Ask Your Preacher
What is the gift of the Holy Spirit that christians are promised by Peter in Acts 2? I don't think it's God's Word since faith comes by hearing, and you must hear the Word of God before you can believe and become a christian. Also, not all christians at that time or today had/have access to the inspired Scriptures. I followed Peter's instructions, but I don't have any "spiritual" gift. I get very confused when it comes to the Holy Spirit's role after the perfect has come.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is salvation. In Acts 2:38, Peter offers the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who are baptized. The problem is that in this verse, Peter doesn’t specify whether the gift is from the Holy Spirit or the gift is the Holy Spirit. We need to compare Peter’s sermon in Acts to other verses. What do other verses say you receive when you are baptized?
- Mk 16:16 says you will receive salvation.
- Acts 8:16 shows that several people had been baptized but hadn’t received the Holy Spirit – which means that the Holy Spirit can’t be what the gift is.
- Acts 10:47 shows several people receiving the Holy Spirit before baptism, also proving that the gift of baptism isn’t the actual Holy Spirit.
- Rom 6:4 says you are given a new life through baptism.
- 1 Cor 12:13 says that you become part of the church when you are baptized.
- Col 2:12 says you are raised with Christ in baptism.
- Gal 3:27 says you put on Christ when you are baptized.
- 1 Pet 3:21 says baptism saves you.
The truth can always be found in the sum of God’s Word (Ps 119:160). Baptism washes away your sins, and you receive the gift of salvation. The gift of salvation is a heavenly gift offered to us by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God (Heb 6:4, 1 Cor 2:11-13).
Why did certain rules change when Jesus was around? Before Jesus, the evidence of God being present was the destruction and conquering of other religions, lands, and cities (along with some pretty amazing miracles). Some of the miracles were acts of God to actually destroy these other religions. When Jesus came around, He preached that people should love their enemies and focused His message toward their communities. This doesn't make sense. If Jesus was preaching the essence of God, and we are supposed to love our enemies, then why did God eradicate pagan religions using the Israelites? And why would He choose to use some of the people from these religions in His divine plan and lineage of Christ?
Dear Mixed Messages,
God did a lot of things in the Old Testament, and destroying pagan nations was only part of that picture. It is important to understand why God destroyed those nations. God was protecting the Israelites because they were His people, and when they faithfully served Him, He destroyed their enemies to protect them. It is important to understand that the Old Testament was a tutor to lead people to Christ (Gal 3:24-25). The Old Testament taught people about the gravity of sin, the justice of God, the sinfulness of man, and our need to place our faith in God. All of the Old Testament stands as an example of how God treats sin and how seriously we must take it. As we read the Old Testament, we get a clear picture of how much trouble we would all be in without forgiveness... but we also see that God tried time and time again to save people. In fact, the entire book of Jonah is about God sending a prophet to try and get the pagan city of Nineveh to turn away from their sin before it was too late. He also accepted the harlot Rahab when she turned from idolatry and joined the Israelites (Heb 11:31).
Jesus did teach that we should love our enemies, but He also preached railing judgments against wicked men (read Matt 23 for Jesus' feelings about the Pharisees). Jesus showed kindness to a penitent adulteress (Jhn 8:3-11), but He also made a whip and cast out all the moneychangers from the temple (Jhn 2:15). Jesus certainly taught love, but He also taught justice – the exact same things you see in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament and in the New, we see a consistency in God's character. The only difference is that Jesus brought forgiveness in a way that never could happen before He died on the cross.
Hello, I have a question about sacrifice. I have read where the Israelites had to make sacrifices on certain days to atone for their sins. I am also aware that the sacrifice of Jesus has made this unnecessary. But I do not understand how taking the best portion of your livelihood and burning it would atone for your sins. I also do not understand how Jesus' sacrifice atoned for all the sins of the world.
How does destroying the most precious things equal forgiveness from God? How does Jesus’ perfect sacrifice save us? What do these acts actually DO?
Dear Sacrificially Stymied,
The Jewish sacrifices of bulls and goats never did atone for sins (Heb 10:4); all they did was teach that forgiveness from sin came with a cost. God teaches us that when we sin, the wages of that sin are death (Rom 6:23). The Jews learned that lesson by making sin offerings. When the sinner laid their hand upon the head of the innocent animal, they symbolically transferred their sin to that beast (Lev 4:27-29). However, animal blood never was enough to truly pay for sin. It took the God’s Son’s blood to pay the price for our sin; only Deity’s blood was enough to cover the tremendous cost of sin (Heb 10:10).
Jesus had to sacrifice Himself to pay for our sins because God is both a merciful and a just God. By personally paying the price for our sins, God showed Himself to be both just and the justifier of the faithful (Rom 3:25-26). Like a father paying the price for his son’s mistakes, Jesus paid the price for our mistakes.
According to Hebrews 6:4-6, is there no hope for someone who has fallen out of the church to come back to God?
Looking For Hope
Dear Looking For Hope,
Heb. 6:4-6 says that it is impossible for others to renew to repentance a brother who has fallen away. It is always possible to come back to the Lord after falling away (1 Jn 1:9), but when someone has already been enlightened by the truth (Heb 6:4) and heard the Word of God (Heb 6:4), there isn’t any new teaching that can sway him from living a wicked life. If someone falls away from Christ, it means their heart has been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:13), and it is up to that individual to soften their own heart and return to the Lord.
Would you please elaborate on 1 Corinthians 13:8–10? How do we know that the word ‘perfect’ is referring to the Bible?
Dear Definition Please,
The perfect that is described in 1 Cor 13:8-13 is typically thought to be one of two things. It is either perfect knowledge of God’s Will (also known as the completed Bible) or the Second Coming of Christ. So, let’s look at the details we are given about ‘the perfect’ and see which one fits better.
- ‘The perfect’ is something that would replace partial knowledge (1 Cor 13:9).
- ‘The perfect’ would remove the necessity for prophecy and new knowledge (1 Cor 13:8).
- When ‘the perfect’ comes, christians will still be expected to have faith, hope, and love (1 Cor 13:13).
The third item on that list is proof that ‘the perfect’ isn’t the Second Coming of Christ. When Christ returns, we will no longer need hope or faith. Faith is trusting in something you can’t see (Heb 11:1); when Jesus comes, we won’t need to have faith in Him – everyone will see Him, and every knee will bow (Rom 14:11). Hope is also something that ceases to exist when Jesus returns. Hope is always in something you haven’t attained yet (Rom 8:25). For example, if a child is told by his parents that they will take him to Disneyland, the child has faith in the parents’ promise and hopes to see Disneyland… until the day that he walks into the Magic Kingdom. Hope and faith only exist because Christ hasn’t returned yet.
‘The perfect’ has to be something that happened after prophecy and miracles ended, but before Jesus’ return. The most logical explanation is that Paul was discussing the perfect and complete knowledge that can be found in the completed Bible. Today, with a finished Bible, the church still needs faith, hope, and love, but we no longer have a need for prophecy, and we no longer have only partial knowledge of God’s Will (Jude 1:3).