Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Sharing Your Faith With Dead People

Have you ever wondered why your friend will simply not listen to you when you try to tell them about your faith? Jesus explains…

“If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” John 8:46-47 (ESV)

Some people just cannot hear, because God has not given them ears. Or, as Jesus put it, they are “not of God.” Therefore, our first step must always be to ask God to give them hearing.

This truth reminds me of the story of the homiletics (preaching) professor who one day took his class to the cemetery. The bewildered students stood around a grave, and he asked one of them to begin preaching to the dead person, telling him to come to life. The student thought the prof was joking. He said he was quite serious. So the student began to talk to the grave, and then seizing the moment, actually began to shout at the dead person.

Satisfied that the young man had done what was asked, the professor looked around and said, “Do you understand the lesson?”

The students said nothing, which seemed the safest course.

So the professor continued, “One day, God willing, you will be called to a church. And some of those people in the pews will say they are alive, but they will dead. When you try to talk to them about conviction of sin, or repentance, or new life in Christ, they may nod their head, but there will be no change…because there will be no life. And similarly, when you relate to a professing unbeliever in the community about Christ, he or she will not be able to hear you, because they will be spiritually dead. They might as well be 6 feet under.

“So you must remember that the new birth is not something that you can manufacture with persuasive arguments and especially good illustrations, or with compelling preaching. Your church services may have terrific music and your preaching may be wonderful, but unless God makes someone alive, it will all be for naught.”

And so it is true with those we love and long to see come into the Kingdom. We must be faithful to share with them, but ultimately, our only hope for their salvation is the power of the Holy Spirit.

If He moves, they will be moved. If He makes them alive, only then can they come out of the grave.

For tomorrow, Thursday, October 15: John 9

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Posted by on October 14, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Can A Christian Lose His Salvation?

One of the great arguments for the idea that a true Christian can stop being a Christian or lose their salvation (a.k.a. classic Arminianism – “I chose Christ, so I can reject Him too”) is found in Hebrews chapter 6, where we read…

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. Hebrews 6:4-6 (ESV)

At first glance, that sure sounds like a Christian who has gone to the dark side. But consider, to be “enlightened” only means to have been taught. And to have “shared in the Holy Spirit” can simply refer to someone who experienced the Spirit’s convicting work.

But ultimately, we know that the people described never were Christians because of what the author says in the verses immediately following…

For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Hebrews 6:7, 8 (ESV)

It’s all about the fruit, at least that’s what Jesus said (Matthew 7:15 – 17), and that’s what the author is saying here too. The people in question were clearly fruitless, not “produc(ing) a crop useful” and “bear(ing) thorns and thistles”. Therefore, they were “worthless and near to being cursed and…burned”. But according to Jesus, true Christians always bear fruit. Of course, it is never the bearing of fruit that makes us Christians, but when someone has truly come to know Christ, he or she always bears fruit.

The people of verses 4 through 6 clearly did not meet the biblical mark of salvation, as the recipients of the letter did, which we see in the next verse:

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things– things that belong to salvation. Hebrews 6:7-9 (ESV)

And on top of all this, of course, there is that wonderful truth in John 10, where Jesus said,

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. John 10:28-29 (ESV)

When Jesus gives eternal life to someone, that person “will never perish” and no one can ever “snatch them out” of His, or the Father’s hand. That’s ultimately comforting, for though I am surely called to “hold fast my confession” (Hebrews 4:14; 10:23), my ultimate hope is in the One Who is holding on to me.

For Thursday, September 24th: Hebrews 7


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Posted by on September 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


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All My Sin Has Been Paid For – Why Not Live Anyway I Please?

Some people say that the good news of the gospel is…too good.

Ever since the Apostle Paul preached, this gospel has been under attack with an old chestnut that goes something like this: “If salvation is a free gift, then let’s live any way we choose!” Or as Paul himself said in Romans 6:1, shall we “continue in sin that grace may abound”? There is a certain logic to it, no? If Christ has paid for sin, past, present and future, why not do as you please?

Well, here’s why: because when someone truly believes the gospel, they receive the Holy Spirit, which means that they receive a new heart (Ezekiel 36:36). This new heart enables them to truly understanding that Christ has died in their place for their sin. When someone truly “gets” that sacrifice by the power of the Spirit, their heart melts…and they change.

Saving Private Ryan

The movie Saving Private Ryan provides a good illustration. Here, in the aftermath of D-Day, Tom Hanks plays John Miller, an army captain who is assigned a mission to go into all of war-torn France and find one lone private – James Frances Ryan. The brass want Private Ryan brought out of the war because all of his brothers have been killed in combat, and his mother is to receive 3 horrific telegrams in one day; they don’t want her to eventually receive a fourth. Action ensues, and, as it happens, at the end of the movie, every man assigned to find Ryan has been killed in the search, except for one. And when this last man, Captain Miller himself, lays dying, he brings the surviving Ryan near and says, “Earn this.”

The movie closes decades later with an elderly Private Ryan coming to the Normandy cemetery to see Miller’s grave. He turns to his wife and asks her to confirm that he has lived a good life, that he is indeed a good man. She confirms it, and he stands at attention and salute’s Miller’s grave.

It’s a powerful movie moment and carries a life-changing truth: When someone sacrifices his life for you, and you are “in touch” with it, you can never be the same.

Now, leaving aside the idea that we might be able to “earn” what Christ has done for us – we can’t – what we take away from this is that everyone who truly believes Christ has been hanged on a tree for them, seeks to live for Him. By the power of the Spirit, they become full of what Paul called “conviction”:

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction… 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 (ESV)

Paul said that he knew the Thessalonians were chosen by God (that is, true Christians) because they, by the power of the Spirit, lived lives of conviction, that is, purposeful, sober-minded, God-centered lives. And so, when you see someone behaving however they please, living totally for self, and yet claiming to be a Christian, you have reason to scratch your head and wonder if they are the real thing. Now, we can’t know for sure and it’s not up to us anyway, but we do know this: when the gospel comes, I mean when it really comes to someone, that person can never say, “Great, I can sin all I want now.”

Any more, that is, than Private Ryan could kick dirt on Captain Miller’s grave.

For Monday, August 17th: 1 Thessalonians 2


Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The One Thing John the Baptist Did With His Life

If you had to sum up the one thing that John the Baptist did, what would you say it was? There was one main thrust of his life, and the fascinating thing was that his father was told by the Angel Gabriel what it would be…before he was born:

“…For he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 1:15-17 (ESV)

There is a key idea in the life of this man they called “the Baptist.” Do you see it? He changes lives. Well…God does through him. He turns the hearts of men and women around, preparing Israel for the Lord Jesus.

Ultimately it’s about getting people ready for Christ, but the overall sense of things is that he does this by changing people through the power of the Holy Spirit. Fathers, for instance, will stop hanging out with their buddies at the city gate all night and start staying home and playing games with their kids. Through John the Baptist, you see, change comes. What a glorious calling, to help people change for the better.

And I was drawn to a particular description of how his happens: the disobedient are turned to the wisdom of the just or the righteous.The inherent idea here is that being disobedient to God is not wise. But a lot of times we already know that and yet are not empowered to change, and therefore, what people need is an encounter with God to see the truth of it afresh…and repent. And often times, that encounter happens through another person, sometimes a preacher like John, and sometimes a neighbor or co-worker or friend…like you.

God grant that each of us might be John the Baptist in the lives of others, and that He would send a few Spirit-empowered John the Baptists into our lives as well.

For tomorrow, Thursday, July 2: Luke 2


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Posted by on July 1, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The Secrets of Waiting

Waiting is one of the most difficult things that we have to do in life. It’s difficult because what we’re waiting for is often something we want very much, and yet we don’t know when, or if, it will come. And the uncertainty brings fear, and the fear brings pain.

  • The single gal (or guy) who longs to be married. Maybe she’s dating; maybe she’s not. But she is waiting. And while she waits, the wedding invitations of her friends fill the mailbox.
  • The couple longing for children. They are waiting…and watching others decorate nurseries.
  • Or consider the wait of the unemployed. The people around them are going to the office or the jobsite, but they are home…alone…waiting.

If others are moving on, why am I standing still? This is the question of the one who waits.

Acts 1 is a chapter of waiting.

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;” Acts 1:4 (ESV)

The anticipation must have been overwhelming. And either doubt or boredom would surely have been the temptation of the day. And the disciples waited…and waited. Oh sure, they had a to-do list: they had to replace the traitor, and that took a little time…but mostly they waited.

Of course, while we wait, we also have things to do, but we often do them reluctantly, because what we really want to be doing is something entirely different. Who wants to send out resumes when you could be working? Who wants to go to work when you could be tending to a newborn? Who wants to be alone on a Friday night when you could be sharing pizza and a movie with the one you love? So we trudge on…maybe 75% in the game, but usually not fully engaged, because our hearts and minds are somewhere else…wishing and waiting.

You say, “I appreciate what you are trying to say here, but my wait is different than theirs. They had a promise. I have nothing. They had the Word of Jesus that the Helper would come. I have no word at all that my dream will come true.”

Well, if I may speak into your waiting, let me say this: Don’t be so sure.

Don’t be so sure that there is no promise for you.

Of course there may be no specific promise of a spouse or a baby or a job. But what are you truly hoping for when you hope for these? Aren’t you truly hoping for the sense of fulfillment that you believe these things will bring to your soul?

We wait for things because we believe that the things we wait for hold the key to our joy.  And there’s the rub – the particular item or life situation that we wait for may or may not come, but for believers, the joy is definitely on its way.  There’s a promise for that, even a myriad of them.

And those 120 upper-room souls teach us one more thing about waiting: while we wait for what we believe will result in our joy, we continue to seek our joy where Scripture again and again promises it will be found:

All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer…  Acts 1:14 (ESV)


Tomorrow: Wednesday, February 2: Acts 2

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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Comfort for those who believe they have committed an unpardonable sin (Part 2)

disastro“The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.”

Good old Fanny Crosby – she knew what she was talking about when she wrote the above words back in 1872, in her famous hymn, “To God be the Glory.”  And yet, so many Christians through the years have been determined to prove her wrong, saying that what they had done was too vile to be forgiven and receive a pardon.

Their reasoning has often come from Matthew 12, where the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. And after assailing their foolish logic, Jesus launches into these memorable words:

“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

Matthew 12:31, 32 (ESV)

With that, here is the first of three reasons (and there are more) that Christians who are concerned about having committed some sort of unpardonable sin…need not worry:

1. Regarding Matthew 12, consider that Jesus would have never said that the Holy Spirit is somehow more important than He or the Father. Each Person of the Trinity is fully God.  So what does the Lord mean, then, when He says that you can speak against Son and be forgiven but not against the Spirit?

A famous Lutheran theologian, C.F.W. Walther, is helpful.  He writes:

“Now it is certain that the Holy Spirit is not a more glorious and exalted person than the Father and the Son, but He is coequal with them.  Accordingly, the meaning of this passage cannot be that the unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the person of the Holy Spirit; for blasphemy against the Father and the Son is exactly the same sin. The blasphemy to which our text refers is directed against the office, or operation, of the Holy Spirit; whoever spurns the office of the Holy Spirit, his sin cannot be forgiven. The office of the Holy Spirit is to call men to Christ and keep them with Him.”

The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, Dr. C.F.W. Walther

Surely this is right. For Jesus said…

“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 go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. Concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me…”

John 16:7-9 (ESV)

It is only through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit that we come to believe, so to speak against the Holy Spirit is to speak against His convicting work so as to resist His call to believe in Jesus.  This explains the passage very well, because the Pharisees certainly did not believe in Jesus –  they were accusing Him of doing miraculous works by the power of Satan.  Therefore, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is at root the sin of unbelief.  It is resisting the Holy Spirit and refusing to believe in Jesus.  And this fits in well with the next reason…

concluding tomorrow, Sunday, January 18

Let me offer the same encouragement as in part 1: if you would like to read more, please consider reading the excellent treatment of the subject by Martyn Lloyd Jones in this article, called “That One Sin”.

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Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


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