|Galatians 3 |
1 O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whom Jesus Christ has been portrayed among you as crucified?
2 I only wish to learn from you this: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by faith in what you heard?1 [Your spiritual progress is determined by hearing the Lord speak to you from within your heart and obeying — that is faith.]
3 Are you so foolish, that having begun in the Spirit, you now expect to be made perfect by [works of] the flesh?
4 Have you suffered so many things in vain; if it was in vain?
5 He who supplies the Spirit to you, and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law, or by the faith in what you heard?2 [as spoken to you by the word in your heart. From the Word of the Lord within: "Faith is to hear the word of God and obey."]
7 Therefore know that those who are of faith are the children of Abraham.
8 And [know] the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, [God] preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you will all nations be blessed." [In the time of Abraham, not a single scripture existed. Christ did the preaching of the gospel then; he preaches now; and Christ will continue to preach the gospel from within a man's heart. See Col 1:23 footnote for more.]
9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10 For all who rely on works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." [There is a huge difference between works of the law (sacrifices, circumcision, tithing, days, sabbaths, foods, etc.), vs. trying to comply with the moral core of the commandments, (don't steal, don't lie, don't murder, don't commit adultery, don't covet, love your neighbor, etc.). Works of the law are worthless, but turning from evil is still essential. Do you not know brothers, (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives ? Rom 7:1. Until you lose your life by crucifying your sinful nature, your carnal mind, and your evil spirit, you are still alive and still subject to the moral laws. The blind guides of Christendom point to this scripture and claim there is no longer any sin because the law has supposedly been done away with for anyone who believes in Jesus; they conveniently overlook the New Testaments' many warnings of sin that completely disqualify you for salvation or heaven, click to see. They also overlook that every man will be judged on his works and words, click to see. Yes, there is a difference between good and evil; yes there is still sin; yes there is an inner law of God on every man's heart that must obeyed and that includes some of the old Mosaic moral laws such as: love your neighbor as you love yourself; don't steal; don't commit adultery; don't lie; don't covet; don't murder; and honor your father and mother. Also Paul said in Gal 5:18, if (and when) you are led (prompted, ordered, commanded) by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Until we are under total control of the Spirit of God, the law on our hearts, (which includes the moral core of the outward law), is our schoolmaster, reminding us of our shortcomings and motivating us to go to God for change. Christendom would have you ignore the essential schoolmaster, which leads to the true, operational faith.]
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The righteous shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith, but "The man who does them shall live by them."
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree,"
14 So that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15 Brothers, I speak in the terms of men that even a man's covenant [last will], once it has been confirmed, no man can make it void or add to it.
16 The promises were made to Abraham and his seed. He did not not say, plural "seeds;" but said, "And with your seed after you," which was [referring to Abraham's descendant], Christ.
17 And this I say, that the covenant, which was confirmed by God before the law that occurred four hundred and thirty years later, cannot be made void by the law, thus to make the promise of no effect.
18 For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer a promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
19 Therefore then what does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions [of sin], until the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one party, yet God is one.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid [No]. For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.
22 But the scriptures show all men are bound under sin, so that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, bound until faith should afterwards be revealed. [Until faith has come, everyone is obligated to keep the law that is on every man's heart, Rom 2:11-16. Faith that frees from the law comes with the receipt of the fruit of the Spirit, against which is no law, Gal 5:22-23, which is the gift of God and by revelation provided by Jesus himself. From the Word of the Lord within, "until you witness receiving faith from Christ, you are under the law. There are no laws when you are under complete control of the spirit; you walk in love in obedience as prompted — you don't walk in restricted flesh."]
24 Therefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.3 [Unless you come to strive to obey the moral core of the law, included in the law on every man's heart, you will never be brought to Christ to be justified by inward faith, hearing the word of God within your heart and obeying it with persistence; the moral core of the law is: do not steal, do not murder, do not covet (want), do not lie, do not commit adultery, honor your mother and father, and love you neighbor as yourself — which is to do to others as you would have them do to you — the golden rule.]
25 But after that, when faith [received with the fruit of the Spirit] has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster [the law that is on everyone's heart].4 [The faith that comes, is the faith received as a part of the fruit of the Spirit, after you have crucified your sinful nature on the inward cross of self-denial. Faith is not belief in Jesus based on the historical accuracy of the Bible; faith is hearing the word of God from within your heart, for faith is the gift of God and is authored by revelation from Jesus Christ. Paul further tells us: if (and when) you are led (prompted, ordered, commanded) by the Spirit, you are not under the law, Gal 5:18. To be led, is to have the Spirit prompt your thoughts, words, and deeds. Before Christ appears in your heart with the fruit of the Spirit to continually lead and prompt you, all the commands you hear from the Lord are also written in your heart to clarify and add to the law in every man's heart, which is your schoolmaster to be continually obeyed.]
26 For you are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. [only if as the next verse says, if you have been baptized by Christ; which is the unquenchable fire that burns up all the chaff (sin). Operational faith, faith within, is how the baptism is eventually realized.]
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
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1 To believe in the son, is to believe in what you hear him say to you; and your belief is evidenced by obedience. Obedience leads to receiving the Holy Spirit. Obedience is the evidence of faith, which true faith leads to receiving the Holy Spirit. [God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey him; faith is hearing Christ speak to you, believing, and obeying. Take heed therefore how you hear. For whoever has will be given more; and whoever does not have, from him shall be taken even that which he seems to have. Luke 8:18.]
2 He who supplies the Spirit to you, and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Paul amplifies that hearing and faith are one-in-the-same. Your faith is evidenced by obedience to what you hear the Spirit command you to do. Faith comes by hearing the word, which is in your heart; faith is hearing Jesus, who is the Word of God, speak from within, and to believe it is the Lord speaking to you; this is to believe in Jesus. This defines the real faith and adds understanding to the references speaking about purifying your hearts by faith, which is accomplished by the miraculous power of God, released from real faith, hearing and obeying.
3 the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Paul further tells us: if (and when) you are led (prompted, ordered, commanded) by the Spirit, you are not under the law, Gal 5:18. To be led, is to have the Spirit prompt your thoughts, words, and deeds. Before Christ appears in your heart with the fruit of the Spirit to lead and prompt you, all the commands you hear from the Lord are also written in your heart to clarify and add to the law in every man's heart, which is your schoolmaster to be continually obeyed. Eventually the law must be fulfilled in us; Christ must change us to become like himself so we too fulfill the Law. We must pass through the time of impurity, seeking purity, with the law sounding our deficiencies and transgressions to our sorrow, which motivates us to seek divine help to change. If we ignore the law and its requirements for moral conduct, reminding us to find God's help to be rid of sin, we are hopelessly locked into sin, with the condemnation of the Lord sure to follow. So we walk by the inward law on your heart, which includes the moral outward laws, until we are continually led by the listened-to and heard commands from the Lord. By our obedience to commands heard within our heart, we are justified by faith, the faith within. As we obey, Christ then writes each of his commands in our heart until the tiniest mustard-seed grows into the largest tree, and until we are completely leavened. Becoming pure, we enter the Kingdom of Heaven and God's love is perfected in us; thus we have become justified by faith within. As Paul said in Rom 2:10: glory, honor, and peace, are to every man who works good.
George Fox wrote of this transition from the schoolmaster of law, to the Spirit of Christ, in his Journal.
The law of the spirit crosses the fleshly mind, spirit, and will, which lives in disobedience, and does not keep within the law of the spirit. I saw this law was the pure love of God which was upon me, and which I must go through, though I was troubled while I was under it; for I could not be dead to the law but through the law, which judged and condemned what is to be condemned. I saw, many talked of the law, who had never known the law to be their schoolmaster; and many talked of the gospel of Christ, who had never known life and immortality brought to light in them by it. You that have been under that schoolmaster, and the condemnation of it, know these things; for though the Lord in that day opened these things unto me in secret, they have been since published by his eternal spirit, as on the house top. And as you are brought into the law, and through the law to be dead to it, and witness [see, experience] the righteousness of the law fulfilled in you, you will afterwards come to know what it is to be brought into the faith, and through faith from under the law; and abiding in the faith, which Christ is the author of, you will have peace and access to God.
Note! Fox has written above that there is an entirely different level of faith that comes after you witness the righteousness of the law fulfilled in you. This is after you have been crucified on the inward cross of self-denial, to have received the appearance of Christ within your heart, and to have produced the fruit of the Spirit, which includes love, peace, joy, kindness, faith — a new level of faith, but the only level of faith that frees you from the law. From the Word of the Lord within, "until you witness receiving faith from Christ, you are under the law." Up to this time, as you are hearing the Word of the Lord within convict you of sin and teach you about righteous living, you are in the Ministry of Condemnation, yet to receive the Ministry of Life.
William Dewsbury, who entered the Kingdom, also wrote of an entirely different level of hearing that occurred after he had been crucified on the inward cross of self-denial:
I stand here as a witness for the God of heaven,
I never heard the voice of Christ
until I was slain and baptized, and lay as a little child under his heavenly chastisements;
as soon as ever my soul was brought to this, in my humiliation,
Oh! then, the dreadful judgment was taken away, and the book of life was opened unto me,
and the Lord spoke comfortably to me, 'I have loved you with an everlasting love;"
and I was made a Christian through a day of vengeance, and of burning as an oven;
and the haughtiness and pride of man in me was brought low.
(Dewsbury had just experienced the baptism of fire and death to pass over from death to life as he heard the Voice of the Lord for the first time.)
There is a voice of the Lord like thunder over the waters described in many Old Testament passages. This is radically different than the small still voice we hear from within our hearts or from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and the Word of the Lord within speak with words from Jesus, so we are hearing from the Son of God. But until we can truly hear the Voice of the Lord, we will not know for sure it is the Lord speaking to us. From the Word of the Lord within: "You will always have doubts until you hear His voice. My voice is like thunder over waters." You will hear His voice for the first time at final judgment, and you will then know His voice.
We first have to listen to the Holy Spirit and the word of the Lord within to hear and obey His many teachings and commands. Then with long persistence and patience in doing obedient works of repentance, we experience the baptism of fire and death, to then hear the Voice of the Lord as we pass from death to life. Until then, we have to be on our guard to not be deceived by the enemy, pretending to be the Lord speaking to us. Based on the advice of Edward Burrough, (click to read), a giant in the early Quakers, until we can distinguish between the voice of the Lord and the voice of the enemy, we should do nothing for the Lord but repent. When we can hear the Voice of the Lord, we walk in the light; and William Penn wrote, "Though it is the duty of all to walk in the light, and to wait for it, that by it they may be instructed in the way of life and salvation, yet it is they only who are actually led by it, that can rightly discern between the false spirits and the true."
* By way of review: to be guided or led by the light, the light must first arise in your heart like a magnificent star, so that you are shown everything to do and told everything to say; the unmistakable arising of the light comes from faith in the voice.
When we can hear the voice of the Lord that is like thunder over the waters, we truly experience the fulfillment of the scriptures:
To him the doorkeeper opens; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.
And when he has brought out his own sheep, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice.
They will not follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they do not know the voice of strangers.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me [they obey].
And I give eternal life to them, so that they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. John 10:3-5, 27-29.
Truly, truly, I say to you, 'He who hears my word, and believes in [depends on, trusts, obeys] him who sent me, has eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation; but has passed [past tense] over from death to life.'
Truly, truly, I say to you, 'The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live." John 5:24-25
So, while we are being taught by the Holy Spirit, while we hear the Word within our hearts, we have a faith — but there is a much higher level of faith to be experienced, and a much more intense voice of Christ Himself to hear — after we are dead to the law through the law, after we have suffered under the Ministry of Condemnation, after our selfish nature has been crucified. The faith and belief that results from these events is from a knowing of Jesus as we are judged by Him, face to face. This new level faith and associated new level of belief, offers understanding of the scriptures that ascribe so much to "believing:"
they that hear the voice of the Son of God shall live. John 5:25 (apparently because they have just died to their selfish nature)
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me, he shall also do the works that I do; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father. John 12:4
He who believes in [depends on, trusts, obeys] the Son has everlasting life [of God]; and he who does not believe [depend on, trust, obey] the Son shall not see life [of God]; but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God, and everyone who loves the father also loves him who is begotten of him. 1 John 5:1
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes [depends on, trusts, obeys] on me has everlasting life. John 6:47
He who believes on me, as the scripture has said, 'out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John 7:38
Who is he who overcomes [has conquered] the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5
He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; 1 John 5:10
For we who have believed do enter into rest, Heb 4:3
If you believe, whatever (all things) you ask in prayer, you will receive. Mat 21:22
Further, though we have a lesser faith, having heard the Comforter, Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said the Father would send in His name, this new higher level of faith would certainly be the faith that Jesus Himself has authored and then perfects.
Deepening this mysterious different levels of faith, is that the same Greek word for believe (episteusamen) is used in: knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Rom 13:11. The Lord spoke in parables to deliberately hide his gospel from the wise and self-righteous intelligent of his time:
I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to babes, even so, Father, for it seemed good in your sight. Luke 10:21
That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; otherwise they might turn, and their sins be forgiven them. Mark 4:12
From the Word of the Lord within: "Only those who want to be clean can hear." Apparently, He has left the word "believe" to be ambiguous, so that only those who want to be clean can hear the complete message of the scriptures and this web site. Those who don't want to be clean can interpret "believe" to think all sin is excused, that the Law is dead to them, and they will go to heaven still sinning when they die; they close their eyes and ears to the Bible's many exclusions, requirements, and qualifying conditions of salvation. Thus the scriptures remains fulfilled:
Regarding those of whom it would be better if they had never been born:
If after one has been touched by God with a wake up experience, and should they then continue to sin, they will gradually deaden their conscience until they no longer can be aroused to depart from sin; and in that process, they finally crucify the Son of God afresh. Their hearts become so calloused and hardened in their sins, they can no longer be reached by God's voice within, or man's voice without. (Gentle reader, if you have read with sincere interest this far, your heart has not been hardened so much that you cannot hear; and you can still return to the Lord to receive his changing grace.)
Let me illustrate why the false sects are so deadly: I was an agnostic until age 36. My moral code was very humanistic, believing that as long as I didn't harm others, everything was OK. My life was full of sin until I realized there was a God who was watching everything I did. I immediately reformed and stopped many, many practices of evil, knowing I was in his view at all times. Now compare that against a "believer in Jesus," who is told by his sect that all his sins are excused and paid for by Jesus; or in the case of Catholics and Orthodox sects their Eucharistic Sacrifice and confessions are made until they die, with never a hint as to how to stop sinning. Thus a man in Christendom is easily led into sin after sin, and in the process he deadens his conscience and the light of Christ within him, until finally he has crucified the Son of God afresh. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come; if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance; since they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame. Heb 6:4-6. So Christendom has become the synagogues of Satan, the killing ground of the seed of God, and the habitation of demons, filled with unclean birds; as William Penn said in No Cross No Crown: "they kiss him like Judas, call Him Master like Judas, sell Him to continue their lusts and pleasures of the world, and then drag him through the mire and dirt as they continue to sin."
The Lord describes this repeat of sin—sacraments, sin again—sacraments again,...... as a conflagration: a great fire or great destruction. From the Word of the Lord within:
- "Sacraments: conflagration — to continue to do what you are not supposed to do, and afterwards be overcome with grief as to what you have done.
- Church: forever sorry for what you have done, while at the same time turning right around and doing it again; it feeds itself.
- Great is the destruction of those places of worship.
- The Christian medium itself is conformable to death."
Until those in the sects of Christendom have killed their conscience through repeated sin, they can still hear and possibly be motivated to renew their efforts to exercise their faith; but after having been convicted of some particular sin in the light, for every act of disobedience they then commit, they must produce the same number of acts of obedience before that sin is taken out of their heart. From the Word of the Lord within: "When the light shows you something to do, every act of disobedience has to be carried away by an act of obedience."
From the Word of the Lord within: "The entire Bible is a parable." A parable is also translated as a proverb. Parables and proverbs deliberately have hidden meanings.
That time of apostasy came long ago, and still is, which Paul spoke to Timothy: the time will come when men will not endure sound doctrine, but they will heap [accumulate in piles] to themselves teachers after their own lusts, who will say what their itching ears want to hear; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and will be turned to fables. 2 Tim 4:3-4. Today there are millions of preachers and teachers leading billions of their followers to destruction. God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; so that all those might be damned who do not believe the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thes 2:11-12.
Not only is the Bible a parable that can be misinterpreted, God also allowed the strongest demonstration of power by the false church, imitating Christianity; God allowed the beast with horns like a lamb to cause fire to come down from heaven — thus to establish the false church among men who were looking for a sign rather than the truth. Isaac Penington, in his expose of Christendom having become Babylon, explains these miracles being performed by the antichrists, particularly in the time of Babylon's beginning to displace the true church. And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And deceives those who dwell on the earth by means of those miracles. Rev 13:13-14.
The Lord is recorded as warning us three times about false Christian prophets, (ministers, evangelists, teachers), that perform miracles:
And in Revelation, we are told the spirits of demons would be working miracles. Rev 16:14; and the demons work miracles through men who put on a great show of being religious. There are many "Christian" healing ministries with great show, great pomp, great words of vanity, loud and raucous services, but you will know them by the fruits they obviously lack: self-control, peace, gentleness, humility, etc.
Power without truth is how the false church of Babylon was established. Do not be deceived with power accompanied by lies. Unless power is accompanied by the true gospel, (freedom from even the desire to sin, union with Christ and God, and translation into the kingdom of God while still on earth), through repentance on the inward cross of self-denial that results in Jesus appearing in your heart to destroy all sin, such power is from the devil and not God.
Never accept any demonstration of power as necessarily coming from God. Remember Jannes and Jambres, the Egyptian Magicians, who cast down their rods that turned into serpents, and who turned the waters of Egypt to blood. The miracle workers of Christendom, who preach the false gospel of instant grace as a license for excusing continuation of sin, derive their power from Satan. However, the power of Satan is not limited to false Christian ministers; it is also frequently demonstrated in other religions.
The false church of Babylon shows great signs and wonders, to convince those who have not been taught by revelation in their hearts by the Spirit of God as to what is the true gospel, the true hope, love vs. lust, sin vs. righteousness, turmoil vs. peace, humility vs. pride, good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, bitter vs. sweet. Since the elect have been taught by the Spirit in revelations, they see past the miracles of the false church and false prophets; which false prophets who live in sin, and excuse, life-long sin.
Although Babylon's false prophets are very difficult to discern, the elect are not deceived because their love of the truth overrides their being impressed with demonstration of power accompanied by lies.
There is a web page, How to Identify a Blind Guide or False Prophet, devoted to the doctrines of false prophets/blind guide preachers vs. true prophets/ministers to help you distinguish a true preacher/teacher from a false preacher/teacher.
4 But after that when faith has come, 3:25, as faith should afterwards be revealed, 3:23. Paul speaks of faith being revealed; so faith occurs when Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, Heb 12:2, reveals it to a man, Gal 3:23, which faith then frees us from the law as our schoolmaster. Gal 3:24. Further, in Gal 5:18, he says: if (and when) you are led (prompted, ordered, commanded) by the Spirit, you are not under the law. So he has defined faith to being in total obedience to the Spirit's leading. Paul further tells us when faith has come: it is received as a fruit of the Spirit by crucifying the sinful nature.
You receive the fruit of the Spirit with a new level of faith after you have been crucified on the inward cross of self-denial. From the Word of the Lord within: "There are no laws when you are under complete control of the spirit; you walk in love in obedience as prompted — you don't walk in restricted flesh." Faith that frees from the law comes with the receipt of the fruit of the Spirit, against which is no law. Gal 5:22-23.
Up to this time, as you are hearing the Spirit of Grace within convict you of sin and teach you about righteous living, you are in the Ministry of Condemnation, yet to receive the ministry of righteousness, yet to receive the end of grace, still subject to the Law of Sin and Death, still walking after the flesh and carnal mind, yet to receive the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, yet to be in Christ, yet to be dead to the law through the law, and yet to walk after the Spirit's prompting of your thoughts, words, and deeds.
This is a major clarification of the definition of faith, as Paul further tells us that he preaches the word of faith which is in our hearts and mouths, and faith comes by hearing the word; and Jesus says, Blessed are those who hear the word of God and "keep" it, such "keeping" (to practice, obey), results in the love of God being perfected in a man: But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 1 John 2:5. So faith is to hear the word within, and believe it to be the Son of God speaking to you, and then to keep it [obey it, practice it], repeatedly — which yields the blessing of the perfected love of God within you, and you to be in Christ and God. Christendom would have you believe that hearing someone read the words of the Bible is hearing the word of God, and if you believe them, you are a "believer." But this only results in belief of a historical fact written in a book and faith in the words in a book. Yet Paul has just told us that faith comes from hearing the word, who is Jesus, which word is in our heart; so to have real faith, you must hear from within and believe whom you hear, to be the Son of God; and believe enough to completely obey him. For Jesus became the Author and Source of eternal salvation to all those who heed and obey Him. Heb 5:9. Faith is a series of revelations.
Your faith must stand in your experience of the power of God, not in words spoken by men or reading. The power of God is promised to deliver you [separate you] from your sins, which is salvation. You are saved through faith, and by faith your hearts are purified; but obviously in the beginning of faith, you are not purified, neither are you saved. You must contend for the faith, grow in the faith, build up your faith, increase in faith, perfect what is lacking in your faith, fight the good fight of faith, until victory when your faith is finished by the finisher; faith is a process and a journey, the end of which is to see Christ bring your salvation, to bring your eternal life. From the Word of the Lord within: "faith within purifies; faith within justifies."
5 Paul makes distinctions here in his audience: "as many as have been baptized into Christ." There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, The true baptism of the Holy Spirit, the only one needed, circumcises the heart, by plunging down sin and iniquity, and puts off the body of death and sins of the flesh so that we are without sin; a baptism into the death of Christ. The unquenchable fire burns up all the chaff (sin), after the floor (your heart) is thoroughly purged.
The Holy Spirit was also received from the laying on of the Apostle's hands. This appears similar to how Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to his Apostles when he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22. But the Apostles did not receive the baptism of fire until Pentecost, when they received power:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 . The disciples had already received the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them (above reference John 20:22) and told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for power, which is described as:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all of one accord in one place,
When suddenly a sound came from heaven like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
And what appeared to them, looked like cloven tongues of fire, and the fire rested upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4.
The Apostles had a "laying on of hands" power, which is referred to as a baptism of the Holy Spirit; but this was not the baptism of fire that burnt up the chaff, (burns away the sin), which occurs at the end of the journey, not the beginning. This power was limited to those who were in the Kingdom of Christ, having received power from on high. These men then watched over their flock, correcting, warning, exhorting, reproving, charging — to make sure they stayed on the true way, and not be seduced by the deceitfulness of sin. Today, we have no such perfect, pure, holy, empowered men to do the same. So, each man is developed completely by the Holy Spirit, tested, and then sealed with the earnest deposit of the Spirit, the promise of the completion to occur at the Second Appearance of the Lord. The Holy Spirit's development of men without a physical overseer around, is necessarily a much more selective process; taking much longer as well as being very careful to be certain any man, without an earthly overseer, will not stray off the path after receiving the earnest deposit — thus to bring great shame to the truth.
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