Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Power of Tongues to Peter and Paul

Q. What were the fruits of Paul’s baptism in the Holy Spirit? In

the people of Caesarea and Ephesus, what was the evidence 

of the indwelling Holy Spirit?

The Vision of Jesus Knocks Paul Off His Horse!
  (Art by Caravaggio, 1600)

Paul found himself blind for three days. This gripped him at his shocking conversion of the vision of Jesus on the road to DAMASCUS. This evidence marked the reality of his experience. Quickly, God sent a disciple named Ananias to the home of Judas on Straight Street to restore Paul’s sight.

v17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17 NIV).

God sent Ananias to baptize Paul in the Holy Spirit. At this filling of the Holy Spirit, something like scales fell off Paul’s blind eyes and he could see again. He got up healed, was immediately baptized with water as well, ate some food, and regained his physical strength.

As the fruit of his baptism in the Spirit, Paul began to preach Jesus is the Messiah in the synagogues of Damascus. The fruit of Paul’s indwelling of the Holy Spirit was his healing from blindness and his immediate response to the call of preaching. Saul amazed the Jews in Damascus as he eloquently preached Jesus is the Messiah.

I thank God that I speak in tongues more

than all of you” (! Cor 14:18 NIV).

Paul later expressed his tremendous, personal prayer life in the Spirit, which supported his amazing public ministry.

In the seacoast town of Joppa, Peter the apostle experienced a powerful vision from God which led him to visit the home of the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, in CAESAREA. The carrying of the gospel to the Samaritans, who were relatives to the Jews, was one thing, but this incident marked the carrying of the gospel to the pagan occupation forces, the Romans.

In the vision, God told Peter not to call any meat unclean. Peter was shocked! God so indicated that salvation was for others than believing Jews alone.

v34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34-35 NIV).

When he arrived at the home of Cornelius, Peter found a large gathering of people assembled to hear him, and he began to preach the gospel to the pagans assembled.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.

For they heard them speaking in tongues

and praising God” (Acts 10:44-46 NIV).

Peter then baptized the new believers with water, whereas they initially received the indwelling Holy Spirit after hearing and believing the gospel. The Holy Spirit demonstrated profoundly he would come on believers when and where and indeed, on whom, he selected. Tongues with praise was an outward sign of the powerful indwelling of the divine Holy Spirit.

Peter was taught a personal lesson; he learned the equivalent of the modern adage that “One can’t put God in a box.” You can’t limit God or what he will do by your own religious beliefs, dogmas, and doctrines. No one has an exclusive corner on God.

Paul, on his missionary journeys to the Greeks and Jews, visited a small community of believers in the city of EPHESUS. There he searched for evidence of the Holy Spirit among the people.

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when

you believed?” he asked them.

No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit,” what the men replied, many religious Christians could well say today. They explained they were baptized only with the baptism of John the Baptist.

On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all (Acts 19:2-7).”

Paul continued to preach in Ephesus for some two years. Through his diligent preaching and the accompanying miracles and healings, in spite of the persecutions, Ephesus became a strong Christian center for years to come.

The fruit of the indwelling Spirit powerfully manifested in Peter and Paul's lives, teachings, and ministries for Jesus.

--Bill Hunt

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Don't Say Hell!

The ultimate choice in life is eternal heaven or eternal hell. Every man or woman has a lifetime to make that choice!

"The Lake of Fire is the Second Death."
(Photo by Kim Newberg,

Jesus is walking along the Judean road with his disciples teaching them. He said that if anyone leads a child astray, it would be better for him to be cast into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck. He talked on, teaching about hell, saying if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off, rather than enter hell, where--

“Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.”

And and if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off, rather than enter hell, where--

Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.”

And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out, rather than be cast into hell fire, where--

Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:42-48 NKJ).

His short teaching clearly describes the severity of hell, the body infested with worms in the lake of fire for eternity. How sad it is to hear some say, they don't care about hell, or they even wish it to others.

The extreme is those who deny hell all together. Jesus and the scriptures teach many times on hell. About a news disaster of his day when Pilate, the Roman Governor, slaughtered a group of Galileans, Jesus instructed –

Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no;

"But unless you repent 
you will all likewise perish.”

Jesus continued speaking of another news event.

Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5 NKJ).

Who will be sentenced to hell? John writes in Revelation--

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev 21:8 NKJV).

Paul wrote to the Corinthians--

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10 NKJV).

He also lists in his Epistle to the Galatians--

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21 NKJV).

The Bible teaches the full Truth. God has perfect holiness and he can tolerate no evil or sin. His plan for mankind is heaven, but man's free choice to sin demands hell. We can clearly see the sin of evil men that slaughter one, or hundreds, or thousands, or millions of innocent people. But to an all perfect God all sin against the Ten Commandments is horrific.

Only one man ever obeyed all
Ten Commandments.

God has perfect justice, love, mercy, and forgiveness for those who repent. In fact, he gives each man or woman a lifetime and a conscience to choose a right relationship with Him.

He sent his Divine Son, Jesus, to ransom mankind with his Blood and to give every man and woman the opportunity to believe, to repent, and to turn to God to enter eternal life.

Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways'!” (Ezk 33:11 NKJV).

Or as John the Apostle writes--

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).

Don't say Hell, say Jesus!

--Bill Hunt

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Who Witnessed the Resurrection?

The absolute evidence of our Christian Faith is the Resurrection of Jesus. If Christ has not risen, stated the Apostle Paul, our Faith is futile.

"He has risen! He is not here."
  (Art by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1825-1905)

Paul writes a powerful epistle about AD 55 to the Corinthians at the end of his three year ministry in Ephesus. He lists the witnesses who saw the resurrected Jesus: Peter, the apostles, 500 men and women, James, the apostles again, and himself, Paul. 
v3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born (1 Cor 15:3-8 NIV).

Very Early on the First Day!”

Mark writes his gospel AD 55-65 to the Christians in Rome. He lists Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Mark 16:1-8) as visiting the tomb on the first day of the week. An angel spoke to them. 
v6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6 NIV).
Early Christians likely added the closing affirmations (Mark 16:9-20) to Mary Magdalene and the Eleven, but these are listed in the other gospels, as well.

The Physician Luke writes AD 60 to the Gentiles. He repeats the initial discovery at the tomb involving Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and others who were with them. 
He also mentions Peter's visit to the tomb. In detail, he relates the story of Cleopas and the other disciple on the road to Emmaus who meet Jesus.

Stay With Us, For it is Nearly Evening!”

v30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32 NIV).

Luke writes how surprised the apostles were to see Jesus when he appeared to them in the upper room.

v44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24: 44 NIV).

There Was a Violent Earthquake!”

Matthew writes AD 60-65 to the Jews. He re-mentions Mary Magdalene and the other Mary joyfully meeting Jesus at the tomb.

v8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him (Matt 28:8-9 NIV).

John writes AD 85-90 to the Early Christians. He relates the initial discovery of Mary Magdalene, the resulting visit of Peter and John, himself, to the tomb. He tells of Mary Magdalene, thereafter, meeting Jesus outside the tomb and then of Jesus appearing to the apostles in the upper room.

My Lord and My God!”

Thereafter, Thomas enters doubting and in a touching scene Jesus appears to him.

v26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20: 26-28 NIV).

Throw Your Net on the Right Side of the Boat!”

While the apostles were fishing at the Sea of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), Jesus appears to Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John, and two others. Jesus feeds them breakfast and reaffirms Peter.

v15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15 NIV).

--Bill Hunt

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