Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.  For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.

 
 
 

Going to Jesus

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10-22

God Bears Witness

God Himself is in charge of who receives the Spirit, and He cannot be fooled. He knows when a heart has truly believed the gospel and repented. Therefore, when He grants His Spirit to a person and it testifies that Christ has entered that person’s temple, we can rest in God’s judgment of that person’s heart and safely receive him as a brother. That is how the Jewish elders, in Acts 11, responded when they learned from Peter that Gentiles had received God’s life and spoken in tongues. Before that time, they did not believe that God would give His Spirit to Gentiles. But when Peter told them that the Gentiles received the holy Spirit the same way the Jews had received it on the day of Pentecost, the elders were compelled to confess that God had “granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles, too” (Acts 11:1—18).

At another council of the elders, Peter reminded them that God knows the heart, and so, if God “bore them witness, giving them the holy Spirit just as He did to us” (Acts 15:6—8), then men should not resist God’s favorable judgment on those people. What Peter was saying is that our faith is to be in God’s judgment, not in our own, least of all in rites that the flesh can perform, such as circumcision.

It was Peter’s testimony of hearing the same sound that was heard on Pentecost morning which convinced his Jewish brothers that God had cleansed Gentiles and taken them into His kingdom. Neither of Peter’s arguments at those councils contained any scripture; nevertheless, it “shut the mouths of lions”, so to speak, because Peter stood upon the rock of what God did, not on his own judgment. He heard the sound of the life of God when it entered those Gentiles, and He would not deny it. At the house of those Gentiles, Peter’s six Jewish companions “were astonished” at the sight of Gentiles speaking in tongues (Acts 10:45), but that sign compelled them to accept what God had done. And Peter’s testimony concerning the work of God among Gentiles compelled the council of apostles and elders to accept it, too.

At the first council, which began by rebuking Peter for even going to the house of a Gentile (Acts 11:1—3), Peter asked a compelling question which pierced the hearts of everyone there:

Acts 11

17. Inasmuch, then, as God gave them the same gift He gave to us who believed on the Master, Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God?”

18. When they had heard these things, they fell silent, but then they began glorifying God, saying, “Well, then, God has granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles, too.”

The council, like Peter, was not prepared to contend with God, and they wisely yielded to His testimony to His Son rather than cling to what they had previously thought. However, false teachers arose who did contend with God about it, insisting that when the life of God enters into a human temple, there is no sound to be heard, no cry of the Spirit, no confessing of Christ by the life of God. Many still contend with God about it, and The virtually universal unity of Christian ministers on this issue is a principal reason that a speechless “holy Spirit” is accepted by so many as the real one.

In teaching against there being a sound every time someone is “born of the Spirit”, false teachers have persuaded people to receive a different “holy Spirit” instead, and in doing that, they have separated people from the real God. But it was not a difficult sell. If given a choice, fallen man will always opt for a “holy Spirit” they can claim instead of the holy Spirit that confesses when Jesus Christ enters into a fleshly temple. The former can be had without truly repenting, but the latter, God gives only to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).

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