A Journey Thru Acts 30: The Holy Spirit 2 (8:9-25)

Nile turns to blood (9-8-17)

Please click HERE for Acts 8:9-25

My friends, we so often go from one extreme to the other, like people being tired of the coldness of the north pole & passionately going fiercely in the other direction to get away from where they are—they keep looking back to get away from where they were and aren’t as concerned about exactly where they are going to…

So they end up happily as far away from the cold of the north pole as possible…and they set up an elaborate camp and build a solid fortress at the south pole, satisfied that they cannot get farther away from the north pole. And they are in fact in a different place…but with the same result—cold, frigid, bone-numbing cold.

And so in the last past (Holy Spirit 1–please click HERE) we dug into Acts 8 & other Bible passages & discussed one extreme regarding the Holy Spirit—ignoring or under-emphasizing Him, following the Lord Jesus on our own strength/strategies, treating the Christian life as a rowboat–powered by our own strength–instead of a sailboat, powered on the strength of the wind (Holy Spirit).

And this post we will dig into the other extreme that people go to—using the Holy Spirit merely as a giver of feeling/experience, looking at the Holy Spirit apart from the Word of God, thinking that once you receive the Holy Spirit by repentance & faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, thinking that He somehow “graduates” us from needing to feed daily on every Word that comes from the mouth of the Father (the Bible)…

1.5 main points this post (out of three,
we will get to the other 1.5 main points in the next post, if the Lord is willing!):

  1. Be Sober About Signs & Wonders

In Acts 8 above, Simon the sorcerer could do some signs, he amazed the people with some extraordinary things, some astounding miracles.

But that didn’t mean he was from God.

Unfortunately, many church-attenders today assume that if a pastor/author/speaker uses a few familiar Christian terms & is successful & has many followers & can do some amazing wonders, many assume that that person is “full of the HolySpirit.” And thus many are led astray from the Lord Jesus Christ…

Deuteronomy 13:1-4: “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4It is the Lord your God you must follow, & him you must revere. Keep his commands & obey him; serve him & hold fast to him.”

Even IF a prophet can actually do miracles, if that prophet TEACHES things that aren’t true, you must not follow that prophet. This isn’t just “splitting hairs” over dull doctrine…

  • as an aside, there is no such thing as “boring Truth” because the Lord Jesus Himself is Truth, all Truth that we are taught in the Bible ultimately comes from Who Jesus is, His character, His personality; the Bible isn’t just a collection of stuff that Christ believes in…the Bible is the character of Christ Himself in written form…& He is the opposite of boring.

…as we see in the passage above from Deuteronomy, this importance of following (or not) the doctrine that a person teaches–regardless of the miracles they can do–has to do with loving God (or not!) with all our heart & soul, this has to do with whether we will revere & obey & hold fast to Him, or whether we will hold fast to false teachers, even if they have attractive personalities & can do powerful miracles.

Exodus 7:20-22: Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.

22But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts,
and Pharaoh’s heart became hard;
he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.

[The Egyptian magicians, on a small scale (and keep in mind that they had no power to REVERSE the LORD’s mighty miracles, thus showing His superiority to them) could replicate some of the plagues, could perform certain miracles in lesser ways through magic arts/evil. So we must not listen to a person claiming to teach us about God simply because they can do some amazing acts.]

Matthew 24:23-25: 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

Don’t believe/follow someone just because they can do literal miracles, signs & wonders—false prophets can do these too! But what do they teach/does it line up with a correct understanding of the Bible? That is the question…

My friends, the Lord Jesus didn’t say “watch out for people who will come into the local church and start punching people in the face…”

He said to watch out for people who will teach lies, things that aren’t True, things that sound nice but don’t line up with God’s Word. Believing half-truths (which is no truth at all!) causes much more damage than a broken nose/bloody lip…

Remember Genesis 3 in the Garden of Eden—the serpent didn’t physically bite Adam & Eve, he didn’t physically attack them. He attacked God’s Word & their understanding of/trust in God’s Word: “Did God really say…?” That is how the devil works today—attacking doctrine, attacking our understanding of th eTruth, getting us onto any of the other 359 degrees of the compass of belief, anything but correct understanding, even if we are “close” to it.

We want precision/detailed accuracy in other areas of life–
we will settle for nothing less:

  • Waiter: “I didn’t bring you exactly what you ordered, but I brought you the item on the menu NEXT to what you ordered. Close enough, right?”
  • Surgeon: “I didn’t remove your inflamed appendix, and yes it is about to burst, but I removed the organ right next to it (and you don’t really need that one either)—close enough, right?”

So we should desire & seek precision/detailed accuracy when it comes to what is taught by people claiming to belong to the Lord Jesus Christ…

Don’t’ settle for “close enough” when it comes to the Truth—only the True Truth can set you free; pray for those you learn from & hold them accountable to line up w/the Bible:

  • Jeremiah 23:28: “‘Let the [prophet] who has my word speak it faithfully…’
    declares the Lord.”

We live in a celebrity culture, loved ones—especially in the U.S. Church. We celebrate—that’s the verb of the noun “celebrity”—those who have certain gifts, who accomplish certain things, those whom God has maybe blessed in ways that we wish we were blessed. This is often idolatry. “What is Paul, what is Apollos, what is Peter? Only God, the One Who makes things grow, is worthy of mention” (1 Corinthians 3:1-7).

2 Peter 2:1-4, 14-15, 18-19:

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping…

[Sounds like what many call “splitting hairs over unimportant doctrine” is pretty important to the LORD–such false teachers are condemned by God & will face destruction. God isn’t playin’…]

With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer,[f] who loved the wages of wickedness…

For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh [our desire for the physical, for what we can see, for feelings & goosebumps!], they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

1 John 4:1: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits
to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This is just what Simon the sorcerer was trying to do early on in Acts 8—USE the Holy Spirit to get followers for Simon, BUY the Holy Spirit with money, add to his bag of magical tricks to keep the people focused on Simon.

The Holy Spirit was a product for personal gain, not the Personal God. Oh how easily we use the Giver for His gifts. This happens much today—using the Holy Spirit for personal gain, appealing to people’s desire for physical pleasure at the expense of timeless Truth.

2nd Main Point: Don’t Look To The Holy Spirit
To Keep You On A Constant “God-High”…

More on this next post, but for now, let’s realize that our sinfulness is an idol-factory: we turn good/beautiful gifts from God & make them god in our lives. We are naturally as skilled at worshiping idols—“turning even good [or evil] things into ultimate things” (Tim Keller)—as the best athletes are naturally good at a sport: we idolize effortlessly, we don’t even realize we are doing it, we make it look easy.

And so it is with feelings/emotions: the Holy Spirit DOES provide heightened feelings of the presence of God, there are times when the Holy Spirit does “shed abroad the love of God in our hearts,” (Romans 5:5) & if you’ve ever felt close to the LORD , you know how this can feel! But the Holy Spirit’s job is not to keep us feeling this way constantly—that will be heaven, not earth…

More on this point next post, if the Lord is willing…

Bottom line: the early Christians realized the utter importance/necessity of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives of taking up their cross & following the Lord Jesus…but they knew the Holy Spirit as He revealed Himself in the Bible, not as how they thought/wanted Him to be…

Closing Challenge:

We celebrated Labor Day earlier this week, and many had a day off from work. Thank the Lord! 🙂

But each Labor Day and everyday, let’s remember the greatest act of labor ever done/accomplished—the Son of God dying on the Cross to pay the penalty for the evil sins of wretched sinners like you and me…Gives Labor Day a different/better significance…

Elevate FB page: I’ll post a link to an article with more specific Bible passages describing the various roles of the Holy Spirit in our daily life. But let me leave us all with this:

Grounded electricity warms a house up;
ungrounded electricity burns a house down.

Similarly, teaching about the Holy Spirit must be grounded in the Bible,
What the LORD has said, not how we feel.

Ephesians 4:30: 30 And do not grieve the HolySpirit ofGod,
with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22: Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

We grieve & quench the Holy Spirit when we

  • under-emphasize Him
  • and when we over-emphasize Him,
  • tighten the boundaries on Him more than Scripture allows
  • and open the boundaries on Him more than Scripture allows
  • believe anything anyone says if it makes us feel good & gets us what we want

May we know the Holy Spirit as He is
& may we be filled with Him for the glory of the Father & the Son,
whether we feel Him or not…