From the Comments: Is direct operation of the Spirit essential? Part 2

HolySpirit7As is so often the case, the OT sheds light on the NT.

As we covered in a series of posts last year called “The Salvation of the Jews,” we concluded that the Jews, just like the Christians, are saved by the terms of God’s covenant with Abraham. They were saved by faith just as we’re saved by faith. (I’m not going to repeat the argument here in the comments.)

But in the OT, the Spirit was only given to prophets, judges, kings, and a few artisans. Most people did not receive the Spirit. Was the Spirit essential to the Jews’ salvation? Well … what’s the story?

Ten tribes were taken into Assyrian captivity, disappearing from history. They didn’t do so well without the Spirit. They had the letter, which Paul says kills. And they died.

The Southern Kingdom, Judah and Benjamin, became so idolatrous that God had Nebuchadnezzar tear Jerusalem down to bedrock, destroying the Temple Solomon built and that God dwelled in. God’s own house was destroyed. Countless Jews died horribly. The Jews went into Babylonian captivity, and most never returned.

About 500 years later, the Temple was again destroyed by Rome, this time not to be rebuilt. Shortly afterwards, the Romans banned the Jews from Jerusalem — and this was all a result of their lack of faith.

So how was life for the Jews without the personal indwelling? Some made it to heaven. Most did not. And most of the nation rejected their Messiah and were damned for their error.

So how has the church done with the Spirit? Well, we’ve made just all kinds of mistakes. It’s not always been pretty. But a community that began with 120 disciples is now 2.4 billion strong — and includes 1/3 of the world’s population. Not ideal, not at all. But a whole lot better.

So is the Spirit essential if you already have the word? Well, some Jews made it to heaven with faith and no personal indwelling. But most did not. (I can argue the NT theology either way, and really just don’t care if the Spirit is essential. We have the Spirit, and so the question is moot.)

Is the Spirit’s personal indwelling helpful? Has the Spirit served God well as a Paraclete? God’s faith community, rather than shrinking from an entire nation down to 3,120 at Pentecost or 7,000 in Elijah’s day, turned into 1/3 of the entire world — and is the fastest growing religion on the planet today. The evidence is in.

Yes, we do better when we have both the word and the Spirit. The letter (the word without the Spirit) kills. It’s not either-or. It’s both-and.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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5 Responses to From the Comments: Is direct operation of the Spirit essential? Part 2

  1. Hank says:

    Jay, I have some questions regarding this article:

    1) You say that “most” of God’s people (the Jews), in the OT, died unsaved. Which, may very well be true. But, you imply that all of God’s people today (Christians) die saved. Is that what you believe? Of the 1/3 of the world’s population that claims to be Christian. What percentage of them will be lost? Any?

    2) What about NON Jews? What percentage of Gentiles were faithful unto their own law, before there was one? During the times of ignorance, which God overlooked?

    3) Of he “prophets, judges, kings, and a few artisans” who received the Spirit, do you believe they were all saved, because they “had the Spirit”. Or, was it possible for anybody who had him, to be lost?

    4) Regarding the vast majority of the OT world who were without the Spirit (specifically the Jews), do you believe that without him and his help, they were unable to love, trust, and obey God as much as we are able, today? IOW, was it possible for people prior to Pentecost, to actually love God with all of their heart, and their neighbors, as themselves?

    5) Similar to #4, what does the Spirit help us do, that we wouldn’t do, without him? Do you believe that as soon as a believer is baptized, he or she has help to love God and their neighbors more than they were able to, the day before?

    Do those questions make sense? And are they germane to the discussion?


  2. Hank says:

    Jay, I commented once, but my phone was tripping. Allow my to try again, but apologize if this is a duplicate!

    I had some questions:

    1) Do you believe that although “most” of God’s people (Jews) in the OT were lost, but that all of God’s people (Christians) today, are saved?

    2) Og the “prophets, judges, kings, and a few artisans” who received the Spirit, were all of them saved? Or, was it possible for someone “with the Spirit”, to be lost?

    3) Were the people told by Jesus to love God with all of their heart, and their neighbors as themselves, actually able to really do that? Before Pentecost and without the Spirit’s help?

    4) What do you believe that Christians today are able to do better, more, or easier (in terms of being faithful), that the OT children of God could not?

    5) Could the people of God produce the fruit of the Spirit, before Pentecost? As in the actual, bona fide fruit of the Spirit? Just like you and I can, today? Can unbaptized children produce the fruit of the Spirit? Can they live and obey God as much as a baptized sinner can? Or no?

    Do those questions make sense? And, are they germane?

  3. hank says:

    Also, regarding the percentage of the world’s population that are Christians, how exactly do you believe the Spirit makes sinners into Christians, when not a single sinner “has” the Spirit? I mean, I don’t think that that argument really works. Because “having the Spirit” doesn’t help the lost become Christians, since the lost never “get” he Spirit, until they are saved.

    Therefore, the number of Christians today, isn’t produced by them “having the Spirit”.

  4. hank says:

    It would be more like whenever the Spirit sees a sinner become a Christian, he says “Oh, another lost person just turned to God and got saved, now I’ll move into him to help him obey even more”.

  5. hank says:

    No comment, at all?

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