The Spirit of Grace!

God says through the Hebrew writer, “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of Grace?” (10:29). If you are able to bless the Spirit of Grace and feel gratitude for His presence, you put yourself on a path of deliverance, however, if you insult Him, and live that way, you put yourself on a path of destruction. Make the right choice and pray about this. God is love, but we all know how jealous love can be! Zechariah reveals that God wanted to pour His Spirit of Grace out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The purpose of the “pouring” was so that they would look at Christ and be able to see His grace & identity clearly.  Zechariah 12:8 – 13:1 is the prophecy revealing God’s work of forgiveness through Christ whom they pierced.  Even though God knew and planned on their rejection of Christ in order to perform such a sacrifice, His Spirit of Grace was poured out for the few who would drink from Him, (Jn 7:37-39) Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and the Centurion at the cross were some of them. On the day of Pentecost, there were thousands that drank of Him, 1st Cor. 12:13 

Whenever the earth drinks in the rain, there is growth. It is God’s design and desire in us to grow the fruit of the Spirit of Grace, Gal. 5:22-23. Therefore we are made to drink of the Spirit of Grace, to grow the fruit of the Spirit. There are 12 Greek words in the New Testament which describe His fruit. 

  1. Love, Gal. 5:22
  2. Joy, Gal. 5:22
  3. Peace, Gal. 5:22
  4. Patience, Gal. 5:22
  5. Goodness, Gal. 5:22, Eph. 5:9.
  6. Faithfulness, Gal. 5:22
  7. Kindness, Gal. 5:22
  8. Gentleness, Gal. 5:23
  9. Self-control, Gal. 5:23
  10. Holiness, Romans 6:22
  11. Righteousness, Ephesians 5:9, Hebrews 12:11, James 3:18
  12. Truthfulness, Ephesians 5:9

Do you see Humility in this list? The reason it’s not there, is because God demands our own self-willed heart to submit and humbly allow Him to pour into our hearts His love and His Spirit of Grace, Romans 5:5. If we don’t want to submit and open our heart, we will never drink in the water of life and have the Spirit of Grace live within our soul to save us. Matthew 13:1-23 reminds us of God’s view of people as a vineyard to plant the word of God into their hearts. Let God’s love water your heart full of the Spirit of Grace, making our heart a good place to grow His fruit. The Character of Christ in your daily life is dependent on this!

The Water of Life, John 7:37-38

Jeremiah 2:11-13, reveals the amazement of God, at the errors of Israel. When Jesus was on earth, he is recorded as being amazed at people’s disbelief, Mark 6:6. In Jeremiah we see the same amazement at God towards his unbelieving children in Israel. He describes it as rejecting the water of life, and building for themselves wells or cisterns of water that are cracked and leaking. Surely this was in the mind of Christ when he told the parable of the wise man that built his house upon the rock, and not sand, Matthew 7:24-27. The more interested we become in the toys of this world, the less interested we become in the next world. The Water of Life can change that and increase our appetite for real life from a well that brings rivers of living water. People haven’t changed since Jeremiah’s day, still building broken wells.

Jesus says in John 3:5 that one must be “born of water and Spirit” to enter the Kingdom of God, a reference to the Father’s cleansing and regeneration of a person that makes him a new, spiritual creation within a physical body. At this point in our re-birth, the Holy Spirit can be referred to as the Spirit of Adoption, (Romans 8:15) Adoption is something that only the Father does—no amount of human effort forces Him to open the door and make us drink of his love (see Romans 5:5), and surely this is the picture he has of us spiritually when we become a Christian, 1st Corinthians 12:13. However, once that regeneration has taken place, we are “conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love,” as Colossians 1:13 says. We are then a member of His Kingdom! But the bottom line is that this is an operation that happens according to the Father’s will, not any human’s. It is His spiritual operation that achieves the process of adoption. Our citizenship is in Heaven once we are in Christ’s Spirit of adoption, Philippians 3:20. Is it any wonder that baptism in water and the Spirit represented as living water be in God’s word as an act of faith where God views adoption taking place.

For Jesus himself being proven as the “Water of Life” to anyone, is first recorded in his discussion with the Samaritan woman. She understood how refreshing and invigorating His Spirit of Christ was in simply believing He was who He claims to be, and went boldly proclaiming His Messiahship, the Christ. John 4:13-14. After his ministry was growing and before it came to a close, Jesus publicly proclaimed and later proved it in John 7:37-39 in the Temple grounds during the feast of Tabernacles! This feast is still observed by Jews today, and is an excellent opportunity for us to promote his proven claim in our lives. Every year around September or October, Jews will observe “Booths” or “Succoth” about a week after The Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur is observed. 

Peter wants us to believe in, and look forward to being refreshed. Are you refreshed? There are times of refreshing available, Acts 3:19-20. A worldly lifestyle can leave you constantly thirsting. All other philosophies, therapies, religions or spiritual menus will always leave us searching for a deeper drink of satisfaction. But the Spirit of Christ refreshes now and forever. If you miss out on Christ’s Spirit here on earth, you will miss this water of life for eternity., Read Revelation 22:1 & 17. Hell is hotter & drier than the driest desert on earth, come get a drink now before it’s forever too late!

The Anointing, 1st John 2:20-27

The oil of anointing was used widely throughout the history of Israel. Almost as widely as blood was used. Actually sometimes both anointing oil and blood were used together, see Exodus 29:21. The anointing oil was used primarily for making people and utensils holy in the Temple. Not necessarily for sacrifice, as holy, but for service as holy. This is an important aspect of purpose in the Spirit, when John refers to him as the Anointing in 1st John 2:20-27. The Priesthood used this oil for many reasons, but primarily it was to keep things holy and used in service to God, it was made according to God’s recipe in Exodus 30:23-29. The reason it is important to make the link in thought is because the Greek word for “anointing” is anglicized as “CHRISMA”, meaning a “smearing or ointment”. Hopefully you can see how closely related the word is to Christ. Jesus says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed,” (Luke 4:18) In a very real sense, we as the church are called to do the same thing spiritually, as we have the Spirit of Christ, Romans 8:9. 

When we realize how important and useful the Spirit of Christ is in our lives, We should feel a sense of gratitude for the privilege of having that “anointing” as the gift He is, Acts 2:38-39. 

Christ Jesus was born with wisemen delivering gifts including Myrrh which was used in the holy anointing oil of the priesthood for service to God, also Frankincense was used in holy anointing oil for priests to come into the presence of God, Ex. 30:34-36. These gifts would be an obvious message to Mary about the mission and identity of her child. In reference to the gift of gold, it’s use was prevalent in the Temple and in all the courts of royalty. There is an interesting point to make between King David and Jesus Christ., They were anointed in the context of royal service to the Lord and for the Lord’s people. See 1st Samuel 16:13, “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward”.  Christ Jesus was shown to be God’s Son when a dove came to light upon him at his baptism, in the midst of his brothers, and he was also in at least two different occasions anointed with oil, (Mark 14:8, Luke 7:38-46 & John 12:3) At the close of his ministry He was crowned with thorns and given a sign to make public the charge for his crucifixion, “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews”, John 19:19-22. The Jewish leaders had a problem with this, and requested it read, “He Said” or “He Claimed”. However, Pilate rejected their request. God was working to confirm the sovereignty of Christ as King of kings. Later the Apostle Peter proclaimed the church as a “royal priesthood and holy nation”, 1st Peter 2:9. Why? Because of our calling, duty, identity and destiny. The Spirit of Christ in the Christian is as essential as wise virgins keeping oil in their lamp! Please read Matthew 25:1-13.

The Mediator

The Medium in Creation; The Breath or Spirit of God hovering over the creation of God, mentioned in Genesis 1:2, is clearly pointing us to two distinct roles’ God is filling. Firstly, the Father organizes and wills our Universe into existence, while secondly, His Spirit or breath is the medium wherein the work is done. Much in the same way the Psalmist speaks of the starry host throughout the Universe was made, Psalm 33:6. The next occurrence in Scripture a plurality of God is described in the creation account, is in Genesis 1:26. The word “Us” is referred to as making humanity in God’s likeness. There is no coincidence in the fact of John 1:1-14 proclaiming this work to be the Word of God becoming Jesus. His Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, Romans 8:9. Without God’s Spirit bringing His creation into existence from the beginning, it has no consistency in maintaining propagation, reproduction or a future direction unless by the mediating work of the Spirit, according to the Psalmist in Psalm 104:30. But before anyone jumps to the conclusion that these quotes from Psalms only refer to a vague poetic way of emphasizing a spiritual side to our Universe instead of the obvious physical side, please remember what the Hebrew writer says about the invisible attributes of our visible creation in Hebrews 11:3. The consistency or hard mass and power of invisible cellular structure in creation has a force the Bible refers to as His Spirit in Colossians 1:16-17.

The Mediator for Israel; Later in humanity’s existence, God formed Israel, and in creating the new nation a global venue for a priesthood, he provided a Tabernacle and a Country with borders. Even in building the Tabernacle, people were endowed with the Spirit in order to finish it as God desired, he gave His Spirit to Bezalel for the gift of craftsmanship, Exodus 31:3, 35:21-31. The Nation & Tabernacle was not established until the days of Joshua. Moses laid hands on Joshua, and he was FILLED with the SPIRIT of Wisdom, (Deuteronomy 34:9-12). Later Isaiah talks of the Spirit of the Lord being the Spirit of Wisdom, (Isaiah 11:2). Without Joshua’s work, all of Moses’ law-giving efforts could have been in vain. Joshua was for Israel, the prophet likened unto Moses that they should listen to, see Duet. 18:15. However, for Christians, it is Jesus that is the Prophet likened unto Moses that we listen to, see Acts 7:37. There is no coincidence in the fact that Jesus & Joshua have the same name but in different languages! The Spirit of God mediated Joshua’s work in victory, just as he mediated the victory of each Judge in Israel, where the Spirit of the Lord is repeatedly, honored as working in the Judges of Israel, see Judges 3:10, 6:34, 11:29, 13:25, 14:6, 14:19, 15:14. So the birth of the Nation of Israel was a lengthy process and through it all, God’s Spirit mediated between the leadership’s character and God Himself, in order to create and establish Israel. 

The Intercessor for Christians; Should every genuine Christian expect God to listen to us, as a privilege?. Does anyone have the RIGHT to address the Lord & Creator of this Universe. Christ has been counted worthy as King of kings and Lord of lords, so what is it about the opportunistic casual approach to prayer that a King would admire? Should the fact that He is our Father and wants to listen to his children, be a reason to demand God listen to us? Why do you think the Psalmist asks God (many times) simply to hear him? Psalm 69:7-18 is a good example of humility in prayer. Thankfully Paul teaches us God’s Spirit indwells our bodies for the purpose of interceding when we don’t know what to ask for OR how we should pray. Romans 8:26.

The Comforter

Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” ~ John 14:16-17

We can see clearly that Jesus believed in what many people call the “Trinity” or “Godhead”, Romans 1:20. This view of God’s nature did not originate solely with the Apostle Paul, but as Jesus proclaimed his Messiahship and Deity to his disciples, he was not vague in the three-fold nature of God’s triune being. The Spirit of Truth was often referred to by Jesus as “the Comforter”, which comes from the Greek word παράκλητος (paraklētos). Finding an appropriate English translation for παράκλητος is a difficult task. No single English word has exactly the same range of meaning as the Greek word. “Comforter,” used by some of the older English versions, and it seems to be as old as the 14th century and used by Wycliffe. But today it can too easily suggest a sympathetic mourner at a funeral. “Counselor” is adequate, but broad, in contexts like “marriage counselor” or “camp counselor.” “Helper” or “Assistant” could also be used, but could awkwardly suggest a subordinate rank. “Advocate,” which is the word used in a few versions of the Bible, has more forensic overtones than the Greek word does, although in John 16:5-11 a forensic context is certainly present. Because an “advocate” is someone who “advocates” or supports a position or viewpoint and since this is what the “Parakletos” will do miraculously for the Apostles, it was selected. There is no conflict between these different English words, because overall, God Himself in Jesus was primarily a Servant! God has always been a type of comforting Helper for his children throughout history, see Exodus 18:4 & 1st Samuel 7:12 & Psalm 10:14, 54:4.

So this often used word, leads us to question what type of Comforter is the Holy Spirit? Within the New Testament we can learn the answer; 

  1. He is a Spiritual Comforter for our soul, because Jesus calls him the Spirit of Truth, John 14:16. The emphasis is on our spiritual needs, not our physical needs.
  2. He is a Truthful Comforter for our mind, because of the same reason, Jesus gives us divine life giving truths that can defeat any deceit, helping us bring every thought under control, 2nd Corinthians 10:4-5.
  3. He is a Close Comforter for our everyday living, because Jesus says “He abides with you and will be in you”, Jn. 14:17, notice the present & future tense of his phrase. This came into reality for all disciples becoming Christians during the birth of the Church in Acts 2:37-39.
  4. He is a Consistent Comforter, because he is always able to help us testify of Jesus and/or glorify Christ, see John 14:26, 15:26 & 16:14.
  5. He is a Teaching Comforter, because Jesus says to the Apostles, “He will teach you all things”, Jn. 14:26. The Apostles gave us a living message, writing down what He taught them, and also describing what he showed them in their ministries, so we can learn the same lessons. These truths from the Spirit of truth, are all sufficient for anyone’s salvation, godliness and ability to grow in the grace & knowledge of Jesus Christ, 2nd Peter 1:3-4. How could anyone ask for more comfort than this? Who would dare think they deserve any more from God than what we already have in Christ? 

“Responses to Mercy” ~ Jonah 3:8 – 4:11

The people of Nineveh were amazing in their ability to accept a genuine faith and make an “earnest cry” 3:8. Which must be a better response to God’s mercy, than how Jonah responded. Their cry included fasting & sackcloth! Have we ever felt so moved by God’s mercy, that we would change our appearance and voluntarily give up food & drink as an expression of our repentance?

Some people are troubled by the fact that the Lord changed his mind from disaster in the case of Jonah’s message to Nineveh because the prophet gave no clear sign to the Ninevites that God would back off,  if the people repented. Does this mean the Lord changed His mind like we do? Like as if God learned some new information that caused Him to rethink His plan of action? Some people would answer, “yes”, but this just shows our need to read Scripture carefully. Given that prophecies often include conditions and that the Lord is not a “man, that he should change his mind” (Numbers 23:19) the idea that He did not know what Nineveh’s response would be is nonsense. He did know what would happen, for He is omniscient, including Jonah’s preaching and the Ninevites’ response, see Ephesians 1:11. The Lord just chose not to reveal to Jonah explicitly the full scope of the future impact of Jonah’s ministry until it came to pass. Why? Because He knew it would result in giving Jonah a living life lesson. Simply telling him, would obviously just result in confirming Jonah’s suspicions.

Jonah could not see the future with certainty, but he could know what would happen if the Ninevites were to repent in response to his preaching. So could anyone else who knew God’s character. The Lord is holy, yes, but He is also slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and eager to forgive our sins (Exodus 34:6-7 & Micah 7:18). Jonah never wanted to go to Nineveh in the first place because he did not want to see the Ninevites turn from their sin. He ran not because he was afraid of preaching in a foreign land but because he was afraid God’s Word might change the hearts and minds of Israel’s hated enemies. So, when the people did open their hearts. Jonah grew angry at the Lord for being merciful and acting according to what He had revealed about His character (4:1-3). Jonah’s anger was irrational—he was mad at God for being God.

Don’t be too quick to judge Jonah and not ourselves, let us consider how often we expect the Lord to forgive us but then do not want to see our enemies pardoned. We are too much like Jonah, hoping God will crush our enemies instead of saving them. But as the Lord takes no delight in the death of the wicked, Ezekiel 18:32, neither should we. May our hearts desire and prayer  always be for the repentance and restoration of God’s foes and our own if we catch ourselves even thinking like Jonah, much less acting like him. It is good to remember that when Jesus took our punishment on the cross, he also took on everyone else’s punishment. Please memorize Ephesians 4:32.

Proving Pagans Can Repent, Jonah 2:8-3:10

The idea of being grateful to the point of saying so, while meeting your demise in the belly of a sea creature, takes great faith in God to provide life. This is what comes from remembering the one and only true God, when surrounded by idolaters. Jonah’s prayer ends with the determined commitment of a martyr to sacrifice himself for God’s service. (2:8-9), which is another reason why Jesus uses Jonah as a prophecy of his own resurrection, Matthew 12:39-40. The first reason is his complete immersion by water into his own death for 3 days, the second reason here is his sacrificial motive in his own voluntary death, as he praises God in gratitude for his powerful mercy. Idolaters do not have access to this attitude of gratitude while facing any kind of trouble, temptation or trial. They can not taste of the Lord’s mercy & grace. However, the next passage is all about how idolaters can be given repentance, and once they do repent, then access is granted to a new life.

Three Facts Sinners Should Be Shown To Help Them Repent:  2nd Tim. 2:25.

  1. The Truth In Action; Jonah showed Nineveh urgency, “he went immediately”, 3:3. God’s word was more than just an “announcement” of impending doom. The Lord’s message included the reason for impending doom, “because their wickedness has come to my attention”, 1:2. His urgency would have included the obvious explanation of why the judgment was coming, and all the definitions of WHO was judging, WHY wickedness got God’s attention, and WHAT wickedness is! The term wickedness is personified; it is pictured as ascending heavenward into the very presence of God. This figuratively depicts how God became aware of their evil, as if it had ascended into heaven right into his presence. The Hebrew word for “has come up before me.” Shows the term לְפָנָי (lfanay, “before me”) can mean “in the full cognitive knowledge of” or “in the full mental view” of someone, see, Gen. 6:13, Isa. 65:6, Jer. 2:22., The use of the verb עָלָה (ʿalah, “to ascend”) complements this idea; it is sometimes used to describe actions or situations on earth that have “come up” into heaven to God’s attention, so to speak (see Ex. 2:23, 1Sam. 5:12, 2Kgs 19:28, Psa. 74:23) The point is that God was fully aware of the evil of the Ninevites. Jonah would bring this truth to them clearly!
  2. The Redemption Is Real; Jonah showed his own repentance, putting value in 40 days of mercy. As the clock is counting publicly, people are believing God’s word because Jonah is able to prove physically that he was shown mercy. How would we look, if we had been through death in the belly of a sea creature? The very fact that he is alive and able to preach God’s mercy towards himself is making their own access to this redemptive mercy is really available. Regardless of Jonah’s actual appearance, his message of 40 days of mercy can be likened to the mercy offered to Jews during John the Immersionists ministry (Matthew 3:5 & Luke 3:3) where masses of people were affected & forgiven.  How do we show and tell God’s mercy in our life?
  3. The New Life Is Glorious; Jonah’s preaching was so valiant and persuasive, even the King put repentance as a priority that had fasting joined within it, 3:6-7. This is glory (the brilliant effect or powerful influence of God’s word to benefit worldly people). This generation of Nineveh will stand in judgment on the last Day against the generation in Christ’s ministry, Matthew 12:41.