Acts of the Apostles 3 – Part 1

Join Beth Tikkun as we study the Acts of the Apostles chapter 3.

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Categories Acts of the Apostles, Apostolic Writings, Media | Tags: | Posted on December 1, 2010

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  1. by Heather Gibson

    On January 23, 2020

    Grant: I need some clarification on the issue of the Ruach HaKodesh, Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost, and any other names by which this entity (?) is discussed. You mentioned in the teaching that certain denominations will base their entire religion on a few verses concerning this matter. Ones that have been presented to me in defense of “you must have the baptism of the Holy Spirit to go to Heaven” include Acts 2:38, Acts 5:36, and Acts 10:44 – 45, just to mention a few. Is the gift of the Holy Spirit different from the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Is this occurrence some momentous event that one would be unable to deny happened (anything as evident from tongues of fire to falling out in church)? Is speaking in an unknown language evidence that this has occurred? Can it happen more than once? Thank you, Heather

  2. by L. Grant Luton

    On January 26, 2020

    Dear Heather, Great questions, and ones that are not easily answered (if they can be answered satisfactorily at all). Let’s deal first with your questions concerning the passages in Acts, especially Acts 2:38. This verse is frequently used by Pentecostals in an attempt to convince others that they must have a special “Holy Ghost experience” in order to go to Heaven when they die. In fact, I have heard Pentecostals misquote this verse by putting words in the mouths of the crowd, asking, “What must we do to be saved?” However, this is not what they asked. They said, “What must we do?” In other words, their concern was something like this: the Messiah has come and our leaders executed Him and He has now left us! What are we to do now?! And Peter tells them, in essence: Repent. Immerse yourselves (i.e. make a new beginning), and God will forgive you for your errors and will imbue you with His holy spirit.

    Now let’s address the issue of the holy spirit and spiritual things. The truth is, it is impossible to talk about and describe spiritual things directly. This is because they are spiritual and not physical. The only way we can discuss them is by means of analogy. This is why the Scriptures discuss the holy spirit using terms like fire, wind, water, immersion, filling, etc., so we can try to gain some idea of (but never completely understand) spiritual things.

    Something that will sound shocking to many, but is nevertheless true, is that in the Hebrew Scriptures, the holy spirit is feminine – a “she”. Hebrew has only two genders (male and female) and thus no word for “it” (a neuter word). So, every time the word “spirit” (ruach) appears in the Tanach it is feminine. Greek, however, has three genders – masculine, feminine, and neuter – and everywhere the word “spirit” (pneuma) or “holy spirit” is appears in the N.T. it is neuter – “it”. Simply put, the holy spirit is not a person, it is an “it”. (I know this will conflict with trinitarian thinking, but my loyalties are to truth, not to denominational theologies, no matter how firmly established.) Think of your own human makeup: you are a soul who possesses a spirit (an ‘it’). Being made in God’s image, you reflect Him in a similar way – He has a spirit (an ‘it’). Now I am going to give you a way to think about the holy spirit – a very imperfect and flawed way, but the best I have so far. So, please take it for the weak analogy that it is. Think of God’s spirit as His feelings and emotions. (Again, this is a poor analogy.) So, to receive God’s spirit means that you can identify with His values, His love of what is good and true. Thus, to be filled with God’s spirit means that you greatly love what He loves and hate what He hates. The “fruits of the spirit” (love, joy, peace, etc.) become your emotions and attitudes and values. Your soul becomes more and more aligned with God’s will and ways. God’s essence infiltrates and entwines with your own. But, again, this is just one way to begin to understand a little bit the mechanics (a terrible word to use in reference to spiritual things!) of how God’s spirit interacts with ours. So, I recommend going back and rereading the passages you listed employing this way of looking at them. Maybe it can help you to better understand many of the expressions the Scriptures use to describe how God’s spirit interacts with human beings. And maybe someday God will give me a better understanding, as well, and better tools to communicate that understanding.

    Shalom & Blessings, Grant

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