Holy Smoke!

There have been plenty of strange “manifestations of the Holy Spirit” in recent decades, associated with what is supposedly spiritual revival.

People barking like dogs, falling backwards in waves, laughing uncontrollably, dancing around an auditorium oblivious to their surroundings. The list could go on.

There is also the reasonably common manifestation, getting drunk in the Spirit, whilst others have “connected with the Spirit” by “toking the Ghost,” a supposedly spiritual version of getting stoned “in the Holy Ghost.”

These things, as strange as they might seem, are nothing new. Jonathan Edwards, the great preacher and theologian, was instrumental in revival breaking out in New England in the 18th century. And he witnessed many strange manifestations in the course of that great revival.

Edwards wrote on this subject, concluding that the strange manifestations said nothing about whether revival was – or was not – genuine. Importantly, he also concluded that there were some genuine signs. See the link at the end to see what Edwards decided.

What’s all this got to do with the holiness of God, the attribute of God that Mike talked to us about on Sunday?

Continue reading

The more you know, the less you know?

Have you ever noticed that the more you learn, the more you realise how little you know? I find these thoughts, which may appear contradictory on the surface, fascinating and honest.

A great example, in the Christian life, is the growing awareness of the depths of our sin as we travel further down to path of sanctification. As we grow in holiness, by the working of the Holy Spirit within us, we see ever more clearly how unlike God we are in that respect. Continue reading

Just how powerful is God, really?

God is omnipotent; all-powerful, there is nothing He can’t do. The Bible is pretty clear on that.

After all, God created the heavens and the earth with just a word. “Let there be… and there was…” [see Gen 1]. And it didn’t deplete His reserves of energy in the slightest. Even though the creation account tells us that God rested on the 7th day, He didn’t rest because He was exhausted.

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” the Lord says in Jer 32:27. He does whatever He pleases [Ps 115:3]. With Him, all things are possible [Matt 19:26]. He is the Almighty who reigns [Rev 19:6].

God is so powerful that He can even turn the heart of a king in any direction He wants to. Who can stand before the Lord?

So then, can God create a rock so heavy that even He can’t lift it? If we say no, He can’t, then there is something God can’t do, thus He must not be omnipotent.

It the answer is yes, He can, then if God can’t lift the rock, He is not omnipotent. Ha, gotcha! Answer that one, Christians!  Continue reading

Hiding from God

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” [Gen 3:6-10]

Whatever made Adam think he could hide from God? Surely he knew God well enough to know that there is no hiding from Him. Continue reading

Moses and the bronze serpent (John 3:14-15)

Isn’t it funny how you can read a passage of Scripture 5 times, 50 times, 500 times, and still not realise what it is talking about? That’s what Jesus rebuked Nicodemus about in John 3:10. And it is what I’ve experienced the many times I’ve read John chapter 3. It probably won’t be the last time either, so I can’t be too critical of Nicodemus.

Jesus had been explaining why Nicodemus – and all of us – need to be born again [see John 3:1-13]. And He was adamant that this new birth was entirely a work of God by the Holy Spirit, not something any of us are able to do for ourselves.

Then Jesus inserts these words that I’ve never before connected with the rest of the passage; “… as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” [John 3:14-15].

As it turns out, they are critically important words for us to understand our part in the work of new birth, the work that is done entirely by God. Confused? Let’s see if we can shed some light on it. Continue reading