I certainly believe and understand that God Almighty has within his power to do as he should choose. For he himself has said, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” However, he does not do things indiscriminately, and he has also said that with him there is no variableness or indecisiveness. All things are performed as given and as stated.
I understand that I have access to and should learn to effectively use “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” I know that the spirit of Christ needs to dwell in me richly. I understand that as I use and apply the word of God that the Spirit of God dwells in me, but I also understand that has nothing at all to do with a physical presence.
I know that God hears the prayers of the righteous and can and does do many things that work marvels before our eyes and in many lives today. But I also understand that the many things done through the hand of God do not any longer transcend natural law and that they are therefore not miracles as such things are defined in God’s book.
I understand that the speakers of today cannot prophesy, for such things are condemned in the New Testament. The menservants and maidservants of God cannot heal the sick or raise the dead today.
There are the magnificent workings of God within the daily events in men’s lives today, but they are not miracles, they are not prophetic, and specifically, they are not the work of the Holy Spirit, as his defined and given duties were completed here long ago, as had been the work of the Christ and the Holy Father before him.
I understand that the day of prophecy, the time when God issued his commands and his word through his chosen ones, has ended and with it also the time of miracles and signs. I know this is true because the Christ, his hand chosen apostles and prophets all have said that it is so.
Without the Holy Spirit to direct, no prophet could utter so much as a syllable. Did not the apostle tell the Galatians that if anyone whether man or angel was to bring them any good news other than what they had already received, that this person should be accursed? Is the Holy Spirit accursed today? That would be blasphemy. How could such persons as claim to prophesy today be acting by the Spirit of God and be in accord with what the scriptures plainly say? It is impossible.
This necessarily implies that the Holy Spirit is not with anyone claiming to speak as a prophet now. Yet there are many who state these are yet present and available, both the gift of prophecy with the Spirit of God behind it.
What was true of the pouring out on all flesh was true of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the servants of God. Both sets of remarks were stated in the active present tense. Both sets of conditions began to be met beginning on the very day noted.
In the second case the servants of God also prophesied — but they certainly do not do so now. For you cannot prophesy today and speak as the “oracles of God” without violating the very same word you would profess to uphold. We cannot offer anything new, and so it must follow, there is nothing new to offer. Therefore, we cannot speak with the Spirit of God.
Some of the disciples that benefited from the first portion of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh, which we yet benefit from, evidenced having miraculous gifts in some form in days following, but they could not pass the gifts on to others. Those with these gifts are each now long dead and well off to their reward every one. The scriptures also teach that not every one of the disciples possessed these miraculous attributes. If such a thing had been true it would have been recorded that way. God did not steep us in mystery and leave us on our own, and to our own devices, and the apostles and disciples stated that the mystery has in every part been revealed. In fact, wherever you find the word mystery in the New Testament within a sentence or two, in the next verse or so, you will find it stated that all that was mysterious has in every part been revealed.
No one has such gifts today, yet all still benefit from that pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon “all flesh.” There is no longer any miraculous signature attached to it. We have been given all that we need in order that we “may believe.” That is exactly what the scriptures state. We have been given a kingdom which cannot be moved. It is certainly settled with God although it may not be settled with us.
There are many that insist that all Christians now must have a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They just cannot seem to tell you how that is accomplished or to explain any present purpose and form beyond that which I first mentioned.
I ask the reader, why is it that instead of reading and applying the word of God given “once for all time,” many will instead suggest by word or action that both Christ and the Holy Spirit still reside amongst men?
Many will not have it that God Almighty produced one and only one plan of salvation, that Christ executed one and only one plan, and that the Holy Spirit confirmed one and only one plan. Many will not accept that these things were accomplished exactly as they had been set out by Deity and as recorded in the scriptures. Many will not accept that as each person in the Godhead completed his given portion of the plan — that his work on earth, to initiate, to execute, or to finalize was in its time completed.
Many will not have the Godhead now in heaven, but prefer some of its members to remain here. Many will not accept that the day of revelation and prophecy, the day of works and signs, the day of the efforts of the Spirit to codify and confirm the word of God is over. Many must have something more so that they may believe.
In the middle of this specious theorizing is the notion that the Holy Spirit of God has never quite completed his work, those charges given through God Almighty, and as listed by the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Or, they believe that to finish his charge he yet dwells within us directly. So we gravitate to the notion that somehow his charges included being personally with every Christian throughout all time, and that he is therefore yet about here and there trying to finish things off and to get it all accomplished and tidied up by Judgment. This is in spite of the fact that Christ said no such thing. What a corner it is into which we have painted the God of heaven.
When the Apostle John stated that the Holy Spirit was “…promised to all that would believe” what did he mean? Did he mean gifts were promised to all in every age? If he did mean that, is there any qualification to it — how must it be applied? Did he mean a miraculous dispensation was due all? Did he mean that a personalized presence was due all? Was something like this given to all disciples in first century times? If you believe any of these positions to be true please show how that it is true with some scriptural proof.
Had this remark been addressed directly to “all” of every age or was it directed to the audience to whom it had been originally penned and posted? Was it written to us or for us? Did he mean the benefits of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit would be available to all mankind that would bend a knee and come to God, calling upon the name of the Lord? Or, did he mean the miraculous gifts would be available to all? What does the word “all” mean? Is anything qualified by the context either here or elsewhere? What passages complement the intent of this one? How was it taken by those to whom it had been addressed? How do you understand it right now? When Peter or Paul expressed similar things were they writing directly to us today, and if so how is it so?
Wise teachers have suggested that context contains all we need to understand, and that the Bible was “written for us and not to us.” That is all fine and usually properly applied until you come to this particular topic (and one or two others), in which case all bets are off on interpretation.
I know that most Christians have been taught, stand on and believe that they should and must have some sort of indwelling of the Spirit of God although they cannot seem to locate it and sense nothing with which they might be able to identify. I also lament that they cannot prove it using scripture. And it leaves an unsettled feeling in the spirit and of the Spirit.
There are also many who believe that Christ is literally among us when we are gathered in assembly on the Lord’s Day, for they note that he had said, “For wherever two or more are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” This is the appeal in spite of any knowledge that this remark is literally and liberally ripped from its stated context concerning bearing witness against one another and then applied to these other things. It is also not addressing a physical presence of Christ. Yet many believe this and so teach.
I will suggest to the readers the following things for study and contemplation as we progress through these things.
Paul did not and could not “see” Christ on the road to Damascus because Jesus had already been glorified. Only the Holy Spirit was then present on the earth in order to fulfill his remaining part, that last detailed segment of the gospel plan of salvation. Christ was not any longer present among men as Jesus had completed his express charges and had, some good time previous to Paul’s journey, ascended back to the throne of God.
No man has seen God Almighty and no one has seen Christ since he had been glorified, as Christ is God in every sense as is his Father, and so says the scriptures. He then has not been seen in a closet or an auditorium, in the woods or in a city and his voice is not now heard except through his word. That is precisely why Paul could not identify Christ that day (“Who are you Lord?”) and that is precisely why Christ did not personally “save” him immediately that day. To do these things would have been to act contrary to what had already been taught and to what had already been set and accomplished.
“No man has seen God at any time” (John 1:18). Tell me then; would this be false in the case of Christ? That the case with the Christ should somehow be different from what it must be with his Holy Father? Could any man see the glorified Word, the Son, after he had ascended, or as he appears in his true spiritual form? Does God then still dwell with men in person? Did he come back to appear before men when Paul had received this vision? The answer from the scriptures is that no man saw him that day. They heard only a voice.
Paul, for his part, was told to continue on to Damascus, “Where it will be told you what you must do.”
The word of God was at that time in the process of being given over to earthen vessels and the hand of heaven was in the process of being steadily withdrawn from its active guidance to people. Christ was already through with his part of things and had gone back to the place where the Godhood resides. He himself stated that the work of the Spirit of God, that last remaining person of the Godhead then working on earth, would direct itself through the work of the chosen apostles, to “…convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” The working of the Holy Spirit was therefore to be in directing the work of the apostles and those disciples whom God had specifically chosen. It was never promised in the form of miraculous workings and through personal indwelling to all disciples — not then, not now.
It is specifically stated by Christ that the Holy Spirit would never leave the twelve. The same thing was certainly implied and was then true of the apostle Paul. And he did not leave them until they were each one dead. He would in the fullness of time be taken away completely when his work in them and through them was finished and when his given duty of securing and confirming the gospel and the word of God was done. That was when all of these express duties were ended, and those apostles were gone on to their reward (as were those upon whom they had transferred certain gifts).
Then the Spirit was finished with his work too, the third part of the plan, and the completed gospel had been given once for all to humankind. The doors to the kingdom of God were finally and fully opened and held open to all. Nothing remained to be given, witnessed, or identified. The unfolding was then complete. Therefore this was the fulmination of the first part of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all flesh. The hand of God was then able to be withdrawn from the active giving of favor as all had been accomplished and published just exactly as it had been designed and prophesied that it would be done. If this is not the case, you should endeavor to prove that it is not so with the word of God and not with emotion.
Who is it that states that God was not up to the task of completing his own set work? Stand and be counted.
God does not trifle with us and he does not do things arbitrarily. He does not make rules and then break them through some caprice. Nor is he inconsistent. He leaves all of that up to us.