptional cases.

    The apostles received the Spirit at Pentecost although they had had faith long before and there's no recorded baptism of them. Cornelius received the Spirit before baptism. The Samaritans received the Spirit after baptism.

    But each of these exceptional cases drives the narrative of Acts — showing God working through the Spirit to spread the gospel throughout the world.

    1 Cor 12 discusses gifts of the Spirit, such as tongues as prophecies, and explains that the Spirit gives gifts as he pleases. There's no uniform rule as to how someone obtains a particular gift. Indeed, the passage is clear that not everyone gets the same gifts. But we all receive the Spirit.

  14. Mary says:

    Again, not trying to argue, but discuss:

    The fact that you see two patterns and "exceptions" tells me that maybe we don't quite have a proper grasp or understanding yet.

    As for the apostles receiving the Spirit at Pentecost, it appears that Jesus gave the disciples the HS, before Acts 2 (see verse after this para), and some of them were filled with the HS again in Acts 4.31. Maybe Christians can be "filled" more than once.

    Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."
    And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
    John 20.21-22

    This next passage seems to be saying Jesus sent out his Apostles with power. Wouldn't the power come from the HS? (Lk 4.14)

    And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.
    Luke 9.1-2

    And in Mat 10 Jesus sent out disciples in pairs to: heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons. Would they be able to do this without the Spirit? He said they received without paying, and to give without pay. What did they receive? Could it have been the HS?

    When I endeavor to understand a Biblical truth, I look for the understanding that doesn't leave any "holes" or inconsistencies. I cannot accept that God can be inconsistent if he wants in Acts, but we have to live by the epistles. If it appears that God has "exceptional cases", maybe we just don't have a clear understanding yet. After all, Acts is the history of what was actually happening as most of the epistles were being written.

    Maybe the apostles were baptized here, Luk 3:21.

  15. JMF says:

    Mary:

    You are 17.5 yrs old?

    You must wreak utter and absolute havoc in your Bible Bowl competitions! :)

  16. Jay Guin says:

    Mary,

    I agree that the apostles didn't necessarily receive the Spirit at Pentecost. But there's no evidence at all that they received the Spirit when they were baptized.

    Luke 3:21 is not the baptism of the apostles —

    (Luk 3:15-22 ESV) 15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, "I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." 18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. … 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

    There's no reason to suppose that all 12 apostles plus Matthias were present at this event. The text certainly doesn't record that — and it's hard imagine why Luke would have omitted that information had it been true. And even if they'd all been baptized, they would have been baptized by John, and not with the Holy Spirit. We know from Eph 19 that John's baptism was inadequate to save. John himself says that his baptism is not yet the baptism of the Spirit that the Messiah would bring in that very passage.

    I appreciate your desire to avoid exceptions, but I urge you to reflect on the nature of the Spirit and his work.

    (Joh 3:8 ESV) 8 "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

    (1Co 12:4-11 ESV) 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

    There's a very natural inclination to reduce the work of God through the Spirit to rules and to force the Spirit to behave predictably — but we've been told that this is not the Spirit's nature. The Spirit is a person, not a law of nature. He doesn't reduce to a nice systematic theology.

    On the other hand, we must also accept that which is taught as true —

    (Rom 8:9-11 ESV) 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

    This passage pretty clearly says that those with the Spirit are saved and only the saved have the Spirit. Just so, even Ezekiel describes receipt of the Spirit as the saving event —

    (Eze 37:14 ESV) 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD."

    Read the whole chapter. It speaks of dead bones being made alive again by the Spirit.

    And consider —

    (Gal 3:2-3 ESV) 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

    Paul plainly says that the Spirit is received when we begin as Christians from the "hearing with faith." It's not a subsequent event.

    (1Jo 3:24 ESV) 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

    (1Jo 4:13 ESV) 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

    John teaches that we can know that God abides in us "by the Spirit whom he has given us." He assumes that every single Christian has received the gift of the Spirit.

    Therefore I find the OT prophecies (see more in tomorrow's post) and the epistles very clear that all Christians have the Spirit but that we have differing gifts of the Spirit.

    It's also clear that the "filling" of the Spirit is not the same as the initial receipt of the Spirit at baptism.

    (Eph 5:18-21 ESV) 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

    Paul was writing to Christians. He wasn't telling them to be converted. He was telling them to submit to a greater influence of the Spirit in their lives. See also —

    (Act 13:52 ESV) 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

    So there's the indwelling, prophesied of old and spoken of throughout the New Testament, which all Christians have and which should be visible in and to the Christian. And there are gifts that the Spirit gives, not necessarily at baptism. Indeed, a gift may well not be received or evident until many years later. And then there is the "filling" by the Spirit which seems to be about experiencing joy and deeper Christian living.

    It would seem, therefore, that the Spirit is always received at the moment of salvation. Paul and John sure think so. But there are also plenty of verses teaching that salvation (and the Spirit) are received at baptism. But the reality is that not all the conversion accounts in Acts fit that pattern. Cornelius received the Spirit before baptism. The Samaritans after. The apostles without. But none of these are a great problem with regard to the Spirit. It may well be that God delayed the salvation of the Samaritans until the apostles laid hands on them.

    Bruner's A Theology of the Holy Spirit is the book to buy. Without being dogmatic, he suggests that the Spirit was following the plot of Acts —

    (Act 1:8 ESV) 8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

    Notice the parallel. God used extraordinary workings (or non-workings) of the Spirit to push the gospel, first, to the Jews at Pentecost, second, to the Samaritans, and third, to the Gentiles. You see, the apostles didn't bother going to Samaria. Rather, it was someone else. But God forced the apostles to make the trip and endorse the work by withholding the Spirit until they did.

    Just so, Peter was very reluctant to accept Gentiles into the church until God forced his hand through the giving of the Spirit.

    God used different means, but all for the same purpose: to extend the gospel to the entire world. And that's the story of Acts. (Some have suggested that "Acts of the Apostles" would be better titled "Acts of the Spirit.")

    Now, while I think this interpretation makes a lot of sense, I don't think it's a rule or a limitation on God. As I argued a few weeks ago, I think Apollos was saved by the work of the Spirit and faith in Jesus in Acts 18 without water baptism into Jesus, and this one doesn't fit the Bruner theory. But that's ok. God can do as he pleases. He is not a rulebook.

    God will always, always, always keep his promises, but God is never limited to just his promises.

  17. Jay Guin says:

    Laymond,

    I think tomorrow's post (written to Hank) will respond to your points. If not, let me know.

  18. Laymond says:

    Hbr 1:1 ¶ God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
    Hbr 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
    Hbr 1:3 Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

    Jhn 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
    Jhn 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed;
    Jhn 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

    Rev 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

    Yes, I know the scripture where Jesus promises to send a comforter to his apostles to help in his work, but I don’t recall where he said it was free to all who asked.
    I believe the reason for his mission was to inform the apostles, and bring to remembrance what Jesus had said, in other words “God’s words”
    When someone shows me a CoC congregation that has the power to, heal the sick, raise the dead, and forgive sins, or even claim to do so. Then I will be forced to eat my “words”

  19. Mary says:

    JAY,
    I agree with most of what you said, especially with, "God will always, always, always keep his promises, but God is never limited to just his promises."

    I have enjoyed the discussion, thank you! :)

    LAYMOND,
    LOL!!! Thanks for the good laugh! I am actually 41 yrs old. :D

    You later said, "Yes, I know the scripture where Jesus promises to send a comforter to his apostles to help in his work, but I don’t recall where he said it was free to all who asked."

    I believe that's what Jesus was saying in this verse:
    If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit *to those who ask him*!"
    Luke 11.13

    Also,
    "'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy."
    Acts 2.17-18

    We are still living in the "Last Days".

    Just some of my thoughts, hope this helps!
    (Jay, I hope it is ok for me to give my thoughts on Laymond's post. I'm not real clear on the etiquette, sorry.)

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