497:  Did You Receive the Holy Spirit When You Believed?

497: Did You Receive the Holy Spirit When You Believed?

In Acts 19, we have a controversial encounter between Paul, the Holy Spirit, and some believers in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7).  One side claims it proves the Holy Spirit can, and will, come upon believers after salvation, thus justifying much of the fringe charismatic movement.  The other side, just as dogmatic, claims this encounter proves nothing more than the fact these “disciples” (Acts 19:1) were lost until Paul preached Christ to them even though the Scriptures state they “believed” (Acts 19:2).  The question at the heart of this controversy is this:  “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2).

And your answer, or on what side of this great theological chasm you choose to land, will have a critical effect on whether you experience the Higher Christian Life.  Let me explain.

The account in Acts shows Paul coming to a group of “disciples” (a key word) in Ephesus and obviously noticing something different, something missing in their Christian life.  We are not told what he saw or what prompted his question, but nevertheless, the first words recorded out of Paul’s mouth were “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  Strange.  Why would he begin this conversation with them this way?

Note, the book of Acts calls them “disciples” and Paul asked about something they did, or didn’t, receive after they “believed.”  Paul never shared the Gospel with them or made any indication they were less than fellow believers.  So the inference is they were believers, Christians, but were obviously missing something, some power or intimacy, something expected and assumed for believers back then.  Not so much expected today, but then we sadly live in different, more apathetic, lukewarm times.

So let’s answer the question, Do believers receive the Holy Spirit when they believe?  And do they receive the Spirit Immediately?  Instantaneously?

Did You Receive the Holy Spirit When You Believed?

In a word, absolutely.  On this, there is no debate.  Consider the following statements from Scripture.

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, (when) having believed, (what) you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory – Ephesians 1:13-14.

The Holy Spirit is our security, proof, pledge, the guarantee of our redemption.  And we are sealed in Him “having believed.”

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His (or is lost) – Romans 8:9.

This is more direct.  No Holy Spirit, no salvation.  Therefore, a believer must receive the Holy Spirit as soon as they are saved, or they are not truly saved.

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 12:13.

The Holy Spirit is the common bond that brings all people groups together in Christ and makes us one.  And this obviously only happens after salvation.

This brings us back to the reason Paul asked the question of these believers in Ephesus, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2).  As we will discover in this message, it is not how much of the Holy Spirit we received when we believed.  But how much of ourselves are we giving to the Holy Spirit?  How much of us is He receiving on a daily basis?

This is what makes the Higher Christian Life so appealing.  It is more of Him possessing more of us, to be used to bear the Father’s fruit and bring glory to Jesus.

Join us as we unpack this amazing truth.

The following message is about answering the question:  “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE



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496: Do You Know the Holy Spirit?



496:  Do You Know the Holy Spirit?

496: Do You Know the Holy Spirit?

Acts 19 begins with Paul stumbling upon a group of disciples in Ephesus that seemed different from those he had encountered elsewhere.  So different he asked them point-blank, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2).  This, on the surface, seems like a strange question.  After all, how could they be “disciples” and not have the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9)?  Didn’t Paul write to the church at Ephesus that all believers are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Eph. 1:13-14)?  And if so, is there a difference between “knowing” the Holy Spirit and “receiving” the Holy Spirit?

Plus, when Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit to His disciples in John 14, He made this statement:

“And I will pray (ask) the Father, and He will give you another (állos – of the same kind, an exact replica) Helper (paráklētos – to comfort, encourage or exhort), that He may abide (live, rest, dwell, make His home) with you forever— (described as) the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows (ginōskō) Him; but you know (ginōskō) Him, (how) for He dwells with you (present) and will be in you (future). I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you (future)” – John 14:16-18.

In this statement about the Holy Spirit, Jesus makes a distinction between the lost world and those whom He will redeem, the chosen (Eph. 1:4), the children of God (Rom. 8:16-17).  And this distinction is the ability to “see” and “know” (ginōskō) the Holy Spirit.  The word translated know (ginōskō), does not mean to know in a cognitive sense, such as, “I know that George Washington was the first president of the United States.”  It is not mental, factual, academic knowledge only.  To know (ginōskō), as Jesus said we would “know” the Holy Spirit, is an intimate knowledge (as Adam “knew” his wife Eve and as Joseph did not “know” his wife Mary “until she had brought forth her firstborn Son”).  The word ginōskō also means to know by experience, to know completely, to know and place one’s favor and acceptance upon.  It is a powerful word that reveals more about parents knowing their child than a student knowing the answers to Friday’s pop quiz.

And this is how Jesus said we are to know (ginōskō) and do know (ginōskō), the Holy Spirit (John 14:17).

Do you know the Holy Spirit that way?

But How Can I Know the Holy Spirit?

This is the question that is asked by many today as we see the possibility of the Higher Christian Life and compare it to the lukewarm relationship we have with the Lord— and even a less than lukewarm relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Plus, when you consider the familiar verses found at the beginning of Romans 12, and realize the Person of the Godhead we are to “present your bodies (to as) a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1) is none other than the Holy Spirit, it begins to make our lack of intimacy with the One who lives in us almost unbearable.  Think, God the Father is in heaven seated on His throne.  Jesus is right now at the right hand of the Father (Rom. 8:34, Eph. 1:20, Col. 3:1) continually interceding for us (Heb. 7:25).  And where is the Holy Spirit?  Exactly.  He is here on earth, living in you and me.

God the Father has never been revealed to us in a body nor does He have a need for one since He is sitting on His throne in heaven.  Jesus already has a body and may reveal Himself to us throughout all eternity in His broken body bearing the marks of His atonement for our sin.  This may be the meaning of John’s description of Jesus in the Revelation as, “a Lamb as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6).

And the Holy Spirit?

He inhabits your body.  He empowers us with His gifts of ministry to bring the Lord glory while we live out our life on this earth.  He makes our bodies a temple, a dwelling place of the Most High and Holy God.  Let me close with just two passages to stir your thinking.  And notice how the Scriptures specifically state the Holy Spirit now lives in our bodies.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?   For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you – Romans 8:11.

In this message, we will begin to unpack these truths in order to inspire you to make it your “aim to be well-pleasing to Him” (2 Cor. 5:9), by aspiring to the Higher Christan Life found only by an infusion of the Holy Spirit, and received only by faith.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE



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495:  Church and the Higher Christian Life

495: Church and the Higher Christian Life

One of the great longings of those the Lord used mightily in the last church age is the fullness, or baptism, of the Holy Spirit.  No, we’re not talking about loopy believers today who claim something their life doesn’t exhibit.  We are talking about the heroes of old, those like D.L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Murray, Oswald Chambers, Charles Finney, Amy Charmichael, and so many others.  Each of these great servants of God testifies to their deep longing and ultimate baptism of the Holy Spirit that they claim was the source and power for all that God did through them and led to what they called the Higher Christian Life.

But what about us?  And what about the church?  How does our view and participation in church impact the Higher Christian Life?  Does it help?  Or does it hurt?

Take a moment and think about how we “do” church today.  See if any of these ring true to you.

•   The “church” is primarily defined as a building, institution, or tax-exempt entity.
•   The members of a church meet in a neutral building.
•   Almost all ministry and fellowship takes place in the neutral building.
•   Almost all relationships are forged by shared activities in the neutral building.
•   There is usually a corporate model of top-down leadership within the church.
•   The Sunday morning worship service is primarily designed as a time of musical performance (concert), corporate singing, and teaching and is designed to make the congregation feel comfortable.
•   The structure of the facility seating models an educational institution and not a family.
•   Primarily, the pace of the teaching is on a “C” level.
•   Participation is the goal, not measurable growth.
•   Much of the focus is not on the individual believer but on the entity of the “church” (lesser serves the greater).
•   Paid professionals perform those required tasks often neglected by the fathers in their own families.
•   Self-promotion and marketing are usually designed to point people to the church and not to Christ.
•   Most preaching is about personal “felt” needs.
•   Church usually meets once a week on Sunday for less than two hours.
•   Sometimes, a mid-week Bible study or small group meets with an attendance of less than 5% of those who come on Sunday.
•   Women are far more likely to attend and participate in church functions than men.

And if you compare this picture of the church today to what we see in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts, you may come to the troubling conclusion that the modern, Western, contemporary idea of the church may be the greatest hindrance to experiencing the Higher Christian Life.

But first, let’s address the elephant in the room by answering the most pressing question.  What is the Higher Christian Life?

What is the Higher Christian Life?

To answer, I’ll borrow from an earlier post.

If you are like me and most believers that I know, our spiritual life has been a series of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, two steps forward followed by two steps back, and is less than what we would call abundant.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about our salvation or the grace of God so lavished upon us by the sacrifice of His Son.  I’m talking about living a life of holiness, a life of sanctification, living as someone “set apart” for God’s holy purpose, a life surrendered to Him only to be selfishly reclaimed whenever things get tough, or painful, or boring.  And for me, this is less than what Jesus promised and less than I am willing to live with.

And this life so described, a life of holiness, devotion, sanctification, and surrender is the Higher Christian Life.  It is, in actuality, the life we were created to live.  Or, as Watchman Nee calls it, the “Normal Christian Life.”  This is the goal.  This is our destiny, our birthright.

The question is always, how?  How do we live a life of victory over sin and the flesh?   How do we have the indescribable peace that Jesus promised?  How do we trust and rest and abide in Him?  How do we do all the things we have tried before and failed without failing once again?  How do we experience the Spirit in our lives as others have testified?  How to embrace the Higher Christian Life?

How do we live the Higher Christian Life?

If you have found yourself pondering these very questions, join with us as we commit to daily discovering the joy of the Higher Christian Life.

The following message shows how the Church Might Negatively Impact the Desire for the Higher Christian Life.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE



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494: What Can Man Do To Me?
493: Prepare for Persecution
492: The Bema Seat Judgment of Christ
491: The King and His Kingdom



494:  What Can Man Do To Me?

494: What Can Man Do To Me?

There is uncertainty all around.  And we, as the church, are in the beginning of a life of persecution that was promised by our Lord.  Often uncertainty leads to fear, and fear crushes faith.  But we are instructed in Psalm 56 to not fear but turn our fear into faith.  David says, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3).  And then twice, in the same Psalm, he affirms, “What can flesh do to me” (Psalm 56:4) and “What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11).

Great questions.  And the answer is, “Not much, other than kill us.”  But if we have a proper view of eternity, even death becomes an anticipation and not something to fear.  Think about it.

Life is more than what we see and feel, much more than what we can experience with our senses.  There is, on the one hand, the true reality that lasts forever with God, when this temporal, transitory, substitute reality ceases to be.  And there is, on the other hand, the pre-game reality we exist in today.  Jesus said we are living in this kingdom, this reality, but are actually citizens of His kingdom, of His reality, that has not yet physically manifested itself in this world.  And the true, “abundant life” Jesus promised is reserved for those who physically exist in this temporal reality that is passing away, yet live and abide in the reality that lasts forever.

This is called living by faith.  And it takes concrete action on our part to do.

When fear is brought into (or subject to) the presence of God, it dissolves right before our eyes, just like it did with David in Psalm 56 and elsewhere.  And when for some reason it doesn’t vanish yet remains like a lingering cough after a bad cold, it is not because our fear is so large, or intimidating, or frightening.

It is simply because our God is too small.

But What Can Man Do To Me?

Jesus said we are not to fear those who have only limited power, who can do nothing more than take our lives.  He said the one to fear is God, the One with unlimited power, who can not only do what man can do and take our lives, but also have the power and authority to cast us into hell.  “Yes,” Jesus said, “I say to you, fear Him!”

“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and (limited power) after that have no more that they can do.  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, (unlimited power) has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5).

So are we to have that kind of relationship with the Father, one of fear and dread, like a young child living in an abusive home?  Of course not.  Because right after this Jesus lets us know how much we are loved and known by the Father and how much He truly cares for us.  Jesus said:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?  And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered (not counted).  Do not fear therefore; (why) you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).

So no matter how much unrest, anger, and distrust there is all around us, do not fear.  For the only One worthy of our praise and our fear, is God and God alone.  And remember to confidently smile when things go from dusk to dark or from bad to worse.  It is only another confirmation that Jesus is soon to return.  So rejoice and look up, for “our redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).

The following message is about How to Fear God and Not Man.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE



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493: Prepare for Persecution
492: The Bema Seat Judgment of Christ
491: The King and His Kingdom
490: Salvation and the Kingdom of God
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493:  Prepare for Persecution

493: Prepare for Persecution

Let me share some uncomfortable truths deliberately forgotten today in our land of apathy and opulence.  And this truth may be hard to swallow for some, yet it is true nonetheless.  In a simple statement:  Persecution is an integral part of Christianity.  So much so that it is to be expected, even desired.   Why?  Because persecution, like spiritual fruit, is an outward sign of living and abiding in Christ in obedience.  And if so, we must, as a church and as believers living in the West, prepare for persecution.

The Scriptures teach that persecution is an inevitable result of one wanting to live in the image of Jesus.  Consider the promise and the conditions of this verse:

Yes, and all (each, every, entire, with the idea of oneness, without exception) who desire (to will, wish, intend, implying active volition and purpose) to live (to spend one’s existence, to pass one’s life) godly (righteously, attributing to God the things which rightfully pertain to God) in (who) Christ Jesus will (promise) suffer persecution (to press, distress, trouble, crush, to prosecute, to pursue with repeated acts of enmity) – 2 Timothy 3:12.

I suggest you read this passage in context.  You will clearly see the focus of this chapter is that persecution is to be expected and not feared.  Ever.  After all, when Jesus was speaking about the relationship between a master and His servants, He was speaking in the context of suffering and persecution.  This is a classic if/then statement from our Lord

“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, (then) they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, (then) they will keep yours” – John 15:20.

In fact, when you look at the ministry of Jesus from the perspective of Him preparing His disciples, and the church, for the inevitability of persecution, you can see it on almost every page.

How Do I Prepare for Persecution?

Assuming that is true, how can we begin to prepare for the inevitable persecution.  Below are twelve bullet-point items we will expand in the weeks to come.  For now, just get familiar with them.

•   Fear God and Not Man – Matthew 10:28, Proverbs 1:7, Psalm 56:11, Acts 9:31
•   Expect Persecution as a Christian, Embrace it – John 15:20, 1 Peter 4:12-14
•   Despite Persecution, Have Peace and Rejoice – Matthew 5:10-12
•   Be an Example of Christ Even During Persecution – Philippians 2:15-16
•   Love Your Enemies (no matter how hard that is) – Matthew 5:39-45
•   Endure Suffering and Persecution with Patience – 1 Peter 2:20-23, 1 Corinthians 10:13
•   Keep Eternity in View – Hebrews 12:1-3, Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 4:17-5:1
•   Remember to Worship Him, Come What May – Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 34:1
•   Hide God’s Word in Your Heart (Memorize it!) – Psalm 1:1-2; 119:11, 105
•   Fellowship with Other Christians – Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:17
•   Love One Another – John 13:34-35, 1 Peter 1:22-23, 1 John 4:20
•   Get Serious About God Today!  Because we are running out of tomorrows!

And finally, remember that Jesus said, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:12) only in the context of suffering persecution. And not in all the other activities we seem to fill our day with.

The following message is about How to Prepare for Persecution.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE



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491: The King and His Kingdom
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489: The Forgotten Gospel of the Kingdom
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492:  The Bema Seat Judgment of Christ

492: The Bema Seat Judgment of Christ

There are three major judgments in the prophetic timeline of God:  the Sheep and Goats Judgment, the Bema Seat Judgment, and the Great White Throne Judgment.  Some of these judgments take place on earth and some in heaven.  But there is only one that you should be worried about.  And that is the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.

So what is the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ and why is it such a big deal?

The Bema Seat Judgment of Christ takes place after the Rapture of the church and before the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven.  This judgment does not determine salvation.  At this time, believers are rewarded for how faithfully they served their Lord.  Some will receive rewards (and be invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, etc.), and others will obviously not receive rewards (or suffer loss).  It will be a time of great rejoicing for some.  And for others, a time of immense sadness, regret, and shame.

Therefore we make (labor) it our aim (to make our ambition, to aspire to), whether present or absent, to be well pleasing (acceptable, that which one wills, recognizes, and approves) to (who) Him.  For (why) we must all appear (to show openly) before the judgment seat of Christ, (for what reason) that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad – 2 Corinthians 5:9-10.

Some will receive a reward.  But others will “suffer loss” or not receive a reward and the benefits that come with it.  Consider the following.

Now if anyone (what) builds on this foundation (Christ) with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s (what) work will become clear (to shine, to make manifest, become evident); for (when) the Day will declare it (to make known), (how) because it (one’s work) will be revealed (to remove a veil or covering to expose to open view) by fire; and the fire will test (approve as worthy or not) each one’s work, of what sort it is.  If anyone’s (what) work which he has built on it endures (abide, to remain, dwell, live), he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire – 2 Corinthians 3:12-15.

But what are some things Christ will judge at the Bema Seat Judgment?

Should I Be Concerned About the Bema Seat Judgment?

In a word, absolutely.  Consider carefully some of the things we will have to give an account to Jesus on that day.

•   How well did I fulfill the Great Commission? – Matthew 28:18-20
•   How much did I overcome sin and my flesh? – Romans 6:1-4
•   How well did I control my tongue (speech, words)? – James 3:1-9
•   Were the fruits of the Spirit clearly manifested in me? – Galatians 5:22-23
•   Was I obedient to God and His Word in all things? – Luke 6:46
•   Did I long for the Lord’s soon return? – Revelation 22:20

Or, in summary, did I live like Jesus?  Did I ask what would Jesus do and then, to the best of my ability, follow His command?

And remember, the reward or loss of reward we will receive on that day is totally something we can control now, in this life.  Our future in His Kingdom is determined by our faithfulness right now.  So make it your life’s ambition to be well-pleasing to Him (2 Cor. 5:9).  Because nothing else really matters, does it?

The following message is about the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE



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