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NOTE: The Bible teaches that God is the potter and we are the clay vessels (Jeremiah 18:1-6; Romans 9:20, 21). Everyone is created with a purpose. Oil is used throughout the Bible as a symbol of God's Spirit. Pure olive oil was used to keep the lamp burning bright in the Hebrew temple as an illustration of how His Holy Spirit illuminates our minds. It is God's desire to fill all of His people with His Spirit (Joel 2:28).
NOTE: The apostle Peter declared that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God. Furthermore, Jesus told us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19, 20), thus indicating that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead, placed in full equality with the Father and the Son.
The Bible also states that we can grieve the Spirit, which means that He has emotions. He is not simply an impersonal force. In Scripture the Holy Spirit is referred to as Comforter, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, Spirit of truth, Spirit of the Lord, the seven Spirits of God, and simply the Spirit. All of these titles denote personality
NOTE: Jesus promised to be with us always, and it is through the person of the Holy Spirit that He is with us and in us (John 14:17).
NOTE: Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is not a single offence, but a progressive resistance to truth that results in a final rejection of God's will (Hebrews 10:26, 27). The conscience is seared when a person repeatedly opposes and neglects the impressions of the Holy Spirit until he no longer hears His voice. Therefore, a person who has a haunting fear that he has committed the "unpardonable sin" very likely has not.
NOTE: When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, He brings different gifts. Not everyone receives the same gifts (1 Corinthians 12:29-31). Scripture often emphasizes the importance of being filled with the Spirit. Jesus taught in John 3:5 that "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Sadly, the Holy Spirit and His work is often misunderstood. Some people are taught that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force; others deny His influence in people's daily affairs; and still others are taught that everyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues.
NOTE: As in the days of the early Christian church, the gift of tongues has again become a subject of confusion and controversy. Therefore we have dedicated a large portion of this lesson to explaining what the Bible teaches about this spiritual gift.
NOTE: In the Bible, the word "tongue" simply means "language." Jesus' disciples were bright men, but most were uneducated. In order to help them take the gospel to the world, Jesus promised to give them a supernatural gift to speak foreign languages they had not formerly studied or known.
NOTE: Pentecost was a Jewish holy day that was celebrated 50 days after Passover. Devoted Jews from all over the world came to Jerusalem to worship. Through His Spirit, God gave the gift of tongues at this time to empower the disciples to share the gospel with these people in their native languages. Those who believed then carried the good news back to their respective countries.
NOTE: It is sometimes suggested that the gift of tongues is a "heavenly language" understood only by God or by those with the gift of interpretation. The Bible clearly shows that both the disciples and those listening understood what was being preached--"the wonderful works of God." There are only three examples of speaking in tongues given in Scripture. We have looked at the first; now let's examine the last two for a clearer picture of this gift.
NOTE: Cornelius was of the Italian band (Acts 10:1), while Peter was a Jew and spoke Aramaic. History also tells us that the servants in a Roman home could be from anywhere in the world. Consequently, there were language barriers at this meeting. However, when the Holy Ghost fell on Cornelius and the members of his household, the men who accompanied Peter could understand them speaking in languages other than their native tongues. They heard them "magnify God" in these languages. When later reporting this experience to church leaders in Jerusalem, Peter said, "The Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning." Acts 11:15, emphasis added. Cornelius and his household received the same gift of tongues as did the disciples on the day of Pentecost. They spoke languages that could be understood.
NOTE: Paul, who was the most educated and widely traveled of the apostles, spoke many languages (1 Corinthians 14:18). When the Holy Spirit came upon these 12 men of Ephesus, Paul and Luke could understand them prophesying in languages they had not previously known.
NOTE: Paul repeatedly explains that the purpose for a tongue (language) is to communicate or to teach truth. A Greek word for "unknown" is not found in any original Bible manuscripts, but was supplied by translators to indicate that the language was foreign to the majority present. The church at Corinth was a melting pot of many different nationalities, and sometimes the services became confusing when members would pray, testify, or preach in languages unknown to the others present.
This is why Paul commanded them to keep silent, if speaking in a tongue unknown to the majority, unless someone was there to interpret (1 Corinthians 14:28). The lesson for us is that we should not speak or pray in a tongue that others present cannot understand.
NOTE: The tower of Babel is the place where the languages of the world were first confounded. The Hebrew word for both Babel and Babylon is "babel," meaning "confusion." In Revelation 18, God calls His people out of spiritual Babylon. One of the characteristics of spiritual Babylon is a confusion of tongues.
NOTE: The tremendous power of the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in those who refuse to obey God's commandments.
NOTE: In spite of the fact that Paul attached greater importance to the gift of prophecy than to the gift of tongues, some are now teaching that every person who is filled with the Holy Spirit will speak in tongues. Out of more than 25 Bible examples of God filling His people with the Spirit, only three times is the gift of tongues connected with it. Of the 14 New Testament books written by the apostle Paul, he mentions tongues in only one--1 Corinthians. Of the 27 books in the New Testament, only three make any reference at all to speaking in tongues.
NOTE: God fills us with His Spirit to give us power for witnessing!
NOTE: We determine that a person has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit not by the gifts of the Spirit, but by the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5:22, 23).
NOTE: Just as Jesus had the Spirit without measure, we may ask God to fill our vessels to overflowing, but we must first be willing to empty ourselves by surrendering our hearts.