The Essence Of Christmas: Joy, Peace And Goodwill To All Men!

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).

Mainstream Christianity has adopted the 25th of December every year to commemorate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Although no one knows for sure when the Saviour was born, the fact that the Son of God was immaculately conceived by the Virgin Mary (through the power of the Holy Spirit) and was born some 2000 years ago in Bethlehem is worth celebrating, whatever the day we choose to do that. The birth of the Lord Jesus, in his human incarnation, was announced by angels with great fanfare, and was prophesied to bring joy, peace and goodwill to all men. The commemoration of that day should reflect the message of the angels who announced the Messiah’s birth.

Luke 2:8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Luke 2:9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Luke 2:10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

Luke 2:11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Luke 2:15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

Luke 2:16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Luke 2:17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

Luke 2:18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Luke 2:19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2:20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

The birth of the Saviour is such good news that it should bring joy to all mankind, for without a saviour, all men would end in hell, as all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and all deserve to perish, for the wages of sin is death. Thus, the news of the birth of the Saviour, who alone could rescue mankind from hell, should bring joy to all mankind. Joy that we now have a worthy and able kinsman redeemer. Joy that God loves us so much that he had to send his only begotten Son to take our place in death and give his life to us. Joy that there is hope of escaping death and receiving eternal life. The birth of the Saviour should bring joy to all men, because he came to bring salvation to all men. Only Jesus gives joy that’s inexpressible and full of glory!

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

1 Peter 1:5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,

1 Peter 1:7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

1 Peter 1:8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

1 Peter 1:9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

The birth of the Messiah was to also bring peace to all men who would accept God’s gift of grace in Christ Jesus. These are those who will believe and receive the Messiah as Lord and Saviour. To those believers in the Messiah, peace beyond what the world can give is promised and guaranteed. First, he makes peace between us and God, as the mediator between God and men, following his atoning sacrifice on Calvary. Apart from brokering peace between God and humanity, Jesus gives inner peace to his people. The peace that the Messiah gives is the type that calms the troubled heart and removes all fear and anxiety. It is the peace that comes from knowing that God has your back. And not just your back, he’s got the whole of you in his hands! No wonder he’s called the Prince of Peace, for he calms the storms of life and and brings refreshing healing and wholeness to every broken heart that turns to him.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,

Ephesians 2:15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,

Ephesians 2:16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

Ephesians 2:17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.

Ephesians 2:18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Mark 4:35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”

Mark 4:36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.

Mark 4:37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.

Mark 4:38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

Mark 4:39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

Mark 4:40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

Mark 4:41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Philippians 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

After announcing the Messiah’s birth to the shepherds, the multitude of angels began to praise and glorify God for this wonderful event! Let’s ponder on this for a moment. Angels are not beneficiaries of this salvation that Christ brings to mankind. There was no room for redemption for the angels that fell and left their first estate; they’re reserved in everlasting chains in hell for the judgment of the great day. Angels cannot sing the song of salvation (Amazing Grace), because those that sinned among them cannot be redeemed, and the ones who remained sinless cannot understand what redemption means. Yet, even though they’re not beneficiaries of God’s salvation that would come through the Messiah that had just been born, they erupted in glorious praise and celebration, on behalf of mankind! Now, how should humanity, the beneficiaries of this great salvation, respond? We should shout ourselves hoarse while praising God! We should be eternally grateful! We should continually and ceaselessly offer the fruits of our lips, from sanctified and grateful hearts, as our eternal sacrifice to God. And, we should not just honour him with our lips, but our hearts and lives should be consecrated to him also, as we serve and worship him all the days of our life, and for all eternity. That’s what’s expected of us, especially those who are already heirs of this salvation that angels desire so much to understand.

1 Peter 1:10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,

1 Peter 1:11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

1 Peter 1:12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.

Jude 1:6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

Revelation 5:6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

Revelation 5:7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

Revelation 5:8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

Revelation 5:10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”

Revelation 5:11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,

Revelation 5:12 saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

Revelation 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Revelation 5:14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

Hebrews 13:15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

Hebrews 13:16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Finally, let’s all do what the shepherds did after confirming the message of the angels. When they had gone and seen the child Jesus as foretold by the angels, the shepherds didn’t keep the good news to themselves: “Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child”(Luke 2:17). That’s what all of us who’ve encountered the Messiah should do- spread the word concerning him. Go into the world and preach the good news to every creature. Now that we’ve been saved and have been reconciled back to God, we’ve been commissioned as ambassadors of Christ to help reconcile others to God. We can’t keep still with this good news which alone can set men free and keep them from hell. To keep from telling lost sinners the good news is to be an accomplice in their journey to hell. Their blood will be on our hands if our neighbours should die in their sins without hearing the good news from us. That’s what the Scripture says.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

2 Corinthians 5:19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

Ezekiel 3:17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:

Ezekiel 3:18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.

Ezekiel 3:19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.

Ezekiel 3:20 “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand.

Ezekiel 3:21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.”

In conclusion, the commemoration of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ as celebrated on Christmas day is a wonderful opportunity to remind ourselves of the message of peace, joy and goodwill to all mankind brought by the angels who heralded his birth. Our words and our actions this season should reflect this angelic message. We should also be grateful for the coming of the Lord to pay for our sins and reconcile us back to God. Our hearts and our mouths should be continually filled with God’s praise as a sign of gratitude for a salvation that cost us nothing, but that required the life of the only begotten Son of God. Finally, the recipients of the salvation procured by the the Messiah should become heralds of this message of good news, and should make sure that every man and every woman hears of the salvation available in Christ, and have the opportunity to benefit from the joy, peace and goodwill God has shown to all men by giving us his only begotten Son. That’s the only way to make Christmas meaningful, for that is the essence of Christmas!

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Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? Examining The Scriptures For Precedence In The Celebration Of Extra-Biblical Festivals

(All Bible quotations, expect otherwise stated, are from the New International Version)

Much has been written about the pagan origin of Christmas and the need to jettison the celebration of this festival among Christians. This article does not intend to rehash the history of Christmas, which can be accessed from many sites on the internet. It’s not in dispute that our Lord Jesus Christ couldn’t have been born on the 25th of December, as the snowy winter in Palestine at this time of the year couldn’t have permitted shepherds to be out in the field watching their flocks by night. In fact, no date set for the birth of our Lord can be accurate, for the simple reason that it wasn’t recorded in the Scriptures. So, any attempt at date-setting for the Lord’s birthday is speculative at best, and doesn’t really matter, because we don’t need to know the exact date he was born! The most important thing is that, the incarnation took place, as well as the nativity, to give humanity the Saviour!

The feast that was celebrated in ancient Rome on the 25th of December, before Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion, was in honour Mithras, the pagan sun god. There’s no doubt about that. The Church, in a bid to woo pagans to Christianity and still give them something to celebrate on that day, converted the day into the celebration of the birth of Christ. The question is, is it permissible to introduce a festival into the Church, outside of the biblically mandated ones, that honours and celebrates God or a godly cause? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer this question.

In the Mosaic Law, certain annual festivals were given to Israel as obligatory religious feasts to be observed at set times of the year. The Law mandated the Jews to observe six major festivals, all of which have unique significance in relation to Israel’s history as a nation, as well as her journey from slavery in Egypt to the promised Land of Canaan. These feasts were more or less memorials to remember God’s dealings with the nation, as well as her past. They were to serve also as the basis of history lessons to the coming generations who could learn the nation’s history from these festivals. The major feasts of Jehovah for Israel included the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First Fruits, the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. These were the perpetual feasts of the Lord which Israel was to celebrate throughout their generations. The details of these feasts, including when and how they’re to be celebrated, can be found in Leviticus 23:1-44.

However, another feast was added to the six feasts listed above, towards the end of the Babylonian captivity. During the reign of the Persian King Xerxes, the Jews in captivity were threatened with extinction by the evil Amalekite, Haman. When the plot failed and the Jews destroyed their enemies instead, the widespread celebration of the glorious deliverance God granted the Jews was declared a national festival to be celebrated annually, by Mordecai and Queen Esther. This was the origin of the feast of Purim, during which the Jews celebrate their victory and deliverance from their enemies with great joy and exchange of gifts. It became an addition to Israel’s annual festivals, and continues to be celebrated to this day. The feast of Purim wasn’t among those God gave to Moses for the Jews, but it was recognised and honoured by all subsequent generations because of the symbolic significance for the nation. The account concerning the inception of the feast of Purim can be found in the 9th chapter of the book of Esther. However, I’ll quote the last few verses of that chapter here for consideration.

Esther 9:20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far,

Esther 9:21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar

Esther 9:22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

Esther 9:23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them.

Esther 9:24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction.

Esther 9:25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles.

Esther 9:26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word .) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them,

Esther 9:27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed.

Esther 9:28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews —nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.

Esther 9:29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim.

Esther 9:30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom —words of goodwill and assurance —

Esther 9:31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation.

Esther 9:32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.

Another instance of the introduction of a new feast into the Jewish calendar, in addition to the feasts of the Lord given to the Jews via Moses, occured during the reign of the Maccabees, in the inter-testamental period (the “silent years” between Malachi and Matthew, spanning about four centuries). During this period, the Maccabees, a family of priests, ruled in Judea. During the reign of the Maccabees, Judea was invaded by the Syrian Antiochus Epiphanes, who entered into the holy temple and pillaged and desecrated it, sacrificing swine (an unclean animal by Jewish tradition) on the altar of sacrifice. The Maccabees later organised a Jewish revolt to retake the Temple and expel Antiochus’ soldiers from Jerusalem. They then undertook the cleansing and dedication of the Temple to the Lord. This cleansing and dedication of the temple is commemorated every year by the Jews for eight days, starting from the 25th of December, as the Feast of Dedication. This account is found in the first four chapters of the apocryphal book of 1st Maccabees. The portion of that book where the Feast of Dedication was first instituted is reproduced here.

1 Maccabees 4 [52] Now on the five and twentieth day of the ninth month, which is called the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and eighth year, they rose up betimes in the morning,

1 Maccabees 4 [53] And offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new altar of burnt offerings, which they had made.

1 Maccabees 4 [54] Look, at what time and what day the heathen had profaned it, even in that was it dedicated with songs, and citherns, and harps, and cymbals.

1 Maccabees 4 [55] Then all the people fell upon their faces, worshipping and praising the God of heaven, who had given them good success.

1 Maccabees 4 [56] And so they kept the dedication of the altar eight days and offered burnt offerings with gladness, and sacrificed the sacrifice of deliverance and praise.

1 Maccabees 4 [57] They decked also the forefront of the temple with crowns of gold, and with shields; and the gates and the chambers they renewed, and hanged doors upon them.

1 Maccabees 4 [58] Thus was there very great gladness among the people, for that the reproach of the heathen was put away.

1 Maccabees 4 [59] Moreover Judas and his brethren with the whole congregation of Israel ordained, that the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their season from year to year by the space of eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, with mirth and gladness.

1 Maccabees 4 [60] At that time also they builded up the mount Sion with high walls and strong towers round about, lest the Gentiles should come and tread it down as they had done before.

1 Maccabees 4 [61] And they set there a garrison to keep it, and fortified Bethsura to preserve it; that the people might have a defence against Idumea (KJVA).

The Feast of Dedication, as instituted by the Maccabees, was celebrated by our Lord and the Jews of his time. It’s instructive to note that the Feast of Dedication wasn’t among the scripturally mandated feasts of the Lord given to Israel by Moses. It is essentially an extra-biblical feast introduced after the completion of the Old Testament canon of Scriptures. Yet, Jesus and the rest of the Jews celebrated it to the glory of God, because it was a feast that honoured God and his Temple. By partaking in this extra-biblical but God-glorifying feast, Jesus authenticated it and thus showed that whatever would glorify or honour God, even though not expressly contained in the Scriptures, is permissible. Whatever is done to the glory of God, as long as it does not violate any extant law of God, is accepted before God. Jesus’ great discourse about being the Good Shepherd was actually given during the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem.

St. John 10:22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter,

St. John 10:23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.

St. John 10:24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

St. John 10:25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me,

St. John 10:26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.

St. John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

St. John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

St. John 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

St. John 10:30 I and the Father are one.”

St. John 10:31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him,

St. John 10:32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

St. John 10:33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

St. John 10:34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ’I have said you are “gods”’ ?

St. John 10:35 If he called them ’gods,’ to whom the word of God came —and Scripture cannot be set aside —

St. John 10:36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ’I am God’s Son’?

St. John 10:37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.

St. John 10:38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”

St. John 10:39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

St. John 10:40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed,

St. John 10:41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.”

St. John 10:42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

We’ve seen two examples of extra-biblical feasts introduced among God’s people to celebrate unique victories, which became incorporated into the feasts of the Jews, and which were even celebrated by the Lord Jesus. This goes to show that extra-biblical feasts can be introduced and celebrated by God’s people if such feasts honour God and glorify him. As long as a tradition does not negate any biblical precept or doctrine, but actually honours God, there is nothing wrong in celebrating it. What the Bible is against are traditions that oppose or violate God’s words and make them of none effect. Whatever gives God thanks and glorifies him is acceptable before God. We presently celebrate personal birthdays, Thanksgiving Day, Fathers’ Day, Mothers’ Day, etc., all of which are intended to glorify God. All these celebrations are not mandated in the Scriptures. Yet, they do not contradict any biblical precept, as giving thanks to God and honouring our parents on special days are in accordance with God’s will.

Romans 14:1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

Romans 14:2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.

Romans 14:3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.

Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Romans 14:5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.

Romans 14:6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Romans 14:7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.

Romans 14:8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

Romans 14:10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister ? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

Romans 14:11 It is written: “’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ’every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

Romans 14:12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Now, let’s get back to Christmas. Though the celebration on the 25th of December in ancient Rome was originally to honour a pagan deity, by converting it to commemorate the birth of the Son of God, Christianity effectively converted a pagan festival to a godly one that honours the Son of God. There is nothing wrong in setting aside a day to honour a historical event like the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though we don’t know the exact date of his birth, and though 25th of December is a very unlikely date for this historic event, the idea of bringing out a day to commemorate the nativity, though extra-biblical, is not anti-Biblical. By drawing global attention to the story of the nativity, we increase awareness to the gospel. What Christians should be bothered about is how people celebrate the day. It should be a solemn festival devoid of the debauchery, revelry, and wantonness most people display during this period. Christmas should be a day of thanksgiving, rejoicing, sharing of gifts, taking care of the poor and needy, and preaching the good news of salvation that the birth of Christ brought to mankind. Once we get the celebration right, Christmas is a festival worth celebrating!

Another part of Christmas that should be jettisoned is the whole stuff about Santa Claus (“Father Christmas”), which has nothing to do with Christ or Christianity. Satan Claus is a patently pagan myth that should have no place in the celebration of the birth of Christ. The deceptive story told to kids of Santa Claus visiting and granting their wishes overnight with gifts is imparting lies and falsehood to children. If we’re to observe Christmas as the celebration of the birth of Christ, the event should strictly focus on the story of the nativity and its significance to humanity. Any mythological addition to the celebration that cannot be justified by the word of God should be tossed out. We cannot replace one pagan myth (the worship of Mithras) with another (the worship of Santa Claus) while celebrating the birth of Christ. It would amount to the same idolatory!

If the celebration of Christmas will lead to a worldwide holiday for Christians and provide a forum for Christian assemblies to meet and worship God and remind ourselves of the first coming of Christ and the purpose of his coming, it will serve a great evangelistic purpose. We should use whatever means that’s available to us to project the message of Christ to the world, even if that means hijacking a hitherto pagan festival and converting it to a godly use. We can sanctify an unholy day by turning it over to God and thus making it a holy day. Paul did a similar thing at Athens during his evangelistic campaign in that city. While promenading through the city, Paul saw many altars dedicated to the pagan idols the people worshipped, and was grieved in his spirit at the wholescale idolatory of the Athenians. However, when he sighted an altar with the inscription, “to an unknown God”, Paul decided immediately to put it to good use. He turned this their “unknown God” to Jehovah, and even quoted one of their pagan poet’s description of humanity as God’s offsprings, and used it to make them realise that God could not be like those animal idols they were worshipping, if humans are his offsprings (Aratus, the Greek poet Paul quoted, was actually referring to Jupiter as the supreme God, but Paul turned it around to make the Supreme God Jehovah). This is one instance of using the enemy’s weapons against him, and of sanctifying an idolatrous practice to the glory of God, by converting it to a godly use. Christmas, based originally on a pagan celebration, has been so sanctified to the glory of God, by being converted to the birthday celebration of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. We should ensure that every aspect of the celebration is Christian and godly, and reflect only the nativity story and its implications for mankind.

The Acts 17:15 Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

The Acts 17:16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.

The Acts 17:17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.

The Acts 17:18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

The Acts 17:19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?

The Acts 17:20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.”

The Acts 17:21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

The Acts 17:22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.

The Acts 17:23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship —and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

The Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.

The Acts 17:25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

The Acts 17:26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

The Acts 17:27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

The Acts 17:28 ’For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ’We are his offspring.’

The Acts 17:29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone —an image made by human design and skill.

The Acts 17:30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

The Acts 17:31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

The Acts 17:32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”

The Acts 17:33 At that, Paul left the Council.

The Acts 17:34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

In conclusion, though the origin of the feast we now celebrate as Christmas was initially idolatrous, it’s been sanctified by its Christian adoption to commemorate the birth of the Son of God, rather than the pagan sun god, Mithras. We don’t need to know the exact date that the Lord Jesus Christ was born before we can honour his birth. Any day set aside to commemorate the birth of the Lord and to honour him is acceptable to God. It’s true that there’s no precedence of the celebration of Christ’s birth in the Scriptures. But, the Scriptures allow for the celebration of extra-biblical festivals that honour and glorify God. As long as Christmas focuses on the celebration of the nativity story and God’s love to mankind in giving us his only begotten Son, and as long as it provides a basis for evangelism and the demonstration of God’s love to others, the celebration should be encouraged. The only parts we need to remove from Christmas are the pagan myth of Santa Claus, and the irreverence and ungodliness associated with the celebration. Outside of these, Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to tell the story of the Saviour to the world, and to preach the gospel to every creature. The Church recovered a day dedicated to the pagan sun god Mithras, and rededicated it to the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Let us celebrate that!

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, drop a comment and share with others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

Following The Footsteps Of Jesus In Being A Friend Of Sinners And Tax Collectors

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New International Version).

Ecclesiastes 7:16 Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise — why destroy yourself?

As Christians, our zeal for God and for righteousness should make us hate sin and contend for righteousness wherever we find ourselves. However, sometimes we fail to separate the sinner from his sins, and we end up hating and attacking both in our misguided zeal for God. While we must hate and abhor sin at all times, we must be careful not to hate the sinner. While we must separate ourselves from sin, we must be careful not to alienate ourselves from the sinner. We’re called and commissioned to go after the lost sheep and recover them, not to recluse ourselves as hermits who are so afraid to be contaminated by the world that we give up on the world and on our mission, in our bid to preserve our ‘holiness’. That would be falling into the trap of self-righteousness. Too many Christians there are who refuse to associate with sinners. We see many church people who cannot be friends with sinners and unbelievers. There is so much physical and social distancing between most Christians and their unbelieving neighbours that both end up living in two different and parallel worlds that hardly intersect. Communication and opportunity for real conversation and evangelism become lost.

We should follow the example of our Lord Jesus who was so focused on his mission that he was always with his target population (sinners and lost sheep). Jesus spent so much time with sinners that he was rightly accused by the self-righteous Pharisees of being a friend of sinners and publicans. He wasn’t ashamed to identify with those he came to save. His love for them forced him out of his comfort zone and into theirs, in order to be able to access them and minister to them. He would gladly attend their parties when invited, to eat and to drink with them. He would gladly visit their homes when invited, to rejoice and to feast with them. Sometimes, he would not even wait for an invitation to go to their homes- he’d invite himself! Jesus wasn’t a hermit ! Yes, he was the Son of God. Yes, he was the great prophet! Yes, he was sinless and perfect and undefiled. But he was also a socialite who mixed freely with sinners!

St. Matthew 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.

St. Matthew 9:11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

St. Matthew 9:12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

St. Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ’I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

St. Matthew 11:16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

St. Matthew 11:17 “’We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

St. Matthew 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ’He has a demon.’

St. Matthew 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ’Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

St. Luke 19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.

St. Luke 19:2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

St. Luke 19:3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.

St. Luke 19:4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

St. Luke 19:5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

St. Luke 19:6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

St. Luke 19:7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

St. Luke 19:8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

St. Luke 19:9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

St. Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

To accomplish the great commission, we need to go after the lost. We need to go hunting for sinners wherever they are. We’re not to wait for them to come to church, but we’re to go after them into the highways and byways of society (their comfort zones) and persuade them to come to the Lord. We’re to befriend them in our neighbourhoods, places of work, schools, etc, so as to soften them up for evangelism and soul-winning. We’re to love sinners because God loves them! God loves them so much that he sacrificed his only begotten Son to get them saved. We should love them so much that we sacrifice our comfort and self-righteousness to reach out to them and show them the love of God. It’s not sinners the Bible warns us to keep away from, otherwise we would need to leave the world! It’s actually fellow believers who are living disgraceful lifestyles which bring the Lord’s name to disrepute that we’re supposed to avoid, not unbelievers!

1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people —

1 Corinthians 5:10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

1 Corinthians 5:12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

1 Corinthians 5:13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

St. Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.

St. Luke 15:2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

St. Luke 15:3 Then Jesus told them this parable:

St. Luke 15:4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

St. Luke 15:5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders

St. Luke 15:6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ’Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

St. Luke 15:7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

The Pharisees adopted a holier-than-thou attitude towards sinners and publicans, and socially distanced themselves from them, to avoid being “contaminated”. By so doing, they ended up alienating sinners from the kingdom of God. The Pharisees literally locked the sinners away from the kingdom of God, by refusing to interact with them and engage them. To them, the sinner’s cause was a lost cause not worth pursuing. Their public image and self-righteousness were more important to them than the fate of hell-bound sinners!

St. Matthew 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:

St. Matthew 23:2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.

St. Matthew 23:3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

St. Matthew 23:4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

St. Matthew 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

It may be okay for the self-righteous and hypocritical Pharisees to act like some ascetic monks and isolate themselves in some monasteries located in the desert, but not so for the Lord! You can’t be a fisherman and not be mixed up with muddy water and dirt! You can’t be in the business of catching fish and not get wet and messed up while mingling with water and fish. In the same vein, you can’t be a fisher of men and not be ready to reach out and be friendly with the men to be caught! You have to go into the world of sinners to catch sinners! You have to relate with the sinner, love him, be his friend, have compassion on him and be concerned about his destination to be able to reach out to him and win him for heaven. He that wins a soul must be wise! Winning souls requires a deliberate and strategic effort targeted at them. You can’t hate the sinner and distance yourself from him and expect to win him for Christ! Any sinner you fail to love and befriend is a sinner unavailable to you for soul-winning!

St. Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

St. Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

St. Matthew 22:8 “Then he said to his servants, ’The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.

St. Matthew 22:9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’

St. Matthew 22:10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

1 Corinthians 9:19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.

1 Corinthians 9:20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.

1 Corinthians 9:21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.

1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

1 Corinthians 9:23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son to a world of sinners to rescue them. Having been rescued ourselves and filled with the Spirit of God, we should so love the world that we would go after sinful men to try and rescue them from destruction. When the Bible said we should not love the world nor the things that are in the world, it was referring, not to the men of the world, but to the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life. These are the things we should not love, for these works of the flesh are in opposition to the Spirit. However, we’re to love all men of the world, like our heavenly Father, including those who hate us because we’re Christians. We should not interact only with people of like precious faith, nor should we relate only with those in our spiritual caucus. Loving only those in our comfort zone and our familiar friends isn’t the God kind of love. The God kind of love reaches out to the unlovely, the sinful, the immoral and even to those who hate us and persecute us. We must become friends of sinners and tax collectors and harlots like our Lord and Master, in order to win them for Christ. As disciples, we’re to follow the Master’s footsteps. And, if we do that, it will lead us to sinners and immoral people who need God’s love and mercy, not just to the assembly of the righteous.

St. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

St. John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

1 John 2:16 For everything in the world —the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life —comes not from the Father but from the world.

1 John 2:17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Romans 10:11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,

Romans 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Romans 10:15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

St. Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

St. Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

St. Matthew 5:45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

St. Matthew 5:46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

St. Matthew 5:47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

St. Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus was a retail and compassionate soul-winner who wasn’t afraid to break religious norms in order to save men. He would touch the leper who was an outcast and bring him close as he ministered to him. He had so much compassion for the people that he would wear himself out to see their needs met. That included doing good on the Sabbath day, refusing to condemn sinners caught in the act, and conversing with prostitutes and allowing them to touch and anoint him. As the perfect physician, he wasn’t afraid to reach out and touch the sick as he ministered to them. Jesus, the good shepherd, would readily leave 99 sheep that were safe, to go after one lost in the wilderness of sin. And he would so rejoice when that one lost sheep was found! The sick sinner needs our compassionate and friendly touch. Let’s love them with the love of Jesus and win them back to God!

St. Matthew 8:1 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.

St. Matthew 8:2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

St. Matthew 8:3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.

St. Matthew 8:4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

St. Matthew 15:32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

St. Mark 3:1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.

St. Mark 3:2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.

St. Mark 3:3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

St. Mark 3:4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

St. Mark 3:5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.

St. John 8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

St. John 8:2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.

St. John 8:3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group

St. John 8:4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.

St. John 8:5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”

St. John 8:6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

St. John 8:7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

St. John 8:8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

St. John 8:9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

St. John 8:10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

St. John 8:11 “No one, sir,” she said.“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

St. John 4:5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.

St. John 4:6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

St. John 4:7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

St. John 4:8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

St. John 4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. )

St. John 4:27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

St. Luke 7:36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.

St. Luke 7:37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.

St. Luke 7:38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

St. Luke 7:39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is —that she is a sinner.”

St. Luke 7:40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.

St. Luke 7:41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.

St. Luke 7:42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

St. Luke 7:43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

St. Luke 7:44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

St. Luke 7:45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.

St. Luke 7:46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.

St. Luke 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven —as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

St. Luke 7:48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

In conclusion, a holier-than-thou attitude and disposition towards sinners is counterproductive to the preaching of the gospel and the winning of lost souls for God. While we should hate sin and abstain from every form of evil, we should not hate sinners. Not only should we not hate them, we should also love them and be friendly with them! Our Lord was ridiculed and derided as a friend of sinners, and we shouldn’t be afraid to be so labelled by self-righteous people! It’s only as we become friends with sinners (while distancing ourselves from their sins) that we can win their confidence and trust to minister the gospel to them. Physically and socially distancing ourselves from sinners in our environment will only alienate them and create a communication gap which will hinder evangelism. May we be wise to use every opportunity to win souls like our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, drop a comment and share with others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

The Christian And Xenophobia: Biblical Injunctions Concerning The Treatment Of Foreigners Amongst Us

Xenophobia, hatred and racism words written with blocks on red background

Xenophobia is defined by the Offline English-Urdu Dictionary as the morbid fear and hatred of foreigners. The fear and maltreatment of foreigners is rising proportionately with the rise of nationalistic movements the world over. As more and more anti-immigration elements within nations attack the foreigners in their midst and agitate for the closure of their national borders to the strangers at their gates, there’s an urgent need to understand the Christian’s obligation to foreigners living with us. How does the Bible expect Christians to deal with foreigners in their midst? How does God view the maltreatment of people in a foreign land? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

Abraham, the father of faith and friend of God, left the promised land twice to sojourn in foreign lands, during periods of famine and food scarcity. He went first to Egypt (at the beginning of his call), and later sojourned in Gerar (just before the birth of Isaac). On both occasions, Abraham harboured great fear of being maltreated by the citizens of the places he was visiting. On both occasions, he had to lie to disguise his relationship with his wife, for fear of the men of the land killing him and taking over his beautiful wife, Sarah. We thus see that migrating to foreign lands for better economic opportunities (among other reasons) has been part of man’s pursuit of happiness and fulfilment from time immemorial. We also see that the sojourner in a foreign land has always been an endangered species. The story hasn’t changed much in our time. If anything, migration for better opportunities and personal safety (fleeing from political and religious persecution) and the apprehension of immigrants due to xenophobic attacks have only multiplied!

Genesis 12:10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.

Genesis 12:11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.

Genesis 12:12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ’This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live.

Genesis 12:13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

Genesis 12:14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman.

Genesis 12:15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace.

Genesis 12:16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

Genesis 12:17 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.

Genesis 12:18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife?

Genesis 12:19 Why did you say, ’She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!”

Genesis 12:20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

Genesis 20:1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar,

Genesis 20:2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.

Genesis 20:3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”

Genesis 20:4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?

Genesis 20:5 Did he not say to me, ’She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ’He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”

Genesis 20:6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.

Genesis 20:7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”

Genesis 20:8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid.

Genesis 20:9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.”

Genesis 20:10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”

Genesis 20:11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ’There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’

Genesis 20:12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.

Genesis 20:13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ’This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”

Genesis 20:14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him.

Genesis 20:15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.”

Genesis 20:16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”

Genesis 20:17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again,

Genesis 20:18 for the LORD had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.

However, the most significant sojourn in foreign lands for God’s people was the migration of Jacob and his entire family (70 persons in all) from Canaan to Egypt, as a result of a prolonged and severe famine in Palestine. Again, survival and the search for better opportunities drove this migration. Jacob himself was reluctant to leave the promised land for any reason; however, God appeared to him and encouraged him to do so, on account of the severity of the famine afflicting the land of Canaan. This shows that God might be behind some migration of his people to foreign lands. After all, the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. The Lord can direct the relocation of any of his people to any parts of the world, to serve his purpose.

Israel’s sojourn in Egypt lasted for about 430 years, and ended up with maltreatment of the Jews who were turned into slaves and severely dehumanised by the Egyptians. Though the Jews contributed in no small way to the building and development of the Egyptian economy and their society as a whole (remember it was Joseph that preserved Egypt from the catastrophic effect of the global famine), envy, jealousy and misguided fear of dominance and displacement led the Egyptians to forget the good works of the Jews and turn on them in vicious xenophobic attacks. Eventually, God delivered the Jews from their captivity in Egypt, and returned them back to the promised land of Canaan that he had earlier given to their ancestors. However, the bitter experience of slavery in Egypt affected Israel’s perception and treatment of foreigners in a profound way, and was to define the nation’s immigration policies for generations to come.

Genesis 46:1 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

Genesis 46:2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied.

Genesis 46:3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.

Genesis 46:4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

Genesis 46:5 Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him.

Genesis 46:6 So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan.

Genesis 46:7 Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters —all his offspring.

Exodus 1:5 The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

Exodus 1:6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died,

Exodus 1:7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

Exodus 1:8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.

Exodus 1:9 “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us.

Exodus 1:10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

Exodus 1:11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.

Exodus 1:12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites

Exodus 1:13 and worked them ruthlessly.

Exodus 1:14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

Exodus 1:15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah,

Exodus 1:16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”

Exodus 1:17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.

Exodus 1:18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

Exodus 1:19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

Exodus 1:20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.

Exodus 1:21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

Exodus 1:22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

Exodus 12:40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.

Exodus 12:41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt.

Israel’s experience as maltreated slaves in Egypt formed the basis of God’s laws for them with respect to the treatment of foreigners in their midst. Because they had suffered severely in the hands of their slavemasters in their land of sojourn, the Israelites were expected to know what it felt like to be maltreated and persecuted in a strange land. They had experienced xenophobia first hand, and they were expected to be better positioned to deal more kindly with foreigners in their midst.

The Mosaic Law took care to defend and protect the lot of foreigners among the Jews. Under the law, foreigners were to be treated with love, respect, dignity and empathy. Foreigners were not to be discriminated against. One law was to be applicable to both citizens and foreigners. The foreigners were to be specially protected and defended from harassment and exploitation, and their material needs were to be catered for as one of the underprivileged and disadvantaged in society. Foreigners in need were to be taken care of from the tithes of the people, alongside the priests, Levites, widows and orphans! As we can see, a social safety net existed even then for the poor, and it covered foreigners in need too, in addition to the underprivileged natives.

Exodus 23:9 “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.

Exodus 23:12 “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.

Leviticus 19:10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 24:22 You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the LORD your God.’”

Deuteronomy 26:12 When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.

Deuteronomy 26:13 Then say to the LORD your God: “I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them.

Deuteronomy 26:14 I have not eaten any of the sacred portion while I was in mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor have I offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the LORD my God; I have done everything you commanded me.

Deuteronomy 26:15 Look down from heaven, your holy dwelling place, and bless your people Israel and the land you have given us as you promised on oath to our ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Jeremiah 22:3 This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.

Furthermore, under the Mosaic Law, foreigners in Israel were given a path to citizenship, if they wanted to become Jewish citizens. All they needed to do was convert to the Jewish religion, get circumcised and keep the Jewish laws. They would then become proselytes, and enjoy all the religious rights and privileges of the native-born Jews. Such proselytes could then partake in all Jewish religious celebrations, including the Passover! Following this pathway to citizenship, some Gentile converts to Judaism rose to become prominent citizens in the land of Israel. Ruth, the Moabite, thus became one of the ancestors of King David and of our Lord Jesus, through her marriage to Boaz, after she renounced her gods and her people to take up Jehovah as her God, and Israel as her adopted country.

Exodus 12:48 “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.

Exodus 12:49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”

Isaiah 56:3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.” And let no eunuch complain, “I am only a dry tree.”

Isaiah 56:4 For this is what the LORD says: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant —

Isaiah 56:5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.

Isaiah 56:6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant —

Isaiah 56:7 these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Ruth 1:16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

Ruth 1:17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

Ruth 1:18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

Ruth 4:9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon.

Ruth 4:10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!”

Ruth 4:11 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.

Ruth 4:12 Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

Ruth 4:13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

Ruth 4:14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!

Ruth 4:15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Ruth 4:16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him.

Ruth 4:17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

In the New Testament, the need to deal kindly with foreigners is brought even closer to the believer- we ourselves are foreigners and pilgrims on earth, whatever our country of origin! Our new identity in Christ makes us citizens of heaven, and whatever earthly citizenship we have is secondary to our heavenly one. So, basically, the believer is a stranger himself and should treat other strangers with compassion and empathy, because he has the heart of a stranger! Scripture also enjoins us to be careful to entertain foreigners well, because some angels have come down to men in the form of strangers! Thus, treating foreigners right is not only the right thing to do, it’s also key to not missing a divine visitation!

The believer’s heavenly citizenship is the main driving force of his life. Yes, we’re citizens of our countries of birth and we should be good and model citizens in being responsible and obedient to the laws of the land. We should perform our civic duties and support the governments in place to maintain law and order. However, we should not be carried away by nationalistic sentiments and forget our heavenly citizenship, which overrides the earthly one. When the chips are down, if we have to choose between our heavenly citizenship and the earthly one, there should be no hesitation as to where our loyalty should be! If we have to choose between the government of heaven and the government of our countries, we shouldn’t think twice before choosing to obey God rather than men! At all times, we should judge the policies of our various countries by heaven’s policies and laws. We’re heaven’s ambassadors on earth, and we should represent heaven well and not get carried away by nationalistic fights and lose focus of our mission, which is to win and disciple all men and women for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Peter 2:10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.

1 Peter 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Hebrews 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

Hebrews 11:14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.

Hebrews 11:15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.

Hebrews 11:16 Instead, they were longing for a better country —a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

2 Corinthians 5:19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

In conclusion, the fear of strangers and hostility towards them is a base human instinct that stems from fear of the unknown, self-centredness, hatred and intolerance. Envy and jealousy are also often at play, especially if foreigners are perceived to be doing better than the indigenes. These negative instincts towards foreigners are all works of the flesh that are natural to the unregenerated. However, the believer in Christ is expected to respond differently to foreigners, being strangers and pilgrims ourselves here on earth. The Christian is to show love to all, but particularly to the foreigner and stranger, for some angels have come down to men in the form of strangers. People usually leave their home country to migrate to other places for economic, political and religious reasons. Being in a foreign land and far away from one’s familiar environment is enough circumstance on its own to induce anxiety and distress. To add to it hatred and the risks of violent attacks from one’s supposed hosts makes the experience even more harrowing. If we recognise that we’re all strangers on earth, we’d take more care to love and protect the stranger within our gates from molestation, exploitation and all other forms of abuse. If we understand that we could be in their shoes one day, we’d learn to treat them as we’d have them treat us if our positions were reversed. Israel suffered intense xenophobic attacks in Egypt, and that motivated the laws God gave them to protect and defend the cause of the strangers in their midst. May we learn to love our neighbours as ourselves, and to do unto others as we’d have them do unto us. Love is God’s cure for xenophobia, and the Christian is the ideal person to lead the fight against xenophobia, because the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

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The Christian And Racism: The Urgent Need For Good Samaritans In A Racially Intolerant world!

Xenophobia, hatred and racism words written with blocks on red background

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New International Version).

Racism is defined as the prejudicial perception that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races. It can also be considered as discriminatory or abusive behaviour towards members of another race (Offline English-Urdu Dictionary). The issues of racial superiority and racial discrimination are as old as mankind. Hatred and enemity based on racial and cultural differences have fuelled countless disputes and have resulted in several genocidal wars. How does Christianity view racism? What does the Bible expect of New Testament believers with respect to relations with people of other races? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

In the Bible, from the Abrahamic era, humanity was basically divided into two races- the Jews and the non-Jews (the Gentiles). The Jews were descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. God chose and separated that race from the rest of humanity for the purpose of making his will and knowledge known to mankind, while highlighting the contrast between those who know him and those who don’t. The racial division of mankind into Jews and Gentiles was for the purpose of contrasting good with evil, godliness with ungodliness and morality with immorality. It was to enable the rest of humanity living in darkness see and appreciate God’s light in the Jewish camp. God was trying to teach mankind by contrast. God’s final aim was to provide a saviour through the godly Jewish race, who would ultimately abolish the racial divide and unite all mankind as one. This final purpose was accomplished by the Messiah Christ Jesus, whose death on Calvary abolished the racial enemity and prejudice between Jews and Gentiles and made humanity one again.

Ephesians 2:11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) —

Ephesians 2:12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,

Ephesians 2:15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,

Ephesians 2:16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Ephesians 2:17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,

Ephesians 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

Ephesians 2:22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

So, Christ’s death on the cross was designed to dismantle the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, and to turn both racial classes into one heavenly race of godly men and women- Christians! In Christ Jesus, we do not judge men after the flesh or after their races. In Christ Jesus, there’s neither Jew nor Gentile, neither Greek nor Barbarian, neither male nor female, neither bond nor free, for all are equal and one under God! In Christ, there’s no intrinsically superior race of men over others, for we’re all members of one body. The blood of Christ equalises all men and removes every fleshly and carnal prejudices. It abolishes all primordial pride, enemity, hatred, suspicion and mistrust based on ethnicity and race. In Christ Jesus, we build bridges among the sons of Adam, not walls, for we all came from one blood at the beginning, and the second Adam has restored us all back to that oneness!

Romans 10:11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,

Romans 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Galatians 3:26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,

Galatians 3:27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The Great Commission of preaching the gospel and making disciples of all men for the Lord was committed to the original Apostles who were all Jews. Initially, the intense anti-Gentile sentiments of the Jewish Apostles restrained them from preaching the gospel to people outside of their Jewish clan. It took heavy persecutions to disperse the Jewish disciples to other regions outside Jerusalem, where they were forced to minister to non-Jews, but first to Samaritans who were half-Jew, half-Gentile. Getting the Apostles to take the gospel to full-fledged Gentiles was an even more daunting task! The Lord had to prepare Peter especially for this task, by attempting to neutralise his deep-rooted racist sentiments with series of visions. Even at that, for Peter, entering the house of a Gentile to minister was like defiling himself! His preaching was with much reluctance and hesitation! It took God doing the unusual (baptising men with the Holy Spirit before water baptism) for the extremely bigoted Jews to accept that the Gentiles too could be saved! The racial bigotry was that intense!

The Acts 8:1 And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.

The Acts 8:4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

The Acts 8:5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.

The Acts 10:9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.

The Acts 10:10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.

The Acts 10:11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.

The Acts 10:12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.

The Acts 10:13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

The Acts 10:14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The Acts 10:15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

The Acts 10:16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

The Acts 10:17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate.

The Acts 10:18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

The Acts 10:19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you.

The Acts 10:20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”

The Acts 10:21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”

The Acts 10:22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.”

The Acts 10:23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.

The Acts 10:24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.

The Acts 10:25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence.

The Acts 10:26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

The Acts 10:27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people.

The Acts 10:28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.

The Acts 10:29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”

The Acts 10:30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me

The Acts 10:31 and said, ’Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.

The Acts 10:32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’

The Acts 10:33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”

The Acts 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism

The Acts 10:35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.

The Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.

The Acts 10:45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.

The Acts 10:46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said,

The Acts 10:47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

The Acts 10:48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Despite this overwhelming evidence of the hand of God at work in literally forcing Peter and the other Jews to take the gospel to the Gentiles and minister salvation to them, Peter had a lot of explaining to do back home in Jerusalem, when the other Apostles heard that he went into the house of a Gentile! The Apostles were men filled with the Holy Spirit, yet racism was deeply ingrained in them! These were ministers of the gospel, yet systemic racism had blinded them to the truth of the gospel! The racism in these Jewish ministers was so deeply rooted that even with the divine encounter Peter had, he still went back into racial segregation and discrimination against the Gentiles! It took the racially liberated Paul to set Peter and the rest of the bigoted Jewish Apostles straight on the issue of racism. Paul didn’t hold back any punches in making Peter and the rest (including Barnabas his own partner) realise how fundamentally and systemically racist they were, even though they were men of God! They were so used to racism that it had become a normal way of life to them. Like a fish who had lived in a bowl all its life, the fish tank mentality had set in and coloured all their thoughts and actions. Racism is an insidious and deadly virus, for it poisons and defiles those in whose heart it’s found, without their ever realising they’re affected by it. Most times, the racist doesn’t believe he’s a racist at all!

The Acts 11:1 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

The Acts 11:2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him

The Acts 11:3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

The Acts 11:4 Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story:

The Acts 11:5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.

The Acts 11:6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds.

The Acts 11:7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ’Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

The Acts 11:8 “I replied, ’Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

The Acts 11:9 “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ’Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’

The Acts 11:10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.

The Acts 11:11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying.

The Acts 11:12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house.

The Acts 11:13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ’Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter.

The Acts 11:14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’

The Acts 11:15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning.

The Acts 11:16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ’John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

The Acts 11:17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”

The Acts 11:18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

The Acts 11:19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews.

The Acts 11:20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 11:21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

Galatians 2:11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

Galatians 2:12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.

Galatians 2:13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

Galatians 2:14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

Galatians 2:15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles

Galatians 2:16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 2:17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!

Galatians 2:18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

Racism is actually quite difficult to root out completely in any group, as we have seen with the relationship of the Jewish disciples to their Gentile counterparts in Christ. This is because pride is at the root of all racial prejudices. The ancestral pride and illustrious heritage of the Jews made it difficult for them to accept others on equal footing. How could those who had Abraham as their father accept to relate equally with those whose ancestry and lineage were traced to pagans and idol worshippers? But, a fundamental fact forgotten by the bigoted Jews and all other racists is that, our ancestry can be traced back to the same source, if we go back far enough. We all came from one stock- Adam. Though mankind splintered and divided into several branches along the way, we have a common heritage in our origin. We all came from Adam. One other fact the Jews conveniently chose to forget about their ancestry was that, even Abraham was a heathen before God called him! He was an idol worshipper that God picked out by grace and used as a starting point for a new beginning for mankind. So, Abraham was an uncircumcised heathen Gentile before he became a Jew! Our pride that leads to racial discrimination and a looking down on others will lose its footing if we understand that whatever we think we have that puts us above others are all free gifts of grace! We didn’t choose our ancestry. We didn’t choose our lineage. We didn’t choose our place of origin or of birth. And we didn’t merit them either! That knowledge should humble all of us and make us appreciate and glorify God in our diversity and racial and cultural differences.

The Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.

The Acts 17:25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

The Acts 17:26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

The Acts 17:27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

The Acts 17:28 ’For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ’We are his offspring.’

Joshua 24:14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

Joshua 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

1 Corinthians 4:6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.

1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Jeremiah 9:23 This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches,

Jeremiah 9:24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.

How can we detect racism in our midst as Christians? How can we seriously stand up against racism in our environment? The first step would be to accept that racism is a sin! It’s a combination of pride, hatred and a lack of respect for other men and women made in God’s image, and whom even God respects and honours. Next, we need to accept the fact that, for those benefitting from racism, there’s usually a subconscious and reflex desire to deny the existence of systemic racism in our environment! The fish tank mentality may have conditioned us to see and accept racism as normal! We’ll need to step back a bit and look at things from a different angle of vision. Until we can accurately and objectively diagnose racism in ourselves and in others, we won’t be able to do much to root it out of our lives. A sincere prayer for God to shine his light in our hearts and expose our racist tendencies will help reveal the depth of racism in us. Only then can we begin to act in deliberate ways to counter our racist impulses. Racism is fundamentally a subconscious hatred of our racially different neighbours. The cure would be to apply God’s unconditional love to all, in an impartial way. The moment we’re able to love those not in our groups to the same degree as we do those of our race, we’ll cease to be racists. The moment we’re able to do unto others as we’d have them do unto us, racism will disappear. The law of love and the golden rule are the cure for racism- love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Be the good Samaritan! Above all, as Christians, we should not hesitate to demonstrate our hatred for racism by spearheading the fight for racial equality and justice. Like our Lord and Saviour, we should treat all men with love, dignity, respect and fairness. We should stand up for the downtrodden and be the voice of the voiceless! To sit back and be silent in the face of systemic racism is to be an accomplice to this evil! To close our eyes and ears to the plight of the persecuted is to strengthen their persecutors. To refuse to reach out to the racially wounded and bruised and bind up the brokenhearted is to choose to be the hypocritical priest and Levite, rather than the good Samaritan. We cannot be neutral in this matter. We’re either for racism or we’re against it, and our actions will show were we stand!

St. Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

St. Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

St. Matthew 5:45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

St. Matthew 5:46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

St. Matthew 5:47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

St. Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

St. Matthew 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.

St. Matthew 22:35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

St. Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

St. Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

St. Matthew 22:38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

St. Matthew 22:39 And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’

St. Matthew 22:40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

St. Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Romans 13:9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

In conclusion, racism is a natural impulse of the unregenerated soul, being a manifestation of pride, hatred, division and strife. Unfortunately, even Spirit-filled believers in Christ can be overwhelmed with racist impulses. The typical racist is usually unaware of, or readily denies, his racist tendencies, having been conditioned all his life by the systemic racism around him or her to accept racism as normal. A sincere inward searching of the soul by the Holy Spirit, coupled with critical self-examination, will reveal and expose our racist tendencies and prepare the way for deliverance. Deliberate counteractive actions must be taken thereafter to check our racist impulses and show God’s love in an impartial way to all. The unconditional love of God expressed to all men in an impartial manner is the cure for racism. To love God with all our heart, and to love our neighbours as ourselves (including those racially diverse from us) is the key to defeating racism. Once we’re able to do unto others as we expect them to do unto us, racism will be uprooted from our hearts.

Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

Psalms 139:24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (AKJV).

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (AKJV).

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Did The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit And The Accompanying Gifts Of The Spirit Cease With The Original Apostles?

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).

Some Christian groups, called cessationists, believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, with his gifts and power, ended in the immediate post-Apostolic age, with the death of those whom the original Apostles laid hands on to receive the Holy Spirit and his gifts. The cessationists believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were to vindicate and authenticate the ministry of the Apostles and the gospel they preached, as well as to enable them receive direct revelations for the writing of the New Testament Scriptures. However, with the closure of the canon of Scriptures, it is argued that the gifts of the Spirit are no longer needed in the Church. Was the baptism of the Holy Spirit promised only to believers of the Apostolic age? Were the gifts of the Holy Spirit to cease from the Church after the Apostolic age? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

To understand how long the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts that accompany it are to remain in the Church, let’s look at the purpose of the Holy Spirit and his intended works in the Church. If we can understand that, then we’ll know if and when he’s supposed to be finished with the Church. One of the main reasons for the coming of the Holy Spirit is to take the place of Jesus Christ in the lives of believers as comforter, helper, teacher, guide and leader. The Holy Spirit is to continue to be and to do with believers what Jesus was doing with them while he was on earth. And, that ministry of the Holy Spirit to believers is to continue till the end of the Church age! The comforter/helper Jesus promised to send would be with the disciples forever! Also, Jesus promised that all who believe him will have the Holy Spirit flowing from their hearts, like rivers of living water! The flow of the Holy Spirit from the heart is for every believer in Christ, not just for those in the Apostolic age!

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

John 14:17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

John 7:39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The Holy Spirit and his gifts are to empower believers to witness effectively for Christ, and to carry out the great commission with great success. Preaching and other works of the Church are to be done in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. If the gifts and power manifestations of the Holy Spirit were to end with the original Apostles, does that mean that other generations that followed them were not to witness for Christ again? Of course that’s not true, for the Church is to continue to witness for Christ till the end of the ages! Also, on the day of Pentecost, Peter told his audience that the gift of the Holy Spirit was for them, their children and for as many people as God would call, including those afar off from the Apostolic age! For as long as God is still calling people to salvation, the gift of the Holy Spirit will still be given to believers! The Scripture also tells us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will follow those that believe in Christ, as a sign of their supernatural faith. As long as people keep believing in Christ, the signs will keep following them! Nowhere does the Bible say the gifts of the Holy Spirit would stop after the original Apostles! For as long as people keep believing in Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit will keep filling and enduing them with power from on high! Children of God in all ages are to be filled and led by the Spirit of God!

Luke 24:46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,

Luke 24:47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Luke 24:48 And you are witnesses of these things.

Luke 24:49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

The Acts 1:4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;

The Acts 1:5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

The Acts 1:7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.

The Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;

Mark 16:18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Mark 16:19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.

Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

The Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

The Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Acts 2:39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

1 Corinthians 2:3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

1 Corinthians 2:4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit and the release of his gifts into the Church are also for the edification and building up of the body of Christ to perfection and spiritual maturity. The Spirit is to continue to fill and build up believers until the Church comes to spiritual maturity and perfection. Has the Church come to that promised perfection and spiritual maturity now that will make the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit to cease in the Church? Are we better off today than the original Apostles who needed the Holy Spirit in their day to grow to maturity? Are we more mature and more perfect than those of the Apostolic age that God would now withdraw the Holy Spirit from us? The answers to these questions are obvious! We are spiritually less mature and more imperfect than the Apostles were in their age! Therefore, we need more of the genuine Holy Spirit and his genuine gifts than the Apostles needed them! We need more of the Holy Spirit now to reach and surpass the Apostolic standard! To attain the stature of the perfect man and the fullness of Christ, we need the fullness of the Holy Spirit and power! The Spirit is to help our weaknesses and intercede for us as we grow in grace. We build up our faith as we pray in the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit! Believers in every age need the Holy Spirit and his gifts to realise their potentials and become who God wants them to be!

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:8 Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”

Ephesians 4:9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?

Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

Ephesians 4:13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

Ephesians 4:14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

Ephesians 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Romans 8:27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

Jude 1:21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Those who argue that the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased in the Church quote a portion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in which he spoke about when prophecies and tongues would come to an end. Let’s carefully examine that portion of Scripture to get the complete context and meaning of what the Apostle intended to convey.

1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

1 Corinthians 13:9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.

1 Corinthians 13:10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

In the passage above, the Apostle was comparing love (a fruit of the Spirit) with the gifts of the Spirit, in terms of both the ability to edify as well as their longevity. It is apparent at first glance that love trumps all gifts of the Spirit in both its ability to edify and its longevity, for love is eternal! All gifts of the Spirit will come to an end someday, after bringing the Church to spiritual maturity and helping it fulfil its mission and the great commission. Love is, however, for all eternity. The question is, when will the gifts of the Spirit like speaking in tongues, prophecy, knowledge etc, cease, fail or vanish away?The answer is found in verse 10: the gifts of the Spirit will cease when the church has attained perfection!

1 Corinthians 13:10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

And when is that perfection to come? That will be when we are glorified! The Church will come to perfection when our knowledge is perfect, when we will know even as we are known, when we will see and understand the things of God clearly, not as dimly as we do now. For as long as we know in part and prophesy in part, for as long as our knowledge is imperfect and we’re still children spiritually, we will continue to need the gifts of the Spirit! When shall we know even as we are known? That is when we’re on the other side of the curtain of time! That’s when mortality has been swallowed up by immortality, when imperfection has put on perfection! For when the Lord appears and we’re with him, we shall be exactly like him! And when we’re like him, we shall not need the gifts of the Spirit anymore, for then, we shall know even as we are known!

1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—

1 Corinthians 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1 Corinthians 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

1 Corinthians 15:55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

1 John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Thus, we see the promise of the gift of prophecy made to God’s people right up to the second coming of Christ. God promised as far back as in the Old Testament, through the prophet Joel, that one of the gifts of the Spirit, prophecy, would be poured out abundantly upon God’s children, men and women, old and young, at the time of the second coming of Christ. If one gift of the Spirit is to continue till the second coming of Christ, then, we can safely conclude that all the other gifts of the Spirit, along with the baptism of the Spirit that ushers in the gifts, will continue right up to the coming of Christ. That is the plain promise of God in the Scriptures!

The Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.

The Acts 2:15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.
The Acts 2:16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

The Acts 2:17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.

The Acts 2:18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.

The Acts 2:19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

The Acts 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

The Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’

In conclusion, we’ve shown that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the accompanying gifts of the Spirit are for all believers throughout the entire Church age, for the promise is to as many as the Lord shall call. The Holy Spirit is the comforter, helper, teacher and leader for all Christians, as well as the power of God to preach and witness for Christ effectively. The Spirit and his gifts are to build the Church to spiritual maturity, and the gifts will be with us till the second coming of Christ, when we all would have attained perfection, having been glorified together with the Lord. Besides, if we still have pastors, evangelists and teachers in the Church (who are all gifts of the Spirit), then we should still have all the other gifts of the Spirit in the Church, including Apostles, Prophets, tongues and interpretation, miracles, healing etc, for nowhere in Scripture are we told any of these would cease before the Church comes to perfection. Therefore, the assumption of the cessationists that the baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit ended with the Apostolic age is false and unscriptural.

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Is Speaking In Tongues The Only Initial Evidence Of The Baptism With The Holy Spirit?

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).

Most (if not all) Pentecostal and Charismatic churches are of the opinion that speaking in tongues is the only initial evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Because of this belief, speaking in tongues is considered synonymous with the baptism of the Holy Spirit by many. Thus, anyone who doesn’t speak in tongues is considered not to have been baptised with the Holy Spirit. Is speaking in tongues the only initial evidence of being baptised with the Holy Spirit? Is it possible to receive the Holy Spirit and not speak in tongues? In this study, we shall attempt to answer these questions through a careful examinination of the Scriptures.

When the disciples first received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they manifested the gift of speaking in tongues- the supernatural ability to speak foreign languages (tongues) they hadn’t learnt previously. Also, in the house of Cornelius (the first Gentile to receive Christ and the baptism of the Holy Spirit), while Peter was still preaching, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those listening to him, and they all began to speak in unknown foreign languages. On the occasions described, people who got baptised with the Holy Spirit spoke in varieties of unknown (foreign) tongues (languages).

The Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

The Acts 2:3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

The Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.

The Acts 2:6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

The Acts 2:7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?

The Acts 2:8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

The Acts 2:9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

The Acts 2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

The Acts 2:11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

The Acts 2:12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

The Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

The Acts 10:45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

The Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered,

The Acts 10:47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

The Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

From these two incidents where the manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was recorded, speaking in foreign languages or tongues was the first visible evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Is that then to mean that everyone baptised with the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues? Should speaking in tongues be taken to mean the universal initial evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit? It doesn’t appear to be so, as another recorded instance of the manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Scripture shows.

The Acts 19:1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples

The Acts 19:2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

The Acts 19:3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

The Acts 19:4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

The Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

The Acts 19:7 Now the men were about twelve in all.

In the passage above, we see another instance of a group of people receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and manifesting certain gifts of the Spirit immediately after being baptised with the Holy Spirit. On this occasion, we see that while some spoke in tongues, others prophesied! This means that speaking in tongues is not the only initial manifestation or evidence of being baptised with the Holy Spirit! Prophesying too can be an initial manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit!

In yet another instance in the New Testament where people were filled with the Holy Spirit, we see them being filled with boldness and speaking the Word of God without fear, as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Though this was not a group of people receiving the Holy Spirit for the first time, it is instructive to note that, in this case, the people needed boldness to preach the word of God without fear, and when filled with the Holy Spirit, they received the boldness they needed! This was the same group of people that spoke in tongues when they were filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Then, speaking in strange tongues was needed to catch the attention of the foreigners in their midst and open them up for evangelism, and they got just that! But now, they needed boldness, and when filled with the Spirit, boldness came upon them. Boldness too is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit!

The Acts 4:24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,

The Acts 4:25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:
‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?

The Acts 4:26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’

The Acts 4:27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together

The Acts 4:28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

The Acts 4:29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,

The Acts 4:30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

The Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

2 Timothy 1:6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

In the Old Testament, when the Spirit of God came upon people, they manifested his presence in different ways. Some prophesied, others displayed supernatural physical strength, while others performed miracles, carried out healings, and spoke the word of God with boldness. In other instances, some people upon whom the Spirit of God descended got special knowledge and understanding to do amazing things (including the ability to perform intricate skilled artisan works!), while others manifested supernatural wisdom, discernment, keen insight, bravery and courage in leading God’s people, among a host of other attributes. Let’s look at some of these manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.

1 Samuel 10:6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.

1 Samuel 10:7 And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.

1 Samuel 10:10 When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.

1 Samuel 10:11 And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”

2 Chronicles 24:20 Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God: ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you.’”

1 Samuel 11:5 Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul said, “What troubles the people, that they weep?” And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh.

1 Samuel 11:6 Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused.

1 Samuel 11:7 So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.”
And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.

Judges 14:5 So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah.
Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him.

Judges 14:6 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.

Judges 14:19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house.

Judges 15:14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.

Judges 15:15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it.

Exodus 28:3 So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest.

Exodus 31:2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.

Exodus 31:3 And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,

Exodus 31:4 to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze,

Exodus 31:5 in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.

Exodus 31:6 “And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you:

Judges 3:8 Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served Cushan-Rishathaim eight years.

Judges 3:9 When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them: Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.

Judges 3:10 The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the Lord delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-Rishathaim.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of knowledge, understanding, wisdom, might (power/strength), counsel, and of the fear of the Lord. He also has several gifts that he brings into people’s lives when he comes upon them or fills them. These gifts of the Holy Spirit include speaking in tongues or unlearned foreign languages, interpretation of unlearned foreign languages, prophecy, healing, miracles, faith, discernment of spirits, word of knowledge, wisdom. Also included among the gifts of the Spirit are the gifts of the five-fold ministry- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Other gifts of the Spirit include special adminstrative abilities, ability to show mercy, giving, exhortation, ability to lead others, boldness and courage, etc. Any of these gifts of the Spirit, singly or in combination, could come upon a person once the Holy Spirit fills the person.

Isaiah 11:1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.

Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Romans 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,

Romans 12:5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;

Romans 12:7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;

Romans 12:8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

1 Corinthians 12:4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

1 Corinthians 12:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:8 Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”

Ephesians 4:9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?

Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

Ephesians 4:13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

Ephesians 4:14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

Ephesians 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Those who teach that all who are baptised with the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues as an initial evidence imply that all believers have the gift of speaking in tongues. That’s the only way all will be able to speak in tongues after being Spirit-filled. However, it is obvious from Scripture that not all believers have the gift of speaking in tongues. Paul stated this by asking a series of rhetorical questions in his letter to the Corinthians. The answers to these questions should be obvious to all!

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?

1 Corinthians 12:30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

If all believers are not expected to have the gift of speaking in unknown tongues, then why should anyone make the gift of speaking in tongues the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? For any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be considered the initial evidence of baptism with the Holy Spirit, it must be present and it must manifest in everyone who receives the Holy Spirit at all times. But, we do not see speaking in tongues manifested in everyone who got filled with the Holy Spirit in Scripture. And, we’re told in Scripture that not all believers who have the Holy Spirit speak in tongues. If the gift of speaking in tongues is not present in all believers who have the Holy Spirit, then it cannot be the only initial evidence or manifestation of the Spirit baptism. The Spirit can choose to manifest any of his numerous gifts in any believer at baptism and subsequently! When the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer, he manifests himself in a way, usually through the display of any of his gifts. This manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone who has the Spirit. It may not be the same manifestation in everyone, as all do not have the same gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit alone determines who manifests what gift. The manifestation of the gifts in individual believers is according to the will of the Spirit. It is therefore wrong to expect everyone to manifest the same gifts of the Spirit upon being Spirit-filled.

1 Corinthians 12:4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

1 Corinthians 12:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

In conclusion, from the evidence of Scripture alone, it cannot be conclusively proven that speaking in tongues is the only initial evidence of baptism with the Holy Spirit. To be baptised with the Holy Spirit is not synonymous with speaking in tongues. The Holy Spirit can manifest at baptism with any of his gifts, of which speaking in tongues is just but one out of so many. There is evidence in Scripture of people manifesting other gifts of the Spirit like prophecy, gifts of healing, boldness to preach, knowledge, wisdom, etc, upon being first filled with the Holy Spirit. Besides, not all Spirit-filled believers speak in unknown tongues. It’s therefore unreasonable and unscriptural to expect everyone to manifest speaking in tongues as an initial evidence of being baptised with the Holy Spirit.

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How To Receive The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).

The Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

The Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Acts 2:39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

The promise of the Holy Spirit is made to all believers in Christ. Every Christian is entitled to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the subsequent refillings of the Spirit as needed. It is the gift and promise of God to every believer in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, Helper, Guide, Leader, Teacher and Counselor promised by Christ to all his disciples. After believing and receiving Christ Jesus as one’s personal Lord and Saviour, the next thing for a believer is to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In the concluding part of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost cited above, we see the formula for receiving the Holy Spirit laid out clearly by Peter. When the people asked what they needed to do in order to be saved and escape the wrath of God, Peter advised them to repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and then they would receive the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He told them the gift of the Holy Spirit was for them, their children and for as many as the Lord God would call to salvation. So, every saved person is entitled to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit! When you repent and get baptised in water as a public show of your repentance and faith in Christ Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you are set to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. At the start of the Church, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was received by the laying on of hands of the Apostles on believers who had received Christ as Lord and Saviour and had been baptised by immersion in water in his name. The Apostles would pray and lay hands on the water-baptised believers and the Holy Spirit would come upon them.

The Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.

The Acts 8:6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

The Acts 8:7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.

The Acts 8:8 And there was great joy in that city.

The Acts 8:9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great,

The Acts 8:10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.”

The Acts 8:11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.

The Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

The Acts 8:13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

The Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,

The Acts 8:15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

The Acts 8:16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 8:17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

The Acts 19:1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples

The Acts 19:2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

The Acts 19:3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

The Acts 19:4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

The Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

The Acts 19:7 Now the men were about twelve in all.

Beside Apostles, any other preacher of the gospel can minister the Holy Spirit to others who are yet to be baptised in the Holy Spirit. Anyone who ministers Christ and the gifts of the Spirit to a group can also be the channel through which others can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith!

Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?

Galatians 3:2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

Galatians 3:4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?

Galatians 3:5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—

Apart from the laying on of hands by the Apostles and other members of the five-fold ministry, some people have been known to receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands of other Spirit-filled believers not known to be members of the five-fold ministry. We see that happening in the case of Saul (later called Paul). Ananias, the man who laid hands on Paul to receive his sight, and who water-baptised him and laid hands on him to receive the Holy Spirit, was not an Apostle. He was just an ordinary disciple of Christ. This shows that the Lord can use any Spirit-filled believer to minister the baptism of the Holy Spirit to another believer who is yet to be Spirit filled.

The Acts 9:10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”
And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”

The Acts 9:11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.

The Acts 9:12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

The Acts 9:13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.

The Acts 9:14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”

The Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

The Acts 9:16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

The Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

The Acts 9:18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

There is also evidence in Scripture which shows that people can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit without anyone laying hands on them! Cornelius and his household, the first Gentiles to receive Christ and the Holy Spirit, got filled with the Holy Spirit while Peter was still preaching his sermon to them! While Peter was still speaking, Jesus interrupted the sermon and baptised the listeners with the Holy Spirit, without even a prior water baptism! Just by believing Christ in their hearts, God bore witness of their faith by sending the Holy Spirit upon them as a seal of their faith in Christ! God can bypass even his own rules to show he’s sovereign! And when he does that, we don’t question him! We just go ahead and accept what he’s done! Hallelujah!

The Acts 10:24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.

The Acts 10:25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.

The Acts 10:26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”

The Acts 10:27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together.

The Acts 10:28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

The Acts 10:29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”

The Acts 10:30 So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

The Acts 10:31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.

The Acts 10:32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’

The Acts 10:33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”

The Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.

The Acts 10:35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

The Acts 10:36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—

The Acts 10:37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:

The Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

The Acts 10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.

The Acts 10:40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,

The Acts 10:41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.

The Acts 10:42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.

The Acts 10:43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

The Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

The Acts 10:45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

The Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered,

The Acts 10:47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

The Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

The Acts 15:6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

The Acts 15:7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

The Acts 15:8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,

The Acts 15:9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

Finally, a believer in Christ can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit directly from God by faith, without any intermediary! You can directly ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. When you ask in faith through the name of Jesus and do not doubt, you will receive the Holy Spirit! Whatever you ask the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, he’ll give to you, as long as you ask in faith and in accordance with God’s will. And, it’s the will of God that every child of God be filled with the Holy Spirit! Ask and believe that you have received and you will have exactly what you asked God for! God is more willing to give his children the Holy spirit than our earthly parents are in giving us good things!

Luke 11:9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Luke 11:10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Luke 11:11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?

Luke 11:12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

Luke 11:13 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!”

John 16:23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Mark 11:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.

Mark 11:23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

Mark 11:24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

In conclusion, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is God’s promised gift to every believer in Christ. Every Christian is qualified to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit soon after salvation. The baptism of the Spirit can be received by laying on of hands of ministers of the gospel or any Spirit-filled believer. Also, the baptism of the Holy Spirit can be received directly by an individual who has repented and has been baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Such a person can ask God directly for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He or she will receive the Holy Spirit if he or she asks by faith in the name of Jesus Christ. Whatever we ask God by faith in the name of Christ, as long as it’s in accordance with his will he’ll hear and answer. And, it’s God’s will that we be filled with the Holy Spirit. May we all ask and receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. We need the Holy Spirit to be all that God intends for us to be as Christians!

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Being Filled With The Holy Spirit Is Not A Once-And-For-All Experience: You Can Be Filled As Many Times As You Need!

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).

The baptism of the Holy Spirit fills the believer in Christ with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, and releases upon him the gift(s) of the Spirit. The effects of the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit are to energise the believer and empower him/her for effective service and ministry. The initial infilling of the Holy Spirit after salvation is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Spirit experienced in the life and ministry of a believer wanes with service and use. Unless regularly refilled, a believer baptised in the Holy Spirit runs the risk of running out of gas. We shall examine Scripture to see how we ought to be regularly filled with the Spirit, despite the initial baptism, to keep the fire burning!

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples of Christ and filled them for the first time. The promise Christ made to them concerning the Comforter was thus fulfilled. The baptism of the Holy Spirit they experienced on the first occasion was manifested by the gift of speaking in foreign languages they did not learn, leading to wonder and amazement among their foreign audience who could hear them speak their foreign languages clearly. This was one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit on display. It led to Peter’s inspired sermon and the conversion of about three thousand people. This was preaching of the gospel with power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit! The result was amazing: one sermon produced three thousand converts! No wonder Christ asked them to wait until they were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit before launching out to fulfil the great commision he had given them. The great commision can only be successfully fulfilled with the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit!

The Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

The Acts 2:3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

The Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.

The Acts 2:6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

The Acts 2:7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?

The Acts 2:8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

The Acts 2:9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

The Acts 2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

The Acts 2:11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

The Acts 2:12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

The Acts 2:13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

The Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.

The Acts 2:15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

The Acts 2:16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

The Acts 2:17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.

The Acts 2:18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.

The Acts 2:19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

The Acts 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

The Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’

The Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

The Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Acts 2:39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

The Acts 2:40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”

The Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

The first baptism of the Holy Spirit endued the disciples with power from on high, and enabled them witness for Christ in a powerful way, with tremendous success. We see many signs and wonders done by the disciples by virtue of the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon them. As they continued to minister to people in the power of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost, they got regularly refilled by the Holy Spirit. The initial baptism of the Holy Spirit wasn’t sufficient to carry them throughout the Christian journey. They needed regular refillings to replenish lost virtues and keep the fire burning. As Jesus demonstrated to us in his encounter with the woman who had the issue of blood, virtue or power leaves a minister whenever the Holy Spirit works through the person to effect healing or deliverance, or to bless people in other ways. If virtue could leave Jesus to effect healing in people, then every minister needs to replenish lost virtue after each ministration. The more we minister in the power of the Holy Spirit to people, the more we need to go back to be filled with the Holy Spirit! Each time we meet resistance or opposition, we need to pray for more power to face and overcome them. We need more of God as we serve! We need to replenish power everyday!

Luke 8:43 Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any,

Luke 8:44 came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.

Luke 8:45 And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?”
When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”

Luke 8:46 But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.”

Luke 8:47 Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.

Luke 8:48 And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

The Acts 4:1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,

The Acts 4:2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

The Acts 4:3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.

The Acts 4:4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

The Acts 4:5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes,

The Acts 4:6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

The Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

The Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:

The Acts 4:9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,

The Acts 4:10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.

The Acts 4:11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’

The Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

The Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

The Acts 4:14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

The Acts 4:15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,

The Acts 4:16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.

The Acts 4:17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

The Acts 4:18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

The Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.

The Acts 4:20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

The Acts 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.

The Acts 4:22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

The Acts 4:23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

The Acts 4:24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,

The Acts 4:25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:
‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?

The Acts 4:26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’

The Acts 4:27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together

The Acts 4:28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

The Acts 4:29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,

The Acts 4:30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

The Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

The Apostle Paul, in his admonition to the Ephesians, enjoined them to be filled with the Spirit, rather than being filled with wine which leads to drunkenness. The Apostle encouraged believers to be filled to the brim with the Spirit, to the same extent drunkards get filled with wine to experience inebriation. Believers are thus exhorted to be constantly filled with the Spirit, rather than indulging in works of the flesh. It is only as we get filled with the Spirit that we put to death the flesh and its works. Paul equally prayed for the Christians in Colosse to be filled with knowledge and wisdom, all gifts of the Holy Spirit. The more we’re filled with the Spirit, the more we grow in knowledge and wisdom and spiritual maturity. To be filled with the Spirit means to regularly receive full and fresh anointings of the Spirit. It means not to rely on the initial baptism of the Holy Spirit as a once-and-for-all phenomenon! We need to be overwhelmed or subsumed in the Spirit always. Once we run low on the anointing because of constant usage, we need new topping up, new refillings, to keep us always ready for service!

Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

Colossians 1:9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

Colossians 1:10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

In conclusion, the filling of the Holy Spirit is not a once-and-for-all phenomenon. After the initial baptism that endues one with power from one high, one needs to be regularly refilled with the Spirit. This is because, as one ministers in the power of the Spirit, virtue leaves the minister, as he uses the anointing to minister to people. The more we minister, the more we need to be refilled. It is as we get regularly filled with the Spirit that we serve God more effectively and put to death the works of the flesh. May we go to God daily for fillings of the Holy Spirit, after the initial baptism, so that we will always walk in the Spirit, and thus avoid fulfilling the lusts and desires of the flesh.


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After Salvation, The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit Is The Most Important Need Of A Believer!

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to believers in Christ. Its aim is to empower Christians to be bold and effective witnesses for Christ in terms of soul-winning, as well as to build up the body of Christ. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is something God wants every believer to experience. Christ specifically ordered the Apostles to wait until they were filled with the Holy Spirit before launching out in their ministries. The disciples were told to wait to receive the power of the Holy Spirit before embarking on the mission of evangelising the world. Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the success of the great commision given to them by the Lord was not guaranteed! That’s the message Christ transmitted to the disciples after his resurrection! We shall examine the Scriptures to see how important the baptism of the Holy Spirit is in the lives and ministries of believers in Jesus Christ.

Luke 24:46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,

Luke 24:47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Luke 24:48 And you are witnesses of these things.

Luke 24:49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

The Acts 1:4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;

The Acts 1:5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

The Acts 1:7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.

The Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

During his own earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus gave power to his disciples to assist him reach areas he could not go to. He transferred some of his own powers to them, to enable them preach the gospel with power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. In giving them power to preach the gospel, he commanded them to heal the sick, raise the dead and cleanse lepers (Matthew 10:1-3). It’s instructive to note that Jesus not only gave such powers to the twelve apostles, he also empowered seventy other disciples to carry out such power-packed ministry (Luke 10:1-2). Jesus thus showed that effective preaching of the gospel cannot be done without the anointing of the Holy Spirit and power! As Jesus was about leaving the apostles following the end of his ministry, he promised to send the Holy Spirit to them so that they too would, collectively, do even greater works than he himself had done. While on earth, Jesus operated entirely by the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. He promised to anoint his followers in the same manner, so that they too would achieve tremendous success in their own ministries. We find that promise fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. The great works the Apostles accomplished thereafter, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is testimony to the transforming power of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the lives and ministries of ordinary men and women.

John 3:34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.

John 3:35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.

The Acts 10:36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—

The Acts 10:37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:

The Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

John 14:13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 14:14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

John 14:17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

The Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

The Acts 2:3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

The Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.

The Acts 2:6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

The Acts 2:7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?

The Acts 2:8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

The Acts 2:9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

The Acts 2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

The Acts 2:11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

The Acts 2:12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

The Acts 2:13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

The Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.

The Acts 2:15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

The Acts 2:16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

The Acts 2:17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.

The Acts 2:18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.

The Acts 2:19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

The Acts 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

The Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’

The Acts 2:32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.

The Acts 2:33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

The Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

The Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

The Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Acts 2:39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

The Acts 2:40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”

The Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

From that initial baptism of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost and the great works it enabled the disciples to accomplish in Jesus’ name, every where else believers were found, the necessity of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was emphasised. The Apostles made the baptism of the Holy Spirit the most important issue for every believer, after salvation. The first question they asked any believer, upon meeting them, was if they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Nothing else was considered of more importance in the lives of believers than the baptism with the Holy Spirit! The reason should be obvious to all- without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we can’t fulfil our ministries and the great commision! The preaching of the gospel is not to be done with the energies and stratagems of the flesh, and certainly not with the enticing words of human wisdom! We’re not to use oratorical skills or psychological gimmicks to win people over to Christ. The gospel is to be preached with the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit, so that the faith of God’s people would not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God! It is only the gospel preached by the power of the Holy Spirit that produces the greater works prophesied by Christ, and only such works will stand the test of time and of God’s judgment!

The Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.

The Acts 8:6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

The Acts 8:7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.

The Acts 8:8 And there was great joy in that city.

The Acts 8:9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great,

The Acts 8:10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.”

The Acts 8:11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.

The Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

The Acts 8:13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

The Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,

The Acts 8:15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

The Acts 8:16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 8:17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

The Acts 19:1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples

The Acts 19:2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

The Acts 19:3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

The Acts 19:4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

The Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

The Acts 19:7 Now the men were about twelve in all.

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

1 Corinthians 2:3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

1 Corinthians 2:4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Every believer in Christ needs the baptism of the Holy Spirit to manifest his special gift and ministry to the Church and the world. The baptism of the Holy Spirit comes with the distribution of the gifts of the Spirit to individual members of the body of Christ. The individual gifts of every member are needed for the building up of the entire body of Christ. A church lacking in the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a church lacking in power and the gifts of the Spirit. Such a church will be weak, feeble and carnal, and will not achieve its mandate or fulfil its mission. A church without the baptism of the Holy Spirit and his gifts upon it will neither grow nor be edified. Such a church will not attain spiritual maturity. Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit and his gifts upon the church, the church will remain human and ordinary, and neither will it be able to do the greater works of Spirit-powered evangelism and witnessing as promised by Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

1 Corinthians 12:2 You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

1 Corinthians 12:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;

Ephesians 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;

Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:8 Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”

Ephesians 4:9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?

Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

Ephesians 4:13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

Ephesians 4:14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

Ephesians 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Romans 12:3 Serve God with Spiritual Gifts
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith
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Romans 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,

Romans 12:5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;

Romans 12:7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;

Romans 12:8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

Romans 12:11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

Romans 12:12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;

Romans 12:13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

In conclusion, the most important need of believers after salvation is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and power. The singular most important thing the church needs to fulfil its mandate and accomplish the great commission of evangelising and discipling the world for Christ is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and power. No believer or ministry should take off without seeking and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Preaching is to be carried out in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit, so that the faith of the people converted will not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. The baptism of the Holy Spirit releases the gifts of the Holy Spirit into the lives of individual believers, and empowers them for victorious Christian living as well as effective witnessing for Christ. It also enables the edifying and building up of the body of Christ to spiritual maturity. It is therefore understandable why the first question the Apostles asked any new group of believers they met was if they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We need the baptism of the Holy Spirit and power more than ever today, to be able to do the greater works Christ promised to the Church! And, by God’s grace, we all can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for God is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to his children who ask him, than we are to receive him.

Luke 11:10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Luke 11:11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?

Luke 11:12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

Luke 11:13 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!”

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