The prophets and messengers of God spoke His words as provided by His Holy Spirit. “The Spirit where he willeth doth blow…”
Remembering that the word “spirit” is Strong’s Gr. 4151, “pneuma” and means wind, or breath, then God’s Spirit is God’s breath, or words.(1) In Part I of this series we saw that we are to test the spirits / words of men against God’s Spirit of truth, God’s words of truth. God’s word is our standard of truth.
Today, testing the spirits and words of men against God’s word is fairly easy for us to do as we have them preserved by the Holy Spirit who has maintained the writings throughout the centuries(2) in the books of both the Old and New Testaments which we call the Bible. (3) (4) (5) God promised His word would not be hidden from us (Deu. 30:11-14).
But, before God’s words were recorded and made available to all during the previous centuries of the prophets and priests of the old covenant, how did God say they were to know if a prophet spoke truly?
“When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deu. 18:22, KJV)
The cautions God set out in Deu. Chap. 13 – 18 against false prophets are set in the context of pagan men luring God’s people away from His word and His truth to worship the pagan gods of the nations in the land of Canaan. The warning was that no matter what the false prophets said, no matter what “magic” the diviners used to tempt the people away from God, God’s people were to ignore teachings that were opposed to God’s word. Eventually, through the passing of time, no matter what seemingly miraculous signs they performed, they would be found out. (6)
The first criteria (test) then was to determine if the prophet / messenger said “for the Lord has spoken” (Isa. 1:2), or “the word of the Lord came” (Ezek. 1:3), or “the burden of the word of the Lord” (Mal. 1:1). Was the prophet claiming to speak God’s word? Next, was he calling the people to repent and return to God? Only after those two criteria are met can the third criteria be relied upon, namely the miracles that God occasionally performed to validate and confirm the word given to His messengers.
“and Jehovah bringeth us out from Egypt, by a strong hand, and by a stretched-out arm, and by great fear, and by signs, and by wonders,” (Deu. 26:8, YLT)
Moses was sent to the Israelite people under slavery in Egypt to speak the words of God (Ex. 3:7ff). When Moses asked God why the people should believe what he says, God replied –
“and I have put forth My hand, and have smitten Egypt with all My wonders, which I do in its midst — and afterwards he doth send you away.” (Ex. 3:20, YLT)
God performed the miracles to prove that the words which Moses spoke to Pharaoh were from God and that they were true, so that Pharaoh and the people would believe. God’s miracles were always to confirm and authenticate His word, and His messengers.
The miracles of the widow of Zarephath of Zidon which God performed through the words to Elijah (1 Kings 17:9ff) for the never ending meal and oil, and the healing of her son were confirmation to her that the prophet Elijah was a man sent by God.
“22and Jehovah hearkeneth to the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the lad turneth back into his midst, and he liveth. 23And Elijah taketh the lad, and bringeth him down from the upper chamber of the house, and giveth him to his mother, and Elijah saith, `See, thy son liveth!’
24And the woman saith unto Elijah, `Now, this I have known, that a man of God thou [art], and the word of Jehovah in thy mouth [is] truth.’” (1 Kings 17:22-24, YLT)
Elijah did not perform the miracle for the never ending flour and oil, nor did Elijah perform the miracle of healing the widow’s son. It was God who healed the boy, and God who provided the food. Elijah prayed that God would heal the boy, and God answered Elijah’s prayer. The miracle confirmed that Elijah was a man sent by God, and confirmed that the words God spoke through Elijah were truly from God. Elijah was the messenger, but God was doing the work.
All of the miracles recorded in the OT which God performed were always to confirm and authenticate His messengers and His word so that the people might believe.(7) The miracles were a some-time thing which God gave as signs whenever He chose, and whenever needed the most.
Then, what about the authentication and confirmation of the words of the Holy Spirit under the new gospel of Christ preached during the first century AD? The books of the New Testament were not yet written when Christ was manifested on earth, nor yet after His resurrection and ascension. How were the people to know that Christ was the fulfillment of the OT promises?
“22Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:……”
“32This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. …..36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:22-23,32-33, 36, KJV)
God performed the miracles, the signs and wonders, by Jesus that proved to the people that He was the promised Messiah so that they could believe His words. What were the people seeing and hearing on the day of Pentecost?
Peter, on the day of Pentecost standing before the temple –
“16But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 21And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:16-21, KJV)
From Joel chap. 2:
“28And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” (Joel 2:28-31, KJV)
“in the last days”… The primary focus of this blog is to prove from the scriptures that the phrase “the last days” or “these last days” in the scriptures were never speaking of an end of all time, but rather the end of the old Mosaic covenant, and the animal sacrificial temple in Jerusalem which was the center of the old law.
The prophesy from Joel – “it shall come to pass afterwards” – is rephrased by Peter as “in the last days”. They were witnessing the prophesy for God to pour out His Spirit on all flesh which was being fulfilled before their eyes. It was promised to those standing before Peter and the other Apostles on the day of Pentecost in the last days of the old Mosaic covenant during the first century AD..
The promise of this prophesy was time limited to “the last days,” which ended when that temple in Jerusalem fell at the hands of the Romans in AD 70. Just as in the OT, the purpose of the miracles, signs, and wonders was to confirm and validate the words of the Holy Spirit which were poured forth in those days of the first century AD.
“38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:38-39, KJV)
Who was the promise of the Holy Spirit given to? “…unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off…” To those standing before Peter and hearing his words (you), and to their children (the next generation), and to the gentiles that had not yet been grafted in (all that are afar off).
I will have to finish the thoughts of exploring the Holy Spirit with a part (c) of this Part V. But, please consider that the baptism (immersion) into Christ was not an automatic gift of the Holy Spirit. The conditions included repentance before the Holy Spirit would be given during those last days. Concluding thoughts to come.
1) Strong’s Gr. 4151, “pneuma” – https://biblehub.com/greek/4151.htm
2) God’s word abides forever:
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Pet. 1:23, KJV)
“6The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (Psa. 12:6-7, KJV)
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isa. 40:8, KJV)
See also Psa. 33:11; 100: 5; 111:7-8; 117:2; 119:89, 152, 160; Isa. 59:21.
3) “The accurate and meticulous transmission of the 66 books we call the Bible is nothing short of divine.” Source: https://apologeticspress.org/en-gedi-scroll-and-the-accuracy-of-the-bible-5423/
4) “Amazingly, a comparison of the standard Hebrew texts with that of the Dead Sea scrolls has revealed that the two are virtually identical….Nevertheless, textual critics have been successful in demonstrating that currently circulating New Testaments do not differ substantially from the original autographs. When all of the textual evidence is considered, the vast majority of discordant readings have been resolved.21 One is brought to the firm conviction that we have in our possession the New Testament as God intended.” Source: Has The Bible Been Transmitted to Us Accurately, https://apologeticspress.org/has-the-bible-been-transmitted-to-us-accurately-5732/?
5) How God Preserved the Bible – Source: https://www.thetrumpet.com/1709-how-god-preserved-the-bible
6) Criteria of False Prophets Notes on Deuteronomy 18 – http://www.crivoice.org/prophetdeut18.html
7) Miracles in the Old Testament – https://bible-history.com/old-testament/miracles
2 thoughts on “Testing the Spirits – Part V (b): Exploring the Holy Spirit”
“For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off.” Should we take this to mean that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues for example, are still alive in the body of Christ today?
No. See part (c)… posting now.