The Holy Spirit and the Church

The Holy Spirit and the Church

Scripture: Ephesians 4:3-5, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Acts 17:11
Date: 03/04/2017  Lesson: 9
"It is the Holy Spirit who creates a spiritual community and fellowship that has the Written Word of God, inspired by the same Spirit, as its authority for faith and practice."
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Good morning, friends, and welcome to Sabbath school study hour coming to you here from the Sacramento area - from the Granite Bay church. A very warm welcome to our extended Sabbath school class across the country and around the world - also our online members. I'd also like to warmly welcome the members and the visitors that are here this morning joining us as we study together. We've been studying through our lesson quarterly entitled the Holy Spirit and spirituality. Today we find ourselves on lesson #9 entitled the Holy Spirit and the church.

Now, for our friends who are joining us, if you don't have a copy of today's lesson, you can download the lesson by just going to the Amazing Facts website - just amazingfacts.org - click on the link that says Sabbath School Study Hour and you can download the lesson and study along with us. We have a free offer that goes along with our study entitled twelve steps to revival. If you'd like to receive this (in North America) call us on our resource phone number. That number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #780. Again, the number is 866-788-3966 - ask for offer #780 - that is twelve steps to revival - a book written by Pastor Doug.

Well, before we get to our study, as we normally do, we'd like to begin by lifting our voices in song. I'd like to invite our song leaders to join me here on stage. Thank you, Pastor Ross. I invite you, if you are right here and at home, to pull out your hymnals. We love to sing together and we have favorites, you have favorites, and we just kind of make our way every week and sing.

I must tell Jesus - I hope that is one of your things that you do every day. I must tell Jesus about this - hymn #485 - we're going to sing all three verses - I must tell Jesus. You know, I was just thinking, as we were singing that, how many times do we run to the phone and we call somebody or, you know, we think, 'oh, we have no one to tell this to - no one would understand? We have a friend in heaven that understands. Our Bible tells us he understands everything - every emotion, everything we're going through, because he has passed this way before us, to show that there is a different way and there is a better way and that's through him. And I'm so grateful this morning, that he is the one that leads us all the way and he will lead us all the way to the kingdom, if we allow him to.

All the way my Savior leads me - hymn #516 - we're going to sing all three verses. Amen. At this time Pastor Ross will lead us in opening prayer. (Soft piano music) let's bow our heads for a word of prayer. Dear Father in Heaven, what a privilege, once again, to be able to gather in your house and open up Your Word and study this very important subject dealing with the Holy Spirit and the church.

We want to invite the holy spirit to come and guide our hearts and minds. Lead us, Lord, into clear understanding of your purpose for us as a people and our need of the Spirit working through us to be your ambassadors, your witnesses, here in the world. So bless our time together, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson this morning is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug. Thank you, Pastor Ross.

Morning everyone. Morning. Good to see each of you here that are either regular members of the Granite Bay church - I want to welcome those who are some of our online members that are in many different parts of the country and the world and don't have a local church they can go to and so we've welcomed them into this church family and we have visitors and friends that are watching from all over the place and we're just glad that you're joining us for our study time. Now, I know I've said it before, but some people are tuning in for the first time - you see an interesting back drop behind us - it's because this is the same place we'll be teaching a series we're doing on the life of king David, and so, we're sort of having an epic sermon series on David right now and that's the explanation for the backdrop there. We're continuing our study dealing with the theme of the Holy Spirit and spirituality and it's probably not too late for you to get one of these from your local Seventh-day Adventist Church if you like.

You can also just go to - type in Sabbath school at Google and I think you can find these lessons at two or three different websites. You can see a pdf of the lesson or an online version and follow along with what we're studying. Today we're in lesson #9 and we're going to be talking, in particular, about the Holy Spirit and the church. And our memory verse is from Ephesians 4, verses 3 through 5 - and if you want to find that, you can read it right out of your quarterly there - I think it's from the new American standard version. We'll have you read that with me - are you ready? It's Ephesians 4:3-5.

"Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This is one body and one spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism," - one God and father of us all. One thing is definitely - pardon the pun - one thing is definitely emphasized in this passage and that's oneness. Now, as we get ready to delve into the subject of the holy spirit in the church - why does it say 'one spirit'? Who would ever question that there would be more than one spirit? If you look, for example, in Revelation - I don't know if any of you have that, you'd look in Revelation chapter 1, it makes a statement there about the seven spirits. You ever read that in Revelation? A message - 'thus says the seven spirits' - so is the Holy Spirit seven or is the Holy Spirit one? Why does it say 'seven spirits'? You ever wondered about that? I have.

Best explanation I got was, if you turn in your Bibles to the book of Isaiah, chapter 11, and I think it's the second verse. You can read here - it tells us, "there shall come forth a rod from the stem of jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." So who is this rod that comes from the tree - or the stem of jesse? Jesus. Jesus is the offspring of David and jesse was his father. And it says, "the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him." What does the word 'Christ' mean? Christos - anointed. Anointed with what? The Holy Spirit.

What does the word 'Messiah' mean? Messiah's Hebrew - anointed - same thing, just different languages - anointed. Jesus, at his baptism, - we'll talk about baptism a little later - was anointed with the Holy Spirit, okay? "the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." Now this, again, is from Isaiah 11:2. Now, if you count the Spirit of the Lord as one, and then you have the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord - how many is that? Seven. So it's not that there's seven spirits, these are seven attributes or facets of the holy spirit and different ways that he manifests himself. There's one Lord, one Jesus, one church, one spirit - but you can have many equaling one.

Jesus prayed, regarding the twelve apostles, that they might be what? One. Well, there's a dozen of them, but they were one group of apostles. A husband and wife get married and they become? One. Irritable (laughter) no, one - they become one. And so, in the same way Jesus prayed to The Father, 'father, that they may be one' - it's a church with many different people.

And so, there's one Holy Spirit and yet there's these different facets of how God the Spirit gives his gifts. You know, it's always amazing to me the way the internet works. Moreso, where we were before - we had a carrier where we had fiber optic internet coming to our house. When it first came into the area this company provided fiber optic. Now, fiber optic is not like copper cable.

Fiber optic is actually delivering the internet with light to your home, because light travels 186,000 miles a second. It's about the fastest thing you can get. And they made these glass filaments that are very fine and the information going through fiber optics is extremely quick and, in our home, on some given morning, I could have my computer on and be searching something on the internet and Karen might have her phone on and she's - through wireless - and she might be talking to a friend on Facebook on the internet, and we can have 3abn on roku and be watching that on the internet and all - and just depending on the different requests that we make, that one line coming into the house is bringing a plethora of information. And I thought, 'man, how does it do that? How does it not just jam up and say, 'wait, you're asking too much'? And then you think about the Holy Spirit - there's one spirit, but that Holy Spirit could be speaking to me and giving me everything I need right now and that same one spirit could be speaking to you and giving you everything you need and pray for and guiding you and directing you and directing me and you think, 'how does God the Spirit do all that when you've got, I don't know how many - 7-8 billion people in the world - and the Spirit, I think, also directs the angels. A lot of times in the Bible, when it says, 'the Lord did this and the Lord did that' - the Lord does it through angels.

You can find that out as you compare the verses. In many places it'll say, 'the Lord did this' and it says he sent the angel. Do angels have the Holy Spirit guiding them? Yes. Of course. The same way God the Spirit guides us and guides the angels - especially unfallen angels - so the Holy Spirit is busy.

But, does he get tired? No. No, it's nothing for him. It's just - it's a marvelous truth when you think about it. So this is the theme of our study: the importance of the Holy Spirit in the church today. And, in a moment, someone's going to read a verse for me.

I think we're going to ask you to read Ephesians 1:22 - and you'll have that, manjeet, in just a moment? And I'm going to read John 13:34 and 35. Jesus said, "a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Now what's one of the most important attributes of God the Spirit? You find it in the fruit of the Spirit. What's number one of the fruits of the Spirit? Love. The fruit of the Spirit is love.

Now, when Jesus said, 'a new commandment I give unto you', was it totally new? Or was he saying, 'this is a new concept for you' or 'you just really haven't gotten it yet'? When Christ said, 'a new commandment I give you that you love your neighbor and you love the Lord', Jesus is actually quoting the old testament. So he's saying, 'I'm just helping you understand, for the first time, all the commandments are summarized in love. And so, it's the Holy Spirit - the first gift of the Holy Spirit is love, that's going to make the church be one and be united. So he said, 'this is how all people will know that you're my disciples, because you have the Holy Spirit.' Let me word that a different way: 'this is how all people will know that you're Christians, because you love each other.' Not only do you love others and love your enemy, but there's a way - there's a unity - a love that we have collectively that is to demonstrate to the world that the Spirit of God is in us. Talking a little more about the oneness of the Holy Spirit, where he says 'one Lord, one faith, one spirit', in the Bible it tells us that there would be a prophet that would come in the spirit and power of Elijah.

So, did Elijah have his own holy spirit? A special brand - copyright version of the holy spirit? You know, you've got some people who wear the holy spirit in blue and others in lavender. Why does is say that the Spirit of Elijah rests upon Elisha? You remember when God - Elisha said, 'I want a double portion of your spirit'? Why didn't he say, 'I want a double portion of God's Spirit? Why did God say, to Moses, 'I'm going to take the Spirit that's on you and I'm going to put it on the seventy elders'? Did Moses have his own special version of the Holy Spirit? They're all the Holy Spirit of God. Now, the Spirit that Moses had and the Spirit that Elijah had - there were particular ministries that they did, just as we saw the Holy Spirit has different facets, but it's all that - the Spirit of God - it's all the Spirit of God. And so, when you say, 'I want the Spirit of Jesus', you're still saying, 'I want the Spirit of Elijah, I want the Spirit of Moses'. It's all God's Spirit.

It may manifest itself differently in your lives because there are different gifts of the Spirit, okay? Does that make sense? Amen. So the Holy Spirit infuses us with the attributes of Christ. Go ahead, manjeet, why don't you read Ephesians 1:22 and 23? 23 - "And he put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." Alright, here it's telling us, of course, Jesus fills all in all, that his is the head over the church, which is his body - his body, meaning the body of Christ. And, if you look in that verse - in Ephesians 5:23, "for the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church;" - there you have it again. Jesus is the head of the church, but how does he guide the church? It's through God the Spirit.

Now, physically, does Jesus have a body? And we've talked a little bit about the personalities of the trinity in earlier lessons, he does. Is there an area of the cosmos where Jesus - you know, it's amazing that these Google maps - and on your phones - some of you are way ahead of me. I'm still just getting to figure out some of the things my smart phone does, but it - I was going, 'oh wow, I didn't know it did that!' And, of course, it's done it for ten years. I didn't know it did it. But, you know, you can just talk to your phone and you say, 'find me the nearest walmart?' That's not an endorsement for walmart; you can get in trouble doing that these days - just as an example - and it'll show me where it is and then it's got a little button you press that says, 'take me there' and a little blue dot will appear where, on the map, walmart is.

So I can get a visual of where in the Sacramento area that blue dot is. I've got to get to that blue dot. It'll show where I'm at and where it is, in relationship. Is there a place, other than earth, where Jesus is right now? Yeah, what did Christ say about sending the Spirit? 'It's expedient for you that I go, because if I do not go the Holy Spirit will not come.' It's like, you know, when one watchman goes off duty and another comes on duty: the one on duty says, 'look, I can't leave my post until you come take my place because we're not going to be without a watchman.' That's a crude illustration, but Jesus basically said, 'when the Holy Spirit comes' - forty days after he ascended to heaven the Holy Spirit came. Well, no, I take that back - ten days after he ascended to heaven.

He continued to appear among the disciples for forty days after his resurrection. And so, there was this baptism of the Spirit that came. Christ is geographically pleading; he's ever living to make intercession for us before The Father. So Jesus is with us now through God the Spirit. Colossians 3:14 and 15, "but above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you also were called in one body; and be thankful." Now, why does he say, 'let the peace of God rule in your hearts'? When I say, 'can you let me sit down?' If you're sitting down, for you to let me sit down, you've got to get up - to have your chair. And so, when he says 'let the peace of God' it means you must actively choose to allow God's peace. That means there's things we can do to resist the peace of God and the love of God in our lives. Paul is pleading with the church, 'let this happen.' Put on - that's something you actively do. If you think owning clothes is going to get you ready for church and you don't put them on first, you'll find out that doesn't work that way.

You've got to put them on. You can't just own them. And he wants us to put on love and let the peace of God rule in our hearts. Those are things that require our participation. The evidence for the Spirit is love, peace, and thankfulness.

I want to just take you back and read that verse one more time - in Colossians 3, verses 14 and 15, "but above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." He says put on love, let peace, be thankful. They're all active words - love, peace, thankfulness - evidence of the Holy Spirit. Thankful only when things are going well? Or can we be thankful like Daniel when you're about to go to the lion's den, and Paul in prison, he said, 'I thank God always.' And so, these are evidence of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:23 - no, I read that one already - Ephesians 2:18, "for through him we both have access by one spirit to The Father.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." Now, it's kind of a crude illustration but the Bible says Jesus is the cornerstone, the Bible says we are living stones, and if that's the case, the Holy Spirit is the mortar. You've seen masons work before where they put down a brick and they slop some mortar and they put down another brick and what holds all the bricks together? It's the mortar. What holds the church together? It's the Holy Spirit - it's love - first gift of the Holy Spirit is love. So you really say it's the Holy Spirit that glues us together. Does that just happen in a church or does that happen in a family? In a Christian family, the love of God - the Holy Spirit keeps the love of God alive in hearts and keeps people together.

It happens in marriages, it happens in nations. Now, you notice something else in that verse we just read? Through him we have access to The Father. You're no longer strangers and foreigners, but citizens with the saints and members. A lot in the news about immigration. You know, when you're baptized and, in theory, the Spirit comes into your life, should you get the Holy Spirit at baptism? Now we've got a section here, in a minute, I'll maybe save that - yeah, I'll save that thought until we get there.

I want to go to 1 Peter 2:6 and 7, "therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, 'behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on him will by no means be put to shame.' Therefore, to you who believe, he is precious; but to those who are disobedient, 'the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,'" Jesus is the cornerstone. He is also called the head in this church, and the Holy Spirit is the mortar that holds the building together. And I'm going to read, then, 1 Corinthians 3:11-13. We're still talking about how the Holy Spirit unites us with Christ. We're using the building metaphor - I should say the Bible is using this building metaphor.

Corinthians 3:11-13, "for no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire;" - now if a brush fire runs through a village and you've got homes that are made of wood and straw, they don't do as well as the ones that are made of gold, silver, and precious stones. You see the analogy Paul is making? Some people are building on the foundation of Christ with materials that will endure. You know, the historical rumor is that the reason that rome burned is not because Christians burned it but rome was a city of wooden tenements. Nero had a real desire to build marble monuments and he thought the only way to get rid of all of these slums was to set it ablaze and he'd rebuild the city the way he wanted it.

That's why he was fiddling when rome burned, as they say. He was, supposedly, playing music in his garden at one point when it was happening. I don't know if it was a fiddle, but - because he thought, 'this is great, now I get to rebuild it the way I want it.' And so he, reportedly, had his operatives torch the city and the only things that survived were the marble monuments that he liked and all the wood and the straw and the slums, they all burned up. And so, Paul is saying there's a day of trial that's coming to every house. Didn't Jesus say, 'the wise man builds on the rock, the fool builds on the sand, and when the storm comes' - now, the storm only comes to the foolish man, right? Yes.

Storm comes to the wise man; storm comes to the fool. The fire is going to test the building of stone and precious stones and gold and silver, and the fire is going to test the building of straw and wood. And he says, 'the day will declare it.' Meaning the day of judgment will declare it because it will be revealed by fire and the fire will test everyone's work, what sort it is. And so it's important that we build with the right materials and the Holy Spirit is the motor. Okay, now let's get to that section the Holy Spirit unites us through baptism.

Do you know, to start with - I didn't even put it in my notes, but I'm almost sure it's in the Bible - turn to the book of acts - acts chapter 2 and this is, I think, a very important verse as we're studying the Holy Spirit. You go to acts chapter 2 and go to verse 38 - after he preaches his powerful sermon about Jesus, the people said, 'men and brethren, what will we do?' He says, in verse 38, "repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." No. 'You could receive' - 'you may receive' - he didn't say that. He said, 'you shall.' Is 'shall' a promise? Yes. He says, 'repent, be baptized, you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise' - God is making a promise.

The promise is to you and your children and to all who are afar off - now, there's no question what promise they're talking about, Peter and the apostles were waiting in Jerusalem; Jesus said, 'wait for the promise of The Father.' Peter's now preaching, having just received the promise of the father - the Holy Spirit is poured out on them. And now he's telling them, 'if you repent and you're baptized' - you repent of your sins - you believe - 'you will receive the promise.' Was it only for them back then? Some people say, 'well, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Spirit was just for the apostles back then because they needed the gifts to spread the Gospel.' Listen to what he said: "for the promise is for you and your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." So anyone who responds to the call, God has made a promise of what? The Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit. Now, some people get the Holy Spirit before baptism; it doesn't always happen right at baptism. Can you think of some people who got the Holy Spirit before baptism, in the Bible? Cornelius.

Cornelius - acts chapter 10. Some people get the holy spirit after baptism. The apostles were baptized by John, but they got the Holy Spirit at pentecost. Acts chapter 19 - you've got these twelve ephesian believers - they get the Holy Spirit later. They'd been baptized by John the baptist, but then they're re-baptized by Paul and they get the Holy Spirit.

And then you may get the Holy Spirit right at baptism. Who did that? Jesus. When Jesus came out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended. And so - but there's a promise that's made that you'll receive the gift of the Spirit. So you're adopted into the family - you become citizens of a new kingdom, at that time, because God made us a promise.

Alright, back to the Holy Spirit and baptism again, "for by one spirit" - I'm in - sorry - 1 Corinthians 12:13 - and someone's going to read for me in a moment John 3:5 - okay? Corinthians 12:13, "for by one spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one spirit." You know, I remember years ago - and I've probably shared this - I was driving down the road in southern California, driving a van - I had a - I was part of a company called 'darsan' and we delivered pre-made sandwiches and burritos and food to these fast-food convenience stores. It's not very glorious but someone has to do it, right? You know, any of you ever eat an egg salad sandwich that's pre-made at one of these stores? So this was the company that delivered those - and I had a long district because I had to drive through a long stretch of desert between towns - and I remember I took off and left palm springs one day and I was heading to riverside or something and out in the middle of the dessert, this black gentleman was walking with a brown paper bag. It's - you know, 110 degrees in the desert - it was very hot - and he's just walking out in the middle of the desert - it wasn't by an intersection or an on-ramp or anything - it's like a -mile stretch - so I pulled over and he climbed in and he said, 'praise the Lord!' And I said, 'are you a Christian?' So I took off and he said, 'yes I am.' He said, 'are you?' And I said, 'yes I am.' He said, 'hallelujah.' And so we drove on and started to talk a little bit and he said, 'do you go to church?' I said, 'I do.' And I just started kind of studying the adventist message - I was going to the adventist church and I was going to a pentecostal church and he said, 'what day do you go?' I said, 'Sunday.' I was afraid of ridicule so I didn't want to tell him. And he said, 'do you know what day the Sabbath is?' I said, 'Saturday.' He said, 'praise the Lord!' He said, 'why you goin' Sunday if Saturday's the Sabbath?' (Laughter) I said, 'are you a Seventh-day Adventist?' He said, 'a what?' I said, 'Seventh-day Adventist.' He said, 'sorry, can't help you. I don't know what that is.

' And we started talking and he had this bag of books on prophecy and they weren't our books, but he said - he was reading the Bible and he knew everything that we believed - and he had his Bible in the bag - and I was so excited about what he was sharing because it's just what I had been reading in Great Controversy, but he had never heard - I said, 'oh, you've been reading Ellen white.' He said, 'who?' And he'd never heard of Ellen white, never heard of the adventist church. So we went to a denny's restaurant and we sat down and all my sandwiches were probably mildewing out in the van and I probably spent two hours with this guy just studying, and when I left I thought - I dropped him at an on-ramp because I had to go continue - and I thought - I said, 'how is it you believe exactly what they holy spirit's been telling me?' He said, 'well, one Lord, one faith, on baptism, one spirit. If we've got the same spirit, we'll be led to the same truth.' Amen. And I never forgot that because I thought, 'you know, there are people that are finding the truth independent of running into a denomination or reading an Ellen white book, because it's in the Bible and it's the same spirit that's guiding people. And so, that's why, when you're part of God's church and you go to any part of the world and we've got the same Holy Spirit as our members in japan, we've got the same Holy Spirit as our members in the south pacific.

You may take your shoes off at the door - there may be some different customs, but it's the same spirit. And there's a love that you see among the membership in all the different parts of the world. Alright, please go ahead, read for us, what did I say? John 3:5. "Jesus answered, 'most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." So, when Jesus said - and I know I've talked about this before, but I want to re- emphasize - I was shocked the first time I heard a friend - it was actually at my charismatic church - he said, 'when Jesus is talking about being born of the Spirit' - he's talking about baptism of the Spirit - ''born of the water' is being born of a woman, because before a baby's born it's in this envelope of water and when you're born, you're born of the water.' I said, 'really?' I thought, 'why would they say that?' I said, 'how many people out there are born of a woman? Well, that'd be almost everybody, right? (Laughter) and so, why would Jesus say 'unless you're born of a woman and' - I mean, no one even needs to worry about that point. Why even say it? But he's not - he's talking about baptism.

John's Gospel begins with John the baptist. He's talking about Jesus being announced at the Jordan river. Baptism - water baptism - was a big thing in John's Gospel, so when he says 'born of the water', it means your decision to be cleansed - you choose when you can be baptized. 'Born of the Spirit' is God's timing - God chooses - and so, it's talking about water baptism/spirit baptism. And you've heard me say before, children of Israel, Paul said, were baptized in the sea 'by the water' and in the pillar cloud by the fire representing spirit baptism/fire baptism - water baptism/fire baptism.

Our world was washed with fire - or will be washed with fire when Jesus comes - washed with [water] in Noah's day - and Peter compares that with the two baptisms. And so, it's pretty clear it's not talking about being born of a woman, but anyone else ever run into that out there, where they say 'born of the water' means a physical birth? I don't think that's at all what it's talking about. So how important is it when you are born of the Spirit, and you're baptized, to be part of a church? Very. The Bible tells us that they were baptized and added to the church. I have had people say to me on many occasions, 'Pastor Doug, I'm convinced about the truth.

I know I need to be baptized' - i, you know, we can give you some really strong Bible studies on what the Bible says about baptism - 'but I don't want to be part of any religious organization, so can you baptize me into Christ but I don't want to join a church?' And I say, 'no. That's unbiblical.' 'What?!' I say, 'nope.' Because the church is the body of Christ. So, if you're saying, 'I want to be baptized into Christ but I don't want to be part of his body,' there's something intrinsically wrong with that thinking because that's sort of like a man saying to a woman, 'I love you. I want to marry you, but I don't want to live with you.' Is there something wrong with that? Yes. 'I want us to be one flesh, but let's not live together.

' Marriage is supposed to be all about cohabitation and you want to be together. And so, when someone says 'I want to be one with Christ but not his people' you're not converted yet and you're not ready for baptism, or you don't understand the importance of the church. And do you say, 'I don't want to be one with the body of Christ' because there might be some problems in the church? Of course there's problems in the church - and that's why you need to be part of it. And so we learn to love because the church is a place where we learn. And one of our greatest needs is learning to love.

You read again that acts 2:47 - they were "praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Who are being saved? Those added to the church. So is being part of a church important? Yes. I think so. Very, very much so indeed surely, surely.

Alright, Romans 6:3 "or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" So what is baptism an analogy of, according to Paul? Death. Conversion. You were baptized into the death of Christ. 'Therefore we were buried with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of The Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of his death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of his resurrection, know this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

For he who has died has been freed from sin." Amen. Now I like the part - three words - 'freed from sin' - anyone else like that idea? I don't know that I like what it says just before that - 'he who has died'. I'm interested in the 'freed from sin' but Paul said, 'to be freed from sin you must die.' Well, that's kind of what Jesus said: 'whoever comes after me must take up his cross.' What did it mean to them back then, when Jesus said, 'take up your cross?' When they saw somebody carrying a cross in the roman empire back then, was that a good sign? Now, you know, you see a person walk out their door in the morning with a briefcase, you think they're going to work. And if you see somebody picking up a shopping cart and going in a store, they're going shopping. In Bible times, you saw somebody carrying a cross, they're going to die - they were carrying their cross.

You know, I just watched a documentary on world war ii and it was just - some of it's terrible but, you know, the nazis in russia, they handed shovels to guys and said, 'the ground is very hard and we need graves for you. Dig your grave.' That just - that wouldn't be a very pleasant task. And, in the same way, carrying your own cross to your crucifixion, that just compounds the humility of the whole thing. But Jesus said if we're going to come after him, we need to participate in digging our grave. We take up our cross and we follow him.

And that's - why? To be freed from sin. You've got to be crucified. Whenever you sin, you're not dead. I said that very flippantly, but it's very profound. When you sin, it's evidence you're not dead.

You're not dead to self, because sin comes from selfishness. You can't name a sin for me that is not somehow inspired by selfishness. But when we are crucified with Christ, we are dead to sin. You don't see a dead body getting jealous. You don't see a dead body having their pride offended.

Dead people, they're not thinking lustful thoughts. Dead people aren't doing anything because they're dead. And so, when you're crucified with Christ - and baptism is a symbol of being dead. You're buried in the water and you come up and it represents a new birth - the coming out of the water would be an analogy there - baby's born, it takes it's first breath - you hold your breath momentarily when you're under - you come up, you breathe - it's like a new breath of life and in the same way God inspired - you know what the word 'inspired' means? When you breathe into - God breathed his spirit in a special way into Christ at his baptism. He promises to breathe into you a special new life, just like when adam was born God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.

When Christ came out of the water he breathed - a thought came to me this week I've never thought before and - that's what I love about the Bible, you know, you read it hundreds of times and you always find something new. I have preached hundreds of times on Elijah and Elisha - you know, when Elisha gets a double portion of Elijah's spirit - and, for the first time, it occurred to me, it was at the Jordan river, after Elijah went to heaven, Elisha takes the mantle of Elijah, he strikes the water, and he says, 'where is the Lord God of Elijah?' And the river parts and The Sons of the prophets look at Elisha and say, 'surely the Spirit of Elijah is on Elisha.' There at the Jordan he was filled with the Spirit. I thought, 'ah, Jesus, at the Jordan, was filled with the spirit.' I thought, 'how come I missed that? Man, I wish I could take all those sermons back and re-preach them.' I left a really important part out. It happens, sometimes, I'll write a book and after I write a book on mary or the demoniac or one of these things, I think, 'oh, I want to recall all the books and reprint now and put that thought in there.' Alright, carrying on with the baptism, I want to read to you - and this is from Ellen white's comments in the sda Bible commentary, volume 6, p. , "Baptism is a most solemn renunciation of the world.

Self is, by profession, dead to a life of sin. The waters cover the candidate in the presence of the whole heavenly universe. The multiple pledge" - oh, I'm sorry - "the mutual pledge is made. In the name of The Father, son, and Holy Spirit man is laid in his watery grave, buried with Christ in baptism and raised from the water to live a new life of loyalty to God." Now, when you're baptized and you claim the promise of the Spirit, should you live a different kind of life? Amen. So what do you do if you're a pastor and someone comes to you and says, 'you know, I love the Lord and I want to get baptized.

I know I haven't married my boyfriend yet, but God knows I love him, so can't I take care of that later?' What do you say? Take care of it first. Or they say - and I said it myself - 'pastor can you baptize me? I know I'm still smoking, but I love the Lord, I believe the truth - I'm just still struggling with this one thing and everyone sins, after all. You know, you've got some people in your church that probably weigh more than they should and it's the same problem.' And you always look for inconsistencies in other people - 'so I'll quit smoking eventually.' The pastor said, 'no.' He said, 'you quit smoking and then we'll baptize you.' 'But why?' 'Brother doug,' - he said - 'when you're baptized you take the name of Jesus, you're filled with the Spirit, you now want to be his witness. He gives you the holy spirit to be his witness. So now - I was still drinking too - he said, 'so now you go to a bar and you blow smoke rings in someone's face and you share a beer with them and say, 'let me tell you how Jesus set me free.

' There's something incongruous about saying 'I've been baptized and Jesus saved me from my sins' while you're still living in known high-handed sin. It doesn't mean you have to wait until you're sinless before you're baptized, but there are certain obvious things that will hurt your witness that must be laid aside. Is that right? Amen. Now, the reason I'm hammering this is because I'm running into more and more pastors that say, 'oh well, you know, as long as they love Jesus, let's baptize them. The other things'll take care of themselves later.

' I think that's a bad mistake because you just bring down the standard of what it means to be a Christian - amen. When you do that. They used to have a credit card advertisement where it says, 'membership has its privileges'. I forget - American express or somebody - 'membership has its privileges' - and it meant that it stands for something if you have this card. That's the way it is also with being part of Christ's family.

There must be an evidence of a conversion in the life, amen? Alright, move on to the next section: the Holy Spirit unites the church through the Word of God - and in a moment, someone's going to read John 17:17 - you'll have that, okay? I'm going to read acts 17:11 - it says, speaking of those in berea, "these were more fair-minded than those in thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." Through the Holy Spirit they were reading the word to discover what truth is. Should you always pray before you study the word, that the spirit will guide you in your understanding? And when you get a group in a Bible study and they come on a difficult passage, and they just really can't sort it out, you need to pray that the Holy Spirit will open to them the understanding, guided by the Spirit - a readiness of mind. Jesus said, in John 5:39, "you search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life;" - the - and he's saying - you do - he's saying, "these are they which testify of me." So the Scriptures are telling us about Jesus but, you know, there's a lot of people that read the Scriptures and, without the Spirit of God, they won't recognize Jesus in all the Scriptures. But when their minds are illuminated with the Holy Spirit, you see, because the Holy Spirit is always there pointing to Jesus. Alright, go ahead, please read for us John 17:17.

"Sanctify them by your truth. You word is truth." And so, it's the Holy Spirit that helps us to also recognize the truth of the word. The Word of God, through the spirit, has a sanctifying influence on those who read. Have you ever read the Word of God and you're convicted? Is that a good thing? Yes. Who brings that? The Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit speaks to us through the word and then there's transformation. He not only convicts, he brings comfort. You ever read the word when you're discouraged and you find a promise and you say, 'praise the Lord, that's what I needed to hear'? Yes. The Holy Spirit brings comfort through the word. John 8:31, "then Jesus said to those jews who believed him, 'if you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed.

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Of course, we just read that verse 'sanctify them by your truth, Your Word is truth.' So what is it that makes us free? TRuth. TRuth and 'thy word is truth' 'the truth will set you free' - I used to close every Bible answers live program by saying, 'Jesus is the truth that will set you free' - Jesus is the truth that will set you free, because Christ is the word incarnate and he said, 'you'll know the truth and the truth will set you free.' You know, I can think of a lot of ways where knowing the truth can set you free. Some people have been in bondage because they misunderstood things. Case in point: people, for years, they may go years never learning how to love God because they've been taught that God is a sadist that tortures people through endless ages for the sins of a brief lifetime. And they're in bondage from that.

They just - they think God is sadistic - he's a tyrant - but you can't argue with him because he's God. And when they study the word and they learn the truth about the punishment of the wicked, they finally realize the love of God in that message - it sets them free. Now that's just one of a thousand ways where the truth sets you free. We go around the world and we see people on all different parts of the world and countries that believe there're evil spirits that are constantly haunting them and they're harassed.and when they learn the truth of how they can be free in God, it totally changes their lives. Alright, let me read you psalm 119:160, "the entirety of Your Word is truth, and every one of your righteous judgments endures forever.

" Christ may have been quoting that when he said that 'thy word is truth.' Let me read something to you from the book great controversy page 45, "we cannot purchase peace and unity by sacrificing" - oh wait, I want to set this up before I read it. So, the Word of God brings us together; the Holy Spirit brings us together. Now, how important is unity? It says sanctify them through the truth and we want to be united in the truth. Unity is about as important as it can be. But if you are willing to sacrifice some point of biblical truth to achieve unity, is that what the Holy Spirit wants? No.

So - because this has happened to the church many times in ages - across the ages, where there was a disagreement and they said, 'for the sake of unity, let us sacrifice our convictions about what the word teaches' - to achieve unity. Should we ever sacrifice truth for unity? No. That's the question I wanted to lead into and here's - here's what the statement says in Great Controversy page 45 - oh, by the way, the first - yeah, let me read this, "to secure peace and unity, they (the early Christians) were read to make any concession consistent with fidelity to God, but they felt that even peace would be too dearly purchased at the sacrifice of principle. If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference and even war." So, while we should, as far as lies within us, live peaceably with all men, don't ever sacrifice truth to achieve unity. This is from historical sketches, p.

197, "We cannot purchase peace and unity by sacrificing the truth." Is that clear enough? You "cannot purchase peace and unity by sacrificing the truth. The conflict may be long and painful but, at any cost, we must hold fast to the word of God." So the Word of God is the final arbiter - it is the final criteria that we're to go by. Alright, the Holy Spirit unites the church in faith and doctrine. Acts 8 - someone's going to read for me in a moment, Ephesians :3 and who - are you going to have that Danielle? Okay. I'll read acts chapter 8, verse , "now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, 'arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to gaza.

' This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'go near and overtake this chariot.

' So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, 'do you understand what you are reading?'" the Spirit guided him to someone who was searching and reading - at the right moment - and so it's the Holy Spirit that brings this unity in faith and doctrine. So God led him to somebody who was seeking to understand. He explained what Isaiah 53 was all about. He accepted Jesus, he's taught, and he's baptized. Please read for us Ephesians 4:3 and 4.

"Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;" that's right, and one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. And this is from the book - well, no, I'll tell you what, I'll get to the last section. I've got two minutes left. The Holy Spirit unites the church in mission and service - acts 1:8, "but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and samaria, and to the end of the earth.

" So when we're filled with the Holy Spirit - why does God give you the Spirit? That you might be witnesses. Alright, are you with me? This is important. What's the most important thing to Jesus? 'I came to seek and save the lost', okay? He's left. And then he said, 'as The Father sent me, I'm going to give you the same spirit I got - I'm going to give it to you - as the father sent me, so I sent you.' He was sent to seek and save the lost, why are we sent? Seek and save the lost. If you're willing to seek and save the lost he gives you his spirit.

A lot of witnessing - a lot of spirit; a little witnessing - little spirit. Did that make sense? If we're engaged in doing what is the most important thing to God, he will empower us to do that. That's why I think it's important, as part of every day, your prayer should be, 'Lord, lead me today and help me recognize the opportunities to be a witness for you to people that I might meet. I want to remind you that we do have a free offer if you missed Pastor Ross sharing this at the beginning. For anybody (in North America) that simply asks, we'll send you the book twelve steps to revival.

By the way, when you call that number 866-788-3966, ask for offer #780 and then, always, we encourage people please read it and then share it with a friend or family or enemy after you read it. God bless you, friends, we look forward to studying His Word together again next week. Let's face it, it's not always easy to understand everything you read in the Bible. With over 700,000 words contained in 66 books, the Bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical straightforward answers call in to Bible answers live - a live nationwide call-in radio program where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor and ask him your most difficult Bible questions.

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