Monday, January 29, 2007

The case for war: Dt 2:24

“Arise, set out, and pass through the valley of Arnon. Look! I have given Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land into your hand; begin to take possession and contend with him in battle.” (Deuteronomy 2:24)

I have heard some argue that war is contrary to the nature and teachings of Christ. Even some “devout” Christians have adopted the belief that God would never use war to achieve His purposes. However, there are numerous examples in the scriptures where God did just that; use war for His own purposes and goals. In this scripture, God commands Moses and the nation of Israel to contend with King Sihon and the nation of Heshbon. While it is incontrovertible that war is never to be desired, and that its execution is full of horrors and death, there are times when war is just, right, and necessary.

One of the keys to understanding God’s view of war is to properly distinguish the differences between what the scripture has to say to the individual and what it has to say to nations. For example, the scripture clearly commands each person to forgive one another, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” (Mark 11:25) Even if someone were to sin greatly against us, we are to forgive them. However, this is not always the case for the state. For example, in the case of murder, the scriptures command us to forgive the murder, but it also commands the state to bring justice and to judge and punish the murder. We are called to forgive, but the state is called to punish. The same is true for war. The scriptures command us to love our enemies, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:43-44) But when God leads a nation into battle, He commands them to defeat their enemies. “The Lord our God delivered him over to us, and we defeated him with his sons and all his people.” (Deuteronomy 2:33) We are to love, but in war, a nation is to defeat.

War is the business of nations, not individuals, and its goal is victory, not appeasement. In the following verses, God outlines some of the factors that make the case for war.

“This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the peoples everywhere under the heavens, who, when they hear the report of you, will tremble and be in anguish because of you.” (Deuteronomy 2:25)

The former president Ronald Regan believed that it is not enough, as a nation, to have power but you must be willing to demonstrate your willingness to use that power. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s there was a prevailing philosophy that peace was most likely to occur when a balance of power existed between two advisories. However we have only look to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East to see that this belief is flawed. Peace in the middle east will never be achieve by simply achieving a balance of power, but peace will only come when one side is victorious over the other. Only when one side can show its demonstrable supremacy of power over the other will there ever be peace. Sometimes God brings about wars for the demonstrating of one nation’s power over another and for the establishment of a peaceful coexistence between nations.

“But Sihon king of Heshbon was not willing for us to pass through his land; for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, in order to deliver him into your hand, as he is today.” (Deuteronomy 2:30)

It is an irrefutable truth that evil exists in the world. At times this evil is personified in a single person and/or a nation. For example, in Moses day evil was personified in Pharaoh. Among the many atrocities committed by Pharaoh was the ordering of the death of every male Hebrew child. “Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.’” (Exodus 1:22) God sent Moses to Pharaoh to command him to let God’s people go, but God’s intent was not to spare Pharaoh but to destroy him. “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.’ So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires… What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” (Romans 9:17-18, 22) There are times when God hardens the heart of leaders for the purpose of drawing them out for destruction. This was the case with Pharaoh and with King Sihon. In our day, I would add to that list names like Adolph Hitler and Saddam Husain. There are times when diplomacy will not work; when God hardens the hearts of an evil person to the point where the only recourse is war. In such a case, a nation must not shrink back from conflict, for in such cases, it is the only option through which evil can be defeated.

“Then we turned and went up the road to Bashan, and Og, king of Bashan, with all his people came out to meet us in battle at Edrei. But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; and you shall do to him just as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.’” (Deuteronomy 3:1-2)

Aggression must never be tolerated. When one nation challenges the sovereignty of another, it is the responsibility of the nation to defend itself. There are some things worth fighting for. When the people returned to rebuild Jerusalem, after their forty years of exile, Nehemiah encouraged them against their enemies. “When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: ‘Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.’” (Nehemiah 4:14) When challenged, a nation must defend itself and must prove itself victorious. Nothing short of victory will do. Anything less will only invite increasing challenges to its right of existence, the life of its people, and its way of life. When challenged a nation must respond, and in responding, a nation must be victorious.

David Robison

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Littered with graves: Dt 2:14-15

“Now the time that it took for us to come from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed over the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war perished from within the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them. Moreover the hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy them from within the camp until they all perished.” (Deuteronomy 2:14-15)

Their thirty eight years of wandering in the wilderness was not always unpleasant for the people of Israel. “Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.” (Deuteronomy 8:4) They also had the presence of the Lord as a column of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire at night. The Lord also provided food and water supernaturally to feed and nourish His people. While there were many pleasantries associated with their wanderings, those thirty eight years were predominantly years of death. By the end of their wanderings, millions of graves littered the wilderness. A whole generation, to whom God had promised to them the Promised Land, died and were buried in the wilderness of their wanderings. Daily, hundreds of people perished and were buried until none of their generation remained.

God loves us, and even when we yield to our fears and unbelief, there is a portion of His grace and blessings that remains upon us. However, we must never forget that the end result of our disobedience to God is always death. “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8) When we turn our minds from the things of the Spirit to live by the things of the flesh, death begins working in our lives, not a physical death, but a death in our soul, our morals, and our relationship with God. We cannot disobey God without encoring the resulting consequences of our choices. As King Solomon asked, “Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can a man walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?” (Proverbs 6:27-28) The answer is an inequitable, “No!” and the same is with sin. A man (or woman) cannot embrace sin without being burned. There is always grace, there is always forgiveness, but there are also almost always consequences. Paul warns us not to be deceived, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8) Let us not be like the children of Israel who reaped death upon themselves because of their unbelief and disobedience, but let’s be like those who sow to the Spirit and from the Spirit reap new life.

David Robison

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A nation's right to exist: Dt2: 4-6, 9

“‘You will pass through the territory of your brothers the sons of Esau who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful; do not provoke them, for I will not give you any of their land, even as little as a footstep because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession. You shall buy food from them with money so that you may eat, and you shall also purchase water from them with money so that you may drink.’… Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the sons of Lot as a possession.’” (Deuteronomy 2:4-6, 9)

This passage tells us two important truths about nations, their sovereignty, and their right to exists. First, nations exist by the will of God and their borders are established by His own choosing. The scripture says quite clearly that it was the Lord who gave Mount Seir to Esau and his descendents. Their right as a nation was granted to them by God. Also, God gave Ar to lot and his sons as an inheritance. Their right to exist and their sovereignty as a nation were granted by God. This God given right to exist, and a nations sovereignty, should be respected by other nations, since it has been granted by God.

Secondly, God gives possession of a land to whomever He wishes. The scriptures are full of examples where, in the will of God, one people are displaced by another people and one nation gives way to another. “The Emim lived there formerly, a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim. Like the Anakim, they are also regarded as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim. The Horites formerly lived in Seir, but the sons of Esau dispossessed them and destroyed them from before them and settled in their place, just as Israel did to the land of their possession which the Lord gave to them.” (Deuteronomy 2:10-12) God, according to His own prerogative, displaces one people to make room for another. Israel displaced the nations of Canaan to establish their own nation, all according to the will of God. God not only chooses the borders of a nation, but also its rise and fall. What is important to learn from this is that there is no inherent right of nations to exist apart from the will of God. Many talk about “first nation” peoples and their right to rule, but that right to rule only extends as long as the Lord wills it to. If the Lord should chose, their right to rule may be replaced by another’s right, and their nation displaced by another. Even if they were there first, another nation may rise up and rule in their place, if the Lord should so decide.

David Robison

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The death of a movement: Dt 1:25-27

“Then they took some of the fruit of the land in their hands and brought it down to us; and they brought us back a report and said, ‘It is a good land which the Lord our God is about to give us.’ Yet you were not willing to go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God; and you grumbled in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us.’” (Deuteronomy 1:25-27)

God had brought the Israelites to a place of decision. Before them stood the promise land, behind them stood the wilderness through which they had come, and the command of the Lord was to go forth and possess the land. The report of those whom had been sent to spy out the land was that it was truly a “good land”, a land flowing with milk and honey. However, it was also a land of challenges; a land of giants and a land of peoples greater in number and strength then they were. To go forth would require faith and trust in God while retreating back into the wilderness would only require cowardice; the choice was theirs. Caleb tried to encourage then, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30) and so did Joshua, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us -- a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:7-9) and even Moses tried to encourage them. “Do not be shocked, nor fear them. The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.” (Deuteronomy 1:29-31) Yet for all this, the people refused to enter in.

These were the people that God had destined to enter into His Promised Land, it was their destiny, yet they surrendered their destiny and gave into their fears, unbelief, and disobedience. Their decision represented the end of a movement of God. God had begun to move in and through them and now it was over and it would be left to their children to recapture the promises of God that was once theirs. In their remorse, they tried to reclaim the promise of God for their lives, “Then you said to me, ‘We have sinned against the Lord; we will indeed go up and fight, just as the Lord our God commanded us.’ And every man of you girded on his weapons of war, and regarded it as easy to go up into the hill country. And the Lord said to me, ‘Say to them, “Do not go up nor fight, for I am not among you; otherwise you will be defeated before your enemies.”’” (Deuteronomy 1:41-42) yet it was too late and once again their rebellion was to their own shame and defeat. “Instead you rebelled against the command of the Lord, and acted presumptuously and went up into the hill country. The Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you as bees do, and crushed you from Seir to Hormah. Then you returned and wept before the Lord; but the Lord did not listen to your voice nor give ear to you.” (Deuteronomy 1:43-45) God continued to bless, provide for, and feed them in the wilderness, but the Promised Land had been lost.

Looking back over the past two thousand years of Christianity, we can see many times where there had been genuine moves of God that lasted for a while and then, for one reason or another, died out. For some of those movements there may still remain a remnant, yet often they are like people stuck in a “time warp”, trying to relive the times of past glory, trying to recapture the promise their movement once had, and yet for all their effort, God has moved on. No movement is guaranteed to “live” forever but its continued blessings are often predicated on how those involved respond to challenges presented to them. The same is true for us. Do we respond with faith to each new call from God or do we retreat in unbelief and disobedience? How we answer these questions determine the future of God’s “present movement” and our involvement in that movement.

The transition from one movement of God to another is always difficult. Often the “new” move of God experiences the most persecution from those of the “last” move of God. It often takes great faith, courage, and trust to leave behind the familiar and comfortable for the uncertainty of what lies ahead, but the promise land is never possessed by those who shrink back. We must be willing to shed the past to receive our future. Let us embrace with courage the new thing God is doing in our midst. Let us rise up and go forward, certain that if God has called us, He will cause us to inherit His promises. Let us not shrink back but rather go forth.

David Robison

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

God has spoken, but what does man have to say? Dt 1:20-22

“I said to you, ‘You have come to the hill country of the Amorites which the Lord our God is about to give us. See, the Lord your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’ Then all of you approached me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, that they may search out the land for us, and bring back to us word of the way by which we should go up and the cities which we shall enter.’” (Deuteronomy 1:20-22)

The Israelites had made the eleven day journey from Mount Horeb to Kadesh-barnea. They presently stood on the very border of the land that God had promised to give them, the land of Canaan. As they stood there, Moses delivered to them the command of God: rise up, go forward, and possess the land. You would have expected them to immediately march forward in obedience to God’s command, but instead, the decided to inquire of man as to what they should do. Instead of responding to God and going forth, they took a more cautious “wait and see” approach. They would wait to see what those who went to spy out the land would have to say before the decided whether or not they would obey the command of the Lord. In the end, they chose unbelief and disobedience with regards to the command of God and earned for themselves a forty year tour of the wilderness.

Their plan seemed reasonable; let’s send in some men to find the best way to go up and possess the land; but in their planning, they completely left out the Lord. They never stopped to consider their necessity, nor the efficacy, of asking the Lord what He thought of the situation or how He would have them to go up and possess the land. In the end, they placed more confidence on the counsel of man than they did on the counsel of God.

God often asks us to do things that are beyond our abilities. God’s plans and purposes for our lives are so great, that they are impossible to accomplish on our own. God asks us to do and be what we cannot, so that when by His grace we do and become, He alone will receive the glory. It is for this reason that, when faced with the command of God to rise up, go forth, and possess our own promised land, it is vital that we seek the Lord for the wisdom, strength, and courage to do so.

Consider how differently David responded when facing a similar situation. “David inquired of God, saying, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? And will You give them into my hand?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go up, for I will give them into your hand.’ David inquired again of God, and God said to him, ‘You shall not go up after them; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. It shall be when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall go out to battle, for God will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.’” (1 Chronicles 14:10, 14-15) If faith comes by hearing the Word of God, then unbelief comes from hearing the word of man. David was little concerned with what man had to say or how they thought he should fight his war, he was only concerned with what God had to say, and in taking time to hear the voice of God, his heart was built up in faith and he gained strength and courage to go forth in battle and win the victory for the Lord.

God has set before us the entire Kingdom of God, and He bids us to rise up and go forth and possess His kingdom. Now is the time to respond. Now is the time to choose faith. It matters little what others have to say. God has spoken and we must respond.

David Robison

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A system of judgment: Dt 1:12-15

“How can I alone bear the load and burden of you and your strife? Choose wise and discerning and experienced men from your tribes, and I will appoint them as your heads... So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and appointed them heads over you, leaders of thousands and of hundreds, of fifties and of tens, and officers for your tribes.” (Deuteronomy 1:12-15)

It is estimated that Israel, during the time of their wandering in the wilderness, may have numbered as many as three million souls. Initially, Moses was the only one who served as a judge among the people. “It came about the next day that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood about Moses from the morning until the evening.” (Exodus 18:13) Upon seeing this, Moses’ father-in-law (Jethro) counseled Moses that what he was doing was not right or healthy for him or the people. “The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.” (Exodus 18:17-18) Jethro’s counsel was that Moses should establish a network of judges who could hear and adjudicate the cases brought by the people, bringing only the difficult cases to Moses. “Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.” (Exodus 18:21-22)

In establishing a system of justice, Moses teaches us two essentials of any judicial system. First, justice should be blind. “Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s.” (Deuteronomy 1:16-17) Justice was to be made available to all parties and each party was to be heard equally, without consideration to who they were, their social status, or their financial abilities. Justice was to be dispensed evenly and to equitably. Secondly, justice was not to be arbitrary but rather based on the rule of law. The judges were not to render their judgment based on their own personal beliefs or moral leanings, nor were they to render judgment based on foreign law or by what the nations around them did, but there were to base their judgments upon the law of God as delivered by Moses. Jethro urged Moses, “You be the people's representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do.” (Exodus 18:19-20) So Moses, after installing the judges, reminded them, “I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do.” (Deuteronomy 1:18) Moses taught the laws of God to the people and the judges, and then the judges decided the cases brought to them based upon that law.

A model for the church?

This scripture has been used by some, including some churches I have been apart of, as a model for a hierarchical structure of authority and care within the church. Others have used it to justify size limits on small groups, saying they should not be much larger than 10 people because that was the largest group managed by the lower levels in Moses hierarchical order. But is this a proper use of this scripture? For two main reasons, I do not believe that this scripture was meant by God for the establishment of a system of hierarchical authority in the church. First, the structure Moses was instituting was civil in nature and not an ecclesiastical system of authority. Moses was establishing a civil governmental system for dispensing justice, not a system of religious authority. Secondly, it is unclear if Moses judicial system was actually hierarchical at all. Moses mentions those who were over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. If this was a hierarchical system, and assuming six hundred thousand family units (as numbered in the book of Numbers), then, at the lowest level, there would have been the need for approximately sixty thousand judges! It is my belief that those chosen as judges were not ordered hierarchically (those over thousands had ten leaders of hundreds under them) but rather, because some families and tribes were larger than others and some judges were more capable than others, some judges were over thousands while others were only over tens. Also, they were most likely over family units and not individual families. Therefore, those over tens could have been over eighty or more family units. For these reasons, it is my personal belief that this scripture should be applied primarily to the establishment of a civil system of justice rather than any authority structures within the church.

David Robison

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Its time to move out: Dt 1:6-8

“The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and set your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amorites, and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland and in the Negev and by the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. See, I have placed the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them.’” (Deuteronomy 1:6-8)

Israel journeyed three months from Egypt to Mount Horeb were they stayed almost two full years. Their life on Mount Horeb was rather pleasant. They were feed by the Lord, their clothes and possessions did not wear out, they had rest from their travels, and they had the Lord as a covering from the heat during the day and a pillar of fire to warm them at night. For two years they lived a peaceful existence on Mount Horeb. Then one day, the Lord appears and tells them to move out.

As Christians, we can find ourselves settling into a comfortable existence; enjoying our own Mount Horeb experience. Mount Horeb is a place of instruction, learning, and building. It is a time for preparing for what God has in store for us. However, it is not the end of all that God has for us. Mount Horeb is a transitional experience from the life we used to live to the life God still has in store for us. No matter how enjoyable our time on Mount Horeb might be, there will come a day when God will come to us and call us to move out.

The truth is that most of what we learn on Mount Horeb, and almost everything that is built in our lives, is meant to find its fulfillment somewhere else. Consider what Moses said about the commandments he had received from the lord. “These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 12:1) Most of the laws pertained to how they were to live once they entered the Promised Land. Many of the laws could simply not be kept as long as they remained on Mount Horeb. As for the Tabernacle and its furnishings, every thing that was build came with poles for its transportation. “You shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. Its poles shall be inserted into the rings, so that the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar when it is carried.” (Exodus 27:6-7) Had these things been meant for Mount Horeb alone, then the poles would have not been needed. The things they were building were to be carried with them into the Promised Land.

How about you? Is this your time? Have you been leaning and preparing for so long that your ready to find out what it has all been for? Is the word of the Lord to you that it’s time for you to move out? As with any journey, there are risks. You many have to live outside of your comfort zone, you may have to say good by to some relationships in order to form new ones, and you may be called to take on new responsibilities; beginning to do what previously you watched others do for you. But with the risks, there is also a great reward. For it is only by leaving Mount Horeb that we can come into our own Promise Land. I believe that the Lord is telling us that it is now the time. It is time that we go up and possess our Promise Land.

David Robison

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Book of Deuteronomy

Having done a few topical studies, I am once again returning to blogging a specific book of the Bible, the Book of Deuteronomy. When I first told my wife this, her response was, "Oh, how boring." To be sure, some parts of Deuteronomy, especially when it gets down to the laws and sacrifices, can be a bit boring. However, over the years, Deuteronomy has been one of my favorite books of the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy we see the heart of Moses for the people of Israel. Moses knew that his time on Earth was short. He was about to ascend up into the mountain, view the promise land, and die there. In Deuteronomy we hear Moses heart, his love and compassion for the people, and his earnest desire that they choose daily to walk with the Lord. To this end, Moses takes his last opportunity to recount to Israel their history, God's working in their midst, and God's laws and commandments that they might obey them. In the Hebrew, Deuteronomy means "Second Law", for in it Moses repeats God's law to the people as a way of reminder to them.

As we study the Book of Deuteronomy, I will be focusing on not only want it says in the context of the history of the people of Israel, but also what it has to say to us. I will be looking at how the message of Deuteronomy is relevant to us as individuals, as a Christian church, and as a nation. Deuteronomy not only has a lot to say to us spiritually, but it can also serve as a biblical foundation for civil government. While, for some, this topic of civil government may not be of particular interest, we live in a time when political freedom is spreading rapidly throughout the world and it is critical that, as these newly freed societies look to form new governmental structures, they have a sound biblical foundation on which to build.

So stay tuned and hang on!

David Robison

Saturday, January 06, 2007

How to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit (Part 5)

And He would have given you (John 4:10)

I grew up in a town where the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a controversial topic. Because of the excesses of some in our community, many of the traditional churches saw the baptism in the Holy Spirit as something not from God. There were even those who felt that tongues were actually demon tongues. However, as a young Christian, as I read the book of Acts, I realized that the disciples in the early church had received something that I had not received. I read verses like the following.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues , as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.” (Acts 10:44-46)

“And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.” (Acts 19:6)

And it wasn’t just what happened the moment they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, but their lives were dramatically changed as a result of their baptism. They lived out what the prophet Joel spoke of those who would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29)

While I was surrounded by those who doubted the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I realized that, say what you may, the believers in the early church had received something from God that I had not yet received. They had received something from God and I was convinced that that same God, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, wanted me to have too. This lead me to pray and ask for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and I prayed until I received what my brethren in the early church also received.

Here is the point, setting aside all your own theology on the baptism in the Holy Spirit, have you received what they received in the book of Acts? You can call it what you want, but have you received it? If not, then simply ask. This gift, this baptism, is for all who believe, for “you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” (Acts 2:39) Go ahead and ask, for in asking, you too will receive.

David Robison

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

How to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit (Part 4)

You would have asked Him (John 4:10)

I think that, in many ways, we have often made receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit more complicated than it really is. Some have taught that we must tarry for long periods, waiting to receive the Holy Spirit. Some preach that you must take a class, often costing hundreds of dollars, to learn to receive the Holy Spirit. Others have come up with many gimmicks, like saying “see my bow tie, tie my bow tie” three times really fast to release the gift of tongues that is often associated with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The truth that Jesus taught us, however, is that all we have to do is but ask. Jesus simply told the woman at the well that, if she would ask, then she would receive.

“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:11-13)

It is really not any more complicated that that; simply asking. We don’t have to beg, plead, or find some anointed person to pray for us, we simply need to ask Him. And if we ask Him, He is not going to give us something harmful or something counterfeit; if we ask Him, He will give us His Holy Spirit. So why wait, if you have not yet been baptized in the Holy Spirit, there is no better time then the present. Ask! And you will receive.

More to come… David Robison

Monday, January 01, 2007

How to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit (Part 3)

If you knew who it is who speaks to you (John 4:10)

Before we can receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, there are two things we need to know about Jesus. First, we need to know Him as the messiah. “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’” (John 4:25-26) Jesus declares to the woman that He is the Messiah. To know Jesus as Messiah is to know Him as our savior. We cannot receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit until we receive Jesus, His forgiveness of sins, and His reconciliation back to the Father. There is no receiving the Holy Spirit with out first receiving Jesus. The promise of the Father was that, “I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind.” (Joel 2:28) Yet this out pouring is limited to those who chose to believe in Him and to receive Him and His salvation. “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.” (John 7:39) This is consistent with the message Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) Notice that repentance and forgiveness precedes the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, we need to know Jesus as the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. Contrasting himself and Jesus, John said, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16) John makes it clear that Jesus is the one who is the baptizer in the Holy Spirit. Many people today are seeking entrance into the things of the spirit. Some have turned with renewed interest in to angels, spiritual beings, and inner “spirit guides”. Some people seek experiences, hoping that they will “initiate” then into the realm of the spirit. Others believe that the things of the Holy Spirit can be confirmed through a long chain of supposed apostolic authority. However, none of these ways can provide us with an immersion (baptism) into God’s Holy Spirit. If we want to receive the Holy Spirit, then we need to go to the source; we need to go to Jesus, who alone can baptize in the Holy Spirit. There are no short cuts, there is no plan “B”, there is only Jesus. If we want to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, then we need to go to Jesus.

More to come… David Robison