Saturday, September 13, 2014

New Website!

I have built a new website that gives me a little bit more flexibility for some things I have planned in the future.

The new website is:

The site you are currently viewing will stick around indefinitely, but the new site is where I am posting my new content.

I invite you to visit the new site, check out the articles, and leave any comments you have.

Thank you, and be blessed!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Importance of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit

NOTE:  An updated version of this article is available on my new website at this URL:

I am writing this post to provide a perspective on the value and importance that we should 
place on the experience known as "the Baptism with the Holy Spirit."

It is my belief that after someone receives Jesus as his/her savior and is born again to eternal life, the baptism with the Holy Spirit should be the very next thing on the list of priorities.  
I believe that it should be a part of any "new believer's class" and it should be taught regularly in every Christian assembly.
Here are some reasons why I believe this way...

It was a high priority to God the Father

In Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:7-8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33, we read this statement from John the Baptist:
"I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

God sent John the Baptist to announce the beginning of the ministry of His Son.  
Of all the things that He could have had John announce, the one that He picked was the fact that Jesus would "baptize with the Holy Spirit."
And God made sure that this announcement was included in all four gospel accounts in the New Testament.

This is amazing to think about.  John could have been sent to say any number of things, but a main part of his function was to announce that Jesus will baptize people in the Holy Spirit.

This tells us that this part of the ministry of Jesus is not something that should be set to the side.  It should be near the center of our thinking.  We need to understand what this means, and share this understanding with others.  To say that "the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a big deal" is an understatement.

It was a high priority to Jesus

Jesus personally trained His disciples for 3 years (many of them at least). These individuals received hands on personal training and daily interaction with the perfect Son of God.

They got to hear all of His teachings in person.  They got to watch Him do healings and miracles and cast out demons.  They got to ask Him questions about it later, and get more insight and instruction.  They got to operate as apprentices and receive direction and correction from Jesus Himself, in the flesh.
However, among the last instructions from Jesus to His disciples was to wait for the Holy Spirit baptism before they get started on their mission.  (Acts 1:4-8)
These were the last words of Jesus before He ascended and was glorified at the right hand of the Father.
As crazy as it sounds...being trained in person by Jesus was not enough.  They needed something else if they were going to have maximum effectiveness.  And this is from the mouth of the risen Lord.  
We should not be so arrogant to assume that we do not need this same equipment.  We can go to school and study doctrine for 50 years, and memorize the entire bible, and who knows what else.  Learning and studying and receiving training are all good and helpful and necessary...but learning and training are only part of what is needed.  
We will never come close to our potential if we neglect the supernatural empowerment that was spoken of by Jesus and is freely available to us even now.

It was a high priority to the early church at Jerusalem

Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. In this story, a disciple name Philip has gone to Samaria and "preached Christ to them" (Acts 8:5). His preaching was accompanied by demonstrations of of the power of God in healings, signs, and casting out demons.

Many people believed the gospel and received Jesus as their savior and were baptized in water (Acts 8:12).

Word got back to Jerusalem about what was going on.  When the believers in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans were getting saved, the first action they took was to send Peter and John on a ~40 mile trip to minister the baptism with the Holy Spirit to the new believers.
This shows the priority that was placed on this by the early church at Jerusalem.  It was at the top of their list for new believers to receive this.  They wasted no time in bringing this Holy Spirit baptism to the new Samaritan believers.

This attitude is one that we should emulate.  We should think about this the same way they did.  Whenever someone believes in Jesus and receives salvation, the very next thing that we should tell them about is the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  It is crucial, and the early church knew it.

It was a high priority to Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.

Read Acts 19:1-6.
Here is a summary.

Paul goes to a place named Ephesus.  He meets some people there that call themselves "disciples."  Paul assumes they are Christians and his first question to these new "discples" was "did you receive the Holy Spirit when you first believed?"

They answered "no, we didn't even know there was a Holy Spirit."

Paul is perplexed and asks more questions.  He learns that they are disciples of John the Baptist, but they haven't heard the gospel yet.

So Paul does the following:

1 - Explain (preach) the gospel of Jesus to them
2 - When they believe and receive, he baptizes them in water
3 - When they come up out of the water, he places his hands on them to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit...and they speak in tongues as they receive it.

Take a look at Paul's attitude here.  This is around 25-30 years after the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and the very first thing he asks new believers about is the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

When he finds out they aren't actually Christians yet, he leads them into salvation in Jesus, and then water baptism.  And then the next step is baptism with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.

This is our pattern.  This is our blueprint.  This is what it should look like.

I believe we as the body of Christ need to get our priorities in order.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Jesus vs demons - part 2

Mark 1:21-28
21 Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. 
22 And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
23 Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out,
24 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!”
26 And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.
27 Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”
28 And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.

Here is one of the first times we see Jesus in a showdown with a demon.  It isn't very much of a battle, but there are some interesting points we can get from this.

First of all, notice the setting...inside a synagogue on the Sabbath day.  The setting is not a mental hospital, or a prison for the insane.  It is a normal religious gathering, with Jesus doing the teaching.  This confrontation took place in the middle of something similar to a "church service" full of very religious people.

Demons are not relegated to primitive cultures, or to the seedy underworld under a full moon..  They operate in all kinds of settings, including church services, and sometimes even in church leadership (more on this in another post).  In this particular instance, it was a religious meeting where Jesus Himself is doing the teaching.  (That is a very interesting fact to consider when thinking about this subject.)

This was not an isolated case either.  Demonic manifestations were a regular occurrence whenever and wherever Jesus was ministering.  We see things like this taking place all through the gospels.  Jesus was stirring up a lot of trouble in the spirit realm. and it appears that the kingdom of darkness was not really prepared to deal with Him.

 If we are following the example of Jesus, we should expect to witness things like this on a regular basis (or at least every now and then).  Casting out demons is one third of our commission.  Remember...every time Jesus sent out anyone to represent Him, He gave equipment and authority for three activities:  announcing the gospel, healing the sick, and casting out demons.

Mark 16:17 - These signs will follow those that believe:  in my name they will cast out demons...."  

Notice that he said "in my name they will cast out demons."  They = those that believe = believers = us!  Notice that He didn't say "they will pray to me and I will cast out demons."  He said that believers will cast out demons in His name...on His behalf.  Jesus has shared His authority with all believers, and it is up to the believers to use it.  Now, let us take a look at the way Jesus used authority.


Jesus ended the battle in this story with one sentence spoken in authority.  "Be quiet, and come out of him."  It was a forceful command.  In the original language, the phrase "be quiet" literally means "be muzzled."  Jesus told the demon to put a muzzle on it.  He was telling the unclean spirit to "shut up and get out."

Jesus did not pray a long religious prayer.  In fact, He didn't even pray at all.  Instead, He gave an order.  He knew His authority, and He used it.  He spoke, not to the man, but to the spirit that was exerting control over the man.  Jesus evicted the demon, and set the man free.  This is the example we should follow.  Instead of kicking the person out of the meeting, we should kick the demon out of the person.

Now you may be saying to yourself  "yeah, but this was Jesus."  You need to remember that this is the exact same authority that belongs to every child of God.  If you have been born again into the family of God, if you have believed and received Jesus as your savior, then you have this same authority right now as you sit there reading this.  Let Jesus be your example, and start learning to use your authority!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The First Healing in the Bible

NOTE:  An updated version of this post is available on my new website.  It is located here:

When studying the bible, you can find some great truths if you examine the passages where a subject is first mentioned.  That concept is the basis for this article.  We are going to look at the first time divine healing is mentioned in the bible  It is found in Genesis chapter 20.  Here's a link to it on YouVersion.

Here is a brief summary of the story, along with a little background.

  • Abraham is married to Sarah.
  • Sarah is a very attractive woman.
  • Abraham is afraid of someone harming him in order to take his wife.
  • On several occasions, he asks Sarah to lie and say she is his sister.  

In Genesis 20, Abraham and Sarah journey to a city named Gerar.  The king of this city is named Abimilech.  Abimilech finds out about Sarah somehow, and he takes her to be in his harem.

Before Abimilech is able to have relations with Sarah, God warns him in a dream that she is Abraham's wife.  God makes it clear that it is in Abimilech's best interest to return her to her husband Abraham, because some bad stuff is going to happen if he doesn't.  In fact, he's going to die, and the women in his land are no longer able to have children

So, Abimilech returns Sarah to Abraham.  Then Abraham prays for healing for Abimilech and everybody else, and God heals them all.

That's it for the summary.  At first glance, it is a strange story that does not go the way most of think it should go.  I want to identify some principles based on this story that carry on throughout the bible and on into the present day.

1 - God works through flawed people.

Abraham is the one at fault here...he lied and caused this whole problem.  Yet, Abraham is the first person that God works through to demonstrate healing power.  This shows us that our ability to avoid sin is not a factor is whether or not we get to operate in divine healing.  Sin does not stop God's power.  God is bigger than our sin.

Sin is bad, don't get me wrong.  But, don't fall for the temptation to think that God won't use you because you aren't good enough.  Divine healing is based on God's divine goodness, not your human goodness.   This is huge, and it is the main point I want to get across in this article. Don't just read past this fact.  Let it take root.  God works through flawed people because that's all He has to choose from.

2 - The person that is ministering healing may be in need of a miracle as well.

At this time, Abraham and Sarah were childless.  They were not able to have children.  But, part of the healing that God ministered in this story was restoring the ability of the women in Gerar to conceive.

If you are fighting some kind of physical condition, don't let that be a roadblock that keeps you from stepping out in faith and ministering to others.  100% perfect health is not a prerequisite to be used in divine healing.  Don't disqualify yourself, and don't disqualify others, just because you (or they) are currently in a struggle with a sickness.

3 - Although the healing may be instant, the physical evidence may show up later.

Part of the healing that took place in this story was the restoration of the ability of the women to conceive.  Because of the nature of the healing, it would be a while before they could tell for sure what happened.  They were totally healed immediately, but they would have no physical evidence until they became pregnant.

Sometimes an action is required on the part of the "patient" in order to fully demonstrate the complete healing.  In this case, each woman would have to have relations with her husband, and then some time would have to pass before they would have some kind of physical proof that the healing was real.

4 - God does things differently than we do.  

I think most of us would expect some kind of punishment for Abraham.  It seems like the wrong guy is getting in trouble (Abimilech).  Now, he is not innocent either, according to our modern moral standards, but it seems like Abraham's dishonesty is the the real cause of all the trouble.  If he would have been truthful, then maybe this whole situation could have been avoided.

But, if you go back a few years in Abraham's history, back to Genesis 12, you will find that God made a promise to him.  God said "I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you."  God is simply keeping His promise here.  This promise wasn't conditional on Abraham's moral behavior.  It was based on the fact that Abraham believed what God said.

This is much like the promise we have from God.  If we will believe the gospel of Jesus, then He will not count any of our sins against us (past, present, or future), He will adopt us into His own family, give us eternal life, and make us a co-heir with Jesus.  And just like the promise to Abraham, this is not dependent on our ability or inability to keep a code of ethics.  It is dependent on whether or not we believe what God said about His Son.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Foolish Galatians

Galatians 3:1-5
1 - O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?
2 - This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 - Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
4 - Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
5 - Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Galatians is a letter that was written to some people that had become Christians as a result of Paul's preaching in their town.  When Paul first came to these people, he told them the good news about Jesus.  Jesus had paid the price for their sins, and now God was offering eternal life to them.  They believed the message, accepted the offer, and were born into God's family and kingdom.

From the context of the entire letter, it is apparent that they also had seen some demonstrations of the supernatural power of God.  And not only had they seen God's power in operation, they were beginning to operate in this power themselves.

At some point, Paul moved on to the next town and some religious leaders came in here behind him and started trying to put additional requirements on these people.  These new believers were being told that they had to keep the rules and regulations of Judaism (a.k.a "works of the law") in order to be in right standing with God.

When Paul found out about this, he wrote this letter that we call "Galatians."  In this letter, he is very upset, and uses some very strong  language.  He is urging these new believers to reject this false teaching.

We get great benefit from being able to read this letter, because there are some very powerful truths contained in the arguments that Paul set forth under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

1 - A person's entry into God's kingdom has nothing to do with any religious activities.

These people simply believed the message Paul brought to them.  That's it.  They weren't keeping the Sabbath, going to church, praying, paying tithes, reading the bible, or anything like that.  They didn't even have a bible because there weren't any bibles yet.  There weren't even any churches there yet.  They probably didn't even know about most of that stuff.  They just believed what Paul said about Jesus.  God was extending peace to these people through an offer that is almost too good to be true.  If they would believe this message about Jesus, God would adopt them as sons and welcome them into His eternal kingdom.

2 - Operating in the power of God is not enhanced by keeping religious rules or traditions.  In fact, it can be hindered by that stuff.

God works through people that exercise faith...people that take Him at His word.  He doesn't require us to be perfect in our behavior and obedience as a prerequisite   Jesus already took care of all prerequisites on our behalf.  We just need to believe it.  Check it out...

2 Corinthians 5:21
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him 

You see, Jesus has already made amends for all of our failures and shortcomings.  Our failure to meet the standards has already been dealt with once for all time.  So, we are no longer viewed by God as sinners who are trying to get better.  We are viewed by Him in the same way He views Jesus....totally righteous.

With that in mind, take a fresh look at this phrase again from Galatians chapter 3, verse 5. It is a very amazing statement:

He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

God supplies the Spirit to us and works miracles among us as we act in faith.  This is not limited by a person's maturity level, nor is it limited by a person's ability to avoid sin.  It is limited by unbelief.  As far as I have been able to understand, the only thing that can limit God operating in power through us is unbelief.

Unbelief comes in many forms.  Here are a few of the most powerful ways that we can be drawn into unbelief.

1 - Trying to work to earn the right or privilege to operate in the power of God is actually a form of unbelief.  The very act of trying to earn it shows that you don't believe it is freely given.  Ouch.

2 - Trusting in human religious tradition rather than in God is also a form of unbelief.  Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:
  • If you are part of an organization that believes that miracles were only for the days of the original apostles, then you will will be tempted to agree with that, and you can find yourself in unbelief towards the power of God working in you or in others today.  
  • If you believe that miracles are done through the pastor or the priest or any other title, but not through those without a religious title, then you will also be in unbelief towards the power of God working through you.  
  • If you believe God doesn't heal people that have sin in their life, then you will be in unbelief towards the "gifts" of healings.  You will disqualify people based on their addictions, habits, behaviors, sexual preferences, and etc.  You will be trusting in man's ability to perform rather than God's grace to give freely to those in need, and draw them to Himself through His love and kindness.  That is unbelief.
Our main enemy, most of the time, is not the devil, and it is not sin.  It is unbelief.  As Jesus said, all things are possible to him to believes.  We need to believe, and let this foolishness loosen its grip on us.