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The Fullness of the Holy Spirit

 

 

By Louis​​ Warren Salvesen

(1921 – 2018)

He lived in Mt. Vernon, Washington, USA

 

The writer taught the Bible in a series of articles

he called “Fullness​​ Bible Study”. He was definitely one who held

The ‘Acts-28 Belief” like myself. ​​ Jan Lilleby. ​​​​ 

 

 

 ​​​​ Today we see and hear on the radio and TV, much talk about "getting the Spirit". Usually the emphasis​​ is put upon physical activity and runs all the way from the conservative idea of being kind and doing​​ good, to "talking in tongues", or "healing", or even "driving out demons".

 

But these people fail to distinguish between what in the Bible applies to us today, and what applied to​​ other people at other times. The physical work of the Holy Spirit, which consisted of visible miraculous​​ acts was in effect when God was dealing with His physical nation, Israel. Then things were on a​​ physical​​ or sensual level. As was stated in the last issue, people then, and in fact all the way back to​​ Adam, saw the miraculous physically, and in turn needed to respond in a physical way. Justification​​ was by faith plus works. Faith was a formal thing and needed to be proven by doing good works.

 

But God ceased to deal with the nation of Israel, the final signal of this, being the destruction of the​​ temple in 70 A.D. after the classic 40 year period (30-70 A.D.) of trial and testing for Israel, many​​ instances of which​​ occur throughout the history of that nation.

 

One instance of the physical aspect of the Holy Spirit's work in that past era is found in Acts 1, where​​ just prior to the ascension of Christ, He tells His disciples in V. 9, that they "shall receive power after​​ the Holy Spirit has come upon you...'. We see that this happened at the Jewish feast of Pentecost in​​ chap. 2 where a miraculous manifestation took place. The book of Acts records many instances of the​​ miraculous.

 

But in God's present administration, the work of the Holy Spirit is totally invisible. It consists of giving​​ knowledge to those who choose to attune themselves to it, and though invisible, is actually the greatest​​ work and fullest accomplishment of all. To take advantage of all the spiritual knowledge available​​ today would place the believer in a better relationship to God, and be more truly self-satisfying than if​​ he could do all the miracles of that bygone age.​​ In the book of Ephesians, which with Colossians​​ explains about this present administration, Paul prays in Ephesians 1:17, that God would give them,​​ "the spirit of wisdom in the revelation of him...". No more are miracles spoken of; here is something​​ greater. It is now, "to know the love of Christ, and be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians​​ 3:19.

 

Should we desire to "get the Spirit"? We certainly should. There is more to getting it now than there​​ was in any other administration of God. But it is vital to understand the work of the Spirit now. There​​ are many people trying to live as in a past age, believing they have powers which have passed away.​​ Some naively believe they can work miracles, and some have been deceived by pretenders who take​​ advantage of the gullibility of the public. Some try to take the place of Israel with its temple. They​​ build large ornate churches, thereby symbolically rebuilding that temple, and desk the ministers on​​ colorful flowing robes, unconsciously symbolizing the priests of Israel with the sacrifices, but the Bible​​ says that all this is now an empty form. Time has passed it by and the present reality as far as Scripture​​ is concerned is that now the key to true communion with God lies not in the form but in the faith based​​ on understanding.

 

"Getting the Spirit" today consists of obtaining an understanding of certain deeper truths. In the Bible​​ story those who "got the Spirit" did become capable​​ of miraculous works and inspiration, but today the​​ stories one hears of miracles do not stand analysis. An example of the foolishness of those looking for​​ miracles today is shown in today's paper which carries the story of a group in Arkansas where "25​​ persons are closeted in a small brick house waiting for the second coming of Christ...the vigil began 70​​ days ago with believers abandoning their homes and jobs." These people should be intelligent enough​​ to know that groups and individuals are doing this sort of thing constantly with no success at​​ all. Yet​​ they go ahead and try it again. They are like the one who touches a hot stove even after watching others​​ burn themselves.

 

Today the Holy Spirit operates not through the spectacularly miraculous, but through what is​​ apparently the normal. If we wish to be in harmony, we need to work through the normal rules of​​ procedure which means the recognized tools of study, and a mental attitude conducive to correct​​ inquiry. We must subdue our own ego to the rules and regulations of investigation. It is very important​​ to accept the authority, for instance, of the dictionary. So many Bible students are inventing their own​​ definitions of words, definitions which suit their own purposes.

 

If the Bible is true, it must be relatively clear. So it has to be that most "theological" differences are​​ really severe egotistical battles between determined personalities. These men are admittedly intelligent​​ persons. If they sincerely can't agree, then is the Bible beyond comprehension? It is submitted that the​​ fault lies with the "scholars".

 

The fact is​​ that "getting the Spirit" must include subduing one's own ego. When one does this, one can​​ begin to see things as they really are. It should not take genius to see that the many miracles spoken of​​ in the Bible as occurring in apostolic times are not going on today. Neither is it hard to see that​​ Christianity at that time was dominated by those among whom it started, the Jews. It should not be hard​​ to see,​​ that the situation we have today is​​ a​​ domination​​ by Gentiles​​ which​​ was started by the Apostle Paul. The​​ Jews today point this out, for they say flatly that Christianity was not started by Christ at all, but by​​ Paul. If this seems obvious to them, must there not be something in the Bible story giving rise to this​​ idea?

 

It is constantly stated in this paper that Ephesians and Colossians are unique in that they​​ present a new message different from the program of that day when the Spirit was working in​​ a visible, formal way. That this uniqueness is quite evident can be seen from the notes on​​ these books in a certain Bible, which says regarding Ephesians: "Very similar in theme and​​ language to the Epistle to the Colossians...this Epistle's central thought is the Church​​ regarded as the mystical body of Christ..." Regarding Colossians: "The Epistle to the​​ Colossians bears a remarkable resemblance to the Epistle to the Ephesians...The two​​ Epistles should be read and studied together."

 

What Bible is this quoted from? Interestingly, it is from the notes in the Roman Catholic New​​ Testament known as the New Catholic Revised Version published in 1941.

 

This can be considered quite a neutral source, since the Roman Catholic Church in no way considers​​ Paul to be introducing anything different from what Peter or the other apostles had been teaching all​​ along. But you see here that they recognize something quite distinct about these epistles and they use​​ the word "mystical" which would indicate a difference from what can be considered "material" or​​ visible.

 

There was a travelogue on TV recently about the Holy Lands. The speaker was not a churchman, but he​​ made a very interesting statement. He said "When Saint Paul traveled on his journeys, he always went​​ into the synagogues first and preached to the Jews." The speaker stated this not as a "theological" point,​​ but as a simple historical fact. Yet those who are saying this is a theological point are considered​​ "radicals" because they say the period covered by the book of Acts is related to the hope of the nation​​ of Israel, and is not the program for today.

 

The role of the Holy Spirit today, is directly related to the overall program which is in force now. We​​ cannot understand this role unless we know the difference between this present program and the one​​ before. We need to see the destruction of the temple as a landmark in the Bible.

 

The program today consists of a silent heaven as far as the miraculous is concerned, and this is the role​​ of the Holy Spirit now. His role now is in the realm of the abstract, it is to lead us into the knowledge of​​ God. But knowledge is really the greatest power in the universe. God Himself is only as close as is our​​ knowledge of Him. Understanding makes all the difference, and understanding is what this present​​ dispensation is all about. we now have the completed Word and almost unlimited scientific knowledge,​​ things undreamed of in other ages. This is the age of Knowledge.

 

While the world makes use of​​ the scientific knowledge for its own material purposes, the believer may​​ use this knowledge to help understand the things taught in the completed Word. It is the work of the​​ Holy Spirit today, to guide the believer into a correct use of this information, so he may interpret what​​ he sees around him in a balanced way, not becoming over emotional or too coldly logical.

 

One key word which can be used to describe the Biblical administration today is the word depth. The​​ apostle Paul uses this word in Ephesians when he prays that the believers may "know the depth of the​​ love of Christ...". In this way they could "be filled with all the fullness of God."

 

This word depth is very important because it is the opposite of what we see all around us, which is​​ superficiality. People are looking at what is on the surface,​​ and accepting that, instead of digging​​ underneath for the whole truth. It is very important to realize that in every false story a certain amount​​ of truth is included to make it look reasonable. We see this on every hand. It is a false face which is put​​ on but underneath that face is something of a different nature.

 

It is interesting to note that most all of those claiming some kind of Biblical "authority", tell their​​ adherents not to read or listen to opposition material. This is in direct opposition to the nature of the​​ present administration of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit, which is based on guiding a person into​​ truth by an observation and study of all of the phenomena around him. There can be o depth to one's​​ knowledge if all one ever hears is one side of the story.

 

The editor believes he "got the Spirit" when he made that firm decision to "turn from man" years ago. It​​ left him with a feeling of deep security which has not receded. It was not accompanied by any desire​​ for physical extroversion. It was not at any emotional "rally". not based on anyone being "healed", but​​ rather based upon very careful, solitary, meditation. It was not without emotion, for that is necessary;​​ the key word is balance. It is by this means we, today, attune to the Holy Spirit.

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By Jan Lilleby

(All quotes are from Ampl. Bible)

 

 ​​ ​​​​ Paul was in jail for the second time when he wrote these words. The first time​​ he was under the Emperor Nero’s justice system, was when he had been taken into custody because he reported his case to his Appeal Court​​ due to the false accusations from the leaders in Jerusalem. Nero let Paul free from the custody and case was settled with Paul as innocent.

The custody-period we can learn from reading Acts’ three last chapters, starting in Acts 25:10. But we are not told of any specific ways (juridically) how it happened that the Emperor let Paul go. We only know that Paul lived in a rented lodging for about two full years.

Acts 28: 16 and 30 says:

“When we arrived at Rome,​​ the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard, but Paul was permitted to live by himself​​ with the soldier that guarded him. ​​ - - - …Paul lived there for two entire years in his own rented lodging, and he welcomed all who came to him.”

It is especially in the epistle to the Colossians that we find clues that let us know that he at that time had been cast in a Roman jail, for some reason. In his salutes to them he wrote – Col. 4:10 –​​ “Aristarchus​​ my fellow prisoner​​ wishes to be remembered to you…”.

Paul had no fellow prisoner as he was in custody in his hired rooms. In Roman prisons there often were at least two-three prisoners up to 5-6 at times, really making it a crowded uncomfortable experience.

So there can be no doubt that both the epistles​​ to the Ephesians and to the Colossians​​ was written in the time he was in a real Roman jail as a detainee. Check Eph. 3:1 –​​ “..I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus the Christ…”.​​ Some historians have suggested that it could have been because of the disastrous fire in Rome 64 A.D. – for which Nero put the blame upon Jews and Christians and other minorities in town. Shortly thereafter the Emperor had many tied to poles​​ around his huge garden, and​​ burnt​​ them alive as living torches. Films have been made of this, I have seen some of them years back. But we find no Biblical word of that action, so we cannot​​ hold this as true. Nero was assassinated​​ by one of his own security guards. This young Emperor was looked upon as a psychopath and maniac​​ by many; only rivaled by the mad Gaius Caligula.

However, Paul, as he wrote from his prison cell in Rome – probably 63-64 A.D.​​ - gave his exhortations in writing, without allowing the gloomy perspective of that dark threatening jail cell to hold him​​ back.

Paul allowed himself to use a​​ metaphor of armament​​ like that of a Roman soldier, clad in heavy strong materials of metal and leather, and a razor sharp Roman battle sword and a huge shield and a strong helmet with side-protection as well as that typical metal breastplate. But he put forth his teaching on this in the spirit of​​ defensive measures,​​ and not as attacking​​ ‘Christian Warriors”.

We are​​ not​​ supposed to go forth like that crazy and unscriptural movement known as “Word-Faith Movement” – which also kept on with so-called “Spiritual Warfare” – trying to command Satan​​ around. There is no way that the Christian churches have ever been granted such authority, as to go commanding Satan and his fallen angel armies. But the apostles had real authority given them by Christ in The Holy Ghost, and they cast out demons and healed the sick. I thought I should mention this, since such words as those found in Eph. 6 have been greatly misunderstood over the years.

A Roman soldier was one who experienced both to be an​​ attacker, as well as one who would line up in​​ defense. The image here shows how a soldier looked like at that time. The red feather comb on top of his helmet, was a token of​​ superior commander​​ over his soldiers, he was a Centurion.

I believe that Paul (who actually had contact with Roman soldiers most of his later years), must have had this kind of armament/armor​​ in mind when he wrote to the Ephesians.

 

Eph. 6:11:

“Put on God’s whole armor, that you may be able successfully to stand up against all the strategies and the deceits of the devil.”

Verse 12:

“For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood, but against the despotisms, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly sphere.”

Verse 13:

“Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.”

 

Paul tells us why we have to be ‘armed’ – that is, protected against attacks from the spiritual world. The occult satanic world with its fallen angel powers.

Verse 12 has been, and still is, debated in Christendom…thus it is interpreted in several ways.

It has been often taken very wrongly, like the example I mentioned above with the ‘Word-Faith’ movement and other Charismatic groups. The expression used by Paul,​​ wrestling,​​ has made many think that this means to attack the evil forces of Satan. Going into battle with the devil.

But I am utterly convinced that the armament in verse 13​​ is of​​ protective nature,​​ and we are not meant to go chasing Satan as wild-goose-chase fanatics.

This is why Paul repeats himself from verse 11, that we should​​ therefore​​ (pointing to the evil forces in verse 12) put on God’s complete armor (Verse 13).

If we do that, we shall be able to be standing upright and in ‘one piece’ unharmed…after having over won it all.

Any attacks from the evil spiritual world under the leadership of Satan, should not result in any of us going down and out. We shall be standing tall, by faith in Christ, after any such battle.

Our full armor is described​​ by Paul in verses 14-18, as follows:

“Stand therefore, having tightened​​ the belt of truth​​ around your loins and having put on the​​ breastplate of integrity​​ and of moral rectitude and right standing with God.

15: And having shod your feet in​​ preparation of the Gospel of peace.

16: Lift up over all​​ the shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles (arrows) of the wicked one.

17: And take the​​ helmet of salvation​​ and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.

18: Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all manner of prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch​​ with strong purpose and perseverance,​​ interceding in behalf of all the saints.”

If it could be some problems with the interpretation of verse 12, I have to admit that the stakes have been raised a few notches as we read Paul’s detailed​​ explanation on that armor described. But don’t forget now that Paul wrote of a defense tactics of​​ spiritual nature, not physical. The armor of the soldier is but a metaphor, but​​ one that we must take seriously.

I will allow myself to give the following ‘interpretation’ – leaving it up to the reader to eventually accept this or not.​​ 

Verse 14:​​ The belt around our waist is very important. It keeps the armor for upper body steadily in place so that it shall not become an obstacle in battle. It needs to be held tightly in place, fit for battle of defense. The​​ truth​​ here points to the Gospel which we shall hold forth, Paul also calls it​​ The Word of Truth.​​ But it has to go with the breastplate which protects against sword-strokes aimed at our hearts and lungs. We have to be honest in our faith, and shy away from doubtful enterprises, like for instance the​​ love of money and of living double-lives​​ (Eph. 5:5). I am not talking of​​ Sinless Perfection​​ in any way, but to​​ sustain a true life in the faith​​ in Christ as Paul so often held forth in his writings.

Verse 15: ​​​​ The image of​​ having shoes on our feet​​ is​​ a​​ spiritual hint towards us​​ going out with the Gospel of​​ grace salvation. It must be​​ preached​​ to the world. Paul called his Gospel here for​​ The Gospel of Peace.

Verse 16: ​​​​ Here Paul exhorts us to​​ put our faith in Christ before all things. As opposed to works or science/knowledge. It is clearly by​​ faith​​ that we are saved, and it is the gift of God, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8, 9). This kind of faith is like a strong spiritual shield with which we can quench all the fiery darts of the devil. And believe me: The devil is really busy shooting his darts (or missiles) at us! But we stand fast and firm in the faith in Christ.​​ As victors not losers.​​ 

I love that slogan which once was used by​​ Rev.​​ A.A. Allen, you know, that infamous Pentecostal Charismatic​​ healer evangelist​​ known for doing a lot of hoax operating from Miracle Valley, Arizona - - for he was absolutely correct in his slogan:​​ Born to Lose, Bound to Win! ​​​​ In spite of all his peculiar hoaxes and trickery ways of ‘healings’ – he was right about this.​​ We are all actually losers by nature, a nature we have from Adam. But by​​ faith in Christ​​ we are found being totally victorious, because of the grace of God! We are bound to win.

Verse 17: ​​​​ Here we are told to put on the helmet of salvation and to swing the sword of the Spirit. We all understand what this points to: Keep sound minds and be diligent, use the sword (God’s Word) as the situation will demand of us. Teach it and preach it! But be​​ protected​​ and keep a sound clear mind and conscience.

Verse 18: ​​​​ Paul added his well-known exhortation of​​ the believers to​​ pray at all times,​​ and to stay in strict​​ perseverance​​ doing so. This indicates that we cannot always see an immediate result of our prayers – but​​ we keep on​​ even if we don’t​​ see any results. Knowing that the importance is in​​ the prayer as far as we are concerned,​​ but God decides​​ the result, the prayer answer. Prayer can solve a manifold of problems - that is for sure.

 

Colossians 2:15 is often seen as controversial to Eph. 6:12

 ​​​​ Some believers are caught up in uncertainty when reading Col. 2:15 up against Eph. 6:12. ​​ - ​​ Col. 2:15 says,

​​ God disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it (the cross)”.

Many read this as if these powers and principalities have been paralyzed and disabled, and thus cannot do neither good nor evil to anyone. That makes some uncertain as to how we shall understand Eph. 6:12, and the evil powers and rulers we are supposed to defend ourselves against. Why bother, - Col. 2:15 say they have been put down and ridiculed for all to see.​​ (?)

But the solution in this dilemma of interpretation can be found if we​​ first​​ find the correct context. We have to read the verse before and a few verses after Col. 2:15.

Verse 14: “Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us. This He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to His cross”.

Verse 16: “Therefore let no one sit in judgement on you in matters of food and drink, or with regard to a feast day or a New Moon or a Sabbath”.

Verse 17: Such are only the shadow of things that are to come, and they have only a symbolic value, but the reality belongs to Christ”.

Pauls emphasis here,​​ seem to be upon the​​ Jewish members​​ of the assembly​​ – those who had previously lived under the Law and ordinances. Verse 14 has a strong bias towards​​ law keeping, which now finally had been​​ cancelled by Jesus​​ on the cross, taking the Law with Him. This was true only of the Jews, not the Gentile believer.​​ (Rom. 2:14) - We Gentiles  ​​​​ “…had not the Law…”.

The​​ powers and principalities​​ (verse 15) which was burdening down these Jewish law-keepers, had been shut down and made total ridicule of by Jesus on the cross,​​ triumphing over them. They could no longer torment and smite the Jewish believers…acting as accusers (like Satan),​​ for Christ took away all their sin and ‘killed’ the Law entirely.

Col. 2:15 is about what the evil and accusing spiritual powers did against them previously, and not something which should concern us Gentile believers. We have never been under the Law – we never was charged to keep Sabbath, New Moon celebrations, Holidays and the ordinances regarding food and drink. Only the Jews had to abide by that in the times​​ before Paul had revealed to him the free Grace Gospel – the Mystery.​​ Reading Eph. 2:14, 15 we learn of the Law of Moses​​ having been abolished, including all the commandments and ordinances.

Thank God for the free unmerited Grace salvation given by faith in Christ!

 

 

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