"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
Some do not believe in the Holy Spirit of the Bible. They believe the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force without personality and will. For example, consider the false doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses:
“What, though, is the holy spirit? It is not a person like God. Rather, it is God’s active force.—Psalm 104:30.” (“What Does God Require of Us?”, Lesson 2, #3)
“So the holy spirit is the invisible active force of Almighty God which moves his servants to do his will.” (Let God Be True, p. 108)
“As for the “Holy Spirit,” the so-called “third Person of the Trinity,” we have already seen that it is, not a person, but God’s active force. (Judges 14:6) John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize with holy spirit even as John had been baptizing with water. Water is not a person nor is holy spirit a person. (Matthew 3:11)” (The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, 24)
“Person” is defined as “a being characterized by conscious apprehension, rationality and moral sense” (Webster). The Holy Spirit is not an “it” but a “he” – one of the divine persons of the Godhead.
The Holy Spirit possesses attributes of “conscious apprehension, rationality and moral sense.” He is a divine person, not an impersonal force: He speaks (Acts 1:16); He teaches (Jno. 14:26); He knows (1 Cor. 2:11); He wills (1 Cor. 12:11); He loves (Rom. 15:30); He grieves (Eph. 4:30).
The word “Trinity” is not in the Bible, but “Godhead” is (Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:20, kjv). The Holy Sprit is part of the Godhead, fully possessing the attributes of deity (God, the Divine Nature), including these: He is eternal, not created (Heb. 9:14); He is omnipresent (Psa. 139:7-12); He is omnipotent (Micah 3:8); He is omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10-12).
The Holy Spirit does the work of deity, including the following: He participated in creation (Gen. 1:1-2; Psa. 104:30); He participated in the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus (Lk. 1:34-35); He is instrumental in the new birth (regenerating the soul) (Jno. 3:5; Tit. 3:5).
Jesus said of the Holy Spirit: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (Jno. 14:26). For Bible believers, this is sufficient to settle the matter.
Last week we wrote of some sources of encouragement (The Spirit’s Sword, April 30, 2006). We continue now with a look at the tools of encouragement.
Encouragement is an important part of the Christian’s life. We each need it. It is a call to bravery and valor to do right things – the things that honor God and benefit man. We need the blessings of encouragement in our lives; its strength, its renewal, its reassurance.
God has given us the tools we need to effectively encourage each other, to “stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). The word of God is a powerful tool of encouragement that builds us up and fortifies the faithful (Acts 20:32). Our principal tool for encouragement is the word of God. Barnabas’ work of encouragement in Antioch among the new converts and the lost was fundamentally that of teaching the gospel of Christ (Acts 11:23-24, 26). It is in “the word of His grace” that great strength and encouragement is found. Every good and honest heart seeking to be upright before God will “hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Lk. 8:15, asv). We must not ignore the power of God’s word to encourage, to comfort and to save (Rom. 1:16; Col. 1:9-11). It is our fundamental tool to exhort and encourage godly living (see Titus 2:11-12).
Another tool we use in the work of encouragement is love. Spiritual growth occurs when we speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:14-16). When truth is spoken with vindictiveness, resentment or impatience it will rarely encourage and strengthen. Such uses of truth hinder its effectiveness. We must stay focused on the spiritual interests of the person we are trying to encourage. Remember, encouragement is not offered so we can feel good about it (although we will). We do not encourage another so we will look good in the eyes of others. The purpose of encouragement is to “stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). When love is not why we encourage one another we “become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1).
Another tool of effective encouragement is patience. The persistent, tireless effort of continual encouragement cannot be overestimated in bringing about the desired result (1 Ths. 5:14). The patience of which we speak means “to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart.” Do not give up too early when encouraging one another. For instance, Barnabas (the son of encouragement, Acts 4:36) spent over a year in Antioch effectively encouraging others (Acts 11:22-26). There is a vast difference between patient and persistent encouragement and the “spiritual browbeating” that sometimes masquerades as exhortation. The first shows love tempered with longsuffering; the second exalts self at the expense of its victim. We will not be easily diverted from our task when the spiritual strengthening of others is our goal. To “comfort the fainthearted” we must “be patient with all” (1 Ths. 5:14). God’s patience with us shows us the way (Rom. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).
Each of us need encouragement to fulfill our daily duties toward God and our brethren (1 Ths. 2:11-12; 5:11, 14; Acts 11:23). The tools of encouragement are in our hand; God’s word, love and patience. How are we using them?
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Rev. 5:8-12
When I survey the wondrous cross, I see…
I. THE SIN OF MAN (myself).
Shameful Cruelty toward Jesus, Matt. 27:22-26; Acts 10:38-39 (Acts 3:14-15;
II. THE LOVE OF GOD, Rom. 5:6-8.
God’s Love for the Lost (Jno. 3:14-17); Lk. 23:34, 43; Jno. 19:30 (1 Pet.
2:24; Eph. 1:7; 2:16; 2 Cor. 5:19; Col. 1:20-23; 1 Jno. 2:2; Heb. 2:9.
III. THE MEANING OF HUMBLE OBEDIENCE, Phil. 2:5-8.
A. Jesus Humiliated by Men when He Humbled Himself, cf. Isa. 53:7-8 (1 Pet. 2:18-23; 3:13, 16-17.
IV. THE MEANING OF WILLING SACRIFICE, Jno. 10:17-18; 1 Pet. 3:18.
A. Sacrifice Requires a Commitment that Values Someone/Something Greater than Oneself, cf. Lk. 9:21-26 (Eph. 5:1-2, 5:25, 28-29).
V. THE ONLY REAL HOPE FOR THE WORLD.
A. In God’s Hands there is Hope, Lk. 23:46; Psa. 31:3-5; Jno. 10:27-29; 1 Ths. 4:14, 18.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 34:23-31
-The Lord is my Shepherd: Relationship! Jno. 10:1-14, 27-29
-I shall not want: Supply! Eph. 1:3; Phil. 4:19
-He makes me to lie down in green pastures: Rest! Ezek. 34:11-16, 23-25; Matt. 11:28-30
-He leads me beside the still waters: Refreshment! Jno. 4:10-14 (Isa. 12:3; 55:1-2); 7:37-38; Rev. 21:6 (22:1, 17)
-He restores my soul: Healing! Lk. 15:17-18, 20; 22:32 (Acts 3:19; 26:18)
-He leads me in the paths of righteousness: Guidance! Jno. 10:3-4; 6:68; Psa. 119:105
-For His name’s sake: Purpose! Eph. 2:10
-Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death: Testing! Jas. 1:2-3
-I will fear no evil: Protection! 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Pet. 5:8-10 (Psa. 27:1-3; Isa. 41:8-10)
-For You are with me: Faithfulness! Heb.13:5-6
-Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me: Discipline! (Mic. 7:14),Heb. 12:6, 10-11
-You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: Hope! 1 Jno. 4:4; Rom. 5:4-5
-You anoint my head with oil: Consecration! 1 Cor. 1:2; cf. Jno. 17:17
-My cup runs over: Abundance! Eph. 3:20
-Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: Blessing! Matt. 6:31-34
-And I will dwell in the house of the Lord: Security! Gal. 4:5-7; Heb. 3:6.
-Forever: Eternity! Matt. 25:32-40, 46
Curfew on Dogs
The small Norwegian town of Fjell will vote on a dog curfew next week. “Barking dogs have to be indoors 10 p.m. at the latest every weekday,” said city official Erik Schult. “It is the notorious yelping dogs that we are aiming at, those that stay out and bark through the night,” he said. (“Norwegian Town Plans Curfew for Dogs,” The Bellingham Herald, May 5, 2006)
The word of God talks about similar “dogs” of the two-legged variety. David wrote, “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me, deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men…For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips, let them even be taken in their pride, and for the cursing and lying which they speak…And at evening they return, they growl (howl, asv) like a dog, and go all around the city. They wander up and down for food, and howl if they are not satisfied” (Psa. 59:1, 12, 14-15). David would trust in the power of God to punish these “workers of iniquity” (dogs) who disquieted the people of God.
Jesus warned of the danger of giving holy things to dogs (again, the two-legged variety) in Matthew 7:6. The Holy Spirit said to “beware of the dogs,” a reference to the judaizing teachers who attempted to bind upon Gentiles the works of the law as essential for salvation (Phil. 3:2). Those who bind where the Lord has not bound are howling dogs that disturb the people of God with their biting and devouring until they have fully gorged themselves (Gal. 5:7-15).
At the same time, God expects some “dogs” to bark. Isaiah pronounced God’s displeasure and punishment on the watchmen of Israel who were “dumb (silent) dogs” who didn’t bark a warning to Israel. These “greedy dogs” roam the streets preying on the souls of men (Isa. 56:9-12).
Christians are also warned not to return to sin like dogs return to eat vomit (Prov. 26:11; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
Good luck to Fjell on their dog curfew. Faithful Christians can rest well each night knowing that no disturbing “dogs” will enter the eternal city (Rev. 22:14-15).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA