Q&A: Baptism of the Holy Ghost

QWhich do you think is more accurate? (1) the Baptism of the Spirit of God was a corporate act on the day of Pentecost that was extended to take in the Gentiles (Acts 10), or (2) the Baptism of the Spirit of God was a corporate act that happened on the day of Pentecost that would never be repeated.  Gentiles were added later as any other Christians have ever since that day.

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AFrom the scriptures all I can say for sure is that the baptism of the Spirit is connected with the formation of the body (1 Corinthians 12:13), and we know from Acts 1:4-5 that the baptism with the Holy Ghost would occur in Jerusalem (not Samaria or Caesarea). So I would say the Baptism of the Spirit was a one-time event at Pentecost.
 
As to what followed in Acts 10 I can’t find scriptural basis to say that they were received any differently than you or me except for the plain fact that God was making a public introduction of the Gentiles.
“If the baptism of the Holy Ghost has taken place at Pentecost, does Scripture carry the thought that it is ever to be repeated? I believe distinctly not. The Holy Ghost has come, He is here. The baptism of the Spirit has been received, and there is, consequently, no fresh baptism to be looked for.” – W.T.P. Wolston

Q&A: Holy Men of God

Q2 Peter 1:21 says that holy men of God were moved to write the scriptures. What about a case like Balaam where he uttered the Words of God yet he was far from holy?

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AThis is a great question, and it touches on the subject of inspiration. The verse in 2 Peter states that God used instruments that were holy (saints) in the process of inspiration. It is important to see that the actual men who spoke or wrote the inspired words were holy men. While it is true that Balaam was far from holy, the one who penned the words (Moses) certainly was a holy man.
 
Also, I believe the force of that verse “prophecy was not ever uttered by the will of man, but holy men of God spake under the power of the Holy Spirit” is that the power behind inspiration is the Holy Ghost, not the flesh. So, keeping this in mind, read the verse again. Although they were holy men, it still wasn’t by human power that they wrote the scriptures… it was divine power. Therefore the source of inspiration is the emphasis, and the Spirit’s choice of a vessel is in keeping with the source.

Q&A: Taking Away from God’s Word

QWhat is the meaning of “taking away the words of the prophecy of this book” in Rev. 22:19? Is is possible for a believer to commit this sin and lose their salvation?
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AI believe that this is referring to one who picks and chooses which parts of the bible are the Word of God because he/she doesn’t want to accept certain parts. While it could be as literal is someone printing a bible with missing verses, etc. I think it could me more subtle than that. Here is the text:
“And if any one take from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:18-19)
Also, “book of life” should really be translated “tree of life”. The tree of life we know is a picture of Christ himself (raised from the dead as the head of the New Creation) and the holy city is a picture of the Church. So the one who discounts portions of God’s word will not have a part in Christ or His Church.
 
Also, where is says “and from the things that are written in this book” the words “and from” have been added (not to pun) by the translators. So if you read it without them you see that it is saying: if any man takes away… etc. God will take away his part in Christ and the Church, which are written in this book. So, the “things written in this book” ARE Christ and His Church.
 
So, the question then is, if the penalty is eternal separation from Christ and the Church, can this happen to a real believer??? I would call on the many other verses which say we can never lose our salvation, e.g. John 10:28 “I give them life eternal; and they shall never perish, and no one shall seize them out of my hand.” Therefore, it must mean that this person was never real, they only had had a part in Christ and His Church by PROFESSION, not in REALITY.
 
One more thing… what are “the words of the book of this prophecy”? Is it just Revelation, or the whole Bible? I’m honestly not sure. What I believe is that it is specifically Revelation but includes the whole bible. One reason is that Revelation ties together so many other books of the bible, including Old and New Testaments. Secondly, the Revelation is written TO THE CHURCH to have an effect on our conscience. So if someone tampers with any book of the Bible it will likely be with the one that hurts their conscience the most.

Q&A: A Second Chance after the Rapture?

QIf someone rejects the gospel now, will they have a second chance after the rapture? How do we know?
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AFor those who reject the gospel of the grace of God, there will be no second chance. However, for those who do not have the opportunity to hear the clear gospel of the present dispensation, they will have an opportunity to receive the Gospel of the Kingdom, which we are told in Mark 16:15 will be preached “to every creature” in “all the world.” Let us examine the scriptures more closely to see how we get these thoughts from the inspired page.

2 Thessalonians 2:8-12

 “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12

The setting of this portion is in the days of the Antichrist, also known as “that Wicked One.” When will he be revealed? At the mid-point of the tribulation. The Tribulation comes right after the time that we live in. This is how we know that the “rejecters” mentioned in these verses are speaking of those who are living in the current dispensation.

What does it say they did wrong?

  1. “They received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
  2. “Believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

This is clearly speaking of the truth of the Word of God presented to a person. When someone is born again, they have a new life that loves the truth. These ones refuse it.

Not only do they refuse it but they “believe it not”. In order to discount something as true, you have to hear it. Paul tells us that justification is by faith alone. These are those when believe not.

Furthermore, they have “pleasure in unrighteousness.” This gives us the positive reason why they reject the gospel… they love their unrighteous lifestyle, and don’t want it to change.

What will be the end of these ones? “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned.” Even if all the evidence points to their having made a big mistake in not believing the Gospel, these are not going to repent after the rapture. Instead they will be deceived by the lies of the Antichrist. But the delusion itself comes from God. God will judicially blind them to the obvious truth, and harden their hearts as He did Pharaoh’s so many years ago.

Also, it says ALL. There won’t be any that change their minds after the rapture and repent. The Word of God doesn’t hold out any hope for future repentance for those who reject the gospel now.

Luke 13:25-27

“When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.”

The door here is the door of mercy. It is open now, but it will one day be closed. The truth being illustrated here is that a privileged place (hearing the Gospel preached) does not gain you anything if found outside the door of mercy when it is closed.

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation.” Hebrews 2:3

Earth dwellers

The book of Revelation refers to those who reject the gospel in the present dispensation who then live into the seven-year tribulation. It calls them; “them that dwell upon the earth.” If you look at the references, it is not just random people living on the earth, it is those that are opposed to God and His purpose. This gives us a hint as to the deception that we read about in 2 Thessalonians 2. Read Rev. 13:11-14.

“And it deceives those that dwell upon the earth by reason of the signs which it was given to it to work before the beast, saying to those that dwell upon the earth to make an image to the beast, which has the wound of the sword, and lived.” Revelation 13:14

Therefore, we can see that earth dwellers will be swept up into the delusion of the antichrist, and thus will not have a second chance.

Q&A: Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost

QPlease explain the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (Matt. 12:30-31) as it relates to sins not being forgiven? How does this co-exist with the thought of the blood of Christ forever dealing with all sin?
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AThis is an excellent question, and I would like to broaden my response to include the common concern with regard to eternal security. The text is Matthew 12:30-31

“For this reason I say unto you, Every sin and injurious speaking shall be forgiven to men, but speaking injuriously of the Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. And whosoever shall have spoken a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the coming one.” (Matthew 12:30-31)
Who can commit blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? Strictly speaking, these verse apply to those to whom the Lord was speaking; the class of apostate Jewish leaders who had witnessed first-hand the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Lord is speaking to a class of persons, later called “this generation” (see note). However, He does say “whosoever” bringing forward the consequences for individuals who find themselves in that class. Hebrews makes it clear that the testimony of the Holy Spirit continued after the Lord was on earth; “so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will…” (Heb. 2:3-4). It is not even possible, technically speaking, to blaspheme the Holy Ghost today, as the Lord and His apostles are no longer here.
 
What about today? However, there is a solemn passage in Hebrews which applies this same principle to Christianity. “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God …and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:28, 29). In this sense, it is possible for a person today to commit despite to the Spirit of grace. Who can do that? Only an apostate. An apostate is one who once had a profession of Christianity and partook of its blessings, but then fell away from “the faith”, never truly having possessed “saving faith”. Merely rejecting the gospel does not constitute blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. There were those who “were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come” and yet remained unconverted. If they were to reject that testimony of the Spirit, “it is impossible… to renew them again unto repentance.” Incorrect use has been made of this verse to teach that the believer’s security is conditional, and that it is possible, once saved, to be lost again. This is false, for it denies many other scriptures, such as John 10:27-29. Only an unbeliever could really say with open-eyed, deliberate hatred toward God, that the Holy Spirit is demonic.
 
Governmental Forgiveness vs. Eternal Forgiveness. We must bear in mind that there are several aspects of forgiveness. Eternal forgiveness is not spoken of prior to the cross. It is most often governmental forgiveness that is taken up. Governmental forgiveness is divine exemption from the governmental consequences of our sins in this life. A person may remain under the government of God until death, perhaps due to an unforgiving spirit, but then go to heaven (Matthew 6:14-15). Here the Lord is speaking to the leaders of apostate Israel. Israel will never again be forgiven this blasphemy and restored to Jehovah en masse. To be clear, they will be nationally restored (Rom. 11:26), but it will be through a remnant. You can see that it is governmental forgiveness because the Lord jumps forward to the millennium; “neither in that age which is to come”. Certainly, those who he was speaking to have long since died. But that same moral class will be present at the close of this epoch, and they will not be allowed to enjoy the blessings of the Spirit in the Millennium. The had “tasted” of the Spirit’s grace, and rejected it. And while a remnant will be brought into the full enjoyment of the Spirit in the Kingdom, the apostate ruling class will be cut off in the Great Tribulation judgment. However, in that the individuals within the class of “blasphemers” are apostates, the consequences are eternal; for “it shall not be forgiven him“.
 
Sin against the Holy Ghost. What about believers? What word does this subject have for our conscience? The Holy Ghost is on earth indwelling the House of God. We are exhorted to walk uprightly in light of this fact “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). One particular evil that has pervaded the Church is clericalism. The clerical principle is a special kind of sin against the Holy Spirit, because it denies the Spirit’s place in the Church, and replaces Him with a false system. The clerical principle states that all true ministry flows from the clergy, and any lay preaching is from the Devil. You can see how this evil is of the same character as what the Jewish leaders were guilty of in Matthew 12:30-31. As Israel spoke injuriously against the Spirit in their dispensation, so Christendom has denied the Spirit in our dispensation. The Church has effectively denied the presence and power of the Holy Spirit on earth. Collectively, the Jewish system came into judgment in 70 A.D., and one day the clerical system of Christendom will come into judgment as well, at the middle of Daniel’s seventieth week. While we wouldn’t call the clerical principle “blasphemy” against the Holy Spirit, we can see that it is “sin” against the Spirit, and certainly the dispensational counterpart to what Israel was guilty of. [1]
 
If a believer committed this sin, could they lose their salvation? No. None of the elect will ever commit this sin. We know based on the doctrine of election that every person is either a “vessel of wrath” or a “vessel of mercy”. If you are a vessel of mercy, you were chosen in an eternity past and He gave you the faith to believe when the time came. You were elected. A vessel of wrath is a person that was not elected, but when given the opportunity, hardened their heart (like Pharaoh, read Romans 9:14-24) and thus fitted themselves for judgment, despite God’s long-suffering. Later, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, hence the phrase “it is impossible.” Since none of the redeemed can or will ever commit this sin, there is no contradiction with 1 John 1:7.
 
A couple helpful realizations that help with these type of questions:
  • There are two aspects to the atonement of Christ. Propitiation is the aspect in which Christ died to perfectly satisfy God. In this aspect He died for the whole WORLD. Substitution is the aspect in which Christ died for ME. In this aspect He only paid for the individual sins of those who would be SAVED.
  • Whenever we come to two verses that seem to contradict each other, we need to accept both as true, even if we cant comprehend how they can both coexist. For example; “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men” is 100% true and “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” is 100% true. What I have started to do is simply accept the world of God, and then ask him to make it clear to me if it pleases Him. And He usually does.
  1. Darby, J. N. The Notion of a Clergyman: Dispensationally the Sin against the Holy Ghost. Bible Truth Publishers.

Q&A: Casting Pearls before Swine

QWhat is the meaning of Matt. 7:6… Not throwing our pearls to swine? What are pearls? Who are the swine? What is an example of this forbidden behavior? Does this conflict with the exhortations to preach the gospel to the lost?
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ACasting our pearls before swine refers to bringing unholy individuals into the most sacred things of Christianity under the banner of grace. For example, service, or worship (Phip. 3)… unsaved persons cannot worship, and God doesn’t want their service. Christendom has a system which unites believers and unbelievers in one common form. The point is, there must be a separation between believers and the world. If a person is still in their sins, they are standing on the “wrong side” of the cross, they are still crying “away with him, crucify him”. We cannot try to enjoy Christ with someone that is malicious or even indifferent toward Him. What they need is the gospel.
Give not that which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before the swine, lest they trample them with their feet, and turning round rend you. (Matthew 7:6)
Your pearls” might speak of what is most precious to Christians… worship, service, comfort, etc. “Dogs” are unsaved, “swine” are morally degraded, usually false professors (2 Pet. 2:22). The “trampling of pearls” refers to the dishonor that is done to the Name of Christ. “Turning round and rending” refers to the confusion and corruption that has invaded the kingdom of heaven because we have not maintained this distinction between holy & unholy.
 
An example of one who failed in this is Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:13), who displayed his precious things to the embassage from Babylon. However, this exhortation in Matthew does not prevent us from spreading the gospel to the lost. We were all at one time unholy like the “dogs” and “swine”, and would still be enemies if it weren’t for the grace of God (1 Cor. 6:11). So we have the commandment to preach the gospel of the grace of God to the lost. Here are a few examples of things to be careful of, (but not to make a law of of them):
  1. Joining together with false professors (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses) in outreach or prayer. Unity at the expense of holiness is nothing more than an unholy alliance.
  2. Comforting an unsaved co-worker that “all things work together for good”… that’s only true for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
  3. Speaking about God’s sovereignty to the lost. We need to stick to man’s responsibility. God’s sovereignty is a family secret!
Specifically, what are “pearls”? William Kelly suggested that “the special affections of Christ to the Church, His loving care for His servants, the hope of His coining again, the glorious prospects of the Church as His bride, etc.” are the pearls that are reserved for Christian fellowship alone.

Q&A: Suffering Persecution

QIf we are not suffering in our Christian lives, are we living as we should according to Christ (2 Tim. 3:12)?

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AThis verse is very specific. I would take it exactly how it sounds. The verse is intended to warn the believer (Timothy) if you live godly in Christ Jesus, you are guaranteed to suffer persecution. The question assumes the use of this verse backwards to say that if you are not suffering persecution, you aren’t living godly. Here is the text:
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12 
I agree with the principle, and I think it is true. However, I would caution using reverse logic with scripture. This probably isn’t one, but there are other cases where this could get us in trouble. It is a good practice to always use scripture in the “direction” in which we find it used.
 
What is persecution? It is ill-treatment because of a belief or background. It could be social, political, physical, or even religious. However, the verse is not specific on the frequency of persecution, or on what type. While the godly in Christ Jesus will definitely suffer persecution, in lands like the United States it may not be physical or political persecution. But this world’s system is against the Lord, and if we want to live godly, we will experience opposition.
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” John 15:18-20

In general, we don’t want to use persecution as the measure of our faithfulness to Christ. We want Him to be our object, and we want to focus on serving Him. We should never forget what the world is, and that we are crucified to it. And we should expect persecution, because if we live godly in Christ Jesus we will suffer it.

Q&A: Sinners or Wicked Persons?

QAre the sinners in Mark 2:15-17 different from “wicked people” put away from the fellowship of the assembly?
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AThe short answer to this question is “yes”. There is a difference between the publicans and sinners in Mark 2 and the “wicked person” in 1 Corinthians 5. Let’s examine each passage.

Difference Between Mark 2 and 1 Corinthians 5

“And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his [Levi’s] house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Mark 2:15-17
It is clear from this passage that these ones the Lord was eating with were “sinners” in need of repentance. That is, they were unsaved persons being sought by the Savior. The scribes and Pharisees were accusing the Lord of being guilty by association with these persons. They would be classified as wicked persons. The Lord has instructed us to be fishers of men, and so it is right and proper for us to draw alongside sinners and present the gospel to them. However, we do need to beware of defilement, which we will speak more about later.
“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13
Here, the individuals to be put out were those whose lives had become characterized by moral sin. The important difference to notice here is that it says “if any man be called a brother be a …” It is a very marked distinction from looking at what comes previously in verses 9-10. Paul had instructed them not to keep company “altogether with the fornicators of this world” it would not have been feasible for them to continue life on earth, “for then must ye needs go out of the world.” Therefore, we can see that Paul is emphasizing their being at least professing Christians who are fornicators, etc. that must be put away.

An Excuse for Assembly Irresponsibility?

Paul goes on to say, “do not ye judge them that are within?” and “therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” He puts the responsibility to put away wicked persons squarely at the feet of the local assembly. The Corinthians were actually responsible to make the judgment themselves but had been slow to, so Paul had “judged already.”
They were “not to company” with the wicked person. Paul says, “no, not to eat.” That is, don’t hang out with them, not even for one meal. Some people take a legal approach to this and will do any and everything with the excommunicated person except eat with them. But the intention is clear. Once a person has been put away, contact should be limited to that which is directly related to seeking their restoration. We do a great disservice to “such an one” by disobeying these verses. Also, the divided state in Christendom lessens the effect of excommunication.
 
There is no excuse for assembly irresponsibility, although we are often guilty of it. Some people try to use the passage in Mark 2 to say that because the Lord was associating with wicked persons, we can too. In fact He was associating with them, but it was for the purpose of “bringing them to repentance.” Also, as to the Lord’s position, He was baptized by John, taking His place with the faithful Jews. The Lord’s eating with publicans and sinners in no way absolves our responsibility to put away wicked persons.
 
Another argument some might raise is that the Lord broke bread (the institution of the Lord’s Supper) with Judas, an unbeliever and at the same time a betrayer. However, it says in John 13 that Satan entered into him after supper when he had received the sop. Then he slipped out into the night. Therefore, Judas was absent when the Lord, “supper being ender”, took break, etc.

If the Lord did it, why can’t I?

Often people say that the Lord “associated with prostitutes and thieves” and so we don’t need to be concerned about evil associations, especially when we are giving the gospel. But this flies in the face of so many New Testament exhortations. And we also need to remember to be careful of the wording we choose. The writer of Hebrews said of the Lord Jesus that He “is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” Hebrews 7:26