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?”

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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.

 

 

IN THE MIDST-Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned (part two)

(Part Two) – Looking Further Into the Qualities of God in Remembering:

GOD’S IMMANENCE: God’s presence in Creation–a personal and relational God.

In PART ONE, we discussed how in the midst of circumstances–when we become disappointed, perplexed (baffled, confused, mystified), and disillusioned with where we find our self in life.  FEAR often sets in to our spirit; of what is going to happen to us and our family.  We get the wrong images of and misbelief about who God is, which then keeps us from God’s presence.

FEAR Casts out LOVE–

“There is no fear in love, [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!  For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love”  (1 John 4:18 AMP).

GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:16):

God’s IMMANENCE is how He is unwavering; determined to be with us. close to us and for us.  We have a LOVING COMPASSIONATE GOD who chose to be attentive to our pleading cries IN THE MIDST…forgiving and merciful.

‘God Believers’ in Old Testament (First Kings 8)–

GOD shows His goodness through fulfilling everything He promised David.

There were visible signs of encouragement!

— a throne…Solomon reigning.

— a new magnificent Temple.

The people were EXPECTING God to not only stay or tabernacle with them as before; not to actually dwell, but abide–settle permanently in a House as it were (Solomon’s Temple).  Or as The Message Bible reads: “move into the neighborhood”–to stay with them forever!

Yet, was there some selfishness to this motive?  Did they want to keep God for themselves under their control somehow?  Do we?

How patient and longsuffering do you think God is?

Most believe that God would bless us if obedient and good; did what God wanted, but do you believe God would bless you with His goodness, even if you chose the total opposite of what He wanted, even when you failed Him over and over again?

I made an amazing discovery in my WORD Detective investigation from this Biblical story,  God does just that…remembering that prayers are inspired by God’s Spirit; a gift of His grace & prompting…we see very interesting words God puts in Solomon’s mouth (1 Kings 8:22-53).  Solomon actually prayed for God’s mercy from all the consequences the nation of Israel were going to experience from the people’s sins.

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The people disobeyed ALL THE WARNINGS; chose curses instead of blessings.  But God already knew this, since He spoke about this very thing through Moses in Deuteronomy 28–warning the people of the consequences and rewards of disobedience and obedience–through blessings and curses. 

God’s Presents Us with Choices and His Recommendation:

I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you LIFE and DEATH, the BLESSINGS and the CURSES; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live  (Deuteronomy 30:19 AMP).

Wrong Choices Made–

Everyone of the disasters that Solomon prayed about in 1 Kings 8, actually happened as a consequence of wrong choices & actions:

— Defeat by Enemy Forces,

— Drought,

— Famine,

— Pestilence,

— Natural Disasters,

— and Plenty of Wars.

Do any of the items listed above sound familiar in our world today?

It all culminates in a nation of God’s people, going into exile… and as Psalm 89 says, rather than becoming a nation where foreigners are attracted to come and pray, Israel and Jerusalem become an object of mockery and ridicule (just as God warned Solomon in 1 Kings 9:6-9):

[8] This house shall become a heap of ruins; every passerby shall be astonished and shall hiss [with surprise] and say,  Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?  [9] Then they will answer,  Because they forsook the Lord their God,  Who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have laid hold of other gods and have worshiped and served them; therefore the Lord has brought on them all this evil  (1 Kings 9:8-9 AMP).

The people were in a long-term state of sinning against God and yet…God turned this kingship into a blessing and fully redeemed it through JESUS; who is the true Son of David, the Promised King of Kings–whose reign of shalom peace will never end.  He is the anointed Savior, who sacrificed himself for us; extends His forgiveness to full restoration to you and I.

A LEGACY TO DAVID:

God gave the throne and enduring kingdom, a legacy to David in spite of his sinfulness.  God allowed Solomon to build the temple and promised to all–His presence to be present in this man-made temple, even though He couldn’t be contained, even in the vastness of the universe.  All of this in spite of Solomon and the mixed motives of the people trying to box Him in–to domesticate Him for their own benefit.

Though God knew of Solomon’s upcoming actions, even though he was given the gift of wisdom–even wrote the Book of Proverbs–yet he would later live foolishly, turning his heart away after many other loves and hundreds of wives and concubines–worshiping false idols from many nations that came along with them.

GOD, His name, the temple and the worship of God is not a commodity to be used as a means for our own selfish ends, yet that is what Solomon and the people of Israel made them.

You might be asking the question at this point of the series, “What’s all of this have to do with me and my life as it is right now…IN THE MIDST, as you call it?”

Wisdom Given…

WISDOM is not a possession!  It is a gift and we can lose it… if we let go of the reverence for God, the Lord of our lives.  It’s a slow fade when we give ourselves and our hearts away.

No one demonstrates this erosion in his life more fully than king Solomon:

He did everything that God warned the kings not to do–

Solomon Examples: misusing power; amassing weapons, riches, wives; let his heart go astray; lost his reverence for God; turning away from following the Law…

All of the above and more, because he proudly considered himself better than other people (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).

And yet, God is still merciful–

Later in life, Solomon writes Ecclesiastes, realizing all the mistakes he has made in the past; how he’s wasted his life chasing after many dreams and desires that turned out to be illusions…all is vanity and futility without God.  He repents and at the end of his life realizes that worshiping God is indeed, above everything else.

You can also regain WISDOM and God’s MERCY and His relentless LOVE restored IF…you return to God, the source of ALL GOOD THINGS, including wisdom and love.

God even blesses us when we choose to go against Him.  Are you surprised?

The Israelites wanted a king

God never intended for His people to have or need a king.  But the Israelites saw their neighbors had kings, so they prayed to God…We need one too!  Kind of like keeping up with the Jones of the neighborhood.  God even told them if He gave them a kings, they would be sorry.  My mom and dad told me the same when I was a child–You will be sorry Mel.  They knew ahead of time the consequences that came along with my request.

Our Heavenly Father lets us have what our flesh desires…even when He warns us about the harmful consequences to us.  And it breaks His heart and hurts Him in the process.

In His heart of LOVE, He is constantly waiting for you, aching with yearning for your return to His presence with outstretched arms, ready to give you a ‘big hug’!  [The Parable of the Prodigal Son–Luke 15:11-32]. 

Is it too late?

Maybe you are reading this blog series, thinking that it’s too late.  You’ve failed miserably in this mess you call life–disappointed, perplexed and disillusioned.  You might be feeling there’s no turning back, or some sinful habits or patterns or ways that you think or believe about yourself–in the midst of all of what you’re going through right now.  Feelings of rejection, low-self-esteem, hurts, trauma; that keeps you emotionally bound–STRONGHOLDS–that plague your life that you just can’t seem to overcome.

THE PROMISE:  With Our God Comes GRACE, MERCY, HOPE, FORGIVENESS–

With our God, who is patient and kind, full of Grace and Mercy, there is HOPE!  God will hear and He will FORGIVE:

2 Chronicles 7:14, God gives the PROMISE:

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves,

pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face

and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven,

forgive their sin, and heal their land.

I like to think that God’s promise in the above verse is conditional — with the use of the word...”IF”:

IF…YOU HUMBLE YOURSELF,

IF…YOU PRAY,

IF…YOU SEEK,

IF…YOU CRAVE,

IF..YOU REQUIRE OF NECESSITY OF GOD’S PRESENCE–HIS FACE,

IF…YOU REPENT–TURN FROM WICKED WAYS,

THEN–and only then, will God hear from heaven, forgive sin, and heal their land.

Back to the beginning–The story of Adrian Plass (part one):

The youth worker’s life was seen as a field of overrun weeds and bramble…a wasteland…and he was feeling hopeless.  But the man of God goes on and says,

But wait…I see fire burning up the weeds and then ashes being put back into the soil and now the soil is enriched with all that was burned up.  And the Lord puts a sign over this field…

“NOTHING SHALL BE WASTED”

Philippians 3:13-14 AMP:

I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.

I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.

The Lord desires to pour out on us ALL THE BLESSINGS and JOYS in Him that we’ve missed or missing IN THE MIDST-Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned.  Yet He doesn’t make it all up with outpourings alone!  These “outpourings” become “overflowing s” in our life:

And the [threshing] floors shall be full of grain and the vats shall overflow with juice [of the grape] and oil”  (Joel 2:24 AMP).

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I [JESUS] came that they [YOU] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10 AMP).