Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pentecost: Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Holy Spirit Baptism

What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Now there are some, as we have seen, who say that there is really no difficulty about this at all. They say it is simply a reference to regeneration and nothing else. It is what happens to people when they are regenerated and incorporated into Christ, as Paul teaches in 1st Corinthians 12:13: 'By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body' . . . Therefore, they say, this baptism of the Holy Spirit is simply regeneration.

But for myself, I simply cannot accept that explanation, and this is where we come directly to grips with the difficulty. I cannot accept that because if I were to believe that, I should have to believe that the disciples and the apostles were not regenerate until the Day of Pentecost---a supposition which seems to me to be quite untenable. In the same way, of course, you would have to say that not a single Old Testament saint had eternal life or was a child of God. . . .

. . . A definition, therefore, which I would put to your consideration is something like this: the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the initial experience of glory and the reality and the love of the Father and of the Son. Yes, you may have many further experiences of that, but the first experience, I would suggest, is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The saintly John Fletcher of Madeley put it like this: 'Every Christian should have his Pentecost.'

'This is life eternal,' our Lord prayed, 'that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent' (John 17:3). And it is only the Spirit who can enable us to know that. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, then is the difference between believing these things, accepting the teaching, exercising faith----- that is something that we all know, and without the Holy Spirit we cannot even do that, as we have seen-----and having a consciousness and experience of these truths in a striking and signal manner. The first experience of that, I am suggesting, is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Spirit falling on you, or receiving the Spirit. It is this remarkable and unusual experience which is described so frequently in the book of Acts and which, as we see clearly from the epistles, must have been the possession of the members of the early Christian Church.

-Martin Lloyd Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible

H/T: Adrian Warnock

Thursday, May 28, 2009


. . . [I]t has become abundantly clear in the second half of the twentieth century that Western Man has decided to abolish himself. Having wearied of the struggle to be himself, he has created

his own boredom out of his own affluence,

his own impotence out of his own erotomania,

his own vulnerability out of his own strength;

himself blowing the trumpet that brings the walls of his own city tumbling down, and, in a process of auto-genocide, convincing himself that he is too numerous, and labouring accordingly with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer in order to be an easier prey for his enemies; until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keels over a weary, battered old brontosaurus and becomes extinct.

-Malcolm Muggeridge, from his essay, "Jesus: The Man Who Lives”

H/T: Between Two Worlds

Sunday, May 24, 2009


In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death...

...After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations; but cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and he sent me help from his holy place. And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace; but then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered: now I was always conqueror.

-John Wesley, May 24th 1738

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Teaching Exclusivity

I've mentioned in a previous post that I, along with a classmate here at Loma Linda, have begun leading a Bible study with some kids we met through a tutoring program. Usually we'll take them out to eat at a place like McDonald's and go through a short passage. We've tried to keep the messages fairly simple for these boys who haven't yet committed their lives to Christ and we've focused on some basics like the Creation, the Fall and its consequences and the nature of Christ, His mission, and our need for Him. These kids have short attention spans so the last couple of weeks we've just looked at one or two verses. This week our verse was John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

After reading the verse we asked them if they thought all religions were equally true or if they thought all religions might lead to God. I was surprised that their answers were strongly negative considering the post-modern world they're growing up in. Today it also struck me that this was one of the most counter-cultural messages we've given. Sure, evolutionists would probably disagree with the way we taught about Creation, materialists wouldn't like the way we've talked about the miracles of Christ and liberals would be angered by the penal substitution view of the atonement we continually present but this message could probably inspire the most vehement disagreement, even from those claiming to be Christians.

After they affirmed that not all religions were equally true and they don't all lead to God I asked them why it is that we should believe that. I didn't get a quick answer so I explained that the reason was because Christ himself taught that. When we affirm that other religions could be equally true or could give any merit before God in coming to salvation we dishonor Christ. His is the only merit in the universe by which man can be saved. Peter affirmed this truth before the rulers, elders and scribes in Jerusalem when he said, "This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved(Acts 4:11-12)."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"Thou art my brother"

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has grasped the words of Ps 22,23 and taken them well to heart, when he says of Christ: "For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise." Heb 2,11-12. If any worldly lord were to condescend so low as to say to a thief, or a murderer or to a low French character, Thou art my brother; that would be a great thing and everyone would be amazed at it; but that this King, who in his glory sits at the right hand of God, his Father, says to a poor sinner: Thou art my brother, that no one takes to heart, no one receives it in earnest, and yet on that hangs our highest comfort and courage against sin, death, Satan, hell, law, and against all misfortune, both of the body and of the soul.
-Martin Luther, from his Easter sermon in 1525

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My Lord And My God

One of my favorite themes in Scripture is that of the Incarnation. The truth that Jesus is eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. This truth is affirmed in many ways, some poetic and and others very straight-forward throughout the New Testament. But one of my favorite affirmations of Christ's deity comes from the Gospel of John, the 20th chapter. Here we read of Christ's disciple Thomas, who had not been with the other disciples when the resurrected Jesus had appeared to them previously. Thomas doubted the word of the his friends, the other disciples, when they told him, "We have seen the Lord." Thomas said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

When I was in seminary I read an essay by CS Lewis on the nature of Christian belief in the claims of Scripture especially in reference to Christ. And I liked Lewis' take although I certainly would not make the claim that it is the only way to interpret Christ's words to Thomas. Christ said to Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." I think many take this statement as evidence that the Christian is called to believe the incredible claims made by Scripture on blind faith without rationale to back up those beliefs. But Lewis put Christ's interaction with Thomas in context and his take on this story made a strong impression on me. Lewis pointed out that Thomas had spent years with the other disciples, his friends, his co-workers in the ministry. These friends, co-workers and fellow followers of Christ told Thomas that they had seen Christ risen and yet Thomas disbelieved them. More important than this are the statements Christ made about himself that all of the disciples either did not understand or doubted. In Matthew we read, "From this time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised (16:21)." So Thomas had heard of the resurrection not only from the other disciples but from Christ Himself before the crucifixion. In Lewis' view Thomas was not scolded for not having blind faith. He was scolded because he had every reason to believe in the Resurrection and yet he doubted. And is not this the natural pull of the flesh to doubt God and His power even when we have the testimony of Scripture, the testimonies of many Christians who have gone before us and oftentimes our own testimony of what God has done and what He is like. I know I have this tendency to doubt God when I have every reason to believe Him. And yet with Thomas I will joyfully affirm as my only hope, "my Lord and my God," Jesus Christ.