Thursday, December 1, 2011

His Grace Has Been Poured out on Everyone -- Are You Receiving?

In "Old School" Pentecostal theology, charismatic preachers would teach that the Holy Spirit would descend only at certain times. In some charismatic circles, they actually believed that the Holy Spirit would only fall in certain places during the service.

It was outrageous perversion, from the beginning. I was often very confused in Four Square Churches, where people would be "slain in the Spirit". Some people would fall on the ground, rolling in hysterics.

Much of this was a complete misinterpretation of Scripture.

Granted, before Jesus Christ died on the Cross, the Holy Spirit would come and go, depending on the sin or obedience of the person.

Samson the Judge endured this loss and restoration throughout his ministry.

Saul received the Holy Spirit soon after he was anointed King of Israel:

"After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:

"And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.

"And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee." (1 Samuel 10: 5-7)

In the past, men and women had to receive a special anointing in order to receive the Holy Spirit.

Later, the Holy Spirit was stirred up in Saul when the Israelites were threatened by heathen nations:

"And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly." (1 Samuel 11:6)

From disobedience, and an unwilling to repent to the Lord, the Spirit of the Lord then left Saul:

How was Saul disobedient? He failed to heed the words of the Lord:

"Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD." (1 Samuel 15:1)

The Lord wanted Saul to annihilate the Amelakites, a pagan people who had plagued the people of Israel since they first encountered their harsh number:

"Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have." (1 Samuel 15:3)

Saul disobeyed the voice of the Lord:

"But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly." (1 Samuel 15: 9)

Samuel pronounced the Lord's final separation against King Saul:

"For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king." (1 Samuel 15:23)

Samuel later anointed David to replace Saul, and the Spirit of the Lord passed from Saul to David:

"Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

"But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

"And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee." (1 Samuel 16: 13-15)

Saul sinned, failed to repent, and thus the Spirit of the Lord departed from him.

David prayed for the Lord not to take His Spirit from Him following his sin with Bathsheba:

"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

"Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me." (Psalm 51: 10-11)

So, in the Old Covenant, the Spirit of God would come and go, depending on the obedience of the believer.

Yet the Lord prophesied that better things would come:

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:" (Joel 2:28)

Here is where the Charismatic Movement began to deviate from Scripture.

The prophet Joel clearly declares that the Lord will pour out His Spirit on "all flesh", not just believers, not just religious adherents, not just the virtuous. All flesh! Everyone would receive the gifts of the Spirit, regardless of age, class, or standing in the world.

This prophecy Peter declared as fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost:

Here is the background on what happened:

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

"And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2: 1-4)

What mankind had desired for so long was finally fulfilled - God coming down to man, and now living within man, to give him life, and that more abundantly.

When the first believers came down from the upper room in the street, speaking languages which they had not learned, one viewer scoffed, claiming that they were drunk on new wine.

Peter rebuked him soundly and declared to all the faithful in Jerusalem:

"For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

"But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

"And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:" (Acts 2: 15-18)

The last verse is very important, emphasizing that the Holy Spirit is willing to dwell in anyone, not just prophets, priests, potentates, and people in power!

"Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." (Acts 2:33)

The Holy Spirit is shed abroad for everyone, not just visiting the first believers, and not just in Jerusalem. Peter confirms the universal appeal of the call:

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2: 38-39)

The Holy Spirit is a "gift", one which receive by faith, not by works, and certainly not by trying to work it up with lots of prayer and fasting, as many contend. No one can claim to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit because of their diligence in religious traditions or spiritual exercises.

"Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

"And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

"That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

"Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2: 5-9)

We access the Holy Spirit by faith, not by any turn of mind or body to get God to do something for us.

The Holy Spirit has been poured out on the world by the death of Jesus Christ. It is no longer a matter of being in the right place at the right time, of doing and saying the right things, but rather receiving the righteousness of God, by which every person who believes may then receive the Holy Spirit.

And the Holy Spirit does not leave the believer, even when the believer fails or falls, quite contrary to the experience of the Old Testament saints:

In fact, the Holy Spirit convicts the believer of his righteousness, his right standing in God the Father:

"And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" (John 16:8)

Too many have misconstrued this passage to suggest that the Holy Spirit actually convicts the believer of sin. Yet Jesus makes it clear of the new role of the Holy Spirit once a believer has received the Holy Spirit by faith:

"Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;" (v10)

The Holy Spirit is with us as a constant reminder of our right standing with God through Jesus Christ, as Jesus would ascend back to His father and no longer be physically present to remind us of our right standing in Him.

We have been made the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5: 21). He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), therefore, we have no need to fear that the Holy Spirit will come and go depending on our behavior.

Remember, the Holy Spirit is a gift, one which we receive by grace!

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