The Power of the Cross (Part I), Outline


Exodus 12 – Passover

  • Exodus 12:4-7,12-13 – Blood was needed for God to pass over the house and bring new life
  • Exodus 12:8 – Had to take in the dead lamb
    • 12:11 – “eat it in haste” 

Romans 5:1,9

  • Blood justifies us in the sight of God
    • Gives us PEACE with God
    • Deals with the sins we’ve committed

Romans 5:19

  • We commit sins because we are sinners
    • We are sinners because of Adam’s disobedience (v. 19)
      • Romans 3:23 – “all have sinned” shows the result of our nature
    • Ex: Spanish man born in U.S.

How did we become sinners?

  • “through the one man’s disobedience” (Romans 5:19a)
    • Ex: Last name is not chosen, will not change.  
    • Ex: If grandfather died at age 3, I would never exist.  

How do we change?

  • “through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19b)
    • In Christ we receive everything that is of Christ.

Romans 5:19-6:7

  • 6:1 – our nature should be different
  • Since we came in by birth, we must go out by death
    • Death is the secret: “we who died to sin” (v. 2)
    • Ex. Getting rid of alcohol.

How do we die?

  • Romans 6:3 – our death is found in Jesus’ death
  • Romans 6:6 – crucifixion
    • Impossible to commit suicide by crucifixion

How do we get “into Christ Jesus”?

  • 1 Corinthians 1:27-30
    • “you are in Christ Jesus” (v. 30)
    • “By God’s doing” (v. 30)
    • We must accept this as a divine fact
  • In Hebrews 7, all of Israel was included in Abraham collectively (even though they hadn’t been born)
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14 – when Jesus was crucified, all of us were crucified there with Him
    • The Church is called Christ’s Body (Colossians 1:24)
    • Ex: Paper inside book.
  • Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20; 5:24; 6:14
    • All references in New Testament to being crucified are in the Greek aorist (the “once-for-all” tense, the “eternally past” tense)
  • Impossible to commit suicide by crucifixion
    • God had to put us in Christ

1 Corinthians 15:45,47

  • Beginning of letter shows us we are “in Christ”
  • Jesus = “the last Adam”
    • Relates to His death
    • Crucified as the last Adam
      • We were included (Rom. 6:5)
      • We died with Him as last Adam
  • Jesus = “the second Man”
    • He is the head of a new race
    • Relates to his resurrection
    • Resurrected as second Man
      • We were included (Rom. 6:5)
      • We live with him as the second Man
  • Cross translates us from Adam to Christ

2 Corinthians 5:14,17

  • Out of death there is brought new creation (the second Man)
  • If we are “in Adam” we naturally act sinful, if we are “In Christ” all that is in Christ comes by free grace

How does the truth of our death become real in our experience?

Romans 6-8…

  1. KNOWING (Romans 6:6)
  2. RECKONING (Romans 6:11)


Romans 6:6

  • In Jesus’ death we all died
    • We cannot have justification if we have not seen Jesus bearing our sins on the Cross; we cannot have sanctification if we have not seen him bearing us on the Cross
    • Sins have been laid on Him, we ourselves have been put into Him.
    • How did you receive forgiveness and deliverance?
      • Faith/realization
      • Ps. 106:12: All that is left is praise
  • “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)…“Our old man was crucified with him” (Romans 6:6)… “We died with Christ” (Romans 6:8)


  • Romans 6:6 – when Christ died, you died too
    • Hebrews 7:9-10
    • Exodus 12:11

How do we know?

  • Why do you believe that Jesus was crucified?
    • Bible says (John 19:33)
  • Why do you believe two thieves were crucified with Jesus?
    • Bible says (John 19:32)
  • Why believe you have died with Christ?
    • Bible says (Romans 6:6)
  • “It does not depend on your feelings.  If you feel that Christ has died, he has died; and if you do not feel that he has died, he has died.  If you feel that you have died, you have died; and if you do not feel that you have died, you have nevertheless just as surely died.  These are divine facts.  That Christ has died is a fact, that the two thieves have died is a fact, and that you have died is a fact also.  Let me tell you, You have died!  You are done with!  You are ruled out!  The self you loathe is on the Cross in Christ.  And “he that is dead is freed from sin” (Rom. 6:7).  This is the Gospel for Christians.” (Nee)

How are you delivered from sin?

Romans 6:6-7

  • Luke 23:18,21 – crucifixion = “away with this man”
  • Ex: Abusive husband dies.
    • Romans 6:7
  • Man tries to be stronger and stronger, God’s way is to make you weaker and weaker

 “Knowing this…” (Romans 6:6)

What is knowledge of this?

*  Ephesians 1:15-23

*  Revelation…eyes of the heart need to be opened

  • Ex: Watchman Nee’s revelation.
  • Ex: Getting into room we’re already in.
  • Ex: Thermos flask.
  • Prayers should turn to praise

*  Galatians 2:20

Hudson Taylor writes…

“Here, I feel, is the secret: not asking how I am to get sap out of the Vine into myself, but remembering that Jesus is the Vine – the root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit, all indeed.”

“I have not got to make myself a branch.  The Lord Jesus tells me I am a branch.  I am part of him and I have just to believe it and act upon it.  I have seen it long enough in the Bible, but I believe it now as a living reality.”

“I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful – and yet, all is new!  In a word, ‘whereas once I was blind, now I see.’…I am dead and buried with Christ – aye, and risen too and ascended…God reckons me so, and tells me to reckon myself so.  He knows best…Oh, the joy of seeing this truth – I do pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.”

References:  “Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee

THE BLOOD OF JESUS: An Introductory Study (Full-Text)

By Brian Holda (2005)


This study may almost seem basic at first, however, when I started looking at this stuff, I realized how much I never really knew about what should be basic things: the blood of Jesus, the power of the cross, etc.  Studying these proved to be life-changing for me.  Much of this material comes from The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee.  

Nee died in the early 1970’s and spent the last twenty years of his life in prison in China.  He is a Chinese man who is acknowledged as one of the leading Bible teachers ever.  Nee would preach in front of thousands who would come from all over the world, and a lot of his preaching was later transposed into books.  One of these books is The Normal Christian Life.


“How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:29).  In this verse we see that one of the very worst things a human could do, in God’s eyes, is regard Jesus’ Blood as unclean or common.  Counting the Blood as a common or unclean thing deserves supreme punishment from God.  This gives strong reason why we need to talk about the Blood.  Do we count the Blood as common or unclean?  Do we see the holiness of Jesus’ Blood?

At the onset, we must understand why it is essential to study Jesus’ sacrifice.  Rev. 5:8 says, “When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”  Comparing this to John 1:35-37 (“Behold, the Lamb of God!”), we can see that “the Lamb” is another name for Jesus.  

In John 1:35-37, why does John the Baptist introduce Jesus as a Lamb?  Why not say, Here is the Messiah?  Or the Savior?  Or God?  John does not say any of these things.  The only thing he says is, “Look at the Lamb”.  To a Jewish mind, this title would remind them of sacrifice and slaughter.  They knew that the purpose of a lamb is to be sacrificed, so when they heard this they could have recognized that Jesus was sent to die.  Even when Jesus walked on earth, He would be recognized by His sacrifice.  This is the supreme reason He came, and why even after He died He is seen in heaven as a Lamb.  

In heaven, as well as on earth, He is known by His sacrifice.  It is all centered around His sacrifice.  Even the praise music centered around the Lamb – Jesus (see Rev. 5:8)!  

Look at Rev. 5:9: “You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”  Jesus cannot be separated from His title as Lamb, and the Lamb cannot be separated from the Blood that was slain for all mankind.  This is the scene in heaven.  This is the focus of their prayers and music: the Lamb that was slain.  

It is paramount for us to realize that prayer cannot be a separate thing from Jesus’ sacrifice.  Praise music cannot be a separate thing from Jesus’ sacrifice.  All of our life must be centered around the sacrifice of Jesus.  True worship and true prayer must center around Christ’s sacrifice.  

We will look now at an incident with Samuel, the last judge in the Scriptures.  Samuel is undoubtedly one of the most underrated men in the entire Bible.  Few preachers seem to talk about him today, but in the Bible, Samuel is elevated as a hero of the faith the likes of Moses (see Jeremiah 15:1).  In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel calls forth Israel to pray over them.  While they all are gathered around to receive his prayer, the Philistines (Israel’s enemies) surround Israel in hopes of ambushing and attacking them.  When Israel realizes what is taking place, they become very distressed and yell out to Samuel to not cease praying on their behalf (1 Samuel 7:8).  In 1 Samuel 7:9, though, before Samuel prayed, we see that he sacrificed a suckling lamb first.  It was only after this that he prayed.

The order for Samuel was: 1) sacrifice the lamb, 2) cry out to God.

Verse 10 shows God’s response: “the LORD thundered with a great thunder…and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel.”  Notice also that the wording of verse 10 would imply God did this during the sacrifice of the lamb.  It may have been even before they prayed that God honored their requests because of their faithfulness to sacrifice the lamb.  In verse 13 we see that the Philistines never again came within the border of Israel, “And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.”

There are perhaps only a few today, if any, who have this kind of power before God in prayer against the enemy – the power that sent the Philistines to never again come within the borders of Israel.  The thing we all must notice is that Samuel, who was a great prayer warrior, before he would even pray, had to sacrifice the lamb.  He has clear priorities, and God seemed to agree with these priorities.  He was not someone who said in haste, “Let’s pray right now!  Let’s pray right now!”  No.  First, he had to sacrifice the lamb, and then he went to prayer.  

Today, we don’t take lambs to the temple to offer up for sacrifice anymore, because Jesus is the Lamb.  Our duty, then, is to understand fully what Jesus did in His sacrifice.  This is what we must do now, and this is why it is given us in the Scriptures.  This is why it is so important.  I guarantee it for your prayer life, if nothing else.  If we do not understand Christ’s sacrifice, I believe it is entirely impossible to have the power Samuel had in prayer.  We must understand the sacrifice before we can become prayer warriors.  

The BLOOD and “SINS” as compared to the CROSS and “SIN”

To fully understand Christ’s sacrifice, we would need to read the book of Romans.  Romans is the heart of the gospel in full measure – the Blood, the cross, what it means for us, etc.  We will now draw our attention to the Blood.  

The focus of Romans 3:20-26 is specifically on the blood.  Romans 3:25 speaks of Jesus as the One “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith”.  So what does the Blood of Jesus concern?  Verse 20 says, “by the works of the law no flesh will be justified,” and verse 25 tells us that God “passed over the sins previously committed,”.  We must be clear that Christ’s Blood and Christ’s cross deal with two separate things according to Romans.  The Blood deals with the actual deeds you have done – the actual sins.  This is why the Bible tells us that by the Blood our deeds have been justified.  Whereas the cross deals with who you are – the sinner.  

There is this clear distinction in Romans.  In the first 4 ½ chapters of Romans there is a key word: sins.  This is a plural word that speaks of the actual deeds you have committed.  Another key word in this section is “Blood”.  This is because the blood is what covers your sins.  We praise God that all of our sinful deeds are covered by Christ’s Blood, but we must see that God does not want to end there.  We also, as humans, are sin factories.  We produce sins all the time.  God must kill this factory to give us a new life as well.  We have to be clear on this distinction.  

The Blood, then, answers the problem of our sins, deals with what we have done, and it changes our conscience.  Whereas the cross answers the problem of our sin (singular).  It deals with the sinner.  The nature of this study is to deal with the Blood, which handles our deeds, but in a future study we hope to see how God deals with our person and changes our lives as well.  


We have spoken previously of the Blood justifying our sins, but it must be noted that this does not excuse our sins.  In Romans 5 it says that by Christ’s blood we are justified before the Lord.  This doesn’t make our sins right, but it means that we have been justified by Christ’s Blood.  A definition of justified that speaks precisely of the nature of our justification is this: just-as-if-I’d never sinned.  This is the way I think of justified.  By no means does this say that God excuses your sins, but rather Christ’s Blood acquits your sins as if to say you are totally innocent of what you should be charged for.  He trades Jesus’ Blood for your sins.  The Cross, however, must kill the sinner, so that we can have Jesus’ new life.  

Now we must talk about sins.  Romans 5:12 says that SIN entered the world through one man and made all people sinners, and Romans 5:19 says that through the DISOBEDIENCE of one man many were made sinners.  These verses contrast Adam with Jesus.  In verse 12 it is called sin, and in verse 19 it is called disobedience.  This gives us a definition of sin: disobedience.  Disobedience from God’s nature, disobedience from God’s law, disobedience from all of what God has given.  This is what sin is.  

We turn our attention now to the beginning of creation to see all of the effects of sin, and all of where the Blood answers those effects.  In Genesis 2:15-17, the LORD God is giving commands to the man.  God is talking directly to the man, and says that the only thing Adam must obey is one negative commandment: Do not eat from that tree.  Of course we know what happens.  

Look now at Genesis 3:6-9.  Verse 8 indicates that the first result of their eating the fruit was hearing God walking in the garden.  We already saw that God was in the immediate presence of the man (Gen. 2:15-17) and gave an immediate command to them.  But after they eat the fruit, they hear God walking in the distance.  This indicates that they are no longer in God’s immediate presence.  In one sense, God can no longer see them.  

“Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Gen. 2:9).  This is chilling to me.  I have thought about this verse over and over.  How would it have been to have God ask where are you?  It clearly means that you are no longer in His presence.  You are nowhere to be found in God’s presence.  Where are you?  I personally think that all of heaven must have curled down right at that point when God asks, Where are you?, to his supreme creation.  They left the presence of God there, and even later they were driven out of the entire garden.  The very first effect of sin is that you cannot live in God’s presence.

The next effect of sin can be gleaned by comparing Genesis 2:25 and Genesis 3:10.  Before they ate the fruit, they were “naked and not ashamed”, but after eating the fruit their eyes were opened and they were ashamed.  This is the next effect of sin.  Their eyes were opened, and they felt ashamed.  

I think we all know this to be the pattern of sin in our own life.  When something happens, we cannot be in God’s presence.  Before we knew Jesus we could never be in God’s presence.  The next thing, though, is that we feel ashamed.  While God is over here saying, Where are you?, they are over there hiding from God.  They hid.  Sometimes we think that the only thing that separated them from God was God Himself removing His presence, but that is not all.  They did not want to see God either.  When God wasn’t there, they still didn’t want to be where God was, because they were ashamed.

Now we will look at the third effect of sin.  Genesis 1:28 tells us that Adam and his wife had God’s power to control the things of the air, water, and earth.  “Rule over…every creeping thing that moves on the earth.”  This must include serpents.  Every animal they have control over.  However, the reason they sinned was because of obeying the request of the serpent.  The serpent came and said, “Isn’t this enticing fruit?” and they answered to him.  

Genesis 3:13 reveals their loss of dominion.  Eve says, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  Yet, she was supposed to have dominion over the serpent.  They relinquished their dominion when they let the serpent reign over their lives instead of the other way around.  They lost their power because they listened to the serpent.  This is why we are called enemies of God before we are Christians: we were on Satan’s side.  

In fact, Satan’s whole nature is accusing.  In Rev. 12:10, he is called the accuser.  Even the Hebrew word, Satan, literally means, ”the accuser”.  Satan is characterized by his accusing.  After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, though, their immediate response to God was accusing.  The man accused the wife of giving the fruit, and the wife accused the serpent.  This shows clearly that they took on part of Satan’s nature when they ate the fruit and started accusing others.  This is why Jesus calls all those who live in sin, in essence, children of the devil (John 8:44).  When we sin, Satan has usurped authority over us.  In Genesis 3:14, Satan is cursed to eat only the dust of the earth, yet it must be noted that Adam was formed of dust.  Satan had dominion (and still today has it) over all those born of Adam.  

To review, we see that the problem of sin has three parts:

  1. God-ward: separating us from God
  2. Manward: shame towards God
  3. Satan-ward: Satan gains dominion     

Since these are the effects of sin, the Blood must answer to all three of these things.  God already foreshadows this by covering the nakedness of the man and woman with animal skins (see Gen. 3:21).  To hide their shame and nakedness, God used animal skins, indicating that blood must be shed to truly cover them.  This is such a contrast with the covering of fig leaves.  Fig leaves may cover them for a season, but then wither away the next.  They will never last, and such is all covering outside of the Blood of Christ.


To answer the problem of sin God-ward, let’s turn to Leviticus 16.  This chapter focuses on the Day of Atonement.  This feast was celebrated one day of the year.  It was the only day of the year that the high priest would enter the immediate presence of God.  And, as seen by the title of this feast, this day was a day centered on atonement.

Leviticus 17:11 says: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”  Blood is here associated with atonement.  There are 100 different places in the Bible where we see blood linked with atonement.  For this reason, it seems that we must study the Day of Atonement if we are going to study the power of the Blood, because this is the actual day given specifically for atonement of sins.  

On this Day of Atonement, the high priest would come and take two goats, sacrificing one of these goats.  Leviticus 16:15 tells us that the priest sacrificed the goat outside of the temple, where all of the people were.  Hebrews 13:11-12 shows us that this relates to Jesus, who was sacrificed “outside the camp”.  Jesus, like the slaughtered goat, was sacrificed in public for everyone to see.  In the Day of Atonement, the whole public was there with the high priest.  The high priest came and sacrificed the goat for everyone to see.  It was a public presentation of the sacrifice.  

After this, the priest would take the blood that he gathered from that sacrifice and go inside the veil of the Holy of Holies, where no one can see, and sprinkled the blood seven times on all of the things there.  Lev. 16:17 describes this.  The first thing we notice is that no one, besides the high priest, was allowed to enter.  The high priest was making atonement for everyone’s sins, yet no person could see this transaction.  The people’s sins were being taken care of without their seeing.  It is only between the high priest and God at this point, and the people were left to trust that this is what actually took place.  This shows us that, first of all, the blood is for God’s eyes.  The blood was presented for God.  

Hebrews 9:7 testifies that ONLY the high priest was allowed to enter, to forgive the sins of everybody.  Vv. 11-12 shows us that the most holy place (the Holy of Holies) that the priest entered is a symbol for heaven.  We see here that Jesus is called the High Priest, and He carried His own blood, just as a high priest carries the blood of goats during the Day of Atonement.  As a high priest, Jesus was able to go up, and only Jesus, and present His blood before God on behalf of all of us.  We never saw that transaction.  None of us were there, and really, none of us could have been there.  Jesus was the only one allowed to go there as a high priest, and we are not allowed to watch.  However, we must realize that this work has been taken care of.  Why did this happen?  Because the Blood is first of all for God’s eyes.  God is the first one concerned.  In one sense, we can say that it is between God and God!  

Also, the fact that only one person can enter the Holy Place tells us that Jesus truly is the ONLY way to come to God.  There are good verses that testify to this (John 14:6, Acts 4:12), but this Day of Atonement shows us the concept of why Jesus is the only way to God.  It is all about the Blood.  Jesus had to show this to God on our behalf, because the blood is for God’s eyes.  Jesus is the only one who can restore our relationship and fellowship with God.

In Lev. 16:20-22, we see that after the transaction, both the high priest who was in the Holy Place, and the people who were not there (they just had to believe that it happened), took the second goat and sent him to the desert.  The priest was, in essence, showing the people the reality of what took place in the transaction with the blood.  This goat was sent far away from their presence.  This is a picture of what happens when we accept that Jesus went to God the Father, after He resurrected, and offered His Blood.  We were not there.  We have to accept this.  Just as the goat went into the wilderness, our sins have been sent away too.

Romans 5:8-9 tells us that we who believe have been justified by Christ’s Blood.  We are saved – we are spared; our sins are on that goat – when we believe that Jesus presented His Blood for God’s eyes first.  What is our responsibility, then?

The focus of Lev. 16 is first on the high priest then later it goes to the people (all of the people who saw the public sacrifice).  Lev. 16:29-31 gives the people a very clear job concerning this sacrifice.  For the people on the outside, their job was to do nothing.  That was their only job, and this is really good news for us.  The only things they were supposed to do were to rest and humble themselves.  They humbled themselves because they could do nothing.  They had to accept verse 30: “it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you”.  They had to accept the finished work in that Holy of Holies that they could not be a part of.  They must accept this and simply rest, acknowledging that fact.  And actually, the way they did this was through fasting.  This becomes an interesting and powerful way to look at fasting when we see that we are not doing any work when we are fasting.  We are only humbling ourselves to let the high priest do the work.  This is a very powerful picture to realize that the Blood is first of all for God’s eyes, and our job is to rest in that work.

Another foreshadowing of the Blood of the Lamb is seen in the Passover Feast of Exodus 12.  Let us remember that both Exodus and Leviticus were written 1,500 years before Christ was ever born.  Just think of how specific everything is with what Jesus did and the work it does in us, and yet it was written centuries before Christ was even born.  It seems that in the Passover Feast, itself, the entire book of Romans can be seen.

Exodus 12:5-8, 12-13 shows some of the requirements for this feast.  

The final plague of Egypt was the killing of the firstborns.  The only thing that saved someone from this was the blood of the lamb that was spread on their doorframe.  The blood was spread on the top of the door, and the two sides.  Many have commented that this makes the shape of the cross, probably as a type for Jesus’ Blood that was shed on the cross.  But we must also remember that it was on the doorposts on the outside of the house that the blood was spread.  During this feast, the people had a specific job as seen in verse 8.  The job of the people was to stay inside when this all took place.  They were to stay inside, eating and enjoying this feast.  Specifically, they were eating the lamb that had just been slaughtered – the dead lamb.  I believe this is part of the crucifixion of Christ.  You take in His death, dying with Him.  

So they are all taking this in and eating when God comes by and looks at the blood (see v. 13).  They never saw this transaction.  It doesn’t matter though, because the Blood is first off only for God’s eyes.  God has to see it first.  That is the true power of the Blood.  And we must trust that if He sees it, then it is done.  Our job is only to take in the death of Christ, inside the house, apart from this transaction.  

Remember also that the firstborn was being spared from this act.  What does this mean?  The firstborn always symbolizes your new life.  It is the new life that comes from you when you join with another.  If you have the Blood, then, that God sees, you get to have new life.  This is a powerful allusion here.  It is the Blood that covers your sins, God erases them, and you also take in the death of the Lamb and get new life to live.  Egypt, however, did not have the blood to cover them, so their firstborn had to die.  They could not have new life.  New life begins when God sees the Blood of His Son.  

Hebrews 12:14 tells us that without holiness, no one can see or will see the LORD.  This shows the foolishness of us when we think we can make it to heaven by our own merits.  God does not care how much better you are than other people.  The only requirement to see the LORD is holiness.  We must be holy to be in the presence of God and to see God.  This is a serious matter.  It is not a matter of being better than the other people.  It is about being holy.  So how can we be holy?

1 Peter 1:18-19 shows a contrast between Jesus’ Blood and silver and gold.  The Blood is spoken of as better than silver and gold because those things perish and do not last forever, but the Blood will last longer than silver and gold.  In God’s eyes, that is enough for Him to see.  He only needs to see the Blood on the doorposts, so to speak, and He moves on.  It is enough.  We, then, need to stop trying to feel out the Blood.  We need to cease asking if the Blood really covers all of our sins.  Stop asking, Does it REALLY cover all?  There are some sins we have committed that make us question if God would really forgive us.  We have to look through God’s eyes, and see that He calls the Blood “precious” (v. 19).  When we ask what God’s value of the Blood is, who cares how much we really feel that it doesn’t cover all of our sins.  First off, the Blood is not even for you.  It’s all on the outside of the doorposts.


We see, then, that the Blood was offered when Jesus went up to God.  This transaction was only for God’s eyes, and we receive, by faith, that our sins are covered.  But what about where this directly relates to us?  We remember that when God called out to Adam and Eve that they were not in His presence, but they did not want to be in His presence either.  They would rather cover their nakedness with some temporary thing and hide in shame, than seek God.  Today, then, when God says “Yes” to us, why do we still hide in shame?

Hebrews 10:22 shows another aspect of the Blood of Jesus.  Here we read that our hearts are sprinkled from a guilty (or evil) conscience.  We must first realize that this does NOT mean that our whole heart is made completely pure.  Jeremiah 17:9 says that our heart is beyond cure.  In God’s eyes, your heart cannot be cured.  If your heart can’t be cured, God needs to give you a new heart.  In Ezekiel 36:26, God says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you”.  These Scriptures prove that the cleansing of Hebrews 10:22 is not in purifying your old heart.  Rather, this verse speaks of cleansing your conscience.  The conscience says there is still a barrier between God and myself, that God would not want to really interact.  It tells us that we can’t have true prayer with God because of sins committed last year, earlier today, etc.

God answers this in the first part of Heb. 10:22: “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith”.  We can see here that faith and our conscience are linked together.  This is consistent throughout the Scriptures (1 Tim. 1:19, for instance).  From our personal experience, how often has a guilty conscience plagued us from having a strong faith?  You may have faith in the Lord, and faith that you can pray, but if you have a guilty conscience, how long does your faith usually last?  We all know that our faith never lasts long in such circumstances.  We may have much faith, but still say, “I can’t talk to God, because my conscience is so guilty.”  Faith and conscience go together here.  But if we see, through the power of the Word, that Christ’s Blood cleanses our guilty conscience, and take this statement in faith, we will be granted a new faith and a new boldness in approaching God.  We don’t have shame and guilt anymore and we can’t have shame and guilt anymore.  Guilt and shame are not the work of the LORD, because our conscience has been cleansed by the Blood of Jesus.  

Hebrews 10:19 shows us that we enter God’s presence with confidence by the Blood of Jesus.  If we realize this fact, that we are allowed in prayer – in faith – to enter by the Blood of Jesus, then the struggle is done.  You can never have a guilty conscience.  Christ’s Blood excludes a guilty conscience.  We must enter by the Blood.

What does it mean to enter by the Blood of Jesus?  I believe this is an accepting that, first of all, the Blood is for God’s eyes and the justification is done – God only needed to see the Blood to pass over your sins.  The second action of entering by the Blood is a confessing of sins to God as He exposes those sins.  Entering by the Blood is accepting that I can’t be holy except by the Blood of Jesus.  To enter by the Blood is resting in the work of Jesus’ Blood, in the work that our High Priest did.  Not only does this allow us to come to the presence of God, but it allows us to come with boldness and confidence (Heb. 10:19).  My feeling is that today, in this place, we don’t have much boldness in our prayer life and in our asking.  There is a true lack of boldness.  

For example, look at the manner of prayer Jesus teaches us to pray.  We all know this: “Our Father/ Who art in heaven…”  In Matthew 6:11, Jesus tells us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  How many of us can say that we talk to God in this manner, “Give us”?  How many are that bold to ask of God and say, “Give us”?  Jesus says, though, that this is our model prayer.  We are much more likely to say, “Please, if you will…”.  Many times I’m afraid our prayers are watered down because we don’t understand the value of the Blood.  We don’t understand that we are brought in and purchased by the Blood.  We don’t understand that our conscience has been cleansed.  If we begin to understand the power of the Blood, we can have much boldness in our prayer life.  Do we see this?

We can know, by the Blood, that we can ask God for things that we previously had no right to ask.  This is our problem, that we know we have no right to come before God and ask anything of Him.  We know He’s already done too much for us.  We know this, so we start wondering if we can really be so bold to ask for much from God.  But this seems to be an unscriptural attitude.  We must see the value of the Blood.  We should have boldness in the LORD now, and see that our conscience has been cleansed.              

Ephesians 2:13 explains that the Blood first brings us near to God.  Consequently, as seen in Hebrews 10:22, we later are called to draw near ourselves through the power of the Blood.  So first, the Blood brings us to God’s presence, and then, after this, we must draw near.  This is the pattern.  The blood brings us near, yet we must also draw near by the Blood.  This is not a one-time deal.  Every hour, every minute, every second, we are to enter by the Blood.  We are to understand that our conscience has been cleansed – all of the shame is done.  

I believe an example of coming by the Blood can be seen in Daniel 9.  Daniel is here praying on behalf of the entire Israelite nation.  Israel was being beaten and enslaved, yet Daniel came boldly before God in prayer.  In Daniel 9:15-16, we can see his example.  In verse 15, Daniel confesses the sins of Israel.  This is part of what it means to come by the Blood: to recognize that you have sinned and messed up.  After this, though, Daniel appeals to God by saying, “in accordance with all Your righteous acts” (Dan. 9:16).  Remember, Daniel is praying that an entire nation be freed from their slavery and punishment that they deserved.  This was not, then, any small request, but he appeals to God’s righteousness.  He gained his boldness by leaning on God’s righteousness.  He understood what too few of us seem to grasp.  He could ask bold prayers, not because he’s had a good day.  Not because he’s prayed a little more today or been reading the Bible a little more today, or because he’s done a good deed today.  He didn’t come with any of those things.  He didn’t say to God, “Answer me now because I have done this for you and that for you.”  No.  He knew that even though he, himself, may not have acted sinfully, the whole people have sinned and he was part of them.  He knew this, and yet understood a precious truth: God will answer when you appeal to His RIGHTEOUSNESS.  And His supreme act of righteousness is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  

When we appeal today to the Blood of Christ, we know we can ask bold things.  This is a precious truth.  Too many times we have all believed that it is only on “good” days that we can pray powerfully to God.  We believe that it is only when I have done a little extra “goodness”.  It is only when I have done something good.  And on those bad days when we mess up and acted in disobedience in some way, we never have a good prayer life.  This is all due to our mixed-up priorities.  We think it is about how good we have been, when according to God, it is all about His Blood – entering the prayer room by His Blood, entering closer to Him, by His Blood.  We must understand that no matter how bad you’ve sinned, Jesus’ Blood has covered it, if you are willing to receive the work of His Blood.  

In Hebrews 10:1-4, the author of Hebrews is comparing Jesus’ blood with the blood sacrificed in the Old Testament Law.  The author says that the blood used in the Old Testament was not worth as much as Jesus’ blood.  Verse 2 says, “If it could, would they not have stopped being offered?  For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.” (NIV).  If the blood they used was as worthy as Jesus’ blood, they would have no longer felt guilty.  For us, then, we should no longer feel guilty.  There should be no guilt here.  By Jesus’ blood, your conscious has been cleansed.  

Our guiltiness is much of Satan’s work (as we shall see shortly) in accusing us and telling us that we’re not good enough.  This happens when our eyes look away from Jesus’ blood.  The blood, though, is first for God’s eyes.  During the Passover, He only had to see the blood on the outside, no matter what was happening on the inside.  It is first for God’s eyes, we must know this.  There should be no more guilt, because the Blood of Jesus is all sufficient.  We need to be certain not to treat the Blood of Jesus as a common or unclean thing (see Heb. 10:29).  The Blood of Jesus is a supremely Holy thing.  No matter how bad you may sin, you cannot change the power and holiness of the Blood.  God has already accepted this, and we must too.  


Finally, we need to study the answer that the Blood gives Satan-ward.  This is our last problem.  We see how God accepts the Blood.  We see how our conscious has been cleansed.  Now we need to deal with Satan’s work.  

As we have said, the chief duty of Satan is to accuse.  There are two ways that Satan can accuse.  He used to be allowed in the presence of God, and he would go and accuse people in God’s presence.  He used to be able to go to God and point at so-and-so, and say, He messed up here, here, and here.  And God had to say, “Yes, you’re right, and I can’t [in one sense] do anything about it, because he is on your side.”  

This was the power Satan had over them before the Blood of Christ.  He could accuse us before God and he could accuse us before ourselves as well.  He could say to us, “You’re not worthy!  You’re not worthy to receive anything from God!”

We need to look at how this has been answered by Jesus’ Blood.  In Hebrews 9:7 we see that the high priest could enter the Holy room only by the blood.  This means that Jesus was qualified to enter because He carried his own Blood.  He could enter the Holy room and be in God’s presence.  As High Priest, Jesus is allowed to do many things on our behalf.  

Hebrews 7:24-25 tells us that Jesus, as High Priest, is now able to intercede on our behalf.  Remember that when man sinned he joined the side of Satan, because Satan had total accusation against him.  Satan could truly say about man that he had sinned and messed up, because Satan knows that God’s only standard is holiness and man fell short of this standard.  (We have all fallen short of the glory of God).  Everyone has fallen short of God’s standard.  But then Jesus came and, by His Blood, entered the presence of God where He can now act on our side.  This is only because of His Blood.  It’s not because we’ve done something good.  He could act on our side because of His Blood, and He can start interceding for us, against Satan.  

Since this has happened, what is Satan able to say against us now?  What can he do now that Jesus is in the presence of God?  How can he be against us?  Romans 8:31 says, “What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who is against us?”  Paul asked the question before I did.  If Jesus did all of these things for us, if He is on our side making intercession, who can be against us now?  

Rom. 8:32-33 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?  Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?  God is the one who justifies”.  Paul asks the question again: Who will now bring the charges?  Satan was able to do this.  He was able to come to God and say, “He’s done this, he’s done this, he’s done this, he’s done this…” and he was fine to say that.  But Paul asks who can do this now?  Why can’t Satan?  Because it is God who justifies.  By Christ’s Blood you have been justified.  Satan can’t sit there anymore.  Jesus says that He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18).  Without treating this subject in depth at this time, we can see that Satan used to be able to go before God and accuse the people.  But now, who can do that?  When God is on your side, when you’ve joined the side of God, when you’ve given your life over to the LORD, who can do that now?

Romans 8:34 says, “who is the one who condemns?  Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”  Who, then, can really kill us?  This says that Christ Jesus died and rose, so Satan can’t get us there.  Jesus is also there now making intercession for us.  He has been doing this for 2,000 years, on behalf of all those who have joined His side and accept His Blood.  Satan has no way anymore.  This may be one of my favorite aspects of the Blood.  Think about it, Satan was able to charge me on everything I’ve done.  He could say, “You’ve done this, you’ve done this, you’ve done this…” and I had no power because I knew he was right.  I knew I had messed up.  But who can do that anymore when Christ is on your side?  Jesus is making intercession because of His Blood.  

1 John 1:7 says, “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  This tells us that Jesus cleanses us from all sin.  All sin.  This does not mean all sin in a general or vague sense, but it may be more accurate to say every sin, as the Greek implies here.  Every single sin.

This gives us a problem and a solution.  This scripture states, “if we walk in the Light”.  This is a problem because our darkness is exposed when we are walking in the Light, in the presence of God.  The Light exposes all of our darkness.  This is a very real problem for us, and if this verse stopped there, we would be in danger.  If we’re walking in the presence of God, then He has light on all of us.  Every single thing you did.  What you did ten years ago, five years ago, and this morning.  We are totally in the light now.

This reminds me of Song of Solomon.  In this book you have a beautiful picture of the Bride and Husband which is symbolic of Christ and the Church.  One of the first things that happened in this book is the drawing away of that beautiful Bride into the bed chambers of the Husband.  Immediately she is taken into this intimate place with the Husband.  When she was there, though, the light of the Husband’s presence showed that she had been darkened by the sun.  This was exposed when she was in such an intimate presence with the Husband.  This is what happens to us.  When we are brought into an intimate presence with Christ, our darkness is brought into the light.  This would not be a good thing for us.  God literally cannot stand to be in the presence of anything short of holiness.  He must have holiness.  But the reason we can now have fellowship in the Light is because of the Blood of Jesus.  The blood cleanses us of every sin.  Every sin.  This is why Song of Songs 1:5 has the bride saying she is “dark but lovely”.  She is dark because the light exposes her darkness, but lovely because the Husband has remedied her darkness (with the Blood of Christ).  

Before the Blood of Christ, Satan could go to God and say, “Well such-and-such has done this, this, and this.”  And God could only say, “You’re right.”  We all used to be enemies of God in a very real sense.  But now, everywhere Satan points, God can answer back with the blood of His Son.  Satan will point to this, and God answers with the Blood.  Satan will point to that, and God answers with the Blood.  Every sin has been covered.  

It reminds me of the introduction to James Bond movies.  In these, James shoots the TV screen and a red color (symbolizing blood) fills the screen.  There is then a covering of blood between the viewer and James Bond’s character.  This is helpful to think about.  It is as if I am like James Bond, and God is watching this picture of what I am doing, but there is a lens of Blood that covers everything that I do.  This is a direct answer to Satan’s accusations.  There is nothing he can point to that is not covered by the blood.

1 John 2:1-2 says: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”  Here we see that God hopes that we live without sin, and He gives us His Word to combat our sinful nature.  BUT, we also need to realize that Christ is now our advocate if we sin.  Every sin we commit is answered by our Advocate, Jesus Christ.  It is through His Blood that He acts as advocate whenever we sin.  We need to see that Christ’s Blood has given provision for all sins that we could commit.  Past, present, and future.

It seems that a similar picture is spoken of prophetically in Zechariah 3:1-5.  Joshua is seen here with two figures standing before him: “the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him”.  (The angel of the LORD is thought to be Jesus).  Satan is seen here accusing, as his nature entails.  In this scene, it is the Lord who rebukes Satan and his accusations.  Joshua, though, was still clothed with filthy garments for Satan to accuse.  In order for the LORD to rebuke Satan’s accusations, He must remove the filthy garments from Joshua’s life.  He does this, and gives him new garments so that Satan has no room for accusing.  Revelation 19:8 shows that clean garments are the righteous acts of the saints, and Romans says explicitly that our righteousness comes from Christ’s blood, so it seems that the garments given to Joshua in Zechariah 3 speak of Christ’s Blood shed on our behalf to wash us clean.

As we have seen, Satan has lost all of his power to accuse people before God, on account of the Blood of Jesus.  He used to be able to point out our sins in the presence of God, but now there is not one sin he can point to that has not been covered by the Blood.

Revelation 12 shows Satan being hurled down from heaven, not allowed there anymore.  But his presence is still very much upon the earth.  Rev. 12:17 shows Satan being enraged with Christians, and reveals that he will constantly attack us.  Even in Gen. 3:15, although Satan’s head will be crushed, he still will be able to strike the heel of the offspring of Jesus.  He has lost all accusations before God because of the Blood, but he still seeks to accuse the conscience of Christians today.

Satan will say to Christians, “You have sinned, and keep on sinning.  You are weak, and God can have nothing more to do with you.”  Immediately, our response is either to look within and self-defend, or to travel into depression and despair.  We will try to convince ourselves and Satan that we are strong and can stop sinning on our own.  But, as soon as we do this we have lost the battle.  Satan will always win if we try to look for our own righteousness, and ignore the righteousness of Jesus.

In Philippians 3:3, Paul says he puts no confidence in his flesh.  NO confidence.  He has learned that it is not the flesh that will defeat Satan.  In fact, the Serpent feeds off of the dust of the earth (Gen. 3:14).  Since Adam was made of dust, and we are his offspring, we only feed Satan when we live by the flesh and look for victory in our flesh.  Our key is to stop looking at ourselves to defend against Satan, and look instead to Jesus and His finished work.  Hebrews 12:1-2 talks of running the race by “fixing our eyes on Jesus”.  Any runner who looks downward at himself will only trip up and fall.  When Satan accuses us, we must rather point to Jesus’ finished work and the Truth of God’s Word.  When Satan says, “You are weak and sinful and God wants nothing to do with you,” we need to learn to say, “IT IS WRITTEN that Christ’s Blood covers every sin.”  We need to learn to constantly point to Jesus and His work, because His work will never change.  We will always have good and bad days, but Jesus’ work will never change.

A man who is under accusation is a man not trusting in the Blood.  The Blood always speaks in man’s favor.  It answers every unrighteous act we have committed or will commit.  We need to know God’s Word on this matter and stop listening to Satan.  Christ is truly our Advocate, but the accused have sadly sided with the accuser (Satan).  It is God ALONE who can answer Satan’s accusations, by His Blood.  For even Michael the archangel did not try to argue with Satan, but rather said, “The Lord Rebuke you!” (Jude 9).  

We will win against Satan’s accusations if we always answer him with the Blood.  Our faith and obstinacy in the precious Blood silences Satan and puts him to flight (see Romans 8:33-34).  In Revelation 12, when Satan is thrown down from heaven and goes to accuse the Christians, they were able to overcome him using 3 weapons.  The very first weapon they used was the Blood of the Lamb:  “the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb…” (Rev. 12:10-11).  This is a most precious Truth about the Blood of the Lamb.


We have seen that the Blood of Christ has answered every problem created by sin.  First God-ward, then Man-ward, and finally Satan-ward.  It is also by this very same blood that we were purchased as slaves of righteousness unto God (1 Cor. 6:20).  At the end of our study, then, we must ask one final question: 

What would happen if we valued Christ’s Precious Blood the way God values it?

APPENDIX A – Appropriating the Blood in our life.

Excerpt from “If Anyone Sins” by Watchman Nee…


…we must first realize that the Lord Jesus has borne all our sins on the cross. All the sins which we have committed, as well as those we are committing and will commit during our whole life, were borne by the Lord on the cross.

However, on the day we believed in the Lord, under God’s light we only saw the sins that we had committed before we had believed. A man can only be conscious of the sins which God shines His light upon; he cannot feel the sins which he has not yet committed. Therefore, the actual sins the Lord Jesus bore on the cross are more than the sins that we see. The Lord Jesus bore all of our sins on the cross, but we see only the sins which we have committed.

You may have been saved at the age of sixteen, or you may have been saved at the age of thirty-two. All the sins you committed before your salvation are absolutely and totally forgiven by the Lord. However, at the time of your forgiveness, the number of sins that you were conscious of was actually much less than the actual number of sins which the Lord bore for you. Your experience of the Lord’s grace went only so far as your personal experience of your sin. But the Lord’s work on our behalf was based on His knowledge of our sins. We must realize that even the sins that we are not conscious of are included in the Lord Jesus’ redemption.

Perhaps you were saved at the age of sixteen. Suppose you had committed a thousand sins during the first sixteen years of your life. You might have said at the time you believed in the Lord, “I thank You. My sins have been forgiven because You have taken away all my sins.” In saying that the Lord had taken your sins away, you meant that the Lord had dealt with your one thousand sins. What would have happened if you had been saved at the age of thirty-two instead? Proportionally, you probably would have committed two thousand sins by the age of thirty-two. You might have said the same thing: “0 Lord, You have borne all my sins.” If you were saved at sixty-four years of age, you would have said the same thing: “0 Lord, You have borne all my sins.” It is quite clear then that the Lord has dealt with the sins that were committed during the first sixteen years of your life as well as the sins that were committed from age sixteen to age sixty-four. The Lord dealt with all of your sins on the cross. The criminal on the cross did not believe in the Lord until just before he died, but the Lord took away all his sins (Luke 23:39-43). In other words, the Lord took away the sins of our whole life on the cross. Although, when we first believed in the Lord, we only felt the forgiveness of our past sins, in actuality, the Lord took away all our sins, even those we commit after we are saved. We must understand this fact before we can understand how to recover our fellowship with God.


We have a picture of the Lord’s vicarious death for our sins in the type of the ashes of the red heifer.

Numbers 19 is a very special chapter in the Old Testament. A heifer was used, which speaks of something special. This heifer was used not to meet a need at that moment but to meet a need in the future. This, too, is very significant.

In verse 2 God told Moses and Aaron, “Tell the sons of Israel to bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect, and upon which a yoke has never come.” A heifer, not a bull, was offered here. In the Bible gender is very meaningful. Male signifies everything related to the testimony of the truth, while female signifies everything related to the experience of life. This is a principle we should be familiar with in reading our Bible. Abraham speaks of justification by faith, while Sarah speaks of obedience. Justification by faith is objective; it has to do with truth and testimony. Obedience is subjective; it has to do with life and experience. Throughout the Bible the church is symbolized by females, because the church is subjective, being related to the Lord’s work in man. A heifer is used here instead of a bull because it represents another aspect of the Lord’s work His work toward man. The red heifer signifies a work that is subjective rather than objective.

What happened to the heifer? It was slaughtered, and its blood was taken and sprinkled seven times directly in front of the tent of meeting. In other words, the blood was offered to God because the work of the blood is always for God. The heifer’s blood was sprinkled seven times in front of the tent of meeting, signifying that it was for God and for the redemption of sin.

After the red heifer was killed, it was burned. The skin, the flesh, the blood, and the dung were all burned. The whole red heifer was burned. As it was being burned, the priest cast cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet into the midst of the fire. What do cedar wood and hyssop signify? First Kings 4:33 said that Solomon discoursed about trees, from the cedar to the hyssop. Cedar wood and hyssop therefore signify all the trees. In other words, they signify the whole world. What does scarlet signify? This word is also translated scarlet in Isaiah 1:18, which says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, / They will be as white as snow.” Scarlet, therefore, signifies our sins. For the cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet to be burned together means that the sins of the whole world were gathered together with the red heifer when it was offered up to God; they were all burned together. Here, we see a picture of the cross. The Lord Jesus offered Himself up to God. He embraced all our sins. The gross sins were there as well as the lesser sins. The sins of the past, the present, and the future were also there. The sins for which man feels the need of forgiveness, as well as the sins for which man does not feel the need of forgiveness, were there. All sins were upon the heifer, and they were all burned with it.

After they were burned, what was done next? Numbers 19:9 says, “A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and place them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the assembly of the sons of Israel for the water for impurity; it is a purification of sin.” What does this mean? This is what makes the red heifer so distinct. After the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet were burned with the heifer, the ashes were gathered up and kept in a clean place. Thereafter, if any of the Israelites touched something unclean and became unclean before God, another clean person could mix the water for impurity with the ashes and sprinkle it on the unclean person. This would remove the person’s uncleanness. In other words, the ashes were used to remove uncleanness. They were prepared for the future. They would be used when uncleanness was detected at a later time.

In the Old Testament, sinners needed to offer up sacrifices to the Lord. If a person had offered up a sacrifice and then touched something unclean, he would become unclean again before God and could no longer fellowship with Him. What did he have to do? Another person would take some ashes of the red heifer on this person’s behalf, put them in a vessel, pour in living water, mix it into the water for impurity, and sprinkle it on his body. The man’s uncleanness would then be removed and his sin forgiven. When an Israelite brought a bull or a lamb to the Lord and offered it up as a sin offering, he did it because of some known sin. But the red heifer was related to another matter. The burning of the red heifer was not for known sins which had been committed in the past, but for future uncleanness. The burning of the red heifer was not for past sins but for future transgressions.

This shows us another aspect of the Lord Jesus’ work. One aspect of the Lord’s work is like that of the ashes of the red heifer. The efficacy of redemption is signified by the ashes. The sins of the whole world are in it, and the blood is also in it. Whenever a man becomes unclean or has touched some unclean things, he does not need to kill another red heifer and offer it to God. He only needs to take the ashes of the red heifer that was offered once and mix them with water and sprinkle them on the body. In other words, there is no need for the Lord to do anything a second time. His redemption accomplished everything. He made provision for all of our future uncleanness and future sins. Everything has been fully accomplished by His redemption.

What do the ashes signify? In the Bible, ashes signify something in its final form. Whether a bull or a lamb, its final form after being burned is ashes. Ashes are very stable; they do not corrupt into something else. We cannot corrupt or destroy ashes. Ashes signify something in its final form.

The ashes of the red heifer signify the eternal and unchanging efficacy of the Lord’s redemption. The redemption which our Lord accomplished for us is most stable. Do not think that rocks on mountains are stable. Even rocks can be burned into ashes. Ashes are more stable than rocks. The ashes of the red heifer signify the Lord’s redemption which He has prepared for us. It is forever unchanging and incorruptible. We may apply it any time. If a Christian touches something unclean by accident and there is uncleanness in him, he does not have to ask the Lord to die for him again. He only needs to trust in the eternal and incorruptible efficacy of the ashes and to sprinkle his body with the water of life, and he will be clean. In other words, the ashes of the red heifer tell us that the past work of the cross is applicable for our use today. We also can say that the effectiveness of the cross covers all the needs we will ever have in the future. These ashes are specifically for the future. Only one red heifer needs to be burned, and it only needs to be burned once. Its ashes are enough to cover one’s whole life. Thank the Lord that His redemption is sufficient for our whole life. His death has taken away all our sins.


We have covered the side of the Lord’s work, which is redemption and the removal of our sins. What should we do on our side?

First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In this verse the word we refers to believers, not to sinners. When a believer sins, he must confess his sins. Only after he has confessed his sins will he be forgiven. When a believer sins, he should not ignore it or cover it up. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: / but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” When a believer sins, he must confess his sin. Do not give sin a nice name. Do not excuse yourself. Lying is a sin. When you lie, you should confess that you have sinned. You should not say, “I have said a little more (or less) than I should have.” You should say, “I have sinned.” You should not explain it away or cover it up. You should confess that you have committed the sin of lying. You must condemn lying as sin.

Confession means to stand on God’s side and judge sin as sin. There are three things here: God, ourselves, and sins. God and sins are at the two ends, and we are in the middle. What does it mean to commit a sin? It means that we stand on the side of sin and that we are away from God. Once we sin, we are away from God. Once we join ourselves to sins, we cannot be together with God. As soon as Adam sinned, he hid from God and dared not meet Him (Gen. 3:8). Colossians 1:21 says, “And you, though once alienated and enemies in your mind because of your evil works.” Sin alienates us from God. What does it mean to confess our sins? It means to come back to God’s side and to acknowledge that what we have done is sin. We have come back to God. We are no longer with sin. We are standing opposite of sin and calling sin a sin. This is confession. Only those who walk in the light and who have deep feelings and a repulsion for sin can have genuine confession. Those who are callous to sin, who consider it natural to sin, are not making any confession when they merely acknowledge something with their lips in a heartless way.

Believers are the children of light (Eph. 5:8) and the children of God (I John 3:1). They are no longer outsiders but members of God’s family. In a family one should behave in a way that is worthy of the family. You are a child of God, and you should know sin. You should have the same attitude towards sin as your Father. The way the Father considers sin should be the way you consider sin. Confession in God’s house comes when His children take the same attitude as their Father towards sin. They condemn sin in the same way that their Father condemns sin. They take the same attitude as their Father with regard to sin. When a child of God sins, he should condemn sin as sin just as the Father does.

If we confess our sins this way, God “is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we sin and when we know our sin and acknowledge it as sin, God will forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God is “faithful,” which means that He must honor and fulfill His own words and promises. He is also “righteous,” which means He must be satisfied with His Son’s redemptive work on the cross and must recognize it. Based on His promise and based on His redemption, He has to forgive us. He is faithful, and He is righteous. He must forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We have to pay attention to the words every and all in I John 1:7 and 9. “Every sin” and “all unrighteousness” are fully forgiven and cleansed. The Lord has done this. When the Lord says “all,” He means all. We should never change it to something else. When He says every sin, He means every sin, not just every sin committed before we believed or every sin committed in the past. He has forgiven us of all sins.


First John 2:1 says, “My little children, these things I write to you that you may not sin.” These things refer to the forgiveness and cleansing from our sins through God’s promise and work. John wrote these things to us so that we may not sin. It shows us that the Lord has forgiven our many sins and that, as a result, we do not sin. When we find out that we are forgiven, we do not become free to sin; rather, we will not sin.

Following this it says, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” “With the Father” this is a family affair; it is something that happens after we are saved. We have already believed and have become one of God’s many children. Now we have an Advocate with the Father, who is Jesus Christ the Righteous; “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins.” Through the Lord Jesus’ death and by His becoming the propitiation for our sins, He has become our Advocate with the Father. These words are spoken to Christians.

The propitiation spoken of here is the reality of the type of the ashes of the red heifer in Numbers 19. It speaks of God’s forgiveness of our future sins according to the accomplished work of the cross. There is no need to have a new cross. We only need the work of the cross once and it is sufficient. With the eternal redemption of the cross, our sins are forgiven. That sacrifice was not an ordinary sacrifice. It was a sacrifice whose efficacy could be applied at all times. It was ashes; therefore, it was applicable all the time. Based on His blood, the Lord Jesus Christ has become our Advocate. He has accomplished redemption on the cross. Based on His accomplished work, we can be cleansed. If we sin by accident, we should not be disheartened by our sin; we should not wallow in it or remain in it. When we sin, the first thing we should do is confess our sin to the Lord. God says that it is a sin, and we should acknowledge it as a sin. God says that this is wrong, and we also should say that it is wrong. When we ask God to forgive our sin, He forgives our sin, and our fellowship with Him is restored immediately.

In the eyes of God, no brother or sister should sin. However, if anyone sins by accident, the first thing to do is deal with it immediately before God. He or she should take care of the problem of sin immediately. Never delay. Deal with it as soon as possible. You must confess immediately. Tell God, “I have sinned!” Our confession is our judgment of ourselves. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When a child of God sins and does not confess his sin but instead remains in his sin, he loses his fellowship with God. There will be no further fellowship between him and God. There is a leak in his conscience, and he will not be able to stand up before God. He may still have a little fellowship with God, but that fellowship will not be pleasant. Indeed, he will suffer. When a child who has done something wrong comes home, he will feel that something is not right because his father will not speak to him. He cannot have an intimate fellowship with his father. He knows that there is a barrier between him and his father. This is the pain that results from a loss of fellowship.

There is only one way to recovery–it is to go to God and confess our sins. We have to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has become our Advocate and has borne all our sins. We have to confess our failures and shortcomings before God in a humble way. We have to look to Him so that we will no longer be proud or loose when we set out on our journey again. We have to realize that we are no better than anyone else, and that it is possible for us to fall at any time. We have to ask God for mercy and strength to go on step by step. Once we confess this way, we will immediately recover our fellowship with God, and the joy and peace that were lost will come back.

Finally, we should point out once more that Christians should not sin. Sin results in suffering and loss. May God have mercy upon us, keep us, preserve us, and lead us on in the way of unceasing fellowship with Him!


Much material taken from Watchman Nee’s, Normal Christian Life

“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common [unclean, unholy] thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

(Hebrews 10:29)

Why study Jesus’ sacrifice?

John 1:35-37

  • John calls Jesus the Lamb
    • In Jewish law, Lamb brings to mind one thing: SACRIFICE
      • Genesis 22:7; Exodus 12

Revelation 5:8-9

  • Lamb is at the center (Revelation 5:6)
    • Lamb = Jesus (Revelation 17:14)
      • His sacrifice makes Him worthy to take the scroll
    • Prayer is seen as precious to God
    • Prayers and music center around the Lamb

1 Samuel 7:7-10,13

  • Samuel sacrificed the lamb before he prayed for deliverance (v. 9)
  • As the sacrifice of the lamb was offered, God interceded for Israel (v. 10)
  • Samuel’s prayers were respected by God (v. 13; see also Psalm 99:6; Jeremiah 15:1)
  • Application:  It is essential to understand the sacrifice of the Lamb for effective prayer (among other reasons) 

What is the difference between the work of the Blood and the work of the Cross?

Romans 3:20-26 – focus: the Blood

  • Refers to “deeds” (v. 20) and “sins that were previously committed” (v. 25)
  • If we have faith in Jesus (all of who He is and what He did), our unlawful deeds are replaced with God’s righteousness
    • When?  “now”, ever since Jesus died and rose again (v. 21)
  • The blood deals with what we do
    • Hebrews 9:22 – forgives our sins
* Is focus of Romans 1:1-5:11* Is focus of Romans 5:12-8:39
* Answers the problem of our sins (plural)* Answers the problem of our sin nature
* Deals with what we have done* Deals with who we are
* Changes our conscience* Changes our life
The Blood and Cross Compared, According to Watchman Nee

What is sin and what are its effects?

Romans 5:12,19

  • Both of these verses speak of the same incident – Adam eating the fruit in the garden
    • Adam’s act was called a sin in v. 12 and disobedience in v. 19
      • Sin = disobedience towards God
  • Romans 5:12 – “all sinned”…everyone has disobeyed God

The 3 main effects of sin:

Genesis 3:4-13

  1. Separates God from man
    1. Compare Genesis 2:15-17 with Genesis 3:6-9 
    2. Genesis 3:24
      1. Only High Priest was allowed in the immediate presence of God according to the Law
  2. Creates guilt in man; a feeling of estrangement towards God
    1. Compare Genesis 2:25 with 3:7-8
      1. Even though they were not in fellowship with God, they still hid from Him instead of seeking Him
    2. Luke 15:18 – he becomes conscious of his sin, says “I have sinned”
  3. Gives Satan ground to accuse man before God, and accuse man in their hearts
    1. Compare Genesis 1:28 and 2:24 with 3:12-13
    2. Revelation 12:10
    3. “Satan” means “the accuser”
  • Atonement of blood is foreshadowed by the skins of animals used to clothe them (Genesis 3:21)

The Problem of Sin has 3 parts:

  1. God-ward
  2. Man-ward 
  3. Satan-ward 

The Answer of the Blood – God-ward:

  • In Old and New Testament, “blood” is used in connection with the idea of atonement probably over a hundred times (see Leviticus 17:11)

Day of Atonement – Leviticus 16

*  A day specifically for the atonement of Israel’s sins (instituted around 1400 years before Christ was born).

  • Leviticus 16:15 – sin offering was offered publicly in court of tabernacle
    • FULFILLED: Jesus was crucified publicly (Hebrews 13:11-12)
  • Leviticus 16:14-15 – Blood taken from the sin offering and brought into the Most Holy Place
    • FULFILLED: Jesus, as our High Priest, offered His own blood to God in Heaven (Hebrews 9:11-12)
  • Leviticus 16:17 – Only High Priest could enter, even though it’s for forgiveness of all the people
    • FULFILLED…only through Jesus’ blood can we come to God (Hebrews 9:7,11-12 (John 14:6))
  • Only act of High Priest was presenting the blood before God
    • Transaction was only between God and High Priest
      • Happened in the Sanctuary…away from the eyes of the men who were to benefit by it
  • Leviticus 16:20-22 – after God saw the blood, the sins of the people went away
    • Symbolized by a scapegoat running to the wilderness
    • Romans 5:8-9
      • “justified” (v. 9) = Just-as-if-I’d never sinned
  • What were the people required to do for their sins to be cleansed?
    • Leviticus 16:29-31 – REST IN THE PRIEST’S FINISHED WORK
  • Blood is firstly not for us but for God

Passover Feast – Exodus 12

*  Feast instituted around 1400 years before Christ was born

  • Exodus 12:5-8,12-13 –
    • Blood was shed in Egypt so that Israelites could be saved (v. 13)
    • Blood was put on lintel and door-posts (v. 7)
      • The flesh of the lamb was eaten inside the house (v. 8)
    • “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (v. 13)
      • The blood was first for God to see 
      • Those feasting inside never saw this transaction
        • Their only job was receiving into their bodies the dead lamb.
      • Romans 3:25
    • Israel’s firstborn were spared because of the blood (vv. 12-13)
      • Firstborn represents new life, being born again
        • For new life to happen, God must first see blood

God requires men to be sinless (Hebrews 12:14)

  • Romans 3:23 – every man falls short of God’s glory and holiness
  • Romans 5:8-9 – Only Christ’s Blood wholly satisfies God
  • Don’t try to feel God’s value of the Blood…the Blood is first for God to see
  • It is matter of faith in God’s Word (Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19)
    • If Holy God is satisfied with the Blood, it must be acceptable…no matter how much you feel that your sins are too great for the Blood to cover
    • Blood is contrasted with things that perish to show that the Blood will never lose it’s value (1 Peter 1:18-19)

The Answer of the Blood – Man-ward:

  • Hebrews 10:19-22 (9:13-14)
    • What does the blood cleanse?
      • Not our whole heart
  • Jeremiah 17:9 – heart is desperately sick
    • We don’t wash what needs to be trashed
  • Ezekiel 36:26 – we need a new heart
  • Blood cleanses heart in relation to the conscience (Heb. 10:22)
    • Conscience says there is barrier with God (guilt, etc).
  • How does this relate to our faith?
    • Conscience and faith are intimately connected
    • Heb. 10:22: “full assurance of faith” – When these verses are believed and accepted, conscience is cleared towards God
  • By what do we enter God’s presence?
    • Heb. 10:19: “by the blood” – only way to enter God’s presence is by the Blood
      • “By the Blood” – Recognize sins, confess need of cleansing and atonement, come to God on basis of finished work of Jesus (see 1 John 1:7-9)
        • Not on ground of being extra kind or patient or that you’ve done something great
        • Do you approach God on uncertainty of your feelings? Or truth that God is satisfied with the Blood?
  • In what way do we enter God’s presence?
    • Heb. 10:19 – “having boldness”
      • When we realize the truth of the blood, we can approach God in boldness
      • In Lord ’s Prayer, we are told to pray, “give us…forgive us, etc.”…these are very bold words to pray to a Holy God, and only by the blood is it possible to pray such words (see Matt. 6)

How do we enter God’s presence by the blood?

  • Ephesians 2:11-13
    • First, we were brought near by the blood
  • Hebrews 10:19-22
    • To continue, we must come by the Blood every time
    • Daniel 9:15-16, 21-23
      • Daniel was able to pray boldly because he prayed on the merits of God’s righteousness (v. 16)
        • His prayers were answered powerfully! (vv. 21-23) 

What about the shame of sins?

  • Hebrews 10:1-4
    • “no more consciousness of sins” (v. 2)
      • Romans 4:8 – we must see how blessed we are because of Jesus’ blood
      • Romans 5:1 – “peace with God”

How do we serve God?

  • 1 Corinthians 6:20 – we are slaves to God
    • bought by Christ’s blood (Acts 20:28)
  • If we accept His Blood, we become a slave to God (Romans 8:18)

The Answer of the Blood – Satan-ward:

Satan accuses us before God…

  • Revelation 12:10 – Satan’s most strategic weapon is accusation
    • Accuses man before God and in our own conscience 
  • Genesis 3:12-13, 22-24
    • Man joined forces with Satan at the Fall (vv. 12-13)
      • Taking on Satan’s nature of accusation
    • Man is now outside of the garden (vv. 22-24)
      • Beyond reach of God’s glory (Romans 3:23)
  • The Blood removes the barrier
    • Blood puts God on the side of man against Satan
    • Since God is on man’s side, he can face Satan without fear
    • Hebrews 9:7 – Jesus is High Priest because of Blood
      • Hebrews 7:24-25 – As High Priest, Jesus makes intercession for those who are His
  • 1 John 1:7
    • We are cleansed from “every” sin, not “all” sin in the general sense
    • God is in the light
      • All of our darkness is exposed to God (Song of Solomon 1:4-6)
        • He can see every sin
        • Blood is able to cleanse every sin He sees
        • God is in the light and I too am in the light, and the precious Blood cleanses me from every sin.
    • every – our sins are not too big to be forgiven…big sins, little sins, conscious sins, unconscious sins, remembered, or forgotten
      • the Blood does so because in the first place it satisfies God
  • Since God sees all our sins by His light, and can forgive them on the basis of the Blood, what can Satan accuse us of?
    • Romans 8:31-34
      • Satan can’t be against us if God is for us (v. 31)
      • God points Satan to Jesus’ blood (v. 33)
      • Romans 8:33-34 – God answers Satan’s every challenge
        • Christ is intercessor (v. 34)
    • 1 John 2:1-2
      • Christ, by His blood, is Advocate if we sin
      • Seen prophetically in Zechariah 3:1-4

Satan’s accuses us before our conscience…

  • Satan says: “You have sinned, and you keep on sinning.  You are weak, and God can have nothing more to do with you.”
    • Our temptation is to look within and self-defend, or go to depression and despair
    • Satan wins if we try to look for our own righteousness
      • Philippians 3:3; Hebrews 12:1-2 – stop looking at yourself to defend against Satan’s accusations
  • A man under accusation is a man not trusting in the Blood
    • The Blood speaks in man’s favor, but he listens to Satan
    • Christ is our Advocate, but the accused have sided with the accuser
      • God alone, by His Blood, can answer the accuser
  • Always answer Satan with the Blood…this is how we Win!
    • Our faith and obstinacy in the precious Blood silences Satan and puts him to flight (Romans 8:33-34)
    • Revelation 12:11

What would happen if we saw Christ’s Precious Blood the way God sees it?


By Brian Holda (2005)

(much material adapted from Derek Prince)


In this Bible study, we are dealing with subjects that are neither visible, temporary, nor exist in the present, but rather the doctrine of eternal judgment touches upon the invisible, the eternal, and those things that exist in the future.  In light of this, the only knowledge we have on the subject is that which the Bible mentions.  There are many things we may want to know about this topic that are simply not mentioned in the Scriptures.  Whatever is not mentioned, we must be content to leave alone and trust that the Holy Spirit had a reason for not writing.  In other cases, there are passages of Scripture that have had many different interpretations in the history of the church, or passages that give us room to infer certain things without saying them directly.  We have tried to indicate where these things are so and ask for you to keep in mind that this is our most humble and honest attempt to get at the truth of the matter.  As always, if the reader is persuaded by the Scriptures that what we have written here does not line up with God’s Word it is paramount that he or she rejects these writings and holds fast to the Scriptures.  With all this in mind we hope you enjoy the supremely important and amazing doctrine of eternal judgment.


In Hebrews 6:1-2 we have six foundations for our Christian walk.  Eternal judgment is the last foundation that needs be secure to build a mighty house before The LORD.  

Let’s look now at Hebrews 12.  First we are asking, What is God’s nature?  To answer this, we must back up to see the full picture of God.  At the beginning of Hebrews 12, the writer talks of a cloud of witnesses and running the race for The LORD.  He continues with this analogy and says that, in fact, as Christians, “you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” (Heb. 12:22-24).  

The key to discerning these verses is the number three.  Three main things are mentioned: 1) The description of God’s dwelling place.  2) Then, those who dwell there with God.  3)  And God Himself.  And all of these three things break down into three more things.        

Let’s first look at the description of God’s dwelling place as noted in verse 22.  It is called: 1) Mount Zion, 2) The city of the living God, 3) The heavenly Jerusalem.  So we see there are three descriptions of where God dwells.

And in the center of this all is God the JUDGE (see v. 23).  Now who are those who are dwelling there with God?  Beginning with the end of verse 22 we see there are: 1) myriads of angels, 2) the church of the firstborn (those who were saints after Christ came to earth), and 3) the spirits of the righteous made perfect (those saints who died before Christ ever came).  These are three groups of people all surrounding God the JUDGE.  

Now we must ask ourselves, if we have a Holy God here, how is it possible for sinful men to dwell in His presence, in the presence of God the JUDGE?  I believe that if it were only God the JUDGE mentioned here, it would not be possible, because no one can match up to the holiness of God Almighty.  However, we are given further details about God.  In verse 24, we see that there stands a mediator, Jesus Christ.  And His method of mediating is seen in the picture of “the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel”.  This is the only means by which men can stand in the presence of the Truly Just Judge, God Himself.

So in these verses we have a picture of God as Judge, yet showing mercy.  As the Bible says in another place, “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).  Throughout the Bible we see God as Judge, but his truest nature is not of judgment.  Isaiah 28:21 says that judgment is a “strange” and “alien” act to God.  Judgment is strange to God because his truest nature is mercy, mercy, mercy.  

We can see this in Jesus’ coming.  The day of the LORD’s coming to earth was spoken of as a terrible day in Malachi.  Yet, the terror and judgment of that day fell on God’s Son, not upon the people who truly deserved it.  This again shows us that God longs to give mercy over judgment.

Even the way that God chose to judge shows His mercy.  We must not forget that although God prefers mercy, He still must be a Perfect Judge.  1 Peter 1:17 tells us that God the Father must impartially judge.  For sure, the Father does have this role of Judge, but look also at John 5:22.  In this verse Jesus explains that the Father does have a responsibility to judge, however, He has deferred all of His judgments to the Son.  In this verse I believe you can see the mercy of God.  It is as if God was exceedingly joyful to not have to exercise his role as judge, and delegate it to His Son instead.  

Jesus also has a peculiar way of enacting his judgments.  In John 12:47, Jesus explains that He did not come to judge the world, but to save it, even though just chapters earlier He explained that He would judge the world.  So how can this be?  Judgments must be enacted, but they will not be handled by the Father or the Son, instead, Jesus says, “the word I spoke is what will judge him on the last day” (John 12:48).  Jesus, then, defers His judgment to the Word.  This is the picture given in the book of Revelation of Jesus’ returning.  Revelation 19 explains that Jesus will come back with a double-edged sword out of His mouth.  This shows that the judgment of Jesus will come forth from his mouth just as the sword came out of his mouth.  It is the very words from Jesus’ mouth that will judge ALL when He returns.  And, in fact, Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17 explains that the sword is that mighty Word of God.  Jesus will therefore come back with a sword, which is the Word of God, and deliberate His judgments through this means.  This is the way we will all be judged – how you line up with the Word.  

It is paramount, then, that we study what the Scriptures say regarding how the Word of God will judge us.  In Romans 2:1-16 we see 4 different ways that people will be judged by the Word of God:

  1. TRUTH.  Romans 2:2 shows us that God judges by truth.  It is interesting to note that Jesus says in John 17:17 that God’s Word is Truth.  The ultimate standard of truth is the Word of God.  Every person is going to be asked to give an account of how much their life lined up with the Truth of the Bible.  You will be judged by how much you have gone astray from the truth of this Word.  You will judged by how much you lived in line with the truth of this Word.  This is how you will be judged.
  2. DEEDS.  Romans 2:3-5 shows that God will judge every person according to the deeds they have done.  Romans 2:16 shows clearly that it is not only the external deeds, but also the things that are “secret” that will be judged as well.  Judgment is not limited to what is seen, but extends to what is done in secret as well.
  3. “NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS” (Romans 2:11, KJV).  This phrase is used 16 times in the Bible.  For us, we always look at what people are like.  We may judge by races, by sex, by positions, or whatever, but these things do not matter to God at all.  He is “no respecter of persons”.  This is a solemn attribute about God.  So we must see that it is all about what you have done and how you lined up with the truth, and never about who you are in any visible sense.
  4. AMOUNT OF LIGHT YOU HAVE.  Romans 2:12 shows that God will judge people by the amount of light that they have received.  This is confirmed in many other places in the Scriptures.  For those who had the Law with them, the Jews, they will be judged by a harsher standard.  But even Gentiles have light by which they will be judged.  For instance, they can see creation itself and the moral law within as measures of light that God has given them.  By the amount of revelation, of light you have, you will be judged by this standard.  America sits as a place that has received an abundance of light.  There are so many opportunities here, and based on these Scriptures, we should expect to incur a stricter judgment than other nations perhaps.  

We must next address the issue of the two types of judgment in Scripture.  There are judgments that take place in history.  For instance, in some places in the Bible it is noted that what you do will affect your children and your children’s children, and so on all the way down.  Yet there is also the issue of eternal judgment.  This is the issue that we are presently studying – what happens after you die and for the rest of eternity.  

Exodus 20:4-6 gives an example where God says He will punish even the third and fourth generation (see verse 5).  And we see similar phrases throughout the Bible.  Even today there are judgments of God that occur in our history.  Sodom and Gomorrah give another example of a judgment that took place in history.

However, in Ezekiel 18:1-4 God shows a picture of a different judgment taking place.  Do you see here what the Israelites are actually saying to God to justify their immoral behavior?  They had a proverb that was apparently commonly spoken, speaking of their fathers eating sour grapes which cause their own teeth to be set on edge.  In other words, they blamed their moral bankruptcy on the sins of their fathers.  But God rejects this type of reasoning, and later says that each person is responsible for their own sins (see verse 20).  The most important principle that God is showing us here is that in eternal judgment you stand alone before God.  You cannot go before God and say, “Well my dad did this,” or, “well, my parents…”  No.  It all falls upon you.  There will be no room for excuses, nor favoritism either.  You may have heard the expression that God does not have grandchildren.  This speaks of a true principle.  You cannot say, “My parents were children of God, therefore I get in”.  No.  God says it all falls upon you.  

So in eternal judgment, the question that will be asked is “What have YOU done?”  What have you done?  You cannot say what your fathers have done.  This explains these contrasting scriptures of Exodus and Ezekiel.  There are other instances of this as well.  For instance, in Ecclesiastes we read that some things we may not see judged on earth, but those people have what is coming for them.  Solomon writes that though there may be some things that are hidden, God yet knows those.  And in 1 Timothy 5:24-25, a similar thing is uttered.  

When studying eternal judgment, then, we must ask what will happen when we exit the realm of time and history and enter the realm of eternity, before Christ returns.  (This question, of course, will not discuss historical judgment, as it is outside the scope of this study to do so).  At death, in this present age, our body returns to the earth and our soul and spirit will ascend up to God the Father where He will consign you to either a place of torment and torture or you will be allowed to stay in the presence of God.  This is what takes place today whenever someone dies.  As we have seen already, the fifth foundation listed in Hebrews 6:1-2 is the resurrection of the dead, and the sixth foundation is eternal judgment.  This is the order – resurrection, then eternal judgment.  This is the theme throughout Scripture – resurrection, then eternal judgment.  Even in the pattern of Jesus we see that He came and received His new, resurrected body after He was dead for three days, but it was yet to happen that He would ascend to the Father where He received all of His glory and rewards (see Philippians 2), and He was called “The King of Kings”.  The example, then, set before us shows there to be a resurrection that is yet future, where we will all inherit a body that will last forever, and in that body there will be a judgment.

In 2 Corinthians 5:10 we see why there must be a resurrected body before there can be a judgment.  First, notice that Paul uses the word “we” in describing the judgment.  This is not a judgment confined to only non-believers.  That word “we” shows this to be a judgment that encompasses Paul and the church at Corinth, and by extension, all people as well.  Next, we can see that we will be before the judgment seat of Christ to receive judgment for deeds done in the body.  These are all of the actions we have done while living in this body.  This is the reason we must appear before God in our whole personality: spirit, soul, and body.  We must be present in our new body because we will be held accountable for what we have done in “the body”.

We must now study more thoroughly what will happen when Christ returns.  For light on this subject, we will look at Matthew 25.  In verses 31-33, we see that there is a clear order of events in the end times.  First, the Son of Man will come in His glory to the earth with all the angels with him.  Then, He will sit down on His throne to gather the nations.  And next, He will separate all the nations, putting the sheep on His right hand and the goats on the left.  The righteous are shown in the sheep who are at his left hand, and the unrighteous in the goats at his left.  Before going further into this teaching, we must see that the first thing Christ will do when He returns is a mighty work of separation.

After this separation, there is given an order of this eternal judgment.  In verse 34, we see that Jesus will first speak to the believers, the sheep on His right side.  Peter affirms this truth when he writes that judgment is to begin with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17).  

It is now important that we distinguish between those who merely think and say they are in the household of God, and those who truly do belong to this household.   Christ says that He will come back for those who are His (1 Corinthians 15:23, 2 Timothy 2:19).  He knows who are His, and for these He will return.  He does not say He will come back for those who make a profession of faith, or for those who prayed a certain prayer.  He only promises to come back for those who are truly His.  So what happens to those people who say they belong to Christ, but truthfully don’t (i.e. Matt. 7:21)?

In Matthew 13:24-30 we are given another parable that helps explain dealings in the kingdom of heaven.  In this parable, there is first a farmer who comes and plants good seeds of wheat.  But while he is gone, the tares (or weeds) grow simultaneously with wheat.  So we are clear, a tare is a weed that looks almost identical to true wheat, but is in actuality worthless and harmful to the farmer.  Only those with the discerning eyes of the farmer can tell the difference between the wheat and the tares.  This parable shows us that there will be two kinds of people who will raise up in the world (and seemingly in the church) – the wheat and the tares.  In fact, Jesus instructs us to not try to uproot those that we think are false, for we may make a mistake and accidentally uproot true wheat (v. 29).  It is only the job of God to judge those who are His and those who are false.  Instead, we are told to wait until the Lord’s returning and then He will judge between the two.  First, he will gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, then, he will gather the wheat into his barn (v. 30).  This is a great separation that occurs when Christ returns, as is explained in verses 36 through 43.  In these explanatory verses we find out that all over the world Satan is doing a dreadful work of planting people in assemblies who look like they are truly Christians, but in fact are not Christians.  This is not wrong to state this fact, for Our LORD already said the same thing.  We must remember, though, that it is not our job to figure out if they are Christians or if they are not.  That job belongs solely to The LORD, lest you accidentally make a wrong decision.  We should take this warning not to be too quick to label someone a believer or a non-believer, for it is only God who truly knows these things, and at the end of the age this great sifting out will occur.   

At this point, we are inclined to wonder what the true order of events of judgment at Christ’s return will be.  I believe that two possibilities emerge when studying these parables from Matt. 13 and 25.  The first possibility is that Jesus will first bundle the unrighteous, but later they will be burned.  This theory is realized when we see that Jesus merely mentions that the tares will be bundled before the wheat, but relegates the burning of the tares to a later time period.  The other possibility is that in Matt. 25, when Jesus refers to the separation of the sheep and the goat, there may also be a separation not mentioned that occurs between those who look like sheep and those who are actually sheep (like the wheat and the tares).  Therefore, the statement that Peter makes concerning judgment beginning with the house of God would include both those people who are truly in the house of God, and those who are only appear to be in the true house of God.  I believe that both interpretations have merit in light of the rest of the Scriptures.

Regardless of the actual order of judgment, we can see that there will be a division between the righteous and the unrighteous, and God will pronounce judgment upon the deeds of Christians.  To this end, we turn now to Romans 14:10-12 to observe the main features of Christian judgment.  In this passage we can clearly see that every Christian will also have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ.  Notice also the words used in verse 12 – “each of us will give an account”.  This confirms the words of Ezekiel 18:4 in which God says that each man will be judged by what he alone has done, without attention paid to anyone else.  Every individual person will appear alone before The LORD at that time.  Your parents will not be there.  Your pastor won’t be there.  Your friends won’t be there.  You will stand alone before the throne of Christ (Greek, Bema Seat) and God will ask you what you have done with the Word He has given you.

Turn also to 2 Corinthians 5:10.  We have already seen in this verse that we will appear in our resurrected bodies at the judgment seat of Christ, to receive the judgment of deeds we have done in our body on earth.  But notice also the last four words of this verse: “whether good or bad”.  There are only two categories of deeds we have committed, those that are good and those that are bad.  We have no category for deeds that are neutral, for they simply do not exist.  There is no such thing.  Everything you have done is going to be considered either good or bad.  And the bad deeds, of course, will be those things that will burn in the fire, whereas the good deeds will inherit rewards.  Romans 14:23 says that anything not done in faith is sin, so anything you do that is not done in faith for The LORD is considered sin.  This helps us see that there are truly only 2 categories: good and bad.  Or we could say, those things done out of faithfulness to The LORD, and those things which were faithless before God.

There is another issue towards the judgment of Christians that is seen in John 3:18.  In this verse, Jesus says with absolute certainty that Christian judgment has nothing to do with condemnation.  I believe this fact should give way to much praise to God, for in the presence of God the JUDGE we deserve hell.  This is the truth, yet this is why we need the Mediator, Jesus.  And when you believe in Him you will not be judged.  You will not receive condemnation.  What, then, does Christian judgment involve?

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 explains that the judgment of Christians is based on rewards, instead of condemnation.  The start of this passage points to Christ as the foundation of the works, showing us that this, too, describes judgment befalling Christians, not non-believers.  Therefore we do not see a judgment of condemnation here, for every soul that rests in Jesus Christ is absolutely secure.  Christ has been made our righteousness to the glory of God, that no condemnation can touch us.  It cannot be a judgment, then, based on righteousness, because believers have the righteousness of Jesus in us.  This is not a judgment based on who you are, but on what you have done now that Jesus is your foundation – How have you built on your spiritual house?  

The means, though, by which our works will be judged, is through fire.  Look at 1 Corinthians 3:12 and pay specific attention to the material mentioned.  The first three materials are the good materials, and the last three are the bad materials.  We know that gold, silver, and precious stones are refined, purified, and survive through fire.  However straw, hay, and wood are burned up and destroyed in the flames.  So we see that fire is the single test for the kind of material you are using.

It is also worth mentioning that quality is far more value in God’s eyes than quantity.  Gold, silver, and precious stones are things that are not found in great quantities.  However, straw, hay, and wood are usually found in exceedingly large quantities.  This is a sobering truth here.  It would appear that many may perhaps go to the judgment seat of Christ with very large quantities of stuff that will be instantly devoured by the flames, because the material was not of pure quality.  We must be absolutely clear on this fact.  It is NOT about quantity.  Today, a lot of people think they are not doing enough for God, but in reality, many people are actually doing too many things that will be completely burned up.  

This naturally prompts us to wonder, What things will withstand the flames?  We can say with certainty that only true and enduring value will survive and be purified and refined by the fire.  

The first thing to consider is motive – why are you doing things?  1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  For us, eating and drinking would appear to be neutral activities, yet God only sees good or bad.  We must ask ourselves, are we doing things for the glory of God?

Next, we must look at our obedienceAre you doing things according to what the Word has said?  In Matthew 7, Jesus explains that some people will come to Him and they will say, in essence, “Lord, Lord, we are ready to be with You.  We have done all of these cool things for You.  We did miracles, cast out demons, and prophesied in your name.”  And Jesus is going to look at them and say, “I never knew you.  Depart from my presence.”  This is a very tough word, and we might well ask how it is possible that they could do such mighty works and yet be rejected.  But no, Jesus explains that it will be “those who hear and do what I have said” that will have something that will last.  That is the test here, your obedience, according to God’s Word.  Jesus is The Word made flesh, and He says that all of the Word is the revealer of whether your works will last the fire.  Many people are doing Christian works that have nothing to do with the Scriptures.  And in actuality, many of them are contrary to the Scriptures.  This only leads to flames.

The last material we will consider is power.  Specifically, the Holy Spirit is the power referred to in the Bible.  One person talked about a vision they had of the judgment seat of Christ.  She explained that when she was before God, He revealed all of her life and showed what lasted through the flames.  This young woman did not become a believer until the age of 15, and she told how she saw God incinerate all of those first 15 years of her service because she did not do one thing out of the power of the Holy Spirit.  Those years vanished in a twinkle of an eye in the presence of God.  I believe this vision confirms the witness of Scripture, and it shows how meaningless our works are outside of the power of the Holy Spirit.  In Romans 15:18-19, Paul says that he will not even speak of the things he has done without the power of the Spirit.  It is, quite frankly, useless to even speak of such things.  Instead, he confines himself to speak of only what happened with the Spirit – the miracles, people receiving salvation, etc. – all of the things that had been accomplished through the power of the Spirit.  We must ask ourselves if we are doing activities through our own power or the power from above.  

These three things – motive, obedience, power – are three things that can be seen consistently throughout the Scriptures as work that will be eternal.  They are the workings that will last the flames.      

Many are familiar with the picture of Christ seen in Revelation 1:12-16.  Among other things, Christ is pictured with eyes like flames of fire and feet like “burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace”.  In light of the fact that fire is the ultimate tester of our works, the works of both Christians and non-Christians, it seems that the feet of Christ will judge the non-believers and His eyes will judge the believers.  This brings light to the great focus in the Song of Songs of the eyes, specifically, the eyes of the groom staring at the eyes of the bride.  This is the great romance we have with Christ.  He will test our work by looking into our eyes with his eyes of fire.  Our staring into his eyes will quickly show us what will last and what will be burned up.  

This does give us a true picture of judgment upon Christian works that will not last, however, we must also look at the great glory and celebration surrounding Christian works that are built upon pure and costly foundations.  In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus compares his coming with a man distributing different amounts of talents for his servants to steward until he returns.  In verse 15, we see that each man was given talents “according to his own abilities”.  He never gave more than they could handle.  He gave to everyone according to their abilities.  It is the same with us.  God gives us resources as He knows what our abilities are.  

The man with five talents ended up doubling what he had.  His faithfulness produced life in this, and he received a hundred percent increase.  The man with two also doubled what he had.  Now compare verse 21 with verse 23.  The master spoke the exact same words to each servant.  It did not matter how many talents they produced in terms of number, but rather he was concerned with what had been done with the talents they had.  For this reason, I plead with everybody to stop comparing your number of talents with someone else’s.  Stop saying, “If I only had what they had.  If I could only do what they do.”  This is very wrong in The LORD’s sight.  The men with more things will actually incur a stricter judgment because they were given more and more will be expected of them.  He has placed every member in the Body exactly where He wants them to be.  Everyone has a purpose of where they are and what they have.  He truly does give each according to their ability, and He asks us to be faithful with what we have.  

Now the third servant hid his single talent.  He kept it to himself and never used it.  Matt. 25:26 says that his master called him a “wicked, lazy servant”.  He has been called wicked because he never did anything.  This is contrary to how we commonly think of wickedness.  We assume wickedness is always doing something wrong.  But according to Jesus, wickedness is also not doing right.  “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17).  Wicked and lazy are put side-by-side here.  This is an interesting juxtaposition: wicked and lazy.  Yet according to Jesus, these are the same thing.  Not doing anything with what He has given you is wickedness, it is sin.  

There is another parable in Luke 19 that speaks of very similar things.  In this parable, however, instead of 3 people receiving differing amounts of money, 10 people receive the exact same amount of money: ten minas.  One person gained five minas, another gained two minas, and another person did nothing with the minas he had been given.  It resulted that the person who gained a greater percentage of what he was given, received more rewards from the Master.  He was given the chance to have authorities in heaven over kingdoms.  

After studying both of these parables, we may safely say that not to use is to lose.  Jesus said that even that which you have will be taken from you if you do not use it.  We also see that if you do not do good when you can, this is sin.  And perhaps the most sobering truth we find is that all who did nothing were totally rejected.  To be honest, this is a very tough word.  Matthew 25:14 says, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered the goods to them.” (NKJV).  According to this parable, all three of these people were his servants, at least at one time.  So why is it that a servant who did nothing was thrown into hell (Matt. 25:30)?  This is a very tough word that must be taken seriously.  I do not claim to have all of the answers to this, although I have my own ideas of what this might mean.  But regardless, we must see truly how serious a matter this is to Jesus, and remember that it is by His Words that we will be judged.  Not doing anything with what He has given you, not using the talents you have, these are detrimental things, and should be very serious warnings for us.  

The last thing we should look at in this study of eternal judgment is Revelation 20:11-15, for it shows what will be the judgment of non-Christians.  The first image we are drawn to here is the book of life (see v. 12).  If your name is in this book of life you are saved from the lake of fire, and from other Scriptures, it seems that the names written in this book are all those who have repented and believe in Jesus in their hearts, thus giving ownership of their lives over to God.  There are also other books mentioned here as well.  These books record all of the deeds you have done.  They will judge us by those things mentioned in Romans 2 – by truth, by deeds, by the light you have received, and so forth.  All of these other books show your deeds.  

To understand all of the vision presented in Revelation 20, it is helpful to grasp the two deaths and two resurrections mentioned in this chapter and other places as well.  The first death is your spiritual death.  Everyone takes part in this death, because every person born is spiritually dead at birth, as a descendant of Adam.  This is why salvation is described as going from death into life.  Death is the state we are in before we become Christians.  The first resurrection, then, is being born again.  This is a spiritual resurrection.  The second resurrection is the resurrection of the dead, in which you receive your new bodies.  And the second death is the lake of fire – the eternal punishment that will never end.  A punishment that occurs after you have been given your eternal bodies.  The Christians, though, do not take part in this second death, because they took part in the first resurrection.  It is interesting to note that your physical death is not of primary concern to God.  It is the spiritual death and the eternal damnation that are far more consequential.

With this in mind, look now at Rev. 20:13: “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them” (NKJV).  The sea is spoken of in Rev. 17:15 as symbolic of the world, and could be inferred to be specifically the Gentiles.  So the sea spoken of in Rev. 20:13 is probably referring to the people who were living when Christ returns.  If they are living, then, how can the Bible refer to them as dead?  This is the spiritual death we alluded to earlier.  This verse explains that people here who are spiritually dead will be given up to Christ.  Then, we also see Death and Hades giving up their dead.  This is where those who will have died before Christ’s return will reside.  You may have heard it referred to as the underworld perhaps.  Though Death and Hades are the temporary residence of the deceased, places no doubt filled with torture of the caliber of Luke 16, these places also will receive the judgment prescribed by Our LORD.  In this passage, they are personified and seem to be almost creatures in themselves.  Regardless of what their personalities may entail, we see that they, too, will be thrown in the lake of fire, never to rise again.  It can be clearly seen that these verses refer to non-believers as opposed to those who will not receive condemnation.  These were the ones who did not have their names written in the book of life, and they were cast into the lake of fire.  It should be noted that the place of torture and anguish that the rich man received when he sinned against God and Lazarus, this place that Jesus mentions, a place that was so hot that the rich man begged for one drop of water to cool his tongue, this place is actually only a temporary place (Luke 16).  When non-believers die today, they will go to this place of torture.  But the harsh reality is that this place is not even the worst yet.  The lake of fire is still a future destination of all who suffer in Death and Hades today.  This is the seriousness of the gospel for all of us and for all the people we know who don’t have the gospel.  There will truthfully be people who will come from this temporary place of torture – where their souls and spirits inhabit without bodies – and later they will receive new resurrected bodies that cannot perish.  However, it is most awful that many will receive these new bodies only to be cast into the lake of fire.  It is beyond our comprehension to imagine such torture without relief that will take place in these bodies that cannot die.  The best way we can perhaps describe it is by thinking of the burning bush in Exodus 3.  The bush is described as burning without being consumed.  This is the picture of this most serious and dreadful reality.  

We can sum up then by saying that Christian judgment will be a day of celebration and rewards, and non-Christian judgment will be a time of torture that should break all of our hearts.  I honestly believe that if The LORD revealed even a small bit of it, our hearts would be completely broken.  

To close, I want to look at 1 Corinthians 11:31-32: “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened by the LORD, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (NKJV).  These verses tell us that it is far better to receive the chastening of The LORD now, then to reject this chastening and wait for the judgment that will have eternal repercussions.  

May we all move in the fear of the LORD and the power of His Spirit to the glory of God.  Amen.                                                                    

Scriptures on What Happens to Individuals in the Afterlife

Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World: Individual Eschatology

What happens when someone dies? Where will people spend eternity?

When a believer dies. . .

II Corinthians 5:8

8Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Philippians 1:21–23

21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Luke 23:43

43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

When a believer dies, they go immediately into the presence of the Lord. This is a conscious experience.

There is a doctrine commonly known as “soul sleep” that is taught by some so-called Christian groups. The doctrine of soul sleep says that when a person dies, they become unconscious, and that when a believer dies, they are unconscious until the resurrection. In other words, there is no conscious existence apart from the body. The Bible does not teach the doctrine of soul sleep.

Scripture does refer to the death of believers as sleep.

I Corinthians 15:6

6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

I Thessalonians 4:13

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

But why?

John 11:25–26

25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

However, the scriptures do not teach that when a person dies, they become unconscious until the resurrection. In fact, the scriptures clearly teach a conscious existence after death for both the saved and the lost.

What about purgatory?

The Bible does not teach the doctrine of purgatory. In fact, the doctrine of purgatory is clearly contrary to scripture.

The doctrine of purgatory makes the redemptive work of Christ inadequate to pay for a person’s sins.

What about unbelievers?

When an unbeliever dies, they enter immediately into a state of conscious suffering.

Luke 16:19–31

19“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”

But these two states, the disembodies conscious blessedness of the redeemed, and the disembodies conscious misery of the lost, are not final and eternal.

People will not spend eternity as disembodied spirits.

Death is a temporary cessation of bodily life and a temporary separation of the soul from the body.

All people, both believers and unbelievers, will be resurrected bodily.

John 5:25–29

25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Daniel 12:2

2And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall) awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

So we will not actually spend eternity in heaven – at least not in the usual sense. Instead, we will be raised from the dead to spend eternity in glorified, immortal bodies.

I Thessalonians 4:13–18

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.

I Corinthians 15:50–57

50I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55“O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So where will believers spend eternity?

Revelation 21

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 5And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

9Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.

 22And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Cf. Romans 8:18–25

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

In addition to being raised from the dead, both believers and unbelievers will be judged.

The judgment of believers:

Romans 14:10–12

10Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

II Corinthians 5:10

10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Believers are judged, not to determine salvation, but to determine rewards.

I Corinthians 3:12–15

12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Revelation 11:18

18The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, 
both small and great, and(D) for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

The judgment of unbelievers and the reality of hell:

Matthew 25:41, 46

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Revelation 20:11–15

11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 14:9–11

9And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.

Jesus’ View of Sin and Hell


Sin and repentance. Sin is the basic problem of humanity, not ‘brokenness’. And the remedy is repentance and forgiveness.

Matthew 5:29–30

9 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Matthew 5:27–28

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 5:21–22

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

Matthew 7:11

11If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.

Matthew 26:26-28

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Mark 2:3–12 (Matthew 9:2–7, Luke 5:20–25)

3And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7”Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he said to the paralytic – 11”I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this

Mark 2:17 (Matthew 9:12–13)

17And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 7:20–22 (Matthew 15:18–20)

20 “And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Mark 9:42–48 (Matthew 18:5–9)

42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’”

Luke 5:29–32

29And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 13:1–5

1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Luke 15:7

7 “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Luke 15:10

10 “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 17:1–4 (Matthew 18:5–9)

1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Luke 18:9–14

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Eternal Punishment (Hell)

Matthew 5:29–30

29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

Matthew 7:21–23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Matthew 8:10–12

10When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 10:28

28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 11:20–24

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Matthew 12:41–42

41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43

24He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

36Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Matthew 13:47–50

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 18:8–9

8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

Matthew 23:33

33 “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”

Matthew 25:31–46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life

Mark 8:36 (Matthew 16:26)

36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

Mark 9:42–48

42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48’where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

Luke 9:25–26

25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Luke 10:13–15

13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.”

Luke 11:31–32

31 “The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”

Luke 12:4–5

4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

Luke 13:22–28

22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Luke 16:19–31

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house – 28 for I have five brothers – so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”


Written 2003     

This Bible study came to be, not through my forcing it, but rather through God forcing it, almost against my will.  For more than a year, I have taught interested people on the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and for more than a year I have been told I should type everything down.  It wasn’t until I had taught this to students at Hope College, however, that I felt it necessary.  

     My personal story with the baptism in the Holy Spirit goes as follows:  Sometime in October of my junior year of high school, Jesus became real to me.  No longer was it my parents’ faith, and no longer was church a building, but I realized that the past, present, and future all seem to have a gaping hole that only Jesus fits.  He was the only thing that made perfect sense.  I started sharing Jesus with friends, and argued His existence although I knew almost zero facts.  I strongly believe God honored this faith as I was sent to the “wilderness”, so to speak, for about a year, just studying anything about Jesus, so that I could come back and show my friends that He is the Truth.  After studying more and more and more, I realized this was something bigger than I had any idea I was getting into.  I knew without a doubt that Jesus is the living God, but I still felt like something was incomplete with this picture.  If Jesus truly resurrected, and was living inside of me, it seemed like there would be at least something a little more powerful in my life, than before I realized He is the Truth.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, my character turned 180-degrees, and people could see that difference, and I knew it was God, but God was so much more powerful and bigger in my mind than He seemed to be acting in my life.

It wasn’t until early in my senior year of High School, that I realized what that missing thing was.  Sitting at Big John’s Steak House with the man who discipled me a lot during this “wilderness” time of preparation, he started telling me about miracles and powerful things that he has seen or even done.  The whole time I was listening, I was thinking, “this is it…this is what I knew should be there”.  After he had gone through a lot of his stories, I wanted to get that stuff right there, although God had different plans.

     About 4 months later, I finally did receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  When it happened, God spoke in tongues, prophesied, and healed through me, but the biggest change was my witness for Christ.  After less than a month, I went from being someone who only wanted to talk to a small group of people, to not being able to shut up to anyone regarding Jesus Christ.  In my classes at the public High School I attended, I spoke with boldness about the reality of Christ, and within that half a year, people were becoming believers, and many others in the school started thinking seriously about Jesus.  

         The great British preacher, Steven Olford, relays an experience he shared with Billy Graham concerning the filling of the Holy Spirit, as he writes: “I gave him [Graham] my testimony of how God completely turned my life inside out, an experience of the Holy Spirit in His fullness and anointing.  As I talked, and I can see him now, those marvelous eyes glistened with tears, and he said, ‘Steven I see it, that’s what I want, that’s what I need in my life.’”  Olford suggested that they pray this through, and both men fell to their knees [Pastor Don Williams’s words].  “I can still hear Billy pouring out his heart in a prayer of total dedication to the Lord…Finally he said, ‘my heart is so flooded with the Holy Spirit,’ and we went from praying to praising.  We were laughing and praising God and he was walking back and forth across the room crying out, ‘I have it, I’m filled.  This is the turning point in my life.’  And he was a new man.” 

     I urge everyone to “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  Pray to God for His truth and wisdom when going over this Bible study, and also talk to parents and pastors for more advice.  Above all, may you use the Bible as the final authority on everything!

—  Brian Holda (2003)


“…He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit…” – John the Baptist (Matt. 3:11, see also Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33)

“…wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He [Jesus] said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” – Jesus (Acts 1:4,5)

1.  What does the Father give? The Father gives you natural abilities.  Just as non-believers can be talented at singing, dancing, sports, etc., God the Father gives natural abilities to believers and non-believers alike (1 Corinthians 12:6).

2.  What does Jesus give you? John 3:5; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 12:3; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Galatians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 John 3:24; 4:2, 13 make it clear that you receive the Holy Spirit of promise when you believe on Christ.  This gift is only available to those who come to Jesus.

3.  What does this do to you? Belief in Christ gives you the ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11, yields the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22, and above all, promises your salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14).  “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)

4.  What does the Holy Spirit give you? Although you receive the Holy Spirit upon belief in Jesus, there are still more gifts available to those who want them (or are willing to receive them).  1 Corinthians 12:8-10 lists these gifts.  (also, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 give a microcosm of the different gifts from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  “’He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:38, 39)

5.  Can you prove that these gifts of power given by the Holy Spirit are separate from what happens when you receive the Holy Spirit upon conversion?

  •     Matthew 1:18, 23 show that Jesus was the Son of God the moment He was conceived (more than 30 years before his baptism) and was conceived by the Holy Spirit, therefore, He had the Holy Spirit in Him also when He was conceived.

However, Matthew 3:13-15 shows that Jesus still needed to be baptized in water, although He was already the Son of God.

Beyond that, Matthew 3:16, 17 shows that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus after His baptism.  First He became God Incarnate at conception and had the Holy Spirit, then He was baptized, then He received the filling of the Holy Spirit.  Do we find this order of 3 events elsewhere in Scripture…?

  • Yes we do!  Acts 2:38 records Peter’s admonition to all those believers of what they should do after believing (see v. 37) paralleling exactly with Jesus’ order of events: “(1) Repent (Since Jesus was without sin, this first act is being born the Son of God) (2) and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; (3) and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  The Greek word used for receive is lambano which suggests taking.  It is not a passive verb; receiving is an action one must take.
  • Even more so, 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 gives another type of the 3-part actions Christians should follow.  First, verses 6 and 11 clearly tell us that the events in the passage are an example for us.  Do we see the 3-part system here?  Yes!  The Hebrews left Egypt [symbolizing sin: Rev. 11:8] by the blood of the Passover lamb [symbolizing Jesus’ atoning blood].  As verses 6 and 11 tell us, “these things became our examples”, and so this clearly is the act of repentance.  Later, they [the Israelites] passed through the sea, being baptized into Moses in the sea (verses 1 and 2).  This symbolizes a water baptism.  Before this, they were baptized in the cloud (verses 1 and 2).  Does the cloud mentioned represent the Holy Spirit?  

The Hebrew word used for Spirit is ruah and the Greek word is pneuma.  It properly means wind or breath, and would be visualized perfectly by a cloud.  Exodus 13:21, 22 shows that God was the cloud…1 John 5:7 says: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the HOLY SPIRIT; AND THESE THREE ARE ONE.”  Exodus 13:17-21 (specifically v. 21) shows that the cloud led Israel into the wilderness…Luke 4:1 says: “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit…was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (also, Rom. 8:14 shows that all believers are led by the Holy Spirit).  Exodus 14:17-20 (specifically v. 20) shows that the cloud brought darkness to the Egyptians and light to the Israelites…John 3:17-21; 12:44-46 records Jesus as saying that those who believe on Him (and consequently receive the Holy Spirit) will have light, but those who do not believe (and don’t have the Holy Spirit) are in the darkness.  Exodus 16:10, 11; 19:9; 24:16 show that God spoke through the cloud…John 16:13 says: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come,” and Acts 10:19; 11:12 show the Holy Spirit as speaking to believers.  Exodus 19:9 shows that the cloud was for people to believe Moses (1 Cor. 10:2 shows that Moses was a type for Christ)…John 15:26 says: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me,” thus, the Holy Spirit came to testify of Jesus (it was a sign for people to believe Jesus!).  Exodus 33:10 shows that the Israelites saw the cloud and worshiped…John 4:23, 24 says: “ But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is SPIRIT, and those who WORSHIP HIM must worship in spirit and truth.” Therefore, we are to worship the Holy Spirit (who is God).  Exodus 34:5 (see also Ex. 33:19) shows that the Lord’s name was proclaimed by the cloud…1 Cor. 12:3 says: “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can SAY THAT JESUS IS LORD EXCEPT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.”  Exodus 40:34, 35 shows that the cloud covered the tabernacle and God’s glory filled the tabernacle…1 Cor. 6:19 shows that believer’s bodies are temples and we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  Exodus 40:36, 37 shows that Israel was only to go where the cloud dwells…2 Cor. 6:14-18 shows that believers should only fellowship and dwell with other believers (where the Holy Spirit dwells): “And what communion has light with darkness?…Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?”.  Leviticus 16:2 shows that the cloud appeared above the mercy seat…Rom. 3:24-26 shows that Jesus is our mercy seat (the Greek word used in Rom. 3:25 is hilasterion which is the same word the Septuagint uses for the Hebrew word used for mercy seat), and Acts 10:38 shows that Jesus was anointed (or covered) with the Holy Spirit.    Comparing the characteristics of the cloud to the Holy Spirit makes it very clear that the cloud mentioned in 1 Cor. 10:1, 2 must be the Holy Spirit.  Thus, the third action [receiving a filling of the Holy Spirit] finds a type in the Old Testament.  Carefully note 1 Cor. 10:2: “all were baptized into Moses in the cloud AND in the sea.”  There are 2 separate baptisms mentioned, 1 from the Holy Spirit and 1 from water.

  • 1 Corinthians 14:1 says: “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” And 1 Corinthians 12:31 says: “But earnestly desire the best gifts…”  These verses tell us that we are to desire spiritual gifts.  The Greek word used for “desire” in both verses is zeloo and literally means “to be zealous for, to burn with desire, to pursue ardently, to desire eagerly or intensely”, thus, we are to want and ask for His spiritual gifts – God wants us to covet the things of Him, not the things of men.  If these gifts were given upon conversion without us having to ask for them, Paul’s statements to “desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy,” and “earnestly desire the best gifts” would be false advice.  Why would we be told to desire something that has been given to us already?  And…how are we supposed to ask for a specific spiritual gift (prophecy) if we’re given the gifts upon conversion without asking for them?
  • Acts 19:2 says: “he [Paul] said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’…”  “It is plain that Paul had been given the impression that these people were disciples of Christ.  Obviously, if they were not Christians at all, there could have been no question of their having received the Holy Spirit, since this is received only through faith in Christ.” (Derek Prince, SFBH).  This one question Paul asks could alone sufficiently prove that there must be some filling of the Holy Spirit that does not automatically happen upon conversion.  As has already been pointed out, we do receive the Holy Spirit when we believe, so why would Paul ask if they’ve received the Holy Spirit when they believed if there is not some separate filling or receiving of the Holy Spirit apart from faith in Jesus.
  • Luke 11:13 says: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” and Matthew 7:11 says: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”  Both of these verses recount the same story, but the only difference is Luke’s version says “Holy Spirit” and Matthew’s says “good gifts”, this shows that these two words can be used interchangeably, and so, for the gifts of the Holy Spirit (charismata) you have to ask your Father.  Notice: Jesus is talking about a believer who is praying to the Father (he wouldn’t be praying if he wasn’t a believer), showing that we still must ask for the gifts/baptism in the Holy Spirit even if we are believers, and already have the Holy Spirit.

6.  Are there Bible examples of someone receiving the baptism (or filling) in the Holy Spirit after they were a believer, and already had the Holy Spirit dwelling within them?

  • In John 20:22, it says Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on the disciples, yet in Luke 24:49 He says to tarry in the city of Jerusalem until He sends the Promise of the Father so that the disciples may be endued with power from on high.  Acts 1:4-8 shows that this Promise is the Holy Spirit.  Is this a contradiction by the gospel writers?  Of course not.  The disciples did have the Holy Spirit, just as we receive it upon conversion; however, they were not “cloaked with the power” or “baptized with the Holy Spirit”.  In Acts 2, it shows that Jesus was no liar, and the promise of the power of the Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples at Pentecost in Jerusalem.  
  • Acts 4:23-31 shows a company of believers praying for boldness.  V. 31 says: “…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”  We can see that these people were believers before they prayed – a prayer for boldness, healing, and signs and wonders through the name of Jesus – and therefore had the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them, but it wasn’t until after they prayed that they “were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (it is debatable whether or not these believers had already been previously baptized in the Holy Spirit, but either way, it is clear that they were filled [or refilled] as a separate act from believing).
  • Acts 8:4-25 gives another example.  Verses 4-8 show Philip as someone proclaiming Christ.  Verses 9-11 show Simon as a sorcerer who was thought to have Godly power (although he was not a Christian).  Verses 12 and 13 show Simon and the other Samaritans becoming believers after hearing Philip, and then being baptized.  However, verses 14-19 show that the believers in Samaria had not received the baptizing in the Holy Spirit.  The key lies in verse 16, which reads: “For as yet He [the Holy Spirit] had fallen upon none of them.  They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”  The next verse shows that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given (the laying on of hands is not a command for filling someone with the Holy Spirit, although it is a very common practice throughout Scriptures).  Although verse 13 says Simon was a believer in Christ and saw miracles and signs, verses 18 and 19 tell us that Simon offered money only after seeing the power given by the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 9:1-19 gives us a fourth example.  Verses 1-9 record Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.  It was clear that he had become a believer during these verses, as he calls Jesus “Lord” and obeys Him.  However, in v. 17, Ananias is recorded as laying hands upon Saul to fill him with the Holy Spirit.  Acts 22:16 is the parallel of this account, and also shows Ananias as telling Saul to be baptized in water.  Once again, Saul was a believer and had the Holy Spirit 3 days (v. 9) before he had hands laid on him to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
  • A fifth example can be found in Acts 19:1-20.  Verse 2 records Paul asking the Ephesians if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed (as stated earlier, this question alone proves that a baptism or filling with the Holy Spirit must be a separate act from believing).  The key text lies in verses 3-6.  In verse 3, the disciples at Ephesus tell Paul that they have only had John’s baptism in water.  Verse 5, however, shows them being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  And verse 6 hammers the point: “And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them….”  Verses 4-6 show us the 3-step action Peter gave.  1.  Repent (v. 4).  2.  Baptize in Jesus’ name (v.5).  3.  Receive the Holy Spirit (v. 6).
  • Another example can be inferred from 2 Timothy 1:6, which says: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”  No one could say that it was by the laying on of hands that Timothy became a believer (since believing is something of the mind and heart of the individual alone), yet, it was through the laying on of hands (a separate act from believing) that Timothy received a gift (Greek: charisma) of God.  
  • Although not a biblical example, one must ask themselves if the baptism in the Holy Spirit is for believers of today (see #7), and you get it upon conversion, why is it that full churches aren’t having one member operate in any of the gifts?  If it is true, as the Bible seems to indicate, that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate act, this would make perfect sense.
  • The problem in America today is that the true gospel message has been skewed by Satan.  The only thing taught is that all you need is Jesus (which is true in terms of eternal life and salvation), but many are not teaching further than this (for instance, many preachers omit that Jesus himself says you need repentance for true belief…Luke 13:3), and Peter’s 3-step plan of what to do after receiving the gospel in Acts 2:38 is ignored.  The believers in Acts 2:37 ask Peter, “What shall we do [next]?”  Too many Christians in America recognize Jesus as the “door” in John 10:9 (“I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved…”), but do not realize there is more (“…and will go in and out and find pasture.”).  It is true that Jesus is the “door”, but there is lush pasture if we walk even further past the doorway.  The difference between America’s mindset and countries overseas is obvious.  When people overseas see the “Jesus” movie, they do not think of Jesus’ power as a historical thing only occurring 2,000 years ago, but rather think of it as something that could have happened last week, and ask for the power immediately when they believe on Jesus.  In these countries, people are walking on water, the dead are being resurrected, the lame are walking, the deaf are hearing, the mute are speaking, etc., etc., simply because they are asking for more of the things of God.  Believing on Jesus is the greatest thing in the universe, and is all that is necessary for the gifts of eternity, but there truly is even more that God wants to give through belief in His Son (see Luke 11:13).   

7.  Alright, I can see that the filling of the Holy Spirit was a separate act from becoming a believer for the believers of the New Testament, but can you seriously say that it is still available today?

  • Yes!  Acts 2:39 records Peter saying: “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  Verses 37 and 38 show that Peter, at least in part, is referring to the filling of the Holy Spirit as the “promise” (because v. 37 shows that the men believed), and Acts 1:4 and 5 confirm this.  The specific “promise” Peter talks about, may also encompass people receiving the Holy Spirit when they believe on Jesus.
  • As all of the Old Testament feasts were types for eternal things to come (Passover = Jesus’ crucifixion: 1 Cor. 5:7; Firstfruits = resurrection: 1 Cor. 15:20; etc.), this outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost (Acts 1:5; 2:1, 4).  Leviticus 23:21 says that the feast of Pentecost “shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations”.  The only possibility for it to continue forever is if it is referring to the New Testament fulfillment, and since the New Testament fulfillment is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, this gift could not have ceased.  
  • 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 gives us another Scriptural proof that the gifts are still available today.  V. 8 says: “Love never fails.  But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.”  And then, verses 9 and 10 tell us these gifts will cease “when that which is perfect has come”.  Now, some Bible expositors will say that “that which is perfect” is referring to when the New Testament canon is completed, but this ignores v. 12.  In v. 12, it says, “NOW we see in a mirror, dimly, BUT THEN face to face.  NOW I know in part, BUT THEN I shall know just as I also am known [The knowledge talked about in v.8 must be the Holy Spirit gift of knowledge, because v. 12 shows that when the gifts pass away, we will know fully.  If v.8 was referring to natural knowledge, how could we “know just as I also am known” when knowledge is mentioned in v.8 as passing away?].”  We still see in a mirror dimly and know in part today!  Clearly, “that which is perfect” can only mean when we leave this world or Christ returns, and therefore, the gifts will not cease until that time (if we know in full now, there could be no disagreement on what this passage means!).  Also, James 1:23-25 tells us that the mirror symbolizes the Bible, therefore we still “see in a mirror dimly [read the Bible without full comprehension]”.
  • Along with 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 also reveals these spiritual gifts to be for believers of any age.  “Paul here thanks God on behalf of the Christians at Corinth because they are enriched by God in all spiritual gifts.  In particular Paul specifies the gifts of utterance and of knowledge…Furthermore, Paul indicates that it is the revealed purpose of God that these spiritual gifts continue to operate in the Christian church right up to the return of Christ.” (Prince, SFBH).  Notice vv. 7-8 say: “so that you come short in no gift [charisma], eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  “Both these phrases [vv. 7-8] indicate plainly that the church of Christ at the end of this age will not be considered by God to be complete or blameless unless she is fully equipped with all the supernatural spiritual gifts.” (Prince, SFBH).  1 Cor. 1:7 tells us that we should not come short in any gift while “eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  One must ask why God would include this verse if He later intended on ceasing the nine spiritual gifts.      
  • Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  The Greek word for “gift” is charisma in Rom. 6:23.  This is the same word used for the gifts of the baptism in the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12.  If the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and the gifts it entails, has ceased, then the gift used in this passage must have ceased also.  Even though this is the only logical conclusion, no one would be foolish enough to say the gift of eternal life has ceased, so why do they say the other gifts have ceased?  
  • As we’ve seen earlier, 1 Corinthians 14:1 tells us: “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”  No one could argue that we are no longer to pursue love, yet those who say the gifts have ceased will unfairly dissect this passage and tell us that we are no longer to ask for spiritual gifts, even though there is nothing in Scripture even relatively close to rescinding the “marching orders” of 1 Cor. 14:1.  There seems to be no justification in saying only part of this advice of Paul’s should be followed today, but not all of it.
  • With chapter after chapter of the New Testament speaking on the gifts of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, how can someone say it was only written for the time?  There are ZERO passages indicating that this was only for the time period; in light of the amount of Scripture regarding this subject, an absence of any indicator that the gifts have ceased must speak very loudly that they have not!  Here’s the test for true Biblical exegesis: if someone living in a distant universe were to read the Bible without knowing anything about our universe, what would they say?  Clearly, they would have no reason for thinking the gifts have ceased, and therefore, we must use this same honest exegesis for ourselves.
  • Personal experiences.  Although the authority of the Bible must come before experience, we still cannot ignore experience.  People have spoken in tongues before they even knew it was in the Bible, people are being miraculously healed, people are resurrecting, demons are being cast out, prophecies are fulfilled, etc., etc.  All of the above cannot be cast away as psychosomatic.

8.  Yes, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is something for believers today, but why should I want it?

  • Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8 describe the filling of the Holy Spirit as giving you power and Acts 4:31 says it gave the believers boldness.  The boldness with which Peter spoke at Acts 2 to a crowd of thousands, when just 53 days before he denied Jesus to a little girl, is evidence that a change had taken place.  In Acts 8, Simon was so astonished by the power that he saw was given by the baptism in the Holy Spirit that he offered money so that he could have that power also.  From experience, I went from never talking or wanting to talk to people outside my circle of friends, to not being able to shut up about Jesus to believers and non-believers alike.  This power and boldness is the base of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and certainly the reason Jesus gives for his disciples to wait for it.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 gives us a list of specific gifts given as a result of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

v. 8: “for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,”. The word of wisdom is the supernatural knowing of how to do something (i.e. Acts 13:9-12) and the word of knowledge is supernaturally knowing something in the present (Acts 8:29; 21:4).  An example of these would be if Brett knew that Elaine had cancer without anyone telling him, even though she didn’t even know this [word of knowledge], and then he knew that he was the one who was supposed to tell her and was able to tell her in a way that was comforting and encouraging, even though he usually is an idiot when it comes to telling people bad news [word of wisdom].

v. 9: “to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,”.  The gift of faith is supernaturally knowing that you can pray or believe on something that God will do (Acts 20:10).  The gift of healing is simply healing someone through God’s power (Acts 9:33-35; 28:8).  An example of the gift of faith is if Dan was outside when it was storming, and he knew he could pray to calm the storms, obviously he’s not going to pray every time it storms, which is why this instance is evidence of the gift of faith.  An example of the gift of healing would be if Marie prayed over Don for his cancer, and it went away.

v. 10: “to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”  The gift of miracles is simply the ability to do miracles, those things that defy nature (Acts 9:40-42).  An example of this would be if one turkey fed 500 hungry people.  The gift of prophecy is the ability to allow God to speak through you, many times about future events (Acts 21:11), but more specifically C. Peter Wagner defines prophecy as “the special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to His people through a divinely anointed utterance.”  1 Cor. 14:3 defines prophecy as something used for “edification and exhortation and comfort to men”.  Although, this definition could also be applied to preaching, it must be noted that the word used in this passage for one who prophesies in the Greek is propheteuo meaning: “to prophesy, to be a prophet, speak forth by divine inspirations, to predict”, and thus, 1 Cor. 14:3 is explicitly for prophecy, not preaching.  An example of prophecy would be if God spoke through Sam and said to Wayne, “My son, I am well pleased with you.  If you release the sin in your life I will bring thousands of people to listen to your teachings.”  The gift of discerning of spirits is the ability to either 1) see spiritual presences (angelic or demonic) or 2) sense whether someone or something is of God or not of God (Acts 16:18).  An example of discernment is if someone sees a demon in a room or if they just know/sense (without actually seeing) there is a demon in a room.  The gift of tongues is the ability to speak in a language without studying it – the language can be an existing language, dead language, or angelic language (1 Cor. 13:1).  An example of this would be if Josh spoke in fluent French without ever studying the language.  The gift of interpretation of tongues is the ability to interpret someone else’s (or your own) tongue into the language that people understand (it’s usually a roundabout way to prophesy, see 1 Cor. 14:13).  An example of this would be if Sandy heard Josh speaking in French, and also never studying the language, she is able to tell Josh what it means in English (for Josh speaks English).

  • All of the gifts mentioned above are given for the edification of the Body of Christ.  1 Cor. 12:12-20 shows that the “body is not one member but many.”  These gifts are given for building up your brothers and sisters.  1 Cor. 12:28 shows that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are appointed for the church (specifically it shows the gifts of miracles, healings, and tongues). 
  • The baptism in the Holy Spirit is used for witnessing.  Rom. 15:18-19 says that “by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit” the Gentiles were led to obey God.  1 Cor. 2:1-5 (specifically vv. 4-5) records Paul saying, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”  Also, Hebrews 2:3-4 says: “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.”  This passage gives 3 reasons to heed the gospel message: 1) Jesus proclaimed it first, 2) Other eyewitnesses confirmed what Jesus proclaimed, 3) “Signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit” bear witness to the gospel.  All these passages show very plainly that the power and signs/miracles of the Holy Spirit are to be used for witnessing to others.   
  • The advantages to being filled with the Holy Spirit include a new boldness, power, nine supernatural gifts of power to build up the body of Christ through ministry (these can be seen throughout the book of Acts), and witnessing to others.  In no ways (as we saw earlier) do you need these gifts to be a believer, and also, Jesus tells us that these gifts do not promise your salvation.  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matt. 7:22-24).  A good analogy for the difference between being a Christian baptized in the Holy Spirit and being one who is not is this: If you were in a war, the Christian without the baptism in the Holy Spirit is equipped with a rifle, but the one with the baptism is equipped with a tank.  The endless capabilities of what an army can accomplish with the power of tanks, is obvious, although, this does prompt my next question…

9.  Alright, I can see definite advantages to having the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but there also seems potential for it to be dangerous.  Isn’t there a lot of power that humans could get carried away with, losing sight of the goal for receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit (that being to build up the Body of Christ)?

  • Yes there is a lot of power, and it has the potential for people to become greedy for their own personal excess, but  Paul realized this fully as he wrote 1 Cor. 13 (placing it between two chapters dealing specifically with the gifts of the Holy Spirit).

1 Cor. 13 is our blueprint for using the power of the Holy Spirit for God’s Glory!

1 Cor. 12:31 says: “But earnestly desire the best gifts.  And yet I show you a more excellent way.”

This leads to 1 Cor 13…

v. 1 shows that speaking in tongues without LOVE is comparable to a clanging cymbal.

v. 2 shows that someone having the gift of prophecy and faith to move mountains without LOVE is nothing.

v. 3 says that giving all your goods to feed the poor and giving your body to be burned are also meaningless without LOVE.

vv. 4-8 describes the definition of LOVE.  These verses are a good test for us to stay grounded with the gifts, making sure we are using them for God’s Glory.  If any use of the gifts contradicts the definition of LOVE given in these verses, we may assume that we are using the power selfishly.  

v. 8 shows that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are temporary, but LOVE does not fail.

vv. 9, 10 hammer the point that these gifts of the Holy Spirit are only for us while on earth.  

vv. 11-13 also show that these gifts, and the Christian’s life on earth, is nothing compared to our eternity promised where the only earthly concepts remaining are “faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (see also Luke 10:20)

  • Yes, God is willing to give us a lot of power, but our God is a good God, and He gives good gifts, never more than you can bear.  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17).  “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13).  We must not lose our foundation and first love (Jesus) when using these gifts, and so, continuing with the army analogy, we can be equipped with mighty tanks for fighting the battle for Christ and not our own power.  

10.  Indeed, God does seem to give us a blueprint for successfully using the baptism in the Holy Spirit to further His Kingdom, and not get carried away with the power…but what are the other instructions for using the gifts?

  • In 1 Cor. 14, Paul addresses the problems with the church of Corinth in using the gifts and gives us a good example to follow.

1 Cor. 14:

v. 1 says: “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”  This verse shows what was seen earlier: love is the foundation for using these gifts and, also, we are to desire spiritual gifts.  Beyond proving that we are to ask for spiritual gifts, this verse places an emphasis on prophecy as a gift people should be asking for, because, as we will see, prophecy is a purely selfless gift.

vv. 2-4 shows the purpose of tongues and prophecy.  Verse 2 says that someone speaking in a tongue is speaking mysteries to God.  Verse 3 shows that prophecy is “edification, exhortation and comfort to men”.  Verse 4 puts the two gifts together saying, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.”  Paul’s advice in verse one, therefore, makes perfect sense (especially when reading through 1 Cor. 12 about the gifts being used to help the body, or church), because, as verse 4 shows, prophecy helps other people, whereas tongues, without interpretation, are used primarily to edify or buildup oneself.

v. 5 is thrown in there to make sure people don’t confuse what Paul is saying.  He still views speaking in tongues as an incredible gift of God, and says, “I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied”.  Paul wishes everyone to speak in tongues, but he makes it clear that prophecy is greater than tongues alone, “unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification”.  This whole chapter emphasizes the reason for these gifts…the Corinthians were so caught up in the supernatural gift of tongues that they lost sight of God’s plan for the gifts.  Over and over Paul stresses that they seek to help others through these gifts.  When a tongue is interpreted, it is a powerful roundabout prophecy, and, as we’ve already seen, a prophecy is “edification and exhortation and comfort to men”.  

vv. 6-11 make it clear that the gifts should be used to help others, not for selfish reasons.  In these verses Paul shows that the gift of tongues can be pointless in helping others, comparable to a trumpet making an uncertain sound in preparation for battle.  How will the soldiers know when to prepare if they do not hear the tune of preparation clearly?  In the same way, how will Christians prepare for the battle of Christ if they are not helping each other out?  These verses simply tell us to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the ways they were intended.

v. 12 shows the theme of this chapter: “Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.”  

v. 13 is Paul merely saying that he does not forbid to speak in tongues, but he strongly urges tongues (along with the rest of the gifts) to be used for other people.  His advice: if you’re going to speak in tongues, ask God for an interpretation.

vv. 14, 15 show again that Paul is all for praying in tongues, but he’s also all for praying with understanding.  “What is the conclusion then?  I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding.  I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.”

vv. 16, 17 also shows Paul’s humor when he says, “if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say ‘Amen’…since he does not understand what you say?”  What good is your tongue in a prayer of agreement with someone else, if they do not understand what you are saying, even if “you indeed give thanks well”?  

vv. 18, 19 complete the thought: “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all [Paul once again encourages speaking in tongues, knowing it is a gift from God]; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”  Thank God you can speak in tongues, but if you want to help others in your speech, do it in a language they can understand – again, this is why Paul places prophecy ahead of tongues, and encourages asking God for an interpretation if someone wants to speak in tongues.  The Church of Corinth clearly got so wrapped up in these cool gifts, especially tongues, that they didn’t see the bigger picture.

vv. 20-22 are for our understanding, as God wants us to not be “children in understanding [of spiritual things]”, but rather “children in terms of evil”. V. 21 is a quote from Isaiah 28:11 and 12.  It shows that Isaiah prophesied 700 years before Christ that people would speak in tongues and it gives a reasoning for doing it as verse 22 says, “tongues are for a sign not to those who believe but to unbelievers.”  Although “prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.”  This is quite obvious when you consider it in a private setting (as v. 23 demands us to), because I have seen 2 times where an unbeliever was sitting in on a prayer session where I, or someone else, prayed in tongues.  Both times, the person was so overwhelmed and convicted by the powers of God, that they left the room within a minute after the prayer.  These same people, however, merely shrugged off prophecy as a fabrication of those who were doing it.  Prophecy does not have the same overt supernatural appearance as tongues to non-believers in such private settings (though, to believers, prophecy is much more powerful…for they already know God is capable of miracles).

Vv. 23-25 seem to contradict v. 22 with only a cursory reading, but a deeper reading shows the key difference.  V. 23 explicitly states: “Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place…”  No longer is it a private setting as can be inferred in v. 22, but it has become a corporate setting.  Going on, it says: “If the whole church comes together…and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?  But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all.  And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.”  If an unbeliever walks into a setting where everyone is speaking in tongues, it will appear as if they were out of their minds, and that person will walk away with no conviction.  However, if everyone is prophesying, that person’s soul will burn with God’s words spoken through His people…words he can understand, not language foreign to him.

Vv. 26-36 also appear contradictory upon the surface, but once again, a deeper study sheds light on Paul’s instruction.  Notice first the words Paul starts this section with: “How is it then, brethren?  Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation…”  He is introducing this section by reiterating what they were already doing.  When he had last heard from the church at Corinth, there were obvious mistakes that Paul needed to clear up.  The first part of chapter 14 shows his emphasis on helping others with the things God has given, and starting with v. 26, he is showing how their worshiping was not in agreement with his teachings.  Vv. 27-28 continue with Paul describing saying: “If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.  But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.”  As we will see, 1 Cor. 14:39 seems to indicate that this practice of limiting tongues contradicts Paul’s instructions: “…do not forbid to speak in tongues” and also contradicts the experiences of the Christians in the New Testament (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6).  Going on, vv. 29-31 say: “Let two or three prophets speak and let the others judge.  But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.  For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.”  This practice of limiting prophecy also puts into question Paul’s instructions in 1 Cor. 14:39 (“…desire earnestly to prophesy…”), but also undermines God’s power, suggesting He wouldn’t know when to give someone a prophecy and when not to, and, once again, contradicts the examples we see in the Bible (Acts 19:6).  Vv. 32, 33 are the reasons Corinth must have given for putting these meaningless limitations on the Holy Spirit: “And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.  For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”  Paul later shows that he agrees with these statements, but disagrees with the actions Corinth took regarding these statements.  A question to ask is if Corinth knew God is not the author of confusion but of peace, why did they feel that his Holy Spirit was moving in such a way that would have been confusing (giving unction to prophesy to many people at once, giving unction to speak in tongues to many people at once, etc.)?  V. 32 is also true when it says “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets”, because a simple test for people on whether God is controlling the situation or whether it is demonic, is if they are able to stop it if they wanted to.  If you cannot control yourself, this is demonic, for “The Holy Spirit is a Gentleman!”, He does not force anything on you, you will not be in a trance.  But, if the Holy Spirit is giving you unction to speak in tongues or prophesy, who are we to put human ordinances to limit it?  “Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thes. 5:19).  From Acts 10, we’ve already seen that there is no formula for the Holy Spirit…for “God is not the author of confusion”.  Vv. 34, 35 reveal another faulty practice of the Corinthians: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says…”  First of all, nowhere in the Old Testament (which is the “law” that Paul would have been referring to) does it even come close to forbidding women to speak in church, and second, just earlier in this epistle (1 Cor. 11), Paul gives instructions on how women are to prophesy (by the way, nowhere in 1 Cor. 11 does it mention that women should wear veils, this is a common misinterpretation that can be cleared up when comparing 1 Cor. 11:3 and 1 Cor. 11:13, 14 on what “head covering” means) in the church.  Once again, the Corinthians practice runs against the Word of God.  Verse 36 reaffirms that the Corinthians must practice Biblical truths, not human inventions, where it says: “Or did the word of God come originally from you?  Or was it you only that it reached?”  Basically, Paul is asking a rhetorical question, telling the Corinthians to not invent their own “Word of God”.  (I am in the process of revising this section, as it seems that new light has been shed on this matter. – Brian Holda)

Vv. 37, 38 show that Paul wants them to know that what he writes is God-breathed, and there is no excuse for their ignorance after reading this.

Vv. 39, 40 show the commands of God, not Corinth: “Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.”  He gives them the final sentence so that they do not abuse God’s grace (as we know they were in the habit of doing), saying “[remember…] Let all things be done decently and in order.”

11.  Can you tell me more about tongues?

Today, speaking in tongues seems to be the most controversial of the gifts.  Some will say you have to speak in tongues to show that you have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, few (thankfully) will say you have to speak in tongues to be a believer, some will say you cannot speak in tongues in the church, some will say speaking in tongues is the least of the gifts and shouldn’t be sought after, etc…

  • 1 Cor. 12:8-10 lists the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Some interpret this listing to be the order of importance of the gifts, therefore, making tongues and the interpretation of tongues the least of the gifts – although this order is more likely due to the fact that the first 7 gifts were used in Old Testament times, and tongues and interpretation of tongues would have been added to this list.  
  • 1 Cor. 14:19 says: “I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”  Again, this verse is used to say tongues is the least of the gifts…but even if it is true that tongues is the least of the gifts, I would definitely rather have the least of God’s gifts than the best of men’s gifts.  In fact, 1 Cor. 12:24 says: “God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,” so if, indeed, tongues is the least of the gifts, praise God for the gift, because the parts which are lacking receive greater honor.
  • 1 Cor. 14:5 has Paul saying: “I wish you all spoke with tongues…” and v. 18: “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all…”  These two passages would indicate that tongues surely should be coveted.  
  • 1 Cor. 12:28 lists appointed things in the church: “first apostles, second prophets…administrations, varieties of tongues.”  Then, verses 29 and 30 lists more ministries, with verse 30 including tongues again.  Also, 1 Cor. 14:39 says to not forbid to speak with tongues.  It cannot be doubted, therefore, that tongues is something for the church that should not be forbidden.
  • 1 Cor. 14 gives a clear warning to seek gifts for edification of others, but as shown earlier, Paul still encourages tongues.
  • Do all have to speak in tongues?…Although the Greek in 1 Cor. 12:29, 30 indicates a “no” behind all of the questions (“Do all have gifts of healings? [no]  Do all speak with tongues? [no], etc.), it must be understood that the context of this passage is referring to ministries of the gifts, not the gifts by themselves.  James 3:5, 6 tell us “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.  See how great a forest a little fire kindles!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.  The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is on fire by hell.”  It seems very logical and scriptural that God would want to get hold of our tongue first.  So, although I’m not sure I would go so far as to say tongues are received by everybody who is baptized in the Holy Spirit (as some do not even ask for this gift), Scripture and experience seem to indicate that it is for almost everybody.
  • What is the purpose of tongues?…Acts 2:11 says: “Cretans and Arabs – we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”  It is uncommon for tongues to be used for speaking to people who only know the language the tongue is spoken in (although I know of more than a few times this has happened), but it still is one purpose for tongues [Babel separated the people through language, Pentecost unites us through language], and this verse also shows that tongues speak of wonderful works of God.  Romans 8:26, 27 says: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints, according to the will of God.”  In our mind, we are incapable of saying perfect prayer, but with the Holy Spirit speaking through us, perfect prayer is obtained.  “I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding.” (1 Cor. 14:15, see also Eph. 6:18, and Jude 20).  Another purpose of tongues is when we know we have to pray for something (possibly, God reveals this to us), but do not know specifically what it is we are praying for, the Spirit can pray through us (1 Cor. 14:15).  1 Cor. 14:4 shows that tongues are used to edify one’s self.  1 Cor. 14:22 shows tongues to be used as a sign for unbelievers.  And, 1 Cor. 14:5, 13 show that tongues with an interpretation can edify others (v. 13 says that you yourself can interpret your tongue).  As an additional note, comparing Psalm 16:9 with Peter’s reciting this same psalm in Acts 2:26, shows that the word “glory” used by David is recited as “tongue” by Peter, showing these words to be synonymous in this instance, therefore, the tongue can be God’s glory.  On top of all this, all of the gifts are given to receive more of God’s mercy on earth.
  • How does speaking in tongues work?…Acts 2:4 shows very clearly that God fills and gives you the utterance to speak, but you still are the one doing the speaking:  “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4).

12.  How do I receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit?

  • A good word picture for those who may not completely understand what goes on when you receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit is this:  Since oil is a biblical symbol for the Holy Spirit (Exodus 30:25; Acts 10:38; James 5:14), a good picture for what happens is that your body is drenched with oil everywhere you go after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  As many believers know, the power and presence of God and his Holy Spirit can be felt at different times by any believer, this could be viewed as entering a room where the power of the Holy Spirit is just awesome, and it is like the whole room is filled with oil…while you’re in there, you are swimming in the oil, but when you leave the oil is no longer drowning you.  However, the believer who receives the baptism in the Holy Spirit gets that drenching regardless of where they are.  
  • A good example to look at for how the Holy Spirit is received can be found in Acts 2:1-4.  These verses show that there are three phases for what happened at Pentecost:   1.  Baptized [immersed] from above. (v. 2)

  2.  Each individual was filled. (v.4)

  3.  There was a supernatural outflow (speaking in tongues). (v.4)

  • John 7:37-39 says: “…‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me [Jesus] and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”  This passage shows that one must 1) thirst for the Spirit then 2) come to Jesus and 3) drink.  This is also a great picture for what happens, you come thirsty, you leave with rivers of living water flowing from your heart.
  • Luke 11:13 says: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  We’ve already seen that comparing this verse with Matthew 7:11 shows that “Holy Spirit” and “good gifts” can be used interchangeably, and so, for the gifts of the Holy Spirit (charismata) you simply have to ask your Father.  Asking the Father (along with coming to Jesus) is the only formula commanded by Scripture for receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Also, it should be noted that this verse gives a promise and a condition.  The promise is that you WILL be given the precise thing that you ask for (the Holy Spirit, as opposed to something else) from God, but the condition (and this must be realized), is that you must be a child of God to ask and receive this gift.  
  • Although the laying on of hands is used for giving the baptism in the Holy Spirit throughout Scripture, it is never commanded, and in some places is not used.  God seems to use the laying on of hands so that His people are helping each other and blessing each other (even though there is no magic in our hands, but only God’s power transmitted).  If you want the baptism, the only thing commanded is to ask, so that is your only requirement for receiving it.  Laying on of hands, however, seems to be a recommended way of asking for, so that many can be blessed: “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established – that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” (Rom. 1:11, 12).
  • James 5:14 says: “…and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”  Another suggestion to follow is to have people put oil on their hands if they lay hands on you (or even dump a whole thing of oil on you: “And he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him.” (Leviticus 8:12).  “It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments.” (Psalm 133:2)).
  • Ephesians 5:18 says: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,”.  
  • Why wait?…It should be noted that although the disciples were told to wait for the filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, there are absolutely no other instances where we see people waiting to receive the Holy Spirit.  In fact, we see an urgency among the early believers in receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and from Hebrews 6:1-2 it is seen that the “doctrine of baptisms” is foundational to your Christian walk.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.  And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

(John 14:12-14)

Bible Study Outline

(Taught on March 31, 2006)

  • Job of the Spirit: GLORIFY THE SON (John 16:14; 1 Corinthians 12:3)
  • Union of the Spirit and the Word:  John 6:63; Eph. 6:17
    • Creation – Gen. 1:2-3; Psalm 33:6 
    • Exodus – 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (Matt. 4:4; John 7:37-39)
    • Christ – Matt. 17:1-8; John 14:6; 16:13; 17:17; cf. Colossians 1:16 with Genesis 1:2-3 
    • Two Witnesses – Revelation 11:1-3,6,10 (Moses and Elijah)
    • Spiritual weapons – Matt. 4:3-11; 2 Cor. 6:6-7; 10:3-4; Eph. 6:17-18
    • Holy Spirit will leads you into all TRUTH (John 14:25-26; 16:12-13)
  • “On ALL mankind” (Joel 2:28) – Joel 2:28-32 (cf. Acts 2:17); John 16:7-11

Spirit is Helper:

  1. Call on the Lord (Joel 2:32)
  2. Convict of SIN (John 16:9; Romans 14:23)
  3. Lead into RIGHTEOUSNESS (John 16:10)
  4. Convict of JUDGMENT (John 16:11; John 12:31)
    1. Satan is ruler of this world (2 Cor. 4:4; Gen. 3:14)
    2. “Baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 16:16)
  • POWER of Holy Spirit – Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8; 1 Corinthians 2:4
  • Power to preach repentance and the Gospel (Luke 24:46-47)
  • Power to give witness (Luke 24:48)
  • Jesus’ life – John 14:12 – same works, greater works
    • Born with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18)
    • Receives Holy Spirit from heaven (Luke 3:21-22)
    • Filled with the Spirit, walking in power (Luke 4:1,14)
  • “from heaven” – Luke 3:22 (cf. John 3:27)
    • Examples: Acts 2:1-4; 8:14-18; 10:44-48; 19:6-7; 1 Cor. 10:1-2
    • “baptism of the Holy Spirit” – Hebrews 6:2
  • How to receive:

1)  MUST BE BELIEVER! (Exodus 30:32; 1 Corinthians 2:14)

2)  Willing heart (Acts 10)

3)  Prayer (Matt. 7:11; Luke 3:15; 11:13; Acts 1:14; 2:1)

4)  Laying hands (Acts 8:17; 9:17; Hebrews 6:2)

5)  Yield members (Psalm 81:10; Romans 6:13; James 3:1-12)

    • Matthew 7:21-23
    • Examples: Numbers 22:28; 1 Samuel 19:20-24
    • “shall not be poured on man’s flesh” (Ex. 30:32) – 2 Kings 4:4-5; Numbers 19:13-16
    • Exodus 28:31-35 – bells and fruit, signs of life!
    • Watchman Nee excerpt: “True Maturity”
    • 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Gal. 5:22-23
  • “be [continually] filled with the Spirit” – Eph. 5:18 (cf. Acts 19:1-7)
    • Acts 4:23-31
    • “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:8; 4:31; 13:9,52)…implies that they were not always filled with the Spirit
    • 1 Cor. 12:13 – see “Movement in the Body” excerpt
  • Tools vs. Toys:
    • Bible Examples – Acts 4:31; 8:29; 9:33-35,40-42; 13:9-12; 16:18; 20:10; 21:4,11; 28:8
    • Real life examples
  • “A BRIDE adorned” (Rev. 21:2)
    • Rebekah (Gen. 24:22)
    • Song of Songs 1:9-11
  • Laying on of hands
    • Hebrews 6:2 – follows baptism of Spirit
    • Unity of the Body – Psalm 133, anointing flows from the head
      • 1 Corinthians 1:10-14; 11:17-34
      • See “Movement in the Body” excerpt
  • See “Laying Hands” outline

Hebrews 11:3 – “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

Visible changes in your world BEGIN with faith in the invisible things of the Word of God.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Written 2009

Only Seven (or Eight) Bible References to Baptism in the Holy Spirit:

  1. Matthew 3:11 – baptism of Spirit is given by Jesus; applies to people who have repented; presented alongside fire baptism
  2. Mark 1:8 – similar to #1
  3. Luke 3:16 – similar to #1
  4. John 1:33 – similar to #1
  5. Acts 1:5 – Jesus promised baptism of Spirit to his disciples.
    • Spoken to disciples, who already received a measure of the Holy Spirit from Jesus after His resurrection (John 20:21-22), and perhaps even during Jesus’ ministry (Matt. 16:17).
    • Baptism of Spirit = “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8)
    • Gives God’s power (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8)
    • Is necessary for effective witness (Luke 24:48-49; Acts 1:8)
    • Acts 2: PENTECOST is fulfillment of this Baptism of Spirit
      • Acts 2:2 – Came from heaven
      • Acts 2:3 – Presented tongues of fire
        • 2:4 – “filled with the Holy Spirit…speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”
        • 2:5-11 – spoke of God’s wonderful works in the languages of 16 different Jewish people groups
      • Acts 2:13 – they were confused as being drunk
      • Acts 2:16-21 – fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy: “in the last days…pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…shall prophesy…shall see visions…shall dream dreams…wonders in heaven…signs in the earth…before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD…whoever calls on the name of the LORD/ Shall be saved.” (see Joel 2:28-32)
      • Acts 2:14-40 – Peter preaches with new power
      • Acts 2:32-33 – After Jesus was exalted, the Father gave Him the Holy Spirit, and Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the Church at Pentecost
      • Acts 2:36 – Their receiving the Holy Spirit is evidence that Jesus is Lord and Christ.
      • Acts 2:38 – Repent, be baptized, receive Holy Spirit
      • Acts 2:39 – Promise of Holy Spirit (compare Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4-5,8) is available to as many as God calls
      • Acts 2:41 – the crowd received the word and were baptized
      • Acts 2:42 – they continued in studying Apostles’ teachings, fellowshiping, and prayer
      • Acts 2:43 – “wonders and signs were done through the apostles”
      • Acts 2:44-45 – unity and selflessness
      • Acts 2:46 – they continued to meet in temple and in houses, praising God and having favor with the world.  God added others daily.
    • Acts 3-28 – obedience, ministry, signs, wonders, and power followed the disciples throughout the book of Acts
      • There were consequent fillings of the Spirit – Acts 4:8; 4:31; 9:17; 13:9; 13:52
  6. Acts 11:16 – Peter compares the experience of Cornelius’ household with Pentecost, saying they both were “baptized with the Holy Spirit”
    • Acts 11:15 – “the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning”
      • Acts 10:44-48
        • 10:44 – “the Holy Spirit fell”
        • 10:45 – “gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also”
        • 10:46 – spoke in tongues, magnified God
        • 10:47 – “these…have received the Holy Spirit just as we”
      • Acts 11:17 – The condition to receive the Holy Spirit: “we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ”
  7. 1 Corinthians 12:13a – All members of Christ’s Body have been baptized “by one Spirit”
    • 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 – Variety of Spiritual gifts mentioned
      • 12:7 – “manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one”
      • 12:11 – “the same Spirit…distributing to each one individually as He wills”
    • 1 Corinthians 12:13b – all have been made to drink of the Spirit
    • 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 – the Spirit unifies and diversifies the Body of Christ
  8. Implied 8th Reference of Baptism of the Holy Spirit: 1 Corinthians 10:2 – “baptized into Moses in the cloud”
    • Cloud is symbolic of God’s Spirit – Hebrew word for Spirit means wind or breath; God was in the cloud (Exodus 13:21-22; 33:10); cloud brought light to Israel (Exodus 14:17-20); God spoke through the cloud (compare John 16:13 with Exodus 16:10,11; 19:9; 24:16); God used the cloud to proclaim his name (compare Acts 1:8 with Exodus 34:5); Israel was led by the cloud (compare Romans 8:14 with Exodus 40:36-37)
    • Exodus 14:19-20 – Israel was “baptized” by the cloud
      • Separated them from their oppressors
      • Preceded their “Red Sea baptism” (see 1 Corinthians 10:2)
    • Exodus 40:34 – cloud immersed tabernacle 

      Observations of the Scriptural References of Baptism of Spirit:

      • Accompanied by spiritual gifts and power
        • gift of tongues is prominent
      • Follows repentance and faith
      • Is necessary for effective witness (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,8)

      Have All Christians Been Baptized by the Holy Spirit?

      Have all Christians been filled with the Spirit?

      • Acts 4:8 – Peter is “filled with the Holy Spirit,” even after Pentecost.  If all Christians are full of the Holy Spirit, it would make no sense to differentiate Peter as being “filled with the Holy Spirit” at this particular place and time.
      • Acts 4:31 – After prayer, the group of Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit.  This group included Peter and John who were already baptized in the Holy Spirit.
      • Acts 8:4-19 – those in Samaria believed Christ (8:12-13), and  were baptized in water (8:12-13), yet did not receive the Holy Spirit until Peter and John laid hands on them (8:14-17)
        • 8:18-19 – resulted in something powerful enough that someone offered to pay the apostles for this power
      • Acts 9:1-18 – Saul/Paul was confronted by Jesus and surrendered to Him, 3 days later he was filled with the Spirit (9:17) and baptized in water (9:18).
        • Acts 13:9 – Saul/Paul is said to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” later, which would be unnecessary to say if he was always filled with the Spirit.
      • Acts 19:1-7 – Disciples at Ephesus
        • 19:2 – “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” – this question was presented to disciples, and would be irrelevant to ask if all Christians received the Holy Spirit’s filling and power automatically upon belief
        • 19:5 – they were baptized in water
        • 19:6 – Holy Spirit came on them through laying on of hands
          • Resulted in speaking tongues and prophesying
      • Ephesians 5:18 – Ephesian Christians are commanded to “be filled with the Spirit,” even though they have already received Christ and perhaps even been filled with the Holy Spirit
        • Greek expression means “be continually filled”
      • 1 Corinthians 12:13 – though Christ’s body has been baptized with the Holy Spirit, members may not have drunk fully of the Holy Spirit (“all been made to drink into one Spirit”)

      Is This Gift/Power of the Holy Spirit Available to Modern Christians?

      • Acts 2:39 – Promise of Spirit baptism is for all God calls
      • 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 – spiritual gifts cease “when that which is perfect has come” (13:10), that is, when we are fully matured and see and know perfectly (see 1 Cor. 13:11-12).
        • Perfect in terms of ability to see and know clearly, not necessarily perfect in the sense of possessing all knowledge.

      How do Christians receive and become filled with the Holy Spirit?

      • Acts 2:38 – True REPENTANCE is an essential condition for receiving baptism of the Spirit and filling of the Spirit
        • Exodus 30:32 – the anointing oil was not poured on flesh, just as God’s Spirit will not be poured out on our sinfulness
        • 2 Kings 4:4-5 – as the door of their house needed to be shut out from the world in order for the oil to flow, so we must separate ourselves from the world if we expect God to fill us with his Spirit
      • Luke 11:13 (compared with Matthew 7:11) – We must ASK God for his Spirit
        • Luke 1:53 – To those who recognize their poverty, and come empty, they will receive the good things of God’s Spirit.
        • 2 Kings 4:4-6 – as the oil ceased being poured out when there was no empty vessel, so God needs us to come as empty vessels
      • Acts 8:14-19; cf. 9:12 with 9:17-18; 19:6; 2 Timothy 1:6 – LAYING HANDS frequently accompanies the filling of the Spirit (though not always, see Acts 4:31), and ushers in spiritual gifts

      Have All Christians Been Baptized with the Holy Spirit?

      Yes, in a Sense

      Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; and John 1:33 seem to refer to the baptism of the Holy Spirit as something that is true for all Christians.  There are three baptisms mentioned in Matthew and Luke’s account: (1) Repentance, (2) Holy Spirit, (3) Fire.  And after mentioning these baptisms he speaks of the fire that will condemn the wicked (see Matt. 3:12; Luke 3:17).  Since ALL Christians have repented, and ALL Christians will escape the condemnation of fire, it seems inconsistent to say that John believed only SOME Christians would be baptized by the Holy Spirit.

      Likewise, 1 Corinthians 12:13a says: “by one Spirit we were ALL baptized into one body,” (emphasis added).  In the sense of this verse, we are told that all who are part of the body of Christ have been baptized by the Holy Spirit.  Conversely, if you have not been baptized by the Spirit, you must not be part of the body of Christ.  This also agrees with the earlier context of 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 – “The manifestation of Spirit is given TO EACH ONE for the profit of all…one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing TO EACH ONE INDIVIDUALLY as He wills.” (emphasis added).  In these passages, “each one” seems to refer to each member of the body of Christ, as the apostle expounds on this subject by saying: “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12).  Therefore, he seems to be teaching that every member of the body of Christ has been baptized with the Spirit.

      And Yet… Maybe Not

      In the Scriptures, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is generally spoken in conjunction with Spiritual gifts, especially the gift of tongues:

      1. “you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…When the Day of Pentecost had fully come…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues” (Acts 1:5; 2:1-4) 
      2. “the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word…they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” (Acts 10:44-46).  And Peter recounting this story says: “the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.  Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'” (Acts 11:15-16) 
      3. “The manifestation of Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge…to another faith…to another gifts of healings…to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues…For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,” (1 Corinthians 12:7-13)

      This does not mean that spiritual gifts are the only reason, or main purpose, of the baptism of the Spirit (for instance, Christ focuses on the powerful witness and boldness people are given through the baptism of the Spirit [see Acts 1:4-8]), but it does show that spiritual gifts are associated with the baptism of the Spirit.

      With this connection in mind, we must note that the Scriptures provide several examples of people seeking and receiving more of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts AFTER and SUBSEQUENT to their receiving the gospel.

      Aside: This does not mean they did not receive the indwelling Holy Spirit immediately upon conversion, since the Scriptures clearly teach that all who come to Christ immediately receive the indwelling Spirit (Romans 8:9 and Ephesians 1:13, for example).  Instead, we are teaching that there are certain aspects or measures of the Spirit that are not always received upon conversion. 


      • John 20:22 – disciples received a measure of the Holy Spirit, which is seen in their new understanding of the Scriptures (Acts 1:20, for example) compared to their lack of understanding during Jesus’ earthly ministry.  However, they received the baptism of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4-8; 2).
      • Acts 4:24-31: “they [various believers, including Peter and John] raised their voice to God with one accord and said: ‘…grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.’  And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”  Here, Christians (even those who had already been baptized in the Spirit at Pentecost, like John and Peter) prayed for gifts of healing, signs, wonders, and boldness (which were all things related to the baptism of the Spirit). 
      • Acts 8:12-19: “they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized…Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  For as yet He had fallen upon none of them.  They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit…through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given,” 
      • Acts 9:17: “And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him [Paul] he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came [3 days earlier], has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.'” 
      • Acts 19:1-6: “some disciples…were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”  Also notice the question Paul originally asks them: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2).  This question itself indicates that belief in Christ does not prove you have received all of the Holy Spirit. 
      • 1 Corinthians 14:13: “let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.”  This was written about Christians who have already received the gift of tongues, telling them that they should pray for the gift of interpretation of tongues.
      • 2 Timothy 1:6: “…the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

      Jesus further expounds on this issue when He says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).  Here, He is referring to people who already are children of God, calling on their Father for the Holy Spirit.  And the parallel passage of this verse (Matthew 7:11) tells us that God will give “gifts” to his children who ask, instead of “the Holy Spirit” of Luke’s account.  Putting these two passages together, we could say that God will give the GIFT(S) OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT to believers who ask for this. 

      In a similar vein, Paul exhorts the Ephesian Christians to, “be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18).  Notice, it is a command, not a suggestion, and it is written to Christians.  This demonstrates that even Christians who have already been “sealed with the Holy Spirit,” (Ephesians 1:13), have more to receive of the Spirit.

      Finally, Jesus’ own life provides an example for us.  When He was born, it was a result of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18), showing that He had the Holy Spirit indwelling from birth.  However, when Jesus was 30 years old, and was baptized in water and prayed to God, we read that “the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him” (Luke 3:21-22).  In this example, the Holy Spirit falling on Him was subsequent to Him receiving the Holy Spirit at birth.  In like fashion, this example might be applied to Christians who receive more of the Holy Spirit after they have been born again by the same Spirit (see John 3:6-7).


      Scriptural patterns:

      • The Church is considered holy in God’s sight on the basis of Christ’s atonement and our being “in Christ” (see Colossians 1:21-22; Ephesians 5:25-27; Hebrews 3:1), yet God still commands us to “be holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). 
      • The Church is considered crucified – past tense – with Christ (Romans 6:6-7; Galatians 2:20), yet we are still commanded to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13; see also Colossians 3:5). 
      • The Church is said to be “raised with Christ” (Colossians 2:12), yet we are told this new life has not been fully realized (Romans 8:11, for example).
      • Christians are said to be “kings” (Revelation 1:6; 5:10) in the present tense, yet we are told to endure that we may reign in the future (2 Timothy 2:12).

      And other similar patterns are frequent themes of the New Testament.  Our position “in Christ” makes us holy, crucified, resurrected, kings, etc. on the basis of Christ’s work, but it is “Christ in us,” that is, the Holy Spirit, that brings us to experience and realize this position.

      With this pattern in mind, it seems plausible to say that, though the Church has already been baptized with the Spirit, there may still be an act of realizing, receiving, and “drinking” of this Spirit baptism that did not happen at conversion.  In 1 Corinthians 12:13, after saying the Church has been baptized by the Spirit, Paul goes on to say that we were made to drink of this Spirit, not that we have already drunk (1 Corinthians 12:13).  Perhaps we could say that on God’s end He has baptized all Christians with the Spirit, but on our end, we still need to receive this.


      To help us understand this, let’s consider Biblical examples of similar principles:

      • Shortly after creation, in the Garden of Eden, we read, “a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.” (Genesis 2:6).  Though the mist immersed (“baptized,” if you will) the entire earth, the plants still had to “drink” and “receive” the water from this mist to survive.
      • In the story of Rebekah being chosen as a bride for Isaac, she gave water to Abraham’s servant and his camels (Genesis 24:16-20).  Though there was already an abundant supply of water in the well, it still had to be “received” via the empty vessels Rebekah brought: “she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up.” (24:16). Therefore, though the water had already been given, Rebekah still had the responsibility of drawing this water out and supplying the empty vessel. 
      • In 2 Kings 4, the widow in need already had a jar of oil (2 Kings 4:2), yet she still needed to bring empty vessels to receive this oil (4:3).  Though the oil was there, it was not received until she brought empty vessels, and it only poured out where there were empty vessels (4:5-6).  Similarly, God’s Spirit has been given to His Church, but perhaps we have not received His Spirit in a fuller measure because we have not come as empty vessels to be filled. 
      • In the parable of the prodigal son, the older brother was upset because he was never given some of the “riches” of his father (Luke 15:29-30).  However, the father answers him by saying, “you are always with me, and all that I have is yours” (Luke 15:31).  Therefore, we can rightly say that the son already had his father’s riches on the basis of his position in the family, yet he lacked these same “riches” because he never asked and received them from his father.

        In all these pictures the supply was already provided, but it still had to be received.

      Possible Illustration?

      Perhaps the baptism of the Holy Spirit could be likened to filling a room that had an abundance of covered and uncovered cups with water (assuming the room was completely sealed off, so that the water would completely fill it).  From a broader perspective, it is clear that all those vessels have been immersed/”baptized” by the water that fills the room.  However, when inspecting the individual vessels, only the ones that were uncovered are filled with the water, while the covered ones remain empty.  Now, if the cover is removed, and the vessel is in a position to receive the water, that vessel would have an experience of being filled with water that “falls” into it.  In this analogy, the covered vessel was already immersed in water on account of its position within the room, but it still had the responsibility to receive this water by discarding its cover.

      Maybe that is a silly picture to think about, and I’m certain it is not a perfect analogy, but I wonder if it can help us make sense of the whole counsel of Scripture concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Like those covered and uncovered cups being immersed with water, all Christians are part of the body of Christ which has already been corporately baptized by the Holy Spirit.  Yet, we are still commanded to be filled with the Spirit, implying that our position within the body of Christ does not guarantee fullness of the Spirit.  Like those uncovered cups, Christians may still have to “open” themselves up to God for the filling of His Spirit (though the analogy breaks down when we consider that Christians must have an ongoing filling of the Spirit, not just “one [time] and done”).

      When understood in this context, is it accurate to say that individual Christians can be “baptized by the Spirit” after their initial conversion? 

      I don’t believe the Scriptures are conclusive enough to know if the wording, “baptized in the Spirit” would be accurate for those who are filled with the Spirit after conversion, but I do think it is clear that a filling and receiving of God’s Spirit can happen, and is meant to happen, throughout our Christian life and not just at the point of conversion.

      Brian Holda