The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in Christ

While the Holy Spirit has an incredible ministry directly to believers, that is certainly not His only role. Before the Spirit’s present ministry in the church, He also interacted with Christ in several profound ways. As we understand the relationship of Christ and the Spirit, and their relationship to the Father, we can be encouraged and strengthened, knowing that we also have a relationship with all Three, and that they are doing amazing things so that we can have life (Eph 1:3-14), and walk with Him (Jn 17:3).

His Purpose in Christ

The Holy Spirit bore witness to the fact that Christ was sent from the Father, and by so doing provided a testimony to Israel that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Note the fourfold witness identified in John’s gospel: (1) John (Jn 5:33-35) was the forerunner prophesied by the Holy Spirit (Mal 3:1; Lk. 1:67-79), (2) Jesus’ works (Jn 5:36), many of which were accomplished in the power of the Holy Spirit, (3) the Father (Jn 5:37-38)—through His word, which is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17), and finally, (4) the Scriptures (Jn 5:39-47), which are the words and testimony of the Spirit (Is 59:21; Zech 4:6; Acts 21:11; 1 Tim 4:1; Heb 3:7; 9:8; 10:15; Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). His words were provided by method of inspiration—or God breathing (2 Tim 3:16), as He moved men to speak His word (2 Pet 1:20-21). Read more about The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in Christ

Why the Arguments in Support of Planned Parenthood Fail

Used with permission from Theologically Driven.

Choosing Hats (an apologetics site) has a lengthy article pointing out the fallacies of four common arguments given in support of Planned Parenthood and some suggestions for how you can push back against these arguments. I thought I’d provide a brief summary of the responses given there (with a few additional thoughts sprinkled in) to give you a sense of what is being said, but would encourage you to take some time to familiarize yourself with the arguments and responses more fully as well.

It’s a Hoax

Calling it a “hoax” or “bogus” or “fraudulent” implies that the videos are forgeries. But not even Planned Parenthood has treated the videos as if they were not real people saying those things—as if it were the result of CGI. Rather, they have challenged the videos on the accusation that they were obtained illegally—which would be absurd if they were not real. They are not a “hoax.” But calling it a “hoax” is meant to intentionally mislead people into thinking the videos are not real, even when they know they are. Read more about Why the Arguments in Support of Planned Parenthood Fail

The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear (Part 3)

This post continues a lecture from C.H. Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students (read the series so far).

Avoid with your whole soul that spirit of suspicion which sours some men’s lives, and

to all things from which you might harshly draw an unkind inference turn a blind eye and a deaf ear.

Suspicion makes a man a torment to himself and a spy towards others. Once begin to suspect, and causes for distrust will multiply around you, and your very suspiciousness will create the major part of them. Many a friend has been transformed into an enemy by being suspected. Do not, therefore, look about you with the eyes of mistrust, nor listen as an eaves-dropper with the quick ear of fear. To go about the congregation ferreting out disaffection, like a gamekeeper after rabbits, is a mean employment, and is generally rewarded most sorrowfully. Read more about The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear (Part 3)

Hosea: The Prophet and the Prostitute (Part 2)

God’s Relentless Love

Early in my ministry I conducted a marriage vow renewal ceremony for nine elderly couples. Several of the couples were married more than sixty years. Some of the couples couldn’t hold hands any more. One of the couples, the man couldn’t say “I do,” but everyone in that room said it for him. In one case, the husband had had a stroke, and the wife was still very mobile and attractive, but she did not forsake him. What a joy to see that! It’s rare in our country.

Marriage is a picture of God’s love for His church. Christ will never leave His bride. God’s love is relentless. That’s what we are going to find out in the book of Hosea. Read more about Hosea: The Prophet and the Prostitute (Part 2)

Clarifying Terms in Catholic Evangelism (Part 2)

Adapted from VOICE, July/Aug 2015. Used with permission. Read Part 1.

Born Again

If you asked a Roman Catholic per­son if he is “born again,” he might reply, “Yes of course.” But he may mean “I was born again when baptized as an infant.” Support for this as the official Roman Catholic view comes from The Catechism.

The seven sacraments of the Church Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist [The Mass], Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony are “all instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Paragraph 1114). “The ordained priest­hood [ordained by the Roman Catholic Church] guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church” (Paragraph 1120). The sacraments are necessary for salvation (Paragraph 1129). They act ex opere operato—literally, “by the very fact of the actions being performed” (Paragraph 1128). This means independent of any faith on the part of the recipient. And they are efficacious because in them Christ Himself is at work: it is He who baptizes (Paragraph 1128). Furthermore, Read more about Clarifying Terms in Catholic Evangelism (Part 2)

Clarifying Terms in Catholic Evangelism (Part 1)

Adapted from VOICE, July/Aug 2015. Used with permission.

During recent years I have been able to present a seminar in several churches aimed at helping them more effective­ly and lovingly evangelize lost Roman Catholic people. When I receive feedback from the partici­pants, one of the most helpful parts of the seminar seems to be the comparison of terms that are differently understood by most Roman Catholic and evangelicals.

Often evangelicals will conclude that a particular Roman Catholic person is saved because of the use of certain terms. They may say, “Yes I was born again,” or “Yes, I have received Christ,” or “Yes, I believe I am going to heaven based on faith.” However, in many cases their Catholic friend actually means something different than our Bible-based understanding.

The differences in meaning are real and determinative when one attempts to commu­nicate the biblical grace gospel. God gave us the Holy Scriptures as a written revelation of “words,” words with intended meaning, and meaning with intention of being understood. Read more about Clarifying Terms in Catholic Evangelism (Part 1)

The Role of the Holy Spirit in Interpretation

The theological term most commonly used by theologians to express the role of the Holy Spirit in biblical understanding is illumination. While the term isn’t directly used of the Holy Spirit, the concept is present, for example in John 1:5 and 1:9, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it… the true Light which coming into the world, enlightens every man.” In this context Jesus is the Light, and His enlightening or illumining work is accomplished with everyone.

But if Christ illumines everyone, to what extent does the Holy Spirit illumine? Does the Bible even teach that the Holy Spirit illumines, or is illumination by the Holy Spirit a theological rather than exegetical concept?

Three views

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An Examination of David Bently Hart's "The Experience of God" (Part 2)

Image of The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss
by David Bentley Hart
Yale University Press 2014
Paperback 376

God is not, in any of the great theistic traditions, merely some rational agent, external to the order of the physical universe, who imposes some kind of design upon an otherwise inert and mindless material order. He is not some discrete being somewhere out there, floating in the great beyond, who fashions nature in accordance with rational laws upon which he is dependent. (234-235)

Notice that Hart has in mind the general consensus among theistic religions about God, not just the Christian God. I’ll comment a little on that below. Howbeit, the god who temporarily steps in at points in history to fill the void in our understanding of the world (the god of the gaps) is great to throw in the barrel and shoot at, but, then again, such a deity was dead before he/it got into the barrel anyway. As long as non-theists direct their logic against this immanent god, they miss the mark badly. As both Thomist and Van Tillian schools would agree, God is the eternally existing Fount of the laws of physics, of thought, and of morality. To proceed with the quotation:  

Rather, he is himself the logical order of all reality, the ground both of the subjective rationality of mind and the objective rationality of being, the transcendent and indwelling Reason or Wisdom by which mind and matter are both informed and in which they participate. (234-235)

Read more about An Examination of David Bently Hart's "The Experience of God" (Part 2)