On pestilences – the beginning of sorrows

by Arlen Chitwood

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and PESTILENCES, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matt. 24:4-8).

“False Christs, wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes are ever in the news today. But the reference in Matthew 24 is specifically to events in days ahead, events during the Tribulation. The stage is being set today for events which are about to occur, as revealed in the opening verses of the Olivet Discourse. The end of the age is the matter at hand throughout these opening verses, in keeping with the disciples’ questions (v. 3); but the sign of the end of the age is not given until near the conclusion of the Jewish section of the discourse (vv. 29, 30). The “end” in verse 6 is the same “end” referred to in verses 13 and 14 – the end of the age, or the end of the Tribulation. This is synonymous with the “end” or “consummation” in Daniel’s prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Dan. 9:26,27). Although verses 4-8 describe events which will actually exist throughout the Tribulation, the specific reference is to events during the first part of this period only. Note verse 6: “… but the end is not yet.” The specific events described here will occur at a time during the Tribulation which precedes the actual time of the end. Verses 9-14 then continue from this point and provide information concerning events throughout the remainder of the Tribulation. Note the concluding statement in this section: “… then shall the end come.” Here we have events which not only occur during the Tribulation but lead up to the end of this period, the end of the age. Actually, verses 4-8 depict events which will occur during the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation, and verses 9-14 depict events which will occur during the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation. The expression “the beginning of sorrows” (v. 8), as will be shown, is peculiarly related to Israel during the Tribulation, pointing to climactic events which will occur both in the middle and at the end of this seven-year period. Verses 4-8 carry one to the time of the first of these two climactic events (in the middle of the Tribulation), and verses 9-14 pick up at this point and carry one through to the time of the second of these two climactic events (at the end of the Tribulation). Verses 4-14, thus, cover major related events pertaining to Israel from the beginning to the end of the Tribulation. The entire scope of the matter is revealed in these verses, but with very little detail. Then, verses 15-26 drop back and cover the same time period as verses 9-14, providing additional details concerning a number of events which will occur in the middle and during the last half of the Tribulation.

Examine Yourself or Not?

by Roel Velema

But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I DO NOT EVEN EXAMINE MYSELF. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord” (1 Cor. 4:3,4 NASB).

But a man must EXAMINE HIMSELF, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor 11:28 NASB).

EXAMINE YOURSELVES, whether ye be in the faith; PROVE YOUR OWN SELVES. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?“(2 Cor. 13:5 KJV).

Should we examine ourselves or not? The key to the answer is that in all these three passages Paul uses different Greek words. That should be recognized or else we are comparing apple with oranges.

In 1 Corinthians 4:3,4 the Greek verb is ἀνακρίνω (ana-krinoo). This verb is related to the verb (κρίνω) krinoo, which carries the thought of judgment. Paul says that he doesn’t pass judgment on himself but he does judge (ana-krinoo) things whether they agree with the Scriptures or not (Acts 17:11). Believers can so that because they are spiritual persons who judge (ana-krinoo) all things (1 Cor. 2:15).

In 1 Cor. 11:28 the Greek verb is δοκιμάζω (dokimazoo). This verb means to investigate, to test. So we may test ourselves relative to something, but not judge ourselves as in 1 Cor. 4:3,4. We should be aware of the difference. We investigate ourselves whether we know what it means to be in Christ, but in Christ we do not judge ourselves.

In 2 Cor. 13:5 dokimazoo appears again in the translation ‘proves your own selves”. So there is a difference between proving and judging. However, and that is interesting the translation ”EXAMINE YOURSEVES” introduces a new Greek verb: πειράζω (peirazoo). Peirazoo points to experimental experience and to put something to the test. So dokimazoo and peirazoo belong to each other. Peirazoo is also related to temptation. When it comes to temptation the point is to abide in Christ. We are always in Christ, and in this respect we don’t judge ourselves, but when we are tempted to act as if we are not in Christ, we prove our own selves.

So in answering the question whether we should examine ourselves, the answer is yes and no. We should see the nuance differences in order not to compare apples with pears, as the expression goes in Dutch.

When the Fulness of Time Had Come

Christmas Message 2019
by Roel Velema

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:4-7).

In this Christmas meditation I want to dwell with you on these words of Paul. I choose this section because I like that great word ‘fullness’. Fullness refers to being full, being fulfilled, being complete and perfect. Paul refers to the completion of a period of time. The birth of Christ therefore came at the ‘the right time’. Fullness in Scripture however is not limited to time, but also applies to God and to man. So let’s take a closer look at these three aspects of fulness relative to Christmas.

1. The fullness of God

When the Son of God came to this earth, the fullness of God came too. Yes, the fullness of God in a baby, in Jesus. But that’s not all, the whole Trinity of God was involved in Christmas. The Father was involved because God the Father sent His Son. The Son went in complete harmony with the Father, for His food was to do the will of the Father.

God knew that man would sin and in need of redemption. But who was willing to redeem him? The answer to that question is to be found in Isaiah 6:
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me” (Isa. 6:8)

In that passage Isaiah offered to go and was sent to Israel, but the deepest application of this chapter was to Christ Himself (cp. John 12:41).

Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” For Us, for the Trinity, for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the Son said, “Here I am! Send Me.” This is the deepest meaning of Isaiah 6:8.

The Holy Spirit was also involved in Christmas when the angel said to Joseph, “Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20). God in His fullness was involved in the birth of Jesus.

Christmas is the Trinity at work. Yes, the Trinity! Only the Trinity made Christmas possible! The God of Israel is a family, a royal family (cp. Hebr. 2:10). That is why God has never been lonely, for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit love each other. All other gods are needy gods. But God wanted us out of grace. Every one-person-god is lonely and cannot be love. Our the God of Israel is a Trinity. Only the Trinity by definition can be love.

Allah is not loving and does not offer redemption, at most success. Without the Trinity the cross cannot work. The Father had a willing Son to redeem us. So the way we see God determines how we see the gospel.

The devil is lonely and needs to destroy us. We see this difference so aptly described in C.S. Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters”, in which a senior devil, Screwtape, writes to the junior devil Wormwood:

One must therefore dare to face that everything that is said about His Love for people and about the complete freedom that lies in serving Him is not just propaganda (although we would like to believe that!), but an astounding truth. It truly IS His intention to populate the world with an army of nauseated little copies of Himself, creatures whose life, in miniature format, will be essentially like His, not because He has absorbed, but because they have voluntarily added their will to His. We want cattle that can become food in the long run. We want to swallow, He wants to pour out. We are empty and want to become full; It is full and overflows. The purpose of our war is a world filled with beings, in which our Father Down (the devil!) Has absorbed all other beings; the Enemy wants a world filled with beings, one with Him and yet himself.”

God is full and overflowing and wants a world filled with people full of Himself. This brings us to the next aspect.

2. The fullness of man

For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” ​​(Colossians 1:19).
For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily; and you have been filled in Him who is the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:9,10).

Because the fullness of the deity lives in Christ – in the baby in Bethlehem too! – the same fullness of God also lives in us! He is our life and that is why we share in His fullness. He is the light of the world and that is why we are the light of the world. Never ask God to be who you already are or what you already have. We share in His fullness. Christmas means that you are aware of His fullness that you have obtained.

“Oh, make me a light anyway.” No, you are the light in Him!
“I want to live closer to you.” No, the branch cannot live closer to the Vine. They are one.

The spirit of Christmas is to recognize the birth of Jesus as a hint to our rebirth. Of course, the rebirth occurs in resurrection. Therefore Christmas, Easter and the Ascension belong together.

3. The fullness of time

We see different times in the Bible:
The fullness of time” – Christmas
The fullness of the times” (Ephesians 1:10) – Messianic era
Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are” (Luke 21:24) – the period from Nebuchadnezzar to the coming of Christ.

God is always at the right time, because God is a God of order and purpose. Christmas came at the right time, just as the second return of Christ will occur at the right time. Nothing is out of control with God.

If God gave His Son to this world at the right time, could the Jews know that time? Yes, they could know, based on Daniel 9:24-27 – the prophecy of the seventy-year weeks. Daniel said it would take 69 year-weeks, i.e. 62 times 7 = 483 years, from the time to rebuild Jerusalem to the death of Messiah, the Prince. This period began when Nehemiah stood before King Artaxerxes (Neh. 2:1-8). Bible commentaries usually give the date 445 BC as the start of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. It was in the month of Nisan that king Artaxerxes gave his decree (Neh. 2:1), and it was in the month of Nisan that the Lord Jesus died (cf. Lev. 23:5-6; Numbers 28:16-17). Up to the year 33 the 69 weeks included a period of 445+32 (the year zero after Christ does not exist) = 477 years.

These 477 years are, however, solar years (solar years), years of 365.25 days. However, the Bible calculates lunar years (lunar years), years of 360 days (compare Gen. 7:11 with Gen. 8:3-4, and compare Rev. 11:2 with Rev. 11:3). These lunar years are also called prophetic years.

The 477 solar years are equal to 477 * 365.25/360 = 484 lunar years. This only differs one year if we consider a year week as 7 lunar years. After all, then 69 year weeks include: 69 * 7 = 483 lunar years. Difference in rounding and inaccuracy of years can easily explain the difference of one year. We can therefore only come to one conclusion: Scripture gave light about the time of the death of the Messiah. His birth then would be some decades earlier.

Now to the practical application:

We have seen this trilogy:
1. The fullness of God
2. The fullness of us
3. The fullness of time
We find this trilogy also in 1 John 4:7:

“As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
1. The fullness of God – I AM – He is
2. The fullness of man – I am – as He is
3. The fullness of time – at every moment – in this world.
If you keep this in mind, you will remain in the spirit of Christmas – in the fulness of Him as you!

P.S. We are very close to the second coming of Christ, based on the septenary arrangement of Scripture, i.e. six days as 1000 lunar days, followed by a seventh day. After His death Christ will come back after two days, on the third day – after two days, at the daybreak of the third day – after 2000+ years. At the present time (let’s say spring of 2020), we are 1987 years beyond the events of Calvary. Converting these 1987 years to 360-day years gives us 2016 years, which is at least 16 years too many. So we are at the daybreak of third millennium! The return of Christ can be here at any moment! So Christmas gives a hint that we are now at the right time relative to His second coming!!!

Revelation 3:20 Revisited

by Roel Velema

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

Revelation 3:20 is often used in evangelism, often along with John 1:12, to urge people to accept Christ as their Savior. Many have come to faith through this verse (me too!). Later I realized that the verse is not addressed to the unsaved, but a church, a body of those who were born again, to redeemed people. Although God can give a straight blow with a crooked stick, and the wind of the Spirit blows wherever He wants, what then is the contextual meaning of the verse for the saved?

The first thing that stands out in the seven letters of Revelation 2-3 is the impending return of the Lord. Jesus writes to the Ephesians: “I will coming to you” (Rev. 2:5). In Pergamum we see more urgency: “Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon” (Rev. 2:16). To Thyatira, the Lord emphasizes yet another time of perseverance: “Only hold fast what you have until I come” (Rev. 2:25). He comes nearer when He writes to Sardis: “I will come like a thief” (Rev. 3:3). Time really draws near when He writes to the church of Philadelphia: “I am coming soon” (Rev. 3:11). The finally, in Laodicea He is standing at the door where He knocks. We see the same in Luke 12:35-38:

Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!

These slaves had to dress for action and keep their lamps burning, as also see in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matt. 25:1-13). But note the differences. In Luke 12 the master came FROM to the wedding feast, while in Matthew 25 the girls went TOWARDS the wedding hall. Some Bible readers think that Luke 12:35-38 relates to Israel after the marriage of the Lamb has been a fact. It would then be addressed to the believers in the Great Tribulation. When we stick to this line, we see that after the second coming of Christ on earth, two weddings have taken place. Christ has his bride and the Father has restored Israel as his wife. For both weddings there are then festivities and Christ could be on his way from one wedding to another. However, we will see that this is not the thought behind Luke 12:35-38.

Peter also wondered to whom the parable was addressed and asked: “Lord, are you telling this this parable for us for all” (Luke 12:41). The Lord then spoke the parable of the faithful and wise slave, which we also find in Matthew 24:45-51. These parables are parables over the kingdom of the heavens, which point to the rule of heaven over the earth for those who realized their heavenly calling. The church of Jesus Christ has a heavenly calling and Israel has not. Therefore Israel is not in view in Luke 12:35-38.

Regarding the coming from and going to the marriage feast, the Greek text helps us when we look at the Greek word for “marriage”, which is the word “gamos.” In Luke 12:36 the word is plural and usually does not refer to multiple weddings, but to the different parts of the wedding. Now we have the explanation of Revelation 3:20. Hearing his voice, being dressed, keeping the lamps burning, as the wise virgins did. He comes as a thief in the night, possibly in the second or third night watch, that is, the hours before midnight or after midnight. He come back from the marriage hall where all things are made ready. Revelation 3:20 therefore challenges us to expect His second coming daily.

Let’s read on, from Luke 12:39:
But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12: 39-48).

In verse 45 the slave becomes unfaithful and mistreats the other slaves. His lord will let him share in the fate of the faithless ones, like the faithful slaves of Christ will rule during the millennium over His possessions. In verse 47 we read: “And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.” Other Bible passages of the same nature are found in Matthew 22:1-14; 24:45-51; 25:1-13, 28-30, Luke 19:2-27 and Galatians 5:17-21.

Although we cannot lose our eternal salvation and stay a child of God, we can certainly fail to receive the heavenly millennial birthright as a son. Therefore, put the following text on your pin board or PC in order to be reminded of it every day:

Blessed is the slave who will find his lord so busy when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him over all his possessions “(Luke 12:42-43).

The Impossible Situation

by Roel Velema

Christ is ALL in ALL in the believer through union in the spirit (1 Cor. 6:17). So in Him, in Christ, we move and have our being (Acts 17:28). This frees is forever from the necessity and possibility to move without Him. The Lord stresses this continually in order not to despair about our temporary and visible lives (cp. 2 Cor. 1:8), and lift up our situations to the level of the Spirit. What is the impossible situation here below, is in the land of resurrection and ascension, in our spirit, where He is ALL in ALL, the normal Christian life.

You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek’“ (Ps. 27:8). When His ALL speaks from Spirit-spirit to soul, while “fire is set to the course of nature” (James 3:6), His faith substantiates “that God raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:9).

God’s way is always in the sea (cp. Ps. 77:19). Caught between the army of Pharaoh and the sea, the sea proves to be way out through resurrection. Jesus went to Calvary, “his departure [Gr. ‘exodus’], which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). Calvary is our way out, our opened sea, our exodus. How lengthy the evening shadow may be, we don’t look at the appearances which have no power. We see the exodus, the way out, which was there all the time.

In Him we move and in Him He moves everything and everyone. In ourselves we cannot move people one inch unto fullness. Others may criticize us, misunderstand us, reject us, but in Him, they are powerless against His initiated prayer (cp. Ezek. 36:37a) as us. We rejoice in the God who raises the dead and therefore our movement in Him is always a sacrificial move because the new life is contained in a new heart marked by the cross.

The impossible situation is a call to ask: “Lord, what are You up to?”, ready by faith to lay down our lives and stand in the breach on behalf of others. The mark of a mature Christian is the non-dualistic grasp of union in spirit, expressed in intercession, i.e. to stand in the gap for others, “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col. 1:24).

The Basics of Our Union with Christ (2)

by Roel Velema

Basic 2: Man is a tripartite being (as seen in salvation)

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23).

Man is a tripartite being comprised of spirit, soul, and body. Our salvation, within its complete scope (past, present, and future), pertains to our salvation with respect to our complete tripartite being. Scripture reveals that each of these three parts of man is subject to salvation at different times. Salvation is far more than our eternal salvation. Ephesians 2:8,9 speaks about our (past) eternal salvation, the salvation of the spirit.

There is also a present saving, which we find in Romans 5:10b: “now that we are reconciled, shall we be ‘[being’] saved by his life.” This present ongoing process of saving, has to do with an increase of awareness of our full rooting, our whole fullness of Christ in whom we already have been filled in completely (Col. 2:9,10). This present saving is a present “reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). This inward reign emanates from our union with Christ. This present reign pertains to the soul and is related to the “salvation of the soul” (1 Peter 1:9). Those who saved their souls, which has nothing to do with eternal salvation, have denied their natural lives and didn’t count their lives precious to themselves. They learned intercession, they learned to lay down their lives for others.

Finally, there is a future inherited salvation and a future redemption of the body.

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebr. 1:14). Eternal life is not an inherited salvation, because one has to become a son of God before one can become a heir of the testator. To inherit a future salvation is to inherit the coming kingdom in view of the millennial promises to the overcomers in Revelation 2-3. Ruling as kings in this present life inwardly then will become a rule with Christ outwardly. To determine whether we will be overcomers will determined at the judgment seat of Christ, where we will stand with “redeemed bodies” (Rom. 8:23).

So, salvation covers the whole panorama of our Christian life, and this cannot be seen clearly if we do not recognize that man has been made up by spirit, soul, and body.

Since Elohim is a Trinity, for man to be created in the “image” and “likeness” of God, he too must be a trinity. Unlike the dichotomous animal kingdom (created apart from the “image” and “likeness” of God) possessing only bodies and souls, trichotomous man (created in the “image” and “likeness” of God) is a triune being. Man not only possesses a body and a soul, but he also is spirit as well.

Jesus is Elohim manifested in the flesh; and having been made in the “likeness” of man (but apart from unredeemed man’s fallen nature), He, as man, must also be a trinity (John 1:14; Phil. 2:7). This tripartite nature of Christ, in Whom “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9), was clearly revealed at the time of His death. At this time Jesus yielded up His spirit, which went back into the presence of His Father in heaven (Luke 23:46; cf. Eccl. 12:7; Acts 7:59); His soul went into Hades, the place of the dead, and His body was removed from the Cross and placed in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb (Matt. 27:57-61). This threefold separation persisted until the soul and spirit re-entered the body at the time Christ was raised from the dead.

Thus, God, Elohim, is a Trinity; Jesus, Elohim manifested in the flesh, is likewise a trinity; and man, created in the “image” and “likeness” of Elohim, can only be a trinity as well.

Accordingly, a complete redemption provided by the Triune God must, of necessity, pertain to man as a complete being. Man’s complete salvation must encompass spirit, soul, and body.

{to be continued}

The Basics of Our Union with Christ (1)

by Roel Velema

Basic 1: A Christian lives in two-oneness with Christ

The union of the believer with Christ through the Holy Spirit is described in 1 Corinthians 6:17: “And he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (Young’s Literal Translation).

When we are born again, we become one spirit with God’s Spirit, and we become partakers of the divine nature. The word ‘joined” in 1 Corinthians 6:17 is a translation of a Greek verb which is related to the word kolla which means ‘glue’. So God’s Spirit and my spirit are ‘glued’ like two sheets of paper. We are one, yet to be distinguished. We live in two-oneness. To be one spirit implies God’s Spirit AS my spirit. Christ is the light of the world and so are we the light of the world (John 8:12; Matt. 5:14), because we as one spirit.

Christ lived in two-oneness with His Father. He was not the Father, yet He was one with the Father. The Father sent Him (John 14:24), so He distinguished Himself from the Father. Yet Jesus said: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), and “Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9). So Christ expressed the essence of the Father, in two-oneness, but NEVER as an independent self:

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do NOTHING of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19), and that “… I do NOTHING on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me” (John 8:28).

What is true of the Father and Christ, is also true of Christ and me:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, JUST AS YOU, Father, are in me, and I in you, that THEY ALSO may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20,21).

It was through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that believers became one, just as the Father and Christ are one. This is not a high aim to be aspired, but it’s God’s standard, our point of departure. Do you believe that? Do you believe that who has seen you, has seen Christ? Do you believe that your spirit and God’s spirit are “one spirit”?

In resurrection I am raised in “union” with Christ. The TWO of us, Christ and me, are ONE spirit. One does not swallow up the other. I am in the foreground, and Christ is the life that lives in me, AS me. Christ wasn’t the Father, but He expressed the essence of the Father AS Christ. Christ lives in me, and I express Christ AS me. Christ and I live as one. Two AS one is the key to union, not merely Christ in me, but Christ AS me. God’s Spirit AS my spirit implies Christ AS me.

{to be continued}

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

by Roel Velema

And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself’” (Acts 2:38,39).

You might wonder; what do these words of Peter mean? And what is the gift of the Holy Spirit? Should we all be baptized before we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? In answering these questions, we have to keep in mind that there are TWO ministries or aspects of the Spirit relative to Christians.

The inward aspect of the Spirit

The first aspect, which is INWARD, is the Spirit we receive when we are born again. This birth from above originated in John 20:22: “… He (Jesus) BREATHED on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”. This is similar to the LORD God forming man of dust from the ground in Genesis 2:7: “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and BREATHED into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” The Greek verb in John 20:22 for ‘breathed’ (Greek: emphusaoo) is unique and used only once in the New Testament. The Old Testament equivalent can, however, be found in Genesis 2:7 and Ezekiel 37 (where new life is breathed into dry bones).

There can be no doubt that Genesis 2:7 speaks about the natural life of man, while John 20:22 points to the new life of man, a spirit-filled life that we experience when we are born again through faith in Christ.

The outward aspect of the Spirit

The second aspect, which is OUTWARD, is not the ministry of the Spirit within, but “… the promise of my Father UPON you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49; cp. Acts 1:4). This promise of the Spirit became effective at Pentecost, also to those who were born again from John 20:22 on. This ministry is related to power and the spread of the gospel (Acts 1:8).

Water baptism

A person who is baptized in water, testifies about the new birth, the move from death to life in Christ. So it is obvious that in Acts 2:38, following the water baptism, the Spirit UPON is in view. Luke says that the believer will receive the PROMISE of the Spirit. Paul deals with this in Ephesians 1:13: “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with THE PROMISED HOLY SPIRIT.” We are in Him (1 Cor. 1:30), and in Him we have received both aspects of the Holy Spirit. In Him we have received ALL spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3; Col. 2:9,10).

Of course, the question arises whether we have received the gift of the Spirit when we have not (yet) been baptized in water, though born from above and being in in Christ. Well, Jesus said of the Spirit: “The wind blows where it wishes” (John 3:8). The Wind of the Spirit blows wherever He wants. For example, the great revivalist Charles Finney received a mighty baptism of the Spirit UPON him, while he didn’t know there was a Spirit at all. But to Luke it was beyond dispute that every believer should be baptized soon after conversion and not to be postponed. God does something for us in baptism, we do nothing for Him. Our acceptance of baptism is only acceptance of God’s gift.

The gift of the Spirit Himself

The expression “the gift of the Holy Spirit” has been constructed with a genitive which points to the Holy Spirit HIMSELF. The gift is bestowed upon each and every repentant and baptized person and cannot, therefore, refer only to charismatic gifts of the Spirit, speaking with tongues, healing, etc. We do not read that any of the 3,000 spoke in tongues, yet all received the gift of the Spirit. There is no doubt that many at Pentecost received both aspects of the Spirit at once when they came to Christ.

The basis upon which the Spirit has been given

The birth from above has been given on basis of the resurrection of Christ, while the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been given on basis of the ascension of Christ. Both had their unique historical start at the resurrection day and at Pentecost.

What about you?

Acts 2:38,39 has been promised to “everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself”. This includes you and me. Have you already applied these verses to your life? Have you surrendered to Christ? Have you repented and been baptized in water, following your new birth?

The Mind of Christ

by Roel Velema

’For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But WE HAVE the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).

Paul is a master in bringing up the shadows of the Old Testament and apply them to the blessings of the New Covenant. Here the apostle quotes Isaiah 40:13:
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him His counsel?
Comparing these two passages, we see that understanding the mind (of the Lord) is equal to measuring the Spirit (of the Lord). This ‘measuring’ (ESV) is a directing (KJV) or fathoming (NIV).

Paul continues that we have this mind as a blessing of the New Covenant. We are Christ as us, so we have His mind. His mind directs us and brings up the depths of God through the Spirit. And the Spirit has a sevenfold characteristic as seen in Isaiah 11:1,2:

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD.

Paul added to that:
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).

All this characteristics are now ours, through which He makes known His unfathomable will. The word ‘mind’ in 1 Cor. 2:16 is the translation of the word ‘nous’ in the Greek text. It also means ‘disposition’, ‘insight’, ‘understanding’ and ‘thinking ability’.

The mind of Christ is the disposition of Christ, while, on the other hand, there is the disposition (‘nous’) of the flesh (Col. 2:18).

Paul also speaks about being “fully persuaded in one’s own mind” (Rom. 14:5), which points to awareness or consciousness. God is Spirit, and Spirit is consciousness. God is consciousness personified, and He is spiritual awareness. In fact, where the Spirit shows His mind as “I AM”, there is consciousness and liberty as “I am”. The ultimate end is a consciousness, a fixed unchangeable relationship in experience of God and me as one person. Until all is Spirit, there will be the psychological urge to change myself, polish away our fleshly differences and compare ourselves with others. Having the mind of Christ, we simply live from the inner conviction that we are the will of God. Faith means that we live out of Christ-consciousness rather than a consciousness of effect, of our weal and woe, of sin or lack. And so we move in the mind of Christ, not knowing anything of ourselves, but only speaking according to the sevenfold Spirit.

Paul once served with his mind (‘nous’) the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin (Rom 7:25). His thinking ability focused him on the law of God, while “the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). So we set our mind on the Spirit and so by faith become conscious of the mind of the Spirit.

Paul surely likes Isaiah 40:13, because he quotes it also in Romans 11:34:

For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:33-36).

Yes, we have the ‘nous’ of Christ, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! In the millennium the overcomers will have the mind of Christ in particular as the hidden manna to feed others from their inner depths in Christ (Rev. 2:17)!

The Kierkegaard Corner – Spirit means I

by Roel Velema

I really like the aphorisms, the one-liners, by Kierkegaard. Here is one:

To be ‘spirit’ means to be ‘I’. God needs many ‘I’s’, because He wants to be loved.”

I love this one, because for many years I believed that ‘spirit’ was vague and intangible, yet the life of God to me and erroneously thought my ego was located in soul. What a day it was when I saw that spirit means a person. I worship God in spirit (John 4:24), and the Spirit testifies to my spirit that I am a child of God (Rom. 8:16). Yes we are spirit to be expressed in soul and body. His I and my I have been joined in love as one spirit (1 Cor. 6:17), distinguishable, yes, but inseparable ― in two-oneness. That’s the way lovers live and that’s the only way God can be all, not as a separate I, but Christ as my I.

I really like the aphorisms, the one-liners, by Kierkegaard. Here is one:

To be ‘spirit’ means to be ‘I’. God needs many ‘I’s’, because He wants to be loved.”

I love this one, because for many years I believed that ‘spirit’ was vague and intangible, yet the life of God to me and erroneously thought my ego was located in soul. What a day it was when I saw that spirit means a person. I worship God in spirit (John 4:24), and the Spirit testifies to my spirit that I am a child of God (Rom. 8:16). Yes we are spirit to be expressed in soul and body. His I and my I have been joined in love as one spirit (1 Cor. 6:17), distinguishable, yes, but inseparable ― in two-oneness. That’s the way lovers live and that’s the only way God can be all, not as a separate I, but Christ as my I.