Welcome back to part 2! Today, I want to take a good look at the Promise of God the Holy Spirit as we make our way through the book of Luke. I’d like to reiterate that I am not following any denominational quick-guide on the Holy Spirit. I shall endeavor to simply share what I’ve read in the Scriptures. I maintain 2 fundamental statements of faith as the basis for this discussion:
- The inerrancy of the Bible as the Word of God. In it we find that which God has revealed of Himself, His Nature, His Will, and His Love for us. While we cannot claim (nor should we) to know and explain everything about God (for we are only created beings) we can (and must) aim to know what He has given to us to know about Him, that which He has chosen to reveal about Himself by giving us His Word and His Spirit.
- The Trinity. There is only One God. He exists eternally as 3 distinct persons, God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.
For starters, let us continue our discussion of John the Baptist by picking up in Luke chapter 3.
Luke 3:1-22 (ESV)
1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
That last part (v21-22), I just wanted to take a moment to highlight that we see here plainly the doctrine of the Trinity. Three distinct persons, interacting at the same time, all One God. Also notice, that while John is filled with the Holy Spirit (from the womb) he makes it clear that Jesus will be the one baptizing with the Holy Spirit and fire. Absolutely wonderful, but I want to keep my commentary to a minimum. I highly encourage each of you to read through the book of Luke with a highlighter to pick up on these, otherwise for the sake of context I’ll end up filling this entire post with Scripture (though, not a bad way to make sure I don’t detract from God’s Word, eh?)
Luke 4 (ESV) | The Temptation of Jesus
1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.
Luke 10:17-24 (ESV) 17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
Luke 11:11-13 (ESV)11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Interesting how He closed out the lesson here in Luke. Here, we have the Holy Spirit being clearly established as a Gift from God the Father. A gift, to those who ask Him. Luke (under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit) is building the case already for the wonderful Gift of the Holy Spirit that will be given to the Church later in Acts. Prophecy, Direction, Guidance, Authority, Worship, Praise, Miracles, and Ministry are clearly tied to the Holy Spirit. Let’s take a look at one more passage in Luke before closing out today’s post with the Great Commission.
Luke 12:1-12 (ESV) 1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. 4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. 8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Now verse 10 gets people worked up often. I once heard Alistair Begg discuss this in one of his sermons, and he said that if you were a Believer in Jesus Christ who was worried about committing the unforgivable sin, that you were the least likely to commit the sin. I think that for the most part, the concern stems from having the verse ripped from its context and taught as some undefined unforgivable sin that could be committed by anyone at any time and doom them. I know that I struggled a great deal with fear on this topic when I was a young boy in a Holiness Pentecostal Church. Let’s look at the Mark account of Jesus explaining the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
Mark 3:22-30 (ESV) 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. 28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Okay, so what is going on here? There is a special problem that arises with this sort of blasphemy of God the Holy Spirit. If you reject the Holy Spirit as an unclean spirit, then you’ve rejected God the Holy Spirit’s testimony of Jesus Christ. There can be no forgiveness for a sin that prevents you from accepting the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Jesus Christ, our atoning sacrifice. That is an eternal sin. Notice that every other sin (including blasphemies against God the Father and God the Son) are forgivable. Even blasphemy against God the Son, Jesus Christ. But how does that make sense? Because without the Holy Spirit opening our hearts to the Truth of the Word of God made flesh, we just see the man, Jesus, claiming to be God. Therefore, if the Holy Spirit who is working in Jesus (for we see clearly that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit in Luke 4) is declared by an unbeliever to be an unclean spirit, then that person has closed off his heart from the One who testifies of the Son, and doomed himself to remaining eternally dead in his sins and trespasses. Notice the what Jesus said to Peter after he rightly confessed Jesus as the Messiah in Matthew 16:17 (ESV), “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you is the key phrase here. God the Son, Jesus, is standing before His disciples in flesh and blood. Yet, Jesus makes it clear that the revelation of His identity came not as a result of flesh and blood, but from God the Father who is in heaven. Matthew is citing the source of the revelation, God the Father. But Peter’s revelation from God the Father came through the work of God the Holy Spirit. For whatever reason… Judas Iscariot failed to recognize the working of the Holy Spirit, and listened instead to Satan, and betrayed Jesus.
The Great Commission
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Mark 16:15-16 (ESV) 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
We are going to discuss this at length in the next post, but I want to point out that this is a singular baptism. In John the Baptist’s statement about Jesus, notice the tone in the wording, the baptism of John is with water, but Jesus (Who is mightier than John) would baptize in the Holy Spirit and with Fire. The baptism that Jesus brings, is superior to that of John. We will see this revealed further in the Book of Acts. Notice also that the making of disciples of all nations, means that we Gentiles are to become disciples and to be taught to observe the commandments of Jesus Christ, Praise the Lord! Also notice that Mark includes the reminder of the condemnation that follows a rejection of the Gospel. The one sin that cannot be forgiven. You can reject the notion of God philosophically, you can reject the personal claims made by Jesus, but if you listen to the Holy Spirit, He will open your heart to the testimony of Jesus Christ, who will then make you right with God the Father by His atoning sacrifice. However, if you reject all including the work of God the Holy Spirit… you will be condemned by your unbelief and hardened heart. Much like Adam in the Garden… there is but one sin that leads to death… eternal death. Praise the Lord for His Grace and Mercy and unfailing Love for us that He would send His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as payment for our sinful nature!
If it be the Lord’s Will, in the next post, we are going to dive right into the Book of Acts and 1 Corinthians. This 3-part study is in no way exhaustive, but I’m excited about it, and I hope you find as much blessing in this study as I have.
May the Lord bless and keep you,