A Journey Thru Acts 32: The Holy Spirit 4 (8:9-25)
Last post we looked at the extreme of thinking that the Holy Spirit is mainly focused on giving us physical feelings/experiences, keeping us on a constant God-high, and thinking that the Holy Spirit is filling a local church just because we are impressed with its organization, just because we are entertained at a worship service.
In this post, we will focus on a 3rd main point:
The Holy Spirit Leads Us Into More Bible Study, Not Less
It’s not the Holy Spirit OR Truth–both are needed & intertwined/inseparable!
3x the Lord Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth.
So many passionately desire one & not the other.
Father help us!
John 14:16-17: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
[Not the Spirit of feeling, the Spirit of truth!!!]
John 15:26: “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—
the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.
[Testify—speak Truth not just give feelings—about Who the Lord Jesus really is.]
John 16:13: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
[Speaking Truth—all the Truth!—Genesis to Revelation]
1 John 5:6: And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
Some other Bible passages—inspired by the Holy Spirit!—on the importance of the Bible:
2 Peter 1:20-21: Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible but some teach that now all of a sudden we don’t need what He inspired? We just need to “trust our feelings/gut/intution?” No, my friends…
Luke 6:46-49: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, b/c it was well built.
[My friends, this is exactly why we are spending so much time to deliberately and diligently dig into the book of Acts: to lay the foundation of our lives and this local church on the Rock of God’s Word, Christ Himself! That’s the only way to survive both the storm of Judgment Day and the earthly storms (trials) we face. By the grace of God, one of my main tasks is to teach from the Bible so we are prepared for both!
49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
[Loved ones, a house built on ground or sand can be built quickly and easily, can look good from the outside, can last as long as the weather is pleasant. But it won’t survive earthly or heavenly storms. I could make the worship service quick, entertaining, sweet & easy/breezy, light & pleasant, skim the surface of God’s Word and give you a little pep talk…
…but you won’t survive storms that way. And so we must, in the power of the Holy Spirit, dig deep into God’s Word to be a local church that survives & thrives in Christ…
1 Corinthians 15:1-4: Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…
Philippians 2:14-16: 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life…
2 Thessalonians 2:15: 15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
1 Timothy 3:8-10: In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, ¬ pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
[Keep hold of the deep truth of the faith, not “graduate” from them & let them go once they are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is a requirement for serving in an important position in a local church. Sounds important to me…
1 Timothy 4:1-2, 6, 13, 15-16: The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron…
If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed…
[We need constant nourishment in our souls from God’s Word, the Truth, doctrine!]
13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching…
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
2 Timothy 2:15-18: 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles [rightly divides] the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.
[Loved ones, I take this seriously. Each post I could just tell you what you want to hear, give you some pep talk to try to get you to keep reading and come back again…you might even like & approve of what you read, but if I am not teaching the whole counsel of God’s Word, I might destroy your faith in Christ in the future. And so by the grace of God I have the next fifty + years in mind when I preach/teach/write, telling you what the LORD has said–the Truth!–not necessarily what you want to hear.
Titus 1:9: Elders: “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
[One of the main ways we encourage others is to teach them the Truth, sound doctrine, accurate interpretations of what the Bible says! Oh loved ones, doctrine & Truth are not dusty and dry and boring–not at all! They are nourishing, encouraging, helping us survive & thrive in the storms of life so that our leaves do not wither! (Psalm 1)]
Here are some examples of quotes from religious leaders
who teach an openness to the Holy Spirit
that goes beyond what is allowed in the Bible.
- “It’s the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, not the Holy Bible.”
- John 12:48: “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.”
- To reject/ignore what God has said is to reject/ignore God. Humbling…please click HERE for more Bible passages that teach this…
- “We don’t worship a Book, we worship the LORD.”
- My friends, the only way to worship the Father: in Spirit & Truth—both not one or the other–John 4:22-24.
- Focusing on the Bible can be negatively called worshipping the Bible or being legalistic, but when a surgeon does surgery “by the book” of his/her training, we call them excellent! We don’t want the surgeon getting cute/creative in their technique—we want them to follow their training exactly, precisely. God expects the same for Christians.
- Psalm 119: That writer isn’t worshiping the Bible, but is devoted to it—look at his joy in the LORD as he delights in the LORD’s Book! They’re connected!
- The early Christians were “Devoted to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42-47).
- “I don’t need to read what the Bible said a long time ago;
the Holy Spirit just told me today.”
- Oh wow this is so dangerous—people claiming that God told them things different from Scripture…how can anyone argue with someone saying, “God told me!”? What about Hebrews 1: “In these last days God has spoken to us through His Son”?
- John 14:26: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things&will remind you of everything I have said to you.
- The Holy Spirit will remind us what the Lord Jesus said, not tell us (& usually only us!) new things that are as important as what the Lord Jesus said!
- Really? Have we so mastered Genesis—Revelation that we are ready to move on to new revelation from the Holy Spirit? Of course not. We cannot move on to calculus when we all have such trouble with 2 + 2 = 4.
- “Don’t worry as much about what God said in the past but what He is saying now”…this is an extension of how the serpent tempted Adam & Eve in the garden—“did God really say…?”
- What God has said is our anchor because our feelings/intuitions/gut impressions are so untrustworthy/quick to change: God often “feels” far, but the LORD says that He will always be with us. What will you trust if you don’t look to what God has said? Such a person, without realizing it, relies on their “gut” feeling instead of God’s Word, & this only leads to stumbling in sin. “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105)—
- Some say the following statements: “God is offending the mind to reach the heart.” “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with a doctrine.” “I’m going to upend your theology now…” “Jesus didnt say ‘My sheep will know my Book,’ it is his voice we are to know.”
- Yet look to Matthew 4:4: Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” God’s Word is the main course of life, not the napkin in the shape of a swan—nice but not essential to the meal!
- Galatians 1:6-9: If anyone presents another Gospel to you, let them be under God’s curse!
- 2 Timothy 4:2-4: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
- 20th & 21st centuries have produced many innovative half-truths & false teaching—“new spin” on “old beliefs,” making the Bible/Christianity “relevant” to a modern culture (though many of these “new” false teachings are repackaged from the false teaching of the 1st century). There wont be anything new from the Holy Spirit, but a recovery of the faith that has “once for all been delivered to the saints”–Jude 1:3-4
- False prophets can emphasize experience over doctrine because if they have “secret” or “exclusive” access to God & promise unique experiences of Him outside of His Word, you must therefore go through that false prophet to get this access, to get to God. This is how cults are created, not how local churches are made healthy. When we stick to the Bible we stick to a standard that everyone can see & analyze & pray about & understand together…
- Acts 17:11: Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
- …the Bible is the way that we hold pastors & Bible teachers accountable. But when we go above & beyond the Bible to focusing only on experiences, when a false prophet says, “God told me this & you need to follow me to really go to the next level with God & how dare you question the Lord’s anointed one”, by going above & beyond the Bible the false prophet creates followers for himself/herself, not the LORD.
- Does the Holy Spirit give feelings & experiences? Yes, loved ones, yes! When Paul prays for the Christians at Ephesus in Ephesians 3:14-21, this is something the Christians would feel, would experience, as they grasp how wide & high & long & deep is the love of God! We simply must make sure that our desire for experiences & feelings is within the boundaries of God’s Word…we don’t “graduate” from needing God’s Word any more than you graduate from needing food & oxygen…
- “You don’t analyze a love letter…you enjoy it!”
- You absolutely analyze a love letter—that is how you enjoy it! Reading it over & over til you have it memorized, studying (enjoying!) the author’s use of a particular word instead of another word; not just glancing but gazing intently at the letter! Wives/Moms in WWII share these responses to their soldiers’ letters from around the world…what comfort they received as they studied the letters over & over!
- Committed sports fans (FANATICS!) don’t casually walk in & out of the room during the Super Bowl if their team is playing in it…they watch every moment, study every detail, read articles before & after the game, study (yes study!) to understand as much as possible about the match-ups, how to win, etc. They do all this as enjoyment, not out of boredom/tedium!
- Analytics have become a big part of being a fan of sports—studying math algorithms that would stump Einstein in order to figure out which team/players are the best, who is likely to win a matchup & why, etc. Many apply intense detailed study to sports—and it INCREASES their enjoyment of it, not decreases! And yet with the God of the universe, we are supposed to study the Bible rarely, skimming the surface, just glancing, moving on to just feelings?
Finally, Some might say, “Fine. You can focus on all this Truth/doctrine/Bible study…
but I’m more interested in doing acts of love & service out in the community…”
Loved ones, I want that also because the LORD wants that—spreading the Gospel in word & deed, filling this city with the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ! But, at this local church, that is exactly WHY we focus so much on Truth, the Bible, right beliefs:
2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
My friends, the only way to truly do acts of love & service—according to God’s definition of what is truly loving & serving—is to be trained & taught & transformed by all of God’s Word…
We often treat life and even the Christian life like a video game—no kid reads the instructions first…they just start playing as quickly as possible. They think, “If I die/mess up in the game I’ll just hit the reset button and start over! No problem!” So we treat following Christ like that as well. We think & say, “Just get busy being kind–that’s the heart of Christianity!”
But being a disciple of the Lord Jesus is not a video game, it’s surgery! We need training, we need preparation, we need to be transformed by the Word of God & the Holy Spirit. We are leaving a footprint/impression everywhere we walk, our fingerprints are left behind on everything we do and say and touch, we represent the Lord Jesus Himself (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)!
And so we need training, especially for good deeds! Yes anyone can go out and pass out a sandwich to someone who is hungry, or can help clean up a park that is dirty. And doing those things can honor the LORD! But we Christians have a specific mission from the Lord Jesus, not just a general suggestion to go do something nice; we are literally ambassadors of Christ–we represent the God of the universe–we are His witnesses, we are to testify about Who He is & what He has done through the manger, the cross and the empty tomb. Earthly ambassadors in foreign countries need training…how much more do we…
Without training in Scripture we can be like NASCARS at the end of our lives…empty fuel tank, bald tires, high miles on the odometer, much activity, but ending up just where we started, having gone nowhere…
Heat & light: fire provides both, not just one or the other.
Some want the fire of the Holy Spirit just for warmth, for feelings, for HEAT.
But sometimes they’re not as concerned with light, that the Holy Spirit leads us into the Truth & reminds us what the Lord Jesus said (God’s Word!), where they’re supposed to go, what they are to do (obedience that comes from faith). They just want to feel warmed, cozy, only experience God, but knowing & submitting to doctrine—agreeing with specific, unpopular Bible verses & rejecting other specific, sometimes popular teaching—feels legalistic/restricting/burdensome.
Others want the fire of the Holy Spirit just for light, for direction, for Truth only.
But sometimes they’re not as concerned with knowing God, they just want to know about Him. They don’t have fellowship with the Trinity personally, but only know facts about Him intellectually. They can be cold, knowing much but doing little. Experiencing God is too risky, too crazy, too unpredictable.
We often divide ourselves into these two groups—
wanting heat or light & looking down on the other.
May the Holy Spirit humble & transform us to desire BOTH heat & light, the Holy Spirit’s true fire. May we introduce non-Christians to the One True God & His glorious Gospel, inviting them not into a warm but pitch-black room & not inviting them into a brightly lit but frigid room; may we invite them to be reborn & forgiven & adopted & reconciled to the Father by repentance & faith in the blood of the Son & through the power of the Holy Spirit, grace AND Truth, light & heat…