Baptism with the Holy Spirit

This is part 9 of an ongoing study of the Holy Spirit. For previous parts of this study, click here.

In part 5 of this study we observed where God promised, through the prophets, to give his people new hearts by sending his Spirit (Ezek. 36:26-27) and to pour out his Spirit on all flesh (Joel 2:32-38).

In a similar manner, John the Baptist spoke of a coming one who would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 1:7-8 (see also Mt. 3:11; Lk. 3:16)

John was baptizing with water, but the coming one, identified as Jesus (Jn. 1:33), would baptize with the Holy Spirit. We know that this is somehow tied to the events of Pentecost (Acts 2) because of what Jesus said to his disciples after his resurrection.

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now“… “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:4-5, 8

As we observed in parts 6 and 7, Jesus had spoken of a day when the Spirit would be given to those who ask the Heavenly Father (Lk. 11:13), and he identified himself as the source of the Spirit, who would be poured out on the thirsty (Jn. 7:37-39).

What is this baptism with the Holy Spirit that was referred to by the prophets, and spoken of by both Jesus and John?

Not “Baptism Of The Holy Spirit”

It may be interesting to notice that the Bible never actually speaks of a “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” In fact, Paul says that the “unity of the Spirit” only involves “one baptism” (Eph. 4:3-6). This can only refer to the baptism that was commanded by Christ (Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3:5) and his disciples (Acts 2:38; 22:16) and was referred to by Paul as the “washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

When it comes to “baptism” involving the Spirit, we only find the following phrases:

  • “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16)
  • “This is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 1:33)
  • “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5; 11:16)
  • “Be baptized… and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38)
  • “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13)

There are also phrases that refer to Jesus “pouring out” the Spirit (Acts 2:17-18, 33; 10:45, Titus 3:5-6), and this also seems to be closely connected with Jesus’ promise to send the Spirit, but the phrase “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” never occurs in the Bible. Perhaps this is a difference without a distinction. But since many today refer to a “baptism of the Holy Spirit”, it should be noted that the phrase is never actually used in Scripture.

Popular Views of the Baptism

There are many who believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an event that is described as occurring only a few times in the book of Acts. As noted above, Jesus’ “baptism” is most certainly tied to the events of Acts 2. Many will identify this baptism in the events of Acts 2:1-4, where the Holy Spirit filled Jesus’ disciples who were together in Jerusalem, and gave them the ability to speak in tongues. They will also point to Acts 10:44-48, when in an occurrence similar to that of Acts 2 (see 11:15), the Holy Spirit was poured out on Cornelius and the other Gentiles who were with him, giving them the ability to speak in tongues.

There are many variations of this view. Some will also include the events of Saul’s conversion (9:17-18), when the Samaritans received the Spirit by the laying on of hands (8:14-17), and/or when the Ephesians received the Spirit by the laying on of hands (19:6). Some will argue this “baptism” was a unique event that only occurred a few times in the first century. Some will argue that this is a baptism that all Christians should seek, even today. Some will say that this miraculous “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is the moment of conversion. Others will argue that this “baptism of the Holy Spirit” served an important purpose, but should be thought of as separate from the actual moment of conversion, which happens when a person is baptized in water.

What these various views hold in common is the belief that the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is to be equated with miraculous signs described in those passages cited above. It is easy to see how many arrive at this view, as the book of Acts makes a strong and indisputable connection between the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the unique ability to perform miraculous signs and wonders.

An Event That Occurs at Every Conversion

What is sometimes overlooked is the way that Luke, in the book of Acts, speaks of the gift of the Holy Spirit for all who repent and are baptized (Acts 2:38-39), as available for all those who obey (Acts 5:32), and also speaks of the Holy Spirit’s presence among those who apparently lacked the ability to perform miracles (Acts 6:3). Paul also frequently speaks of the Holy Spirit being something that all Christians are baptized with and all Christians drink from.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13

Paul also spoke of the Spirit’s role in the “washing of regeneration” for all Christians.

He saved us, not because of works done by use in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:5-6

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 6:11

Paul appears to be referring to the one baptism spoken of by Jesus, which was necessary to enter the kingdom of God, and which involved two elements: water and Spirit.

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

John 3:5

For this reason, Paul can also of the Spirit dwelling in all Christians (1 Cor. 6:19; Rom. 8:8-13), even though he recognized that the ability to perform miraculous gifts was not common to everyone (1 Cor. 12:4-11; Rom. 12:6-8).

The Importance of Reading Both Luke and Paul Carefully

The role of the Holy Spirit in Christians today has been the source of much confusion, disagreement, and sometimes division among Christians. I believe on of the primary reasons for this is because it is easy to read the book of Acts, and get the impression that the Holy Spirit is primarily connected with miraculous gifts, but it is easy to read the letters of Paul and be left with the impression that the Holy Spirit is common to all Christians and not necessarily miraculous. We must avoid the temptation to emphasize only those verses which fit our preconceived notions about the Spirit.

The key to rightly understanding the role of the Spirit is, I believe, to accept that both Luke and Paul were inspired authors of Scripture, and both shared at the same understanding of the Spirit. For this reason, Luke and Paul should not be pitted against one another. At the same time, we can also recognize that Luke and Paul were different individuals who wrote for different purposes, and thus emphasized different aspects of the work of the Spirit. It would be a mistake to assume that every time Paul refers to the work of the Holy Spirit that he was contemplating the same aspect of the work of the Spirit as described by Luke, and vice versa. The inspiration of both authors does not eliminate their individual personalities, writing styles, unique purposes, or unique points of emphasis.

So what was Luke’s point in emphasizing the miraculous gifts of the Spirit in the book of Acts? Did Luke view Jesus’ “baptism with the Spirit” as something limited to those special, miraculous occurrences, or did Luke, like Paul, view the baptism with the Holy Spirit as something which is available for all Christians? These questions will be the subject of the next two parts of this study.

The Holy Spirit Raised Jesus From the Dead

This is part 8 of an ongoing study of the Holy Spirit. For previous parts, click here.

During the time of Israel’s rebellion, the prophets looked forward to a future age, when the Messianic king would set all things right, sins would be forgiven, and the exile would be over. This would be accomplished by God’s Spirit (see Part 5).

In all four accounts of the gospel, the Holy Spirit is emphasized as playing a major role in the life of Jesus (see Parts 6 and 7). Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Mt. 1:18), declared to the be the Son of God when the Spirit descended on him like a dove (Lk. 3:21-22), was led by the Spirit (Lk. 4:1; 14-15), attributed his ministry to the Spirit (Lk. 4:17-21), and spoke God’s words by the Spirit (Jn. 3:34). The gospel accounts thus portray all of Jesus’ life, leading up to and culminating in his death on the cross, as the work of the Spirit.

It should be no surprise when we see that the Holy Spirit is said to be the one who raised Jesus from the dead.

God Raised Jesus from the Dead

After Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples quite naturally attributed this to the work of God.

God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Acts 2:24

This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses.

Acts 2:32

God raised him on the third day and made him appear.

Acts 10:10

But God raised him from the dead.

Acts 13:30

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into dead, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:4

Paul, an apostle – not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.

Galatians 1:1

God is the one who created life. The only way a dead body can be resurrected to life is by the creative act of God. Without God, there is no life, and there is no resurrection from the dead.

God Raised Jesus From the Dead By the Holy Spirit

As noted in part 2 of this study, God created life by his Spirit. In Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones, it was God’s Spirit that resurrected the dead bones into living bodies. Since resurrection was an act of the Spirit, we can see how the disciples concluded that Jesus was raided from the dead by the Holy Spirit.

For Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.

1 Peter 1:18

He was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 1:4

Jesus was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit and Our Resurrection

Not only is the Holy Spirit the one who raised Jesus from the dead, but our resurrection will also be the act of the Holy Spirit.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:11

In order for us to be raised from the dead like Jesus was, we must have the Spirit dwelling in us like Jesus did. Without the Spirit in us to give us life, there is no hope for the resurrection. This raises the question of how Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to his disciples, and what does it mean for us to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. These are the questions we will consider in the upcoming parts of this study.

The Holy Spirit in John

This is Part 7 of an ongoing study of the Holy Spirit. Click here for the previous parts of this study


John’s account of the gospel gives special emphasis to Jesus’s teachings regarding the Spirit.

Jesus and Nicodemus

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one of born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:5-8

In John’s introduction, he spoke of the necessity of a “new birth” taking place in order to become children of God (1:12-13). This new birth is the theme of Jesus’s conversation with Nicodemus, in which he tells him that he must be born of both the “water and Spirit” in order to see God’s kingdom. Just as the prophets had foretold, God’s Kingdom was coming by the work of Spirit, blowing like a wind in whatever direction God desires for it to blow (remember that the Greek word for “Spirit” and “wind” were the same). Just as no human organization can control the wind, or dictate the direction it should blow, so it is with how God was bringing his kingdom by the Spirit. You can’t see God’s Spirit, control God’s Spirit, or dictate to God’s Spirit the direction you want him to blow, let alone try to get into his kingdom on your own terms.

Words of the Spirit

For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.

John 3:34

As John contrasts Jesus who “comes from above” with those who are “of the earth” (3:31), special attention is drawn to Jesus’s words. Jesus speaks words from God. He does this because God “gives the Spirit without measure.” This is right in line with how we see God’s Spirit connected with speaking words from God in the Old Testament.

Living Water

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

John 7:37-39

By referring to himself as the source of living, or flowing water, Jesus was identifying himself as the source through whom God’s Spirit would be poured out on the thirsty (see Isaiah 44:3-5). Through Jesus anyone who was faithful to him would be able to receive the Spirit. John notes, however, that this had not happened yet, and it would not happen until after Jesus was “glorified”, a phrase which John uses to refer to the death and resurrection of Jesus (cf. 3:14; 12:23; 17:1).

The Helper

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him not knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you… These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 14:16-17; 25-26

Just before his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples that he would be going away (14:2). But he promised them that they would not be left alone like orphans (14:18), because he would send the “Spirit of truth” as a “Helper” (sometimes translated as “Comforter” or “Advocate”) to dwell with them and be with them. Even though the world would not be able to see him, they would be able to see him (14:19). In this way, Jesus would be “1in them” (14:20). Jesus would show himself and make his home with those who would love him and keep his commandments (14:21-23). This would be accomplished by sending the “Helper”, the “Holy Spirit” who would teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all the things that he had said to them (14:26).

Observe that the Helper is described as the “Spirit of truth.” Through the Spirit, Jesus will be made manifest to those who love him and keep his commandments (14:21). Jesus says that the Spirit will “teach” and “bring to remembrance” all the things that Jesus had said to them. This concept of a spirit being connected to truthful ideas, commands, teachings, and memories makes sense. That’s what a spirit does. When people teach things, they do so with their breath. When people know things, or remember things, they do so with their mind, or with their “spirit”.

But Jesus’s disciples wouldn’t just have any ordinary human spirit, as a source of ordinary human teachings or memories. They would somehow be helped by THE Spirit. They would be taught teachings which originated with Jesus, as opposed to those created in their own mind. Just as in the Old Testament, when people were said to be filled with God’s Spirit as a way of saying that their actions and their words could be attributed to God working and speaking through them (Part 3), so the apostles would be given the Spirit, showing that their teachings had their origin with Jesus himself.

In this way Jesus would be present with his disciples after his departure. He was going to be with them in that the Spirit would continue to be with them.

When the World Hates You

But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 15:26-27

Jesus warned his disciples that they would be hated and persecuted by the world (15:16-21). They should not be taken by surprise when this happens, for they hated Jesus without cause as well (15:22-25). But fortunately, according to Jesus, they would not be left alone. He reminds them that the “Helper”, the “Spirit of truth” would be sent from the Father. When he comes, he will (along with the apostles) bear witness about Jesus.

Once again we see that the Spirit will have something to say to the world about Jesus. The idea of a “spirit” having something to “say” makes sense given the Hebrew understanding of “spirit” (Part 1).

Guide Into All Truth

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judges.

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will come to declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

John 16:7-15

Jesus consoles his disciples by telling them that it is to their advantage that he goes away. That’s because his death, resurrection, and departure are necessary events that must happen before sending the Helper, the Spirit of truth. Part of the job of the Spirit will be to convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment, to guide the apostles into all truth, and to glorify Jesus, taking what is his and declaring it to the apostles.

Once again we can observe that the Spirit’s work, as in the rest of scripture up to this point, is that of expressing or teaching God’s words. But here the message which the Spirit will speak is namely the teachings of Jesus himself (which of course came from the Father to start with).

In other words, the past work and teachings of Jesus will be continued after his departure through the work and teachings of Spirit.

Jesus, the Spirit, and the Disciples

John’s emphasis on Jesus’s teachings about the Spirit culminates in his interaction with his disciples in the upper room after the resurrection.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

John 20:21-23

Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to his disciples by breathing on them. By doing this, he made them his agents through which sins would be forgiven. By giving them the Holy Spirit, he commissioned them to act on his own behalf. What Jesus had done previously on earth would now be accomplished through His Spirit, who was now embodied in his apostles.

Up to this point, Jesus’s teachings about the Spirit had always been forward looking. But now that Jesus had been glorified through his death and resurrection, the anticipated time had come.

Observe that the point of Jesus “breathing” on his disciples and giving them the Spirit was not to give them some moving or emotional experience. Surely following Jesus can and should be deeply moving and emotional, but that’s not what Jesus giving the Holy Spirit was all about. Nor is the point that Jesus’ disciples were now free to follow whatever kind of intuition they might feel tugging at their hearts. Part of the point of giving the Spirit is that they would be led and taught by Jesus Himself through the Spirit, not by their own spirit, their own feelings, or their own emotions. The apostles, now having received the Holy Spirit, would be acting on Jesus’ own behalf, teaching things that originated with Jesus Himself.

Christianity and Economics, Part 3: Honest Money

Just Weights and Measures

You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin.

Leviticus 19:35-36

Unequal weights are an abomination to the LORD,
and false scales are not good.

Proverbs 20:23

It is not necessary to explain what unit of measurement the “ephah” or “hin” were. The point is clear: once defined, they could not be changed by individuals in the marketplace. Moses instructed the Israelites not to tamper with this constant measurement so as to defraud another person.

In Old Testament times, when an individual went to buy something, he would bring with him something valuable. At times they would have used barter (maybe trading a sack of wheat for a sheep). At other times they may have brought silver or gold as money. Either way, the use of scales and measurements were important. Their money didn’t have dollar amounts printed on it. They had to weigh out the appropriate amount.

It would have been easy for a dishonest businessman to steal from his neighbor by rigging the scales. For instance, say a man was trading one pound of wheat for a sheep. If he could make his side of the scale heavier, he might put 4/5th of a pound of wheat on the scale, and yet the scale would say that he had enough to buy the sheep. At the end of this fraudulent transaction, the thief would have the sheep plus 1/5th of a pound of wheat which rightfully belonged to his neighbor. But the law of God made it clear that tampering with the scales was wrong.

When people would bring silver or gold to the market, it became even easier for sellers to use dishonest scales. The metal money would normally be measured in weight. The dishonest man could defraud his neighbor by mixing in a less valuable metal with his gold or silver. As long as the impurity of the metal was not noticed, he could then trick his neighbor into thinking he was getting real money, when he was actually getting a watered-down version of the real thing. Meanwhile, it would appear as if the dishonest man had more money left over to buy more stuff. By diluting the silver or gold, a dishonest man could defraud anyone in the marketplace, even if the actual scales were accurate. Diluting the value of money was another form of dishonest measurement, which Isaiah specifically cites as one of the sins of unfaithful Israel when he says “Your silver has become dross” (Is. 1:22).

Why Counterfeiting is Sin

Suppose an individual in Old Testament times figured out a way to duplicate coins for himself. Perhaps he figures out a way to make coins out of cheap metal, and then coat the coin in gold so that it looks and feels like the real thing. Today we call this practice counterfeiting. In addition to breaking God’s instructions for just weights and measures, this individual is stealing. But who is the victim of the kind of theft known as counterfeiting?

The counterfeiter steals money by increasing the money supply when he spends this money in the marketplace. With each fraudulent coin he spends, he slowly dilutes the value of everyone else’s gold coins. With more money being circulated in the marketplace, goods and services cost more. Economist refer to this process as “inflation.” Counterfeiting is destructive because it slowly steals from everyone except for the counterfeiter. The counterfeiter benefits by getting to spend new money he didn’t work for, while everyone else is force to pay higher prices with the same amount of gold coins they had in the first place. For others, the cost of living simply rises and no one can provide an explanation. They are totally unaware of the counterfeiter. Counterfeiting is therefore an invisible form of theft, but it is most certainly theft and therefore breaks God’s law.

This is an important point. Counterfeiting money is not simply wrong because it breaks the laws of a country. Counterfeiting is wrong because counterfeiting breaks God’s law, regardless of the laws of a country. When sin is legalized, it is still a sin. Legal abortion is still sin. Legally recognized homosexual marriage is still sinful. If counterfeiting were legal, it would still be theft.

Thankfully, private counterfeiting has never been much of a problem in society. If anyone is caught printing new money on a private printer, the consequences are very severe. Even when private counterfeiting successfully occurs, it happens on such a small scale that the impact of the counterfeiter on the cost of living is immeasurably small.

However, when creating new money is legal, and even sanctioned by the government, this is still counterfeiting, it is still wrong, and it is detrimental to an economy.

Modern Money

In one sense, modern money has become invisible. It moves electronically from one computer to another, and does not even have a physical form. A vast majority of money used today is simply numbers in a computer on someone’s account balance. But at some point this electronic money is converted back into paper cash and coins.

If you examine a dollar bill from your wallet, you will find the words “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private.” In other words, this dollar bill is legal money. Yes, we can pay for things using checks or credit cards or Venmo, but ultimately, these can be turned back into paper dollars.

You will also find the words “Federal Reserve Note.” In other words, these paper dollars are created and distributed by the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States. The green piece of paper is very obviously money because it has official and authoritative images in the right places. These images indicate the full faith and strength of the United States Government.

Prior to 1957, dollar bills looked very similar to how they look today, but with a few slight differences (click here for an image). Dollars at this time contained the words “Silver Certificate.” The also included the following words: “This certifies that there is on deposit in the treasury of the United States of America… One Dollar in silver payable to the bearer on demand.”

That tiny difference is significant. To be perfectly clear, there is nothing backing modern currency. At one point in time, a United States dollar could be traded for a silver dollar on demand. But this convertibility was gradually removed. Evidence of this can be seen in coins. If you are lucky enough to find a quarter from before the year 1964, you will notice that it is made of 90% pure silver. Now days quarters are made of much cheaper metal.

Although you might find this interesting, you might also be wondering “what’s the big deal? People still accept the dollar. Just as long as people are honest, how is paper money wrong?” To be clear, there is nothing immoral with paper money, just as long as the measurement of value is held constant and just. The problem with unbacked paper money is that it can be created at almost no cost. When paper money is not backed by something of value, this enables individuals (governments, big banks, and their buddies) to enter the marketplace with newly created, counterfeit money, which is in direct opposition to what the Bible teaches about just weights and measures.

What Is the Right Quantity of Money?

Without a fixed measure of value (such as gold or silver) backing the dollar, there is no longer any limit on how much new money can be created. In 1971, Richard Nixon officially removed the dollar from the gold standard, and ever since then the supply of money created by the Federal Reserve has dramatically increased (especially in the year 2020). This new money has been literally created out of thin air. It is dishonest money that contradicts God’s prescription for honesty in trade. If this was done by a shady guy in a basement with a fancy printer, he would be thrown in jail for a very long time.

Someone might object that allowing the Federal Reserve to create money isn’t the same thing as a private individual printing up 100’s in his basement. Not only do they have the proper legal authority, but there are times of economic crisis (such as in the year 2020) when there just isn’t enough money to go around. During such times, wouldn’t there be an economic benefit to having a more elastic money supply? Can we really say that the Biblical standards for “honest money” apply in such a situation?

In other words, if new money is created legally, with only the very best intentions of creating wealth and preventing poverty, is it still wrong?

To answer this objection, imagine you had the ability to create a new can of peas out nothing (or turkeys, or watermelons, or cattle). Would this help the poor? Of course it would! The increased supply of goods per person would mean everyone can consume more, and the standard of living would go up for everyone. But creating new money provides no benefit for society at all (except for the dishonest counterfeiter).

Why not? Because money itself cannot be eaten or consumed. Money is used only as a medium of exchange. Once we have enough money for the use of exchange, no more money is needed. So while increasing the number of cattle or cars or cell phones or houses would be beneficial, increasing the supply of money only dilutes its value because there is more of it floating around.

To put it simply, if the number of cars suddenly doubled, twice as many people could own cars. But if the supply of money were doubled, the only result would be that we would have the same number of goods and services for double the price (at least on average). Now if everyone saw their bank accounts double, they might feel richer, at least in the short term, and go buy houses, vacations, or new cars. But once prices went up to compensate for the increased demand, reality would set in, and people would realize that they are not better off at all. In fact, they might be worse off because they were encouraged to buy things that they really couldn’t afford.

Counterfeiting money does more than just drive-up prices. It causes people to make foolish decisions with their money (“malinvestment” is the economic term). Dishonest money has no societal benefit at all.

The Real Problem With Christian Nationalism

Bad arguments for correct positions often do more harm than good arguments for incorrect positions. This certainly seems to be the case with many of the popular criticisms against Christian nationalism. It’s not uncommon to read that Christian nationalism is wrong because “it suppresses minorities” or because “it is racist” or because it motivates political violence or “insurrection.

The problem with focusing only on the most unreasonable extremes is that it leaves the door open for Christians to adopt a more reasonable and balanced version of Christian nationalism. Many Christian nationalists simply believe that their government should look out for the best interest of its citizens, and the best way to do that is by encouraging their government to uphold godly values. They don’t try to suppress minorities, enforce Christianity by the force of law, and would never “storm the capital”. Since many of the popular attacks don’t accurately depict the most common forms of Christian nationalism, it’s no wonder why many find those attacks unconvincing.

Christian nationalism is wrong, but not for the reasons many popular arguments would have you believe. The real problem with Christian nationalism is that it misses the fundamental distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world.

Before accepting Christian nationalism in any form whatsoever, I encourage you to carefully consider the following passages.

1 Samuel 8:1-22

Although God originally formed his people as the unique nation of Israel, they were different from other nations in that they had no king other than God himself. Eventually, the Israelites grew tired of being different and so they asked for a king “like the nations” (8:5). Why did Israel want a king? Because they wanted someone to fight their battles for them (8:20).

The problem with Israel’s nationalism was that of trust. Israel wanted a human ruler because they no longer trusted in God to continue to fight their battles. That’s why God viewed Israel’s request as a rejection of his own kingship (8:7). Ultimately, God gave them their request. Over the next several centuries, Israel’s nationalism led to continual political conflicts, failed alliances, and ultimately to exile.

This passage reveals something very important about how God views the nationalistic desire for governing authorities to fight our battles. While this passage makes it clear that God is the head of all rule and authority (cf. Col. 2:10), and he institutes them for his purposes (cf. Rom. 13:1), he does so only as a concession to humans who cannot trust in him to fight their battles for them. Since humans insist on having governments, God uses them as ministers to accomplish his purposes (Rom. 13:1-5). But this does not mean that God approves of them. Often times God used wicked nations (such as Assyria or Babylon) as his ministers to punish Israel, only to turn around and punish them for their evil (e.g. Is. 10:5-15). Governments are under the influence of Satan (Lk. 4:5-7), but nevertheless, when people turn to earthly rulers, God permits them to have their way and uses those governments to accomplish his purposes.

Jesus, on the other hand, rejected the devil’s offer to take control of the kingdoms of the world (Mt. 4:8-10), refused to use his power to secure political power, and ran away from those who tried to make him a king (Jn. 6:15). Jesus came to destroy Israel’s nationalism by breaking down the wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles (cf. Eph. 2:11-18).

Psalm 33:16-17

The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Even after God allowed Israel to have a king, he still opposed their nationalism. He stressed that the security and success of his people was not to be found in the king, but in God himself.

When David wrote “Blessed in the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 33:12), he did so in the context of opposing Israel’s nationalism (which ironically is nearly the opposite of how many Christian nationalist will use the verse today.) David was saying that people are blessed when they trust in God to be their Lord as opposed to turning to earthly rulers (33:10-11).

Isaiah 40:15-17

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust…
All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

Although this passage doesn’t necessarily forbid Christian nationalism, it should greatly reduce the temptation by reminding us of the greatness of the Lord’s sovereignty in comparison to the meaningless nations. When people believe that the nations hold supreme influence on the course of the world, it is understandable why they would place a good deal of importance on influencing those nations for good. But for those whose eyes are fixed on the Lord there is continual peace, for they know that regardless of what unfolds in politics, whether good or bad, the Lord will use the authorities as his ministers to accomplish his good purposes (Rom. 13:1-5).

Matthew 20:25-28

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The quest for ruling power characterizes the world, but it must not characterize Jesus’ disciples. Christian nationalism, even in its very best and most reasonable form, is ultimately about influencing earthly powers to govern and rule in a particular way. Christians should have no part in wielding this kind of power.

John 18:36-37

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

When Jesus announced “My kingdom is not of this world,” Pilate then interpreted his words like many do today, as if Jesus was only speaking figuratively. He asked “So are you a king?” But Jesus, with no hint of confusion, weakness, or compromise responded, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born.”

Apparently, the idea of being a king and establishing a real kingdom was a big deal to Jesus. What’s more, this kingdom is primarily distinguished from the kingdom of the world in that its citizens do not fight in the same way citizens of earthly kingdoms fight.

Strangers and Foreigners

Most Christians believe in a two-kingdom concept in some form or another. Jesus made this clear in Matthew 22:15-22. The Pharisees in this passage tried to trap Jesus by asking him about the matter of paying taxes to Caesar. It is here that Jesus replied, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Most any Christian will acknowledge that there is a distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God, although they will sometimes disagree where that line of distinction is drawn. But the early Christians drew that line with a decisive stroke.

Peter spoke to Christians as if they did not belong to the earthly kingdoms in which they lived.

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourself with fear through the time of your exile.

1 Peter 1:17

Peter would later refer to them as “sojourners and exiles” (2:11).

The book of Hebrews likewise encouraged Christians to follow the examples of those who by faith “acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Heb. 11:13). Paul held to the same ideas as can be seen in the following passage.

2 Timothy 2:3-4

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian disputes, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Paul told Timothy that a Christian should view themselves as a loyal soldier in the Lord’s army, not distracted by concerns outside of his domain. He reminded Timothy that a soldier does not have the time, nor the right, to involve himself in the affairs of the country in which he finds himself. Why? Because his relationship to that county is that of a foreigner. Christian nationalism is no more appropriate for a Christian than German nationalism would be for an American soldier stationed in Germany.

Nationalism, in it’s most basic and defendable form, suggest that nationalism is reasonable because citizens are right to concern themselves with the affairs of their own country before concerning themselves with globalist affairs of foreign nations. Yet it is this very logic which renders Christian nationalism unreasonable since Christians are citizens of a different kingdom.

Christian Nationalism is Backsliding

Other scriptures could certainly be added to this list, but the point should be clear. Christianity isn’t merely non-nationalistic. It is anti-nationalistic. The early Christians didn’t merely fail to transform Rome into a Christian nation, they viewed themselves as strangers and exiles living in a foreign country. The Bible doesn’t merely fail to support Christian nationalism, it warns Christians against it.

Come out of her [Babylon] my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues.

Revelation 19:4

Advancing God’s kingdom today requires that we remain distinct from the world (Jn. 15:19). Christian nationalism, in any form whatsoever, is backsliding because it blurs the line of distinction between the church and the world, between foreigners and citizens, and between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. To seek to build up nations reverses what Jesus accomplished when he established a kingdom that would rule over all nations, and one day will ultimately triumph over all earthly rule and authority (1 Cor. 15.24).

Just as Old Testament Israel rebelled against God when they demanded a king, Christians express a lack of trust in God when they embrace Christian nationalism. Christians are citizens of a different kingdom (Phil. 3:20). It’s time we live like it.

The Holy Spirit (Part 6): The Holy Spirit in the Life of Jesus

Read earlier parts of this study here.

In the New Testament, the Spirit plays a big role in the life of Jesus, in his resurrection, and in the lives of his people. This is true in all four gospel accounts, and especially in the book of Luke. What God’s Spirit does in the New Testament corresponds with the things the Holy Spirit is said to do in the Old Testament.

Jesus’s Birth Is Attributed to the Holy Spirit

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 1:18

Mary’s pregnancy was from the Holy Spirit. As surprising as the virgin birth is, it is not surprising to see God’s Spirit connected with the gift and creation of life in a place where there was previously no life. This is the same sort of thing that the Spirit is described as doing in the Old Testament (e.g. Genesis 1-2).

Luke starts the story even earlier with the story of the birth of John the Baptist. First, Luke records how Elizabeth was told that John the Baptist would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb.

He will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb.

Luke 1:15

A few verses later, Luke records that John’s father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit when he prophesied about Jesus’s birth. Again, it is no surprise to see that the Holy Spirit is connected with speaking words from God, as this is the same thing the Spirit is described as doing in the Old Testament.

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying…

Luke 1:67

Similarly, Simeon is described as having the Holy Spirit when he prophesied.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents of the child brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up on his arms and blessed God and said…

Luke 2:25-28

Again, just as in the Old Testament, we see the Holy Spirit described as revealing special knowledge to a prophet. Simeon was filled with the Holy Spirit in that he was able to know things that came from God’s own mind.

All these events surrounding the birth of Jesus were attributed to the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit’s Role in Jesus’s Baptism

In Luke 3, Luke describes how John was leading a repentance movement and baptizing people in the Jordan River. Some people began to question whether or not John might be the Christ. Luke records John’s answer (which will be examined in more detail in a future part of this study).

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

Luke 3:16-17

Luke then records that Jesus himself was baptized by John.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:21-22


  • Jesus was baptized in the waters of the Jordan
  • The heavens were opened
  • The Holy Spirit descends in bodily form, like a dove
  • God’s voice is heard speaking

Having studied the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, we can see that this event seems to echo another time when God’s Spirit is said to hover (a word used to describe what birds do) over the waters in connection with God’s voice speaking words.

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light.

Genesis 1:2-3

From the account of Jesus’s baptism, we can also notice the close connection between God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus. The Holy Spirit/Pnuma/Breath is described as descending on Jesus at the same moment that God speaks words. Again, given our understanding of the Hebrew and Greek words for Spirit, it makes sense that we would see a close connection between God’s Holy Spirit and God’s Word’s. We can also note that the Holy Spirit is distinct from the person of Jesus, but is also very active in the life of Jesus.

The word “trinity” is never used by Luke (or any other New Testament author) to describe the close relationship between God and the Spirit and Jesus. (The word “trinity” wasn’t even invented until after the close of the New Testament when early Christians tried to describe God’s nature.) But there is certainly a very close relationship between God and the Spirit and Jesus, just as in the Old Testament there was a close relationship between God and the Spirit and the prophesied Messiah.

The Spirit in the Life of Jesus

Luke highlights the role of the Spirit in the life of Jesus more than any other author.

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days.

Luke 4:1

Jesus’s day to day work was attributed to God’s Spirit.

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

Luke 4:14-15

If Jesus was in the power of the Spirit when he taught, who’s words was he speaking? God’s words! Jesus was giving voice to words from God’s own Holy Spirit. Jesus made this clear when he applied Isaiah 61:1-2 to himself.

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:17-21

In Luke 10, when Jesus saw what was happening, he gave credit to, and rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

Luke 10:21

In Luke 11, Jesus described the Holy Spirit as a gift that could be given by God to his children.

If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Luke 11:13

In the Old Testament, when on special occasions, God’s Spirit is filled unique individual’s, the words and actions and wisdom of those individuals could then be attributed to God himself. When Luke and the other gospel writers attribute the life and ministry of Jesus to the Holy Spirit, it means that the things Jesus said and did can rightly be attributed to God himself. When we see Jesus’s ministry and teachings, we see the words and actions of God Himself.

The Holy Spirit (Part 5): Prophesies Concerning the Spirit

In previous parts of this study it was observed that the Hebrew word for “Spirit” includes the idea of “wind” or “breath”. Spirit refers to that which is invisible and inside a living person which makes them alive. All living persons have a spirit, and God himself has a Spirit. We have also observed the things God’s Spirit is described as doing in the Old Testament, including creation, sustaining life, and re-creation. Sometimes God’s Spirit is said to fill special individuals in a unique and personal way. This is a way of attributing the words and actions of those individuals to God who speaks and works through them. When people were filled with God’s Spirit, their words could rightly be attributed to God’s own mind.

Before turning to the New Testament, it will be important to note what the inspired prophets said concerning the Spirit. After years of rebellion, the prophets warned that Israel was facing exile as a consequence of their sins. But the prophets also preached hope. Something better was coming. A future ruler was coming who would set things right. A new age was coming, an age when sins would be forgiven and the exile would be over. What was old and broken in the world would be made new. The world would be set right.

The important thing to note is that all of this would be accomplished by God’s Spirit.

The Prophesies of Isaiah

Isaiah prophesies of a future king who will have the Spirit of the Lord resting upon him.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

Isaiah 11:1-2

There would be a future king from the line of David (Jesse was David’s father). Four different times Isaiah says that he will have the Spirit of the Lord upon him, permeating him in all that he does. His wisdom and understanding will come from the Lord’s Spirit. His counsel and might will come from the Lord’s Spirit. His knowledge will and fear of the LORD will come from the Lord’s Spirit. Practically everything about this future king can be attributed to the Lord’s Spirit. His attributes, his thinking, and his mindset will all be God’s own attributes, thinking, and mindset. This includes his just judgments (11:3), his care for the poor (11:4a), his supremacy over his enemies (11:4b), and his righteousness and faithfulness (11:5). The result of his kingship will be a peace that is so perfect it can be compared to a wolf lying down with a lamb, or a child playing in a vipers’ den without fear (11:6-9). In that day, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (11:9).

Is Isaiah prophesying about the church? Is he talking about heaven? Or perhaps something else? At this point in the Bible, that isn’t yet clear. What we can clearly see is that Isaiah foresaw a very different and much better era coming in the future, and this future era was going to come about because of a Messiah who would be filled with God’s Spirit.

Another prophesy about the Spirit can be found in Isaiah 32.

For the palace is forsaken,
the populous city is deserted;
the hill and the watchtower
will become dens forever,
a joy of wild donkeys,
a pasture of flocks;
until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
And the effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

Isaiah 32:13-18

Found in a section that has Messianic implications (cf. 32:1), Isaiah looked forward to a day when the world is going to be dramatically changed. This future age will be characterized by justice, righteousness, and peace, and will involve “pouring out” of the Spirit in a new way.

Another prophecy about the Spirit is recorded in Isaiah 44.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams of water on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, “I am the LORD’s,”
and another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, “The LORD’s,”
and name himself by the name of Israel.

Isaiah 44:3-5

Here Isaiah describes a “pouring out” of His Spirit upon Israel’s descendants. Note how the promise of the Spirit is connected with the figure of water given to satisfy thirst. Later on, Jesus will describe the Spirit using similar imagery (Jn. 7:37-39). The key thing to notice throughout all of Isaiah’s prophesies is that the world was going to change, and this change would be brought about by God’s Spirit.

The Prophesies of Ezekiel

If the world is going to change, it will be necessary that people are changed as well. According to the prophesies of Ezekiel, rebellious Israel would be transformed by God’s Spirit.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

Ezekiel recognized that Israel needed to be fixed from the inside. The only way this would occur would be for God to give them a new heart and a new Spirit, which will enable them to walk in God’s statutes and keep his rules. This is very similar to how David prayed about the Holy Spirit in Psalm 51.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:10-12

In Ezekiel 37, following the vision of the valley of dry bones, Ezekiel once again speaks of God’s Spirit being put into his people. If Israel was as dead as dry bones, the only way they would be made alive again would be if God’s Ruakh/Spirit/Breath gave them new life.

I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land.

Ezekiel 37:14

Another prophecy that relates to the promise of the Spirit is found in Ezekiel 39, which looks beyond the time of captivity to the restoration of Israel.

And I will not hide my face from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 39:29

Like Isaiah, Ezekiel foresaw a new age coming which would be brought about by God’s Spirit.

The Prophecy of Zechariah

And I will pout out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him as one weeps over a firstborn.

Zechariah 12:10

It is not entirely clear whether Zechariah refers to the future pouring out of the Holy Spirit, or if he speaks of a generic attitude of grace and pleas for mercy that will eventually characterize his people. What is clear is that Zechariah spoke of a future day when God would pour out a spirit, and the attitudes of God’s people would change. Note the connection between “spirit” and how we think. Again, this makes sense when we understand how the Hebrew word for “spirit” was used in the Old Testament (Part 1). When we turn our study to the New Testament, it will be important to remember this connection between “spirit” and “attitude” or “thinking.”

The Prophecy of Joel

And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophecy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon the blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Joel 2:28-32

Similar to the other prophets, Joel looked forward to a day when the world would be dramatically different. This future day would be brought about by God’s Spirit. One element of this prophecy of particular interest is that is speaks of God’s Spirit being poured out on “all flesh.” This includes sons and daughters, young and old, and male and female servants (including Gentiles???).

In part 3 of this study we observed that throughout the Old Testament, God’s Spirit was occasionally said to be with a few special individuals (such as judges, kings, and prophets) in a special and unique way.  Whenever people were said to have God’s Spirit, it meant that they had God’s mind, God’s thoughts, God’s wisdom, God’s words, or God’s strength. It means that their words or successes are attributed to God working through them as opposed to that person speaking or acting on their own wisdom. Here Joel speaks of a day when God’s Spirit will no longer be reserved for just a few special individuals, but will in some way be poured out on “all flesh.”

The Spirit in the Old Testament

This concludes the Old Testament portion of this study of the Holy Spirit. The specific meaning of these prophesies may not be entirely clear at this point. But what we can observe is that the Old Testament prophets anticipated that a new age was coming, and this coming age would be characterized by the work and influence of God’s Spirit being poured upon his people. The Spirit would be necessary to enable the people of God to keep his will.

This naturally raises questions. What exactly do these prophesies mean in the New Testament and for today? How exactly is God’s Spirit poured out on his people, and how does God’s Spirit work in the lives of Christians today? We will attempt to study these questions as we move into the New Testament portion of our study. The challenge will be to observe exactly what the New Testament says concerning the Spirit without reading any preconceived ideas into those passages.

In Summary:

  • Spirit, like wind or breath, is that invisible substance that makes things move and/or live
  • God’s Spirit is closely related to God’s mind, God’s thoughts, and God’s words
  • God’s Spirit is responsible for creating the world, and breathing life into all living beings
  • Sometimes God’s Spirit is said to come upon special individuals: Bezalel, Gideon, Samson, Saul, David, etc. When this happens, God speaks or acts through that person, so that their words and actions can be attributed to God rather than to the individuals speaking or acting on their own
  • When God’s Spirit fills a prophet, their words are God’s own words (See 2 Samuel 23:2; Micah 3:8)
  • Just as God’s Spirit created the world, so the prophets spoke of future renewal of all things. This new creation would be brought about by God’s Spirit
  • The Messianic King would be filled with God’s Spirit (Isaiah 11)
  • God’s new covenant people would be transformed by God’s Spirit. This transformation would be so complete that it is visualized as a resurrection of dry bones (Ezekiel 36-37)
  • God’s Spirit would one day be poured out on “all flesh” (Joel 2)

The Holy Spirit (Part 4): The Holy Spirit Gave Us the Old Testament

In Hebrew, the word for “Spirit” (Ruakh) was the same word for “breath”. That’s why, for Hebrews, there would have been a very natural connection between “Spirit” and spoken “words.” You can’t have spoken words without spirit/breath. (See Part 1 for more on the meaning of “Spirit”).

In the Old Testament men were sometimes said to speak by God’s Spirit. That means that their words were not simply their own, but were God’s own spoken words.

The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me:
his word is on my tongue.

2 Samuel 23:2

But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the LORD,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression
and to Israel his sin.

Micah 3:8

But the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and he spoke with me and said to me… I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD.”

Ezekiel 3:24-26

When the prophets were filled with the Spirit, they spoke words from God. That’s why when the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament, the words of scripture are frequently attributed to the Holy Spirit rather than to the human author.

Jesus Attributed the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet’?
If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”

Matthew 22:41-45

When Jesus quoted from Psalm 110, he recognized that he was reading the words of David. He also recognized that David spoke those words “in the Spirit.”

Mark records the same conversation with the following words:

And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.’
David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?”

Mark 12:35-37

Jesus recognized that Psalm 110 contained the words of “David himself”. He also recognized that David wrote those words while “In the Holy Spirit.” This means that God’s words were on David’s tongue (2 Sam. 23:2). At the same time, these were still the words of David. It was still written in David’s vocabulary, David’s style, and for David’s purpose. They were both David’s words and God’s words at the same time.

Peter Attributed the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit

Peter uses similar language when referring to Psalm 109.

In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.

Acts 1:15-17

Later on, Peter attributes the predictions of the prophets to the Holy Spirit.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

1 Peter 1:10-12

Notice that Peter says the prophets did not always understand the meaning of what they wrote. This indicates that there was another mind or spirit behind these words other than their own. The Holy Spirit expressed his words through them so that the final product was what God intended to say.

Paul Attributed the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit

Paul used similar language when he attributed the writings of Isaiah to the Holy Spirit:

And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

“Go to this people, and say,
‘You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.’
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’”

Acts 28:24-27

The Book of Hebrews Attributed the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit

The book of Hebrews also attributes the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit. Notice the way it refers to the books of Exodus and Leviticus (the law), the book of Jeremiah (the prophets), and the book of Psalms (the writings), thus attributing the three major sections of the Old Testament all to the Holy Spirit.

The law (referring to Exodus 25-26; 36; and Leviticus 16):

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand, and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covering on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing.

Hebrews 9:1-8

The prophets (quoting Jeremiah 31:33-34):

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Hebrews 10:15-17

The Psalms (quoting Psalm 95:7-11):

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you will hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

Hebrews 3:7-11

Stephen Speaks of Resisting the Holy Spirit

Stephen accused his persecutors of resisting the Holy Spirit.

You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have not betrayed and murdered.

Acts 7:51-52

How did their ancestors resist the Holy Spirit? By persecuting the prophets and resisting the words the Holy Spirit had spoken concerning the Righteous One.

The Holy Spirit Gave Us the Old Testament

Peter says that the writers of the Old Testament were “driven” or “carried along” by the Holy Spirit.

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:20-21

The Greek word translated “carried along” was the word used of a ship being driven or carried along by the wind in its sail.

And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind (pnuma), we gave way to it and were driven along.

Acts 27:15

This indicates that the Holy Spirit/Pnuma “carried along” the human authors when they wrote scripture. It was the Spirit that “drove them” or “moved them” as they wrote their messages. Ultimately, they were writing what the Holy Spirit wanted them to write.

This does not mean that we should imagine the biblical authors as going into some sort of mindless trance, as their hand magically wrote words without their realizing what was being written. It is possible that David stayed up long hours of the night crafting the poems we now call the psalms. It is possible that the biblical authors wrote rough drafts, and revised those drafts multiple times. It is possible that they researched and compiled from other sources. It is possible that God inspired prophetic editors to craft the books into their final forms. The Old Testament was written by human authors, and contains the fully human words of those authors themselves. We just don’t know all the details.

All we have is the final product, and we know that the end result was God’s authoritative word, as spoken through the Holy Spirit. It was God’s words on their tongues (cf. 2 Sam. 23:2). They wrote exactly what God wanted them to say. Exactly how this occurred, the Bible doesn’t say. But we do know that the Holy Spirit/Breath/Mind of God gave us the Old Testament.

Christianity and Economics, Part 2: The Parable of the Broken Window

Read Christianity and Economics, Part 1 Here: Why Christians Should Think About Economics

We must not think only about the immediate and seen effect of our choices, while failing to consider the eventual and unseen effect of our choices. This is one of the very first lessons taught in the Bible.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:6

Eve decided to take the forbidden fruit because she desired the seen and intended consequence of her choice. That is, she could see that the tree was good for food, it looked delightful, and it would make one wise. She did not look at the fruit and think “I want to die, so I’m going to eat this fruit.” She ignored the eventual, unseen, and unintended consequences of her choice. Almost every sin imaginable (drunkenness, laziness, adultery, etc.) could be described in terms of prioritizing the seen over the unseen, the immediate over the eventual, and the intended effect over the unintended.

When applied to economics, learning to think about unseen, eventual, and unintended consequences will equip us to recognize the error of most popular economic fallacies. This point can be illustrated by the parable of the broken window. The parable was first introduced by the French economist, Frederic Bastiat, in his 1850 essay “That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Not Seen”, and was further developed the Nobel Prize winning economist Henry Hazlett in his 1946 book “Economics in One Lesson.”

The Parable of the Broken Window

There was a baker who owned a shop. One day, as mischievous kid threw a rock through the front window of the bakery. The baker was understandably upset about the broken window. But then the baker was confronted by one of his friends who encouraged him to think about the bigger picture. Since the baker now has to buy a new window, the window shop down the street will benefit from the purchase. The window shop will have to buy more materials from the glass maker and will also have to pay its workers for the extra labor. It might be that one of these workers uses his extra pay to buy a loaf of bread from the baker.

“Cheer up!” said the baker’s friend. “Not only is this act of destruction not a tragedy, but a more broken windows might be one of the best things for our town’s economy. With more broken windows, the glass store will have to hire more workers, thus creating new jobs. These new employees will eventually become new customers of all of our businesses, which will strengthen our local economy. So the broken window isn’t really a tragedy at all!”

Unfortunately, this clever friend has not told the whole story. After all, if the baker’s window had not been broken, he would have had both his window and his money, money he could have spent for something other than replacing the window. Perhaps he could have bought a new sign for his bakery. Perhaps he could have taken his wife out for a nice dinner. Perhaps he was about the give a bakery employee a raise, but now, since he has to replace the window, he will have to postpone that raise.

Although the broken window may have benefited the window store and glassmaker, their gain was a loss for the sign maker, the restaurant owner, or the bakery employee. Unfortunately, since the window was broken, we will only ever see the new window and the immediate benefit for the window shop. What will remain unseen is how the baker would have chosen to spend his money if the window had not been broken.

What this story illustrates is something economist call “opportunity costs.” The cost of the new window was not simply the dollar price of the purchase. The true cost of the window is the goods or services that the baker would have chosen to purchase if he didn’t have to replace the window. Although we can easily see that the broken window will benefit some, this benefit only comes at the unseen expense of others. In the words of Hazlitt, “The bad economist sees only what immediately strikes the eye; the good economist also looks beyond.”

Broken Windows Everywhere

Unfortunately, like the baker’s friend, many people have a hard time thinking like a good economist. They think only about the benefit they can see, that is, the immediate and intended consequences. What remains unseen is the lost opportunity cost.

For example, its not uncommon to hear people suggest that natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornados, are good for the economy. After all, it is certainly true that disasters create new jobs. Messes must be cleaned, buildings must be rebuilt, windows must be replaced. But every broken widow has a cost. It must come at the expense of those who would have benefited if there had been no disaster.

During times of war, politicians will often celebrate the creation of new jobs and the economic benefits of wartime spending, but they ignore the devastating opportunity costs suffered by those who must rebuild their destroyed property with fewer resources than they started with. It’s the broken window fallacy once again.

The same could be said for any kind of government spending. Governments are not producers, manufacturers, or bakers who offer goods and services in exchange for money. Since governments only get their money from taxpayers, government funded projects must be considered in terms of opportunity costs, that is, the inevitable economic production that was forfeited when taxpayer capital was diverted towards the government sponsored project.

For example, if a government taxes a community to build a new football stadium, it is easy for the local news media to point to a big game, and the businesses which benefit from the large crowds and say, “See! This is what your taxes paid for!” But they will never be able to place a microphone in front of the person who lost their job, or forfeited their family vacation, or had to settle for a high mileage used car because their money was taken through taxes. That’s because all the things people lost when their money was taken through taxes will forever remain unseen.

If not for the taxes, people would have that money to spend or save as they choose. People could have chosen to start new businesses, offer raises to their employees, take their wife out to a movie, give a bigger contribution at church, take their family on vacation, or start a non-profit organization. The possibilities are endless. At the end of the day, people would have chosen what they thought was the best use of the money for them and for those around them.

Every public park, public highway, government funded construction project, and public school have opportunity costs. Even government program designed with the best intentions of helping the poor must be considered in terms of the unseen and unintended opportunity costs, many of which may impact the very people the program is designed to serve. The true cost of any government sponsored project is not the dollar cost, but the best use of the money had it remained in possession of the people from whom it was taken.

Opportunity Costs in the Bible

When Israel asked for a king (1 Samuel 8), they could see the immediate benefit of having someone to fight their battles. They did not listen to Samuel’s warning that the king would only do this at the expense of their sons, their daughters, and the fruits of their own fields. That is, they were deceived into asking for a king because they did not think about the opportunity costs.

In the parable of the talents (Luke 19:11-27), the servant who received only one talent decided to forego the opportunity to create economic benefit because he buried the talent entrusted to him. Therefore the master was upset with him because of the lost opportunity cost.

That’s why it is important for Christians to think like good economists. God desires that we use the talents he has entrusted to us to serve our fellow man, and not to waste them with unproductive work. When Jesus returns, we will all be judged according to how we use God’s resources to further his kingdom. When God entrusts us with talents, we must use those gifts in a way that honors and glorifies him. We must be resourceful with our financial resources, no matter how much or how little we may have. Thinking about the seen and unseen, immediate and eventual, intended and unintended consequences of our decisions will help us to do just that.

Everything the New Testament Says about How Christians Should Treat Enemies

Here’s a list of everything the New Testament says about how Christians should treat and view their enemies. This list does not include how God commanded his people in the Old Testament to treat their enemies, nor does it include what the New Testament says about how governments and nations treat their enemies. But as far as I am aware, this is a complete list of everything the New Testament says about how Christians are to treat their enemies. Christians are to…

Love Them

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he his kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

Luke 6:27, 35

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Matthew 5:44

It should be noted that the New Testament defines love by pointing us to Jesus’s example of dying for us, his enemies (Rom. 5:10) on the cross.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

1 John 3:16

Be Willing to Suffer Unjustly at Their Hands

Christians are to follow Jesus’s example. Peter and Paul both specifically mention that Christians should follow Jesus’s example in his willingness to suffer unjustly at the hands of his enemies. He suffered for his enemies even though he had the power to destroy them (Mt. 26:53).

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly… But if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

1 Peter 2:18-23; 3:14-16

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:1-2

Again, it should be remembered that we were enemies at the time that Christ gave himself up for us.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Romans 5:10

Do Good to Them

Lest we think we can somehow love our enemies while at the same time doing harm to them, it should be noted that we are specifically commanded to do good to them.

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

Luke 6:27, 34-35

Bless Them Instead of Cursing Them

Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

Luke 6:28

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Romans 12:14

Pray For Them

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Matthew 5:44

Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

Luke 6:28

Forgive Them and Ask God to Forgive Them

Jesus taught us to pray for forgiveness on the basis of how we forgive those who sin against us.

Forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

Luke 11:4

In the specific context Jesus’s teachings about enemies he said…

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 6:37

Jesus himself practiced what he preached by praying for the forgiveness of his enemies on the cross.

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Luke 23:34

Give to Them

We are to imitate the Father who loves his enemies by giving them blessings, regardless of whether or not they deserve them.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:44-45

We are to give to our enemies, even in those times when we do not expect anything in return.

Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back…. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.

Luke 6:30, 34

Provide For Their Physical Necessities

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.

Romans 12:20

Never Resist Their Evil in Kind

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Matthew 5:38-39

Treat Them As You Wish They Would Treat You

The “Golden Rule” was spoken in the specific context of how to treat enemies.

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Luke 6:31

Do Everything You Possibly Can to Be A Peace With Them

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Romans 12:18

Do Not Repay Evil For Evil, But Rather Overcome Their Evil With Good

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all… Do not by overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:17, 21

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:15

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

1 Peter 3:9

Never Take Vengeance Against Them

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Romans 12:17-19

Note that the reason we do not have to take vengeance against enemies is because we can trust that God will do this instead.

Turn the Other Cheek When Struck

But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Matthew 5:39

To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.

Luke 6:29

Seek Their Healing Instead of Seeking to Injure Them

And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his hear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?

Matthew 26:51-53

But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.

Luke 22:51

Humbly Serve Them

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him… “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

John 13:1-5, 15

Answer Them With Gentleness and Respect

In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

1 Peter 3:15

The Most Difficult Thing The New Testament Says About How Christians Should Treat Their Enemies

As far as I am aware, the above scriptures are a complete list of everything the New Testament says about how Christians should treat their enemies. But the most difficult thing the New Testament says about enemies is what it doesn’t say. That is, in all the New Testament, there is not a single “exception clause.” There is no verse I can quote that says “Love your enemies, unless you are facing the really scary life threatening kind”, or “Do good to your enemies unless common sense tells you that since innocent lives are being threatened it’s best to eliminate the threat first”, or “Put your sword in you place, unless you work in the military and your job requires that you use it against your enemies.” It’s always just “love your enemies” period. “Do good to them” period. “Overcome their evil with good” period.

It would be foolish ignore the obvious. It’s not difficult to think of hundreds of scenarios where taking these commandments as face value would be completely impractical (if not insane), would lead to the loss of life, and even feels completely immoral to us. To not respond to evil with whatever action is necessary to protect innocent life and loved ones feels just plain wrong. So when Christians read these commandments and conclude “Jesus couldn’t possibly have intended for us to rule out killing an enemy in those situations where killing them is completely justified to save innocent lives”, I get it. I share that emotional response myself. To take these commandments at face value completely violates every notion of common sense.

But at the same time, how common-sensical was it for the all powerful God to let himself be tortured and killed unjustly rather than using his power to kill his enemies? And yet this non-sensical response to evil is the specific example we are to follow.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-7

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:1-2

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly

1 Peter 2:21-23

Jesus himself was fully aware that his teachings did not fit into the box of “common-sense”. But instead of softening his teachings, he stressed that they were important for that very reason (Mt 5:44-47; Lk. 6:32-35). We are to love our enemies in a way that would seem like nonsense to the average tax collector or sinner.

It’s a lot to think about. It’s not easy. I don’t pass one ounce of judgment on those who draw different conclusions on some of the most difficult questions. The only way any of this makes any sense at all is when we fully trust in the cross, in the judgment of God against evil, the providence of God, the Lordship of Jesus, and confidently expect a resurrection. It’s not easy, but we have to think about it.