From the Grave: Scriptural Evidence for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

I originally wrote this on my previous blog back in 2013. Since that time I’ve seen two friends get baptized in the Spirit and be used greatly.

First things first, we must establish when we receive the Holy Spirit:

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13)

This clearly states we receive the Holy Spirit upon hearing the gospel and believing it. I assume this is where we agree. Where we don’t agree is what happens after we have been “sealed.” I’m going to present some verses that I interpret to say there is a second act of the spirit after being saved known in scripture as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The first example I have is Christ. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit:

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’” (Matthew 1:20). 

I don’t think it can be said that prior to Jesus’ ministry he was without the Holy Spirit, and yet before beginning his ministry the Spirit “rest[ed] on him”:

“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him” (Matthew 3:16)

This account is also mentioned in Luke 3:22, John 1:32 and Mark 1:10. If Jesus already had the Spirit why would he need it to come and “rest” on him before beginning his ministry? I believe the reason is we can have the Spirit of God and yet not have the power of God. Just as Jesus needed the Spirit to rest on him before beginning ministry, we must also seek this second blessing to have boldness in proclaiming the gospel and living a holy life.

The next example I present is that of the Apostles. Before Christ’s ascension into heaven, Jesus breathed on the disciples:

“And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:22).

I think it’s clear that at this point the Apostles have the Holy Spirit. Surely they are ready to begin their ministries, right? Not so:

“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) 

They had to wait to be clothed with power even though Christ had just breathed on them and they had received the Spirit. I contend it is the same with us, we receive the Spirit upon believing and yet we must tarry until we are endued with power from on high. Note what happens after they tarry:

“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)

Notice the language used in this scripture; they were filled with the Holy Spirit. I think this marks a distinction in scripture between two events regarding the Holy Spirit: receiving and being filled. Jesus uses specific terminology for the Day of Pentecost earlier in Acts:

 “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; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” (Acts 1:4-5)

Note that Jesus calls this event the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is after they were breathed on by Christ to receive the Spirit.

Next is the Gospels’ evidence for the baptism of the Spirit:

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)

Here John the Baptist makes a distinction between baptisms: one is a baptism with water for repentance, another is the baptism of the Spirit. One more distinction between receiving and asking to be filled is seen in Luke 11:

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).

Here Jesus says we should ask for the Holy Spirit. I believe this is a reference to the baptism of the Spirit.

 Finally we can look at Acts for the evidence of being sealed with the Holy Spirit and being baptized by it. In the first example, Acts 10 shows the two events can be simultaneous (but as other examples will show this is not always the case):

“44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.” (Acts 10:44-48)

So now we can see the filling of and the receiving of the Spirit can be simultaneous. I’d just like to show that the terminology, “baptism” of the Spirit is also used when Peter is describing the incident to “the circumcision”:

“15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:15-18)

Now I’m going to present examples when the sealing and baptism are not concurrent. In the first example, Philip goes and preaches the gospel to Samaria. Many of the Samaritans believe the gospel! And yet:

“14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:14-17)

Lets break this passage down. First, we know the Samarians had “received the word of God.” Next Peter and John go to Samaria. Going to verse 16, we see that they had been “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” That can only happen after they believe. As we have already seen in Ephesians 1:13, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit upon believing. If this is so, why would Peter and John go to Samaria to pray (ask) that they would receive the Holy Spirit. Note that although they believed, “he” (the Spirit) “had not yet fallen on any of them.” Also, if all you will ever get or need of the Spirit comes upon believing, why does the Spirit come after they had “laid their hands on them”? Laying hand on them is not an act of initial belief; it’s an act of faith after asking that these believers receive the Holy Spirit.  

The last example is in Acts 19:

“And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ 4 And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’ 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.” (Acts 19:1-6)

From this passage we can glean that these believers had incomplete knowledge of Christ’s work and ascension. What I want to draw attention to is the sequence of events in this scripture. First, they were baptized with a baptism of repentance from John the Baptist. Second, though not explicitly stated here, they were informed by Paul of the complete gospel (we know this because it was a necessary prerequisite to the baptism in Jesus’ name). Third they must have believed the complete gospel which we also glean from their baptism in Jesus’ name. Fourth they were baptized in water. Lastly, and most important for our study, Paul laid his hands on them and “the Holy Spirit came on them.” Once again, if all the Holy Spirit we ever need comes upon belief, why would Paul need to lay his hands them for them to receive the Spirit?

Spirit-Empowered Extemporaniousness

Charles Spurgeon famously recited a line from the Apostle’s Creed upon taking each step up into his formidably-sized pulpit: ‘I believe in the Holy Ghost.’ In the halls of seminary, at least the one I am a part of, men like Spurgeon are revered for their giftings but the remark, if you follow their lead too close, is, you’re not Spurgeon, so don’t try to be.

I found this application when hearing people talk about how he would enter his pulpit with just a notecard’s worth of notes. But what of his pattern of repeating the Apostle’s Creed’s line “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” Why was this reminder so essential to Charles Spurgeon’s preaching that he repeated it to himself as he raised his body with one push of the leg above the last up to his heavenly task?

Don’t try it they say. Don’t attempt to be Spurgeon with his last-minute sermon prep, spiritualizing texts, mere index-cards for notes, etc, etc. The problem is Spurgeon would’ve lambasted such folk, not for their humility but for their pride. Spurgeon’s key was not his photographic memory, his oratory abilities or his lucid illustrations. Spurgeon’s key was “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”

Listen to this Spirit-dependent man: “‘I believe in the Holy Ghost.’ This is one of the articles of the creed, but it is scarcely believed among professors so as to be acted on.” This hits close to Reformedom’s home. We confess the Apostle’s Creed, but do we really believe it strongly enough to act upon it? May the Lord force Reformed men to lean upon the Spirit and faith! Hear more:

“Many ministers appear to think that they are to choose the text; they are to discover its teaching; they are to find a discourse in it. We do not think so. We are to use our own volitions, of course, as well as our understandings and affections, for we do not pretend that the Holy Ghost will compel us to preach from a text against our wills. He does not deal with us as though we were musical boxes, to be wound up and set to a certain tune; but that glorious inspirer of all truth deals with us as with rational intelligences, who are swayed by spiritual forces congruous to our natures: still, devout minds evermore desire that the choice of the text should rest with the allwise Spirit of God, and not with their own fallible understandings, and therefore they humbly put themselves into his hand, asking him to condescend to direct them to the portion of meat in due season which he has ordained for his people. Gurnal says, “Ministers have no ability of their own for their work. Oh! how long may they sit tumbling their books over, and puzzling their brains, until God comes to their help, and then — as Jacob’s venison — it is brought to their hand. If God drop not down his assistance, we write with a pen that hath no ink: if any one need walk dependently upon God more than another, the minister is he.”

Another time Spurgeon was preparing to preach one text, but after having prepared it felt compelled to preach another at the last moment. Having finally decided to preach the second text which was pressed upon him, he began extemporaneously to do so. Suddenly the gas lights went out. While the church staff attempted to figure out the problem, Spurgeon announced he could preach in the dark from the text from memory that he had studied so diligently was Isaiah 50:10-11 which speaks of a person walking in darkness as a light and a person walking in the light as in darkness. Clearly he lacked no striking illustrations for that sermon!

This is the appeal for a Spirit-driven ministry. Be filled brothers.

Wholehearted ministry to the broken hearted

I write with a heavy heart. Some of us are prone to greater depths of pain – even over things which would roll off the steel-plated backs of others. Thankfully, among those of us who struggle more deeply and more frequently, we have solace in an all-sufficient God. If anyone could’ve escaped from the world’s burdens, it would’ve been him. Yet he identifies himself (pre-incarnation) as compassionate (Ex 22:27). During the incarnation of Jesus not merely as a proclaimer of good news to the poor (Isa 61:1), but who had “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (53:4) and became “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” (53:3). Who better to minister to hurting people.

It matters not whether our griefs are self-inflicted because ultimately it’s all a product of the fall which we’re all responsible for. Even so, the Triune God cares about those afflicted by their own folly, directly or indirectly, and decided to minister among us.

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-29, ESV

I think about all the wounds I have been inflicted with and been inflicted with. All the heaviness of heart and the burdens heavy and high. We do not come to words, brothers. We come to a living Savior who ministers through a living word. A humbled man and broken man may, later, forget his sorrows and fail to empathize, but Jesus never forgets his earthly groans while in heaven.

So we, men and women called by God, we are ministers all (Eph 4:12). Ministers of reconciliation, first between God and man (2 Cor 5:19). Once reconciled vertically we work out the effects of that reconciliation amongst one another since we are reconciled together as a family (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).

The God who redeems, after all, redeems in the midst of broken heartedness that he promises to bind up. We who are called to be binders up. How better to learn to be soul-paramedics than to be broken ourselves and bound by God and one another?

I am broken, shattered even. Yet God promises through his word that this is a great qualifier for ministering to the shattered.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction…

If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

2 Cor 1:3, 6.

While my affliction is mostly self-inflicted, the God of all comforts will still comfort me in my affliction that I may be a better minister to any who are in affliction.

May Christ be glorified, and may the whole earth both see and rejoice in it by his Gospel of grace.

Illustrate This Text: Romans 12:1-2

In my preaching class, we talked about illustrations briefly and shortly after I read in our main textbook about them. Some striking things were brought to my mind’s eye, highly exalting the power of illustrations in my mind’s eye.

So as an exercise, I’d like to begin coming up with as many illustrations of texts as I can to exercise the muscle of imagination. I’ve chosen Romans 12:1-2 as a text for one of my sermons this semester. Here’s the text:

[1] I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern waht is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2, ESV.

The idea of an illustration is to grab the hearer before the hourglass of their attention runs out. Here’s an attempt:

There he is, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe fills the temple. Brothers and sisters, to read Romans rightly is to see God. You see him exalted like the stateliest king in the most beautiful garments. The trumpets of angels’ voices resound a thundering “Holy, Holy, Holy” so that your whole body and the ground around you trembles. If you read Romans rightly, you will climb upon the altar, lay yourself down and ask the Lord to light you ablaze that the incense of God’s glory may fill his temple. It will be the greatest delight to your soul to do so. You will say what Paul says elsewhere, “even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise, you should be glad and rejoice with me.” (Phil 2:17-18, ESV).

So that was a bunch of word images but I’m not sure how to bring it home to people’s business and their bosoms as Joel Beeke says. How do I bridge the gap between what lights me up for God and that which would light up the average man, woman or child?

Imagine, if you will, that you are charged with making for a king the most sumptuous meal of all time. It has the very best meats, sauces with the highest quality ingredients. Its aroma was to fill the king’s house and fill him with delight. It was to fill to the full and provide for yourself honor and glory from the king. Our lives are not so different than preparing the greatest of all meals. Our pure worship is the king’s food, and we must, indeed it ought to be our greatest honor, delight, and fear to prepare such a meal of obedience through our lives. That is what Romans is about. There is a key to preparing the meal found in these verses. Let me tell you how to cook the king’s – that is the Lord’s – food. Let’s gather the ingredients, turn on the stove and get cooking. [Proceed with sermon]

“Don’t be that guy” I could also open up the sermon by just lifting up Jesus’ parable in Matthew 18:21-35 about the unforgiving servant and say, Romans 12 is the story of you, Christian, as the servant whose million dollar debt was forgiven. The first two verses of chapter 12 tell us how as forgiven servants we can pay the Lord back with our gratitude, rather than the servant of the story who forgot his master’s kindness.

A man was caught in a plot to overthrow the ruler of the country in a gruesome plot. He is dragged in handcuffs and prison garb into the courtroom. Before him stands the judge, known only for the strictest interpretation of treason and terrorism. The man is sensible, caught red-handed he knows his only fate is certain death. Suddenly the judge stops the court proceedings and says the king has just made a pronouncement! The prisoner here has just been pardoned from his death sentence. Not only that he is invited to the king’s palace. The prisoner is stripped of his prison garb and given the most stately outfit. He is rushed in to see the king. The ruler says, “the result of treason is death but the free gift of the king is adoption into my family and life of joy. Welcome to my family. I adopt you and you will rule with my only son.” This is the Christian life. Believer this is not a fairy tale. If you read Romans chapter 1-11 right, this is your story. Pardoned from sin, you are not only forgiven but adopted. You are a share of the inheritance of the kingdom of God. These two verses are the answer to the only thing the man could stutter before the king: “what do I do now?”

What if you were a captive prisoner of a ruthless people. You were conditioned to believe you were one of them and lived in harsh slavery and you yourself did terrible things by your portion with them. Suddenly, an invading army sends a commando to rescue you and your people. You are brought back to their nation, given full citizenship, a high paying job and you are reunited with your loved ones. Your one task, imitate the king and forget your old ways. All you have to do is look at the king, look at what the king has done for you. Naturally, as you do so, you become like the king and the king delights to invite you into his inner court. This is Romans 12:1-2.

Just a few haphazard attempts to get at it. I’m not yet adapt to seeing things present in people’s lives as good illustrations. I’m praying the Lord will make me adept at it though.

A Sense of the Majesty of God: A Weapon Against Sin

I was watching a sermon last night from Together for the Gospel. It was Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church in Dallas, Texas. I am often unfairly dismissive of Chandler because of a bias I have about humor in the pulpit, but clearly, he’s a powerful instrument of God to reach a generation who find that appealing. Preach Christ and it’s always a good day (Philippians 1:15-18).

I was beginning to come down with a cold and felt a little uncomfortable during the sermon until Chandler came to this point:

if there’s anything lovely anything beautiful it is the holiness of heaven that dries out the filthiness of the world. It is the beauty of Christ that compels us to say no to what is broken and grotesque in the world. Paul says if it’s beautiful if it’s lovely if it’s right if it’s good if it’s pure hang out there stay there dwell there I want to flood my life fill my life with joy bringing Jesus exalting beauty. I think John 15 is a good thing to consider what does it mean to abide in the presence of Jesus to remain to commune with Jesus – not just to know about not just to know what’s right and wrong brothers.

I will…just lay this before you: I am NOT the husband I am called to be, the father I am called to be, the pastor I am called to be, the preacher I am called to be, simply because I know a series of texts that command me to be those things. I am best at those things when I have abided in the presence of Christ, when I’ve communed with him. When I’ve gazed upon his beauty and the fuel of my soul is communing with Christ in the Word of God in the quiet so that out of the overflow of that abiding presence of Christ I bear the fruit of external moral righteousness this should be driving what we fill our minds with…

Matt Chandler, “Citizens of Heaven In the World But Not Of the World,” 20 mins 12 seconds to 21 mins 41 seconds.

This is such a powerful insight. The one point of Chandler’s sermon is: renew your minds and you will be and act holy. This is so profound! Yet, the beauty and majesty of God seem like a footnote in the sermons that mention this as a tool to fight sin. The typical sermon goes something like this:

  1. Don’t Do Sin X Because It’s Wrong
  2. Don’t Do Sin X Because of ‘The Gospel’
  3. Don’t Do Sin X Because You Will be Judged
    1. Oh, and by the way, Jesus is the antidote. Just how he is, we don’t ourselves understand. Or if we do, we don’t convey the sense of Jesus as the antidote.

Reformed theology is rich with depths depending on which sources you draw from. It seems, though, that the best Reformed preachers were able to project Jesus upon the movie screens of men’s hearts. There, the sense of God’s holiness, the sense of the costliness of Jesus sacrifice, the sense of the love of God is so apparent. Where, Reformed brothers, are you preaching not merely facts about Christ but Christ. To preach Christ is more than preaching Christ’s works. It’s putting his splendor and glory on full display as a meal for your hearers. Before calling men to do, call them to smell the sweetness of the blood of Christ. Call them to gaze upon those loving wounds. It’s not just “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden” (Matt 11:28-30). Do you have a sense of the urgency in the tone of Jesus’ voice as he speaks? Do you have the sense that he would do redemption all over again for the sinners in your care if there were any lack in its perfect merits? ‘Come to me’ is to look upon Jesus as the balm of the best medicine, the marrow and the meat of the best of meals.

Suddenly your hard words about “deny yourself” (Luke 9:23) don’t seem like impossibilities. You and your hearers now understand that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” is not irrational. It is not a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and consign yourself to the lesser portion than those living in hedonism. It is the most glorious thing in all the world. How else could Paul say with “true and rational words” (Acts 26:25). Your congregation, when gazing upon the fullness of Christ’s works, deeds and desires will run, not walk to the river of living water and drink “without money and without cost” (Isa 55:1; Rev 21:6).

Gazing upon the beauty of Christ: the antidote for sin (Romans 12:1-2).

To quote Richard Sibbes, “to preach is…” what? To condemn, to burden, to command? No. While all those things may happen in a sermon, the primary task of preaching is “to woo.”

The ‘One Meaning’ Of Every Bible Passage

At my seminary, there is a great pressure to come to the one meaning of every passage. This is from a preaching textbook:

applications may vary, but interpretations of a text’s core principles should not.

Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching, 3rd ed. (Baker, 2018), 61.

Yet, as the title reveals, the goal of Bryan Chapell’s interpretation of any passage of Scripture is to get to Jesus Christ. One of my favorite preachers once said,

Leave Christ out? O my brethren, better leave the pulpit out altogether. If a man can preach one sermon without mentioning Christ’s name in it, it ought to be his last, certainly the last that any Christian ought to go to hear him preach.

Amen to that. The problem, however, is that to interpret every passage through the way it points to Jesus will get us in trouble if we try to say that this is the only way of reading the text.

For example, we have Deuteronomy 25:4, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.” Which is cited by the Apostle Paul in both 1 Corinthians 9:9 and 1 Timothy 5:18 as being about paying an elder a salary for his preaching duty. Paul goes so far in his commentary on this Deuteronomy passage:

“Is it for oxen that God is concerned?10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?”

1 Corinthians 9:9-11 (ESV)

Clearly, there are at least two meanings in this passage. It would be ridiculous to say that an Israelite could read this passage and say, “oh I need to give offerings to the Levites but I can ignore the part about my ox eating the grain when it’s plowing.” It means both.

I would say that there are probably at least three meanings here because, in order to preach this about Jesus, you have to do some theological maneuvering beyond the naked meaning in both the Old and New Testament interpretations. NOTE: It doesn’t mean that this passage cannot be about redemption. That’s my argument. The problem is the hardcore Reformed folks are so committed to the idea of this passage is about “one thing, and one thing only” that you have to change the meaning of what “one thing” means in order to make sense. It’s usually definitely more than one.

I can prove this. How can a passage written by one author, in one time, to a specific audience possibly mean more than one thing? Authorial intent is important. If a doctor calls out to her RN coworker for “blood” on a dying patient in an ER Trauma Bay, for goodness sakes, she doesn’t mean anything but a bag of O-Negative blood. The patient’s life depends on the other nurse interpreting the doctor’s request in the one and only way she means it. Isn’t Scripture any different? Yes, it is.

The problem with this approach is there are always two authors to any text of Scripture. There is a human author, whom, most of the time (it seems), is just writing using his own personality to a particular audience without direct dictation from the Spirit. The other author is the Holy Spirit.

A professor at my seminary remarked, “if I get at what the author is saying by parsing the grammar and interpreting him correctly, I get at what God is saying.” It’s true enough as far as it goes. But that’s only the author’s meaning. The Spirit could have a meaning far beyond that. For instance, John Piper helpfully compares Old Testament prophets’ prophecies to looking at a mountain range. If you’re far enough away, the range just looks like one mountain. The Old Testament prophets made predictions, like Joel 2:28-29. That is the famous prophecy which is partially fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2). How do I know it’s only a partial fulfillment? Because right after the promise of an outpouring of the Spirit in Joel 2 is a promise of judgment:

And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lordcomes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

Joel 2:30-32, ESV.

Furthermore, even the prophets didn’t know the meaning of some of the things which would happen. Peter writes,

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.

1 Peter 1:10-11, ESV.

So even though there were and are partial fulfillments – even to this day – of prophecies made in the Old Testament, there are multiple meanings.

A lesson to conclude this study is we never want to read meanings into a text. We never want to take Scripture and make it say what we want it to say. That’s blasphemy (Proverbs 30:6). We do, though, have a scriptural warrant to say there is often more than one meaning to any Scripture.

Writing for Glory

I am a man in search of eternity. I haven’t lost it since I gained it, however, I have learned there is more to salvation than what is already possessed. Jonathan Edwards writes,

This I know not how to express otherwise, than by a calm, sweet abstraction of soul from all the concerns of this world; and sometimes a kind of vision, or fixed ideas and imaginations, of being alone in the mountains, or some solitary wilderness, far from all mankind, sweetly conversing with Christ, and rapt and swallowed up in God. The sense I had of divine things, would often of a sudden kindle up, as it were, a sweet burning in my heart; an ardor of soul that I know not how to express.

I cannot but help see that there is more to be had than what I have already. I am athirst for it. There is more glory to be had of this Christ reigning from heaven. Our union with Christ guarantees it. Listen:

God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone mature in Christ (Colossians 1:27-28).

There is a hope of glory beyond comprehension and it has already begun within the life of the person sold out to Jesus Christ. This hope is beyond understanding but it is not beyond experience! Hence Paul’s eager goal in the verse immediately after:

I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully within me (Col. 1:29).

There is so much more to the Christian experience! Why settle for less of God and Christ? Why settle for sermons that have so little of eternity, so little of the rays of divine light bursting forth from the face of our Lord?

I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I want nothing less than him.

casablanca goodbye