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
Greetings one and all and thanks for choosing to spend some time with us.
Since there are new people visiting this site regularly, I like to remind the group from time to time that Home Bible Study exists to promote the Bible and what it says – rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15). Another way of saying this is, “It’s not about me or what I say. It is all about what God has revealed to us through the written Word.” You’ll soon find my opinions are few and far between but when I do opine I will preface the statement with a notation; and as they say that’s free for nothing. You may do as you will with that. But the Word of God stands (Psalms 119:89)!
My objective and my prayer is that you will review the information you read here, with your Bible open, and examine the Scriptures daily to see whether these things (are) so.
Those in the construction trade know with the proper tool they can determine if a line is crooked. Likewise, a Believer can verify Biblical truth (or what is straight and true) with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s leading (John 16:13).
Please open your Bible to Romans, chapter 8. It’s always a good idea to review, so with this thought in mind we’ll look at the Bible passage we ended the last session on.
23: And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons (and daughters), the redemption of our body.
With these words, “we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit,” Paul intends for us know we Believers possess this gift right now and this is the reason for our groaning.
Furthermore, he says, it’s the Spirit of God which causes us to groan; in hope, longing for (something not within our immediate reach i.e.) our adoption as sons (and daughters) of God, and the redemption of our bodies.
If you’ll recall, I took you to the book of Proverbs last week and showed you a verse that highlights or supports Paul’s teaching here. Here it is again:
12: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desired (longing) fulfilled is a tree of life.
As we move along to the next verse (24) Paul says, “For in hope we have been saved…” For this reason, the groaning within each one of us is assurance, of our salvation and of our future redemption.
Let’s read some Scripture together.
24: For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?
25: But if we hope for what we do not see, (read carefully) with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Once you are saved, by faith, in the gospel of Jesus Christ you receive the Spirit of God as a pledge or a down payment, if you’ll permit, of your future inheritance. Now I want to take you to the place in Scripture where this is written, so please turn to 2 Corinthians, chapter 1.
2 Corinthians 1
21: Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us in God,
22: who also (what) sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
I like to use more than one Scripture reference, if possible, so if you’ll please go to the book of Ephesians, chapter 1. Here we find the identical theme being taught by Paul.
13: In Him (Christ Jesus), you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, - having also believed, you were (what) sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14: who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Now, another word for pledge is assurance. Every true Believer has been given the gift of the indwelt Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15-18) as a pledge. Thus we all have the “assurance” of God within us.
If you’ll remember, our apostle Paul taught this truth to us not so long ago.
Let’s go there now. Romans 8:16, if you please.
16: The Spirit Himself (does what) testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
The Spirit of God witnessing to those being sanctified (i.e. true Believers) is the ministry of the Spirit (see 2 Peter 1:4-10). Therefore, since we have the assurance of God the Father, we can wait for the Day of Redemption confidently and patiently.
From Romans 8:22-27 our apostle Paul speaks of a three-fold groaning:
- First he mentions that the “whole creation” groans and compares this to the pains of childbirth
- Next, Paul mentions that “we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves.”
- And then finally Paul mentions the Holy Spirit Himself who “intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” when we do not know how to pray.
We looked at the first item on this list last week, so we’re moving on to item #2.
What did Paul mean when he said, “…but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves…”
Paul says, “ourselves” three times in this passage, so we know Paul is referring to the individual Believer. However, there are multiple opinions as to what Paul meant by this statement. The primary notion is taken to mean “the gifts of the Holy Spirit” rather than the person of the Holy Spirit Himself. But when one considers that the Spirit of God has been in the forefront this entire chapter, and as often as He is referred to personally and not His gifts, this leaves little doubt as to what Paul is expressing with his announcement. Thus, Paul is speaking of the Spirit of God who was given first to the Believers at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) and this is the connection to the words, “first fruits” in Paul’s message to the Believers in Rome.
Always remember, this congregation in Rome was made up of Jews and Gentiles.
It was difficult and troubling for these Jews born into and raised under the Law of Moses to understand and accept these Grace Age Doctrines Paul was teaching. This is comparable to someone brought up in a “works” based religion today – likewise this is what they know, trust, and understand. When you explain that salvation is based on believing the gospel plus nothing else (minus works), they too struggle with this instruction (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Getting back on track, please turn to Leviticus, chapter 23. This is where we find the LORD giving Moses the teaching concerning the Feast of First fruits; aka the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Harvests, and Pentecost celebrated on the 50th day after Passover.
Digging Deeper: Feast of Firstfruits
10: “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its (what) harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.
11: ‘He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
12: ‘Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer (now read carefully) a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD (see also verses 15-16).
According to Strong’s exhaustive concordance, the word First fruits is an agricultural expression. To better understand this Jewish festival in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must recognize its New Testament applications.
Remember, things concealed in the Old Testament are revealed in the New Testament.
Case in point, Jesus, in Mathew chapter 13, likened the kingdom of God unto a man who went forth to sow seed for harvest. Winning souls to faith in Jesus for salvation is likened unto a harvest in Luke 10:2. Our apostle Paul likened the resurrection to a harvest (1 Cor 15:42-44).
When Jesus resurrected from the grave (the first one to do so in His glorified body), He was the First fruits (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). However, Jesus was not alone in His resurrection. Like the priest of old, he too had a sheaf of first fruits of His harvest to offer the Father. “The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, they entered the holy city, and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:52-53).
The Feast of first fruits was a prophetic celebration; a fore shadow of the blessed hope, and the awesome power of God on display for the entire world to realize in the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the 3rd day, according to the Scriptures.
Digging Deeper Still: All four gospels show that Jesus was crucified and died on the “preparation day” before the sabbath (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31). The Passover always fell on the 14th day of Nisan. Nisan is the first month of the Jewish year (Leviticus 23:5). On the 15th day of Nisan, the Seven Day Feast of Unleavened Bread began (Leviticus 23:6; Luke 22:1-7).
Prior to Jesus’ ascension, in Acts chapter 1, He instructed the eleven apostles (remember Judas is no longer with them) to remain in Jerusalem and to wait for what the Father had promised - the gift of the Holy Spirit. A few days later, on Pentecost, the disciples were gathered together in the upper room and were baptized with the Spirit of God (Acts 2:1-4; John 16:7).
Pentecost is one of the three pilgrimage feasts when all Jewish males are required to appear before the LORD in Jerusalem (Acts 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8; James 1:18).
“…but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves…”
So, Paul is referring to the Spirit of God in this text when he says, first fruits.
On the Passover, the first sheaf of the ripening barley harvest was harvested. Then the nation of Israel took two loaves of bread from the new harvest and waved them before the LORD. These loaves were the first fruits of the new harvest. Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and now on the Harvest Feast (Pentecost) presented Believers with the first fruits of His accomplished work on earth. The first benefit of His exalted work is the gift of the indwelt Holy Spirit or the Helper (John 16:7).
If you’ll flip back to the book of Acts, chapter 2, I’ll show you where the apostles had a sheaf of first fruits of this Harvest Day to offer God the Father too.
Here we have Peter’s Sermon. I’m not going to record the full account of his declaration but I suggest you take the time to read it. For the sake of brevity I’m going to skip to the end result, which is why we’re here.
41: So then, those who had received (what) his word were baptized; and that day (Pentecost – Harvest Day) there were added about three thousand souls.
These and other Messianic Believers make up “the faithful remnant” of Israel
(Romans 11:1-5). The flipside to this statement is obvious. Many unfaithful Jews walked away from Peter and his "good news" that day – they rejected Jesus’ divinity and they continue to reject that notion today.
But that first benefit, as Scripture has already revealed to us, is an earnest of the full harvest (2 Corinthians 5:5). The Holy Spirit of promise is “the earnest of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14).
I used to enjoy helping my mother in the kitchen when I was a boy. I learned to cook thanks to her. When the holidays rolled around, my help in the kitchen was especially appreciated. At Thanksgiving, we’d both get up early and start preparing the planned feast. My mom would work on the major items such as the bird while I peeled potatoes, made up the cranberries, prepared the bread stuffing, etc. Any good cook will tell you, “tasting” the food during the cooking process is essential and this we did. I can also tell you, that tasting the food produces an inner craving (longing) for the meal to come. After a while, “sips and nips” don’t get it; you want a plate of food! Likewise, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, an earnest of the full harvest that is to come on the Day of Redemption. Until that day, we can only imagine what it will be like and all that it will bring to those who love God (1 Corinthians 2:9).
You see, we Believers have realized that this is not our home, the things we do, are not the things we want to do, our souls long to be with our Father in heaven, and yet our mortal bodies are anchored to this earth (2 Corinthians 5:1-4). We have only “sipped” at the cup of God’s promise and this is why our spirit groans.
(To be continued)
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