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What the Bible says about Spirit of God
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 35:30-35

Perhaps it would be helpful to understand that the basic meaning of the Hebrew word translated as "wisdom" is equivalent to the English word "skill." Solomon, in Proverbs 4:7, tells us, "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom." He is really saying, "Above all things, get skill." Skill in what? Skill in living. God wants us to be skilled in living. In this case, God has filled Bezalel with wisdom, and this wisdom has to do with the responsibility that He had given to him in constructing the Tabernacle and its furnishings and utensils.

This principle becomes vital to us in regard to our place in the church of God, understanding about the Spirit of God, and understanding about God Himself and what He does in our conversion. These verses show that God Himself was personally and directly involved by means of His Spirit enhancing the natural and developed abilities of humans involved in His work. Bezalel and Aholiab already had skill, but what God did to enable them to perform a function directly for Him is that He increased their natural ability to enable them to function at a higher level than normal. A supernatural element was added to their lives.

If God did this for Bazalel and Aholiab, will He not also do it for us? Will He not give us powers greater than we have by nature? He does this by His Spirit and by stirring up the spirit in man.

If we follow the usage for "spirit" and apply it here, we see that "spirit" is an invisible and immaterial source of some sort of needed power, but in this case, it is external to mankind—supernatural. In other words, we can communicate spirit from one person to another, but that spirit will only be what any human is capable of. As we become more skilled, our ability to project or to communicate spirit to another person is also increased as well, but we reach a limit in our human ability to do this. However, God is showing that in order to do a work for Him, He will empower us to go beyond what is normally possible for a human being to do.

God gave these craftsmen supernatural power for them to operate in His behalf, to produce good fruit within the purpose of God, and therefore it was of God. However, when we see abilities that seem to be beyond the ken of a normal human being, we may not know the identity of the supernatural force or power until we begin to see its fruit: "You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part Four)

Psalm 69:32

Seeking God makes the heart live. How many times have we seen heart, spirit, mind, and thoughts in the same context? Is that not what we want in this relationship with God? We want our heart to live. What is it that makes it live? It is the Spirit of God energizing it because of the close communion.

A biblical example of this is when Moses went up on the mount to be with God for forty days and forty nights. While he was gone, the Israelites made the Golden Calf. When Moses came down from that close association with God, he came down with his face glowing, shining, reflecting the glory of God through close communion with Him all those days. This situation is a form of what the psalmist means about the close communion with God. Seeking Him, dressing and keeping the relationship, and submitting to Him are what make the heart live because His Spirit is flowing into it. When that happens, we are living the life He lives, what the Bible calls "eternal life." Eternal life is to live as God lives.

We are seeking to have a relationship with One who is not far from us. He is close to us—in us by His Spirit—and He delights to pour Himself into our hearts and minds. We seek Him through desire. Do we really want this One to be our Husband? Do we really want to be like this One we are to marry? If we do not desire Him, He will not reciprocate with any zeal, and the relationship will just sputter. We seek Him by turning our thoughts to Him by communion in prayer and in Bible study.

The desire to be like Him in every way drives our submission to Him in obedience. We are in the midst of a courtship. Can there be any passing of spirit when one is so far from the other that desire is completely absent? Desire rises when we know Him so well that we are constantly thinking about all His wonderful attributes.

This is not a "cure-all" for every spiritual problem. As Christ's letters to the Ephesian and Laodicean churches show, it was so important to Him that He threatened both groups with destruction. One had lost their first love, and the other was complacent. Neither was close to Him.

Are we attracted enough to Him to be affectionate toward Him?

Spending time in fervent communion with God in prayer, Bible study, meditation, and occasional fasting all lead to a pure submission to Him. It enhances the closeness. It is essentially the same process that brings human beings together—talking and experiencing things together as we go through life.

A fervent attitude of sincerely wanting to be like God will bring a positive response. The principles are simple and are as old as the hills. They work because that is how spirit is transferred to create oneness. That is why people marry one another. The same principle and process work in our courtship with Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part Seven)

Isaiah 11:1-4

Each of the qualities of the mind is named to encourage us that this One, Jesus Christ, will hand down judgments of the highest quality. "Spirit" is the general word used to indicate those internal, immaterial, and unseen qualities of mind that energize and activate. We can see, both from God's Word and also from our own experiences, that they can be good or evil, edifying or destructive, clean or foul, generous or miserly, selfless or selfish, cheerful or depressive, positive or negative, etc. However, spirit always affects: It moves, activates, generates, impels, and creates in the direction of its force.

Why are cheerleaders used at football and basketball games? Is it not to generate a spirit? One cannot see the spirit that is energized. It is invisible, unseen. This illustration is no different in principle from what the Bible means by its use of "spirit."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part Two)

Zechariah 4:6

An angel is explaining to Zechariah the work of the Spirit. God's Spirit, moving and producing works (or results, visible signs of God's inspiration and involvement in His servants' activities), is shown as flowing into the church. Here is a short quotation from Keil & Delitzsch.

Oil ... is used in the Scriptures as a symbol of the Spirit of God [notice this qualification], not in its transcendent essence. . . .

The Holy Spirit often appears in the Bible, not in is pure form (the essence of God's mind and power), not in its raw form, we could say. Here it appears as oil. Continuing:

. . . not in its transcendent essence, but so far as it works in the world, and is indwelling in the church.

The oil that is flowing through these pipes is not the raw Spirit of God, but it is His Spirit seen in its works, that is, in its manifestations. We are not seeing, necessarily, God's Spirit as God's Spirit. We are seeing God's Spirit as it manifests itself primarily in spoken and written words, but also in things like miracles, healings, casting out of demons, acts of faith, good works, etc.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part Four)

Luke 11:13

Though Jesus says God gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask, the Bible further qualifies this with conditions. God will give His Spirit only to those who have demonstrated in attitude and behavior that they have repented. Then they must be baptized and obey His commandments. No one who continues to live a lifestyle apart from God's law has received the Spirit of God or has the power of God working in him.

Martin G. Collins
The Holy Spirit

John 6:44

It is the work of God to open our minds to enable us to respond in a godly way - that is, by faith - to the manifestation of Himself through His Word, the manifestation of Christ through His Word, the manifestation of God's works through His Word. He does this so that we can see the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, which means that God has given to each one of us the capacity to do what Moses did (Hebrews 11:26-27). Maybe not as well, not having to trust in exactly the same way or to the same degree, but nonetheless, we can follow the same principle.

So, even though we have a spiritual capacity by nature because of the spirit in man within us - all of mankind has this spiritual capacity - a true spiritual relationship can really be made only by those whom God calls. We have been given a gift of God that enables us to have the kind of faith that Moses and the apostle Paul had.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Three)

John 14:17

In other words, "the Spirit of truth" will take up residence. Do we have God the Son and God the Father running around inside of us? No. The mind of God, the Spirit of God, is in us, residing in us. It has taken up residence, and therefore the Father is there, as well as the Son.

The apostles were literally seeing the Holy Spirit of God, the essence of God's mind, in the action, in the life, of a fellow human being—Jesus Christ. He was the literal Word of God. He was with them, teaching, leading, guiding them into truth. He was truth personified. His word is truth (John 17:17). His word is spirit (John 6:63). They could literally, directly, see Him and hear Him, the Son of God, which is why He said the Holy Spirit was with them. It, the essence of God's mind, was in Him. What they witnessed with their eyes and ears was being fed directly into their minds, becoming part of their experience.

The Spirit, the essence of God's mind, was on the verge of residing in them, but it was not yet firmly lodged in them where it would consistently manifest the characteristics of the God Family. This is why Luke 24:49 says, "Tarry in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." Power to do what? To submit to the will of God. He gave them the power to keep God's law in the spirit, not just its letter. Any human being with enough willpower can keep the law of God in the letter, but God must empower us to keep it in the spirit. We need more power than what we humanly have to keep God's law in the spirit. God is looking for people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and He has empowered us to do that by His Spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part Five)

Acts 2:37-38

When the Jews killed Jesus, they did not believe they were sinning. They thought they were doing God a service. In his ignorance, the apostle Paul was guilty of hailing of men and women into prison, and very likely, people were persecuted and maybe even some were put to death. In regard to the death of Stephen, the indication is that Paul was a ringleader in it. He thought he was doing God service, a favor, but when he was stopped by the light of God on the road to Damascus, and the truth was suddenly revealed to him, he realized he was nothing but a hunk of junk lying blind on the road.

The Holy Spirit did that. It smote these people in the heart so that they could clearly see that they were individually responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, even if they had not been there when it actually took place.

Without the Spirit of God, the truth of God is like looking into the gloom. We see the shape and form of things, but without the Spirit of God, the truths—the doctrines, the teachings—that make up the mechanism of God's purpose do not make sense. They cannot be put in their right order so that they really add up or give a clear picture of what God is doing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 3)

Romans 8:3-4

God is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. However, in order to worship Him in this way, one must have the Spirit of God! In Matthew 26:41, Jesus says, "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. A person's flesh can respond to something inspirational and even say, "Yes, I want to do right." But if his heart is not circumcised, a person lacks the resolve to do right consistently. The New Covenant was designed by God to circumcise the heart!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Seven)

Romans 8:9

Are we already spirit? Well, the old hat pin test works very well here. This verse says, "You are . . . in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you." "In" is not being used to state physical position, a physical location, but in the sense of concerned with. Paul uses it in the same sense as we would say, "He is in politics" - this person is concerned or involved with politics. A Christian's concern is with things of the Spirit of God, the mind of God. It is a matter of mind, attitude, thought, perspective, wisdom, knowledge, and direction of life. Jesus said, "He who seeks to save his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." It is a matter of concern, involvement. That is what "in the spirit" is.

It is a matter of direction of life. It is the concept of spiritual relationships that dominate the correct understanding, not physical location in regard to Christ or the church, because those relationships can and do involve people of all races, all nationalities, physically located in all places on earth. But when one is "in the spirit," that person's great concern and involvement in life lies in his relationship with God. If one is "in the flesh," then his concern and involvement revolves around his relationship with the carnal world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part Four)

1 Corinthians 2:10-12

We see three things here:

1. There is a spirit in man that enables him to understand physical things.

2. God reveals to man through His Spirit, which enables man to penetrate the deep, spiritual things of God.

3. We have received the Spirit that is from God, and there is a spirit of this world.

Here, Paul shows at least three different spirits: the spirit in man, the Spirit of God, and the spirit of this world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 3)

1 Corinthians 12:13

If we are baptized by the Spirit of God, we are a part of that body, and we are responsible to Christ within it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part Five)

1 Corinthians 15:42-49

The image Paul speaks of is not merely that we will be composed of spirit even as Christ is, but that our very nature and character be like His. If God desired that we merely be spirit, He could have made us like angels. Angels, however, are not God; they are angels. God is doing a work in us through which we will become like Him, not like angels.

His purpose requires that we cooperate. Though our part is very small by comparison to what He is doing, it is nonetheless vital. Notice how Paul draws this beautiful section of I Corinthians to a conclusion by drawing our attention to what it will take on our part to make God's purpose work: "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Corinthians 15:57-58).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Three): Hope

2 Corinthians 3:3

Paul makes it clear that the Spirit God will give us will be the means by which the laws are written on our hearts. "Circumcision of the heart," "writing God's laws on the heart," "conversion," and "changing" essentially describe the same thing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twelve)

2 Corinthians 3:18

But we all [Christians], with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being changed [transformed] into the same image [the image of God] from glory to glory [from that of man to God] just as by [the means of] the Spirit of the Lord.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part One)

Ephesians 4:10-13

When He ascended, He was resurrected as very God. He was an immortal spirit Being once again!

These verses show the goal, the focus, the very reason the church exists—why we have been given the Spirit of God: "till we come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God." Paul is describing something that will not occur while we are still physical beings, pointing to the great goal that lies beyond the resurrection of the dead!

We find our hope and goal in verse 13. We must begin to expand on what Jesus Christ is now—that is what the apostle Paul points to. Our standard is not Jesus merely as a man before He was crucified and resurrected, but the great goal is becoming like Jesus Christ is now—ascended and at God's right hand!

We are still mortal and physical, but we are in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), not just in form and shape. The image of God that He is concerned about is the fact that we have the power of mind. Because of this, and with the help of the gifts of God, particularly His Spirit, we can come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh


Colossians 3:8

Paul changes the metaphor to taking off clothing and putting it on. Is it possible that, just by thinking about it, the clothing we now wear will just fall off? We must make an effort to disrobe. On the other hand, we have to choose what clothing we will wear in its place. Then we have to make the effort to put it on.

These things are so clear. Do we see that we cannot just stand still? Growth, in terms of salvation, is not something that just happens because we receive the Spirit of God. It is caused to happen.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Titus 2:11-14

2 Timothy 1:6-7

It takes the Spirit of God to produce a truly sound mind. This verse also implies that, as long as the mind is devoid of God's Spirit, it cannot be considered to be truly healthy. Any mind that lacks the Holy Spirit will, like Esau's, be limited in its outlook, unstable to some degree, and focused on itself. It may be very sharp regarding material things, but it will be deficient in the ability to cope with life in a godly manner because it cannot see things in a proper, righteous-or-unrighteous context. Instead, it will have a strong tendency to twist situations toward its own self-centered perspective. This does not make for good relationships.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Three)

2 Timothy 1:7

An indication of Timothy's personality comes through in this verse. Apparently, Timothy was an introverted, retiring personality who of himself would not do what he would be called upon to do. By the end of the book, Paul knows that he is going to die. From all indications, Timothy would bear the weight of responsibility for preaching the gospel after Paul's death. Paul knows what Timothy is like because he had spent years with him, travelling around the Mediterranean region. The apostle, concerned about Timothy having the mind, the personality, the will, to carry out his responsibilities, reminds him that God's Spirit is one of power and of love and of soundmindedness.

And so it is with each person God calls. He gives whatever gifts one needs to carry out his responsibility within the body. Most will find certain parts of the Christian life uncomfortable or the requirements that God has established difficult to meet. But there is no need to fear, for the power is available, or God is not God. He has promised that He will finish what He starts (Philippians 1:6). We can do whatever He asks because He does not require more than can be accomplished with the gifts we already have. He always works within the framework of His knowledge of each Christian.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!

Revelation 3:18

Gold, clothing, and eye salve represent the three major industries of Laodicea: banking, textiles, and medicines.

Gold, spiritual riches (I Peter 1:7), contrasts with the word "poor," and fire symbolizes trial. God advises them to obtain spiritual riches produced through trials, which the self-sufficient Laodicean avoids by compromising.

"White garments" contrast with their nakedness. Clothing helps us to distinguish people and groups. Because of the differences between men and women's clothing, sexual distinctions can be made. Clothes reveal status: A man in a well-tailored suit falls into a different category than a beggar in rags. Clothing provides a measure of comfort and protection from the elements. It hides shame and deformity. Biblically, God uses it to symbolize righteousness (Revelation 19:8). He instructs the Laodicean to dress himself in the holiness of God to cover his spiritual nakedness, self-righteousness.

Their need of eye salve contrasts with their blindness. Commentators understand it to represent God's Spirit coupled with obedience. The combination of the two gives a Christian the ability to see - to understand spiritual things. "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God" (I Corinthians 2:10-11). "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments" (Psalms 111:10).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 




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