Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Does "Grieve Not the Holy Spirit" Mean in Eph 4:30?

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God . . .” Ephesians 4:30

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

I love the teachings and implications of Ephesians 4:30. At baptism, we receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). God who has anointed and established every believer “also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:22 and 5:5; Ephesians 1:13). The Spirit of God lives within every Christian.

The fact that the Spirit of God lives within every Christian does not remove our ability to choose our attitudes and actions. It does not remove our personal responsibility before God. Galatians 5:16-26 documents that so clearly. Paul urges Christians, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (5:16), and “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (5:25). As long as we are in the body, there’s an ongoing battle between the Spirit and the flesh.

There is nothing special about the word “grieve” (lypeo) in Ephesians 4:30. It’s the same word for pain or distress that’s used multiple times in 2 Corinthians 2 and in 2 Corinthians 6:10. William Mounce helpfully writes, “Finally one use of lypeo serves as proof of the personality of the Holy Spirit, who is said to grieve at the sins of Christians.” (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words).

By faith Christians are to welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit. By Divine instruction, we are to choose to “walk in the Spirit.” When we fail to “walk in the Spirit” by following the principles and precepts of Scripture, we oppose and disappoint the Holy Spirit of God.

The context of Ephesians 4 strongly supports these conclusions. Christians are reminded, “…That you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind” (4:17). Practicing lewdness, uncleanness, and greediness must be rejected (4:18). Having been taught the truth in Jesus (4:21), we actively put off “the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (4:22), and we actively “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (4:24).

With God’s help, we choose to grow more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15). We reject lying, unrighteous anger, theft, and corrupt communication (Ephesians 4:25-29), because embracing those sins would grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

What a wonderful warning and encouragement! God is helping us do right and grow in the image of His Son. He loves us and wants us to choose to trust and obey. As surely as sinful choices “grieve the Holy Spirit of God,” God-honoring choices must bring Him great joy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

When Was Jesus Born?

When Was Jesus Born?

Written by Cory Collins

We know that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great (Matt 2:1; Luke 1:5). Josephus confirms that Herod died in the thirty-fourth year of his reign, which we would call 4 BC. Before he died, he ordered that the males in Bethlehem, age two and under, were to be massacred. As Mark L. Strauss notes, "Most scholars place Jesus' birth sometime between 7 and 4 BC. There is little other evidence to establish a more precise date" (Four Portraits, One Jesus, p. 405). Strauss takes into account matters related to the census, the star of Bethlehem, etc., as he reaches this conclusion. People who have thought they could prove the year of Jesus' birth have not been able to persuade others involved in the same pursuit.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Who Wrote Genesis?

Who Wrote Genesis?

by Dr. Ted Burleson

Question: “I was thinking this last Sunday. Who wrote Genesis? I know it is God’s word but someone put it to paper. Who wrote that?”

Does anyone else remember learning Bible facts from flash cards? On one side of the card was a question posed by the teacher to the students. Raised hands indicated anticipated answers. When the correct answer was given, the teacher usually revealed the printed answer on the backside of the card. One of the flash cards I remember from childhood was, “Who wrote Genesis?” If I had replied anything other than Moses, I would have been told that I was incorrect.

After thirty-five years in ministry and a few degrees here and there, I would still give that simple answer; Moses wrote Genesis. However, I suppose the person who purposed the question wants a deeper answer, so we will explore the topic more carefully. Library shelves are loaded down with volumes of books on this topic but let’s cut to the chase and keep it simple. Moses was inspired (God-breathed) by the Holy Spirit to write the words he penned (2 Tim 3:16).

It does not weaken my faith at all to consider the possibility that the Holy Spirit guided Moses in the use of some reliable sources in the authorship of Genesis. Just as Luke collected materials and made a careful investigation for his Gospel (cf. Luke 1:3) Moses may have stitched together information to be included in the book we call Genesis. It is obvious that the five key figures are featured in various parts of Genesis lived hundreds of years apart (Adam, Lamech, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham).

Now the question is, “What sources might he have used?” In 1991, a scholar by the name of Duane Garrett wrote a book by the title, Rethinking Genesis. Garrett proposes that Moses had a written document that was the initial information about the centuries before his birth. He was also raised in a Hebrew home and was told the stories that had been told to his parents, grandparents, and other ancestors through the years. Guided by the Spirit, Moses may have penned a version of Genesis while he lived.

There is also the possibility that after Moses died, someone edited his work. We know that this is very probable when we read of Moses’ death and burial in the land of Moab (Deut 34:5, 6). The Genesis that we read today has gone through a long journey from the sources Moses used, Moses’ own hand, and perhaps an editor of Moses’ work after his death. We must take care to never underestimate the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the writing of Scripture. Who wrote Genesis? Moses did, of course.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Were There Any Jewish Hermeneutical Patterns for Interpreting Old Testament Scriptures?

Were There Any Jewish Hermeneutical Patterns for Interpreting Old Testament Scriptures?

Answered by Cory Collins

One way to approach this question would be by examining the four canonical gospels. The interaction between Jesus and the Jews of his day reveals the use of Jewish hermeneutical patterns and principles.

For example, the Jews recognized the value of commands. Both Jesus (Matt 22:34-40) and an expert in the Law (Luke 10:25-28) answered the same way when asked about the greatest commandment. This evidences the hermeneutical pattern that sees all other commandments as they relate to these two that are primary: to love God and to love one’s neighbor.

The first-century Jews also appreciated inferences in their hermeneutics. The Sadducees (Matt 22:23-33) started with the teaching from Deut 25 about Levirate marriage and inferred falsely from it that there could not be a resurrection of the dead. If there were, they reasoned, whose wife would the woman be? In the same context (Matt 22:23-33) Jesus started with Ex 3, the passage about the bush. He inferred properly from it that God is the God of the living and that, therefore, the patriarchs must still be alive, even after their death.

In the gospels one finds the use of examples, type/antitype, predictive prophecy and fulfillment, and other kinds of Jewish hermeneutical patterns used in interpreting OT Scriptures. These were recognized by Jesus, by his disciples, and by his critics in every discussion that they had.