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Any questions?

I've written a fair bit about the bible being a thoroughly Christian book.  (See for instance the Christ in OT tab above).  My position might be summarized like this:

Jesus is the one Revelation of an otherwise unknowable God.  It is therefore Christ who has always been the appearing, hands-on LORD and He has always been the true and consciously-trusted Object of faith for all believers in all ages. Saving faith has always been personal trust in the Person of the Mediator.  And whatever progress in explanation or understanding there may have been throughout the OT - it is the progress of the LORD Christ Himself marching towards His own incarnation.

As far as I can see the good guys in church history have agreed. But unfortunately, at least in the circles I move in, people are more familiar with a kind of pop-biblical-theology that has lost touch with this historical position.  And so people naturally enough have questions.  One reader has emailed me a number of them and I'm sure others of you have more.  I thought I'd compile a list of FAQs and then I (and hopefully some others) would have a go at answering them.

Here are the questions emailed to me:

- Is Jesus The Wisdom in the wisdom literature? Or is Wisdom heavenly information to help us live for God?

- What is the message of Job?

- Is the New Covenant better than the Old?  In what way?

- Were OT saints more worse off, or have anything ‘less’ than NT saints in any way?

- It is clear throughout Romans that without the Spirit of God indwelling man he cannot know Him. Do you think this is solely a New Testament prerequisite? Surely King David (with all his sin) was only kept because he had the redeeming, indwelling Spirit which would not let him go, and wasn’t this the definitive difference between him and Saul?

-How should we deal with the physical prosperity promises in the OT? Are they promises that can be claimed today? What about the revival promises of the OT e.g. 2 Chron 7. If my people humble themselves etc. Can these be claimed today?

- Should a result of us having the NT and, therefore, more detail of certain doctrines of God be that we can know more of Him? Is this how we are better off?

-Is John the Baptist ‘least of all the saints’ because he was from the OT era?

- Isn't it obvious that we have progressed in sanctification since the OT since today we would never invite a Samson to preach?

Please add other questions you would like to see answers to, and/or tell me which of these you'd particularly like to hear about...

45 thoughts on “Any questions?

  1. Tim V-B

    In the New Covenant the LORD promises that his Spirit will indwell us and he will write his laws on our hearts. This is presented as the answer to all of Israel's backsliding. So why has the church since then been just as bad?

    (Maybe the answer is - the church has, in fact, been much better. But I will need persuading!)

  2. Bird Brain

    How can I explain to a non-Christian that God created the world to glorify His son?
    Sorry if that's a bit random but I was pondering it earlier...

  3. Rich Owen


    Good question.

    The mystery in Eph 1:9 is explained in verse 10 as the bringing of unity of all things under Christ.

    This helps us out a lot when looking at how Paul talks about the mystery in ch3 verse 6. He tells us what the mystery is. He says "this mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus"

    How does Jesus sum all the cosmos up into Himself, bringing the seen and unseen together? How does he take the whole of humanity into himself, bringing us all together and giving birth to a new humanity from Himself? It's AMAZING that he does this. That is the mystery.

    So what is cool is that this mystery is not a secret. Gentile inclusion into Israel was taking place through Israel's history, and was prophetically spoken of as well. The tabernacle showed how creation "worked" and is focused on the High Priest ascending to the Most Holy and coming back out to bring rich blessing.

    So the "mystery" was not a secret, nor was it "hidden in plain sight". It just hadn't actually happened. The dividing wall hadn't actually come down yet. The resurrection had not taken place yet. And even looking back, knowing about the mystery, I dare not think that I know it all. Even the angels long to look into these truths, and praise Jesus, we will have all eternity to enjoy plumbing the depths of the mystery of Christ, the head of the new creation.

    Is that helpful?


  4. John B

    These are all great questions here! For me, #5 on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is of particular interest. My related question is, what does the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost mean for salvation? How does this apply to old covenant and new covenant saints?

  5. Josh VB

    A few quick questions:

    In what sense does the new wine burst the old wineskins?

    Why does the gospel appear much clearer in the NT?

    Does the incarnation give us any more revelation about God?


    A bigger question I have is why the scepticism about Christ being in the OT? It's almost as if many people wish he wasn't there, and therefore adopt a very high standard of proof to be convinced otherwise.

  6. Dave K

    Hi Rich,

    If I am understanding you, you seem to be saying that 'the mystery' is:

    1. not knowledge of something but an act, so OT saints had knowledge of 'the thing' but it just hadn't happened.
    2. the knowledge of 'the thing' which both OT and NT saints share, is a very limited knowledge and really remains a mystery.

    This doesn't seem to fit to me.

    The mystery "was kept secret for long ages" and "hidden for ages" (Rom 16:25 ; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26). It "was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed".

    It has now "now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations", "revealed" (Rom 16:26; Col 1:26). It is "proclaimed" now and is something we can "understand" (Eph 6:19; Rom 11:25).

    There is a clear contrast of hidden -> revealed. I don't see that in point 2 of my summary of how I understand you. Instead it seems that everything has always been half-hidden and half-known.

    There is also a big emphasis on knowledge and facts in Paul. Again I don't see that in point 1 of my summary of how I understand you.

    You quoted Ephesians as a summary of what the mystery is, but isn't 1 Tim 3:16 better?

    "Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

    He was manifested in the flesh,
    vindicated by the Spirit,
    seen by angels,
    proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
    taken up in glory."

    Ephesians emphasises just one aspect of the mystery, the "believed on in the world". But 1 Tim 3:16 is more comprehensive, and also more storied.

    But I imagine that doesn't fit your paradigm so much because it suggests that there was a lot more that was hidden to the OT saints than just the inclusion of the Gentiles.

    But to here Paul speak it is clear that the inclusion of the Gentiles was a consequence of Jesus being "manifested in the flesh" and then being brought to new life. If the OT saints knew that this was going to happen then they would have also known that the Gentiles were going to be included.

    Of course in the OT you do see how the Gentiles are included, but they are always included by becoming Jews! That is pure "law" as Paul argued.

    Instead when we find that Jesus identifies with the lawbreakers, and joins them in their just punishment but then lifts them up to new law-free life, then the Gentiles are included but not by becoming Jews - but just as I am, without one plea..."

    I have been persuaded round to seeing that the OT saints knew the Son as their saviour in the OT. They also knew that Israel must suffer and die, but then rise again. They didn't know that the Son and Israel would unite together in one person.

    That's my perspective at least.

    Also think the newness of the Holy Spirit being sent by Jesus should be downplayed. Jim Hamilton has explained the difference between OT/NT most clearly for me on that front.

    PS Rich, I've got a new job and may be moving to Leeds this Sept. Maybe I'll also end up at CEC. We shall see. I'm currently at York Evangelical.

  7. Si

    1) What makes the new covenant new?
    2) How would you answer accusations of downplaying, and even rejecting, the special role of Israel?
    3) How would 'average Joe' go about getting those in his church to love the OT as Christian?

  8. Joe Dent

    Why don't we get the clear Trinitarian formulations in the OT that we get in the NT? eg Matt 28:19, 2 Cor 13:14.

    Thanks for your blog, Glen, it's very helpful!

  9. Chris W

    - If the Old Testament is clearly and overtly Christocentric, then why isn't it all that obvious to most people?

    If you can manage to answer all of these without stepping on too many toes of controversy (especially with regard to the nature of the NT covenant community, the relation between the covenants & the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit), then you'll have done well. Good luck! :)

  10. John B

    Hi Dave K,

    Thanks so much for the link to the Jim Hamilton article. I'm very intrigued by his thinking on this topic, and grateful to have learned about him, courtesy of your link. This scratches an itch for me. Thanks again!

  11. Glen

    Thanks for all those questions. Will add them to the list.

    Keep them coming if you have more...

    On the issue of mystery, I'd say there are a number of different mysteries in the NT. E.g. "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed." (1 Cor 15:51). 1 Tim 3 is a different mystery to this and a different mystery to Eph 3 etc.

    The mystery that is explicitly about OT => NT difference is Romans 16 / Colossians 1 / Ephesians 3. It's the administration of Gentile inclusion - that Gentiles are included *as* Gentiles. So much of the NT is about this - kosher diets, circumcision. It's a new thing to have to handle. No-one struggles with incarnation or trinity anything like as much!

    And I'd say that 1 Peter 1 makes it clear that the prophets were prophesying about *Christ's* suffering and glory.

  12. Dave K

    I suppose there is no way to show conclusively that the 1 Tim 3 mystery is the same (although I think the way it is phrased as "THE mystery of faith/godliness" suggests it is the same thing).

    Eph 3:4, Col 2:2, 4:3 says it is the mystery "of Christ" and Col 1 says it is "Christ in you, the hope of glory". The inclusion of the Gentiles is certainly the hot topic, but it would seem to come out of the mystery of Christ crucified for Paul. This would explain why in Galatians (all about the inclusion of Gentiles) Paul is always talking about Christ crucified and the "faith" that is now "revealed" and never mentions "the mystery". In 2 Cor 3-4 it is "the gospel" itself that was veiled but which Christ has revealed.

    To Paul it is precisely because they are struggling with the incarnation/crucifixion that they are struggling with the inclusion of the Gentiles. They may not have thought they were struggling with the incarnation/crucifixion but he perceives that their problem with Gentile inclusion was a fruit of a deeper lack of faith.

    1 Pet 1 does make clear that the OT saints knew about the suffering and glory of Christ. But did they know that the Christ would be the Son of God. I am aware I may get skewered for this, but weren't Jesus' contemporaries expecting a human-only Messiah through whom GOD would save them? I.e. can you show that in the OT the God who saves, and the human/people through whom he would save would be the same person?

    Look I managed to drag out a question at the end! I'm very bad at asking questions... too proud.

  13. Rich Owen

    Hi Dave K (and Glen)

    Thanks for your reply! Good stuff in there that made me think.

    I guess I was thinking primarily of Ephesians, as Paul raised that question in relation to Ephesians and I take your point that I could have gone outside for a wider picture.

    On Gentile inclusion - Glen says it well - now it is *as* Gentiles so that they no longer have to become Jews and move to Israel. And I've no problem with saying that is new.

    I guess I'd fall back on the fact that, whether there is more than one mystery or just the one, that aspects of the mystery are and have always been known. New stuff is indeed added, but that doesn't change the fact that aspects, and crucially, the saving aspects have always been available through the years. I am saved, I have understanding, I know of the acts, I can see detail being added to the saving truth through all scripture, but I don't know it all - on Resurrection morning I will know as I am known. I think there is an unfolding of the truth, but that doesn't mean that what is there at the start is not sufficient for salvation. There is and always has been Christ the truth (good name for a blog, no?), who is knowable and known, and we go deeper into this knowing.

    It's like when my boy (nearly 3) tells me he loves Jesus, that Jesus is God, that Jesus is a man, that Jesus died for sin, that Jesus rose from the dead etc that he has enough to be saved. I think he does. But he doesn't understand what vicarious righteousness is, or what difference homoousios makes or whatever. We go on being saved, we go deeper into the mystery, through the mystery and it is wonderful.

    It would be great to see you in Leeds some time - whenever the time comes, drop me a line richowenemail at gmail dot com.


  14. Glen

    Hi Dave,

    I'll take that last question as an official one and add it to the list. It deserves a thorough answer.

    But for now, the gist of my answer might be to point to Psalms: The Ideal King / Anointed One / Son of God is the most excellent of men and God from God, Lord from Lord. Or Isaiah: The King, High and Lifted up is the LORD who is also the Servant who is the Mighty God who is the Anointed, who suffers and is glorified, etc, etc. Psalm 2 or Isaiah 9 would be obvious places where it's all in together.

    That's not to say I think my case hangs by a couple of Scriptures, I think the best assumption (the one that makes best sense of the Hebrew Scriptures in their own context) is that the Israelites knew a multi-personal God - The LORD and His Christ / the Most High and His Angel, etc, etc. That the Christ (the Ideal King) was divine is all over the OT and when Jesus makes a simple reference to Psalm 110 it stops everyone's mouth (Mark 12:37).

  15. Matthew Weston

    Very broad, but something I've been thinking about while reading through Leviticus:

    What are we to make of the OT Law, which Jesus says he fulfils, when it just seems a little random/backward? (For example, why is a woman considered unclean for longer when she gives birth to a female child? In what way does Jesus fulfil those kind of laws, and in what way does the Law testify to him?)

  16. Dave K

    Hi Glen and Rich,

    Just read when Jesus refers to Psalm 110 in Matthew and it reminded me that I'd never come back to reply to you guys. It is clear that Jesus does see it as proving that 'the Christ' in the OT had to be the Son of God. I realised I haven't done any reading from the perspective of you both so I've just ordered Paul Levy's book. Will think about it all.


  17. Chris W

    Sorry to ask another question!

    I was wondering, most evangelicals seem pretty convinced on the basis of the NT that the temple described in Ezekiel 40-48 represents Christ. What evidence is there, though, that the Old Testament Saints would have understood the text this way and not as a reference to a literal temple? I'm not disagreeing with the perspective necessarily, I'm just interested. I think most would probably say that promises like this one are fulfilled in Christ but weren't about him in their original context. This sounds like something that you would disagree with!

  18. Glen

    DOn't be sorry. I want more questions.

    Will definitely add that one to the list. I remember writing an essay about that very question at bible college. I'll have to dust it off (in more ways than one!)

  19. Jacky

    I've had a read of Jim Hamilton's stuff in the past - I have trouble agreeing with him, on the basis of his (almost entire) reliance on working outwards from John 7:39 and John 14:16-17. His assumptions would be very different if he was to, say, work outwards from Revelation 13:8 or 1 John 2:7-8 (can't think of the other examples on the top of my head).

    That said, I am interested to know how Old Testament believers could be saved if they were not given the Holy Spirit as a deposit if Jim Hamilton were spot on (by this, I don't mean a 'filling' like the Spirit filling Balaam or Saul at random occasions). To me, Abraham Kuyper and Thomas Goodwin seemed to have argued quite persuasively in their respective writings on the Holy Spirit that without the (indwelling of - or their equivalent term) Spirit, the OT believers could not be caught up in God's redemption in exactly the same way as us NT/post-NT believers (by OT/NT I mean the time period, not the covenental distinction).

  20. Matt F

    These may be some basic questions/comments but hey, if I don't ask I might never learn!

    When people say that Old Testament believers will be saved by faith in Christ what kind of knowledge of Christ did they have and how if it was through types or symbols is it not idolatry? (i.e. to whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?)
    How does this knowledge differ from those who live after the Incarnation?
    When I see LORD in the OT how do I know whether it's referring to the Father or to the Son?

    Part of it is I just think I'm blind - I don't know that unless Paul had said it that I would see that "they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:4. This makes me feel a lack of confidence in reading the OT like the NT believers did.

  21. John B

    Hi Jacky,

    Yes, Jim Hamilton puts a lot of stress on John 7:39 and John 14:16-17. This seems warranted to me considering the question that he's addressing. Just as some repeatedly recall John 5:39 in support of Christ in the OT! Why not, since it's so clearly stated there? Likewise with John 7:39 and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

    I can't see how Revelation 13:8 or 1 John 2:7-8 shed so much light on Hamilton's question as the verses in John which he stresses do. Would you expand some on your application of these verses here?

  22. Chris W

    "It is clear throughout Romans that without the Spirit of God indwelling man he cannot know Him. Do you think this is solely a New Testament prerequisite?"

    A cursory reading of Romans chapter 8 should surely be enough to convince most people that OT believers must have had the indwelling presence of the Spirit. If it wasn't necessary for faith back then, the new covenant must be a downgrade, with NT believers being more needy!

    Objection 1: But doesn't the Old testament only mention the Spirit 'coming upon' specific people for specific purposes?

    Answer: Yes, but Acts speaks in this way as well. Jesus promised that his apostles would be filled the Spirit in order that they might be witnesses. The "filling" of the Spirit in Acts is more often linked with boldness and power in preaching and nearly always occurs after conversion. But clearly this is not the same as the indwelling of the spirit, which happens to all Christians at conversion.

    Objection 2: In John 14:16-17 (and John 7:39), Jesus teaches that the disciples are yet to receive the Holy Spirit from the father.

    Answer: He also says that the Spirit presently abides with them (verse 17). The receiving of the Spirit happened at Pentecost, it is also referred to as the filling of the spirit (compare Acts 2:4 with 2:38).

    This seems to me to make the most sense of all of the relevant texts, but others can come back to me on this one!

  23. John B

    Hi Chris W,

    Would you point out what you see in Romans 8 that shows that Paul taught that the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit was given to OT saints, before the sending of the Son in the flesh?

    As you commented, in John 14:17 Jesus tells the disciples that the Spirit "dwells with you and will be in you". This points to the distinction between the Spirit's presence *then with* them, and the promise that he *will be in* them. This promise is fulfilled after the resurrection, when Jesus breathes on them, sending the Holy Spirit.

  24. Jacky

    Hi John B,

    That is a good question - I have been meditating on the meaning of Revelation 13:8 for quite a while! What is the 'newness' of Christ's glorification after his work on the cross if the Spirit is given all the same to all? To me, the newness is the giving of the Spirit to ALL flesh, and not just to the Israelites (and those who joined Israel) in the Old Testament (time-period). So, 1 John 2:7-8 seems to imply (though the verse itself may be insufficient to prove so) that there is nothing 'new' per se in believing in Christ. Adam has already been believing in the Offspring! What seems new, however, is that the Spirit is not restricted to the Israelites anymore. It is given freely to all flesh, both Gentiles and Israelites, without physical national boundaries.

    With regards to Revelation 13:8, this seems to imply that the work of the cross has already been completed at the point of creation - and this begs the question of "God's being in His becoming" (i.e. the realisation of His victory, already "achieved" at the inception of creation, but fully manifested when the incarnate Christ was resurrected). That explains why the Spirit can be given to the Old Testament Israelites (both filling and indwelling), because Christ's glorification is not only realised upon His resurrection. The Spirit was already free for Him to bestow throughout the Old Testament. One therefore begs the question how the Spirit can be given at all, if Christ's giving of the Spirit only came upon the inception of His resurrection. Indeed, the Shekinah glory and Christ's words in John 7 and John 14 imply that He is only 'with' them, but we still need to address how the Spirit is 'in' the architects of the tabernacle, the ancient prophets, and so forth. To me, that should be the context in which John 7 and John 14 is interpreted, rather than the other way round. Similarly, John 5:39 is a good verse to show Christ in the OT, but there are plenty others (i.e. throughout Acts where Paul states that nothing new is stated than what Moses, the Law and the Prophets have already stated) equally pointing to the 'old-ness' of Christ as the ancient Object and Name of worship.

    One glaring question which I'm hoping this discussion can fully address (and touched upon by Chris W's latest comment) is how OT saints could be saved if they were merely 'filled'. This may even touch upon the question of what "baptism" of the Spirit means amongst charismatic circles.

    The science of salvation, in my opinion, seems to require indwelling (though this terminology is not explicitly used, but its meaning definitely implied, in the OT). Thank God, however, the newness of the Pentecostal giving means that such indwelling is not restricted to the Israelites, but to the Gentiles like me as well (without me needing to join Israel, be circumcised, and all that jazz).

    Glen - I wonder who that might be! :)

  25. Chris W

    John B,

    thanks for your reply :)

    In Romans 8, Paul teaches that:

    "[T]hose who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you." (verses 8-9)

    So without the Spirit dwelling in us, we cannot please God. Unless OT saints were somehow able to please God by some other means than the indwelling, life-giving Spirit, you would have to insist that they could not please God.

    It just seems more straightforward to distinguish between the 'indwelling' of the Spirit which happens to all true believers at conversion (and is the cause of conversion!) and the 'filling' of the Holy Spirit that we see at Pentecost and in the OT, which happens at specific times for specific purposes (though occurs more universally in the New Covenant).

    Echo much of what Jacky said, though perhaps from a more charismatic perspective!

  26. John B

    Hi Jacky,

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. It's very helpful, and has me eagerly looking forward to hearing more from you on the Holy Spirit. Scripture is so rich, and you've offered insights here into facets of it that I haven't considered.

    Even so, I'm convinced that John 7, 14 and 16 speak with the greatest clarity to the question, "Were OT saints indwelt by the Holy Spirit?".

    Indeed, as you've said, we rejoice that the Spirit is now poured out on all flesh in fulfillment of prophecy. Another aspect of the newness of Pentecost is that the Spirit now indwells the saints. No longer is his presence only in the tabernacle or temple of one small nation. Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that this change is coming; and Paul repeatedly reminds the Corinthians of this profound change in their relationship to God.

    In looking at the Revelation 13 verse that you cited, I noted that in v.6 John describes God's dwelling as "those who dwell in heaven"!

    The question that you raise about the ancient prophets is important. I think that there's much to reflect on here in terms of the anointing with the Spirit of prophets, leaders, priests and others in the OT. It's interesting to me to see that in the early church, the rite of baptism wasn't viewed as a new initiation to replace circumcision, but rather as the anointing with the Spirit of everyone among the people of God.

    There's so much in scripture about the two ages, that I can't get on board with the notion of the Cross of Christ as an event outside of time. On the contrary, "when the fullness of time had come" best describes its place in history. This is probably the nub of the differences in our outlooks on this question. In Christ, God has entered history to be with us to save us. In the age to come we'll see the Cross even more clearly. There are glimpses in scripture that it is as you've said. I think that it's the Tree of Life.

  27. John B

    Hi Chris W,

    Thanks for clarifying for me on Romans 8.

    Whether OT or NT the only righteousness that pleases God is that revealed now in Christ, which Paul discusses in Chapter 3.

    There are so many different verbs that apply to the work of the Holy Spirit, that I find this very difficult to grasp. Some verbs might mean the same activity using a different term; or not. I'm sure that I'm confused, but the Spirit helps me in my weakness.

    Charismatic, hey? Tongues and all?

  28. Chris W

    John B,

    when it comes to the different verbs, I distinguish between the 'visible' and 'invisible' work of the spirit (though I appreciate that it is often more complicated than that!).

    I would argue that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit must always accompany his regenerating work, since Jesus says that "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6) and also that "unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God", a clear reference to Ezekiel 36:25-27 (which suggests that the regeneration and the indwelling of the Spirit are essentially the same thing). As Jacky well put it, the science of salvation seems to necessitate OT believers having the indwelling presence of the Spirit.

    Jesus' teaching does seem to suggest that all those who are born again must be indwelt by the Spirit ("I will put a new spirit within you"). The references in John to a later movement of the Spirit are all referring to the 'giving/receiving' of the Spirit, not the indwelling of the Spirit. I say this because "receive" implies some kind of experiencial coming, which is what happened at pentecost.

    Regarding "charismatic", I'd say that the baptism of the Spirit is more about power for preaching/witnessing and a certain assurance of salvation than about speaking in tongues. Although I obviously wouldn't deny that tongues does sometimes accompany the experience! ;-)

  29. John B

    Hi Chris W,

    I think that we agree that there's no salvation without the indwelling of the Spirit. I think we'd also agree that there's no indwelling of the Spirit without the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Please correct me if I'm mistaken on these points of agreement.

    We differ about whether regeneration is indwelling. So I submit this question for the list: Is new birth by the Spirit the same as the indwelling of the Spirit?

    Our views on Pentecost differ in that, I'd say that since then, the indwelling of the Spirit coincides with conversion, whereas I think that you're saying that it was always so before, but now, since Pentecost, there's a new experience of the Spirit. Would you understand this to be in terms of spiritual gifts?

    Is baptism of the Spirit the same as regeneration/indwelling? Do all believers receive this baptism? Would you include physical healings as part of this experience?

    The church confesses that the Holy Spirit is "the Lord, the giver of life". He was present in the temple with God's people during the old covenant. The newness of Pentecost is that God's people have now become his temple and dwelling.

    I think that your distinction between the visible and invisible work of the Spirit is very helpful in thinking about these things.

  30. Chris W

    John B,

    I think you might have made a little blunder!

    "I think that we agree that there’s no salvation without the indwelling of the Spirit." You mean the *regenerating* work of the spirit, right? But yes, I would definately agree with that :)

    Regarding the new birth, the point I was trying to get across was that in Jesus' discussion of it in John 3, he refers to the new birth as being "born of water and the spirit", which is a reference to Ezekiel 36:25-27. In the Ezekiel passage, the water represents sanctification/cleansing and the spirit represents the indwelling presence of the spirit. So whilst the new birth does not strictly correspond with the indwelling of the spirit, it does include it as part of the package (so to speak). I hope that answers your question.

    I think you have summarised well my views on the work of the Spirit: I do view pentecost as a new experience of the Spirit, but I don't equate it with the indwelling of the spirit (which I believe happens to all believers as part of conversion). My view is pretty much the same as Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones' view on the work of the Spirit.

    To clarify, I think that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an experience distinct from regeneration/indwelling. With regard to gifts, I suppose yes, but I wouldn't like to dogmatise on which ones! I think that the primary purpose of the baptism with the Spirit is related to the great commission, that it equips believers with power for preaching and witnessing and gives them a firm assurance of their salvation. I wouldn't say that all believers have experienced the baptism of the Spirit, though I would say that all believers should seek it (as per Luke 11:5-13).

    I am enjoying this discussion though :D

  31. Si

    Chris W - coming in late with this, but doesn't having baptism of the Spirit distinct from conversion regeneration and indwelling raise all sorts of theological problems? And some of these problems are pretty big ones.

    Is baptism of the Spirit a third sacrament? Is it separate from water baptism?

    How can those who've not been baptised in the Spirit be baptised with Jesus into death, and raised into life again (Romans 6:3+4)?

    Doesn't it create a two-tier Christianity? A sort of 'carnal' class that are halfway through being baptised by water and spirit? Of course, you can mitigate that, and 'Reformed Charismatics' have done fairly well at doing so, especially compared to other charismatic groups (worst are the groups that have tongue-speaking as the only clear-cut sign of salvation). But there's still at least a pastoral issue, where there is a feeling of two-tiers, if not a full blown theologically defined two-tiers.

    I fully agree with post-regenerate anointing(s) with the Spirit that equip saints with power that you would call 'baptism', I just think that it's an incredibly unhelpful term to use (likewise second blessing, which raises the question whether we've been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the Beloved).

    To open another can of worms in this discussion - Saul in 1Sam 10 - what's going on there?

  32. John B

    Hi Chris W,

    I'm enjoying the discussion too!

    Martyn Lloyd-Jones spoke truly when he said that the work of the Spirit is the most difficult of all doctrines. He wisely advised that we not be too dogmatic about our views in this area. Lloyd-Jones is my favorite preacher. I also appreciate his recognition of the newness of the new covenant in Christ's blood. This is definitely the minority report in Reformed circles today.

    To try to correct my error, we agree that regeneration is necessary for salvation. Your clarification about the new birth is very helpful. Could I summarize your view along the lines that 'regeneration includes new birth and indwelling'? If so, then I think that we're both saying "that there’s no salvation without the indwelling of the Spirit", with the only difference being that you see it as integrated with the new birth, i.e., the two necessarily go together; whereas I'd say that the indwelling is the new covenant promise, inaugurated at Pentecost, and only possible because of the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ and his sending of the Holy Spirit.

    I don't think that my view is far from ML-J's, but he used 'baptism' and 'sealing' language much more than indwelling, which he used only infrequently. I like the use of the term 'baptized' because this is the word that Jesus used about Pentecost (Acts 1:5). But I've gravitated to using the term 'indwelling', because I've found in many discussions that baptism is so closely associated with the religious rite that the use of another term to signify the spiritual reality is useful. I'm not married to the term, but in conversations with those from a sacerdotal background, 'baptism' language often causes some confusion.

    I'm compelled to affirm that baptism with the Spirit is essential to salvation, and this incomparable gift can only be bestowed because of all that Christ accomplished on behalf of sinners. In the ultimate sense, believers eagerly await the return of Christ for the consummation of salvation in glory both in body and spirit. Now we have the promise and assurance of salvation, nourished and sustained by Christ's own body and blood and sealed by the oil of gladness as we journey together toward the heavenly Jerusalem. We have a foretaste of the feast to come. The Holy Spirit brings us into fellowship with the Trinity by uniting us to Christ and conforming us to his likeness. We're not there yet, but we're on The Way!

    Beyond this, I accept ML-J's advice about not being dogmatic. He says that baptism with the Spirit and regeneration are separate. OTOH, J.I. Packer sees them as connected in the new covenant. I think he reflects the view of the early church on this question (and perhaps yours as well!). I lean towards Packer's view, but I appreciate and enjoy ML-J on this also.

    Actually, I think we agree on the really important points. We seem to have a different reading of ML-J on this question; and we use terms of baptism and indwelling differently, but I always seem to run into difficulty with my use of the verbs! But these are insignificant questions in comparison to that of the work of the Holy Spirit!

    One thought to consider about ML-J is that when he talks about 'filling' he seems to be getting at the Spirit's empowering of believer's for service in the church. This sounds like what you've described in terms of 'baptism'. Just what we needed. Another Spirit verb!

    I like your comments on seeking the baptism of the Spirit with the reference to Luke 11. The natural man doesn't seek after God, but believers do so diligently by the illuminating, convicting, and heart changing work of the Holy Spirit in us!

    In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13,14)

  33. Pingback: Your questions « Christ the Truth

  34. woldeyesus

    Believing the bible (especially the gospel) as "a thoroughly Christian book" is as disastrous as pouring new wine into old wineskins. (Matt. 9:17)

  35. Michael

    Ok so I know I'm like *really* late to the party but I've got loads of questions which I'd love for you to answer/reply to Glenn!
    -The case against general revelation/natural theology. Basically I hang around with a lot of apologetics and philosophy types (because I am one myself I guess ;P) and so would love to have a go-to place for your position. In particular a response to evidentialism if possible?
    -What do you think about presuppositional apologetics?
    - How do you see Eastern Orthodoxy? Got a few friends who are Orthodox and they're quite combative actually, saying the solas of the Reformation are heresies etc etc, their whole case for the infallibility of the One True Church seems to hinge on the Matthew verse, "On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
    -Something concerning sola scriptura? Would interested to hear a (neo?)-Barthian persepctive on that, why an infallible church isn't necessary, nature of interpretation etc?
    -How can sola fide even be possible in light of james 2:24 (my catholic and orthodox friends bash me over the head with that verse SO many times!)
    Thanks a lot! =)

  36. Michael

    Their main argument against sola scriptura is this:
    "Where in scripture does it say that scripture is the only infallible rule of faith?
    I have not read it ever and the fact that even scripture doesn't say shows how self-defeating sola scriptura really is."

  37. woldeyesus


    The exclusively infallible "rule of faith" is personal knowledge of God (Jer. 31: 31-34) based on baptism in the Holy Spirit sealed in Christ's perfect and diacritical death on the cross (Matt. 26: 26-29; 27: 50-56).

  38. John B

    Hi Michael,

    I'm glad that you resuscitated this thread. A CTT theological FAQ is a wonderful idea. I'm eager to see it and hope that it may still be in the works, as time allows, of course.

  39. John B


    I'll echo Michael's interest in Eastern Orthodoxy. This is a big and very challenging issue, and I too, would welcome your input in this area. As Michael points out, many of the evangelical converts to Orthodoxy are very combative. But there are many EOs like Ware, Zizioulas, Hopko, and Nassif, who are very irenic and ecumenical in spirit, and Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022) is an Orthodox saint and an evangelical, too. The page that Michael linked to is very fair and balanced. FWIW, the writer is a seminarian at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, which is frequently criticized within Orthodoxy as too ecumenical.

    I think that evangelicals can learn much from Orthodoxy, and we have much in common with them in our more anti-scholastic and Wesleyan expressions. The man Michael cited honed in on the division with his question, "What is the Church?" Orthodoxy says, "Trust the Church for the Gospel." Evangelicalism says, "Trust the Gospel for the church." Discussion often breaks down over this point, but if we could set this difference aside temporarily, I think that we could have some very fruitful dialog with Orthodoxy.

    Here's a link to a talk that Frederica Mathewes-Green gave in 2009 at Gordon College on Orthodoxy and Evangelical Renewal:

    Frederica is a well known Eastern Orthodox speaker and writer in America. It's a lengthy talk, but she summarizes it very well in the final seven minutes.

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