Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

Apostles’ Creed: The Holy Spirit

September 22, 2014

Have we forgotten the Holy Spirit? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

For the past year or so, my wife and I have been attending a Lutheran church, which is what led to my writing this series on the Apostles’ Creed, since in our church, we regularly quote the creed. I think this is an excellent idea since it gets us in touch with what it is that we really believe. The creeds do happen to be an important part of Christian life both from a doctrinal perspective and a historical one.

We’ve already covered earlier what it means to believe so there’s no need to repeat that again, so let’s just look at what it is that we are supposed to believe this time and as it turns out, Christians are supposed to believe in the Holy Spirit.

One reason I mentioned I attend a Lutheran church at the start is too often, we seem to have this idea that the Holy Spirit is for charismatics, or if we make an emphasis on the Holy Spirit, someone might think we are charismatic. Now I don’t agree with my charismatic brothers and sisters on many issues, though I do think that aside from groups like the Oneness Pentecostal Church that denies the Trinity, that charismatics are indeed Christians.

If there is a great service the charismatic church has done us, it’s to remind us to not forget about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often seen as the silent person of the Trinity. He’s the one that is talked about the least. He’s a difficult figure to conceptualize. It doesn’t help that many times we have heard the term “Holy Ghost” which makes us think of something that is dead or something that we would expect the Ghostbusters to deal with.

Of course, when we think of a person today, we tend to think of someone with a body, but this is not so in the Biblical world. It really refers to a center of consciousness where a person possesses a mind and a will. Some of you might want to include emotions, but I don’t think God really has emotions. That’s another problem of ours. We think of attitudes as emotions when instead for bodied creatures, they just result in emotions.

If we see a person as someone with a mind and will, then the Holy Spirit qualifies, contrary to what Jehovah’s Witnesses think. In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit is said to think. The Holy Spirit is said to be something that knows in Romans 8. (Btw KJV-onlyists. Consider for a moment that in Romans 8:26-27 we read about the Holy Spirit itself.) The Holy Spirit is said to be a comforter in John 14. I could go on and on.

Simply put, belief in the Holy Spirit is essential to being an orthodox Christian. Now that can come about in many ways. Some readers might be people that get very excited in church services and want to raise their hands. That’s okay. Some people like myself are more mild-mannered. In fact, if anything gets us excited a lot of times, it’s reading a good argument for Christianity or some philosophical or historical insight into theology or the Scriptures. That’s also okay. This body has many parts.

I say this also because the Holy Spirit can too often be used as a trump card. Many Christians pride themselves on being “spiritual.” These are Christians who put an undue emphasis on spiritual gifts (usually tongues) and think they know what the Holy Spirit is saying in every circumstance. This can cause difficulties for maturing Christians who don’t have a firm knowledge of the Holy Spirit yet and think that there’s something wrong with them.

All that is from the Holy Spirit is good, but what is said to be spiritual is not necessarily from the Holy Spirit. Always be cautious of people who claim to tell you what the Holy Spirit is saying. (The exception of course is Scripture itself) When we think something is good because it is spiritual, we leave ourselves open to many false and dangerous beliefs and these are usually based on our emotions and experiences and giving them more authority than Scripture. Too often we interpret Scripture in light of our emotions and experiences instead of interpreting our emotions and experiences in light of Scripture.

The bottom line is that the Holy Spirit is not just an add-on and He doesn’t just belong to the charismatics. Trust in the Holy Spirit and His sanctifying power should be an important part of every Christian’s life. Make sure you’re obedient to the proper leading of the Holy Spirit today, which is not for personal decisions about non-moral issues, but about leading you into righteousness.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Gentlemen. We Are At War.

July 8, 2014

Is there a battle to win and a cost if we don’t fight? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Readers of this blog probably know by now that I quite like the church that Allie and I have found. I get a sermon that is intellectually satisfying while touching the heart as well. I wish I could say that this was the norm when it came to churches, but alas, I cannot. Too many churches have the congregations just getting some pablum so they can go home and at the end of the day feel good about themselves.

Christians. Take a look at the culture around you. Does it look like we’re really making an impact? Does it look like the church is being salt and light in this world?

If not, then why should we go to church and feel good about ourselves? If we are not obeying the Great Commmission, then we should be looking at ourselves with shame.

I have in fact reached the point where I want to go up to pastors and say to them “Please tell me why I should believe that Jesus rose from the dead.” There are two answers that are unacceptable for this one. Now there could be variants on how these answers are said but the answers are still the same.

“The Holy Spirit tells me that Jesus rose from the dead.”

“The Inerrant Word of God says Jesus rose from the dead.”

What’s the problem with both of these? In the long run, they both beg the question. You say the Holy Spirit tells you this? Fine. The Holy Spirit also apparently tells Mormons that the Book of Mormon is from God and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. Do you believe that? Why should I think what you’re experiencing is the Holy Spirit and not something else? You could say “Well if you experience it, you know who it is.” Don’t you think the Mormons would say the exact same thing?

What about the latter? Now I do hold to inerrancy, but I hold to inerrancy as a conclusion and not a presupposition. You want to claim your holy book is the final authority. Fine. Muslims do the exact same thing. Why is it that I should believe what you say about your holy book but I should not believe what the Muslims say about theirs?

If all you have is your own subjective viewpoint for defending the resurrection, you will not last when opposition comes your way. When I meet pastors like this now I have a simple wish to make of them. “Get out of the pulpit. We’re in a war and we don’t need people like you dragging us down. Give your office to someone who deserves it.”

You see, too many pastors are acting like there isn’t a battle going on. They still have this idea that all Christianity is supposed to teach us is how to be good people. Christ did not need to come just to teach us ethics. The people of the day could have got that from the philosophers of their time. Christ came to bring about the Kingdom of God. Note that. Kingdom. How many people out there think that you could belong in a Kingdom and not care about what you were to do for the King but only think about what the King was to do for you?

There is a culture war that is going on here in America. If you want to deny this, then you are quite simply a fool. There is an active homosexual agenda that’s wanting to silence your voice on the public square. Abortion has been around for 40+ years and we have seen the lives of millions of innocent babies claimed. The new atheist agenda is spreading like wildfire through the colleges and your students are going to encounter it. Muslims would be delighted to bring Sharia Law here to America.

There is not a question any more of if we and our children will face opposition. We will. There is only the question of how we would face it.

Picture if you had a son or daughter who had to take a job somewhere where you had concerns about them walking to their car in the parking lot. What are you going to do? You might ask the police to keep a watch on the area, but the police can’t be there 24/7. What else could you do? You might want to say “I’ll give my children mace” or “I’ll enroll them in a class so they can carry a concealed weapon” or “I’ll have them learn karate.” Why? You want your children to have a fighting chance if they come against enemy opposition.

Picture your having a son who goes into the military. You receive word from his officers that they are about to fly overseas and go and fight the enemy. You ask if your son has taken any courses in combat to prepare for this mission and you hear “Nah. We don’t think that’s really necessary. We figure if we just give them a gun that they’ll know enough to be able to protect themselves.” I suspect you’ll be calling your Congressman or Senator before too long if that’s the case.

Yet we want to send our children into the lions’ den regularly and do so without giving them basic protection in apologetics?

There’s a word for that.

That word is “Stupid.”

Some of you might say “Well my children aren’t going to college.” Okay. College isn’t for every person, but this is happening in high school! Opposition will be there and not just intellectual opposition, but moral opposition. You want your children to practice a Biblical sexual ethic. What reason will you give them? If you just have them say “The Bible says so”, their friends in high school who are not Christians and are sexually active will be more than happy to clear them of their delusions on the Bible. If that takes place, do you really think your assurances will be enough to overpower hormones? How many of you would have had that work with your parents?

Some of you might say you will home school your children. Fine. Do that. Keep in mind this reality however. Sooner or later your children are going to leave home and go off into the world. Are they going to be prepared or not? If not, you are one who will be held accountable, especially the fathers. The fathers are the main ones in Ephesians 5 who are to raise up their family and the only ones said to give an account for how the whole family turns out. I’m not at all saying mothers are unimportant in this. Mothers are vastly important. Fathers in the Biblical teaching however are called to be leaders of their family and to raise up their children well. If you’re reading this and a father, imagine how you will stand before God and give an account of how you raised your children. If they’re not equipped and they fall away, what account will you give?

The reality is that we can win this battle. I think of a certain person in apologetics who recently said about my position to reclaim academia “How do you plan on doing that in a nation under the judgment of God?” How? Simple. One battle at a time. How dare we abandon our intellectual heritage and give it right over to the enemy! This is especially the case with NT scholarship where Christians should be at their strongest. We have too often let the enemy dictate how the battle will be fought. No more.

In other battles, when Christians do something, results happen. When Chick-Fil-A Day came, Christians went in droves to their Chick-Fil-A stores and set records in fast food sales for that day. When Duck Dynasty was pulled from A&E, Christians started on their own a boycott page and called their cable companies and canceled. Cracker Barrel had decided to not carry Duck Commander material. They changed their mind on that quickly when Christians spoke up! When Suntrust decided to pull away from some men who were in support of traditional marriage, Christians immediately began going to their Facebook page and letting them know their discontent and began pulling their accounts. Before a day had passed, Suntrust changed their mind.

Christians WON all of these battles.

The problem is not that the church cannot win battles. The problem is that the church rarely shows up.

I have too often seen churches deny the need for apologetics training. I will go to churches regularly and offer them to come and work with them. It will be of no charge to them whatsoever! I would be delighted just to teach. 99% of the time the answer is that they don’t really need something like that. I always leave a church like that realizing the pastor is just deluding himself. As one of my mentors once told me “The pastor will call you back when his son comes home from college and announces he’s abandoned his faith.”

When we encounter those who abandon their faith, it is normally for foolish reasons. Also, it can be because too much emphasis was placed on a secondary doctrine instead of a primary, the resurrection of Jesus. The two biggest offenders in this category are young-earth creationism and inerrancy. In both cases, when someone finds a reason why these are called into question and they no longer believe them, everything else crumbles like a house of cards. If inerrancy or young-earth creationism are made the foundation for the Christian faith, we are setting ourselves up to fail.

Make no mistake. We are at war. We cannot be just playing games and getting pablum at church and expect to be able to fulfill the Great Commission in this day and age. Here in America, we have the best means to equip our people. There is no excuse for our being unprepared for the battle that awaits us. IF we who have been given so much ability to learn and spread the truth fail with it, we will all give an account before God of how we did.

I can only end with saying what Joshua said for how he would decide. Choose this day who you will serve but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

In Christ,
Nick Peters