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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On Sojourners, Walls, and Illegal Aliens, Part 3 (What’s a Sojourner?)

walls-of-jerusalemThe Torah contains many commands regarding sojourners, treating them as a vulnerable class that God especially is concerned to protect. For example,

(Exod. 22:21-24 ESV) 21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.  22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.  23 If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry,  24 and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.”

(Lev. 19:33-34 ESV)  33 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

These are very typical passages, reminding the Israelites that they were once sojourners in Egypt and so they should treat sojourners among them fairly. God is concerned with widows, the fatherless, and sojourners because they lack the ability to protect themselves. They do not own land and so cannot support themselves except through trade and labor — requiring that they be treated fairly by others.

The city elders won’t be selected from among their people. Their families and clans don’t have the same standing as citizens.

A sojourner, therefore, is a resident alien, someone who is not a Jew living among the Jews. He may be a traveler passing through or perhaps he lives in Israel permanently based on a treaty, as in the case of the Gibeonites. He may be a tradesman who finds a better competitive environment in Israel than in his home country. Perhaps he has a better way of forging iron tools than the Israelites, or perhaps he wants to be near the trade routes that pass through Israel. Maybe his business depends on stone, clay, crops, or artisans found only in Israel. Maybe he’s a stonemason and there are no construction projects in his homeland.  Continue reading

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On Sojourners, Walls, and Illegal Aliens, Part 2 (Nehemiah Rebuilds the Wall)

walls-of-jerusalemThe OT book of Nehemiah is remarkably readable — and I’ve just read it. It recounts the story of Nehemiah, cup bearer to the king of Persia.

After the Southern Kingdom (Judah) was taken into Babylonian Captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, the Persians defeated the Babylonians and annexed their territories into the Medo-Persian Empire. Hence, the ruins of Jerusalem became Persian territory, as did the surrounding nations.

Nehemiah and Ezra were officials in the Persian king’s court, and they were contemporaries, each involved in the return of some of the Jews — a minority — back to Jerusalem and the re-establishment of Jerusalem as a city and the rebuilding of the Temple.

Nehemiah was specifically charged by the Persian king with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem — a hugely significant decision. Continue reading

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On Sojourners, Walls, and Illegal Aliens, Part 1 (The Walls of Jerusalem)

walls-of-jerusalemI have to start with a confession. I have trouble staying awake when the preacher starts a sermon bringing up Nehemiah and building walls. I do.

It’s just that I’ve heard it so many times before. It’s as though preachers think we never listen.

I mean, I can imagine the preacher thinking in his study, “No one ever studies Nehemiah. So let’s do a 30-part series on Nehemiah. And the best part of Nehemiah is the part about building the walls of Jerusalem. We can talk about teamwork, leadership, and all sorts of things that all start with the same letter …”

Heard it. Tired of it. And so I’m not going to do that. This might be boring for entirely different reasons, but it won’t be because it’s been preached 500,000 times.

You see, Pope Francis recently said,

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

Well, someone said something that reminded me of all those Nehemiah-building-the-walls sermons. Why is it okay — preachable, even — for Nehemiah and the Jews to build walls and not okay for the US to build walls? Continue reading

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