Waiting to Inhale God’s Exhale

TEXT: John 20:21-22; Acts 2:1-4slide_12

After the RESURRECTION, John’s gospel account seemed to me at first glance, that the Spirit’s coming is connected with Jesus’ ascending to the Father.  

But then the next thought that came to my mind, how about when the Church was first initiated in Luke’s account, Acts chapter 2?

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Looking at John’s version of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the verses in Luke’s description in Acts 2, we see that John is emphasizing some different things, maybe wanting to improve on or support Luke’s idea.

So I want to explore some ideas in this blog, not from a doctrinal viewpoint but from a personal one concerning John’s version of our Christian experience of the Holy Spirit. 

The FIRST AND MAJOR DIFFERENCE I found between John and Luke’s story in Acts is one of timing.  In John, the giving of the Spirit occurs on the evening of Resurrection Day (EASTER).

By contrast, Luke records that the Holy Spirit came upon a group of gathered believers, “about a hundred and twenty” (Acts 1:15), for the feast of Pentecost 50 days after Passover and the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

QUESTION:  So did the church begin in John 20:22 or at Pentecost in Acts 2:4?

It’s worth mentioning here, that the Church’s liturgical calendar has followed Luke’s version, which probably dominates our thinking and reflection of how the Spirit came on the church and what it means.

So how do we make sense of this different timing?

JESUS BREATHED (exhaled) the Holy Spirit into the disciples the evening of Resurrection Day, AND…also sent the Holy Spirit in a different way 50 days later.  

That solves all our problems! 

I have learned over the years in bible study, it is not a good idea to try to harmonise variations of different writers because it doesn’t do justice to their particular emphases.

Clearly John in this passage of Scripture is describing the event of the Holy Spirit coming into the disciples, just as Luke is doing in the Book of Acts.

An interesting note here concerning one word “in” or “into.”  Jesus appears in the locked room, declares His peace, commissions them and then BREATHES into them. declaring “RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.”

Many translations use “on” rather than “into”, but the same word used in Genesis 2:7 where God BREATHES into the clay-body of man He has formed to  create a living being – [ [i] In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures used in Jesus’ time].

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Genesis 2:7 {NIV):

“–the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

This verse found in Genesis is but one verse that gives the application of the beautiful picture of a person and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The emblem, under which God’s Spirit is represented to us is the BREATH and AIR, the atmosphere in which you and I live daily and the act by which we INHALE or EXHALE are the GIFTS and manifested POWER.

We can live for days without food, for a lifetime without sight or hearing, but we cannot live for an hour without breath–without breathing in and out.  We cannot see it, we can scarcely feel it, and yet all around us is an ocean of air without which we could not exist, and without which all of our senses we would be blind, deaf, and vain.

I believe John deliberately wants to make those connections, when a new creation comes to life in giving the Holy Spirit–something new is coming into existence and being released into the world.

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What we have to remember, in study of biblical writers, is that they are less concerned with historical facts and more with theological truths.  And it’s the theological truths we want to discern.  So let’s focus first on John’s account.

Notice that his version links the Holy Spirit far more closely with Jesus himself and His ministry.

After declaring PEACE to the fearful disciples, Jesus says,

“As the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.”  (verse 21)

 

The Holy Spirit is not a “force” or “a thing”– He is a PERSON!

Perhaps one of the most important yet least understood truths of the Bible is the infilling and baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I have come to realize that this is an unchanging truth but as God has led me to a deeper knowledge and experience over the years is my understanding of the TRUTH.

When I was first converted, “born again,” in 1972, I was taught that I was FILLED at the moment of salvation and I assumed that this was true.  I didn’t realize that Jesus gave His disciples the Holy Spirit and then promised that the Holy Spirit would baptize them.

The Bible states that we RECEIVE the SPIRIT at the moment we SURRENDER our hearts to Christ Jesus (1 John 3:9; Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

God puts His Spirit within us and we are born as a child of God, BUT…the real POWER to come later at Pentecost is when the power of the Holy Spirit would change the fearful disciples into men that God would use to bring His message WITH…POWER and AUTHORITY! –  (Acts 1:8)

Jesus said, “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 1:5)

THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SALVATION CONNECTION –

I have been asked he question on different occasions, “Is every Christian, those who are “born again”, also baptized in the Holy Spirit, that is, is BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit automatically received with SALVATION?”

Baptism of the Holy Spirit Banner

John 20:22 (NIRV):

[22] He then breathed on them. He said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Here, Jesus breathes into the apostle’s nostrils and they RECEIVE (“inhale”) Holy Spirit, (that is, they are “born-again,” i.e. “saved”) and the Holy Spirit comes to live in the heart of the believer.

However, the BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit is where the living Spirit of God comes on the believer, occurring on Pentecost 50 days later.

Luke 24:49 (AMP):

[49] And behold, I will send forth upon you what My Father has promised; but remain in the city [Jerusalem] until you are clothed (endued) with power from on high.

Acts 1:5 (NIV):

[5] For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Again, the same PROMISE and we realize that THIS Baptism will come upon the believer.

Acts 2:3-4 (AMP):

[3] And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.  [4] And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words].

This is the point where the apostles received the BAPTISM IN the Holy Spirit; when the Holy Spirit comes UPON the believer.

However, as we’ve seen, there existed a period of time where they RECEIVED the Holy Spirit and were BAPTIZED IN the Spirit.  My belief is these were separated acts, each having a different reason.

SALVATION comes by receiving the Holy Spirit, that is we are SAVED from the penalty of sin.  We become sons and daughters of the King; we RECEIVE the AUTHORITY to act (Luke 10:19 – Believer’s Authority) as sons and daughters of God.

Jesus doesn’t say, “Wait in Jerusalem until you are

born again or converted or put into the body of Christ.”

He says, “Wait until you are clothed with power.”

He doesn’t say, “You shall receive membership in the body

of Christ when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

  • – John Piper –

Sadly, because many people don’t understand there is a difference between the two events (SALVATION & BAPTISM) and don’t, or won’t, seek the greater POWER of God transforming their lives and ministries.  I call it “ineffectiveness” in the Spirit.

Every person who truly REPENTS and invites Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior receives the Holy Spirit.  

1 John 3 calls this God’s SEED in which teaches us, this is when we are born of God, His Seed remains in us.

When the Holy Spirit fills someone, the BLESSING is not for them alone but to EQUIP & EMPOWER them to do God’s will.

The apostles were FILLED immediately and demonstrated that HOLY SPIRIT POWER to preach with boldness, stand before their enemies and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The focus is on God’s will and…HIS WILL ALWAYS produces Fruit.

If a person is NOT producing fruit, they are not FILLED!

The lack of POWER in the modern church as I see it, isn’t because GOD’S POWER is diminished but because we no longer SEEK God with all of our hearts.

To be FILLED by the Spirit, you must be hungry and thirsty for God.

Matthew 5:6 (NIV):

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

A TRUE BELIEVER, one who is born again, is serious and truly hungry and thirsty for God, and will never be satisfied until FILLED.

“SO, WHERE’S THE POWER?”

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.”

I used to just assume that Paul and Luke were talking about the same thing when they used the word “BAPTISM” and connected it to the Holy Spirit–in other words, the Baptism by the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 13 is the same as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Many scholars and bible teachers make this connection.

My view is not the only orthodox one, nor is it one you have to agree with.  But it is one I have increasingly come to believe is correct and is needed in the church.

Jesus said, “But you [the ‘inhalers’] shall receive POWER (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My WITNESSES…”  (Acts 1:8 – AMP).

And the RESULTS of the Baptism of the Spirit?

[40] And [Peter] solemnly and earnestly witnessed and admonished with much more continuous speaking and warned them, saying,  Be SAVED from this crooked generation.  [41] Therefore those who accepted and welcome his message were baptized (in water), and there were added 3,000 souls.


CREDITS:

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Commentaries:  John Piper: Topic, The Holy Spirit.  John Piper is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org. and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted–the NIRV: the New International Reader’s Version.

 

 

The Doubt and Unbelief Factor In Christianity

JAMES 1:22-25 The MESSAGE Bible (MSG):

22-24  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other.  Act on what you hear!  Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

25  But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God–the free life!–even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action.  That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

UNBELIEF –

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Malcolm Muggeridge was a British journalist, author, media personality, and satirist. Also, during World War II, he worked for the British government as a soldier and spy.

Here is one of his noteworthy quotes I found at BrainyQuote–Malcolm Muggeridge:

“One of the peculiar sins of the 20th Century which we’ve developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity.  It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing.  The truth is much worse:  they believe in anything.”

I.  UNBELIEF –

Before giving a good working definition for UNBELIEF, let me give you a dictionary definition (any dictionary) of the word BELIEF:

An opinion or judgment in which a person is fully persuaded.

So Biblical Unbelief can be defined as “believing and acting based on my and the world’s lies instead of God’s Truth in His Word.”  [*See Footnote (i) ]

There Are Different Forms of UNBELIEF –

—  NOT believing God.

—  NOT believing God’s Word (the Bible).

—  NOT believing God’s way is the best way.

II.  UNBELIEF IS RELATED TO DOUBT:

DOUBT dwelt on, not confronted and challenged as displayed in 2 Corinthians 10:5,  will lead us into DOUBT:

5 “[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought captive and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ.”

Unanswered questions–doubt which not dealt with… can and will lead to unbelief.  

JAMES 1:8 calls it “double mindedness” which signals emotional and spiritual immaturity:

8 [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].

III.  UNBELIEF Affects Our Stability –

JAMES 1:6 (NIV):  But when he asks, he must BELIEVE and not DOUBT, because he who doubts is like a wave at sea, blown, and tossed by the wind.

Instability in the Christian life results in…

– Miss purpose.

– Don’t take risks and miss adventure.

– Miss seeing God work and grow closer to Him in relationship.

And at a bigger level, eternity and others lose –

Romans 10:13-14 (AMP):

[13] For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord]  will be saved.  [14] But how are people to call upon Him Whom they have not believed [in Whom they have no faith, on Whom they have no reliance]?  And how are they to believe in Him [adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him] of Whom they have never heard  And how are they to hear without a preacher? 

That said, there are QUESTIONS that arise in “double mindedness”–instability:

How can they call on the One they’ve not believed on?

How can they believe in the One Whom they’ve not heard?

And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Ultimately, God loses (Really)!!!

IV.  UNBELIEF hardened God’s work –

“And He [Jesus] did not do many works of power there, because of their unbelief  (their lack of faith in the divine mission of Jesus)”  (Matthew 13:58).

Where DOUBT comes from –

ULTIMATELY:  Satan; the devil.  John 8:44 says, Satan is the father of lies.

PRACTICALLY:  The World – 1 John 2:15-17 – My Heart – Jeremiah 1:22.

FUNDAMENTALLY:  Not applying God’s Word in my life – James 1:22

* WEED ANALOGY – Destroying UNBELIEF and not letting it grow back! 

I use the term “weed analogy”, because of my enjoyment of working in the garden and fighting the constant invasion of WEEDS.  An enjoyment?  Yes, because I know if I stay at it, diligent in the doing, there will be a harvest of righteousness.

1.  PERSEVERE THROUGH IT!

Learn to recognize it–Get in the Word (your bible) daily!

Walk by FAITH applying God’s Word!!!  (Remember James 1:22).

Remember in your Christian pilgrimage to build up your FAITH – “…in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you”  (Romans 12:3).

FAITH grows – “Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow…”  (2 Corinthians 10:15).

James 2:22 – FAITH made complete.

Luke 16:10 – Faithful with little–faithful with more.

“MUSTARD SEED FAITH”Matthew 17:20

mustard_seedHe said to them [insert your name in place of “them”–“you”],  Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust].  For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, MOVE from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

2.  PRAY GOD WILL HELP YOU GROW –

In Mark 9:17-27, we see a desperate father of a demon possessed boy who asks Jesus,  “If you can do anything, do have pity on us and help us.”

Jesus replies,  “If You can do anything?”  “All things can be possible to him who believes.”

The father then replies,  “Lord I believe!  Help my weakness of faith!

3.  HOLY SPIRIT POWER –

The HOLY SPIRIT empowers me to radically believe and obey my heavenly Father.  I don’t have to let UNBELIEF kill me–what lies am I believing?

If I will “radically” believe–go out on a limb with trust–anything is possible what God can do!

Victory Over Sin–No More Bondage –

Romans 6:18, 22:

18  And having been set free from sin, you have become servants of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in thought, purpose, and action).  

22  But now since you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life.

4.  WORD AND PRAYER –

“Those who do not believe do not pray. This is a good functional definition of FAITH:  Faith prays, unbelief doesn’t.”

God is so HUGE!!!

We are TEMPTED when we are in trouble.

Let’s live our lives trusting Him to do HUGE things!  You might have to climb out on a limb of FAITH to see the results of your faithfulness.

Tozer said, “Unbelief is actually perverted faith, for it puts its trust not in the living God but in dying men.”

Acting on our faith –

"Be an active doer"
“Be an active doer”

To act on what we hear, is not simply to try harder not to say, not complain or be anxious.

JAMES isn’t encouraging his readers to simply try harder to live right.

He is encouraging them [US] to do whatever they [WE] need to do in order to feed their [OUR] faith in their heavenly Father.

“But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience)”  ~ James 1:25

So we turn our ANXIETY over to JESUS Himself–our desire to grumble and complain (Boy, do I need to do more weeding in this area).

We hand over each day, our relationships, thoughts, and questions to God, moment by moment, allowing our FAITH in Him to become a living thing.


CREDITS, FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]: By Nate Herbst.

Photo Credits: “Mustard Seed” photo Escape to Reality.org and the balance of photos taken from Google Images.

Bible Translations: Amplified Bible except where noted.