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Aletheia - (ἀλήθεια - "Truth")

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Francis Chan: Balance Beam

 

Enjoy this (always relevant) video by Francis Chan. Are you gripped to the balance beam?

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What does it mean to be “led by the Spirit”?

 

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We’ve spent time thinking about being filled with the Spirit and being taught by the Spirit. One aspect of the Spirit’s sanctifying ministry to believers remains: being “led by the Spirit.” In order to understand that ministry, it’s important to distinguish between leading and guidance.

  • Guidance relates to decision-making. Scripture describes three means by which the Spirits guides decision-making: providential means (e.g., Acts 16:6-8), extraordinary means (e.g., Acts 16:9-10), and ordinary means (e.g., Acts 15:28-29).

  • Leading relates to obedience and focuses more on living than on leading. The phrase “led by the Spirit” occurs only twice in the NT (Rom 8:14; Gal 5:18). Those passages suggest that the person who walks by the Spirit will be led by the Spirit.

We’ll focus on Galatians 5:16-26, although Romans 8:5-14 is virtually identical. First, let’s set the context. In Galatians, Paul is combating false teachers who argue that a person not only must believe in Jesus but also must keep the OT law. Throughout the letter Paul uses a series of three contrasts: promise vs. law; freedom vs. slavery, and Spirit vs. flesh. At times the terms are nearly synonymous. A further complication is that in Galatians 5:16-26 Paul uses three different verbs modified by the phrase “by the Spirit”—walk (v.16, 25), led (v.18), and live (v.25). “Walk” and “led” are essentially the same. One (“walk”) focuses on outward obedience; the other (“led”) focuses on inward submission. Again, the emphasis is more on living than on leading. Remember: the person who walks by the Spirit will be led by the Spirit. So what does a person who walks by Spirit look like? According to Galatians 5:16-26, that person exhibits three characteristics.

First, the person who walks by the Spirit crucifies the deeds of the flesh (v.19-21, 24). You’re probably familiar with these verses, although we tend to pass over them pretty quickly in order to get to verses 22-23. We don’t have time to go into detail on all of sins listed, but we can at least note the four areas the fifteen vices cover: sexual sin (immorality, impurity, sensuality), religious sin (idolatry, sorcery), social sin —both individual and corporate—(enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying), and behavioral sin (drunkenness, carousing). So, if I’m walking by the flesh, my entire life has the potential to be a mess.

That’s the bad news. It gets worse. Romans 8:13 says, “If you are living according to the flesh, you are about to die.” But there’s good news, too. Again, listen to Romans 8:13—“but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Galatians 5:24 simply states it differently: “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Is your life a mess? Is the flesh running it for you? If so, you need to take a careful look at verse 21b— “. . . things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such times shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Then, you need to get into the crucifixion business. By the power of the Holy Spirit you need to say “No!” to the deeds of the flesh and “Yes!” to His leading. That’s the attitude that which results in sanctification.

Second, the person who walks by the Spirit cultivates the fruit of the Spirit (v.22-23). You might say, “The Spirit produces the fruit. How can I be expected to outdo Him?” I’m sorry, but we aren’t expected simply to sit back and be passive. Divine sovereignty goes hand-in-hand with human responsibility. Remember Philippians 2:12—“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling”? Or how about 2 Peter 1:5-9?

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control, perseverance; and in perseverance, godliness; and in godliness, brotherly kindness, and in brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you cultivating the fruit of the Spirit? Are you adding love and patience to your joy? Are you adding kindness and goodness to your peace? Are you adding gentleness and self-control to your faith? If not, isn’t it about time you got started? That’s where the Spirit wants to lead you.

Third, the person who walks by the Spirit corrects attitudes that cause division (v.25-26). If verses 16-24 are somewhat general, verse 26 is very specific, applying Paul’s teaching to the church in Galatia. He identifies three attitudes which they should reject: boasting, envying, and challenging one another.

It might be that we become boastful about our many years of service to the congregation. It might be that we envy the recognition someone else receives or the success of another ministry within the church. It might be that we challenge the direction the church is going because we think we know a better direction for it. Whatever the specific occasion, the person who walks by the Spirit will recognize those divisive attitudes as deeds of the flesh and will replace them with the fruit of the Spirit.

The person who walks by the Spirit will be led by the Spirit. If you want to be led by the Spirit, you’ll get busy walking by the Spirit. You will crucify the deeds of the flesh, cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, and correct the attitudes which cause division.

Written by Dr. John Harvey, Dean of CIU's Seminary & School of Ministry 

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What does it mean to be “taught by the Spirit”?

 

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Have you ever wished that you could read God’s mind? Here’s the good news: you can! In 1 Corinthians 2:11-13 Paul says that we can know God’s thoughts because we are “taught by the Spirit” who knows those thoughts. John says something similar in his first letter (cf. 1 John 2:27). Before exploring what it means to be “taught by the Spirit,” though, we need to talk a little theology because sometimes even mature believers misunderstand what the Spirit does as we study Scripture.  

Have you ever had one of those “ah ha!” experiences with God’s Word—a time when you understand something in the Bible you never understood before? What, precisely, has the Spirit done in that situation? Is it revelation, inspiration, or illumination? It’s crucial that we distinguish between these three theological terms before we go any further.  

Revelation is the act by which God discloses truth about Himself and His plan of salvation.

Inspiration is the act by which God records truth in a form we can understand.  

Illumination is the act by which God applies truth to our lives.  

When we talk about being “taught by the Spirit,” we’re talking about illumination, not revelation or inspiration. In illumination the Spirit of God teaches the children of God about the Son of God using the Word of God.  

There aren’t many single passages that talk about the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the most helpful is John 16:12-15. The context of that passage is Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17), his last extended time with the twelve disciples. Within that discourse, there are five passages on the Holy Spirit: 14:16-17; 14:25-26; 15:26-27; 16:7-11; 16:12-15. In John 14:16-17, Jesus describes the Spirit as “another helper” and “the Spirit of truth”; in John 16:8-11, he describes the Spirit’s ministry to non-believers. We’ll connect the other two passages (14:25-26 and 15:26-27) with 16:12-15 as we go along. In John 16:12-15 we discover three aspects of the Spirit’s teaching ministry.  

The Spirit instructs in truth (v.13a). The verb “guide” points to an instructional role and carries the idea of “to lead along a way” (cf. Ps 25:5, 9). Note, too, that the verse actually says, “in (rather than into) all truth.” Jesus isn’t saying that the Spirit will give us new truth but that the Spirit will help us with the truth we already have (cf. 2 Pet 1:3-4). Where do we find that truth? Jesus Himself tells us in John 17:17: “Sanctify them in truth; Your word is truth.”  

So, the Holy Spirit watches over us and helps us as we learn to walk in the truth of God’s Word. Have you ever seen a parent watching over a young child who is learning to walk? That parent is always there to encourage, comfort, and coach. If we want to be taught by God’s Spirit, we need to be willing to pay attention to His coaching. We need to take those faltering steps of faith in response to the truth of God’s Word, and we need to trust that He is there watching over us and helping us as we do so. The old gospel song says it well: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus”—or to grow in Jesus—“than to trust and obey.” Do you let the Spirit instruct you in truth?  

The Spirit applies truth to life (v.13b). The verb “disclose” means to proclaim what has been heard. It doesn’t point to prophecy or prediction of new information but to proclamation of information already disclosed. The idea here is very much the same as in John 14:26, where Jesus says that the Spirit will “bring to remembrance” all that he taught. So, what does Jesus mean when he says that the Spirit will disclose “what is to come”? Since the verb isn’t talking about prediction, that phrase can’t be talking about future events. Rather, it’s talking about the new and changing circumstances of our lives.  

What does the Spirit do with the truth of God’s Word? He teaches us, reproves us, corrects us, and instructs us in righteousness (cf. 2 Tim 3:16-17). He takes truth and helps us understand how what we know applies to our lives, right here, right now. In order for the Holy Spirit to be able to apply God’s Word to our lives, though, that Word needs to be in our lives, doesn’t it? We need to spend time in it; we need to meditate on it. Paul tells Timothy that he needs to be “addicted” to God’s Word (1 Tim 4:13). Do you let the Spirit apply truth to your life?  

The Spirit glorifies Jesus (v.14). The amazing thing about the Holy Spirit—at least from a human standpoint—is that He has absolutely no ego. Three times in John 14-16 that idea is repeated. In John 14:26 we read that the Spirit reminds us of what Jesus has taught. In John 15:26 we read that the Spirit bears witness to Jesus. In John 16:14 we read that the Spirit glorifies Jesus. The Spirit keeps our focus where it should be: on Jesus. Is that where your focus is? Are you letting the Holy Spirit teach you to fix your eyes on Jesus instead or on “stuff”? That’s His job. Do you let the Spirit glorify Jesus in your life?  

The Spirit of God teaches the children of God about the Son of God using the Word of God. That statement leads naturally to four questions we should ask ourselves:

  • Am I a child of God?

  • Am I trusting and obeying the Spirit of God?

  • Am I addicted to the Word of God?

  • Am I focused on the Son of God?

Written by Dr. John Harvey, Dean of CIU's Seminary & School of Ministry

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Before You Witness, Witness

 

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“‘Witness' is a noun before it’s a verb.”

It took a minute to sink in, but once it did I knew exactly what Mr. Tom Henry was saying.  Mr. Henry works with an international outreach ministry and shared a perspective on missions in chapel that I’ve never heard before. 

His point was simple – before we tell people about Jesus, we need to see Jesus. The prerequisite to bear witness is first to be a witness. For example, if my testimony concerning a car wreck is going to have any significance to the police, I have to have seen the wreck. If I didn’t see it, who cares what I say?

Similarly, a continual gaze upon Jesus will inform and refine me as I passionately share what I have seen. Seeing Jesus not only makes me a credible witness, but an accurate one, and both are necessary in today’s world.

So before we witness, let’s witness.

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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Oceans

 


Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
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What does it mean to be “filled with the Spirit”?

 

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What happens when a person is “filled with the Spirit”? Is it an experience we are to seek? Is it possible to be “un-filled”? Are there pre-requisites to being filled? Should we pray to be filled? What, precisely, does the NT have to say about being filled with the Spirit?

There are fifteen verses in the NT that describe individuals as being “filled with” or “full of” the Holy Spirit. Fourteen of them are in Luke and Acts. Although some writers see a difference between the two phrases, they are most likely synonymous. Four people are described this way in Luke’s Gospel: John (1:15), Elizabeth (1:41), Zacharias (1:67), and Jesus (4:1). John’s filling was special (”while in the womb”). Elizabeth and Zecharias followed the OT pattern of temporary filling. Although Jesus lived the prototypical Spirit-filled life, it’s dangerous to generalize from the single verse in Luke’s Gospel.

Ten verses in Acts describe a variety of subjects—the Jerusalem church (2:4; 4:31), Peter (4:8), Stephen (6:3, 5; 7:55), Barnabas (11:24), and Paul (9:17; 13:9, 52)—with some individuals/groups being mentioned multiple times. This latter group of passages suggests that a good definition of being filled with the Spirit is “being so given to following Christ that His character and power are clearly evident in your life.”

The final NT verse is Ephesians 5:18. Since that verse occurs in a teaching passage, the remainder of this post will be devoted to that passage. To set the context briefly, 5:15 introduces a section that extends through 6:9. Within that larger section, 5:15-21 introduces the basic topic: How to walk with wisdom (5:15) and understanding (5:17). The sentence that begins in verse 18 extends through verse 21. The command to “be filled” in verse 18 calls for continuing action. In other words, Paul expects us to be so given to following Christ that his character and power are clearly evident in our lives. Verses 19-21 provide four tests by which we can know if we are filled with the Spirit.

The first test is the edification test (v.19a). Although the first part of verse 19 uses musical terms, you don’t need to be musical to do it—the verb is “speaking” not singing. In any case, the activity is directed toward “one another,” and the intent is to edify. How do you edify one another? Look back at Eph 4:29-32:

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such as is good for edification according to the need, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

How do you treat other believers? What comes out of your mouth: words of life or words of death? Do you want to know if you are filled with the Spirit? Test yourself and see if you pass the edification test.

The second test is the worship test (v.19b). The first part of verse 19 is directed toward other believers, but the second part is directed toward “the Lord.” The second test is one of worship. That worship is to be done “with your heart,” that is, with your entire being. Do you remember what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4:23-24?

For an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.

Is your worship whole-hearted or half-hearted? Do you want to know if you are filled with the Spirit? Test yourself and see if you pass the worship test.

The third test is the thanksgiving test (v.20). Verse 20 is also directed toward “God the Father” and focuses on thanksgiving. Paul uses three qualifiers to amplify this test. “Always” points out the frequency with which we are to give thanks (cf. 1 Thess 5:17; Eph 6:18). “For all things” points out the occasion for giving thanks (cf. Rom 8:28). “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” points out the reason for giving thanks (cf. Eph 1:3-14). Colossians 3:17 captures the idea exactly:

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Is your life characterized by “an attitude of gratitude”? Do you want to know if you are filled with the Spirit? Test yourself and see if you pass the thanksgiving test.

The fourth test is the mutual submission test (v.21). Verse 21 shifts back to “one another” and is probably the most difficult test. It calls for submission to one another. Normally, the verb “being subject” refers to the attitude a subordinate has toward a superior (e.g., Rom 13:1-7). Here, though, Paul says that we are to have that attitude toward one another, regardless of status or role. He advocates the same attitude in Philippians 2:3-4:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

How do you relate to your brothers and sisters—as a superior or as a subordinate? Do you want to know if you are filled with the Spirit? Test yourself and see if you pass the mutual submission test.

Being filled with the Spirit means that Christ’s character and power are clearly evident in your life. In Ephesians 5:18-21, Paul focuses on four tests of character: edification, worship, thanksgiving, and mutual submission. Do you pass them?

Written by Dr. John Harvey, Dean of CIU's Seminary & School of Ministry

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Understanding the Ministries of the Holy Spirit

 

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“Filled with the Spirit,” “baptized by the Spirit,” “anointed with the Spirit”—is there a difference? If so, what is it? There’s a tendency to use these phrases, and others, interchangeably. Since the Holy Spirit plays a central role in the life of the believer, it’s important to understand as precisely as possible the various aspects of that role. The best starting point is an overview of the ministries of the Spirit. Those ministries may be divided by the subjects toward whom they are directed: the non-believer and the believer. The ministries to the believer may be further divided into those which relate to salvation and those which relate to sanctification.

The ministry of the Spirit to the non-believer is set out in John 16:8-11. Verse 8 explains what the Spirit’s work is: He convicts. The word translated “convict” means to “present something to view as a summons to change.” In the NT the change that is desired is repentance (cf. John 3:20; 8:46; Eph 5:11). Verses 9-11 explain what presented—sin, righteousness, and judgment—and the reasons the Spirit’s convicting work is necessary. Because the world did not accept Jesus’ witness, the Spirit convicts concerning sin. Because Jesus is no longer present to do so, the Spirit convicts concerning righteousness. Because the world has chosen to follow Satan, the Spirit convicts concerning judgment.

There are six ministries of the Spirit to the believer in salvation: regeneration, baptism, adoption, sealing, indwelling, and anointing. Each is a one-time ministry.

In regeneration (John 3:3-7; Tit 3:5) the Spirit implants new life in the Christian.

In baptism (Matt 3:11; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 1 Cor 12:13) the Spirit incorporates the Christian into Christ’s body.

In adoption (Rom 8:15, 23; Gal 4:4-6; Eph 1:5) the Spirit incorporates the Christian into God’s family.

In sealing (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13-14; 4:30) the Spirit guarantees the Christian’s final redemption.

In indwelling (Rom 8:9-11; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 1 John 3:24; 4:13) the Spirit provides the Christian with resources for holy living.

In anointing (Acts 10:38; 2 Cor 1:21; 1 John 2:20, 27) the Spirit sets the Christian apart and empowers him/her for service.

There are three ministries of the Spirit to the believer in sanctification: filling, teaching, and leading. Each is a continuing ministry, and the next three posts will explore them.

Written by Dr. John Harvey, Dean of CIU's Seminary & School of Ministry

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A Promise Kept

 

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J. Robertson McQuilkin served as the third president of CIU from 1968 to 1990, when he resigned to care for his wife Muriel, who needed full-time attention due to Alzheimer’s.

When McQuilkin had to decide whether to care for his ailing wife full-time or to continue serving as president of CIU, he said it was a no-brainer. The decision had been made 42 years prior when he promised “in sickness and in health…till death do us part.”

More than just “a matter of integrity,” it was the only “fair thing” to do. “[Muriel] sacrificed for me for forty years to make my life possible,” said McQuilkin in his resignation speech in 1990. “So if I cared for her for forty years, I would still be in debt.  However, there is much more. It’s not that I have to; it’s that I get to…It’s a great honor to care for such a wonderful person.”

More than just a touching love story (although it certainly is that as well), McQuilkin’s commitment to his wife is an example of integrity which, several years later, continues to stand in contrast with a culture that doesn’t value the importance of keeping promises.

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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This is Amazing Grace- Phil Wickham

 


For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16
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You're invited to CIU's Open House

 

Andrea
Meet Andrea. She is a Psychology major at CIU and is pursuing her dream of becoming a counselor.

Andrea’s favorite thing about CIU is the genuine Christian community. The professors, staff and classmates have challenged her academically and have encouraged her passion to Know Christ and to Make Him Known.

Join us for Open House on January 30 or February 20 and experience first-hand how CIU can help you pursue your dreams.

 

Register for CIU Open House

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