A LIFE WITH WINGS: Chapter III: "The Abundant Life"
(A book by Marge Green)
- The Holy Spirit In The Christian's Life -
(Marge Green's book, A Life With Wings is written to Christian women about developing spiritually-devoted lives.)
I. Page 28: 1 John 5:10 - "God gave us the Spirit as a witness concerning His Son."
1. Holy Spirit is not even in this verse.
2. 5:10 - The witness is in the Christian and has been borne by God concerning His Son.
a. 5:11-12 - "The witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."
b. 5:13 - Assurance of eternal life to believers.
II. Page 28: "Every Christian knows Acts 2:38 and that this passage states that the Spirit is given us at the time of our baptism."
1. The grammar of Acts 2:38 allows for either the Spirit as the gift or the gift which the Spirit gives. Evidence more clearly supports the second interpretation, i.e., that the "gift of the Holy Spirit" is the blessings of salvation in the Messiah.
a. Acts 3:19 - Parallel verse (Same type of audience with the same need, speaker and message -- Same result): "Seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord" (cf. Eph. 1:3).
b. Acts 2:39 - The "gift of the Holy Spirit" is the fulfillment of a promise which God had made to both Jews and Gentiles. WHAT promise, and HOW was the promise fulfilled?
(1) The promise of Genesis 12:3 - The Messiah would bless all men.
(a) Isa. 42:1 - The Messiahs coming would be marked by the presence of the Spirit.
(b) Isa. 44:1-5 - Through the Messiah God would "pour (His) Spirit....(His) blessing..." upon men. Parallel thought.
(c) John 7:37-39 - By drinking from Christ (faith in Him), one would receive "living waters" (eternal life, Jno. 4:14), which is here equated with receiving the Spirit!
(2) Gal. 3:13-14 - Blessing of Abraham -- In Christ -- (Acts 2:39) The promise of the Spirit through faith -- Salvation in Christ!
c. "Gift of the Holy Spirit" = Blessings of salvation in Christ (which includes fellowship with the Spirit of God, Rom. 8:9-11).
III. Page 29: "I want to state that I believe in the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit! Now, wait before you accuse me of digression. Let me explain what I mean when I use the word miraculous...when I yield my will to God's and say, Here am I; help me make your will my will, then I believe that through the indwelling of God's gift, His Spirit, I can do things which otherwise I could never accomplish. To that extent it is a miracle to me!" (emp., Marge Green)
1. Miracles are "works of a supernatural origin and character, such as could not be produced by natural agents and means...." (Vine, III:75). cf. John 6:19; 11:39, 43-44.
a. So, this author defines the effects of the Spirit dwelling in the Christian as a miracle. She believes that the personal presence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian is manifested by giving Christians the power to achieve things in life which could not otherwise be done.
b. The clear implication is that the power for such "miracles" is granted separate and apart from the word of God which the Spirit revealed (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-13; Jno. 16:13).
c. The belief in present-day miracles IS DIGRESSION away from the truth of the gospel! (Gal. 1:6-9)
2. THE INDWELLING OF THE SPIRIT:
a. The issue is NOT whether the Spirit dwells in the Christian. It is evident that He does - Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Tim. 1:14; 1 Jno. 3:24.
b. The issue is HOW does the Holy Spirit dwell in the Christian. There are two possibilities:
1) By a direct, personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the body and life of the Christian (position of Marge Green, A Life With Wings, 28ff).
2) Through a life of obedient faith. Hence, it is an express-ion of the fellowship with deity which the Christian enjoys (cf. Phil. 2:1).
c. The Holy Spirit "dwells in" the Christian in the same way which the Father and the Son dwell in him -- Through one's obedient faith to the revealed word of God.
1) John 14:23 - Father and Son abide with the one who, out of love, obeys Christ's word.
a) Not a direct, personal indwelling of the Father & the Son, but fellowship with them (cf. 1 Jno. 1:7; 2 Jno. 9).
b) The Holy Spirit dwells in us in the same way.
2) Ephesians 3:17 - Christ dwells in our hearts through ("by," KJV) faith (cf. Col. 1:27).
a) To live by faith = Obeying the gospel - Rom. 1:16-17.
b) Not a direct, personal indwelling of Christ in the body of the Christ, but rather, it is a statement of fellowship one has with Christ by believing in and obeying His word - Col. 3:16.
c) The Holy Spirit dwells in us in the same way.
3) 1 John 3:24 - He that keeps the commandments of God abides in God, and God abides in him.
a) Does anyone care to take the position that he personally indwells God because he keeps the commandments of God?!
b) Need not force personal indwelling of God and His Spirit into this verse! - cf. 1 John 4:13, 15 (Similar thought).
4) Romans 8:9-11 - Having the Holy Spirit dwell in you is equivalent to having Christ in you!
a) By determining how Christ dwells in us, we have determined how the Holy Spirit dwells in us!
b) See Ephesians 3:17 above: Christ dwells in our hearts by faith - cf. Gal. 2:20; 5:6-7 (by faithfully obeying the gospel).
c) How does the Holy Spirit dwell in us (Rom. 8:9-11)? By faith!
(1) Rom. 8:4-9 - By having the mind of the Spirit.
(2) Acts 2:17-21, cf. 2:38 - As we receive the salvation He brought in the kingdom.
(3) Gal. 5:16-25 - As we receive and heed the message He revealed in the Word.
5) If the Holy Spirit personally dwells within the Christian, then one is implying the incarnation of deity within every Christian!
a) The Holy Spirit is deity.
b) Incarnation is the personal indwelling of deity within humanity (cf. Jesus - Col. 2:9; Jno. 1:1-3, 14).
c) Therefore, if the Holy Spirit personally inhabits the Christian, then the Holy Spirit is incarnate within that Christian!
d) If incarnation has occurred, one cannot possibly err.
e) Automatic cleansing would be a necessary consequence.
IV. Page 29: 2 Corinthians 3:2-6: "In II Corinthians 3:2-6 Paul informs those Christians that they were an epistle written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. And that through that Spirit they can have all sufficiency---not of themselves but of the power of Christ. This unlimited power is available to those in the body of Christ but how little we utilize it!"
1. The Corinthian Christians became the epistle of Paul and of Timothy ("our epistle," 3:2, 1:1) when they obeyed the new covenant (v.6) which the Holy Spirit revealed and preached through them (Acts 18:5-8). It was not by the old law which had been written on tables of stone (3:3).
2. The Holy Spirit is mentioned in 1 Cor. 3:3 because the new covenant, which was written in their hearts, came into being through His work of revelation and inspiration!
V. Page 29: "The Holy Spirit should be an active participant in our life. It must be to produce the fruits spoken of in Galatians 5. For we through the Spirit by faith, wait for the hope of righteousness (verse 5)."
1. We do not deny the active role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The question, again, is HOW does the Spirit work in our lives: Through "miraculous" means which are separate and apart from the word of God, or through the word He revealed as we obey it in faith?
2. The author refers to the Holy Spirit as "it" several times in this chapter. The Holy Spirit is a person ("he", John 16:13), not an impersonal force ("it"). He is deity (Acts 5:3-4) and is recognized as a person of the Godhead (Matt. 28:19).
3. We produce the "fruit of the Spirit" by walking in the truth of God which the Spirit revealed - Gal. 5:16-25; 3:2-3; 5:6-7.
4. HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKS IN OUR LIVES (leads the Christian):
a. Two possibilities:
1) The direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon men's lives.
a) The Holy Spirit operated directly upon men to reveal all truth (Matt. 10:19-20; Jno. 16:13; Eph. 3:3-5), to inspire the teaching of that revealed truth (1 Cor. 2:13), and to confirm the divine origin of that revealed word by empowering men to work miracles (1 Cor. 2:4-5; Heb. 2:3-4).
b) Nowhere does the New Testament teach that the Holy Spirit works directly upon the Christian to empower him to obey the truth which has been revealed!
2) The indirect operation of the Holy Spirit upon men's lives.
a) The work which the Spirit does on our behalf is said to be accomplished through the word of truth which He revealed.
b) That work can either be accepted or rejected, based upon one's obedience to the word of God (the Spirit does not force His desires upon men!).
c) The work which the Holy Spirit accomplishes through the word He has revealed, inspired and confirmed includes:
i) Convicting sinners - John 16:8 (of sin, Rom. 3:23; of righteousness, Rom. 1:16-17; of judgment, 2 Ths. 1:8-9).
ii) New birth - John 3:5 (cf. 1 Pet. 1:22-23).
iii) Sanctification - 1 Peter 1:2 (Jno. 17:17).
iv) Saves - Titus 3:5 (Jas. 1:21; Rom. 1:16).
v) Cleanses - 1 Corinthians 6:11 (Eph. 5:25-26).
vi) Leads - Romans 8:14 (2 Jno. 9, 2).
vii) Strengthens - Ephesians 3:16 (Acts 20:32).
viii) Gives understanding - Ephesians 3:16-19 (strengthened to understand God's ways) - (Eph. 3:3- 5).
ix) Bears witness that we are the sons of God - Romans 8:16 (1 Jno. 2:3-6).
b. Every action of the Holy Spirit in human conviction, conversion and consecration of life is carried out by the revealed word of God (Eph. 6:17 - The "sword of the Spirit").
VI. Page 29: "THE SPIRIT HELPS US WORSHIP ACCEPTABLY. We are commanded to worship God in Spirit and in truth. Too many of us try to interpret the Spirit part of this to mean with enthusiasm, or esthetically enjoyable."
1. We reject both this authors interpretation of John 4:24 that "in spirit" is the Holy Spirit, as well as the attempt to make "in spirit" mean enthusiastic worship.
2. John 4:20-24 - In context, the meaning of "in spirit" is based upon the fact that "God is a spirit." Hence, our worship must spring forth from our spirit, the inner man, and not be based upon external trappings. And, it must be patterned after truth.
3. The author has forced the Holy Spirit into this verse. He is not there except as the One who has revealed true worship to us in the word of truth (Jno. 16:13).
VII. Page 30: "Let me say that I do not fully understand how the Spirit works but I do now that it DOES. Let us pray for a reawakening of the vital necessity of utilizing this power in our lives...Let us say each day, Everything I do will be guided by the Spirit of God. Let my every action be governed according to His will."
1. We agree that the Holy Spirit works in our lives. However, the author says that she does not fully understand how the Spirit works, but she knows that "it" (impersonal pronoun, again) does. We simply ask, "How does she know the Spirit works?" What is her basis of knowledge? The New Testament gives us an understanding that the Spirit works through the agency of the word of truth which He revealed, inspired and confirmed (see above, V. 4.).
2. While confessing her lack of understanding of how the Spirit works, the author urges a reawakening of the power of the Holy Spirit within Christians lives. She would have us pray for and expect be guided by a power we do not understand! But, if we do not understand how the Spirit works, are we not prime candidates for the deceptions of Satan (1 Pet. 5:8)?
3. Furthermore, is it possibly true that we can understand how Satan works (2 Cor. 2:11) to destroy us, yet we cannot know how the Spirit of God works (2 Cor. 13:14) in our lives to sustain us?!
VIII. Pages 30-36: "...a list of practical positive suggestions which, when guided by the Spirit, can help us live that "life with wings."
1. The author has provided an extensive list of things to do which will produce the "life with wings." Most of these suggestions are indeed practical and beneficial when followed.
2. We do not object with the list, but with the fact that they have been offered as ways to live under the guidance of the Spirit, while only four out of the fifteen suggestions are supported by any scriptures. Yet, we are to believe that this lifestyle is a result of being "guided by the Spirit."
3. If these things are what being guided by the Spirit produces, we must be able to sustain our position from the New Testament -- the word which the Spirit revealed for us to use (1 Ths. 5:21-22; 1 Jno. 4:1, 6).
4. Several of these items could have been supported by scriptures, but were not. This leaves the strong impression that the author has assembled a variety of things which SHE DEEMS IMPORTANT to a "life with wings," while offering them as ways she believes the Holy Spirit guides people's lives.
5. We ought to be more interested in what the Bible says it means to be "guided by the Spirit" than the opinions of any person!
IX. Page 36: "1. Have someone look up the scriptures which mention the Spirit dwelling in man. Discuss whether this means only through the word reposing in our heart."
1. This type of question opens the door for doubt and error regarding what the New Testament teaches on how the Spirit dwells in the Christian (see above, III. 2.).
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Explain what you believe the "gift of the Holy Spirit" of Acts 2:38 is, providing scriptural evidence for your conclusion.
2. What is a miracle according to Bible usage? Do such miracles happen today?
3. Does the Holy Spirit dwell within the Christian? Can we understand how this is accomplished? Give Bible proof for your answers.
4. What New Testament passages say that Christians dwell in God? How is this accomplished?
5. How is the "fruit of the Spirit" produced in the Christian's life (Gal. 5:16-25)?
6. What are the two possible ways in which the Holy Spirit has worked and/or continues to work? Give scriptural illustrations.
7. What is worship "in spirit" (Jno. 4:24)?
8. What does it mean to "prove all things" (1 Ths. 5:21)? How is this accomplished?