Where is the “Holy Spirit of Promise?” Where is the Lord God of Paul? Ephesians 1:13

Ephesians 1:13

phs3I am not sure whether it was Calvin or Charles Finney that said, “We must understand that the New Covenant sustains the same relation to the Abrahamic Covenant that the fulfillment of a promise does to the promise itself.  The Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant are not identical, but the New Covenant is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.” (I have the statement in an old notebook of mine and so I am not sure of its source).

 

The New Covenant, that is quoted so often and dwelt on so much, is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant to those who receive it.  It is manifested by the Holy Spirit taking up His home in the human heart and having the human recipient literally immersed in all that the Holy Spirit is, and engrafting His law there in the spiritual DNA of the recipient.

 

Methinks, prophetically and realistically, the time has come when we should feel utterly compelled to consider these promises in the present tense, and only to pray for them as an overdue and unclaimed reality. We need to take hold of them for their glorious intrinsic worth, and for the winning of the nations of the earth. God only blesses us in order to bless others. The fullness of the blessing of the gospel is only seen in the immersion of God’s people in the power of the Spirit. These promises were not due in Abraham’s day.  They were promises made to Abraham and to all the Old Testament saints concerning the world’s future good, and the future good of Abraham’s descendants, i.e. ethnic Israel.

 

phs4Concerning Abraham and the Old Testament saints, the Bible informs us that they, “all died in faith not having received the promises but having seen them afar off”.  (Hebrews 11:13)  And again in Hebrews 11:39, 40, “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”  It is clearly declared to us in the infallible word that these promises are due to us and available to us in a higher sense than they ever were or possibly could be to Abraham and the Old Testament saints. The Kingdom needs to be taken by force, and taken now.

 

The Abrahamic covenant is not abolished.  The Abrahamic covenant has not been completely fulfilled to date.  Some silly folk think that the Abrahamic covenant was fulfilled when Christ came, and thereafter complete, and/or therefore abolished, inferring that Israel has no future purpose in God’s plan. How quaint!  This means that God wasn’t being serious when He used the word forever. Tosh to that one! The Abrahamic covenant is not done away with, set aside or fulfilled. The Abrahamic covenant cannot be set aside until all the nations of the earth are blessed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

 

We need to add that this universal outpouring will then continue till the end of time in this world system as we know it.

 

This brings me to todays offering.

 

May I tread on a few toes? Please? Not that I want to tread on anybody’s toes at all – and I am not trying to be confrontational about stuff.  However, I know I will go where some will not want me to go, in as much as what I want to say is not commonly agreed to in the Christian world. I have a personal deep conviction to share today. Some will love it and shout “Hallelujah!” because they profoundly agree, yet I suspect some might stop half way down the first page and vow never to read my stuff again. Some may read it and think, “Tut! What on earth is the fuss about?” So; May I take the risk? Pretty please? Most Christians will agree with the body of my thoughts, but the qualifying introduction is the bit that might upset a few.

 

My opening gambit, you see, is this:

 

phs5Every true Christian is born again, from above by the Holy Spirit. That cannot be doubted. Most of my readers will “Amen” that opener. Also, and this is where some of you might hold your breath, I believe that every individual Christian, without exception, is divinely promised and is qualified to receive through faith, the promise of the Father, the “promised Holy Spirit,” i.e. the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Master said, “You shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you.” The baptism in the Holy Spirit is stated to be all about spiritual fire, power and authority. This Holy Spirit baptism is every believer’s inheritance. John the Baptist cried, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” The Baptist’s statement explicitly indicates that Jesus Christ would literally immerse believers into the living water of the Holy Spirit. That’s the good news.

 

However, I believe that it is clearly and self-evidently not factual to say that every Christian has received the Holy Spirit in the way and the manner He is promised in the passages of Scripture concerning the baptism in the Holy Spirit. That’s the bad news. Many Christians have a practical status quo in the spiritual life that is contradicted by the perspective that we are about to negotiate.

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If it is argued by any that, “It all happened at conversion,” I will as graciously as I can step back and leave my protagonists to their sad and very mistaken delusion.  Of course, I need to insert a caveat and say; I believe that it is possible to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the same moments of conversion. I know quite a few who received their baptism in the Spirit in that manner.  That would be, however, the rare exception and definitely not the common rule. (The need for Peter and John to visit Samaria after Philip’s series of meetings makes that clear.)

 

There are still huge swathes of Christians, and many denominational niche’s where the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the elephant in the room and remains a mere academic Bible College debate and an intellectual exercise.  I am talking of the practical need and the divine provision and I promise I am not even attempting to be doctrinally swanky or supercilious. The baptism in the Holy Spirit should be the normal experience of all Christians. That is my conviction.

 

The separation of “Tongue Talkers” (as they were initially called) from the main body of believers, they having been ejected from churches of all denominations a century or so ago, has in these days completely reversed itself. Not that the intellectual study of the subject has been settled and agreed by all – far from it. In these early days of the twenty-first century we now have the “Tongue Talking rejects of orthodoxy” sitting generally in the driving seat of evangelism, church building, and world winning aggressive and robust spirituality. There are of course exceptions, as there are to every rule. The all-round solid theology and church building praxis of Pentecostalism in general has long killed off the superficial “Tongue Talker” epithet, and the situation is so reversed in the passing of a century that today “Full Gospel” Christians, whether they are wrapped under the Pentecostal packaging or fly under the charismatic pennant, are the folks who have been more successful in keeping the message pure as ever whilst adapting their church praxis into twenty first century acceptability.

 

ph8For anybody out there who thinks I am talking “tosh” let me put the whole stack of cards on the table and disabuse the non-charismatic masses that, by strict definition, “tongue talking” is only a tiny drop of icing on the top of a huge mountainous cake of spiritual enduement for what God imparts in the mighty Holy Spirit baptism. I will not and dare not trivialize the “tongue talking” in any way whatsoever, it is one of the vital organs of the indwelling Spirit – but there is much more than that. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is one of the paths of access into walking like Jesus walked. An “Acts 10:38 lifestyle” is what we are talking about and aiming for.

 

The real point of my thoughts today is a practical one. And this is where I might upset a few folks. It is this writer’s conviction that many Christians have never received the Holy Spirit in any higher sense than the Old Testament saints who had actually been justified by grace through faith and experienced, to some degree, the presence of the Spirit.

 

There! I’ve said it and feel I cannot retract it.  Many Christians, experientially, have nothing more than some of the Old Testament saints. I feel it in my bones that some of my readers will want me taken out at dawn to read the last rites over me before having me shot for those words. I am talking about the real O.T. saints, of whom the Bible says, “They all died in faith not having received the promises” (Hebrews 11:13).  Many Christians have not received the baptism in the Holy Spirit – or many other God given promises – that are part of their inheritance because of ignorance. By that I mean lack of knowledge and understanding. I do not mean that anybody necessarily has a bad attitude as the word “ignorant” can sometimes mean in today’s usage of the word. It may be bad biblical teaching, or even no teaching at all that precipitates the “non-desire” for the Holy Spirit baptism.

 

phs1The New Testament experience should have us all walking where the likes of Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah and Daniel, along with many others never walked. However, many Christians do not even walk near the places those men walked. New Testament blessing should take us well beyond Old Testament extremes. The prophets told us that there was a “New Covenant” coming; a new kind of relationship with God through the Holy Spirit, and a new commonality where the weakest member of the Kingdom of God would be even greater than John the Baptist whom Jesus taught us was the greatest among men.

 

The apostle Paul noted that, “after we believed we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).  Most evangelical and non-charismatic or non-Pentecostal Bible teachers, preachers and writers refer to this “sealing of the Spirit” as if it was the new birth. I believe that explanation to be a complete error.  I promise I am not referring to mental gymnastics to prove, “My theology is better than yours! Tadaa!”  What I am talking about has down to earth practical ramifications that can transform one’s spiritual experience and perceptions. I am talking of an enduement of the Holy Spirit and power. I am talking about the anointing of the Spirit.  I am talking of something that would make Daniel and Elijah jealous. A quiet, sedate walk with the Master with no outward manifestation of anything supernatural is not justified. We each need to know, understand, believe and apply the teaching of the baptism in the Holy Spirit (and all the promises of God) in order to take a firm hold on what God wants for our lives both individually and corporately.

 

Once converted, the baptism in the Holy Spirit needs to be a priority. See what Paul said when he met the “about twelve” disciples he met in Ephesus (Acts 19). It was his first primary thought there: “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?” The baptism of the Holy Spirit is only one of those promises. Some would say it is the most vital promise for any Christian to appropriate. Others would say that it is the one promise that opens the whole bank of God’s purposeful promises. It can, indeed, be logically taught that the Baptism is the umbrella promise that has many more promises embedded within its outworking.

 

I insist that believers in the Old Testament possessed the Holy Spirit. I also believe that they had the anointing of the Spirit that fell upon some in order to bring the miraculous and the divinely supernatural into this time space world.

 

Watch this:

 

phs01We need to understand that the Spirit of God is stated as being “in” the believers throughout the Old Testament. There is the classic verses of 1 Peter 1:10 -11 (NASB) that says, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow” (The Bold font and italics are my action of course). So clearly, we know that all Old Testament prophets had the Spirit of God dwelling within them. I have been taught nearly all my Christian life that the Spirit of God was “within them” while they prophesied, but was not “within them” at any other time. For me, that is not a biblical proposition made plain by the text.  The Old Testament prophets had what Christians hold dear. There is further evidence below.

 

“And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? (Genesis 41:38. KJV).  Some may argue that a heathen idolatrous Egyptian Pharaoh may have used the terminology with a different meaning; nevertheless it is how Joseph was perceived by the Egyptian monarch. It suggests that there was much more to Joseph than his ability to dream his own dreams, and interpret other’s. He had a demeanour of character and gifting that spoke of the presence of Almighty All-knowing God to those that knew him. This presence was part of his character. That screams “indwelling Spirit” to me. From what we know of Joseph, it would seem that, indeed, the Spirit of God did actually dwell within him. He could interpret the butler and baker’s dream at the drop of a hat. The anointing is seen to be at his beck and call when necessity required. That’s what I call an “indwelling.”

 

phs 20“You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me. (Exodus 28:3 (NASB)) A large body of men who worked on building the Tabernacle were “filled with the Spirit” in order to facilitate their task. That is what I have always been taught. But the Spiritual wisdom they were given is nowhere suggested to have been given only for this single task. It could just as well have been their lifelong gifting and occupation.

 

“I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship.” (Exodus 31:3 (NASB)). Bezalel was a greatly blessed man. He was filled with the Spirit. Exodus 35:31 states the same phenomena, adding that God actually called Bezalel by name to the task. Again, I add that I have always been taught that this gift was given to Bezalel just for the building of the Tabernacle and then rescinded when the Holy Tent was completed. And yet, again, I add; why should that be a valid conclusion when it is not stated anywhere in the biblical text? I think evangelicals have always made that presupposition to differentiate and make clear that the Holy Spirit experience of New Testament believers is “superior” to and separate from that of Old Testament believers.

There are, however, a good number of statements of scripture that ensure the understanding of the Holy Spirit presence being different after Acts 2 in the life of all believers that totally preclude the need to “make up some differences.” If, as I suspect, the men who worked on the Tabernacle in the wilderness with Moses were Spirit filled in a very practical way all their lives through, that fact – presupposing it to be a fact – in no way prejudices the superiority of the New Testament faith experience when compared with the Old.

 

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“So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.” (Numbers 27:18 (NASB)). Can anything be clearer? The Spirit of God was “in” Joshua. Joshua was a man of faith. Added to the Spirit being “in” Joshua, we have “Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; …” (Deuteronomy 34:9 NASB). Joshua the son of Nun was actually “filled” with the Spirit that was “in” him. That filling, we are told, was because Moses laid his hands on him.

 

Ezekiel 2:2 (NASB) says, “As He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me,” And 3:24 (NASB) adds “As He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me.” I Peter 1:10-11 above refers to a continual indwelling of the Spirit with the Old Testament prophets, suggesting to me, that these two statements of the Spirit “entering” Ezekiel are referring to a supernatural experience for a particular moment.  Ezekiel 11:5 referring to Ezekiel’s experience of the Spirit of God “falling” on him has echoes very much of the baptism in the Holy Spirit as referred to in Acts 10:44 and 11:15.

 

From 1 Peter 1:10-11 we would understand that Micah had the Spirit of God dwelling within him, but when Micah 3:8(NASB) says: “On the other hand I am filled with power— with the Spirit of the LORD and with justice and courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel his sin,” It sounds to me to be the language that acknowledges an external anointing that has imparted power to the prophet, giving him power and courage in ministry. Micah was conscious and clearly aware of the external anointing of the Holy Spirit on his life and prophetic activity.

 

Nebuchadnezzar knew no better when he referred to Daniel as the man “… in whom is the spirit of the holy gods.” (Daniel 4:8, 4:9 & 4:18). Belshazzar used the same terminology in 5:11 and 14. Even though Nebuchadnezzar was a self-deifying person with deep anger and mental problems. And Belshazzar was a mindless hedonist till his last hours of life, their understanding of Daniel, having met him, speaks loudly.

 

phs2So; we have clear evidence that to some degree, no matter how less and no matter how different the relationship to the Spirit of God, Old Testament believers did indeed have the Spirit of Yahweh within them. Any discussion about the Spirit only being in a chosen few and “not in all,” have no biblical justification for their opinion.

 

Note also, that as well as “The Spirit indwelling,” we also have the “Spirit coming upon” Old Testament believers. That anointing of the Spirit that caused ordinary men to do things that were extraordinary and supernatural.

 

For instance:

 

Judges 3:9-10 (NASB) “When the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.”  An anointing that raised Othniel into Judgeship, and precipitated him supernaturally winning battles.

 

Judges 11:29 (NASB) “Now the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon.” Each Judge was raised up by Yahweh Himself. Sovereignly and –as far as human sight is concerned, seemingly totally random, yet, we understand that nothing Yahweh does is random.

 

ph6Judges 13:24-25 (NASB) “Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child grew up and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.” Samson was often moved by the Spirit of God throughout his life. I often pray, “Oh that You, Holy Spirit, would stir me as you stirred Samson!”

 

Judges 14:6 (NASB) “The Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.” It was the anointing of the Spirit of God coming upon Samson that gave him whatever was necessary to tear a Lion in two.

 

Judges 14:19 (NASB) “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil and gave the changes of clothes to those who told the riddle. And his anger burned, and he went up to his father’s house.” In 14:6 the Spirit of God helped Samson kill a lion, here he was inspired to kill 30 Philistines.

 

1 Samuel 10:6 (NASB) “”Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man.” It was, of course, the Spirit of God that inspired Saul to prophesy when he was in the same atmosphere of the prophets and musicians of the School of the Prophets. This prophetic word of Samuel’s was fulfilled in 1 Samuel 10:10.

 

1 Samuel 16:13 (NASB) “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. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.” There was no killing of the bear or slaying of the lion by David until the symbolic anointing of Samuel which precipitated the real anointing, i.e. “the Spirit of the LORD coming mightily upon him. Note also that the Spirit of the LORD came upon David mightily, from that day forward. That phrase informs us that this one off anointing never left him throughout the rest of his life.

 

phs 301 Samuel 19:20-23 (NASB) “Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied. When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. So Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied. Then he himself went to Ramah and came as far as the large well that is in Secu; and he asked and said, “Where are Samuel and David?” And someone said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” He proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah.” It almost suggests that Saul was prophesying involuntarily. The atmosphere of music and the prophetic dance greatly influenced the moving of the Spirit in those first days of the schools of the prophets that were mentored by Samuel.

 

2 Kings 2:9 (NASB) “When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”  Elisha’s unique and classic request of Elijah was in reality a cry for a double anointing of the Spirit of God. His request was granted. It is a wonderful study into the rationale of Elisha’s request, and the biblical meditation as to whether Elijah granted Elisha’s request or whether it was Yahweh. The conclusions from such a study are more than edifying.

 

2 Chronicles 15:1 (NASB) “Now the Spirit of God came on Azariah the son of Oded,” And Azariah thereafter prophesied very forcefully.

 

1 Chronicles 12:18 (NASB) “Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, who was the chief of the thirty, and he said, “We are yours, O David, and with you, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, and peace to him who helps you; Indeed, your God helps you!” Then David received them and made them captains of the band.” This was a soldier, not a “professional” prophet. The Spirit anointed whom He willed for prophecy just as He does in the New Testament and in the church today.

 

What does all the above show us? It exemplifies the fact that Old Testament believers had the Spirit of God dwelling within them, and it also shows that the anointing of the Holy Spirit was a “common” occurrence in the prophetic activity of the Old Testament.

 

Having stated my conclusions concerning the relationship of the Spirit of God to believers in the Old Testament, we now want to seek out the biblical explanation and definition of how and why a New Testament believer has what the Old Testament believer’s – even the prophets and men like Elijah – did not have, nor could have.

 

phs40We start at Abraham. A fuller biblical appreciation of the promises given to Abraham can illumine our hearts on this issue making us open to take more of the Spirit of God in our lives and to step more easily into the baptism in the Holy Spirit which is the inheritance of every true Christian and always has been since Acts 2.

 

The concept of being “saved,” as in being “born again,” is not used in the Old Testament, however, faith is. Justification is never mentioned in the Old Testament, however, Genesis 15:6 says that “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.” That is as clear a biblical commentary on the definition of justification without the word being used that one can think of. It may say in the New Testament that faith is the gift of God, but that does not mean it was not the gift of God in the Old Testament. God Himself gives people the faith that saves them. It may not say that Noah repented of sin, and claimed Yahweh as his salvation, but I defy any bible reader to even suggest that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” to mean anything else but that he went through the dynamics and experience of what we call “conversion” even if Noah would have thought we were talking a foreign language if we suggested that word to him. The fact, Enoch walked with God,” could not have been possible without Enoch exercising faith that gave him access to fellowship with God, in exactly the same manner as it does with the New Testament believer. Hebrews 11 and the “Hall of faith and fame” tells us that these things are so. Faith activated Enoch, Noah, Abraham and many others. Faith is a gift of God that can only be exercised by willful choice. One cannot exercise faith ignorantly or unconsciously.

 

So I ask: If Enoch could, by faith, walk with God and not see death, if Noah could find grace and know that final judgement was coming for his generation, and if Abraham could know clearly that it was right that he should leave “the culture of civilization” and set out to create a whole new culture and civilization, how “insane” does it sound to an unbelieving cynic when Christians say, “We have more than the Old Testament believer’s had?”

 

Is there anybody left out there reading these lines? Or have I lost you all?

 

phs 70I believe the New Testament is superior to the Old. I believe the New Covenant is a spiritual ministration of life while the Decalogue of Sinai was and still is a ministration of death. I seriously believe the New Testament Christian has more than the mightiest Old Testament prophet, but …!  And it is an extremely large “BUT!”  Jesus said to the woman at the well that the day was coming, “and now is,” when folks would worship God in Spirit and in truth.” It is statements like that in John 4, as well as Christ’s remarks about the kingdom members being greater than John, and not forgetting the promise of Jeremiah 31 that settles the issue as an incontrovertible fact. The “indwelling” of the Holy Spirit is what separates the very nature of the New Testament believers’ relationship with God from the people of faith in the Old Testament prior to the first advent of Christ.

 

I am, however, not sure that the commonly held explanations of the distinction between Old Testament and New Testament believers is sustainable in the light of close inspection.  I really believe we should re-examine our convictions about what this difference actually is.

 

“I live with the indwelling Spirit. I have what Elijah, Isaiah and even Moses never had” is what many non-Pentecostal charismatic Christians declare. But is that really true? And for the millions upon millions that have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, surely we are vastly under valueing, misunderstanding, and under utilizing what God has given to us.

 

Old Testament saints were “saved,” (i.e. made righteous in the eyes of God) not by works of law, but by faith as in the covenant Yahweh made with Abraham. There has NEVER been any other way that a human being could be received as righteous before God other than “by faith,” meaning “faith alone.” In other words Abraham, together with all that were saved (i.e. those that were “in faith”) before and after him in the days of the Old Testament, were declared righteous before God because of their faith in Yahweh, and the expectation of Messiah’s coming.

 

Let it be understood that the ceremonial law was a continual rehearsal and a practical demonstration of the New Testament message. It was quite literally a shadow of the Gospel, and it clearly says in that, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’”  Paul literally calls the words of the covenant with Abraham, “the Gospel.”

 

phs 60The difference then between the old dispensation and the new, does not lie in the fact that under the old dispensation the saints were saved by works, while under the new they are saved by grace. It is essential that it be noted and kept as a fundamental key to understanding the entire Bible: Everyone who was, is and in the future will ever be “saved” was, is and will be only and ever be saved by grace through faith in Christ.  But, in the days of the Old Testament, prior to Christ’s first advent, the Holy Spirit was neither promised nor enjoyed to such an extent as He is promised and enjoyed under these Gospel days.

 

What Abraham and the Old Testament saints did not receive was that measure of the Holy Spirit that constitutes the New Testament Gospel message, and produces the sanctification of the whole person, body, soul and Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23).  Those promises cascade down through the millennia, from Abraham, and through Abraham to Christ, and through Christ and by Christ to the whole Church of God.  Now remember the Holy Spirit is to be received by simple faith in these promises.  “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29). “As it is written, ‘the just shall live by faith’ (Romans 1:17).

 

In the 12th chapter of Genesis, we have the first mention of the covenant that God made with Abraham, even though the word covenant is not mentioned.

  • “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)
  • “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.” (Gen 17:4)
  • “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.” (Gen 17:7)
  • “Since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him”. (Gen 18:18)
  • “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Gen 22:18)

There were two things promised concerning the covenant made with Abraham.

  1. Earthly Canaan or Israel was promised to the natural descendants of Abraham, i.e. ethnic Israel, vis a vis the Jews.
  2. There was also a blessing promised through Abraham to all the nations of the earth.

This covenant was not only made with Abraham, but as we shall see, this covenant was also made with all the nations of the earth through his seed. This is the blessing that has now come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ. We are assured this is true by consulting Romans 4:

  • “For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” (Romans 4:13)
  • “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure o all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” (Romans 4:16)

To detail the situation further, the apostle Paul says that those Gentiles who had faith are of the seed of Abraham, and that he is the father of us all.

  • “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” (Gal 3:7)
  • “So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” (Gal 3:9)
  • “…that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Gal 3:14,29)
  • “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:29)

Language could not be clearer. Paul clearly includes gentiles in the blessings imparted by the covenant made with Abraham. Paul confirms that if they are Christians, then they are “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  Further in Galatians 4:28, he says;

“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise”.

 

Here Paul affirms that the Gentiles are as absolutely within the promise made to Abraham as Isaac was.

 

Ephesians 2:12-22 declares that the Gentiles inherit all the promises of spiritual blessings made to Abraham and the fathers.  Here, there is absolutely no distinction between Jews and Gentiles.  All who have faith are entitled to all the promises, apart from the land being promised solely to ethnic Israel.

 

The real point to note is that this promise of blessing is not merely that Christ should be of Abraham’s seed, but that the promise was made to Christ through Abraham.

 

“Now the promises were made to Abraham and his seed.  He did not say, ‘and to seeds’ as of many, but as of one, ‘and to your seed’, which is Christ.  What purpose then does the law serve?  The law was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.”  (Galatians 3:16 and 19)

 

“That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus”. (Galatians 3:14)

 

This blessing, then promised, was not Christ himself, but the promise was first given to Christ, and then through Christ to all the nations of the earth. This means that we can soundly declare that this promise to Abraham and to his “seed,” and through Christ, (i.e.Abraham’s seed) to all the nations of the earth, is the Holy Spirit Himself.

 

Throughout the Old Testament, the prophets seem to have had their prophetic eyes focused on this all the time.  The scriptures, when scoured for these promises of the Spirit, reveal the promises as one unbroken chain pointing out this particular blessing everywhere, starting with Abraham right through to Christ Himself.  Sometimes, it was promised in allegorical language, where the Spirit of God is represented as water, wind or fire.  But in most situations, the prophets promised the Holy Spirit by name.

 

“Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest.”  (Isaiah 32:15)

 

For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.”  (Isaiah 44:3)

 

“As for Me”, says the Lord, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants”, says the Lord, “from this time and forevermore”.  (Isaiah 59:21)

 

“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, says the Lord, I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”  (Jer 31:33)

“And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.”  (Jeremiah 32:40)

 

“Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh.”  (Ezekiel 11:19)

 

“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:27)

 

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”.  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:38-39)

 

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”  (John 14:16-17)

 

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”  (John 16:7, 13)

 

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  (Acts 1:4-5)

 

“That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  (Galatians 3:14)

 

We can now plainly see what the great blessing under the eye of divine inspiration was. The great issue of an outpouring promised to Abraham is avowed in the passages notated above. And the list above is by no means an exhaustive one.  These passages demonstrate that the gift of the Holy Spirit in the process of Salvation was indeed the “promise of the Father.”  This was the promise to all nations who followed the words and believed the promise of Yahweh. Messiah was coming, and He would appear in the power of the Holy Spirit. In His death and resurrection, the people of faith would become the body of Christ, and as He was in the world with full access to the sensitivities of the Holy Spirit, so would His body, the church do and be likewise.

 

This is why Ephesians 1:13 clearly refers to the Spirit of God as the “Holy Spirit of promise”. This is verified in other places.

 

“That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14)

 

“He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water” But this Jesus spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.” (John 7:38-39)

 

 

We conclude that the Holy Spirit can only be received by faith.  Seeing and knowing the truth is not faith in  itself.  Acknowledging truth is not faith per se.  These things might assist us to have faith, but are not intrinsically faith itself. Faith is an act.  Faith is believing in, divulging to, and compliant with our whole being to the influence of God and His Word.  Faith is actively feeding our voluntary powers to the direction, tuition, stimuli, and rule of the Holy Spirit. On the authority of the whole of scripture I assert my belief that this is the only potential route to receive the Holy Spirit, and to continually be the recipient of the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  Knowing truth about Him is not faith, nor is it receiving Him.  We can know all kinds of truth about the Holy Spirit and still reject Him.  This happens often.  No matter how profound or concentrated our understanding is, simply apprehending the truth about Him is neither faith nor receiving Him.  Only when we perceive and realize His offers of guidance, it is faith that grabs a holds the offer and yields up our absolute total being to His Lordship.

 

The baptism of the Holy Spirit needs to be sought after and received immediately, by faith, by the worldwide body of Christ.  All preparation on our part to receive Him and all delay, no matter how serious we may think we are in seeking and preparing to receive His fullness, is self-righteous and rebellious.

 

Sorry it is so long today. But …”Here endeth the lesson.”

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Post Script:

I have many note books that I have gathered into my library. They are filled with notes of people I have met, sermons I have heard, books I have read and quotations I have never forgotten. Occasionally I insert a few thoughts of my own that – to me at least – are original. Some of the above has been cooking within me for over 30 years.

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Praying for Those Already in Overflowing Blessing

For this reason, ever since I first heard about the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all God’s people everywhere,I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you, remembering you in my prayers constantly.  (Ephesians 1:15-16)

 

aaaaa1I am sure that anyone who believes in the power of prayer would pray for folks in trouble, folks that are ill or are being buried by some negative circumstance. Christians receive prayer requests for folks in needy scenarios all the time. It is the Christian lifestyle. “Tell me, what can I pray about for you?” Sickness, loss, lack and bereavement are all situations that need prayer and the power of God to sustain folks through hard times.

 

However, when we hit Paul’s discussion of prayer in Ephesians 1 we have a totally different concept. The first fourteen verses are highlighting the gloriously wonderful context of the true faith that existed in the hearts of the people to whom the apostle was writing. He highlights truths that are embedded into the life of all true Christians. The believer is chosen, blessed with everything God has to give, purposed for glory and purposed from before time began. The believer has forgiveness, clearing out the past; redemption, being owned by God, and having the status of family member; and the empowering of the Holy Spirit to walk in the high calling of God.  It is all absolutely glorious. On top of all that, the reports have come to Paul that the practical outworking of these truths is wonderfully self evident in the lives of those to whom the letter was sent.  At the end of all that information, we have Paul’s instant response. He thanks God for them and ensures that he remembers them all in his prayers. This is revelation that informs us of things happening in the invisible spiritual cosmos. Because of their experience in Christ, and because of the obvious outburst of grace and Christ-like love in them all he needs to pray for them, along with giving thanks for them.

 

I believe Ephesians was written as a “round robin” to many of the churches in Asia minor, or to use modern terminology – the area we know as Western Turkey. There are several reasons why I hold tightly to this hypothesis.  One of those reasons is that I am given to understand from many academic volumes that there are quite a few manuscripts of the epistle where “at Ephesus” in the very first verse is missing. I am told that those that have the Ephesian location missing are among the oldest manuscripts extant.  Another reason that causes me to hold to my “circular newsletter” theory is this section of the epistle in verses 15 and 16 of the first chapter.  The language suggests that he is addressing people that he has not met but only heard of, when indeed he had spent three years in Ephesus. If he had lived in Ephesus and never circulated throughout Asia or met the other fellowships, it makes it legitimate to picture the apostle talking about having heard of the people’s faith and their love for God’s people everywhere, having not met them. It stands to reason that he was the father and the witness to the impact of the gospel message on the Ephesian population, but the disciples and others sent out from Ephesus also birthed churches in Colossae, Thyatira, Pergamos,  and other cities within biblical Asia.  If this letter was to be read throughout all the churches in Asia, there must have been some thoughts of the apostle of the Christians he knew of, yet had never met. The theory of academics is that there were several copies written and then as Paul’s workers attended differing congregations they would fill in the name of the city where the church was that they were visiting.

 

Paul had people reporting to him all the time.  Having heard of the grace of God working in the province as a whole, as people were filled with faith and love, he set himself to pray for them. In fact, the language he uses suggests that he was constantly in prayer concerning them. How does one pray for those that are obviously grounded in their faith and witnessing the love of Christ in their lives?  This brings to our attention several thoughts.

 

aaaaa2The important issue to imbibe is that Paul did not pray for the Ephesians because they were in crisis or having problems – in fact, the letter suggests that it is for reasons that are quite the opposite to lack, need or illness. He commended them for their love and faith, having told them in the early part of the chapter all that they had in Christ, and from that platform of understanding he postures himself to pray for them to experience more of what they have already got.  It is necessary, I believe, to grasp the idea that there is more to being saved and walking with God than just getting our sins forgiven, wonderful though that is.  The new birth translates us into the kingdom of God, which is infinitely greater in wonder and benefits than even the greatest finite mind can ever comprehend. We need revelation to understand what salvation is in all its fullness, and this letter supplies us with that revelation. Conversion and being born of the Spirit is marvellous, but walking with God has even more superlatives to be heaped upon the concept of being “saved” to really understand the process.   We need to have a clear view of how the kingdom of God functions and then follow the principles behind the divine promises given.  The more we can experience it down here on earth, the more glory we bring to God.  This is called spiritual growth.

 

Everything big starts little.  This growth in God does not take place automatically, neither does it happen all at once. We are progressively being changed as we renew our minds – assuming renewal of the mind is our greatest priority.  Mind management is the first priority of the overcomer.  All Christians are the same in their born again spirit but there are many different levels of understanding and accompanying victories which we should be manifesting in our lives.  This is why every Christian on the planet can correctly say that Ephesians 1:3-14 is the exact truth of their derivation, status and divinely ordained goal in life, and yet some can turn out to be mighty world changing apostles, and some can simply cruise and remain so bland and ineffectual. One only gets out of a relationship as much as one puts into that relationship.  It is with these things in mind that Paul prays that what these Asian Christians had in their spirit and were exhibiting in a life of faith and love, will be openly and ever increasingly manifested  in their flesh. Whatever one’s experience of God is or has been, there is always more. However deep one has gone into the Spirit, there is always deeper and deepest to explore.

 

For these reasons, this prayer Paul is about to detail to us is powerful and valid for every Christian. One would be wise if one was to make this prayer personal to one’s self. It is powerful and ever so far-reaching in its conceptual insights.

 

Paul’s giving of thanks is part and parcel engrafted into the warp and woof of his prayer life. Thanksgiving is a vital nutrient in the interaction with God that prayer is intended to be. “I will enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise,” reads Psalm 100:4, suggesting that God welcomes those that come to Him in a genuine state of thankfulness.   Philippians 4:6 instructs us similarly.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  To put it succinctly, Paul does not think that prayer is legitimate without a period of thanksgiving mixed in with the petitions.

 

“For this reason” he begins.What reason is he referring to?  Everything listed in those first fourteen verses, together with the fruits of their faith that have been reported to him. The apostle is overjoyed at the clear evidence of a real and solid faith. He is so happy that he has been thanking God ever since he heard. He is selflessly rejoicing in the intervention of God in the lives of the Asians and he sees clearly that the momentum needs to be maintained. How can he influence the momentum of Godliness when he is so geographically distanced from them?  Paul is filled with the solid factual and concrete concept that distance is not a barrier with God.

 

“I have not stopped giving thanks for you.” This is a revelation of one of Paul’s deep secret for maintaining the gifts of grace and power that sat upon his life. Thankfulness for anything that is God given was the lifestyle of the apostle. Praying was a lifestyle. Remembering people in his prayers was the air he breathed.

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Invisible yet Tangible Grace and Peace

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 1:2

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God’s grace and peace are supernatural in their source and manifestation. We would not have any idea of God’s grace and peace if it was not for the supernatural revelation of the scriptures. From the most truly righteous person in the world, to the most truly evil person of the world, we are all alive because of God’s grace and His gift of life. If God Himself is Spirit, and invisible to the physical eye, how profound is the invisibility of the attitudes and character of the invisible God. We would not understand how much God loves mankind if it were not for His revelation of Himself to us in the revealing of Christ, as revealed in the Bible. This is an act of His grace.

Yes! I deliberately overused the concept of revelation in the previous paragraph to make the point. God is kind towards man. Not just kindness as in somebody giving you their seat on a bus, or helping you to pick up items that you have dropped. God is kind to us as in going the extra mile for us, giving us everything He has and even – yes – dying for us. That is kindness of an extreme sort. That is God’s grace. Not that kindness is necessarily a synonym for grace, not so, but when we are talking about God, grace is a tangible, life changing, impacting aspect of God that changes our time and space world.

In the same way that the bright midday at the time of Christ’s death turned the physical atmosphere of the planet pitch black for three hours; just like the rocks breaking open at the loud cry of Jesus’ “Tetelestai!” (“It is finished!”); just like the death of Jesus causing dead saints to arise from the grave and walk about Jerusalem, God’s grace – a spiritual, invisible attitude and action of God Himself shakes and interferes with the world of individuals who put their faith in Him. And allow me to raise my voice, stamp my foot and bang my fist on the table while I assert to all my readers that it impacts those who hate God, turn the back on God, or claim to be atheists as well. God is good. Everything He does is good. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, and when we repent, His grace leaps up to overdrive and is lavishly poured over our lives and characters.

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Mercy is not getting what you negatively deserve. Grace is being given the positives that you do not deserve.  The Bible refers to Jesus Christ as the “God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10). The gospel of Christ is, “the word of his grace” (Acts14:3), as well as, “the good news of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). By presenting grace as some abstract, theological idea that the man on the street cannot see as relevant to his making a living, or paying his bills, we lie. Paul stated that, “the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, teaching us to deny all ungodliness” (Titus 2:11-12). When preachers and teachers make the grace of God to be a sloppy, insipid attitude of the Almighty towards evil and bad living, they become the worst kind of deceivers.

The grace of God is strong and manly, loving and desperate to aid. The grace of God is God Himself putting all His effort and application into saving man from the fallen world he is born into. The grace of God carried Christ to His passion.

The grace of God is a gift. The received grace of God brings peace to the heart. In the modern secular world, one cannot but hear them used in weak effeminate contexts of the media. They seem like slight small words that poets like to use. But these are the words of the crux of the battle between good and evil, righteousness and sin. These two words are bulging and ready to pop open with the liquid love of God in people’s lives, if only they were taken seriously and received as the tangible substance that drowns our sin and dark history when we receive Christ. “Grace and peace,” can come to anybody with faith and a ready acceptance of the love of God in Christ.

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The very nature of the gospel is reconciliation with, and conceiving of the peace of God in a person’s heart. It creates peace with God, with man, with self and with society and the world. The source of all this, is the grace of God that devours all rationale of people’s evil and shortcomings that would, in the natural, disqualify them from any kind of oneness with God. Grace and peace flow to mankind from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace are both internally received. Logically one would think that they are conjoined. I do not think it right or biblical to disabuse my readers of that perspective. When grace flows into a person’s heart, peace emanates from within. They are both invisible, yet their impact on the human personality is always obvious to sight. Grace brings us into relationship with God. When that relationship is fed and watered peace exudes from the inner man. It is a more than wonderful thing to see grace and peace working their business in a human life.

Although owning grace and peace are invisible as a state of being, the bible refers to them both persistently concerning how they are co-workers together in the humans walk of faithand whence they come. I desperately want my readers to get hold of this invisible, yet almighty power of the grace of God working even more and more grace into our human scenario. When we know the dynamics of the two, we can intelligently negotiate how to increase them in our lives.

We sit at the feet of Jesus Himself first of all who likened these unseen items of spiritual reality to visible physical reality, debts of money being cancelled, and anxious characters receiving such a gift of settlement.

ZZZZ Jesus is our PeaceJesus told a story that confronts us with the whole issue of grace. It’s in Matthew 18:21-35. Without any qualifying explanation, he tells us that a King was owed an obscenely preposterous amount of money. The debt was ten thousand talents. The man who owed this amount was also owed 100 denarii by a third character in the story. So hold on to your seatbelts while I untie a few things not often noted.

The King wanted all his accounts put straight, said Jesus, and so, in comes the servant who owed him ten thousand talents. Just so that we can envisage the terms concerning eastern currency at that time, I discovered from a huge amount of research  that one denarius was a day’s wage. So, 100 denarii was about three month’s wages for a worker in the time of Christ.  A talent was about 6,000 denarii. So the debt of the first servant to the king was 600,000 times larger than what he was owed by the second servant. The Talent was the largest unit of currency in Roman exchange. On top of that, “10,000” was the highest Greek numeral.

The amount owed to the king by this man was ridiculous. According to Josephus, the joint annual tribute of Judea, Samaria and Idumea at this time was 600 talents which made people dizzy just thinking about that amount of money. To owe 10,000 talents is likening one single human being to owe the entire national debt of the USA, UK and Russia put together. I am labouring this issue for the point I want to make a little later. 10.000 talents I calculate as 164,383 year’s wages for a worker at the time that Jesus told the story. Christ deliberately chose to use this awesomely incredible amount of money in order to make a very specific point.

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Imagine the weight of such a debt on a person’s mind. The pressure of debt and the need to pay debts puts people in mental hospitals and others in the morgue. Debt is a horrible thing. I know this is a parable, I am, however, filled with concern as to how one human being could handle such a predicament.

In the narrative of Matthew 18, immediately prior to Jesus giving us the story, Simon Peter is asking Jesus about the issue of forgiveness. “Lord, how often should I be forgiving my brother who sins against me?” and then Peter makes a suggestion that he obviously thought was extravagantly Godly: “Shall I forgive him seven times?”

Jesus answered, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven!” While Peter was reeling at the words of the Master and trying to absorb what he seriously meant, the Saviour plunged into this divine masterpiece of logic that teaches us all about grace received as well as grace given.

Jesus speaking: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants. When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  But because he couldn’t pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.”  The king was within his rights. There was nothing unjust about the royal decree concerning such a debt. The individual servant with the debt larger than the internal assets of the International Monetary Fund had to respond.

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“The servant therefore fell down and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!’ The servant’s statement is ludicrous. How on earth was any servant going to pay back 164,000 years salary? However! Guess what? “The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.” That is an incredible phenomenon. It was an act of undiluted grace. The king could have done all he could to at least reduce what he was owed. He could have had the man burnt alive for incurring such a debt, and nobody would have even suggested that the king did anything wrong. But grace per se is nothing to do with right or wrong, It is nothing to do with the rights of the king. It is all to do with compassion, and kindness that leaves issues of right and wrong in the dustbin. It is forgiveness. It is allowing others to start afresh. It is to do with closing those accounts that tear people’s hearts out. I am not talking about the money that is owed, I am talking of the relationship that is here broken, mended by an act of grace that is beyond the pail of what any of us will be asked give.  The King closed the account as “Paid in Full.” Try to get hold of the concept of what it cost the king to announce the debt as “paid in full.”

For the overall message of the parable, I see the king as the Lord God Almighty Himself. The phenomenal amount of the debt owed him by the servant is only a small picture of the account we overdrew on with our sins before God. The entire human race owe God, big time. We owed a debt we could not pay. Christ paid the debt He did not owe. In the context and seminal force of the parable, the servant was forgiven a debt of such extremity that it is difficult to compare it with anything even today, apart from you and I getting our sins forgiven at Christ’s expense.

Imagine being forgiven a debt of billions upon billions of pounds. The mental, spiritual release would be euphoric. The debt that dominated the servant’s entire existence was lifted and gone by virtue of the king’s pronouncement. To live with that load of guilt and worry settled would be an invisible, but tangible experience of the grace of the king.

However, in the deep Euphoria of received grace, as the servant left the palace, he bumped into one of his peer group colleagues – somebody at the same level of life, and position in society as himself. Matthew tells us, “But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed  him one hundred denarii, and he grabbed him, and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’

For the freshly forgiven servant, there must have been an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. Didn’t it even ring a bell in his recent memory of the life changing experience of the king’s grace and forgiveness? “So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you!’ It was almost the exact same words the creditor had uttered to the king when the man with the mace had exercised grace towards the servant and forgiven him the vast amount.

Matthew, however, tells us how the experience did not remind the man of grace and kindness that was so richly bestowed upon him.  How crass was that! It says of the forgiven servant that, “He would not, but went and cast him into prison, until he should pay back that which was due.” This is hard to swallow. A man who was forgiven a debt bigger than the bay of Biscay only moments before, refuses to forgive one of his debtors a few pence. The story is such that it makes me angry as I read it. I see it to a certain degree like David saw the story of a man with a huge flock of sheep stealing a lamb from a man whose only possession was that very lamb, and feeding a visiting friend with the poor man’s sole lamb. But in my rising anger as I read the story of this servant, I literally step into David’s shoes. “Who is this wicked man?” shouted David, “God do so to me if this man isn’t dead by the end of the day. He does not deserve to live.” But then, we have one of the most dramatic moments in the 66 books of the Bible when the prophet points at David and informs him, “You are the man!” For David had many wives and concubines, yet had stolen Uriah’s sole wife.

My anger at this evil servant has me inwardly declaring, “Somebody take him out and dispose of him for such evil.” But I scream again when I realise, that it is me that is portrayed in the parable. I have been forgiven ten thousand talents of sin against God, and I have at certain times of my life held grudges against people who have owed me for a dollars worth of offence. Woe is me! “I am the man!”

The message is frighteningly obvious, painfully true and strikingly more common a practice than we would think. The first servant had received grace, but obviously no peace. The huge degree of grace he had received did not budge him one little bit toward forgiving his colleague the pittance that he was owed. But the story wasn’t finished at that point.

“So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told to their lord all that was done.” There was gossip and chit chat amongst the servants at the palace. The forgiven servant had refused forgiveness to a colleague of the same status as he, and with a debt that was 1 over 600,000  times less than the one he had been forgiven.

When the king was told about what had happened by the listening compassionate servants, he stepped into monarchical action. “Then his lord called him in, and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me. Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?’  And that is the point of this issue called “grace and peace.” His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him. So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don’t each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds.”

This parable is an account from the master Himself on how to receive grace, and then how to give grace. It is all invisible, yet it is an issue concretely tangible in the kingdom of God.

So the impact of the grace received was not enriched, because the spirit of the grace that he received was in no way imparted to others.

To learn from the parable a full and frank series of instructions about grace and peace we need to bullet point.

  • God is the original source of forgiveness and grace,  as was this king.
  • The level at which God’s forgiveness flows is far beyond our comprehension.
  • The servant asked for time to repay (as if he could). The king gave the  man grace – much more than what he asked for. God gives us morte than what we ask for.
  • This parable is a picture of God’s government of His kingdom. “The kingdom of heaven is like …” This means that the story is divinely given inside information on how we are to respond to received grace if we are to move in the realm of the kingdom of God..
  • Our forgiveness and grace received from God was even more costly than it was to the king in the parable.
  • The king would not have been at fault if he had demanded payment, but he chose not to. God’s grace is His choice and is consistent with  Him being Love personified.
  • FORGIVENESS AND GRACE FROM GOD CANCELS OUR ETERNAL DEBT.
  • Grace received changes the very circumstances of our lives.
  • The servant had spent more than he could repay. Nothing he received was deserved. That is why we call it grace.
  • Grace puts us out of the reach of right and wrong, and into the realm of grace and forgiveness. as we have freely received, so we must freely give.
  • If grace given does not change our attitude to those who are indebted to us, even to do what was erstwhile legal and right becomes hideously evil and wrong.
  • Everybody has mammoth debts towards God, and debts payable to each other as human beings.
  • Grudges held against people puts others in debt to us.
  • No matter how severe the hurt, the grief and thus the amount of the emotional debt owed a person, it is small in comparison to what we owe God.
  • The normal scene when grace has been walked out in life is that those who have received much grace should give grace out as abundantly as they themselves received that grace.
  • Forgiveness and grace is not optional for the subjects of the kingdom of God.
  • When one has endured the humiliation of having one’s debts openly referred to before kneeling and pleading for grace, all in a public place, good will and common sense demands that there should be an expression of similar grace in a similar public forum when one is pressured by another’s debt that is owed oneself.
  • Grace upon grace gains momentum. Grace received is increased by grace given.
  • The issue of grace has removed what is right or wrong, or discussion on why the debt was incurred from the table. Grace and peace, both received and both given is the goal of the whole exercise and the currency of the kingdom of God.
  • Grace warmly received and properly responded to produces peace of heart and mind.
  • It is possible, according to this parable, to receive great grace and yet miss out on peace.
  • Lack of grace and forgiveness is a self inflicted imprisonment.
  • The “torturers” of bitterness, anger and regret will torture your soul worse than the Gestapo ever did.
  • Allowing others of your own group to witness your lack of grace devalues your friendship in their sight.
  • Grace received and not given is perceived by all humans as indecent and seen as truly wicked.
  • To forgive is a process of giving up. That’s exactly what the word forgiveness means – “to give” to someone by releasing them from debt. It also carries the idea of “releasing,” and freeing  one’s self.
  • Forgiveness and giving grace is the virtue we love most to hear about and least employ.
  • Forgiveness is not natural to fallen man, that’s why it is sometimes hard to do.
  • Forgiveness is not fair – our sense of justice always screams to be vindicated by vengeance.
  • Jesus did not die to extend His grace to us because it was “fair” on Him.
  • This first servant was forgiven but experienced no change of heart, or expressions of thankfulness.
  • Jesus closed the parable by saying, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Let him that has ears to hear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
  • SECRET: 1. Face your creditor head on. 2. Own the debt. 3. Ask for forgiveness.
  • Grace and forgiveness brings closure and disposes of baggage.
  • The exercise of grace and forgiveness, both received and given, brings life.
  • Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be healthy and well?
ZZZZZZZZ  Bernardino-Mei-Christ-cleansing-the-temple

Bernardino Mei. Christ cleansing the temple.