Ask Your Preacher
In the book of Acts, when Peter gives his first sermon, he concludes it by saying, "Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Just what is the gift of the Holy Spirit?
Sincerely, Wrapped Up In The Question
Dear Wrapped Up In The Question,
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).
In your previous post, Divided We Stand, you wrote, "When we take the Lord’s Supper, we use Christ’s example as our guide. Christ took the bread first and then the juice (Matt 26:26-27), so we do it in the same order." I understand this, but would this not also mean that we should only use one cup?
We should only use one cup… unless the Scriptures give us a reason to think that the one cup was an unimportant detail – which they do. Jesus states that it is what is in the cup that matters, not the cup itself (Matt 26:29). When Jesus took the cup, He gave thanks for the grape juice inside of the cup (Mk 14:23-24). The grape juice represents Christ’s blood; the cup does not. In fact, Jesus told the apostles to divide the juice among themselves (Lk 22:17). We don’t know how the apostles went about doing that. They may very well have poured the juice from Jesus’ cup into twelve other individual cups. When we use multiple cups to distribute the fruit of the vine in the Lord’s Supper, we are doing what Christ did… dividing the juice among all the believers who are going to remember Christ’s death.
What was God's purpose in specifying unleavened bread as opposed to leavened? Did leavened bread have bacteria in it that could harm?
Sincerely, Health Conscious
Dear Health Conscious,
Unleavened bread was eaten during certain Old Testament feasts (like the Passover) and during the Lord’s Supper for symbolic reasons, not for medical ones. Aside from the days of Unleavened Bread, leaven was allowed in homes during the rest of the year (Ex 12:19). Certain sacrifices even required leavened bread (Lev 23:17). So yeast was not considered bad or good, but it was considered an additive.
The idea of unleavened bread is that it is bread that hasn’t been tainted by anything. Unleavened bread is pure bread. The symbolism of unleavened things representing holiness can be found throughout the Scriptures. The false teaching of the Pharisees was called ‘the leaven of the Pharisees’ (Matt 16:12). Herod’s worldliness was considered ‘leaven’ that could harm godly people by its influence (Mk 8:15). The christian that had fallen into the horrible sin of sleeping with his father’s wife was considered ‘leaven’ that could spoil the whole congregation (1 Cor 5:6). On the other hand, life in Christ is considered unleavened (1 Cor 5:7). Unleavened bread is compared to a life of sincerity and truth… while leaven is compared to a life of malice and wickedness (1 Cor 5:8). Paul compares false teaching to leaven that can destroy the whole church (Gal 5:9).
It isn’t yeast that we need to be wary of. What christians should fear is a world that will tear them away from God’s Word and leaven their lives with corruption (Jas 4:4-8).
From birth to age twenty-eight, I was a practicing Catholic. Whenever God in His three parts was referred to (by teachers, fellow believers, priest, sermons etc.), it was with the word ‘Trinity’. At the age of twenty-eight, I converted to being a christian only. Since that time, when God is spoken of in His three parts, it has been with the word ‘Godhead’. Both seem to be talking about the same mysterious thing - one God but three distinct persons – Father (Jehovah), Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit (dove at Jesus’ baptism). When I look in the concordance, I can find the word ‘Godhead’ used by several different versions of Bible translations but never find the word ‘Trinity’. The only way I can research ‘Trinity’ is to use secular or Catholic sources. Can you please tell me where the differences/similarities are between the two words? Thanks for your time and effort to sort this out.
Gratefully, Then and Now
Dear Then and Now,
The words ‘Trinity’ and ‘Godhead’ are both attempting to grapple with the idea that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are unique individuals and yet also one. The word ‘Godhead’ comes from a Greek word used in Col 2:9 which means ‘the state of being God’. Some translations use the word ‘Deity’ instead of ‘Godhead’.
If we were to get technical, and this IS a technical question, ‘Trinity’ is a word created by theologians to describe the interactions among the three deities of the Bible. Alternatively, ‘Godhead’ is a direct Bible description of how all three individuals are equally God. ‘Trinity’ was first recorded as being used in 170 AD by Theophilus of Antioch. ‘Godhead’ is first recorded as being used by the apostle Paul.
‘Trinity’ is correct terminology, but it is man-made terminology. Once again, we are being technical, but technically speaking, ‘Godhead’ is the most Biblically accurate descriptor of the relationship among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I tithe, but at the end of the service, should the leader go on and on, scripture after scripture, telling you that you are cursed with a curse if you don’t give tithes and offerings? Badgering people about this I feel is wrong, and I have an uneasy feeling about this the more I hear it. We are supposed to give out of love and with a cheerful heart. Is it wrong to hold this offering over the congregation’s head and to use Scripture to justify it? What happens if I don’t have the money to tithe? Am I going to be not as blessed as the rest of the congregation? I do believe God wants us to be blessed and prosper, but what about the people who are struggling and not prospering? Does that mean their faith is weak? I’m really troubled by doctrines and people’s perceptions of how we are supposed to be overflowing with prosperity and people are supposed to see that we are more prosperous than the worldly/secular people. Does God really want our bank accounts full when all of it is going to perish anyways? I would like to know if prosperity is truly what Jesus taught and what He emphasized.
Sincerely, Too Much Money Talk
Dear Too Much Money Talk,
Christians don’t tithe; Jews do. Christians also don’t have any guarantees of financial prosperity. Faithfulness doesn’t guarantee financial success. If that was the case, why did Paul end up in prison (Acts 16:37)? Why did Jesus say that He didn’t have anywhere to lay His head (Matt 8:20)? The most faithful people often suffer the most for the gospel. In fact, Christians are guaranteed to suffer for Christ’s church (Acts 14:22). If anything, prosperity is often a hindrance to faithfulness (Lk 18:24).
Tithing is an Old Testament command to the Jews (Deu 14:22). ‘Tithe’ means ‘to give 10%’. Christians are never told to tithe in the New Testament. We are told to be ‘cheerful givers’ (2 Cor 9:7). We are also told to ‘lay by in store’ and plan ahead before we give (1 Cor 16:1-2). We are never told a specific amount that we are supposed to give. Having said that, I think 10% is a good starting point for giving. Don’t let anyone badger you with the “You Have to Tithe” argument, though. Unless you are a Jew, you aren’t bound by the 10% rule.
It sounds like the church you attend teaches something called “The Prosperity Gospel”. The “Prosperity Gospel” is a false teaching that says if you serve God, you will have financial success; if you don’t, you will have financial failure. This is completely false. Job was the most faithful man on the planet in his day (Job 1:8), and he suffered more financial loss than anyone before or since. If the congregation you attend is teaching that… run. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt 7:15) who are teaching that Jesus cares more about money than He does about souls.