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Showing posts with the label #HolySpirit

Shekhinah: Everybody’s favorite non-biblical Hebrew word.

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Shekhinah sɛ.xi'nɑ American ʃɛ'kaɪ.nə noun. The glory of God’s presence. 2. God’s presence. 3. God’s dwelling place. [Shekhinic ʃɛ'kaɪ.nɪk adjective. ] The Hebrew word שכינה / šekhiná , which English-speakers tend to spell “shekhinah” or “shekinah,” isn’t found in the bible. No, really. It comes from the Mishna. Sanhedrin 6.5, Avot 3.2, 6 It refers to God’s presence. More specifically the weight of God’s presence; not in a literal sense, but more like its importance, substantiveness, reality, the fact the Almighty showed up is a really big deal. The King James Version tends to call it his glory. God’s everywhere, and ordinarily not visible. But sometimes he makes his presence more visible than usual. Like when he allowed Moses to see his glory Ex 33.18 —from the back, anyway; from the front might crush Moses. Or when the Hebrews saw God’s glory in his temple, 2Ch 7.3 or when Stephen had a vision of it. Ac 7.55 None of these folks were talking a

Continuationism. Because the miracles never stopped.

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CONTINUATIONIST kən.tɪn.jʊ'eɪ.ʃən.ɪst adjective. Believes the Holy Spirit’s gifts (particularly tongues and prophecy) continued from bible times to the present day. Honestly I’m not a fan of the term continuationist , because the default setting for Christianity is—and should be!— the Holy Spirit is living, active, and still doing as he did among the ancient Christians. As prophesied by the prophet Joel in the fifth century BC , and fulfilled 24 May 33 on the first Christian Pentecost : Joel 2.28-29 NKJV 28 “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” Before the church age, the Spirit’s power was only poured out like this to prophets. But now every Christian has the Spirit within us, and therefore he can empower

Your God-experiences have to jibe with the scriptures.

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In the year 610, Muhammad ibn Abdullah al Mecca began having visions of an angel he identified as Jibril, who’d be גַּבְרִיאֵל / Gavryél , “Gabriel.” Because Muhammad was at the time illiterate, Jibril had him memorize certain recitations, and these were later collected into the Quran, Islam’s scriptures. Problem is, Muhammad never double-checked ’em against the Christian scriptures. Even though his revelations told him to . Quran, 10 (“Jonah”) :94 So if you’re in doubt about what We revealed to you, then ask those who’ve previously read the bible. Truth has truly already come to you from your Lord. So don’t be among the doubters. Despite this instruction, he didn’t. He presumed Jibril would never steer him wrong; why would a holy angel do any such thing? Hence the Quran has a lot of things in it which contradict the Christian scriptures. The way Muslims reconcile the differences is to claim Jews and Christians must’ve twisted or distorted the bible. (Usually they figure

Jesus warns against blaspheming the Spirit.

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Mark 3.28-30, Matthew 12.31-32, Luke 12.10. Fairly soon after we become Christians, we hear a rumor there’s such a thing as “the unpardonable sin.” Or multiple unpardonable sins. Certain things we can do which push God’s grace to the limit, ’cause apparently it has a limit, and these sins cross it. Do ’em and you’re going to hell. Game over, man, game over. Problem is, the rumor doesn’t always tell us what the unpardonable sin is . When I was a kid I thought it was saying, “ F--- God,” and Dad had committed it a bunch of times, so he was surely going to hell. I’ve had newbies ask me whether it was murder. Or Catholics tell me it was one of the seven deadly sins, ’cause what made ’em deadly was they’d send you to hell. There are in fact multiple unpardonable sins, and today I’m get to what Jesus teaches about one of them, namely blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Turns up in the gospels, right after Jesus had to correct the Pharisee scribes for accusing him of using Satan

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

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Our English word blasphemy comes from the Greek βλασφημία / vlasfimía —which largely means the same thing. It’s irreverence towards, and slander against, people and things we oughta reverence. We Christians tend to only use it to describe irreverence towards God (and bibliolaters to describe irreverence towards the bible), but the ancients applied it to all sorts of things. Like irreverence towards the temple, Moses, the prophets, and the scriptures. Even kings and emperors; yes you could blaspheme a king. Especially when they claimed godhood, as some of ’em did. Some blasphemy is totally unintentional, like when we claim stuff about God that’s not so. When we claim, “God will send you to hell for that,” and no he won’t. When we claim God’s secret will is for evil to happen, and no it’s not. Other times it’s totally intentional, ’cause we’re pissed at God over something he did or didn’t do, so we yell at him a bit, or otherwise throw a tantrum and say some evil things. God

Cessationists: Those who imagine miracles stopped.

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CESSATIONIST sɛ'seɪ.ʃən.ist noun . One who believes divine miracles and prophecy ceased in the past. (And may happen again in future, but currently don’t.) 2. One who believes miracles and prophecy never happened; that all biblical descriptions of them are fantasies, exaggerations, misreports, or lies. 3. Having to do with a cessationist’s beliefs. [Cessationism sɛ'seɪ.ʃən.iz.əm noun .] When you read the bible, y’might notice there are a ton of miracles in it. Jesus performed many. So’d the prophets of the Old Testament. Since Jesus empowers his followers with the Holy Spirit Ac 2.38-39 —same as himself Ac 10.38 and the Old Testament prophets Zc 7.12 —he told his students they’d perform miracles just like his, if not greater. Jn 14.12 Arguably his followers did exactly that, as retold in Acts . And if his followers kept that up, certainly the world should be filled with miracles—just on the basis of pure numbers, ’cause a third of the planet identifies a

“Don’t seek God-experiences!”

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When people wanna know whether God is real, I tell ’em to seek God-experiences. Watch him interact with people in our world, or hear him interact with you personally, and you’ll know for certain he’s real. Especially after you’ve had a whole bunch of these experiences. New Christians tend to take this advice. Longtime Christians, not so much. Because when someone’s been Christian for a mighty long time, yet have no God-experiences at all , it actually means they’ve been going out of their way to avoid any such experiences. They’ve been intentionally, deliberately staying away from any Christians who dabble in miracles and the supernatural—whom they call continuationist, ’cause we claim miracles have continued from bible times to today, unlike those who say miracles ceased, i.e. cessationists. Why do they stay away? ’Cause we freak ’em out a little. Sometimes for totally understandable reasons. I gotta admit, some of us continuationists are straight-up freaks. They bug me

“How do you know there’s a God?”

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Every so often I’m asked, “How do you know there’s a God?” No, they’re not asking, “How can we, as humanity, verify the existence of God?” They don’t wanna go over Christian apologists’ various proofs for God’s existence. Sometimes they’ve already heard a few; sometimes they even found them reasonable. But they also found them unconvicting . They couldn’t make the leap from, “I think there’s a God out there” to “So now I’m gonna become Christian.” In fact if I started listing the proofs of God’s existence, it’d be the fastest way to annoy them. “Well y’see, I know there’s a God because the universe works on cause and effect. So if we trace all the causes back to a first cause…” Yeah, yeah, they didn’t ask for a philosophy lesson. Most folks have heard the “unmoved mover” idea before, and nontheists are pretty sure that unmoved mover is the Horrendous Space Kablooie. They don’t care about that. What they wanna know is how I , me, K.W. Leslie, the guy who talks about God

Pentecost.

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I’m a Pentecostal… and weirdly, a lot of us Pentecostals never notice when Pentecost comes round. I don’t get it. I blame anti-Catholicism a little. Anyway, Pentecost is the last day of Eastertime, the day we Christians remember the start of the Christian church—the day the Holy Spirit gave power to Jesus’s followers. Like so. Acts 2.1-4 KWL 1 When the 50th day after Passover drew near, all were together in one place. 2 Suddenly a roar came from heaven, like a mighty wind sounds, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Tongues, like fire, were seen distributed to them, and sat on each one of them, 4 and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to speak in other tongues, in whatever way the Spirit gave them the ability. 4 The Jews who inhabited Jerusalem at the time were devout men from every nation under heaven. 5 When this sound came forth , the masses gathered, and were confused: Each one of them was hearing their own dialect sp

You’ll be persecuted. Get ready to not defend yourself.

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Mark 13.9-11, Matthew 10.17-20, Luke 12.11-12, John 14.26. After Jesus said the temple’d come down, his students wanted to know what that looked like, so Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse. How the Romans would destroy the temple in the great tribulation. And while he was at it, how Christians would be persecuted too —advice we’ve used throughout the Christian era, because we’ve been persecuted since the beginning. In many parts of the world, still are. As a result a number of Christians are steeling ourselves for it. “When they come for me, here’s what I’m gonna do.” And many Americans are planning to do some pretty violent things. Simon Peter with a machete type things. They got their gun stockpiles. They got their armor-piercing bullets and 50mm rounds. Peter only cut off an ear; they’re planning to mow down as many cops and soldiers as they can. Even though many of ’em claim they “love” our police, “love” our troops. Sure, when politically convenient. But those sentiments

The Holy Spirit reminds us what Jesus taught… assuming we know what Jesus taught.

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John 14.25-26. Most Christians figure Jesus’s students followed him three years. It might actually have been longer than that. The idea of three years comes from the fact three Passovers get mentioned in John , Jn 2.13, 6.4, 11.55 the last one being the Passover for which he died. But just because John mentioned three particular Passovers doesn’t mean these were the only Passovers which took place during Jesus’s teaching time. Coulda been nine for all we know. No I’m not kidding: 7 BC : Jesus was born. 24 CE : Jesus’s 30th birthday. Luke states he was ὡσεὶ / oseí , “like,” 30 when he started teaching. Lk 3.23 Didn’t say exactly 30, but let’s start from there. 33 CE : Jesus died. And woulda been about 39. Time for some basic arithmetic. If Jesus started teaching in the year 24, and “like” just means he was a few months shy of 30, by the year 33 he’d’ve been teaching nine years. If “like” instead means he was already in his thirties; say 33… he’d’ve been teac

The Holy Spirit of truth… and dense Christians.

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John 14.15-17. Christians take for granted that we receive the Holy Spirit by virtue of being Christian: When we say the sinner’s prayer and claim Jesus as our individual savior, we individually, automatically get the Holy Spirit to indwell us and guarantee us an eternal place in God’s kingdom. Right? Right. But the assumption Jesus makes when he says as much to his students in John , is his students don’t just passively believe in him. Don’t just passively believe all the correct things about him, and have the proper “faith”, and that’s what saves us. And once we die after a lifetime of taking God’s grace for granted, we get to use the Holy Spirit as our entry fee to heaven. The Holy Spirit’s been granted to us to help us continue to follow Jesus. John 14.15-17 KWL 15 “When you love me you’ll keep my commands, 16 and I’ll make a request of the Father, and he’ll give you another Assistant, because he’ll be with you in this age: 17 The truthful Holy Spir

He lives within your heart.

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INDWELL ɪn'dwɛl verb . Be permanently present in someone [namely their soul or mind]. Possess spiritually. [Indweller ɪn'dwɛl'ər noun. ] There’s a hymn we sang in my church growing up; “He Lives” by Alfred Henry Ackley. Chorus goes like yea: He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart You ask me how I know he lives; he lives within my heart ’Cause that’s the common Evangelical belief about where Jesus currently is: He’s in our hearts. As a boy I was taught Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts, asking to come in. (Much later, I read that particular bit of Revelation and found out it doesn’t mean that. But anyway.) Once we permit Jesus entry, he takes up residence in our hearts. As kids a lot of us took this literally: We imagined a tiny Jesus taking over one of the chambers of our cardiac muscles, and even moving a bed and furniture into it. Bit cram

Spirituality. Which leads to religion.

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SPIRITUALITY spɪ.rɪ.tʃu'æl.ə.di noun . Being concerned with the human spirit, as opposed to material things or the material world. 2. [ Christianity ] Following the Holy Spirit. [Spiritual 'spɪ.rɪ.tʃ(.u)əl adjective ] I regularly meet pagans who consider themselves “spiritual, but not religious.” I sometimes like to poke back at ’em by describing myself as religious, not spiritual. Of course pagans and Christians have very different definitions for these words. By spiritual they mean they’re trying to be mindful of their spirit. And they have some idea what a spirit is. They know it’s the immaterial part of themselves. Frequently they mix it up with the soul, and use those words interchangeably—and to be fair, so do many Christians who likewise don’t know the difference. If they believe in afterlife, they figure their spirit lives on when they die. Otherwise… they kinda associate everything in their heads, which they think is immaterial, with their spirits.

Christians who don’t know the Holy Spirit.

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A few years ago I was checking out a local Baptist church’s faith statement on their website. These faith statements come in handy when you wanna know what an individual church emphasizes. Not all Baptists are alike, y’know. Pretty much the only thing they have in common is they’re Protestant, and they insist you gotta believe in Jesus before you’re baptized; they won’t baptize babies. Beyond that, they could be liturgical or loose, be run by elders or by popular vote, be Calvinist or Pelagian; be egalitarian or sexist or racist —any stripe of Christian you can imagine. In this specific Baptist church, turns out they don’t know the Holy Spirit. I know; you’re thinking, “What Christian doesn’t know who the Holy Spirit is?” Well, heretic Christians. Thing is, you’re gonna find this particular heresy is startlingly common. Too many Christians don’t understand who the Spirit is and what he does in their lives—that he’s probably the only person of God’s trinity they’ve ever

Do you know the Holy Spirit?

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Years ago a pagan relative of mine asked me, “You keep saying ‘Holy Spirit’ this, ‘Holy Spirit’ that. What do you mean by that? What’s the Holy Spirit?” “Oh,” I said—half surprised, half not-all- that -surprised, she didn’t know. And since she’s pagan, the simplest answer was best: “Holy Spirit is another name for God.” “Oh,” she said. And our conversation moved on. Yeah, I could’ve given her the full-on theological explanation of what spirit is, how Jesus revealed him, who he is in the trinity, what he does, how he lives in Christians, and how he’s a he instead of an it . But that’s the introduction we really oughta save for new Christians. Mostly because they’ll want to know all this stuff. Pagans don’t always care. But basically the Holy Spirit ( KJV “Holy Ghost”) is God. “Holy Spirit is another name for God” is a quick-’n-dirty explanation which points people in the right direction. As opposed to the wrong direction, which is all too common: Too many people thi

What’s the difference between a seer and a prophet?

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In case you’re the sort of person who skips titles (a phenomenon I’ve seen a bunch of times, and still don’t get), I remind you this article is called “What’s the difference between a seer and a prophet?” Short answer: No difference. Same thing. 1 Samuel 9.9 KWL In the past, in Israel, a man said this when he went to seek God: “Walk, walk to the seer.” For “the prophet” today was “the seer” in the past. The Hebrew רֹאֶה / rohéh , “seer,” is the noun-form of the verb רָאָה / raháh , “to see.” It means what we mean by “seer”: A person who can see. A person whose eyeballs work, so they can point ’em at stuff and identify what they’re looking at. It’s not a complicated word. When I see rainbows, I’m a seer of rainbows. Duh. But when they used this word in the bible they obviously had an attached idea that a seer saw something more than others could. ’Cause like all legitimate prophets, seers had the Holy Spirit, who’d show ’em stuff. It’s a term which didn’t entirely die

The Holy Spirit’s temple: Multiple Christians.

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From time to time Christians talk about how you, singular, individually, are the temple of the Holy Spirit. ’Cause the Spirit is sealed to every individual Christian. Ep 1.13 He lives in the heart of every single believer. And whatever God lives in is, properly, his temple. If he lives in you, it makes you his temple. If he lives in another Christian, it makes that person a temple. Dozens of Christians are dozens of temples. Billions of Christians are billions of temples. Get it? But it’s not accurate. God has one temple. As was kinda emphasized in the bible. Moses built the portable temple at Sinai, which English-speaking Christians call the tabernacle, and that was the temple for 4 centuries till Solomon ben David built a permanent one of gold-plated cedar in Jerusalem. The Babylonians burnt that down; Zerubbabel ben Shealtiel built another of stone; Herod 1 and his successors renovated it; the Romans eventually destroyed it. It was the one and only place the L ORD int

God our Mother.

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Our hangups about gender get in the way of understanding the Almighty. Years ago I observed a rather heated discussion between two people about which pronoun to use for the Holy Spirit. See, when people don’t know the Holy Spirit, they tend to refer to him as “it”—they think he’s a force, or God’s power, or otherwise don‘t realize he’s a person. The Greek word for spirit, πνεῦμα / néfma , isn’t much help in making this determination: In English nearly all our nouns are neuter, but in nearly every other language they’re not; they’re either masculine or feminine. Well, Greek has masculine, feminine, and neuter… and néfma is neuter. The writers of the New Testament didn’t try to masculinize it either, and turn it into πνεῦμος/ néfmos or give it masculine noun-markers like ὁ πνεῦμα/ o néfma , “the [he]-Spirit.” Nope, they went with the usual πνεῦμα ἅγιον / Néfma Ághion , “Holy Spirit”; τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ , “God’s Spirit”—both neuter. Every reference to the Spirit in the NT is ne

The Twelve and the miracles.

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The hangups Christians have about how the apostles could somehow do miracles before Pentecost. Mark 6.12-13 • Luke 9.6. Of Jesus’s students, he assigned 12 of them to be apostles , “one who’s been sent out,” and eventually he did send ’em out to preach the gospel, cure the sick, and exorcise unclean spirits. And that’s exactly what they did. Mark 6.12-13 KWL 12 Going out, the apostles preached that people should repent. 13 The apostles were throwing out many demons, anointing many sick people with olive oil—and they were curing them. Luke 9.6 KWL 6 Coming out, the apostles passed through the villages, evangelizing and curing the sick everywhere. Yep, all of them. Even Judas Iscariot. And here’s where we slam into a wall with a lot of Christians. Because they cannot fathom how these apostles went out and cured the sick and exorcised evil spirits. They’ll grudgingly acknowledge that the apostles did it. The gospels totally say so, and who are they to