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Thanks for visiting our website! This month’s picture is from the August 2018 retreat of Colombian preachers in Santa Marta. I was honored to be asked to participate. [Click picture to enlarge.]

Colombian Preachers

Ministry and mission work is a team effort -- Jan and I have shared the work of ministry and missions for 49+ years! Countless people have encouraged us, supported us, loved us, and prayed for us. In addition to the customary "Brother Bob," I am also known as dad and papaw. One of my favorite breakfasts is huevos fritos, frijoles, and tortillas, with a good hot sauce and a cup of rich Colombian coffee! My greatest joy in life is being part of the kingdom; my #1 priority is to advance "kingdom things" and to help develop authentic "kingdom people." I seek to serve and share the good news about Jesus everywhere I go, helping people find Jesus and helping people mature as disciples of Jesus. One of the greatest blessings of my life is to be loved by countless people around the world!


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Archive for November, 2017

Study Eight: The Role of the Holy Spirit in Unity

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

The presence of the Holy Spirit among God’s people is to be a source of unity. Christians are to maintain the “unity of the Spirit” (Eph. 4:3). The HS binds God’s people together in a bond of peace.

Every Christian has access to God through the same Spirit (Eph. 2:19), another evidence that all are equal in Christ, that the body of Christ is a place of peace and unity, because Christ is our peace (2:14). Barriers, divisions, and enmities are destroyed in Christ, and the Holy Spirit is part of that process. God dwells in the church, the peaceful body of Christ, so the church is described as the dwelling place of God through the Spirit (2:20).

The Holy Spirit dwells in each Christian individually (see previous lessons, also 1 Cor. 6:19-20). The Holy Spirit also dwells in Christians corporately, that is in the body or the church (1 Cor. 3:16).

In John 17, the Father and the Son are one (a unity) because they share the same thinking, goals, and glory. The unity of believers depends on their receiving the word (17:14), which is truth (17:17). That word empowered the testimony of the early believers so that even more came to believe (17:20). There is no explicit mention of the Holy Spirit in John 17, but the principle is clear.

The unity of the Father, Son and Spirit is the model for the unity of the church today.

Study Seven: The Spirit Promises, a role in expectation

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

In Acts, the HS clearly has a role in expectation, a role that continues throughout the New Testament since the new Christian era is to be characterized by the continuing presence and work of God’s Spirit. The HS is connected with water baptism (2:38; 19:1-3). The promise of the HS is connected with baptism and the presence of the HS in the life of the believer is affirmed in various NT texts (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:18-20; Eph. 2:20-21;

The presence of the HS in the life of a Christian is accepted and considered sufficient in the early experience of the church without a special emphasis on or evidence of the presence of the HS. The HS is described as a seal and as a down payment on the promise of God (Eph. 1:14; 2 Cor. 1:20).

The work of the HS in expectation relating to the promises of God is to insure the security of the promise. This work of the HS in the book of Acts continues past the initial events of the new Christian era so that the presence of the HS is security of the certainty of the promises of God. The new Christian era is to be characterized by the continuing presence and work of God’s HS. This is signified in the reception of the HS at baptism, and in the promise that the HS is for all obedient believers (5:32). Sufficient as security for the promise (the HS as seal or promise in 2 Cor. 1:20; Eph. 1:14) is the presence of the HS in our lives, guaranteeing the certainty of God’s eternal intention as reality in our lives.

Study Six: The Holy Spirit Guides, Leads, and Influences

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

In Acts 16, positive direction from the Spirit came by means of a vision to Paul. The text says that a conclusion was drawn based on various factors that converged in Paul’s second missionary journey. Did Paul know that the Holy Spirit was involved? Did Paul recognize the leading of the Holy Spirit? Luke, who joined the missionary group at Troas, is the one writing the report, several years after the events occurred. What principles can we legitimately draw from Paul’s experience to help us know that God is guiding us?
To answer these and other questions of the same type, we will turn to some New Testament passages that Paul wrote later in his life, several years after he had received the Macedonian call and expanded the gospel to Macedonia and Achaia.

Acts 16:6-10
o This text hardly serves as a model to be applied to every Christian today. The questions raised above are not satisfactorily answered in the text. How Paul was prohibited by the Holy Spirit from speaking or from entering the locations mentioned is not made clear. The vision was recognized by the missionaries as a communication from God, and Luke does not mention the Holy Spirit with relation to the vision.
Romans 8
o Every text must be studied and understood in its context. In the book of Romans, Chapters 1-8 deal with the question of salvation, specifically the salvation available to the Gentiles. The primary point is that a righteousness from God has been revealed apart from the law, and that this new righteousness of God motivates faithful living and negates God’s wrath (compare 1:17-18 with 3:20).
o In Romans 4-8, Paul describes how this righteousness by faith connects to justification in Christ and enables the Christian to avoid the sinfulness that was unavoidable under the Old Testament law. In Romans 6, Paul makes clear that we Christians no longer serve sin but that we serve Christ and that the result is righteousness. The former person (literally, old man) with the body of sin has been destroyed. What the law could not do, Christ has done, making possible life in the Spirit with no condemnation.
o Romans 7 must be understood in context as the transition between the promise of Romans 6 that Christians are freed from sin and are no longer servants of sin, and the reality of Romans 8 that those who life according to the Spirit do not live according to the flesh. What was not possible “then” under the law is “now” possible in Christ.
o Romans 8 explains what it means to walk according to the Spirit and to put to death the deeds of the body. In the context of Romans 8, being led by the Spirit of God is synonymous to living according to the Spirit. Being led by God brings adoption and freedom from sin rather than slavery, powerlessness, and fear. Romans 8 suggests that one way to know whether one is led by the Spirit is by the way one walks according to the Spirit rather than according to the flesh.
o To repeat, in the context of Romans 8, being led by the Spirit is the same as living according to the Spirit, choosing the desires of the Spirit rather than the desires of the physical being. There is nothing in the passage that says how this is done. Perhaps the closest reference is to the pattern of teaching in 6:17, so that being led by the Spirit means following the teaching.
Romans 8:26-27; Ephesians 6:18. These two passages are related to prayer and the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer. Romans 8:26-27 says the Spirit helps our weakness, literally our infirmity or debility. We pray in the Spirit—the probable meaning is according to what the Spirit desires, and we are helped in our prayers when we can hardly understand what life according to the Spirit demands. Clearly, the Holy Spirit is a factor as we pray because we are seeking spiritual life and spiritual realities. The Holy Spirit is also intercessor when we cannot unravel life’s mysteries so that we do not know exactly which direction we should go.

What is the difference between being controlled by a human spiritual leader and being controlled by the Holy Spirit? What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? How can it be true that those who live in the Spirit do not fulfill the longings of the fleshly human being?
Ephesians 5:15-21. How is control or influence exercised? The answer always has to do with words—actual or implied. Control over human beings is exercised by influencing the mind or thinking. We respond to others (in a sense, are controlled by them) through our thoughts. This is the primary method of control or influence. Why would we understand that the influence of the Holy Spirit would somehow come to us mysteriously, supernaturally, or even miraculously. How does the Holy Spirit influence us? Is it not through his words?
o The text of Ephesians 5 speaks of being filled with the Spirit. One who is filled with the Spirit exhibits at least five actions—speaking to one another, singing and psalming in the heart, giving thanks in the name of Christ, and submitting to one another.
o Those who live in the Spirit are able to control their actions. Those who live in the Spirit are obedient. The idea that we cannot control ourselves by God’s Spirit makes obedience or disobedience a moot point. Why would we be urged to obedience if it is not a possibility and we cannot control what we do?

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