As regular readers of this blog probably know, on Saturdays I like to share poems that I have read during the week. One place I encounter poetry on a regular basis is in my daily Bible reading. But if you have read the Bible, no doubt you have discovered what I have discovered: ancient Hebrew poetry is very different from the poetry we usually read!
This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.
Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.
Keep Moving Forward
For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
God does not say to us, ‘This is the way,’ and then stop. He says, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’ We are always to be making advances. We are to be going from faith in its beginnings to faith in its perfections, from faith to assurance, from assurance to full assurance. And from there, we are to go to the full assurance of hope to the full assurance of understanding, always forward, waxing stronger and stronger. …
The Christian’s motto is ‘Upward and onward.’ Not as though he has already obtained, either is already perfect, he presses forward to the mark for the prize of his high calling in Christ Jesus. …
Can you perform the common activities of the household and the daily duties that fall to your lot in the spirit of faith? This is what the apostle means. He does not speak about running or jumping or fighting, but about walking—and he means to tell you that the ordinary life of a Christian is different from the life of another man—that he has learned to introduce faith into everything he does.
From Faith Versus Sight
I have a t-shirt that says on the front, “Keep moving forward.” But the back of the t-shirt has the real-life challenge: “Crawling is acceptable. Falling is acceptable. Puking is acceptable. Crying is acceptable. Pain is acceptable. Quitting is not!”
I think the problem for many Christians is that they have an unrealistic expectation of growth. Somehow we’ve come to believe that our Christian growth is a constant upward trajectory to maturity, and that if there are ever any stumbles along the way, that means we’ve blown it. (By the way, Oswald Chambers has some helpful thoughts on our stair-step growth.)
But Paul tells us, “We walk”: We keep moving forward. That doesn’t mean there aren’t times of stumbling, or a plateau, or even a pause to catch our breath. Paul tells us that an important aspect of our walk is that we forget what’s behind us and we keep moving forward—keep walking—keep going.
Every single day, let us say along with Paul, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT).
My friend, keep moving forward in faith, believing that the Holy Spirit is with you—maturing you, strengthening you—on every single step on your Christian walk.
I have frequently made the assertion that God is sovereign over all history, or as I like to say it… All History is His Story!
When we are reading the Bible, it is important to keep in mind that these are not “once upon a time” stories, nor are they set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” but we are reading the accounts of actual people in actual moments of history.
Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is what Pentecostal Christians frequently refer to as our distinctive doctrine. Notice I said distinctive, not better. Can someone go to heaven without being baptized in the Spirit? Yes! But I’ve found that living in this distinctive empowerment makes the journey to heaven so much more productive and joyful.
After the resurrection of Jesus, everything took on a whole new meaning, because the “light” had been turned on in the Old Testament palace. All of the practices that Jews had been observing for thousands of years suddenly had a new illumination in the New Testament.
Pentecost had always been a celebration 50 days following the Passover. In the Old Testament, the law was given from Sinai on the fiftieth day after the deliverance from Egypt, so in a sense, the appearance of God on Sinai was the birthday of the Jewish nation. In the New Testament, the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost after Jesus ascended to heaven was the birthday of the Christian nation for all people.
One of our foundational truths says: “All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian Church.”
And another foundational truth is a corollary: “The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance.”
God has always confirmed His presence with signs and wonders. From the signs in Egypt to convince Pharaoh that Jehovah was greater than the Egyptian gods to the ministry of Jesus. In fact, Peter said that the signs and wonders done by Jesus were God’s authentication of His ministry (see Luke 5:17-26; Acts 2:22; Acts 10:38).
R.A. Torrey noted, “The baptism of the Holy Spirit always imparts power for service…. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God falling upon the believer, taking possession of his faculties, imparting to him gifts not naturally his own, but which qualify him for the service to which God has called him.”
Check out this chart that walks us through the book of Acts to see how God authenticated the ministry of those who were baptized in the Holy Spirit by performing signs and wonders through them:
When a Christian is baptized in the Holy Spirit there are two types of evidence:
Initial evidence—typically speaking in a language that hasn’t been studied but has been supernaturally given by God.
Ongoing evidence—I would sum this up in the word sanctification (or as I like to remember it by saying “saint-ification”). This is the lifestyle change, the empowered living, and even the miraculous that cannot be counterfeited by man’s efforts alone.
Let’s not try to put God in a box—telling Him when, where, how, and through whom He can work. Instead, let’s yield ourselves entirely to Him by letting the Holy Spirit empower us to be effective, unmistakable witnesses for Jesus Christ.
Jesus gave us ample evidence of His bodily resurrection. This is a recreation of a chart found in The Quest Study Bible:I also previously shared an infographic from The Infographic Bible. The historicity of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is firmly established making it a historically verifiable event.
Sometimes, instead of referring to the two major divisions of the Bible as the Old Testament and the New Testament, I prefer to use the First Testament and the Second Testament. This helps me remember that “Old” doesn’t mean outdated and “New” doesn’t mean forgetting what came before it.
I love how B.B. Warfield describes the First Testament as being like a mansion with richly-decorated, beautifully-ornate rooms, but which are dimly lit. With Christ’s Advent described in the Second Testament, the light is turned on and we can now appreciate the beauty that was always there!
But let’s get even more obvious: In just the four Gospels there are at least 100 direct mentions or quotations of passages from the Old Testament. Clearly, both Jesus and the Gospel writers saw the First Testament as an integral part of Christ’s ministry.
Check out this list that I compiled and look up the references for yourself (a great place to look up Scriptures is on BibleGateway.com).
I’m in a series right now at Calvary Assembly of God called We Are: Pentecostal. This is the second time we have rejoined this series because, quite honestly, there is just way too much for me to cover effectively!
I have pointed out how most people in the Old Testament had the Spirit of God come ON them, but in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit comes IN Christians. And I’ve made the case that IN > ON (read more about that by clicking here).
The Infographic Bible has a wonderful graphic depicting the On/In nature of the Spirit in the two Testaments—
And if you would like to see a short video where I try to illustrate the difference between on and in, please check this out.
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,15 by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the Cross, by which He put to death their hostility.17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.18 For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household,20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.21 In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
Jesus doesn’t just appear in the pages of the New Testament. All of the Old Testament Scriptures are pointing to Jesus, with some of them being quite specific concerning the time that Jesus would be living on Earth.
Whether or not the New Testament writers explicitly point to how Jesus fulfilled those prophecies, they are all there for us to discover. It’s absolutely astounding!
Here are two graphics from TheInfographic Bible and the Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible that will help you see some of these fulfilled prophecies in Christ’s First Advent. And there are still more prophecies that Jesus will fulfill in His any-day-now Second Advent!