Home Bible Study
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
Welcome to Home Bible Study. I pray you are enjoying your time with your Bible either with your spouse, a friend, or with a small group and in the process developing a “hunger” for the Word of God (Jeremiah 15:16; 1 Corinthians 10:11). I pray that many more Believers will come to realize the relevance and the value of Bible study.
An experience I remember well while serving in the Navy was a “happening” they named, Mail Call. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But believe me when you’ve been away from loved ones for months, even years; any word from home is special indeed. I was stationed on a destroyer and spent a good deal of time at sea so word from home was rare. At times our exact location was a military secret, which means no mail arrived on our ship at all.
When Mail Call was announced over the 1MC, the men who were not on duty immediately went to collect their mail – if there was any. The “mailman” would call out the name on the letter or package and that individual would step forward to gather his mail. Often sailors would not hear their name called out, so in turn this could be one of the loneliest moments aboard ship. However, those who received mail immediately returned to their bunks or found a quiet place to be alone and began reading their letters from home. I don’t know of one who didn’t do this!
I can’t remember one sailor who got mail and then decided he didn’t want to read it because he was too busy, because the handwriting was subpar, or they just didn’t care.
That would be strange. And yet, that’s how many Believers treat their Bible.
Do you not know the Bible is God’s love letter to His children? In the Bible God is communicating to us how much He loves us, and showing how He demonstrates His love toward us. God wants us to experience His love. The Bible tells us how we are to live our lives according to God’s will. Therefore, God wants the best for us and for our children.
It’s all there in His letter to us from home.
I commend you for your efforts and encourage you to continue the good work you’ve started. I know you’ll be blessed and may you be a blessing to others. *************************************************************************************************
I ended the Bible lesson last week with this statement; the role of the Holy Spirit under the Kingdom Gospel and His role under the Gospel of Grace have changed.
In this lesson we’re going to look at these two administrations in order to recognize their differences and learn God’s purpose for each of them.
This is not meant to be an in-depth study of the Holy Spirit. I am only going to look at three “Roles of the Holy Spirit,” - back then and now.
Role of the Spirit
16: ”I will ask the Father, and He will give you another (allos) Helper, that He may be with you forever;
The 11 apostles were gathered together in the upper room with Jesus Christ who desired to prepare them for His departure by way of the cross. They were deeply troubled by His words; at this time they lacked understanding, so the Lord attempted to comfort them by promising to give them “another” Helper.
Jesus uses the Greek term “Allos” in John 14:16 to communicate that He will send them another Helper, of the same kind, who would teach them and bring all things to their remembrance (John 14:26).
When was this promise fulfilled - on the day of Pentecost, right?
Before we look at this event let’s go to Acts, chapter 1.
I’m going to take the time to lay the groundwork for this lesson because there are new visitors who may not be aware of some of these things. For the rest of us, repetition is the key to learning.
For those who may not be aware the book of Acts is known as a transitional book.
By that I mean to say the Jewish Prophetic Program is fading from the scene and the Church (the Body of Christ) as revealed in Paul’s letters is becoming predominant.
Drop in at Acts 1:4. Before Jesus Christ ascended He gathered the apostles together and instructed them, “…not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised (John 14:16).”
Please flip over to Acts, chapter 2.
So, this is where we find the 12 apostles (Matthias had just been selected to fill Judas’s vacancy), 120 faithful men, and an untold number of women, in Jerusalem, in the upper room, and obediently celebrating the Jewish holiday of Pentecost.
In Judaism, Pentecost is also called Shavuot, and was the 50th day after the Passover offering of a sheaf of wheat. Pentecost was originally a harvest festival that came to be associated with Moses' law-giving at Mt. Sinai – the giving of the Torah to the Jews.
The Day of Pentecost
1: When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place,
2: And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3: And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
4: And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (foreign languages), as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
The Hebrew word for breath, wind, or Spirit of God is Ruach.
The Greek word Pnuema could mean spirit, breath, or wind depending on the context.
One of the first things we learn from these four verses is this: the Spirit is power and the Spirit empowers. When the Spirit is present, the implication is power!
For example God used the Holy Spirit in the creation of the world (Genesis 1:2; Psalms 104:30) and in the creation of the heavens (Job 26:13; Psalms 33:6). The Holy Spirit was involved in the creation of man (Genesis 1:26-27).
Our Spiritual gifts whatever they may be are from the Spirit of God who can empower those gifts to accomplish the purposes and plan of God.
If you take the time to carefully examine the entire account of the activities that took place at Pentecost and then consider the people who were involved, it’s not so difficult to surmise that this is a continuation of the God’s Prophetic Program, or the Old Testament principles and practices. To sum up: God has not forgotten the Jews.
The King and the Kingdom could still be realized despite the fact that both the Jews and the gentiles conspired to kill God’s Son (Psalms 2: 1-3). But for this to occur every Jewish man, woman, and child had to believe in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38).
Read the first few chapters in the book of Acts carefully and you will discover that this is Jewish territory. By this I mean the Jewish program is still under a full head of steam, the Jewish Temple is up and operating and the Mosaic Law is still being observed.
If you’ll turn to Acts, chapter 5, I want you to read for yourselves what Peter has to say.
29: But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
30: “The God of our Fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.
31: “He is the One whom God exalted to His right hand (Psalm 110:1) as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to (who) Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
From these verses we learn that the Lord Jesus Christ was “raised” up twice to be the nation of Israel’s Savior, once in “incarnation” (when He became flesh) and again at His “resurrection.”
With all this in mind the feast day of Pentecost is being celebrated by Jews, “devout men from every nation under heaven.” (Acts 2:5)
When we see that these devout, Jewish men (there’s not a gentile in the bunch) had come to Jerusalem from every nation to celebrate Pentecost, we must realize that not every Jew spoke Hebrew. Note what the book says in Acts 2:7-12.
These devout Jews traveled great distances, from many nations, to celebrate Pentecost because this is what God commanded them to do (Leviticus 23) and there were thousands of them, speaking different languages, but of the same faith.
This brings us to the first role of the Spirit: signs, wonders, and miracles.
I don’t believe in coincidence – I believe in God. God was prepared for this event.
After Christ baptized the 12 with the Holy Spirit and empowered them to speak foreign languages they were prepared to preach the good news to all these men (a remnant).
I mention these devout men again because it may not be so obvious to some that there were many not so devout men who did not bother to come to Jerusalem for Pentecost despite God’s command. It’s no different today. Is it? Thousands were missing…
Now, let’s return to Acts 2:4.
4: And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (not incoherent gibberish but foreign languages), as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Do you see the connection now?
There are thousands of devout Jewish men in Jerusalem, on this #4 out of #7 required feast days, from every nation under heaven, who speaks many foreign languages. The Spirit of God descends upon the now 12 apostles and empowers them with the gift of tongues or the ability to speak foreign languages.
This isn’t just a miracle it’s a sign for the entire nation of Israel (1 Corinthians 1:22).
Have you ever tried to communicate to someone who did not speak your language?
It’s difficult and sometimes downright impossible. Been there; done that.
After the 12 disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they immediately began speaking in various foreign languages and the Jews in the crowd were able to understand them word for word even though they came from different nations. The skeptics thought they were intoxicated and mocked them. This is typical. When some people don’t like or understand the message, they ridicule it and often try to discredit the messenger.
But others, asked, “What does this mean?”
Peter and the eleven have some good news. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, He is the Son of God, and He’s coming back! The King and the Kingdom is still feasible.
Skip to verses 37-42 to pick up the rest of these details. I want to focus on verse 43 for just a minute because we are looking at the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
43: Everyone (the Jews who witnessed these events) kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and (what) signs were taking place through the apostles.
The apostles went out preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom (to Jew only: Acts 11:19) and confirming His Word through accompanying signs.
For example: in the early chapters of Acts, we find Peter and John healing the lame beggar. Later, with a word, Peter ended the life of Ananias and Sapphira who held back some money from the apostles. In fact, as it states in Acts 5:12, “At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people;”
Why did the Holy Spirit empower these twelve men with such abilities?
The Spirit gifted the apostles with the ability to perform signs and wonders in order to authenticate them and their message (Mark 16:17; Hebrews 2:1-4).
However, after God shifted His attention and His administration to the gentiles, this confirmed to the Jewish nation that God had elected to do something different.
The Apostle Peter observed this change first hand when the Lord commanded him to go to the home of Cornelius, a Roman Centurian, and a gentile who feared God.
But Peter did not want to go… (Acts 10)
The miracles (signs) performed by the Apostle Paul, and others who were “sent,” were “confirming” signs as they were with the original 12 apostles.
2 Corinthians 12
12: The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.
Secondly, Jesus Christ promised to ask His Father to send “another Helper” and He said this Helper would be with them forever.
This is where the major difference between the Holy Spirit’s roles in the Old Testament and New Testaments is most evident. The New Testament affirms the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Believers (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19-20).
Scripture calls this, “the guarantee of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1: 13-14).
In contrast to this, in the Old Testament the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was “selective” and “temporary.”
After the LORD God chose the nation of Israel to be His people, the Spirit’s work was exclusively with those people with some exceptions. For example the Spirit of God came upon young David (1 Samuel 16: 12-13) and King Saul (1 Samuel 10:10).
Now the nation of Israel consisted of Believers and unbelievers alike, yet the Holy Spirit ministered to all the people by being present and guiding them. He did this by empowering the prophets (Zechariah 4:6) to speak the truth even though it was rejected (Nehemiah 9:30; Ezekiel 2:1-3; Isaiah 63:10).
In the book of Judges, we read where the Spirit came upon various judges whom God raised up to deliver Israel from their oppressors. This was done to perform specific tasks. When the task was completed, the Spirit left them (Joshua/wisdom – Deuteronomy 34:9; Gideon/ a military victory – Judges 6:34; Samson/great strength – Judges 14:6).
In addition, the Spirit coming upon an individual in the Old Testament doesn’t always indicate that person’s spiritual condition (e.g. Saul, Samson, and many of the judges).
So, while in the New Testament the Holy Spirit only indwells Believers and this indwelling is permanent, the Holy Spirit came upon certain Old Testament individuals for a specific task, not necessarily related to their spiritual condition, and in whom God was showing favor.
The third work of the Holy Spirit that I want to mention before closing is this.
The Spirit’s ministry to people in Old Testament times was not the same as it has been since the Day of Pentecost. Whatever it was, the Lord made it quite clear it would be different after Pentecost. Notice how repeatedly the Lord spoke of the “coming” of the Spirit (who was already present) in His conversation with the disciples in the Upper Room (John 15:26, 16:7-8). This indicates the Spirit was at work then and that His work would take on a different character after Pentecost.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times was selective and temporary.
Nevertheless, He was working in the lives of individuals, doing the same things as we see listed in John 16:8-11. But the object of faith was different. In the Old Testament the coming of the Christ was “anticipated” through the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the sacrifices. The Holy Spirit worked in the hearts of people to “enlighten” and “convict” them to believe the content of the LORD God’s message as it existed at that time. God’s message pointed to Christ and what was at the heart of God’s message - salvation.
Although it is difficult to understand the salvation process in the Old Testament this we know. Faith has always been a key element in God’s salvation plan (Hebrews 11:6).
For example: in the garden, after the sin, Adam believed God. Later, Abram believed God and this was credited to him as “righteousness.”
In the Church Age, the Spirit of God first “convicts” the unsaved person of their sin and then He leads them to Jesus Christ. We Believers may carry the gospel message (Romans 10:15) to any and all and recite it boldly but only the Holy Spirit can open a person’s heart to receive it (Acts 16:14).
(To be continued)
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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