“Now on the final and most important day of the feast, Jesus stood forth and cried in a loud voice, If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! He who believes in Me as the Scripture has said, Out from his innermost being springs and rivers of living water shall flow (continuously). But He was speaking here of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were afterward to receive. For the Holy Spirit had not yet been given; because Jesus was not yet glorified (raised to honour). (John 7: 37-39).
Satan’s prime strategy from the very beginning of creation has always been to destroy faith by presenting mankind with something that looks like the genuine item. In the parable in Matthew 13: 24-30 the darnel or tares, sown by the enemy, look exactly like wheat in the early stages of its growth and only show its true colours at harvest time.
True to its botanical nature one grain of wheat produces several new ears of wheat only when it dies, a fact taken up by Christ to show that spiritual fruitfulness has its origin in the death of self (John 12: 24; 1 Corinthians 5: 36).
The darnel or tares are completely void of any such botanical traits and remain a wheat-like grass without producing any fruit right up to harvest time. Here Jesus makes it very clear that genuine faith always translates into a change in life, a change of mind, growth and fruitfulness. This is borne out by what Paul says in Hebrews 12: 14, “Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord:”
A biblical founded faith must translate into a growth in sanctification. Please observe that it is not a growth to or up to sanctification, but in sanctification. We are justified by faith alone in Christ alone and in the same way He imputes sanctification to sinners the moment they are saved. From that instant onward the saint must abide in Christ in order to grow in grace and sanctification.
WHAT DETERMINES GENUINE FAITH?
Jesus chose the final and most important day of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles to announce in a loud voice the only prerequisite for a genuine faith – He who believes in Me as the Scripture has said. Everything necessary to acquire a genuine biblical faith has already been said in God’s Word. Scripture form Genesis 1: 1 through to Revelation 22: 21 contains God’s only and final word on faith and salvation. All other extra-biblical revelations (including Joseph Smith’s Golden Plates, The Jehovah’s Witnesses NWT of the Bible, Roman Catholicism’s Church traditions or any other prophet or visionary’s alleged encounter with Jesus Christ) do not and cannot hold true to Jesus Christ’s words in John 7 and must therefore be rejected.
Having established, on the strength of Jesus’ words in John 7, that holy writ is altogether sufficient for the acquirement of the faith necessary for one’s salvation and sanctification, it is obviously also vital to know the Person or Persons who wrote it.
The validity of a letter or a document is not determined by its own intrinsic value but by the character or the moral fibre of the person who wrote it. People who claim they believe in Jesus Christ but deny that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, are deceiving themselves and disqualifying themselves as genuine believers. It is impossible to maintain a belief in someone and simultaneously reject his personal biography. In similar vein, everyone who maintains that he/she believes in Jesus Christ, but denies His deity or the Trinity is disavowing the moral fibre and character of the Author of the Bible.
WHO IS THE AUTHOR?
Although the word “Trinity” never appears in the Bible – a fact many of God’s enemies use to discredit the validity of His Word. (Perhaps they should start looking for the word “automobile” or “aeroplane” in Scripture to make sure they really exist) – it is not at all difficult to prove that three Deities were involved in producing it.
In His answer to the woman who said, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts that You sucked!” Jesus used the word “Theos” when He said, Blessed are they that hear the Word of God (“Theos”) and keep it” (Luke 11: 27) The Greek word “Theos” (God) does not refer to a single person but clearly to the Godhead, comprising of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
In the well-known verse where Paul says that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3: 16), he uses the Greek word “Theopneustos” (theh-op’-nyoo-stos) which is derived from “Theos” and means that the Word was inspired by all three the Persons in the Godhead or Trinity. Apart from these definitive verses, there are several others where only One of the Persons in the Trinity are mentioned as the inspired source of the Word. Consider the following: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;” (Colossians 3: 16) and “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1: 21).
WHAT LIES AT THE ROOT OF MANKIND’S REJECTION OF GOD’S WORD?
– Only one thing – unbelief. Anyone who does not believe in the Triune God according to what the Bible teaches cannot claim to be saved. Perhaps they could have avowed with certainty their salvation if Jesus had only said, “He who believes in Me . . .,” but He qualified the kind of faith that is necessary to believe in Him, i.e. “as the Scripture has said.”
The Holy Spirit Who was sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment will never move outside of the bounds of Holy Writ when leading a sinner to faith in Jesus Christ. Any “belief” or “faith” remotely off limits with the Bible cannot save. If it were true that any kind of faith was able to save, then Jesus lied when he said, “as the Scripture has said.” How can anyone expect to be convicted of sin by the 3rd Person in the Holy Trinity if they reject the Trinity?
In the same breath one may ask, how can anyone expect to be cleansed of their sins if they regard Jesus Christ merely as one of God’s creations? God strictly forbids anyone to worship a created being because it is nothing else than idolatry.
What are the consequences of unbelief?
a) They do not have the Word of God and no light in them (John 5: 38; Isaiah 8: 20).
b) They cannot please God (Hebrews 11: 6)
c) They malign and discredit the Gospel (Acts 19: 9)
d) They persecute the ministers of righteousness (Romans 15: 31)
e) They incite others against the saints who preach the Gospel (Acts 14: 2).
f) They persevere in their unbelief (John 12: 37).
g) They harden their necks (2 Kings 17: 14).
h) They are condemned already (John 3: 18).
i) The wrath of God abides on them (John 3: 36).
j) They shall die in their sins (John 8: 24).
k) They shall not enter God’s rest (Hebrews 3:19; 4:11).
l) They shall be condemned (Mark 16:16; 2Thessalonians 2:12).
m) They shall be cast in the lake of fire (Revelation 21: 8).
“Since all this is true, we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard, lest in any way we drift past [them – the truths] and slip away. For if the message given through angels [that is, the Law spoken by them to Moses] was authentic and proved sure, and every violation and disobedience received an appropriate (just and adequate) penalty. How shall we escape if we neglect and refuse to pay attention to such a great salvation [as is now offered to us, letting it drift past us forever?] For it was declared at first by the Lord [Himself] and it was confirmed to us by those who personally heard [Him speak]. (Hebrews 2: 1-3).
[Therefore] while it is [still] called Today, if you would hear His voice, and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion . . . Today, if you would hear His voice, and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3: 15; 4: 7).
“Examine and test and evaluate your own selves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test and prove yourselves, [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you? unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected! (2 Corinthians 13: 5).
IS YOUR SALVATION SECURE IF YOU BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS GOD AND MAN BUT KNEW NOTHING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT? (1 Corinthians 15)
When Paul first presented the Gospel to the Corinthians their thoughts were steeped in Greek Philosophy. The Greeks did not believe in the resurrection of the body as they proved by their attitude when Paul preached to them on Mars Hill (Acts 17:32). They laughed at him.
Their philosophers taught that the body was weak and a wicked prison of the soul, and the sooner it was released through death the better. They refused to accept that the body could live on after death. This was what Paul had to contend with when he wrote them this letter. The Corinthians did not doubt the resurrection of Christ and therefore Paul centred his discourse around this immutable truth in stead of repentance or salvation.
Indeed, something to remember is that Paul’s intention was not to bring them the Gospel. They had already accepted the Gospel and were indeed saved. They were well-acquainted with the Spirit’s work in their lives when they believed in Jesus Christ and His Gospel.
All that Paul needed to do was to prove to them that they, like Christ, would be resurrected from the dead. Furthermore, the resurrection of Christ itself is proof enough of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Gospel of salvation although the Spirit is not mentioned in chapter 15.
In Romans 8: 11 Paul says, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” The Corinthians must have known this but could have been confused by false teachers and apostles. So, although the Spirit is not mentioned in chapter 15, His role in the Gospel of salvation is made clear by Paul’s discourse on the resurrection of Christ.
DOES ACTS 19 PROVE IT IS UNNECESSARY TO KNOW OR ACKNOWLEDGE THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE TRINITY?
Some hold to the view that the twelve men Paul encountered in Ephesus were saved and base their argument on the fact that they were disciples. (verse 1). However the word “mathetes” (disciple) simply means “learner” or “pupil” and was a very well-known concept, especially amongst the Greeks.
Each philosopher had his own group of disciples, much like a professor of today who teaches a class of his own pupils. Because the term disciple was so well-known, Jesus qualified His particular brand of discipleship by His demand to deny oneself, take up the cross, to follow Him and learn from Him. Although the twelve were called disciples (learners or pupils) they were not disciples of Christ, but disciples of John the Baptist
The twelve should have known there was a Holy Spirit because the major thrust of of John the Baptist’s preaching was Christ’s future Baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3: 11). They should have known the Holy Spirit was to be given, but they were ignorant of the fact that He had already been given on the day of Pentecost.
Note carefully how brilliant Paul approached the problem in the manner he posed the question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” He did not ask them “Were you baptized by John the Baptist when or after you believed?” or “Do you know the Holy Spirit.” Had he asked them the latter question, they would probably have answered “Yes, we were baptized by John when we believed.” If they had said this and if Paul hadn’t known that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a spiritual baptism, they would probably have forfeited the wonderful opportunity to be saved (Romans 8:9).
Paul the true gentleman that he was, assumed that they believed but tested their faith by asking them whether they had received the Holy Spirit. Knowing of the existence of the Holy Spirit and receiving Him are two completely different things. Had they indeed been saved they would have known that they had received the Holy Spirit because He and He alone applies the cleansing power of the blood of Christ to a sinner’s soul the moment he/she believes. The testimony of the Spirit within gives the assurance of your salvation (Romans 8: 16) and they did not have that inner witness because they did not even know that the Spirit was already given to quicken them the moment they believed.
So, what was the source of their problem? John the Baptist’s baptism had a two-pronged message attached to it – baptism unto repentance and belief in the One Who was to come after Him. Whether Apollos failed to convey this message in full, we do not know. We do however know that there was a flaw in his presentation of the Gospel because we read in the previous chapter (Acts 18 : 26) that “when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him with them and explained to him the way of God more definitely and accurately.” Whoever preaches the Gospel must present the full council of God.
They received the baptism of John without a full understanding of the necessity for repentance AND FAITH in the One Who baptizes in the Spirit and with fire and therefore was not saved. Ah! but how wonderful and precious is the unmerited grace of God. He did not allow them to continue in their unbelief and sent his servant Paul to present to them His full council.
John 14 from verse 18 shows that the presentation of the Gospel is the responsibility of all three of the Persons in the Trinity. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me [GOD THE SON]: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and verse 21). “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father [GOD THE FATHER] will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (verse 23) “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. whom the Father will send in my name, he [GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT] shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”(verse 25). Whoever believes as the Scripture has said, will know and believe in the Trinity because all three introduce themselves to the person who comes to Christ for salvation.