THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT
By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Boise, ID, September 24, 2000)
In courts of law, humans have a custom that before someone testifies that they must place their hand on the Bible and raising their right hand swear, "To tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
That is what the word "promise" means. epiaggelia
epi, (epi) means "upon".
aggelia (angelia) means "to proclaim or announce".
It was primarily a law term denoting a summons, it also meant an undertaking to do or give something;
A promise. (W. E. Vine)
There are many promises by God in the scriptures. But the most important ones were those given to Abraham. The various promises in Genesis 12-22 can be summarized in three items.
1.) The Land Promise.
On the same day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates--
2.) The promised offspring (seed)
After these things the word of Jehovah came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."
But Abram said, "Lord GOD, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"
Then Abram said, "Look, you have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!"
And behold, the word of Jehovah came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir."
Then he brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And he said to him, "So shall your descendants be."
And he believed in Jehovah, and he accounted it to him for righteousness.
Then he said to him, "I am Jehovah, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it."
3.) That in Abraham and his seed, all the nations of the world would be blessed.
... and said: "By myself I have sworn, says Jehovah, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son-- blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice."
You can see all three in Gen. 12:1-3
Now Jehovah had said to Abram:
"Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father's house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
In time all three promises to Abraham have been fulfilled.
- Number one was fulfilled when King Solomon controlled all the land from the great river Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt. (Gen. 15:18)
- The promised seed was fulfilled in Isaac his son and the great nation that God made of him through Israel, Isaac's son. And this lineage of promise ultimately concluded in Jesus Christ and his followers.
- Then in Christ, all the nations of the earth have been blessed.
This third unnamed blessing is so big, that it is nowhere spelled out in all of its facets. But there are a couple of times where it is summed up for us in one blessing that is inclusive of all.
And this is the promise that he has promised us – eternal life.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.
Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
So, the blessing of Abraham could be summed up as Eternal Life, the Promise of Life and the Raising of the Dead.
As Rom. 8:24 says, "In this hope we were saved." That is what being saved is all about. To attain unto the resurrection of life, you have to have spiritual life now.
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. As the living father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so also the one eating me, even that one will live because of me.
This is the bread which came down from heaven – not as your fathers ate and died. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
If you have spiritual life now then you will have life in the resurrection. Jesus is the source of all the life. He is the life principle of the new birth by the Spirit and he would be also the life principle of the resurrection and glorification of their bodies at the last day.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the son of Man.
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice
and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."
Now, the promise of the Spirit has everything to do with the promise of life - because the Spirit is the agent by which we are born of the Spirit. We are begotten by the word of God and then born of the Spirit when we are baptized.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.’
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The fulfilling of this promise of the blessing of spiritual life happened on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when the first people were saved and given this spiritual life.
To show you the giving of the Spirit, let us look at the overall context of what Jesus being glorified at the right hand of God meant to us.
Before his death the context runs thus:
Jno.14:16 The Father will give the comforter (the Holy Spirit). Jno.14:26 The Father will send the Holy Spirit in Jesus name. Jno.15:26 Jesus will send the comforter (the Spirit of truth) from the Father. Jno.16:7 Jesus will send the comforter.
Then after his death and resurrection the context continues.
Lk. 24:49 Jesus will send the promise of the Father upon them. They were to wait in Jerusalem for power from on high. Acts 1:4-5 Jesus tells them to wait for the promise of the Father that they heard about from him, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:4 The Holy Spirit came and they were all filled. Acts 2:17 The fulfilling of Joel's prophecy that the Holy Spirit was promised to come in the last days. Acts 2:33 Jesus receives from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured forth this - the power of the Spirit. Acts 2:38-39 After the remission of sins believers would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the promise is unto you and everyone God calls. Acts 5:32 God gives the Holy Spirit to all who obey him. Acts 10:45 The gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. Eph. 1:13-14 Believers are sealed with that promised Holy Spirit.
So, the context supports the view that the Holy Spirit was that which was promised and this was the promise of the Father. When we receive the promised Holy Spirit as a gift from the Father at our baptism, (for the promise is unto us) having our sins forgiven, we are born to a new spiritual life.
... buried with him in immersion, in which you also were raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he has made alive together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
Now, with that understanding - that when we are baptized we receive the Holy Spirit that was promised and thereby we are born again and receive the spiritual life that was promised: then we can look at a few things in Romans 8 more clearly. Please read Romans chapter 8 several times and try to relate to yourself what Paul says there.
The lesson is yours.
~ Invitation ~