By Clinton D. Hamilton
This is the first column as query editor of the Guardian of Truth I have written. It seems appropriate, therefore, for me to express some introductory comments.
Comments About Hoyt Houchen
All of us express to Hoyt Houchen sincere gratitude for his work in editing this column with diligence, grace, and sincerity. Those who know him respect him and appreciate his dedication to truth as revealed in the faith. His loyalty to the Lord is unquestioned and his desire to adhere to Bible teaching is well known. Those who are acquainted with his work are convinced of his goodwill, devoutness, and genuine humble spirit. He, as the editor of this column, has left a tradition of good work and Bible adherence.
Purpose of Writing
My work schedule in heavy. It was after several days of reflection about it that I finally accepted the invitation of Mike Willis to edit this column. Many brethren have insisted that I write more. This I have determined to do. But I had given no thought to commence such by editing a query column, although I have always appreciated the challenge of well phrased questions in the search for truth. Questions can clarify and they may also confuse. If the respondent understands the querist, much good can come from the communication. However, both need to understand each other. It is proverbial to say that “fools ask questions that wise men cannot answer.” It is true that some questions may be posed to which no one can give answer.
The purpose of this column under my editorship will be to deal with the Bible related questions and to respond to these to the best of my ability, seeking always to respond with what the Bible teaches. One recognizes that knowledge of the truth is not uniform among all of us. What may be perfectly clear to one may appear to be not clear to another. Hopefully the analysis, argumentation, and conclusions expressed in this column will accord with the truth for it will be the focus of the studies detailed herein.
As a student of the Bible, I have been thrilled with the richness of the revelation of the mind of God. That he would share his thoughts with men is almost overwhelming. When I read his word, I keep in mind what it is that I am reading. Since man is made in his image (Gen. 1:26,27) and since he is the author of the word (1 Cor. 2:9-13; 2 Pet. 1:19-21; Jn. 17:17), one can expect to understand his revelation because it is rational, agreeable to the reason of men (1 Pet. 2:2). Logikon in this latter passage, which is translated spiritual in the American Standard Version, occurs one other time in Romans 12:1. However, int eh King James Version, it is translated reasonable in Romans 12 and sincere in 1 Peter 2. There is an important element for all of us in these passages. Man is a creature of reason because has rational nature by design of God. His revelation is directed to this rational nature in words which can be understood when one reads them (Eph 2:1-7). Wherein we fail to understand, the fault lies not with God but with man. Believing, therefore, that men can understand the revelation, this column will be written. Wherein either of us does not understand, there is something hindering that understanding.
Before one undertakes such a task as editing this column, one needs to understand the policies and attitude of the editor. Accordingly, I queried the editor carefully to ascertain policies under his editorship about the freedom of one who edits the column in his writing. Upon being fully assured that I was free to express my analysis, argumentation, and conclusions without any impediment from the editor, I knew I could be comfortable in editing the column. He, of course, asks for himself the same freedom, which is altogether proper.
One of the basic purposes in my editing this column will be to bring people together on the basis of the faith. There is no desire to create friction and to cause ill will among brethren. Another purpose Will be to express revealed truth, not personal opinions and views which might create confusion. It also shall be the purpose to deal with the issue in the questions in relation to revelation and not to deal in personalities. It shall not be the purpose to disparage, ridicule, or provoke other persons. One can deal with scriptural responses to questions without being hateful or ill-willed toward others. Typically questions will be answered as briefly as possible. However, it may be necessary to set the context for answers which the questions do not put in the context. Frequently, a brief answer can be misunderstood, if context is not properly given to it. This is a judgment issue with which not all persons might agree.
Because of the limitation of time and space, not every question that may be sent can be dealt with in the column. I have been given complete latitude and freedom to choose which questions to answer and what answers to express. Mike Willis, the editor, only wanted my pledge to be scriptural which, of course, was my intention expressed to him.
It is in the preceding context that I begin this work and in which I purpose to execute it throughout my tenure as editor of the column. I do not propose to be speculative and to deal with issues that would fall in the category of foolish questioning that will create envy, strife, railings, evil surmising, and wranglings (1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:23-26; Tit. 3:9). The intent will be to minister toward godliness (reverence and respect for God). Now to a question which was forwarded to me by the editor from a reader.
The Holy Spirit
Question: “Please explain Luke 11:13, Acts 5.32; Romans 5.5; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 5:5; and Galatians 4:6 in reference to the Holy Spirit.”
Reply: Deity has three persons in the total class deity. These persons are Jehovah, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:1-3; Jn. 1:1-3,14,18; 1 Cor. 2-10, et.al.). Humanity from the beginning has been composed of billions. But what makes one a human being and to have the quality of humanity is that which each has. Likewise, whatever attributes there are of deity are those held by each member of the class. There is one humanity and there is one deity. This should not be difficult for us to understand. This is a fundamental concept which will underlie the response to this question.
Jesus promised to send another Comforter (Jn. 14:16-19). Comforter, parakletos, means one who is an advocate, succorer, helper, or guide. Another, allos, means one of the same kind or nature as opposed to heteros, one of a different kind. As Jesus had been the guide or helper, the Holy Spirit is to be one of the same kind. It is the Holy Spirit who is to come when he has gone away for the purpose of guiding them and to be with them. He would bring to their remembrance what Jesus had taught (Jn. 14:26) and would reveal what they had not been ready to receive when Christ was with them (Jn. 16:12,13). About the mission and work of the Holy Spirit much is taught in the Bible. The passages cited in the question are some of this revelation.
The truth, the faith, revealed by the Holy Spirit is to guide men in their relation to God (1 Cor. 2:13; 1 Thess. 2:13). Led by the Holy Spirit, we are baptized into one body (1 Cor. 12:13).
Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph. 3:17). Since Jehovah, the Son, and the Spirit have the same nature, one can easily deduce that the Spirit and God dwell likewise. The issue of in-dwelling, therefore, should not be considered a mystery with reference to the Holy Spirit and not with reference to God and Christ. Our lives are hid with Christ in God. Christ in us is the ground of the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
The context of Luke 11:13 shows that human fathers having love and affection for their children are able to give them good gifts. These parents have sins and sometimes evil motives but if they can give good gifts, then certainly God who is pure and sinless can give the Holy Spirit as a gift to them that ask him. That is exactly what happens when one obeys him (Acts 5:32). The apostles were witnesses of that to which they testified and so is the Holy Spirit whom God gives to all those that obey him. One receives the Spirit by the hearing of faith (Gal. 3:2) and his works are reflected in one’s life (Gal. 5:22). One walks by the Spirit in order not to fulfil the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). If one does not so walk, he grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). Timothy was to guard the good things which had been committed to him through the Holy Spirit which dwells in us (2 Tim. 1:14). We are made partakers of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 6:4). To a person of faith there is no dispute of this point. The Spirit bears witness to us through or by the word of God (Heb. 10: 15-17). God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are in us when we are led by his revelation. That the Spirit dwells in us, is given to us, or sent into our hearts is not debatable with a person of faith. The revelation of God declares this.
God’s love “has been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us” (Rom. 5:5). All God’s blessings or grace are made available to us through the word of God, the gospel, of which the Holy Spirit is the revealer (Tit. 2:11,12). The work of the Spirit as he was sent by the Son to do is the means of the pouring out of God’s love in our hearts. The love of God comes to fruition in us when we are led by the Holy Spirit.
The token or pledge that God has given to those obedient to him is the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21,22). God’s pledge that the blessedness that he promises will be forthcoming is the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:14). God’s sending the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth and to dwell in our hearts is the pledge, earnest, or token that what he promises will be ours. He is in those who are led by faith.
Because we are sons of God, he sends the Spirit into our hearts (Gal. 4:6). We are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus because we have been baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:26,27). Those that are led by the Spirit are the children of God (Rom. 8:14). When men are led by the Spirit whom God and Christ sent, they are sons of God and have the Spirit of God in them. It is not a mysterious direct operation that is unpredictable and wholly emotional. It is really a matter of faith by which one is to walk (2 Cor. 5:7). Faith is created by the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). When one walks by faith doing his revealed will, God promised the Holy Spirit to dwell in his heart. One begins in the Spirit and remains in the Spirit by walking by his revelation (Gal. 3:3). Sanctification of fife or conduct is evidence of the Spirit’s dwelling in one’s heart (1 Thess. 4:8). How comforting this should be to a Christian that God’s pledge or earnest, the Holy Spirit, is in us. Believers know because of the word of God and should live with this assurance, being led by the Holy Spirit.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 18, pp. 549-550
September 21, 1989